Saturday, December 9, 2017

Time to Meet... More Friends!

Hello, Everyone! So this is an unofficial blog post to introduce a few new friends you've yet to meet. They're super important in my life, very important additions to my small circle of friends, and beyond anything, really amazing people, and I wanted to give them a shout out!

First up, my adopted twin, Lindsey. Okay, so technically, we're not identical, but she's my twin because... well, just because. Too many inside jokes, too much to explain. She's the only other girl in a chat I'm in, and we, well, we sort of keep each other in line, although we mostly egg each other to get in trouble. Did I mention we have the best nicknames for each other? No, I'm not telling you what they are, but we do. Lindsey, I just have to say.... Francisco. You know what I mean

Another young lady who is super, super, super important in my life is my adopted sister, Shay. She's my official big sis, my most encouraging adopted sibling, and the sweetest lady I know. She shares my skirts-only conviction, and has been more of an encouragement in that than she realizes. She sends Bible verses almost everyday and more often than not, the verse was exactly what I needed to get through the day. I praise God for this big sister of mine. Shay, I love you, sis!

Now for two girls who have gone through a lot with me over the past month or so. Caiti and Sierra, they are the best. Besides being awesome just for who they are, they are the most amazing support group anyone could have. Bad day or good day, they're there! You two are definitely my adopted sisters, and I can't wait to see what lies ahead for the both of you with your guys!

Next up, an amazing girl from my own state, Georgia. She's super encouraging, and definitely understands the joys of being from a big family. She's also a fellow small business owner (Hint hint, if you're on Facebook, look up her shop!) and she's an amazing seamstress. We don't get to talk often but I love our conversations! Abigail, you're the best!

Megan is also a sweet friend of mine! We 'met' earlier this year through a Facebook group, and have recently become good friends. She's so talented at everything music, and has an amazing sense of style. Talking to her is always great, and though we don't get to often, I enjoy every chance we get to chat!

Another Georgia girl, Amber, is a dear friend from the days when I was more active on Ravelry. She's a YouTuber and crafter, and so sweet! I was privileged to do a live video on YouTube with her once, and loved it! Amber, stay as sweet as the sweet tea in Georgia!

Next up, a super sweet girl I've 'met' through Facebook, Hayle. She's a fellow crafter and I love how she's always there to offer prayer and happy birthdays to people. Hayle, you're an encouragement to me!

And now, a few guys. They're adopted brothers of mine, and they're often a reason why I laugh until my sides hurt. Mark, Daniel and Ethan... y'all are great! Thanks for all the weird late night group calls with Lindsey and me, where we can make jokes and play games and wake up my family with my uncontrollable laughter.

I know we're past Thanksgiving, but I just have to say how thankful I am for all my friends, even if I have yet to do a blog post introducing them. Some are from churches, some are from Instagram, some are from Ravelry, and some are from Facebook. But wherever I 'met' them, they are important parts of my life and I'm so thankful for them.

So, to...
Priscilla, Annie, Taz, Lindsey, Shay, Mrs. Connie, Ethan, Daniel, Mark, Amber, Caiti, Sierra, Danielle, Laura, Hayle, David, DeAnna, Grace, Carlie, Joel, Jonathan, Katarina, Joshua, Klarisa, Lydia, Megan , Patrick, Phillip, Zach, Sarah, Bethany, all my church friends and family, to all those who I'm friends with across social media (too many to name!)...

You mean so much to me! Thank you for being a part of my life.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Modesty: More Than Clothing Alone

Modesty, that wonderful topic which Christian books, blogs and circles could argue and discuss till the cows come home. We have so many definitions of it, too. This person thinks modesty means wearing only skirts, but that person thinks it means no skin showing that shouldn't be seen. One says modesty is no make up or jewelry, another says modesty isn't even important (The old 'doesn't matter what you are wearing, that's legalistic' approach)

While all these points- except the legalistic one- do hold some degree of value in this discussion, one that's more important is often left out. 

Modesty isn't just our appearance.

Yes, our appearance is the first thing the world sees and judges. Yes, we are to strive to be decent and well covered. Yes, we should be concerned with not gaining the wrong kind of attention and avoid letting those around us focus on our hair, makeup, jewelry, clothing, accessories.

But what about your attitude? What about your actions? 

My dear friend, just because you are dressed in a floor length skirt with an undershirt to avoid showing anything 'up top' doesn't mean that you are being modest. If you're throwing your body around and flaunting what's covered, then by your actions you might as well be in a skimpy bikini or a pair of skin tight, shorty shorts or ripped up, painted on jeans and a crop top. 

We all have seen the girl or woman who has nothing showing that shouldn't be showing, but acts like she's in a bathing suit model contest by the way she walks. This simply shouldn't be. If a woman is throwing her joints out of whack to 'show off' and strutting around with an immodest attitude, do you honestly believe the world looks at her and sees Christ?

But it goes deeper than that, as that's mostly appearance- though it is a sign of what is in her heart.

What about your words? 

Picture this: A lady in a church parking lot, dressed in a completely modest outfit (Let's say, maxi skirt, high neckline top, and denim jacket). Her hair is in a smooth, simple bun, her make-up is at a minimum. Her jewelry is toned down, only a small pair of earrings and bracelet. She even walks and carries herself in a modest, humble manner. She's the perfect illustration of modesty you've been looking for when teaching the girls in your church about how a woman of God should dress.

And then she opens her mouth.

Every other word is either a straight out cuss or swear word, or a derivative of one. She throws slang words with questionable meaning around without care. She is sarcastic to the fullest extent of the word. If she's not making inappropriate jokes, the bathroom humor is rolling off her tongue faster than those donuts in Sunday school were eaten by the teen boys. She even sees no harm in using the Name of God is vain, as an exclamation to be tossed around whenever she feels like it!

Do her appearance and her words mesh? Do you listen to her and hear someone who is striving to live for Christ? Would a lost world look at her and listen to her and see a difference between this woman and themselves? 

No. They wouldn't. Don't even pretend they would, you know better.

A truly modest woman would think twice before allowing her words to ruin the testimony she's trying to preserve. She would know that modesty isn't just appearance, it's also her words and actions. She would know that any value her testimony held would be destroyed if she carried herself with an air of immodesty and allowed her words to be stained with worldliness. 

Can this be said of you? Sister in Christ, are you honestly and truly trying to be an example of complete modesty? 

The Bible is pretty plain on this subject, you know. Not just the appearance of a modest woman, but her words and actions. 

 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17

 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Colossians 3:8

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. James 1:26

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 1 Peter 3:10-11

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. Ephesians 5:3-4

I could keep going, but won't. After all, the entire Word of God teaches us exactly how Christians are to live. You can read for yourself exactly how a truly modest woman would act and speak.

What does a woman with a heart of modesty look like?

Besides her clothing, hair and make-up, she carries herself with a truly humble, meek attitude. No flaunting or strutting needed, she knows that the One she must give account to one day sees her, and wouldn't want to explain to Him why she tried to be a stumbling block to anyone on this earth.

