Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Preparation




"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star. And the Spirit and the Bride say 'Come!' Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely....He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming quickly.' Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" 
Revelation 22:17, 20-21 (NKJV)

I have been studying the Bride of Christ for quite some time now. I began studying it back in the summer in preparation of our annual Fall Women's Retreat that occurred November 2nd & 3rd. The subject matter is overwhelming to say the least and I was quite intrigued by it all.

At our retreat we covered a few different subjects, 1) the Parallels Between the Jewish Wedding Customs and the Bride of Christ, 2) Preparing for the Big Day, and 3) Love Song for a Savior, but only touched on them because let's face it, you cannot properly study everything there is to know about the Bride of Christ in 3 one hour sessions! But God revealed to us (Dianne and myself, the "wedding coordinators" lol) that our retreat was just the beginning. It was simply to wet our appetite to know and grow more in the knowledge of this subject, and He led us to facilitate our next Bible study---drum-roll please---on the Bride of Christ!

So last Tuesday night was the introduction to the study and the Tuesday after Thanksgiving we will begin digging deeper into learning more about our role as the bride. As I have begun to dive into the Word on this topic again, I am thirsting to know more about what is considered the "Time of Preparation"...our time here on earth, after our betrothal and before the coming again of our Bridegroom. 

How do I prepare? What am I not doing now that I should be and what am I doing that I shouldn't?

Personally, I think the best way to describe the first step of preparation is Self-Examination. I am to be presented to Christ as pure and holy, without blemish...a radiant bride. Do I see myself this way? Not quite...which obviously means that I have work to do. I need to be preparing for when my Groom returns. And I don't know when He is returning to take me to the place He has prepared for me, so I cannot waste time. 

We as the church, the bride of Christ, we cannot waste anymore time!

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Ephesians 5:24-27

I've always thought that if I do this, this and this, then I was doing good in terms of being a "Christian". But if I skipped one, even one day, or if I couldn't finish the study I was on or whatever, then I was failing.
I'm learning now, in the last 3-4 years, that this is not so much the truth and I shouldn't be examining myself by earthly standards, but by the standards that God has given to His church.

There is no "check-list" so to speak...but there is a Book that gives instruction for this period of preparation.
I will fall short. I am not perfect. But I have been covered by Grace and forgiven for my shortcomings and can now move past that to grow my relationship with God and grow my faith and obey His Word and follow His lead and long for His Will.

He is my Bridegroom.

The relationship between a husband and a wife is a picture of the relationship of Christ and His church. I seek my husband's approval on earth, I should seek for Christ's approval so much more. I turn to my husband in all decision making, as Christ's bride I can't make a single decision without consultation from Him.  I look forward to growing more in my role and identity as a part of the Bride of Christ. As I am filled more and more with Christ, I see less and less of myself...I hear less and less of my voice...and I welcome the continuation of this decrease of self and increase of Jesus.
I want to be ready...I want to be presentable to my King when He rides in to get me.
My prayer is for this study to increase our appetite, to light a passionate fire within us for our Bridegroom and to cause us to live a life worthy of the title "The Bride of Christ". 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey Book Tour


Today I am featuring an excerpt from Marilynn Dawson's book Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey. This is the fourth week of the blog tour and so you will get a peak into Volume 4 of her 6 volume book. 

You can visit the first 3 stops of the blog tour here:

Volume One: Excerpt- The Prince of Peace Rides In 



If you would like to download a free copy of Volume 4, follow the link at the end of this post.

And without further ado, enjoy this excerpt from Volume 4 of Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey!

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Psalm 30

Psalm 30:5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." How many times do we hear this portion of verse 5 quoted? So many times we hear it offered to people who are going through battles of various kinds. Has it become a cliche? Has it lost its meaning? Only those who have come out the other side in full experiential knowledge that God has been with them the entire way through, can attest that this is far more than empty repeated platitudes offered for lack of anything better to say! I am one of such people who have come through trials and seen God present throughout the journey. I can mark the day on my calendar when my most recent, lengthy personal storm, the second worst storm of my entire life to date, ended, and a new chapter in my faith walk began.

Some night seasons can seem to last for days, weeks, months in my case, with lights at the end of the tunnel turning into speeding trains bearing down on me one after the other. I can remember at one point thinking I saw three lights at the end of my tunnel, they turned out to all belong to the same debilitating train!!! Several months into that storm I honestly became fearful of becoming too optimistic over things that actually went right for a change! I'd become used to seemingly positive events taking unforeseen twists in the road and blindsiding me!

Five months after that storm began, it ended! . . . Swiftly and suddenly! . . . I spent the first few days wondering if it was just another lull in the storm and waited for the winds to resume their beating. But the storm was truly dead! God had brought it to such a swift and decided halt that I was left in complete and total amazement! I could not help but praise the Lord as the Psalmist does in this psalm.

