Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
I’ve always been a little envious of those women who have a “BFF.” Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had friends, best friends even. But that whole “forever” part has been elusive. No need for sympathy, this isn’t a whiney cry for friendship, just a contemplation. To be honest, around this time of year I get reflective with holiday greeting cards, letters, pictures, and the inevitable melancholy and sometimes deep bouts of loneliness I feel living far from our large families.
Psychological research tells us that women have more close, emotionally intimate friendships than men do. Men often report that their “best friend” is their spouse. Women, who are just as likely to report their husband as their best friend, state that in addition to their husband they have many close female friends and typically at least one, or several women, who are “besties.”
Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of friends. I am an easy extrovert, prone to embrace those I’m with as if we were just together yesterday, and will meet again tomorrow for deep, intimate conversation. And I’m being genuine, I really feel that way. And from what I hear, a lot of us women are similar. But real life gets in the way…or makes the way maybe…for those friendships.
I’ve always longed for that friend who has known me since early childhood, lived with me every day, and will be in my world until we die. For some, that’s a mother-daughter, or sister-sister friendship. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Mom and sisters and we get along great, but the years and the miles separating us hasn’t allowed those “let’s hang out and share everything” kind of relationships. I did have a BF in childhood, through the early teens, but we moved, then she moved. We did reconnect a few years back, but it’s not the same of course. Too much life has been lived. I’ve had high school and college and early motherhood BFs…but again those random calls and get-togethers and Christmas newsletters don’t make up for the time we missed “knowing” each other on a day-to-day basis. Of course, I have friends that I don’t talk to for months or years and when we talk it’s just like we were together yesterday…but it takes so long to get caught up that you can’t really live in the moment, share today’s struggle or joy, without spending an hour back tracking how you got there. I have friends in the moment, friends that I can invite to tea, friends that would be there if I needed them, but to be honest, they only know me as the current me.
My husband truly is my bestie. I trust him completely and he does his best to listen and share. We laugh together and argue with each other and really know each other and our life together. We don’t have to get caught up before we can launch into the day’s challenges or accomplishments. But we’ve only shared 25 years together. Naturally, we know about each other’s lives BM (before marriage), but it’s not like we’ve been BFFs (please read that with the appropriate slang, Valley-girl inflection and facial expression😊).
As my years progress I’ve come to accept that there will never be a BFF who has shared all of life with me. That deep longing I have for being completely known and accepted and loved unconditionally will never be met in a person…only in Jesus.
…but there is a friend who sticks closer than a [sister]. Proverbs 18:24b
Can I encourage you to read the prayer below as your own, out loud? Listen to yourself and believe it.
Lord, you are the only one that truly, deeply, intimately knows me and honestly loves me unconditionally. You knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb. You knew the choices I was going to make before I made them. You know the hurts and joys of my life, yesterday, today and tomorrow. You are always available for me, you never put me on hold or make an empty promise to “get together soon.” You’re a great time-manager and willing to help if asked. And you’ve got the best advice…you know the beginning from the end, every person’s motives and actions. You are sovereign, in control of the entire universe! You created me to be just who I am now, but you’re also working on the “best me” that you had in mind. You’ve got a plan and a purpose for me, no matter where I am in life’s journey; and you promise to never leave me or love me any less, no matter what I do or think or say. When I make a mistake or I’m selfish or I really mess up and hurt you or others, you gently show me truth and love me through it. Lord you aren’t going to hurt me, ever. You are always good, you always have my best in mind and I can trust you completely, every single day. I can overcome yesterday, deal with today, and face tomorrow with You. Amen.
I LOVE Christmas! For most of us, I am guessing the feeling is mutual. That is, if you can find the simple message of love underneath all the layers of noise and clutter that our culture has added.
As I have taken some moments to meditate on Jesus, the most precious gift Papa God ever gave, I have been astounded by God’s nature revealed in the way He presents this indescribable gift. He is a God of the process.
Let me explain what I mean. When God planned to save the world, He could have done so in an instant, but He didn’t. Instead, He came to a virgin and told her she would conceive. He set in motion a process that would eventually lead to the salvation of mankind.
Likewise, each of us is born with a divine purpose. God had a specific plan in mind when He created us. Psalm 139 says that before we were born, every day of our lives was already recorded in His book. He could so easily accomplish that purpose all on His own, but instead He created you so that His purpose could be fulfilled through partnership and process.
So what does this mean for us? First, I think it is time for us to lay aside the burden of trying to be perfect for everyone at every moment. That pressure was never meant for you to carry. Instead, love the one in front of you with the love of the Father.