She speaks words that could never mar her testimony, no matter when or where they are spoken. You won't hear a word that even is borderline questionable. You'll never hear the Lord's Name taken in vain or used carelessly. No inappropriate phrases or derivatives of nasty words cross her lips.

She acts only to please the Lord, and never to imitate the world. Her entire life is an example of what a life lived separate from the world should be. Everything she does is done where she can't be brought to reproach, because she holds fast to the verse about abstaining from the appearance of evil.

Sometimes we just need a reminder that modesty isn't just what we wear, but something that starts in our heart as we strive to live for the Lord fully:

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Other times, we need to take a long look at our lives and see where we have been failing to live a life that is completely modest. If we find we have failed to live a life that's pleasing to the Lord and are following after the flesh, after the way of the world, and after the old man we once were, praise God, He forgives! As our heavenly Father, God loves us and wants us to come to Him with our faults and failings. He forgives us and then takes us by the hand and helps us to live in the way that would be pleasing to Him, and best bring Him glory through our testimony for Christ.

So, what will it be? Modesty in appearances only, or in word or deed as well? Are you truly going to live a modest life, and be an example of what a woman of God's testimony is when she is not only modest in appearance but in heart?

I'll end with one last verse. Take it to heart, I beg you, and consider whether or not your life is truly modest, or if you're only modest in a hashtag on your social media.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

Saturday, November 25, 2017

When it is time for the Next Chapter

Life doesn't stay the same.

We all know this. Sometimes life changes for the better- new friends, new job, new opportunities, new blessings- and sometimes, life changes for the worse- we lose friends, we have to change jobs, we end chapters of our life.

There are so many quotes about life being like a book. It's true, and the Bible even talks about our lives being read by the world as if we were a book. Sadly, like a book, we have chapters in our lives and you can never reach the happily ever after at the end of the book if you can't turn the pages, can't move on from a certain chapter.

There will be great, wonderful, and happy chapters in our lives. Times when the sun is shining and everything is going perfectly. These are the times we look back on and smile. We try to stretch this chapter out for as long as we can make it last.

But, like any book, the chapter ends. The next may be a difficult chapter, one filled with grief when we lose a loved one, or you get that dreaded call to your boss's office to be told they're letting you go. Perhaps it sees the end of a friendship, or squabbles among your church family.

These aren't the easy chapters, but they are the times in our lives where we grow- and growing is necessary. Certain houseplants can't stay in the same container you bought them in, right? They outgrow the pot they started out in, and it's only by transplanting them to bigger pots that we get to continue to enjoy their blooms. We can outgrow situations or opportunities, too, and God must move us from one place to another. Thankfully, God never causes us to change anything without there being a reason. He knows where we are, what we need, and what each chapter of our life needs to teach us.

That's a wonderful thing, if you think about it. God uses chapters of our lives to teach us. Sometimes it's to show us we made a mistake, we chose to follow our own path and do what we thought was best without really seeking God. Other times, it's to prepare us for the next chapter we haven't reached yet. Either way, our loving Father doesn't let things happen to us to hurt us, but to help shape and mold us into what He wants us to be, because He loves us!

When a chapter in our life ends, we need to be willing to let go of that last past and stop rereading that last paragraph, so that God can move and work in the next chapter of our life. How can you expect to keep growing and serving God if you stay on the same page, reading the same line over and over? Dwelling on the past rarely helps the future.

You lost a friendship? Don't dwell on it. Think about the friends you still have, and about the new friendships you've yet to make! Yes, it hurts, but thankfully the Bible is still true and there is a friend who is closer than a brother.

You lost a chance at true love? Don't stay on that page, reliving the painful memories. Move on. If you want to stay depressed and upset over that chapter, don't expect someone else to want you in their life- be prepared to be alone and miserable.

What is it? What chapter are you stuck on? What's keeping you there?
Memories? Just keep in mind, you can't change the past or relive it, so dwelling on memories will do little good. Instead of trying to recreate the past by holding onto memories, move on and see what God has planned for that next unknown chapter in your life.

Believe me, I do understand how hard it is to turn the page. To walk away from something that is hurting you or holding you back. It's difficult to put to rest a part of your life that had major influence on you. But sometimes, it must be done.

And, guess what? It doesn't always stay difficult. Sometimes the greatest blessing comes from simply letting go and moving on.

You'll make new friends. You'll find a new job. You'll have another chance at finding the one. You'll have new opportunities.

Your life didn't freeze, pause, or end when that chapter ended.

I'm going through a lot of this myself, friend. My current chapter of my life is ending, as new ones are beginning. Thankfully, the One who is writing my life story also is the One who helps me bear the fears and questions of what will happen next. My Father knows where I am, what I'm going through and what my concerns are.

He knows the same about you.

But are you letting Him do the writing? Are you actually trusting Him with your life? Do you really mean it when you say you are waiting on Him and letting God have control over what goes on in each chapter of your life, or are you just saying that while you stubbornly try to cling to the pen and make your story what you want it to be?

It's hard to let God do the writing when you are holding your hands over the pages, telling Him you know better than He does what needs to be in the next chapter. Telling God what His will for your life should be isn't trusting Him or trying to follow His direction in your life. Just because you've made up your mind that something is what you think is God's Will, doesn't mean it actually is.

Be willing to let God have full control. Understand that your Heavenly Father knows what is best and doesn't want all the chapters in your life to be difficult ones. Yes, there will be some as He helps us grow, but they won't all be that way.

Let the page turn. Let the chapter end. And look forward to what God has planned for the next chapter.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Respect for God, Others and Yourself

Something everyone in the world strives to gain is respect. We want to be respected by friends, by those close to us. We want those we lead to respect us. We want to be treated with respect for any number of reasons, be it position, title, age... I'm not talking about holding someone in prestige or on a pedestal. I'm talking about just giving them consideration and caring about them and their feelings, just to clarify.

But how often do we lack respect for those who deserve it, while desiring they give us respect?

We want our managers and bosses to respect us, but we don't give them respect.
We want our friends to respect us, but don't give them the same courtesy.
We want our family to respect us, but can't do the same for them.
Worst of all, we never respect God.

Oh, we may say we respect God, that we honor and hold Him in reverence. But do we really? Do our lives show any genuine respect for God, for what He has done for us and blessed us with? With our mouths we do service to Him, but I'm afraid our lives are sadly lacking.

When it comes to respecting God, we need to remember that it's hard to respect Him when we aren't grateful for all He has done for us. While we praise Him for blessings when we're in good times, we should remember that His goodness doesn't end when the good times do. We also shouldn't consider Him to be a genie that is only there to grant our desires, and be pushed into a corner when we don't need Him. The truth is, we need him 24/7. There's not a second of your life when you don't need God, and if you believe there is, you've been deceived into believing a lie.

Showing God the respect He deserves also include living a holy and separated lifestyle. Don't expect others to believe you truly love, honor and respect God when you see nothing wrong with tossing His Name around as an exclamation or swear word. Don't expect anyone to believe you when you treat your walk with God as something only to be thought of on Sundays, and forgotten as you live the other six days of the week doing whatever you please. Would you believe you? Do you think God believes you? I doubt it. Again, mouth service that has no genuineness in the heart!