I could hear God speaking to me throughout my storm, speaking through my worship pastor, my senior pastor, through lyrical messages aimed directly at this head and heart. I wasn't able to always digest everything God was saying to me, but I did my best to break it down and seek understanding regardless. I knew one thing was for sure. . . I HAD to be in my Lord's presence! He truly was my refuge, the strong tower that I ran to in a corporate way every chance I got! He met me there too, every single time.

Psalm 30:2-3 O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. 3O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

I agree with the Psalmist in the verses above. I came out of that storm in full agreement with and actively engaging in verses 11 and 12:

Psalm 30:11-12 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 12To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

There is nothing like abandonment in praise and worship the One who is able to save! To the One who goes with us through the dark times! To the One who meets our needs and heals our wounds! Those that know me do not wonder at my deep desire, excitement and enthusiasm to:

-be found in my Father's House,
-to consider lyrical worship as not only a way to invite others into the Throne Room of God, but as a way to enter into intimacy with my Lord, and
-to draw near to Him in gratitude and longing, thankfulness and wonder.

Truly what an awesome God we serve! I must echo the Psalmist as he exhorts the saints in verse 4:

Psalm 30:4 Sing unto the Lord, o ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

************


You can continue following this book tour of Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey on the next two blog stops! And if you would, share this post with your friends so that they can enjoy this read and dive deeper into their own relationship with the ultimate Bridegroom!

November 8th: Volume Five: Excerpt- Lifter of My Head

http://psalm119greaterthangold.net/

November 16th: Volume Six: Excerpt- Opening Story Segment

http://traveller-gal.blogspot.ca/



Click the link below for your free PDF copy of Volume 4: Psalm 30 between now and the next blog stop:November 8th


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Blog Tour for Author Marilynn Dawson

This November 2 & 3 is our church's ladies ministry's 2nd annual fall retreat. Much prayer led us to the theme or topic of The Bride of Christ. We have a small congregation so the planning of this event is in the hands of two women: myself and my pastor's wife. So we began the planning and preparation for the retreat.

I began looking for different ideas on Pinterest and created a Pinterest board dedicated to the retreat and named it "Bride of Christ". This is a very intimidating and serious subject and so we have not been taking it lightly at all. Our retreat consists of 3 "Sessions" and we had already figured out what #1 would be and #2 would be taken care of by our guest speaker. We were kind of stumped as to what to do about session #3...so we just kept praying...

On September 22 I received an e-mail from a lady by the name of Marilynn Dawson. She just published a series called "Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey". Marilynn was searching on Google "Bride of Christ" and when she got to page 14, she found my Pinterest board which led her to my blog. 
And then she asked me if I would like to guest post about an excerpt from her series as a part of her book's blog tour!

I don't know about anyone else, but I think that was all a God thing! I didn't even know if anyone read my blog, let alone would want me to guest blog about their book! 
Okay, so the best part is that after she gave me the excerpt on October 4th, that I would be posting about, I shared it with Dianne (my pastor's wife) the next night and the Holy Spirit confirmed in both of us what the 3rd session of our retreat would be! We received even more confirmation through scripture as we continued our meeting that night. 

The Holy Spirit leads in such amazing ways! 

So, I would like to present the schedule for Marilynn Dawson's Book Blog Tour so that you can follow along! I am very excited and honored to be a part of this experience. 



Over the next six weeks, we are going to be part of a blog tour by Author Marilynn Dawson, who has written the new series, "Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey". There are six volumes in her series as well as a Leader's Guide. The first stop in her tour will be on October 11th:

Volume One: Exert - The Prince of Peace Rides In
The Day The World Retreated http://tdtwr.wordpress.com

Subsequent stops will be as follows, notice the bold entry where we will host an excerpt from one of the volumes in Marilynn's series:

October 11th, Volume One: Excerpt - The Prince of Peace Rides In
Jim Armstrong: The Day The World Retreated http://tdtwr.wordpress.com

October 18th, Volume Two: Excerpt - The Fire of God's Love
Pamela Rose Williams Christianity Every Day http://www.christianeveryday.com

October 25th, Volume Three: Excerpt - Psalm 27
Leslie Jenkins: From a Daughter http://fromadaughter.blogspot.ca

November 1st, Volume Four: Excerpt - Psalm 30
Victoria Milam: Seeking Peace in a Storm http://seekingpeaceinastorm.blogspot.com

November 8th, Volume Five: Excerpt - Lifter of my Head
Jeannie Pallett: Psalm119greaterthangold.net

November 16th, Volume Six: Excerpt - Opening Story Segment
Michelle Nickels: Traveler Gal http://traveller-gal.blogspot.ca/



Do you desire to go deeper in your relationship with God? Have you ever felt the sting of dreams dying? Have you ever felt as if God couldn't use you anymore? This series is for you! Be sure to catch all six stops in Marilynn's book tour! You can get more information from her official page on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Marilynn.Dawson.Author?ref=hl This series may be purchased from Amazon.com

There will also be a giveaway at each blog stop: a free PDF of that week's featured volume. Each volume will only be available between the post date and the next blog stop's post date. 
The link will be the same each week, but the content will change: 

Enjoy the blog tour! I know I will! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

whisper


I have been so very tired lately. The busiest part of the year for me seems to be over, but I'm in such a mode of busy-ness (is that a word?), that even though things have slowed down a bit, I walk through my house after the kids have gone to bed and I look for things to do. I can't seem to sit still for long.

