Three 31


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God Is With Us, Always!

I’ve had so many questions for God lately:

Will that person return to church? Will that person get pregnant? Will that job opportunity come to fruition? What effects will General Conference have on local churches? Are my friends in Haiti and Jerusalem safe? Will I be a strong leader this summer? Will that person get another interview? Is private school in my son’s future? Are we making sound investment decisions? Who am I called to mentor and invest my life in? Who am I called to shadow and learn from? Will that person realize the value of a personal relationship with God and prioritize their faith development? Will that person accept my invitation? How can I help that person realize they can never run away from God? Does that person know she is worth so much more? Should I trust that person?

As you can tell, I have had a lot of questions about a lot of people and situations in my life. I’ve had moments of hopelessness and weak faith. I’ve been disappointed and discouraged. I’ve been inpatient and restless. When I’ve wanted to give up, I have felt a nudge to keep going.

Despite all my questions for God, I know one thing is for sure: I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know WHO holds tomorrow and I trust Him. Oh yes, sweet friends, I trust God! And to make sure I don’t forget He is with me, the song He Is With Us by Love & The Outcome played on the radio today. It was nothing short of divine intervention – a truffle of heaven, a taste of His sweetness for me to savor in a sour moment. Listen to the lyrics – they are powerful and true.

We can trust our God
He knows what He’s doing
Though it might hurt now
We won’t be ruined
It might seem there’s an ocean in between
But He’s holding on to you and me
And He’s never gonna leave, no
He is with us, He is with us

I am so thankful God continues to speak to me through His Word and reveal truths and encouragement to me every time I seek Him. Look at these 13 instances where God is with his people in the Bible:

Don’t be afraid because I am with you.
Genesis 26:24 (Common English Bible)

God has been with me.
Genesis 31:5

Because the Lord your God, who is with you and among you…
Deuteronomy 6:15a

May the Lord our God be with us, just as he was with our ancestors. May he never leave us or abandon us.
1 Kings 8:57

Because we sought the Lord our God and he sought us and surrounded us with rest.
2 Chronicles 14:7b

The power of our God was with us; he saved us from the power of the enemy and ambushes along the way.
Ezra 8:31

The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
Psalm 46:7a

But God is with us …
Isaiah 8:8

Don’t fear, because I am with you.
Isaiah 41:10a

They will attack you, but they won’t defeat you, because I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 1:19

I am with you, says the Lord.
Haggai 1:13b

Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel. (Emmanuel means “God with us.”)
Matthew 1:23

Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us.
Ephesians 3:20

The God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:9b

Throughout the Bible, God continues to remind me that He has been with me in the past, is with me now, and will be with me in the future. So when my hope is lost, my faith is shaken, and I wonder if I’m going to make it out of dark times, I remember He is with me.

Come what may, I am not afraid because God is with me.

Amen!


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2016 Resolutions Update // April

I have not watched a single minute of Star Wars, but may the fourth be with you! Here’s what I did (or didn’t do) in April:

FOR MYSELF

Participate in the Read Scripture project Definitely behind but I will catch up … promise!
Keep a prayer journal, such as this one
Write a few sentences every day in a journal (I already have one of these.)
Read the Bible … again (using this plan) Still behind on this too.
Learn “Inductive Bible Study” and attend a PUP course
Create one Bible Journaling page a month January: no page; February: no page; March – no page; April – no page
Finish Believe study
Forgive “S” because holding a grudge is weighing me down
Walk/Jog/Run in the Wicked Wine 5K with Mom-Tribe on March 26 FAIL – did not happen.
Get photos printed and display in our home
Utilize health coach and benefits (i.e. pedometer, reimbursements, etc.)
Wear size 16 pants

FOR OTHERS

Lead this Bible study
Start a small group
Host a meal with Mom-Tribe every month March 17 – Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a Toddler-Mommy party at our house.
Continue writing for Sweet Jesus Ministries Things with SJM are going very well – I feel like I have found a niche for my passions: Bible study, women’s ministries, and blog writing.
Potty train Kamden It’s hit or miss (no pun intended) with Kamden’s potty trips but he did go number two while I was away at a church conference in Ohio. It’s the first milestone I think I’ve missed – but Daddy celebrated and cleaned up the mess!
Move Kamden to a big bed
Take Kamden on a train
Celebrate Husband’s 40th birthday
Donate unwanted books DONE!