It's no surprise then that we can't show respect to others or they don't show us respect, when we can't even show the smallest amount of respect for the most important One in our lives!

When it comes to your boss, perhaps that difficult manager at work- it's difficult to be respectful towards someone who makes doing your job hard, I know. But did that change how God intends us to act towards those that are in authority above us?

Ephesians 6:5-8:
5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

God didn't say 'be obedient to those who are good to you, and give those who aren't a hard time.' He didn't say it was okay to be disrespectful to employers we dislike. As Christians, we should strive to be respectful despite it being difficult. Why? Because there is a lost world watching us to see what we will do. If we act like them- if we scoff, mock, scorn, turn up our noses, lash out at and throw childish tantrums towards those who are above us- do you really think that helps your testimony? Does it further the gospel in any way?

But why? Why does it matter? Why should we even try? Verse 7 explains exactly why. We are to work hard and be obedient and respectful, not for the employer's sake, but for Christ. We are to do service 'as to the Lord, and not to men'.

Now, on to the next tier: our friends. Is it even important to respect your friends?

Well, do you want friends? Then, yeah, it is.

We want our friends to respect us, right? To be courteous of our feelings and emotions, of what we do for them and how we want to be treated. Don't you think they want the same? Don't they deserve the same from us that we expect from them?

Would you consider a person who gossips and talks about you behind your back to be respecting you? Would you think a person who mocks you and makes jokes about you without feeling guilt or remorse is respecting you? Would you believe a person who is constantly talking down to you, judging you, criticizing you, saying hurtful things about you, treats you badly or ignores you unless you are convenient to them- would you believe they respect you as a friend? Would you?

Then how can you say you are a friend to someone while treating them with such disrespect?

Our friends deserve at least enough respect that we should care how we make them feel. If your actions are hurting another person, be honest. Admit it. And then stop. Don't keep on doing whatever it is that is causing them grief or pain. If you truly are their friend, you wouldn't have done it to start with.

There's a phrase I heard recently that I really, really like. Okay actually a few... but this one stood out. When it comes to gossip about/from friends, I would hope that you would have enough respect to make them never have reason to consider this to be about you:

"I'm not worried about what the gossips said about me; I'm worried about why they were comfortable telling it to you."

Maybe that's not worded exactly as I saw it, but it's close enough. If you don't disrespect your friends, then you wouldn't tolerate others disrespecting them either.

A respectful friend stands up and defends their friends. They treat them with the same kindness, love and concern they want shown to them. They would put their friends above their own needs and desires, making sure to take all care, regardless of cost, to not offend or hurt them.

Proverbs 18:24
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

All these things go for our families, too. Our parents, siblings, grandparents, spouses, children, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, in-laws... Whether they be blood related or not, we should learn to show love and respect at home, which makes it so much easier to show it outside our homes. You should value the love and respect of family enough to ensure it is mutual, and do all you must preserve that precious bond!

Lastly, what about yourself? I'm not encouraging or promoting a self centered lifestyle, by any means. But it is okay to respect yourself enough to not allow yourself to be disrespected.

It's okay to say, 'No, I'm not going to allow this person to hurt me, ridicule me, mock me, or disrespect me.' Don't let someone treat you badly- stand up for yourself. You don't have to return what they are doing to you, but you don't have to take it, either. Find a respectful way to get out or cut them from your life, from whatever or whoever it is. Don't stay and take it, you are worth more than that. Have enough self respect to know when it's okay to say no more, without getting an ego or letting pride take over.

Be humble, kind and respectful but know you don't have to be disrespected either. 

But let me remind you, don't mistake worshiping or making someone a idol for respect. Don't respect one person above another, as the Bible warns us about. Be kind and thoughtful, considerate and honest towards everyone because everyone deserves that courtesy.
And above anyone and everyone,
Respect God first and foremost in everything.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Proud of You

Dear Sister in Christ,

To the one who is trying her best to live for Christ in a way that brings honor and glory to Him, who is doing things the right way,
I'm proud of you.

I know you feel like your type is rare, the type that is striving to remain pure, to shun all sinful choices and actions, and lead a life that is totally and completely Christ honoring. The truth is, there are so few girls like you. And that's why I'm proud of you.

I'm proud of the stand you take. Of the choices you make, the decisions you decide on every day- to remain holy and abstain from sin. I'm proud of the fact that you don't apologize or lower your standards to fit in. I'm proud of the fact that you remain strong in a world where even your peers try to drag your standards down and criticize them, make you feel holier than thou for having taken a stand and stayed with it. I'm proud of the fact that you have chosen and never veered away from choosing to glorify God with your life, rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season and then bear their mark for the rest of your life.

I'm so proud of you.
There are so few girls who will make this stand and stick with it. So few who choose to do things the right way.
Oh, I understand that some people have a past, perhaps from before they were saved or while they were backslidden. I understand that, and I applaud those who strive to live pure lives after that.

But I'm so proud of you, who has not had that past to deal with or outrun. You, my dear friend, are special. You deserve the honor and praise and recognition that you so rarely are given.
In all the years of my life, I've found less and less who will value the girls who don't have a past, who will give them the credit due for living a holy and pure lifestyle. We're not better than anyone else, but I know how important it is for us to have just as much encouragement as- if not more than- those who have a past and are trying to move on. We do deserve to be honored for striving to please God with holy lives. There are so many who praise those who strive to live pure lives after they have been in sin, we need more who praise those who never entered into sin to begin with. And so I say again,
I'm proud of you.

Thank you, my sister in Christ, for living a godly life. Thank you for being an example to younger girls that you can have a good, happy and enjoyable life without entering into sin. Thank you for standing strong for your sisters, friends, cousins, nieces... for those who look to the older girls and watch for examples of how a Christian girl should live. Thank you for showing it's possible to lead a life that doesn't bear the shadow of a sinful past.

I'm proud of you.
I know you might not receive much encouragement. Maybe even none. But believe me, my dear, the life you are leading is one that glorifies and honors God. I know He is so pleased that you are making the right choices. You are what He commands us to be!
Don't give up. Don't give in. Keep living in such a way that the next generation of Christian girls will look at your life and know they can live a pure, Christ-like, God honoring life of their own, without straying into sin which will leave a shadow following them the rest of their life. Stay in God's Word, stay strong and true to Him and the commands He has given us.

I'm so proud of you.
Your Sister in Christ,
Sincerely, Melissa

Wednesday, October 25, 2017



You there! Reading this! Can you do a favor for me?

Smile. Don't question me, just do it.

Ahh, there we go. I thought for a moment there you might've forgotten how to smile.

I know, I know... life might be really tough for you right now. Probably have a lot of stress on your shoulders. There a lot going on and you feel just kind of like it's too much. But, believe it or not...

You're doing great. I mean, look at everything you are going through. Look at the amazing amount of strength you're holding onto and using to survive each day. Look at the way you're turning those troubles over to God and how He's taking care of each one.

You're pretty amazing!

What's that? You don't feel amazing, you say? Hmm. Well, I'm never wrong, so I would have to disagree. 