My husband is working in TX for 2 weeks and so it's just the kids and I right now. Yesterday, I left work at 4:30, stopped by the grocery store for some grapefruit, bread, apples, and flour, then picked the kids up by 5:15. When we pulled in the driveway, the "I'm hungry"'s began and so afternoon snacks were given. I decided that we were not going to church last night-it's a 20 minute drive one way and by the time we get home it is normally 8:30 or later and I still had to go clean the revenue office...blah...

So I cooked dinner and then went out back to sit on the deck for a few minutes of peace. I sat back in my chair outside and looked around. Everything was still. There was no wind, no movement.

But inside of my head were so many thoughts racing...Loud and Fast. Thoughts like "healthier meals", "exercise", "bills", "hair cuts", "bed-time", "laundry"...I felt overwhelmed.

and then I heard a whisper...

and it was almost audible, but I'm sure it was coming from inside me...

soft...but over-powering everything else...

"Child, you don't have to be perfect. slow down. take a breath."
"Be still, and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10)
"...Peace, be still..." (Mark 4:39)

the other thoughts disappeared completely...and I sat back.

I felt relief. My thudding heart slowed a little.

Like, that's all I needed to hear...that I don't have to...I'm allowed to breathe.

I went back in and cleaned up a bit, but then I just laid down beside my kids on the couch...they were watching cartoons and I ended up falling asleep...probably for only 15 minutes or so, but it was refreshing.
We left right after, about 6:45, because like I said, I had to clean the revenue office.
But it was smooth after that. The kids were in bed and asleep by 8:30 and I should have gone to bed too...but I stayed up late, not listening to my body telling me to sleep. (I think that is just a side effect to my husband being gone and me having to sleep alone; I stay up until I literally must go to bed before I pass out.)

He calmed the hurricanes and they stopped 
and the waves of the sea were quieted.
Psalm 107:29

My prayer today is that I allow God to calm my fears and my worries...to stop my distractions and my negative thoughts...to quiet my heart and soul so that I can hear Him whisper to me. (I pray this for you also)

It is all too easy to be busy-physically, mentally, emotionally.

Stop and listen for the Comforter, Prince of Peace, the Holy Spirit.
He longs to have our attention and be in conversation with us.
And He alone deserves our time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grace for this Super Mom



I've been busy...and by 'busy' I don't mean a couple of things here and there, I mean, every single day, overloaded with to-do lists or meetings or appointments, blah blah blah!

And with my husband going off to work 9 hours from home for 2 weeks at a time, I'm learning that this Super-Mom business can be handled with more grace, both for myself and for my family (and others).

You see I am a 'DO-er', if that makes any sense to anyone. Normally, when I set out to do something, it gets finished. The task is completed and more often than not, it is done ahead of schedule! But not lately! Example #1: I started a Bible study prior to vacation in July. Started strong. I even stayed up to date while on vacation, which is a feat in and of itself! But then I got home...back to work (which had piled up while I was away), and reality and exhaustion set in (probably stemming from the longest 30 hours I have ever spent in a car, driving from California to home in Arkansas!). But I so dropped the ball on my Bible study. One day behind rolled into one week, which rolled into two weeks...and now, the Bible study ended a while back, and I still have not completed the study.

I was beating myself up over this for a little while. Mad at myself for letting my study partner down, who I am sure completed it on time with flying colors! But me, no, I bombed it! That was my attitude. I didn't give myself any grace. I didn't take into consideration that I take care of a family (my husband, my 6 year old daughter and my 2 year old son), I work 40+ hours a week in a very, very, very stressful work environment, my husband had been laid off for 2 months, I also work a second job cleaning the revenue office 2 nights a week, I am involved in our church, ladies Bible study, planning the fall retreat, teaching Children's Church one Sunday a month and on top of all of that, I have to keep my house clean and try to keep my sanity in tact!

I thought I was losing my mind. I was tormented by myself- "Why can't you get it together!?"..."No one can rely on you, that's why no one calls or comes over."..."And you wonder why you are so fat!"..."Worthless!"..."Everyone else has it all together, and you are losing it. What's wrong with you!?!"

Seriously...that is what I was doing to myself...sometimes worse than that.