We need to give ourselves some grace. In our pursuit of God and His purpose for our lives, we will make mistakes. But God is okay with process. In fact, He takes joy in it, and so should we. Mistakes are not who we are, they are part of the beauty of learning and growing.
We need to give others grace as well. Acknowledge that the people around you are in process too. Celebrate their progress, and in doing so, propel them towards God’s perfect plan for their lives. Our husbands and children especially need this from us.
This Christmas season, let’s rejoice in the God of process. It’s not always comfortable and there is often waiting involved, but there is joy in knowing that as we follow the Holy Spirit’s lead, His plan and purpose is being completed in us.
God, Your ways are so much higher than our ways. Give us the strength to not only trust you in the process, but to celebrate the progress along the way knowing that you make all things beautiful in Your time. Thank you for the gift of Jesus!
The last 21 days of 2017 – finish strong!
So this is it , 2017 is almost in the books. For some it has been a chill year, for the most – it was full of unexpected turns and twist and victories and tears and questions and answers.
New year resolutions have never appealed to me, because those are barely kept or even remembered by March, let alone July. You know it’s true! We have so many plans and ambitions but a long term goals tend to lose their grip two months into it.
I recently have watched a study conducted by Dr. Caroline Leif, she is a Christian neuroscientist, she studies the way our brain works and patterns of thoughts and behaviors (phenomenal lady! Check her out on YouTube). In her video she showed how our brain responds to a negative thinking , she then shows a different video of how our brain reacts to the virus of any sorts in our body. To my utter shock, the reaction to a negative thought/word is identical to the reaction when virus is entering the body!! Mind blown!! You mean to tell me that my negative thinking and speaking is making me sick??? I am speechless. Dr. Leif then added that it takes 21 days to reverse the damages of our own negative thinking! It’s not impossible to reverse, but we must train our brain to think differently and it takes work . It’s not s new concept, in Philippians 4:8 Paul gives us a list of things we should be focusing our mind on .
This made me think : IF it takes 21 days to reverse the damage of the negative thinking and speaking, why not spend the last 21 days of 2017 renewing our minds and finish this year strong ????
Let’s pay attention to :
- The way we think and speak to others ( let’s be less critical and more complimentary . Give 5-10 compliments or encouragements a day . Look for someone’s achievement and praise them for it )
- The way we think and treat ourselves ( Lisa Bevere once said in her study “ I paid attention to the way I think of myself .. and I believe I owe myself an apology.” So, for the next 21 days, speak life over yourself , speak health , speak compassion and grace and victory . You are your biggest obstacle)
- Think of the things that make you tired, change your mind set . For example: You don’t have to work, you get to work (many want to work, but can’t ); you don’t have to cook and clean dishes, you get to do that and that mean you have food in the fridge, family to feed, bellies to fill and hearts to shape around that dinner table .
- Look back on the shortcomings in 2017 and do something you didn’t have the guts to do …. restore the broken relationship, maybe reevaluate the relationship that has been dragging you down and set some needed boundaries. Don’t be afraid to change your opinion of someone else! What if this person you have been avoiding has changed and ready to hear you? What if the friend who refuses to change is now influencing you in the wrong direction?
- Break the pattern, open up the mind. Go sit in the different seat at the church on Sunday! Change things up during the week – order a new coffee beverage, try a new color of lipstick, have a new spot for the Bible reading .
- Make a vision board. Do you know where you are headed and why? Do you know what God called you to do? Myles Monroe in his book talks about one thing we never want to contribute-the cemetery. Why? The richest place on earth is cemetery, it is filled with unfulfilled dreams, visions, opportunities that were never taken, battles that never were won and victories that never got claimed. When I am gone, I won’t need a gravestone, my life and choice will effect generations after me. Make that vision board, train your brain to attract to the vision God placed in your life .
- Make memories
- Dream big
- Believe the impossible
- Have risking faith
- Renew your mind
Cheers to the strong finish of 2017!
Much love ,
So, what is your favorite Christmas carol? When we go caroling, I am always excited to sing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Not only does it have a playful feel, but I feel like it is the carol which tells it all.
This is the month that we give one another gifts in love to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is because of the ultimate gift and love of the one true God that we do. Our God, our Creator, gave us his Son. He didn’t do this to commemorate a warm and fuzzy moment between himself and his creation. No, He gave us Jesus as an atonement for the sins that had torn us apart from God, that we may be reconciled to Him. Jesus was the perfect, sinless, sacrifice that ended all need for any other sacrifices.