Who else is you? I mean down to your quirky habits and your taste in food. Who else can make their loved ones smile just by being alive? Who else can make their Heavenly Father happy just by being one of His creations? 

No, now, I won't listen to this 'there are better people out there in the world than me' garbage. And you can stop with the 'I'm useless, I'm worthless, I'm nobody' trash too. I won't tolerate that.

God doesn't make trash, garbage or worthless people.

Yes, I know you are human and have flaws. Guess what, we all do. Doesn't make you any less perfect for the life God has planned for you.

You have a past? Well, guess what, you also have a future. 

You feel like you mess everything up? Impossible. You can't. Sorry. God's still in control and He hasn't handed the reins over to you to ruin everything.

You think you're cared about by no one? Wrong. I care about you, even if I don't know who you are that's reading this. God cares about you. Your family cares about you. Your friends care about you. Your church cares about you. Trust me, a lot of people care.

Smile again. I saw that frown start, the tears well up. Smile.

Ahh, much better. I love it when you smile! Smiling is just the best, isn't it? I know it's hard to smile through tears sometimes but it's really hard to smile and not have even the tiniest ounce of joy. You might not even realize it's there, but it is. 

Hey, you want to know something? I want you to have a good day. Like, right this second, start having a good day. Decide to be happy and not let the devil take your joy away today. Keep smiling and keep your chin up and don't let anyone steal your fries or donut!

Wait, what? Um, sorry, wrong advice (but you smiled again, didn't you?)

Hey! I'm not done yet! 

So, if you get to feeling down again today, here's what I want you to do.

Remember God loves you.

Remember He is in control.

Remember He hasn't made anyone who is useless or worthless or a complete failure.

Remember that there's always a reason to smile- you're alive, aren't you?? That's a reason to smile.

Remember that if you've read this, I'm praying for you. Yeah, for you! I don't even know who you are but I've prayed for you already! 

And keep wearing that smile- it looks amazing on you!

Sincerely, Melissa

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Don't ignore a blessing just because it isn't what You asked for...

Christmas is coming!

Okay, it's months away, but it's coming. In my home, that means I have a boatload of things to do. My tree theme, my gifts to make, my cards to get in order... There's a lot. And, if I'm honest, the days of making a wish list aren't over. Not that I make a list and give it out to people with the demand that they give me what I ask for, but I see things and think 'oh that would be nice to get'. Wish lists aren't bad, after all. Wedding showers and baby showers definitely are helped out by having them. Birthday or Christmas wish lists are great.

We have wish lists in life, too, if we think about it. We have a dream or goal, or something we want in life that we keep stored in that mental wish list. The problem is, oft times we are so set on this wish list that we ignore anything that's not on it. We set our hearts on getting exactly what we expect from off this list and don't pay attention when God is sending something different.

For example...

A person might have their heart set on a particular job. Whether or not they are qualified or able to get that job, they hold out for it, passes opportunity after opportunity. They ignore God-sent employment opportunities in hopes of getting that perfect job they've dreamed of, never getting the career they always wanted. Or maybe they do finally get it, but it isn't at all what they expected or dreamed it would be. They've wasted their life trying to achieve a dream that wasn't right for them, despite their wish list being checked off.

Perhaps it's a person waiting on their future spouse. They've got a list, a image, made up in their head. Maybe its hair or eye color, maybe it's height or fitness, maybe shoe size (silly example, I know) but they choose to ignore everyone who doesn't fit that list. They want blonde hair and green eyes, and ignore anyone who comes along with brown hair and blue eyes. They want a 5'10" slim, trim and strong, so they ignore someone who is 5'6" and average. They want someone who is quiet, so they ignore the charismatic personalities that come along. Or maybe it's a specific person. They wait their whole life waiting on one person, and ignore all other possibilities. Before you know it, the person waiting has lost the potential for a lifetime of happiness waiting for the other person, who has found happiness.

 I'm not saying you can't have dreams about what you would like to do for employment or for your future spouse, but I am saying be careful passing up blessings God may send because they aren't exactly what you decided they needed to be. Just because you may see what is on your wish list as they only things that will make you happy does not mean they are what God intends for you.

Part of abiding in God's Will is making sure we are willing to give up what isn't His Will for us, even if that means putting aside our dreams. God won't give you something that isn't better for you in one way or another, so you can be sure if He asks you to lay aside your ideals for His Will, it's for your good.

He wants you to be happy, yes. But God wants you to be happy in Him. In what He gives. How much longer happiness will last if it's found in God's Will rather than our own desires!

Will God give you that 1950s hot rod you've dreamed of owning? Maybe not, maybe He will send a good, reliable work truck instead, knowing it's substantially more useful in life.
Will God send your dream husband, ladies, who is 6'5" and has dreamy gray eyes and wears a suit and tie 24/7? Maybe not, but He will send you a man who will love you and share a lifetime with you, if you're willing to seek His Will for your life.
Will God give you that perfect job with three weeks paid vacation and a cushy corner office where you can work as you please, get paid ridiculously, and have an assistant always at hand? Maybe not, but He might give you a good job that requires hard work and sweat, blood and tears, that teaches you to appreciate home at the end of a day of hard work.

Sometimes we can be miserable if we get exactly what we want. But we're always happy when we're in God's Will, whether it's what we were expecting or not. When we're willing to give up what we want for what He wants for our lives, we find true happiness.

So, I guess in other words, be careful what you ask for. Just because you want something, doesn't mean you need it, you will get it, or it's God's Will for your life. What you ask for might be the opposite of a blessing God wants to send you, and you could ignore it for something that will hinder you rather than help you.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

You can't Always Walk the Fence

Walking that fine line between two things is a difficult task. You will either lean one way or the other, eventually. We just discussed this in my Sunday school class. It's impossible to walk left and right and have both feet moving in the same direction. It's impossible to go forward and backward at the same time. You can't walk in two directions at once.

You can't have the best of both worlds.
You can't have your cake and eat it too.
You can't serve God and the world.

I'm sure if it came down to it, we all know someone like this. Someone who tries to appear to be the holy, spiritual Christian on Sunday and lives like the devil through the other six days in the week. It's a dangerous game to play for those truly born again Christians. You're walking along a fence between serving God and serving Satan. That façade you put up for other Christians on Sunday will eventually be overshadowed by the true you that has control during the week.

What are some of the signs of a once-a-week Christian? I might not know them all, but here are a few I've picked up on.