I gave myself NO GRACE whatsoever! I used to think I was being Super-Mom and that's just the way it felt. But now, I am being taught that the way I was treating myself, well, there is nothing SUPER about any of it.

God showed me that. He is teaching me how to work through myself...and He told me not to worry about not finishing that Bible study. I will finish it eventually...and it will be when I need it the most. But for now, I have enough on my plate. He is teaching me patience. Being the only parent in the house for 2 weeks has its' advantages and disadvantages. I get all the kisses and hugs...but I also get the tantrums, back-talking, crying and the wet/dirty pull-ups. And through all of that, I am learning grace and patience.

I'm still SUPER busy. I still have to do that long list of things...except now that my husband is working again, I have to do them by myself some. And sometimes I have more than that, especially now with my daughter in 1st grade and gymnastics and wanting to do girl-scouts (and it is Rhea Lana's season)!
But God is teaching me that I don't have to be perfect and that when it gets tough, when I am stressed to my max, I have Him. He never leaves me. And through prayer and His Word, He will show me the path.

HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR ME! 
HIS POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN MY WEAKNESS! 
2COR12:9-10

And He is providing everything for me. Good friends that call or stop by out of the blue just to make sure we are okay. Church family that care more than words can describe. Food when I wasn't sure we would have any. Money exactly when we needed it. Moments of laughter when we need a boost. Silence-because sometimes that is all that will quiet the chaos around us.
JESUS is my Perfect Provision. 

Grace is what He is teaching me...every day...I am learning to no longer punish myself for where I fail or fall short. We all do...none of us measure up, which is kind of the point. We can't. We never will. 

When we come to that realization, that no matter how hard we try, we are never going to be perfect, God will be glorified when we succeed...because the only way that we can accomplish anything, is by Him, by His power working through us, through our weaknesses and faults. I was brought to tears at my office when I had grace on one of my superiors, I kept my tongue and just let God lead my words, and the situation turned out to be so positive and productive. I stopped and could not believe that I had just shown such self-control and patience and gentleness and peace. I was seeing myself bear fruit that normally I wouldn't have. I saw that I couldn't have acted in such a way without Christ in me, working through me! It humbled me to joyful tears!

Super-Mom. Yeah, that's me. But only because I serve the Most Supreme High God and He chose me and made me this way...and you know what? I know a whole lot of other Super-Moms out there, some in the same situations, some in different...but we are all SUPER because of Jesus! 

Give yourselves some grace ladies. 


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back to School Time!

It's that time of the year again!



This is such an exciting time to me and always has been. I remember as a child that I couldn't wait for school shopping- I love school supplies, new pens and paper, crayons, markers and notebooks. But when I was a kid I did not like shopping for school clothes. 

I grew up in a family of 6; I was child #2 of 4, with an older sister and a younger sister and brother. My parents did not have a lot of money, so they mainly focused on making sure we had all of our school supplies and then two, maybe three new outfits and a new pair of shoes. And of course, the three sisters shared clothes when possible. I dreaded going into the department stores and watching my parents flinch at the check-out register, both because of the high total and the fact that such a high amount bought so little for 4 growing kids.

I remember one year in particular: 7th grade. You know that awkward age-nowadays we call them 'Tweens'. It was a very tight year financially for our family and we were blessed to even get to shop at all. But as a 12 year old girl going into Middle School wanting to impress her friends (and the boys) I wanted more and better than what I was allowed that year. I wanted the American Eagle and not the Wal-Mart. But Wal-Mart is what we could afford and Wal-Mart is what I got. (I'm not dissing Wal-Mart in any way; my family today shops there at least twice a month!)
Anyhow, a fellow classmate mocked me one day and pointed out, in front of everyone, where I bought my school clothes. 
"Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart, it's our store! People shop there if they're poor!". 
Yes. She sang this little diddy in the hallway one day after history class. I will never forget the embarrassment and the hurt that I felt. I know now that we are not defined by our outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7), but in a child's mind, especially in that moment of pain and hurt, remembering that truth can be hard.

Our daughter Aspen is going into the First Grade this year! So this is our second "Back to School" shopping experience and as  parents today, we are so very thankful to be a part of a company that can help parents (and their kids) in these situations. Rhea Lana's Consignment Sale has been a huge part of my life for 5 years now and without it, especially this year, my husband and I would be flinching at the register just like my parents did.

If you are unfamiliar with this consignment event, it is for children's clothing, toys and equipment and it happens twice a year. Everything is in excellent condition, name-brand and is priced so low that I stock up for an entire 6 month season when I shop! 



Not only do I shop the sale, but I also volunteer and consign, which earns me early shopping passes before the store opens to the public! It is such a fun event, even when volunteering to work a 5 hour shift because the people are a hoot and the work is so rewarding! It's almost like a girls' night out! These events are great opportunities to meet other moms who hold the same values as you and your family. Many of my friendships began at Rhea Lana's of Conway and continue to grow there! 