I would like to give you “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in my own words now:
God give you peace; do not lose courage. Remember we celebrate Christmas because Christ was born to save us from Satan’s power when we were still in sin.
Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Israel with only a manger for a bed, but his mother Mary was content, for she bore God’s one true Son.
Our heavenly Father sent angels to announce his glory and the joy of His Son’s miraculous birth. All will be blessed, and the lowly shepherds were told this first.
The shepherds were frightened by this glorious showing, but the angels quickly comforted them and told them about the birth of the promised king from prophecies hundreds of years old.
The shepherds were so excited about this news, they left their flocks unattended in the fields and ran to worship the newborn king. They found Him not in a castle or born into a wealthy family. He was born into humble circumstances so much like their own; so much like most of our own. The baby’s mother did pray.
To God be the glory and praise! Greet one another in love and peace; that is the spirit of the Christmas season.
God bless you and your family and friends; long life to you all. May God send you a happy new year!
LORD, I know Mary and Joseph didn’t know exactly what events would eventually befall the baby Mary carried. You came to them and requested their trust and obedience, and that is what they gave You. What a treasure this is that you have given to us: your baby boy, your one true Son. You have given Him to all of us through his birth, death, and resurrection – may we all know and trust You in this. May we obey your command to admit our sins, believe in the sacrifice You gave for us to conquer those sins and the deaths we deserve, and may we be made new through receiving your Holy Spirit within us. Thank You! Thank You! LORD, Thank You. Be blessed in our love and humble presence at your throne; we worship You. I pray we all know the fullness of your presence and share this story with others boldly. God, rest us merry; in peace. Amen.
Christmas is full of family traditions.
As a child we would get to open one gift on Christmas Eve. My parents always choose which gift we would get to open. It never failed, it was always a new pair of pajamas. As my brother and I got older we would say, “Can we open our PJ’s now so we can go to bed and wake up and get the good presents?”
In the morning we would get our picture taken with a present in front of the tree in our new pajamas. I treasure those pictures. I have continued the tradition with my own children adding one more item; a new book. With this tradition, we have family memories of putting on new pajamas and reading together as a family.
What is a family holiday tradition you’re thankful for?
In Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield, Mr. Peggoty, a powerful, big-hearted fisherman, raises his orphaned niece, Little Em’ly. He loves her like his own daughter and he is eagerly looking forward to her marriage to his other adopted son, Ham who is a good, kind man like himself and loves Em’ly with pure devotion. Little Em’ly, however, instead runs away with the deceitful, smooth-talking villain, Steerforth.
She has betrayed Mr. Peggoty and Ham’s love and has disgraced herself forever. Wild in his grief, Mr. Peggoty comes to a resolution:
“I’m a-going to seek my niece.”
“Where?” cried Ham, interposing himself before the door.
“Anywhere! I’m a-going to seek my niece through the wureld. I’m a-going to find my poor niece in her shame, and bring her back. No one stop me! I tell you I’m a-going to seek my niece!”
And so, he leaves everything – his family, his friends, his home, and his livelihood – and goes to seek his niece.
Christ, leaving heaven to come to this earth, goes so far beyond a cute nativity scene. That moment in history is our God’s passionate cry: “I’m going to find my people in their shame, and bring them back. No one stop me! I’m going to seek them!”
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
The Greek word for “lost,” απολωλώς, can also be translated destroyed, killed, or ruined. Like Little Em’ly, we were not just missing; we were absolutely ruined. That baby in the manger had a mission: bring us back.
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel
Blessings this holiday season to you….
This is my favorite time of the year! The holidays, the food, the cleaning of the house, making more room for the tree and the presents, awaiting the arrival of guests, making sure everyone has a spot with the plate and plenty of food.
Today I want to ask you if you counted your invisible and silent guests. You know, the guest that are sitting in your cabinets and on your shelves? The cleaning supplies! I must be honest with you; this article comes from a former Comet and Bleach addict. I used to think that the more bleach I smell the better. On many occasions, I remember cleaning the bathroom and losing completely the sense of smell as a result, I also recall getting headaches afterwards. But none of this stopped me, because I was convinced “clean home = healthy home”. Only I was not making my home and my family healthy, I was releasing a slow ticking bomb inside my home, exposing my kids to it as well. This changed after I have done some research!
My article’s purpose is to encourage and empower you to become the gatekeeper at your own home, I want to give you tools to embrace the wellness and I want to shine the light on things that are rarely spoken of. Stay with me, I promise, this will change your life like it did mine.