At church, they say 'all the right things', spout spiritual words and quote Bible knowledge... You probably won't hear anyone who seems to know their Bible better. They've always got the right words and answer. Sometimes it sounds a little like a well rehearsed speech, and occasionally they use the same cliché sayings one too many times, but they sound pretty sound...
But during the week, there's nothing holy coming out of their mouth. Dirty jokes. Bitterness and hatefulness. Cussing, swearing, curse words, using the Lord's Name in vain. This person quoting Bible verses about Jesus' Name on Sunday is using that precious Name in vain on Monday, following up a filthy joke they've just told. They think nothing of using cussing or swearing. See nothing wrong with any of it.
James 3:10-12 (KJV)
10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?
12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

At church, they say they don't listen to worldly or secular music or watch trash filled shows, and admonish other Christians to not fill their mind with music about ungodly, sinful things... They constantly warn young Christians or the youth about the dangers of secular music, time and time again telling them to watch out when it comes to what music they listen to....
During the week, you'll hear nothing but trash coming from every outlet they can find. Every radio, TV channel, iPod and electronic device they own blares nasty music and shows about nasty things. They see nothing wrong with- nay, they even delight in- songs and entertainment that talk about things which should make any Christian blush and turn off. The worse the song or show- the more ungodliness, cussing, and filth- the more they like it, sing it, talk about it... the more they delight in it. 
Romans 12:2 (KJV)
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

At church (or around people from church), they have standards and convictions over immorality and sin... You won't hear them laughing at a dirty joke. They dress modestly and how you would expect a Christian to look. You won't see them engaging in sinful activities. There's not a thing in their lives you could picture them having little to no standards in. They're the epitome of the way a Christian should live- or so it seems...
The rest of the time, they have no problem being a part of wickedness. That person who claims to have such high standards is living like the world. You couldn't tell they were a Christian by their actions- and neither can the world. 
2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

In short, they act spiritual but live carnally.
They don't obey the Spirit- they live for the flesh. They put on a good show in church and around other Christians, but when they let that façade fall... the true them is shown- the side of them that has no discernable difference from the world. Their words, actions, appearance, their whole self denies Christ in everything they do. 

I can't stress how important, not for our own sakes but for the testimony of Christ, that we do not be this kind of Christian. 

Romans 8:5-9 (KJV)
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

When we get saved, we're no longer slaves of the flesh. We're a new creature in Christ. We no longer serve self, the world or Satan. If we are truly born again, can we with a clear conscience serve the world? Can we see nothing wrong with living like the lost? Do we find no fault in doing the things that bring glory to Satan rather than Christ? These verses say the carnal mind is enmity against God. What born again believer can then live carnally without caring? 

Romans 6:1-2 (KJV)
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Can we really see no problem reveling in the sins that caused Christ to die on the cross? Can we really see no harm in the deeds of the world that cost my Savior His life? Do we really lower the consequences of the sin that had such a serious cost by living in them daily after we are born again?

Romans 13:12-14 (KJV)
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

We should strive to never allow occasion for our flesh to have control. We should strive to prevent ourselves from having opportunities for pleasing the flesh. Whatever measures must be taken, we must take them. If you know a certain activity or outlet provides you a greater temptation to serve the flesh, then cut it off! If certain 'friends' provide you with ungodly counsel and companionship, cut them out of your life! If anything, ANYTHING, gives your flesh opportunity to come between you and God, CUT IT OFF! Make not provision for the flesh! Cast off the works of darkness! Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, put on the armour of light!

Romans 6:11-13 (KJV)
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

As Christians, we're not supposed to live to please the flesh. Those songs, those shows, those words, those activities- they should cause a instant repulsive feelings in our hearts. Our flesh will tell us to do it, and make all kinds of excuses why we can. The Holy Spirit will tell us we are no longer to live to please the flesh. 

Romans 14:12 (KJV)
12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

This should cause every born again person to reconsider how they live their life. We will give an account to God for how we lived our lives since we were born again. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have to stand before God and give account for why I walked the fence after salvation, why I flirted with sin, why I lived a holy and separated life only one day of the week.

Matthew 6:24 (KJV)
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Eventually, you will end up choosing between one of the two. It's either going to be God, or the world. You can't continue to walk the fence- eventually it's going to reach the point where you must walk one direction or the other. So, what will it be? Who are you going to serve?

.... as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Expectations and Standards

How many times have you heard someone has really high standards? How often was that said in a praising tone? Was it said in a way that lead you to believe that person was not really holding to standards but rather expectations that were unfounded and useless?

As believers, we have to have standards (or else anything would go and Christians would be no different than the world), but we can't have standards that are unrealistic. We have to hold ourselves to standards that are Biblical. God's Word is our standard.

The problem is, too often, believers begin to let their standards slip- or at least, the standards that matter. We begin to let little things creep into our lives and let our standards fall to make allowance for them. All too often, once we let our standards begin to slip in one area, they begin to fall completely in all the others. Things that we shouldn't waver in- doctrine, faithfulness, whatever it may be- we begin to compromise in, and gradually conform to the world. After all, if you take one brick from the foundation of a house, it's easier and easier to take another until the house has no foundation to stand on, because the bricks rely on each other to hold that house up.

Before we know it, our standards are completely gone, and we're out of God's Will because we aren't living in accordance to His Word.

If only we were as quick to correct our own lack of standards as we are to judge those who aren't holding to them. If only we genuinely tried holding ourselves to the expectations we hold others to.
Isn't it funny how when we begin to slip, one of the first things we do is justify our actions to those around us? 'Well, they're doing it, so it's no big deal if I do.' We repeat that phrase until we believe that we're doing no harm because others are doing it as well. Since when are those around us our ruler for measuring up to?
But when someone else slips in the same way, we immediately begin pointing out their flaw. We are all too willing to judge them, but yet we won't judge ourselves. The problem is, we are trying to measure others against ourselves and ourselves against others. As believers, we aren't the notch on the ruler to which we must meet. God is.

Having standards is important, as I said. We have to have them. But we can't have unrealistic expectations. We can't demand one thing of a friend that we wouldn't even hold ourselves to. And we can't hold ourselves or anyone else to any expectation that isn't found straight from the Word of God.

It's not wrong to have Biblical standards and expectations. But we need to remember that the only One who has the right to expect anything of anyone is God, not us.

Yes, you have to have standards. It's especially important to have standards when courting/dating. Making sure you're not unequally yoked, holding firm that the two of you should agree on doctrine and in beliefs- don't back down on those. They are important. But don't go looking for someone who is perfect because you have a list of requirements they must meet that you yourself couldn't even come close to.
Making sure they are saved? Utmost Importance.
Making sure they believe the correct doctrine? Very Important.
Making sure you agree on future decisions that would come in a relationship? Absolutely Important.
Them looking a certain way or possessing a specific trait or characteristic or skill which causes you to turn away anyone who doesn't meet that? Unrealistic.
Saying, 'My future husband must be saved, KJV only, Independent Baptist, and we must agree on doctrine.' is not unrealistic.
Saying 'My future husband must be exactly 5'11" with chestnut brown hair and green eyes, and he must have gone through at least six years of college, and love dogs and only eat vegetarian foods, and he must promise that I'll have unlimited access to the bank account, and he must smile just a certain way, and he better not ever tell me what to do, and he can never wear ties that are green, and he can't have any debt but he should have at least $4,500 in the bank at all times, and if his favorite book is anything but Tom Sawyer, then we have a problem.' Yeah, that would be pretty unrealistic.
Having Bible based standards and expectations isn't wrong. Having expectations that would be impossible to match is.