If you can't volunteer to work a shift or two, do not pass up on consigning your gently used items to earn some shopping money! At the end of the sale, you pick your check up along with any items that didn't sell or you didn't want to donate. At almost every sale that I have consigned, I made more money than I spent! That is a great feeling, to pretty much trade clothes and walk away with a little extra change in your pocket :) That reminds me, Rhea Lana's donates items that consignors don't want to take back home with them, to local charities at each event! So families that truly cannot afford to shop, are still provided with clothing and other items for their children. Just another example of how awesome this event is! 

One last thing that I would like to mention is to quote from the Rhea Lana website a couple of things that set this event a part from any other and keep me involved and coming back season after season: 

"Mission Statement: 
To serve with love and integrity, families everywhere with inviting, 
excellent and valuable children's consignment events."

"Rhea Lana's Priorities: 
Faith-God First. We are a company based firmly on Christian Principles. 
Family-Family Second. Family is vital and it is the reason we work. 
Work-Work is Third. A career with RL, Inc. is an amazing job, 
but only as other priorities are in order."



It is safe for me to say that we will be able to provide a fall wardrobe for our daughter (and our 2 year old son!) without breaking the bank and we will be spending our hard-earned money in a store that shares the same Christian values and views as we do. 

As I mentioned before, this consignment event is a huge blessing to so many families nationwide!
Rhea Lana's Consignment Event has grown to over 16 states and is still growing! So check out their website to find an upcoming sale near you and get involved! 

HAPPY BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING TO YOU! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Simplicity



I need to SIMPLIFY!

I am beginning to see how much I complicate and muddy things up in my little life here on Earth.

For one, I try to control EVERYTHING! And for two, I try to be EVERYTHING!

I really just want to be SIMPLE...to live SIMPLE...

I got my first taste of simplicity when I made my own homemade laundry detergent! (Silly, I know)

Now I need SIMPLICITY to spill into other areas of my life.

I don't think simplicity always means to make easier...sometimes, simplicity takes a little work on the front end.
Kind of like two things that my family is going to take a try at...
I LOVE these two ideas...but I have complicated them into failure in the past...and the hubby, well, he does not like to embrace organization...he is the kind that flies by the seat of his pants...

BUDGET & MEAL PLAN

Being a full-time working mom and wife is tough...so in my mind, these two things are lifesavers...but when I get home, I am tired and just want to relax, so I have never taken the step to move forward into action instead of just planning. And like I said, I complicate the planning...like I have to have a fancy way to display my menus before I can actually begin planning. So then I never get around to making the fancy board, therefore never planning meals. Complicated into Failure

But now, we are kind of being forced into these options.
My husband's job this month will be less hours than normal, which in turn means less money than normal.

We cannot afford to eat out every night like we have been. We cannot afford to buy groceries and never cook them, letting them expire before we consume them. We cannot afford to pay our water bill late. We cannot afford to go to Target or Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby five time in a week "just because".

We are going to take a shot at living a little more SIMPLY than we have been living. And I pray with my whole being that it STICKS! I see big things in our future if we could just do a little hard work in the beginning so that the end will be sweeter and mean more.

Like my laundry detergent!
Grating 3 bars of soap by hand was some hard, tedious work...but IT WAS WORTH IT! I have enough laundry detergent to last me about 6 months! No extra trips to the store because we ran out...no more paying $18 for 60 loads of laundry...We simplified a tiny area in our lives and it makes a big difference!

And I believe that this "simplification" (is that even a word?) will help us to rely more on God...to seek Him for our daily needs. I want to live in accordance to His Will for my life. And I do believe that this is part of His plan for my family...that when we become less focused on what we can attain here, and more focused on SIMPLY LIVING FOR HIM, He will reveal more and more of Himself to us and we will see glimpses of the Treasure of being in His company eternally!



So, if you have any tips for family budgets or meal planning, please share.
I would love some advice and/or guidance on this foreign subject!

This is a whole new world for my family, and we are excited, nervous and ready to make this change!

Thanks for allowing me to blah, blah, blah for a little bit :)








Friday, February 24, 2012

From Now until Easter...





I have always heard the word "lent" and never thought much of it. I heard it was a time of fasting for Catholics, and honestly, that is about it.


Until today: I got the urge to Google "Lent" and even "Lent for Baptists" (because I grew up Baptist and my home church is Baptist).


I came across some very interesting information...very convicting...very stimulating...very challenging!


My first question was, what exactly is Lent?
Lent is a Christian Festival. In the past it was a long, strict religious fast when people gave up all rich food. Lent is the time when Christians prepare for the greatest of the Christian festivals known as Easter, by thinking of things they have done wrong. It was a time for spring-cleaning lives, as well as homes.