FOR FUN

Find three hobbies: one to make money, one to stay in shape, and one to be creative
Host “Games with Friends” and play this, this, this, this and this!
Use Skype
Photo editing “workshop” with Becky
Sell the Camry
Save money earned from photography sessions to invest in new equipment
Publish a blog series
Go on a family vacation
Create my family tree with Ancestry dot com

MORE

Exercising
Dates with Husband
January – Husband took the day off so we could go shoot while Kamden was at school. Unfortunately, it was too cold and windy to shoot at the outdoor range and the indoor facility was reserved for a private event. But we enjoyed lunch and being alone for couple of hours.
February – no date with Husband
March – went to the gun range and ate lunch at Schlotzsky’s
April – no date

Sleeping
Picture-taking
Housekeeping and organization
Rounds of golf Played in the Glen Lake Classic (benefitting Glen Lake Camp) on April 8; my team shot 7-under (64).
Snail mail
Reading
Blogging
Meal planning (helpful printable)

MONTHLY GOALS

January – Log 1,000 minutes of exercise for the #SJM1000MinuteChallenge. FAILED. This is a big disappointment because I was the person responsible for coordinating the event with Sweet Jesus Ministries. I ended up with 865 minutes of exercise for the month of January, which is well below the goal I had for the month.

February – Embrace role as spiritual mentor. This is going well! Go to the gym three days a week or more. Semi-failure as I have been inconsistent some weeks. Coordinate small group with C8M. Fail. Start organizing “City on a Hill” event on behalf of the church. Semi-failure. I’ve only talked to a few people about volunteering.

March – I guess I didn’t set a monthly goal; whoops.

April – Obtain a sponsor for new volunteer t-shirts at church before April 15. SUCCESS – I got three (3) sponsors for the t-shirts!
This wasn’t a published goal but definitely an answered prayer: I’ve been waiting forever it seems to catch my neighbor outside with her children. We’ve passed each other on the road for 9 years but never formally introduced ourselves. I saw her in the yard and stopped and introduced myself …. and invited her to church and women’s study this summer!

May – Drink 100 ounces of water every day. Prepare the Summer Studies Series (Bible Studies for adults) by May 20.


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Jesus Was Never Too Busy

TOO BUSY - Three 31I’m busy.

I arrived home two nights ago from a two-day conference for church leaders in Ohio. Mom and Dad are driving from Kentucky today and staying a week … and my house is not exactly ready for the parental units. I’m in the final weeks of a year-long Bible study and leading three short-term studies this summer. I’m coordinating a group of unpaid servants for a community festival next month and a women’s retreat in September. I am mentoring a teenage girl going through confirmation and a woman who is new to The United Methodist Church and helping her navigate and read the Bible, a book she never owned until three weeks ago. Did I mention I’m also a wife and mother of a two-year-old?

Too often, I feel distracted and suffocated by my to-do list. And, more often than not, I am “too busy” with meaningless and mundane tasks. Please tell me I’m not alone here!

In our instantly gratifying and consumer-driven society, it’s easy to become distracted by the trendy and lose sight of what is eternal.

Despite the lack of technology and smartphones in Biblical times, Jesus still suffered disappointment, dealt with fear, anxiety, and stress, and he was tempted with worldly desires. But Jesus was never too busy to reconnect with his Father.

Jesus came to live among us on earth and speak the word of God because he is the Word of God (John 1:1). He provided us the perfect example of being in an intimate relationship with God by not only studying and sharing Scripture, but engaging in prayer, serving others, and, ultimately, sacrificing himself for those who believe he is Lord.

It is spiritually fatal to reach a level of busyness and become so distracted that we leave God completely out of our daily activities.

Have you ever considered Jesus’s ministry on earth and how he was never too busy to meet people where they were no matter what he was doing or who he was with?

  • Jesus was never too busy to heal the sick … even a woman who simply believed she would be healed by touching the hem of her Savior’s shirt. (Luke 8:44)
  • Jesus was never too busy to dine with friends … even though one of them would betray him. (Matthew 26:21)
  • Jesus was never too busy to teach parables … even the chosen 12 had to pay the cost of discipleship. (Luke 14:25-33)
  • Jesus was never too busy to go away and pray … even though friends, family, and strangers demanded his attention. (Mark 1:35)
  • Jesus was never too busy to save … even while dying on the cross, He promised a robber a seat at God’s heavenly banquet. (Luke 23:32-43)

Amongst large crowds, constant interruptions, teaching and equipping the 12 disciples, mourning the death of a close friend, and celebrating miracles, Jesus always made time to connect with his Holy Father and minister to the sick, poor, and oppressed. His priorities were right: love God and love people — Jesus kept the main things the main things!

One of the most beautiful things about the resurrected Jesus is that he continues to seek us even when we are “too busy” to seek him.