Along the same lines, we can't hold others, our friends, family or coworkers, to our expectations because we would be measuring them to ourselves. We are all still human. We all have our faults and flaws, and we all sin. Thank the Lord, He is merciful and forgives us. He gives us second chances. He hold us to His standard because He is the only one who we should be trying to please. He forgives us time and time again, even when we fail to meet His expectations.

So if you're going to hold anyone to any expectation, use God's Word as your ruler, and remember that He's holding you up to that same standard as well. Before you judge someone else for not reaching the mark, consider whether or not you are reaching it, because odds are you are failing to do so as well.

Social Media and The Single Christian- Delight in the Lord

(For the record, this isn't my engagement ring 😉)

There it is. The post you knew was coming. Your friend is engaged.

You're friends, good friends, so you are happy for them. But there's that pang of hurt, of disappointment, of... jealousy, even? I mean, you're thrilled for them, that they've found love and made a commitment to spend the rest of their lives together, but still... it hurts to know another friend is engaged and you're sitting there reading this long post about the proposal, with a thousand gushy clichés and "I love you, babe!" all over it. Next comes the wedding planning, 'my sweet fiancé' posts. How fun.

And then you scroll down. Friend is married. Yes, you got the invitation, even though you couldn't make it, so you knew it was coming and all. But now you're seeing wedding pictures and all the enthusiastic "You are such a beautiful bride!" and "Picture perfect wedding for a beautiful couple!" comments. It stings. Another reminder you haven't had that picture perfect wedding, despite the fact that almost all your friends have.

Scroll a little more, a close friend is announcing their courtship or that they are dating, or posts with pictures from their last date. Ouch. That's the last thing you wanted to see today. Maybe it was someone you once cared for, or maybe it's a friend who seemed like they were perfectly happy without a boyfriend/girlfriend and so you thought they wouldn't be dating any time soon- certainly not before you, at least.

And scroll down once more, before you give up and cry. Another friend, another friend, is pregnant. She's happily married and going to experience one of the greatest blessings in the world: being a parent. And you're not. It hurts. 

All these posts and pictures, they make your heart feel like breaking. 

And then you remember- they aren't you.

God hasn't lead you to that place yet. He hasn't opened that door for you yet. God doesn't place every girl your age in the same place or situation or blessing at the same time, and you know what? It's a good thing He doesn't. 

God calls each of us to different places, to different ministries and different lifestyles. What our Father sees best to give one of us, isn't best for all. He knows our heart, our temperament, our shortcomings and our strengths. Most importantly, He knows why He keeps some blessings from one person while giving them to another. 

Single Christian, I'm in the same boat as you. Every engagement post, wedding post, baby post... it aches to know that I haven't had that experience yet. But we're robbing ourselves of joy when we compare our lives to those around us. What's the saying? Comparison is the thief of joy. We when compare our lives and where God has us right now with where He has others, we are going to hurt, to grow bitter and be jealous, because that's not how God wants us to live our lives!

The easiest way we compare and shift our focus off what God has for us to do with our lives? Social Media.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to do away with all my social media, and I'm not saying you must delete every account you have. I'm not saying block every engaged, married and pregnant friend so you don't see their blessings- you should be happy for and rejoice with them. Social media itself isn't inherently wrong. Social media can be a wonderful tool and a good way to keep in touch with friends. But when we misuse it, it becomes a stumbling block in our spiritual lives. 

If you know that sitting on Facebook looking at friends' wedding pictures or mushy engagement posts causes you to be jealous and bitter, GET OFF FACEBOOK. If you know that every time you go on Instagram, those 'this many weeks' pregnancy posts are going to make you cry, avoid logging in!

Friend, you have so much to be thankful for with the way your life is now, don't let comparison rob you of seeing the blessings you have. And when we learn to find our delight not in our current relationship status, but rather in the Lord, you'll find the joy that comes from that delight can't be taken away by social media and posts. 

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalm 37:4

When our delight is in the Lord, it means it's not dependent on circumstances or what we lack. We find our joy, our happiness, our strength, our reason to live in serving Him wholly with all our heart. What's happening in friends' lives, on social media and even in everything around our lives loses all importance as we focus solely on Him. 

And as we learn to delight in the Lord, our desires begin to change. It's not longer about self, but about 'How can I best serve You, Father?' and that makes it so much easier for the Lord to give us the desires of our heart, because the desires are in line and in tune with His Will for us. The verse doesn't mean we can just go "Yep, see, I'm delighting in the Lord, so now He has to give me my desires, whatever they may be." That's not how it works. No, it means that our desires should be falling in line with what God desires for us, so that when He grants those desires be filled, they are for our benefit. 

It's easy, so easy, to take our lives in our own hands and try to find contentment and delight, joy and happiness in what we think is best. It's easy to say 'this makes me happy so it must be God's Will' or to say 'This is my desire so I deserve it'. But that's not true happiness, that isn't how God calls us to live our lives. It's not about pleasing self, but pleasing God.

Jesus didn't die on the cross to make you happy and allow you to do whatever pleases you or makes you feel good. He died to save you from your sins, from your fleshly desires. When we forget that, we start sliding down the slope of selfishness that leads us through bitterness, jealousy, discontent, and end up so bogged down with the weights of sin that should have never had opportunity to climb on our shoulders to begin with. 

Instead of trying to find delight in a person, in a relationship, in being a parent, in events and experiences, try finding your joy in the One who knows your heart best because He made it. Take your focus off that person you've been chasing and put it on the One who you should have been chasing all along. Stop letting the blessings of others rob you of the blessing God wants to give you, if only you would give your all to Him. 

Instead of comparison with others, find contentment with God.
Once you have, remind the single Christians around you that they can find lasting happiness and joy by delighting in the Lord, too. Don't hoard that blessing of true joy for yourself, go share it.
Be prepared to serve Him and watch the blessings- the ones He wants for you to have right now for where He needs you to be- fall into place. It might not be what you originally desired, but I guarantee, it's going to far surpass anything you could have planned. 

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Psalm 37:4

Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Families Require Food

You are what you eat.

If this is true, my family is a happy and even mix of Mexican, Chinese, and other international style foods, along with some good old American style foods. We have our Taco Tuesdays, our Meatloaf Mondays, and Leftover days. Chinese buffets are one of the few places we eat out at when we do. Desserts are well loved and we usually enjoy about one a week to keep from overdosing ourselves on sugar. Big families have to eat, and we eat quite well, always in moderation but always enough to be full.
(Well, at least, most of us. Donuts and I have a special relationship where there are no such thing as limits or regrets. Sort of. After all, no one has died from eating four donuts in a row, have they?)

I've been considering doing a post on food for a while now, but wasn't really sure what I wanted to share. I've told y'all a few food stories in past posts, so I didn't want to repeat that. A post on gluttony wasn't really something I'm ready to tackle yet. The next best thing I could share was some family recipes. Since this isn't a food blog, don't expect a fancy recipe. We're a normal family who eats normal foods. These are just some of the dinners and a dessert my family makes throughout the year.