I like that thought: SPRING-CLEANING LIVES 


Lent began this year on February 22nd, which was Ash Wednesday and it will end on Easter, April 8th. Lent lasts 40 days, excluding Sundays. 40 days; like Jesus spent in the desert, fasting! 


EthicsDaily is where I was led to in regards to Baptists and Lent. 
On this particular website the author of this post says lent for a Baptist can be "the spiritual practice of intentionally dedicating a period of time for giving up something in their life as a form of Christian discipleship." 


GIVING UP SOMETHING= A FORM OF CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP
He also goes on to say "grace is best experienced when we purposefully take away something. It brings integrity to our witness, freedom to our service and identification with the less fortunate. We need a spirituality of subtraction challenging us to be less encumbered and burdened in our calling to follow Jesus."


I pray that this season of Lent is a blessing to many---that unbelievers will have a chance to see humility and integrity in Christians when they submit to whatever it is God is calling them to do in this season. 
Also, that Christians would not just obey God during Lent, but that they would seek Him daily for His perfect will in their lives throughout the year. 
I am praying for myself in this season; that I would listen intently to whatever God calls me to do, or not to do. I want to be a faithful and obedient daughter of the King, who trusts Him fully. 


Whatever He has in store for me to add to my life, or subtract from it, I want to willingly do as He commands. So thankful He has given me a thirst for knowledge, that I would seek out answers to questions so basic like, "what is lent?"...He works in such amazing ways through seemingly small things...


Father, thank You for grace and mercy, abounding love and forgiveness...My life is for You, and I pray that whatever You ask of me, I will humble myself and submit to Your command and will. I love You too Jesus. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

a "LIST" kind of day




I like lists; something about bullet points or numbered lines that I enjoy. 
I like outlines, plans, planners, calendars, etc. In previous posts I think I have admitted to being somewhat of a control freak, and so lists and plans fall under that category. 

Now, as much as I enjoy them and think they will help and look awesome, I have rarely ever stuck to one. 
I long for order and organization, but can't seem to follow through or succeed in completing my lists/plans. 

SO, today, I wanted to make a list of things that I need to begin-and not give up on or leave unfinished:

1. Let Go so that God can organize and control my life! 
2. Make it a point to NOT hit snooze! 
3. Begin my morning with prayer, followed by a short work-out and quiet time. And end my day early in the evening, with prayer and the Word of God on my heart, mind and lips. 
4. Eat dinner at home, with my family, at the table at least 5 times per week! 
5. Seek God at the start of every week for His plan for my time management, meal planning and quiet time. 
6. Keep a list of prayer requests; pray for each person or circumstance daily and keep a journal to update progress/results,- THIS post caught my attention on this subject. 
7. Pray with and for my family, as a family and individually, daily!
8. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. Practicing patience and self-control in every situation and seeking to reflect God in my actions, every second of every day. 
9. Make more of an effort to show my husband how much I love and respect him. 
10. Spend more time with my friends; invite them over for dinner, stop by their houses unexpectedly, call just to see how they are doing. 

These are all things that I feel the LORD is leading me to do. 

I can't write much more than that. I am in awe of the list that He just gave to me. This was not at all what I sat down here to type; my list had things like "cut coupons" "1 hour of exercise, 5 days per week" "menu plan Sundays" "re-organize kitchen drawers"...and yet, I feel secure in knowing that this is exactly what I should be focusing on...and everything else, well, it will fall into it's proper place in its' proper time.

Check these out: 

Micah 4:12
Proverbs 16: 1-4
Psalm 33:10-12
Proverbs 19:21
Jeremiah 29:11

Seek God's plan for your life...and if you are a tough, stubborn one like me, it is a day to day faith action...
He will bless those who seek Him and obey His commands! 



Thursday, January 26, 2012

When I Sit at YOUR Feet

Good morning all!


Luke 10:38-42

New International Version (NIV)

At the Home of Martha and Mary
 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”   41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”





I did not get up when I should have this morning. My goal is to be up by 4:30 a.m. so that I have time to get a workout and quiet time in before my shower, hair/makeup routine and then get the kids up and ready and out the door by 6:45/7:00. So far, I have not been able to accomplish this.

Instead, I go to bed late, hit snooze when my alarm goes off at 4:30, again at 5, again at 5:30...until I am jumping out of bed closer to 6 (or later sometimes), rushing around and putting my morning all out of whack!

I am doing the Hello Mornings Challenge by Inspired to Action; some of you may have heard about it and this is my 3rd go round. I check in daily with a group on Facebook and I so love to get to know them through their morning routine and I also find out that this daily struggle that I face, I am not the only one who has it.
I pray for this group of ladies, that they would allow God to change their lives, from when they very first open their eyes in the morning...and I pray this for myself too.