Just look at some numbers with me!
We all know by now that #2 cause of death in America is cancer, 10,000 of cases are in children! The American Cancer Society says that only 5%-10% of cancers are genetic, the other 90%-95% cases are under our control, it is a result of what we allow in our homes and in our bodies! I don’t know about you, but if I know that I can’t change 5% but I have a full control over 95%- you bet I will take a stand and do something about it!
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health studied 2.983 ingredients of cleaning supplies that average American has in their cabinets, below are their results:
-884 of them were deemed extremely toxic;
-314 cause biological mutations;
-218 cause reproductive problems;
– 778 were toxic to human bodies;
-146 are known to cause cancerous tumors;
-376 of them cause skin irritations.
Majority of these ingredients are banned in other countries, unfortunately, they are allowed in nearly every type of cleaning products in the United States. Many are gassing out toxic fumes right now, as you read this article.
United States Environmental Protection listed top 10 Killer Household Chemicals: air fresheners (like plug ins and candles) , cleaning supplies, drain and oven cleaners, furniture polish , laundry soap and softeners. But by far the most toxic item in your house looks the most innocent, you may never guess, but it is the DRYER SHEETS! Stay with me just a tad bit longer! Did you know dryer sheets have alpha-terpinol, it causes central nervous system disorders? Benzyl alcohol causes damages to the nervous system as well, accompanied by the headaches and nausea. Go research other ingredients like camphor, linalool pentane that are part of the dryer sheets.
What are the signs of chemically overloaded body? Lethargy, inability to focus, skin issues, chronic issues.
Friends, this is serious! How often do you allow uninvited silent friends to enter your home and effect your health and your whole family? It’s time we do our research and become the gatekeepers of our home!
I want to give you another resource: download a FREE app on your phone called “Think Dirty”, it can scan your products (cleaning, hygiene, baby care, make up, etc., it reads the ingredients through a barcode and evaluates the dangers of those things to your body! You will be amazed! Try your eye makeup remover and hand sanitizer! When I scanned baby items, I was horrified.
So, this is a scary article. Where do we go from here? Start making changes one step at a time. The first step we made, we switched to the Thieves cleaner. I use it literally on everything: glass, floors, counters, tables, high chairs, furniture. ONE cleaner. Safe and convenient. Stop using candles and air fresheners (within 26 SECONDS, this is in your system!). You don’t have to add to your budget, just replace harmful toxic things with healthier options. Prioritize your health! If I can buy a fancy drink at Starbucks or go crazy at Target, why do I think twice about investing into the health of my family and protecting them in the long run?
We must take care of our spiritual, emotional and physical aspects of life. Allowing spiritually toxic and emotionally toxic things are always on our radar. Are the physical toxic things on our radar as well?
Start the new year healthier you! Ever since we ditched the cleaning supplies, candles, dryer sheets, laundry softeners we have noticed a DRASTIC improvement in our family!
Other ideas for healthier cleaning:
Good ol’ white vinegar and water ( you can add lemon essential oil , pine essential oil, purification blend , thieves blend , tea tree oil )
Cheers to a new year, cheers to a healthier you! Let’s start counting harmful toxins more than calories:)
We have striven to instill in our children an appreciation and joy for the little things. A couple weeks ago we received our first blanket of snow here in North Dakota. While it was a little earlier in the year then I would have liked, I was greeted in the morning by an excited teenage boy.
“Mom, you have to get up and see Bailey’s little pawprints in the snow, they are the cutest little things!” Bailey is our 5 pound Chihuahua/Rat Terrier we re-homed for an elderly couple this past spring. After years of fighting the pet battle, our kids reached the age where they could care for their own pet and so we became dog owners. After coming from a home with elderly caretakers, she has found great joy in being part of a family that is constantly going and taking her on new adventures. One of them was this snowy, outside day. Tiny, snowy pawprints did indeed cover our backyard as she bounded through the snow.
This was not a great event in the whole scheme of life, but for my children it brought great joy to their hearts. It seems such a small thing, but it’s a big lesson. We all would do well to take such joy in the little things of life. Life is full of heavy, hard things. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming.
Ecclesiastes is a book in the bible in which King Solomon recounts his earthly journey. Much of this book is spent telling us how the things of life are meaningless and apart from God you won’t find the fulfillment and joy you are looking for.