The first recipe I'll share with y'all is a dinner recipe, our version of potato soup. Definitely not an original H- family recipe but it's one we eat often. If you're a vegan or vegetarian, hate *gasp* bacon, keep scrolling- we love our bacon and we have no shame in eating it. We've never tried any kind of bacon in this soup other than pork, so if you use turkey bacon, I can't guarantee how it will taste.

You'll need:
Enough potatoes to feed your family (we usually use a large cooking pot filled to just below the rim, which feeds us and leaves leftovers- and we have a lot of people with good appetites!)
2 cans of evaporated milk
2 cans of cream of cheddar soup
2-3 packages of bacon *(or less if you just don't love a good piece of bacon)*
*(Smithfield bacon is the BEST)*
Optional- cooked onions to sprinkle on top (but onions are blech ew gross, so don't, haha)

Peel and chop the potatoes, and start them to cooking while you cook the bacon. We use a George Foreman indoor grill to make our bacon, since it means less grease and the bacon gets just as crispy (and delicious) as it does when fried on the stove. The potatoes *should* get done boiling just as you finish the bacon, or at least they do for us. Mix the cheddar soup and evaporated milk in a separate bowl. Drain the potatoes and add the cheese soup mixture to the pot, leaving it on low heat if you're not done cooking the bacon yet. Crumble (or use a pair of meat scissors to cut up) the bacon and add to the soup. Once the last piece is in, you're done, so serve it with cornbread or French bread, as either makes a good addition. Don't expect leftovers, but if you have any, refrigerate them and enjoy the soup again for lunch!

Next up, dessert! This is one of our easy, quick recipes, what we call 'blueberry dessert'. Since it's no bake, it's also good for church fellowships, especially the ones you forget about and then need a dessert for quickly. Again, not original but we've long since lost the recipe card so we make it by memory.

You'll need:
1 tub Cool Whip
1 large can Blueberry pie filling
1 box graham crackers.

Starting with graham crackers, then pie filling, then Cool Whip, layer each ingredient until you're out of pie filling. Refrigerate a couple hours or until it's 'set'. It's better the longer it sets, because the graham crackers get softer, but you can eat it right away if need be. I would recommend some jogging or push ups after, since it's a deceptively light dessert you can eat too much of without realizing it.

Another favorite is Chicken Casserole. My mom has been making this for YEARS and it's been adjusted and tweaked over those years, but it's still just as delicious.

You'll need:
Either 2-3 cooked, shredded or cubed chicken breasts OR 1 large can of cooked chicken (if you're in a hurry, this is easier but not as tasty as fresh chicken)
1 package of corn tortilla shells
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can of milk (use one of the soup cans and your milk, but it does better with skim or 1%)
sliced jalapeno peppers (we buy the jar of these already sliced, not sure how fresh ones would taste. And the more peppers the better this tastes!)
Chopped onions (If you want. I never do, but we compromise and make half with and half without since Mom likes onions. Or, if we're in a hurry, we mince the onions in a mini food processor so they're not so noticeable)
1 pound of shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix your soups, chicken, onion, peppers, salt and pepper, and chicken in a large bowl, mixing well. Tear up the tortilla shells and add to mixture. Pour into a large casserole dish, and cover with cheese until the mixture isn't showing (how much cheese you use will depend on how much you like cheese and how big your dish is). Bake until heated through and the cheese is bubbly and browned. Serves 8 easily with leftovers.

Last one for today is Curry Chicken. This one is good for Sunday afternoons between church or weeknight dinner, because it's relatively quick and doesn't involve at lot of prep work to make.

1 package boneless, skinless chicken breasts or your preferred type of chicken for cooking (you can use those little drumsticks but it's messier)
Enough potatoes to feed your family (again, we just kind of guess at this since we make it by memory and not a written recipe)
Chopped onions
Minced garlic
Olive oil or preferred oil for cooking, enough to cover bottom of the pan you're using
Salt and pepper to season
Curry powder
A large pan with a lid (you'll be steaming this, so the lid is important)

Cut the chicken into cubes (skip if using drumsticks) and start them to cooking on medium heat with the onions, garlic and oil. Peel and chop potatoes, add to chicken (it doesn't matter if the chicken isn't done, it's going to be cooking for a while still). Add enough curry powder that you can see and smell it, and salt and pepper. Pour enough water over it to cover the potatoes but not enough to make it soup. Cover and steam until the potatoes are tender (and chicken is done), adding water if necessary. If you add more water and the curry looks/smells weak, you can add more. Serve with or without vegetables- we usually skip vegetables with this since it's a hearty meat-and-potatoes type meal.
Be warned, this WILL stain anything it touches, so try to eat neatly or wear a bib, especially if you use drumsticks!

Since I do come from a large family (maybe not the largest, but we're not a small family for sure) these are tried and true recipes that feed us all and are easy. While a fancy five course meal is nice once in a while, these simple, family friendly recipes are staples in our kitchen. I hope you enjoy them!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Where is the Difference?

So by now most of my readers know that I'm a skirts-only lady. I don't judge those who don't wear only skirts, but ask that they not judge me for my stand.

It does, though, get a little discouraging when I realize girls and ladies who share my conviction are far and few between. I don't mean that there is anything wrong with having friends who wear skirts and pants if you're skirts-only (Some of my best friends wear pants and skirts!), and it is a conviction between each woman and God what she wears or doesn't wear.

But sometimes we just need that one person to come along side us and say, "Hey! You're like me! I thought I was the only one!"

But you know, that applies to at lot of things, not just skirts-only girls. As Christians, it's getting harder and harder to find like minded believers, even in churches and our circles! Finding believers who take a stand and stick with it is getting harder and harder. Ten years ago, I probably could have found two dozen families who share my family's beliefs and convictions. Now? I might be doing well to find two.

The sad thing is, Christians are growing more and more like the world. Standards are slipping. Convictions are criticized and discarded. Beliefs and stands are altered to fit liberal and worldly views.
There just isn't a difference between the church going families and the lost families anymore.
And that's a heartbreaking thought.

Years ago, a phrase passed through churches. "You can't win the world if you're not like the world. You have to be like them to win them."

Suddenly, it seemed, churches began to change.

Members dressed down, being told to come as you are and as you are comfortable coming, and they started looking more appropriate for going to the beach or to a picnic, instead of dressing in a way to honor the King of kings they were going to worship and learn about. After all, I'm sure any earthly president or royalty wouldn't mind if you came to see them in some baggy shorts, flip flops or sweatpants!

Music began to sound more and more like the music of the lost, with only vague references to God and Jesus, and absolutely no mention of the blood or the suffering He went through for our salvation.
Nix that hymn, we have a new chorus to repeat fifteen times with little to no mention of anything relating to God and that you can easily sing to your significant other tomorrow without changing any words! Don't forget to throw in some nature and metaphorical references to make the lyrics catchy, and make sure that melody is easy to dance and sway to!

Church services went from being a time to praise God and then hear sound doctrine preached to entertainment time, with dimmed lights, bands on stage, and a pep talk that made you feel good the way you are rather than challenging you to search yourself for sin and be rid of it. The old come as you are, leave as you came approach is, after all, a no fail way to draw a younger generation who need their ears tickled.