So, dear friend, if it’s been a while since you’ve connected with God and his kingdom, I encourage you to make today a day of new beginnings.

  • You don’t have to limit your worship to Sundays, read a devotional or listen to praise music.
  • If it’s been a while since you’ve had a conversation with God, spend a few minutes in His presence and engage in some divine dialogue. I promise you, if you seek Him, you will find Him!
  • If it’s been a while since you’ve opened your Bible, read one of the four Gospels. Or James. Or Ephesians. Or Jonah. Or Philippians. Or Ruth. Or 1 John.
  • If it’s been a while since you’ve talked to a friend or mentor, send them a quick message or give them a call.
  • If you’ve been absent from a small group for several weeks or months, make it a priority to attend the next gathering.
  • If you can serve someone in need, don’t miss the opportunity!

If Jesus is our ultimate model for how we are to live life on earth, we cannot be “too busy” to follow His example.

Awesome and perfect God, settle our souls, quieten our minds, and restore peace to our hearts. Free us from the fast pace of this world and meaningless distractions that impede our view of you. We place our calendars and to-do lists in your offering plate. Help us distinguish the significant from the insignificant and keep the main thing the main thing: you. We pray that the next time we say “too busy” it is in the context of being in worship, prayer, study, relationship, and service to you and your kingdom.

Amen.

 


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A Toddler-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day with #GerberLilBeanies

This is a sponsored post for #GerberLilBeanies written on behalf of The Women Bloggers in association with @KendalKingGroup and #SoapboxInfluence; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I love hosting get-togethers because it forces me to clean our house, prepare lots of food, and decorate for the holiday or season. During spring break, Kamden and I hosted a toddler-friendly, mom-approved St. Patrick’s Day party featuring Gerber’s brand new snack, Lil Beanies. If you’re familiar with Gerber snack products, you know the quality is top-notch. Kids love the taste and parents love the nutritional value and wallet-friendly price. In our house, we believe:

#GerberLilBeanies are tasty.

Kamden’s tastes have been all over the map lately. I blame 1% of it on outdoor allergies and teething and the other 99% on being a cantankerous two-year-old. His orneriness aside, Kamden is a BIG fan of #GerberLilBeanies. During the party, Kamden always had a can beside him!

#GerberLilBeanies on Three31

#GerberLilBeanies are perfectly sized for toddlers’ small fingers.

When Kamden started eating solids, I was the paranoid first-time parent afraid of him choking on a grain of rice. I grew out of that quickly (thank goodness!) and trust that #GerberLilBeanies are safe for snacking. They’re easy for little fingers to grab, handle, and share with their buddies – and perfect for school lunches too!

#GerberLilBeanies on Three31

#GerberLilBeanies on Three31

#GerberLilBeanies are less of a mess.

You know that ridiculous orange powder that sticks to every surface when eating those “other” cheesy snacks? Yeah, well, forget about that orange powder because #GerberLilBeanies are a less messy snack option. Your kiddos won’t be leaving orange fingerprints all over your house, car, or dining table when eating these!

#GerberLilBeanies for Three31

#GerberLilBeanies on Three31

#GerbeLilBeanies are found at Wal-Mart and priced right.

I have a confession to make: Kamden and I had to buy more canisters of Lil Beanies before our St. Patrick’s Day party because we ate most of the canisters provided to us! We totally got into them beforehand and enjoyed several afternoons of uninhibited snacking while playing at the park. Priced at just $1.86 per canister, Lil Beanies are economical.

#GerberLilBeanies on Three31

#GerberLilBeanies are nutritional.

Lil Beanies do not contain preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, or GMOs – you can’t say that about other snacks! They are made with navy beans and rice flour, providing protein and fiber in every serving. Lil Beanies are available in TWO great flavors: Original (sea salt) and White Cheddar and Broccoli. Both of them were a huge hit at our party – notice the empty canisters!

#GerberLilBeanies on Three31

#GerberLilBeanies on Three31

The “big kids” enjoyed #GerberLilBeanies too!

If you like cheesy and crunchy without the mess, you’ll love Lil Beanies. Like I said, they are approved by toddlers and adults alike!

I have the best group of friends on the planet because they love me, love my son, and accept my crazy ideas to whip together a last-minute party to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and try new Gerber snacks! I’m so thankful for this bunch and grateful they’re not as crazy as I am (yet).