Part of my problem is that I would like everything to be perfect before I lay my head down at night. So if there is laundry not done, toys out, dishes dirty, floors unswept, etc, I will stay up until super late attempting to finish these tasks. And by the way, most every night, I force myself to go to sleep, with probably over half of that not being finished.
I am a full-time working mom, of a 5 1/2 year old and a 23 month old. I work from 8-4:30 with a 30 minute commute between work and home. My husband has a schedule that works like this: 2 weeks on & 2 weeks off, rotating his on weeks between working nights/days.

It is a difficult schedule to work around, and I get overwhelmed. I want so badly to have it all together. To be able to come home, already have meals planned for dinner, no rushing and craziness, and for my house to be clean and organized!

But that is the Martha in me, right :)

I can only do what I can do. I can't do 1000 things...He has called me to do what I can, and to do it all to His Glory! And when I strive to do too much, I fall short in all areas.

Today, I stand in His Presence knowing that if I glorify Him, if I live for Him, if I follow Him, nothing else matters. The craft projects I dream of doing don't matter. The spotless, sparkling home I long for does not matter. The money I dream of saving by extreme couponing does not matter. The cute clothes, the books I want to read, the people I want to please, the "things" that I want to do and see...they don't matter.

But the time that I spend with My Father does.

And for that very reason, I must not dwell on these meaningless tasks...but instead, do what I can do, glorifying Him in all of it, and sitting at His feet, listening to every word He speaks, drinking it in and letting it soak the depths of my heart, mind and down to my feet.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

RHEA LANA'S CONSIGNMENT TIME!!!

I'm a mommy of 2 beautiful children: Aspen, my sweet and spicy 5 year old daughter and Hunter, my super cuddly and wild almost-2-year old son.
These two keep me going day in and day out, so we pretty much do whatever it takes to give them the best that we can...and you all know how expensive "the best" can be.



About 4 years ago I was working in childcare, in the nursery, and one of my babies' mom began telling me of a children's consignment event that she participates in. I lived in Conway, AR at the time and my Aspen was only 2 years old. Lisa, mom of 2, Meagan and Mason (the baby boy in my class), filled me in on all of the details.



2 Times per year: Spring/Summer & Fall/Winter

  • Purchase, gently used children's clothes for great prices!
  • Consign your gently used children's clothes to make some extra money
  • Volunteer to work during the event to earn early shopping passes
  • Help market the event to earn early shopping passes
  • Sales in about 16 states and about 49 cities!


Lisa told me how awesome the sale was and how it had blessed her family by helping them to save money and stock up on a season's worth of clothes for her kids in one place at one time!
So I jumped in! And I am so thankful!

That first sale, I consigned the minimum amount of clothes and volunteered for 2 shifts. And was able to shop early! I had so much fun working with the other volunteers and the ladies of Rhea Lana's and the shopping was so great! I don't remember how much I spent that first time, but I remember how fulfilling it felt to purchase good, quality clothing at great and affordable prices for my sweet girl!

And since that first time, I have consigned, volunteered, marketed, and shopped til I dropped at Rhea Lana's Consignment Events in Conway!

This year is no different! I attended marketing day at their Conway office, grabbed a car magnet as part of marketing and signed up to work my shifts at the sale!
I have begun pulling out all of Aspen and Hunter's spring/summer wardrobes from last year and going through their toys, books, movies, and games that they have outgrown.
I will begin washing and cleaning up all of the items that are still in good, gently used condition and prepare them to be entered into Rhea Lana's easy-to-use consignor system. In this system I customize everything that the labels will say: the description of the item, the size and the price, with a minimum price of $3.
I also get to choose if I would like this item to be sold at half-price the last two days of the sale, and if I would like to donate items if they are not sold when the sale closes.

I make all of these decisions, prepare my items by marking, hanging and packaging them properly and on the scheduled drop-off day, I take my items to the sale to be inspected and dropped off.

This sounds like a lot of work doesn't it? But I have so much fun doing it!

One thing that I enjoy about it the most, is that it is a trip down memory lane! Each outfit has a memory attached to it and this process is a great way to remind myself of special times that I have had with my kiddos. And by consigning at Rhea Lana's, we get to let go of the item (not the memory) and allow someone else to make their own memories, with their own children, without having to spend a fortune on a dress, pair of shoes, or the cutest set of pajamas you have ever seen!
Plus, I am making room for more memory making clothes, shoes, toys, books, and games for my own kids!

Each step in the process is thoroughly explained and any tips and tricks are shared on Rhea Lana's website, including tutorial videos!
 http://www.rhealana.com/

Almost every sale that I have participated in, I have either made money or broken even, meaning I spent the same amount of money on new items as I did on the 70% profit of the items that that I sold.

I can't explain how excited I am when Rhea Lana's comes around! My friend Cara and I normally sign up to work on the same shifts so that we can work and shop together. The early shopping pass that we earn allows us to shop at 8 am before the sale opens to the public, and we get there about 6:30 in the morning! The last 2 or 3 sales, we have been among the first 3 people in line and the other ladies that are in line with us are the same ones as the sales before, so we have gained friendships as well!