In chapter eight verse fifteen of this book we read these words:
“So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15 (NLT)
Learning to enjoy the seemingly small things in life refreshes us. Some of the things God has for us to do can get difficult and seem impossible. But, if we take the time to notice the things the hurriedness of life can cause us to miss, we will see He does provide ways to find joy and contentment. We just have to stop long enough to enjoy them.
Lord, help us to take the time to enjoy the little things in life you have provided for us. May we not grow weary in the things you have asked us to do, but find ways to enjoy life as well. Amen
“Oh my goodness. Yuk!”
“It’s so cold, but beautiful.”
All of their reactions were different. Some loved it and some hated it. Me, I am content. I love all four seasons. I love the change in the weather. I love the colors that fade from day to day. I love the new brisk mornings and sunshine all wrapped into one. I love it all.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still days, like when I lived in North Pole, Alaska, that I woke up to another five feet of snow or no electricity and wished I was vacationing in Hawaii. Its called being human. Getting stuck in the same thing for too long makes us go stir crazy. Some of my children were already dreading that feeling instead of living in the freshness of a new season.
Enjoying what the day begins with is not always easy. There are those days that you wake up because one of the kids is coughing and not feeling well, which then makes them very crabby and irritable. That turns toward you, as mom, and can make your start of the day not so pleasant. There are the days that three of the four of the kids wake up happy and on point. They got up on their own, got dressed without being reminded with what is appropriate, and they brushed their teeth without having to be asked to do so. These are great days, because even if that fourth child decided not to follow suit, their attitude and lack of gumption just cannot ruin your morning. Following me here?
Friend, a new day is beautiful no matter what lays on the ground. A new day brings new perspective, new breath, new starts. A new day brings new life. We get to have that every single day. Why would we not praise the God in Heaven for giving us such a beautiful gift?
I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:16 which says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (NIV)
We get to actually see the metaphor here. We go through seasons of change. For us to be renewed we have to go through a sort of wasting away period. The old must die off so that the new can come forth. Change can’t happen unless the seasons change.
God has given us such a great blessing in the seasons. There is such beauty in each one. Winter brings a blanket of white and rest from the heat. Spring draws us out of the cold and into the beginning of warmth and fresh color. Summer basks us in warmth and longer days to enjoy the outdoors and life. And fall winds us down for a new school year and relief from all those days that kept us busy during summer. God gave us the seasons to bring change and even more beauty. We are incredibly blessed in them.
I want to challenge you to see how you can be thankful in your new season; whether it’s one of the four or just a life change season. You are in this season for a reason. Seek God to find the contentment of it.
Lord, thank You for giving us the change of a season to bring new things into our lives. Thank You for the wasting away of what was so that we can see what needs to come. You always have our best interest at heart and know the right season for our lives. Remind us of why we are where we are right now. In Your Name, Amen.
Have you ever broken a glass and just thrown all of the pieces away? I often think as I do this, how useless the pieces are. That is such a lie. Not only can broken things be recycled or made into something new, the event that caused the breaking always teaches a lesson.
Through brokenness, I’ve learned how to survive. I’ve learned how to not simply trust God, but to rely on Him to provide financially, emotionally, provide healing, and opportunities. I’ve learned how to empathize with others. I’ve learned how to notice pain in others and be part of their healing.
Brokenness is the most painful feeling I’ve ever experienced. The events that led to my brokenness were defeating. As God brought me through the healing process of those events, He made it clear that brokenness is not an endpoint. It’s a point that turns my heart closer to Him, focused on learning and growing, and sets me up to eventually help others.
There are two things about brokenness to always remember. The first is that God uses broken people like you and me to rescue broken people like you and me. Everyone is broken at some point. Not one of us is perfect. We’ve all been through things that are difficult. We all have hurts to work through. Allow God to use those hurts as a time to teach you how to heal. Allow Him to use those healing times to teach you how to help other broken people.
The second thing I always remember about brokenness is that it is my choice whether I allow the broken pieces to turn me towards bitterness or beauty.
Bitterness can come through brokenness, if you let it.
Beauty can come, if you choose to grow through it.
May HIS glory be reflected in my scars.
Brokenness will leave scars, but what is reflected in those scars, whether ugly bitterness or beauty from healing, is my choice. Choose to allow God’s glory to be reflected in your scars and use your brokenness to help others who are broken.
Isaiah 64:8, “Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
God, thank you for the amazing, gracious ability you have to take our broken pieces and make them into something valuable and useful. Help each of us to see ways in which your glory can be reflected in our scars. Help us to choose to cast off bitterness from our brokenness and choose the beauty of your healing. Amen.