#GerberLilBeanies on Three31

#GerberLilBeanies on Three31

#GerberLilBeanies on Three 31

This post wouldn’t be complete with details on all the food I made with excessive amounts of green food coloring and the most adorable mini chalkboard easels I found in the clearance bin at Michaels:

Spinach salad with goat cheese, crumbled bacon, candied pecans, and maple vinaigrette
Green Veggie Tray (cucumbers, broccoli, celery and bell peppers) with Avocado Ranch dipping sauce
Chicken Salad on Homemade Yeast Rolls
Chicken Nuggets

Spinach Dip
Blueberry Muffins
Margarita Cupcakes (non-alcoholic, of course!) made by the lovely Celeste
Macaroons, made by the talented Britton
Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Buttercream Icing
Leprechaun Punch

#GerberLilBeanies on Three 31

#GerberLilBeanies on Three 31

#GerberLilBeanies on Three31

Friends, head to your local Wal-Mart right now and grab a canister (or 10) of Lil Beanies! Little hands love them and parents approve too.


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2016 Resolutions Update // March

2016resolutions

Whoa, March happened in a hurry. At the beginning of the month, the calendar was empty but it filled up fast. I have a feeling April is going to be similar. Here is my (belated) recap for the third month of 2016:

FOR MYSELF

Participate in the Read Scripture project Still behind on Bible reading schedule but I will make up for lost time … I get on reading binges where I read more than the daily assignment suggested.
Keep a prayer journal, such as this one
Write a few sentences every day in a journal (I already have one of these.)
Read the Bible … again (using this plan) A bit behind on this too but I’ll get back on track – I went on a Bible reading binge last weekend and read three books in the New Testament in one sitting.
Learn “Inductive Bible Study” and attend a PUP course
Create one Bible Journaling page a month January: no page; February: no page; March – no page
Finish Believe study
Forgive “S” because holding a grudge is weighing me down
Walk/Jog/Run in the Wicked Wine 5K with Mom-Tribe on March 26 FAIL – did not happen.
Get photos printed and display in our home
Utilize health coach and benefits (i.e. pedometer, reimbursements, etc.) Don’t remember speaking to the health coach this month. Sadly, I wouldn’t have anything positive to report.
Wear size 16 pants

FOR OTHERS

Lead this Bible study
Start a small group
Host a meal with Mom-Tribe every month March 17 – Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a Toddler-Mommy party at our house. Stay tuned for a separate post with lots of details and fun pictures!
Continue writing for Sweet Jesus Ministries Things with SJM are going very well – I feel like I have found a niche for my passions: Bible study, women’s ministries, and blog writing.
Potty train Kamden We’re nowhere near being completely potty trained, but Kamden peed-peed in the potty several times each week. We’ll get there eventually, right?!?!
Move Kamden to a big bed Kamden now sleeps on a regular bed when we’re at Grammy and Pappy’s house so the transition should be simple at home – we’ll have to get his mattress soon because he’s quickly getting too big for his crib. The boy is tall, y’all!
Take Kamden on a train
Celebrate Husband’s 40th birthday
Donate unwanted books SUCCESS – got rid of four boxes full of books and magazines for a garage sale supporting the youth group at church. My bookshelves look amazing!

FOR FUN

Find three hobbies: one to make money, one to stay in shape, and one to be creative
Host “Games with Friends” and play this, this, this, this and this!
Use Skype
Photo editing “workshop” with Becky
Sell the Camry
Save money earned from photography sessions to invest in new equipment
Publish a blog series
Go on a family vacation
Create my family tree with Ancestry dot com

MORE

Exercising
Dates with Husband
January – Husband took the day off so we could go shoot while Kamden was at school. Unfortunately, it was too cold and windy to shoot at the outdoor range and the indoor facility was reserved for a private event. But we enjoyed lunch and being alone for couple of hours.
February – no date with Husband
March – went to the gun range and ate lunch at Schlotzsky’s for a turkey club

Sleeping
Picture-taking
Housekeeping and organization
Rounds of golf
Snail mail
Reading I’m currently reading a great book on the apostle Paul.
Blogging
Meal planning (helpful printable)

MONTHLY GOALS

January – Log 1,000 minutes of exercise for the #SJM1000MinuteChallenge. FAILED. This is a big disappointment because I was the person responsible for coordinating the event with Sweet Jesus Ministries. I ended up with 865 minutes of exercise for the month of January, which is well below the goal I had for the month.

February – Embrace role as spiritual mentor. This is going well! Go to the gym three days a week or more. Semi-failure as I have been inconsistent some weeks. Coordinate small group with C8M. Fail. Start organizing “City on a Hill” event on behalf of the church. Semi-failure. I’ve only talked to a few people about volunteering.

March – I guess I didn’t set a monthly goal; whoops.