Just a little more information and then I will stop jabbering! :-)
In an average sale, now that I have two children,
I probably save over $261 per child!!!!!
I will show you how I got that number: based on average prices at http://www.carters.com/carters (a brand that I have preferred for my kids from birth-5 years) and my experiences at Rhea Lana's.

I try to have a list of things that we NEED before I shop.
  • Example: 6 pair of shorts, 2 short sets, 10 shirts, 4 pajamas, 3 shoes
  • The average price I would pay at Rhea Lana's will vary, but be close to the following:
    • 6-shorts $5 per pair = $30
    • 2-short sets $5 per set = $10
    • 10-shirts $3 per shirt = $30
    • 4-pajamas $4 per set = $16
    • 3-shoes $5 per pair = $15
    • For a Grand Total of $101
  • Keep in mind this price will vary because each consignor (and there are about 1,000) choose the prices for their items. A shirt with consignor 'A' may be $3 while the same shirt with consignor 'B' may be $5. And the older the child, I have learned the price may go up a bit. 
  • The average prices below are from the Carters website, linked above: (and I even cut them a break considering they offer online coupons and they have seasonal sales as well.)
    • 6-shorts $15 per pair = $90
    • 2-short sets $30 per set = $60
    • 10-shirts $10 per shirt = $100
    • 4-pajamas $13 per set = $52
    • 3-shoes $20 per pair = $60
    • For a Grand Total of $362
Like I said, that is for ONE child and the savings is IMMENSE! 


And if you are anything like me, you don't just stop at what is on your "list"...I go kind of crazy, because it is such a bargain!!! And don't forget that the last 2 days of a season's sale, anything that does not have a Red Dot on the tag is HALF-PRICE! This is a great time to go back to the sale, see what is left and grab a few more, even more affordable items! 

I highly encourage you to check out Rhea Lana's website and check on a sale that is near you or any of your family. This is a great opportunity to recycle, so to speak. Clothes are expensive!!! Even for the tiny humans that we have been gifted to take care of on planet Earth! In the economy that we live in, it is hard to afford to buy brand new seasonal clothes for each child in our family, and Rhea Lana's helps to ease that burden, whether you choose to volunteer, consign and shop, or you just come to take advantage of the great shopping prices! There is something for every family!

Stop by at: www.rhealana.com
Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rhealana






Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SSMTC! Houston Bound!



Two days before I will be in Houston TX for the Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration (aka SSMTC)!

I am SO EXCITED! 

I will be accompanied by one of my best friends, Cara, and we will be road-tripping! We did this in December 2010 to a Living Proof Live Conference in Birmingham, and had a blast! 
I'm sure this time will be just as much fun and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us on this trip!
We plan to leave very early Friday morning and (hopefully) be in Houston to check in to our hotel by 3pm. The doors open at 6 pm, so we will enjoy about an hour at the hotel, getting ready, fixing our hair, etc. And then head to eat, and be back to the church around 5:15/5:30 to get in line!

On Saturday the conference is from 8-12 and afterwards, we are grabbing lunch and then going to check out the Texas Art Asylum before hitting the road again to head home! 
Whether it is lunch Saturday or dinner Friday, we plan to try Pappasito's! We both love Mexican food and when we went to Birmingham we made it a point to find a local restaurant and enjoy! It is kind of becoming a tradition for us on road-trips! 

The drive up there will be filled with us quizzing each other on our memory verses! It will be a great 8 hours worth of practice! 

Anyways, I know this post does not pertain to anything at all important to anyone else, but I just wanted to share my enthusiasm and just say how big of an impact memorizing scripture has had in my life.

I have begun to memorize scripture with my 5 year old daughter and it is such a blessing for me, and I know she so enjoys it too! And it will help equip her in the future for the many valleys that we as adults are very aware of; So please take time out of your life to sit in His Word and drink it up...keep it in your heart so that at any given moment, you will be prepared to spiritually battle with the enemy.

And most of all, He wrote it...He breathed it. As a blogger, when I know or see that people are reading what I post, it gives me a feeling like "wow, someone does care."...I can only imagine how awesome God feels when His children sit and encounter Him in His Word....when they glorify Him by obeying and hiding His Truths and Promises in our hearts, so that we can share Him with the world! Let's honor Him in this way! It is something that I believe everyone is equipped to do. Some of us can't give a lot of money, some can't go out and build homes for the weak and weary, some can't sing (beautifully) or speak great sermons: But we can all hide His Word, the Holy Bible, in our hearts and glorify Him just the same!

I love you, the one reading this, with the love that Christ has given to us all, and I pray that you are blessed and filled to the measure! Jesus loves you!

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 
may have power, together with all the saints, 
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV


(If you don't mind praying for our travels this weekend and for the Holy Spirit to be glorified at this conference. Thanks)