April – Obtain a sponsor for new volunteer t-shirts at church before April 15.


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What’s so “good” about Good Friday?

GOOD FRIDAY 2016

What is so good about Good Friday? How can anything good come from something so bad?

Today is Good Friday, perhaps the most significant event in the history of the world. It’s a day filled with somber worship in dark spaces, dreadful songs, and Scripture passages of death, pain, suffering, and humiliation of an innocent man.

The cross, a symbolic representation of God’s unconditional love (vertical beam) and His desire for us to be in communal relationships with other believers (horizontal beam), leads us to the resurrection with shouts of praise saying, “Easter is coming!” According to the apostle Paul, Good Friday is “most important” for our faith foundation (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Can Good Friday really be that good?

YES!

As terrible as the events were, Jesus’ willingness to die on the cross not only fulfilled Scripture and his Heavenly Father’s purpose for his life on earth, but it also paved the way for believers to be reconciled, redeemed, and restored – God’s ultimate and divine plan to save His people once and for all.

Without the events of Good Friday, there would be no joy or cause for celebration on Easter Sunday.

Though Jesus was fully human and experienced betrayal and great pain, he was also fully divine. Jesus knew his fate. Despite this, he endured Good Friday that led to a Great Sunday: his resurrection provided the free gift of grace and established God’s peace on earth and in heaven forever (Hebrews 12:2).

Good Friday conquered death and we have eternal life because of it.

As painful as it is to remember the events of Good Friday, we cannot ignore it like naïve Easter Sunday Christians. The Bible provides many reminders that life on earth is not easy or trouble free. Even though we believe who Jesus is and what He did for us, life happens – a promise is broken, a child becomes sick, and finances become tight. But Christ’s instructions for his disciples are still applicable today: “take up your cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).

Today, remember that Good Friday really is good. While we were still sinners living in a broken world full of broken people, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8).

Good Friday also reminds us of Easter’s ultimate price. It is the day hopelessness met mercy and condemnation met grace.

While what happened to Jesus was not good, the results were very good – Good Friday is the beginning of our Happily Ever After!


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The Day I Lost My Marbles (SELAH Bible Study)

SELAH - The Day I Lost My Marbles

I’m not proud of the day I lost my marbles and yelled at my toddler son, but I admit it happened. I was still reeling from our errand-running trip and his fussiness through the book store. I knew he was hungry, he hadn’t eaten much breakfast and it was well past noon, and I had to check ONE. MORE. THING. off my to-do list. After a hearty lunch that satisfied both of our grumbling bellies, I sat at my desk to send an overdue email when Kamden came over with his toy car. I know he didn’t intentionally press the keyboard, but he did and my incomplete email was sent haphazardly. I was upset. Actually, I was mad. I got angry at Kamden for being a curious two-year-old and even madder at myself for being mad at him for something insignificant. Aye ai ai – moms, PLEASE tell me I’m not the only one who has felt this way!

SCRIPTURE

Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people. The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him. ~ Colossians 3:12-17 (Common English Bible)

EXPLANATION

As God’s chosen one, I am his representative on earth. I have to lose my selfishness and clothe myself in His compassion, kindness, and patience.

There are teachable moments everywhere – dwell in them! Be grateful for tough lessons and grow in wisdom.

Whatever you do, with words or actions, do it all for Jesus because you love Him.

LESSONS

God chose ME to be a wife, mother, friend, etc. These are not mere assignments or titles or privileges, they are DIVINE CALLINGS.

Kamden quickly forgot his mother’s sudden outburst and we enjoyed our pre-nap ritual: snacks, stories, and snuggles. The hardest lesson of all: forgiving myself for the angry outburst.

I need a wardrobe that cannot be found on the racks of any department store or clearance bin. I need my heart, mind, and mouth to be accessorized with compassion, kindness, humility, patience, and forgiveness. Most importantly, I need to wear LOVE from head to toe every single day because it binds everything together in perfect harmony!

APPLICATION

Dwell in Christ and he will dwell in you. The closer I am to Christ, the more my words, actions, behaviors, and attitudes reflect Him too.

Whatever you do – whether it is washing dishes, folding laundry, changing diapers, teaching Bible study, organizing play dates, writing a thank-you note, packing a school lunch, or loving on your spouse – do it in the name of Jesus, in His honor, and thank God for the opportunity to love and serve others.

HONOR

Gracious and loving God, you have once again revealed to me an area of my life that needs attention. Though I perceive to have compassion, humility, and patience, I am actually threadbare. Patch me like only you can and challenge me to exercise these spiritual fruits for your honor and glory. Amen.

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