Program after program was rolled out, separating families and providing (basically) free babysitting for parents while they talked to their friends and listened to their concert and pep talk. Because, you know, families can't worship together and goodness knows, those parents don't get a break all week when their kids come home from school!

Coffee shops, donuts and snacks, and social time took precedence over seeking God with your whole heart and keeping Him as the focus of why we gather each week.

Preaching was toned down and touchy subjects smoothed past so as to not offend anyone. Goodness knows, you don't even consider preaching on alcohol, tithing, modesty, using God's Name in vain, music, entertainment, fornication, or anything that might cause someone to be offended- no, no, you must allow them to continue in their sin to keep them coming! Don't you dare preach against that specific sin, because we might have members living in that sin right now and what will we do without the tithe they occasionally give?

And Sunday and Wednesday night services became all but extinct. After all, sporting events and other activities (that could easily be on weekdays or Saturdays) that 'were can't-miss-this' were more important than gathering with fellow believers. Sunday night church over baseball or soccer, coming to Wednesday night prayer after working all day- are you even human to suggest that???

As much 'church' was taken out of services to make the lost 'more comfortable' and make the church seem 'welcoming' to them.

Even back then, as a young teen, I knew better than that. After all, wasn't that a direct contradiction to God's Word?

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:2 KJV

Why would the lost choose salvation now? After all, it took no change from their present lifestyle. They could live exactly as they were and be no different than those professing to be believers. If Christians could live, act and dress just like them, why would they need Jesus to save them?

I have heard sermon after sermon on this topic, yes. But yet there's no change? We still conform to the world in our worship and become more and more like the world on an almost daily basis. You can't even tell the difference between Christians and the lost because we walk, talk and act just like them.

"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7:20

You can't tell them by their fruit as the Bible says we can, because they aren't bearing any, because they aren't living any different than the world!

I wonder why Jesus would speak again and again about believers be separate from the world and how He came to save the world if He wanted us to live just like them? I mean, are these verses just there to fill pages of a Book that we only read on Sundays or special occasions?

Why would they choose Jesus now? Why ask forgiveness for the sins, that are dooming them to a real and literal hell, that they watch Christians commit, who claim to be on their way to Heaven?

Is it any surprise then that it's harder and harder to find fellow believers? Is it some great surprise that we no longer can tell when a person is a Christian without their saying it? Does the Bible speak of knowing believers by their fruit just to make a nice cliché little quote?

Where is the difference?

Where are the Christians who aren't afraid to say no to conforming to this world? Where are the Christians who will dress and talk like they know God and a lost world is watching and listening to them? Where are the believers who know that their lives may be the only Bible a lost soul may read and therefore strive to be different from the world? Where are the Christians who guard their tongue from using the Lord's Name- the Name by which we are saved!- because they honor and love that precious Name? Where are the Christians who refuse to live in sin because they know that one day they will answer for being in sin and for ruining the testimony of their Lord and Savior?

The world loves the fact that Christians no longer are separate from them. Christians can no longer be picked out of a crowd. There's a rare few who the world will take a stand against, because they know that for the most part, all professing believers are acting no different than the world is.

"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." John 15:9

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather be separate from the world, whether it hate me or not. I'm not living to please or conform to the world. I'm living in such a way that I hope the world looks at me and says there is something different between my life and theirs. I'm not acting like the lost world because there should be a noticeable difference between my life and theirs.

I'm striving to honor my God, not the temporary place He placed me to try to win the lost to Him.

And you know what? I may end up walking alone because of this. I may end up seeing all other believers give in to living just like the lost around them and give up trying to adhere to God's Word about being separate in our lifestyles from them. But it doesn't change the fact that God has given a clear command and I can't with a clear conscience as a Christian live like the world in the sins He is trying to save them from.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Just Saturday Chatting Again

Hello readers!

I don't have any particular topic to cover today. It's been a long time, or at least felt like it has, since I did a chatty post so I figured it was time!

There's been a lot going on in my household. School started back, so trying to get back into the swing of the school year has been fun. The youngest sibling is starting some kindergarten work, even though she's still a bit young. Her letters are a bit crooked and sometimes backwards, but it's awfully cute watching her learn!

One of my best friends is across the country and that is making it very difficult to get to talk with her. We FINALLY got to FaceTime the other day and it was great! I'll be so glad when she's back in the proper time zone and we don't have that two hour gap between us!

While I'm thrilled my zinnias are blooming wildly, I think they're causing this perpetual headache I'm keeping and I know they're not helping my family's allergies. They're just too pretty to pull up!

Did you know you can get a bruise from crocheting? Yeah, me either. But here I am, with a bruised finger from crocheting so much in the last couple weeks. Making pot holders and dishcloths nonstop is proving just how much stress my hands and eyes can take, haha!

So about, oh, I guess a couple months ago... I went to get a can of soda out of the box for my brother, and in the process of opening the cardboard box, I pulled too hard and hit my elbow against the corner of a wooden chest (don't ask). My elbow is STILL bruised. Guess who isn't living down the fact that I was injured to bring him a soda....

Anyone who knows me even the slightest knows I love weddings. I mean, I have more wedding boards on Pinterest than any normal human being should have. My latest wedding planning decision was to have a plum purple wedding, no matter the groom's dislike of the color. GUESS WHAT I FOUND ON CLEARANC AT HOBBY LOBBY! Plum purple thread! GUESS WHAT I AM MAKING WITH IT! As much as I can get from it! Sadly, it was the last one or I would have cleaned them out of it! So now, I'll have a bouquet holder and possible some sort of earrings or headband from it, I'm still deciding on what to do with any thread left after the bouquet holder. Perhaps a boutonniere?

Told my brother that I was going to name my first son after him but call him little J-
Brother was not thrilled.
I don't know why. I mean, what would be cuter than having your little nephew named after you??

If anyone knows anyone looking to give away old 1950s patterns, dresses or wedding/evening gowns, please send them this way! I'm dying to study some patterns or dresses from that era so I can practice sewing some styles that are similar. I'm also looking for any information I can find on 1950s wedding veils, hats and hair accessories (Pinterest proved unusually useless in that!)

It amazes me how strong mothers are. Think about it. They raise this child for 18+ years and sacrifice so much for their child's sake. The things they deal with, what they go thru emotionally and mentally for their children... it's amazing. They honestly give up their life for their child. Moms are awesome.

I tried learning to knit. Worst experience of my life. My younger sister (who learned to knit 30 minutes before me) tried teaching me, but I'm not a fast learner. She, on the other hand, is amazing at it and I can't wait to see what she accomplishes. I'll just stick to my crochet hook, thankyouverymuch.

I can't wait for winter. Mostly because I do most of my writing when the weather turns cold. But also because I love winter best of all the seasons. Also because my boots are waiting and it is still too warm to wear them.

Please, please, please- don't underestimate how good it makes a writer feel when you compliment their work. You can make their day just by saying you appreciated the effort they put into what they've written.

I created one of those Sarahah accounts, you know the anonymous messenger thingy? Other than a few possibly low key insults (still not sure on that one...) it's been hilarious. One person said Jesus loved me, but they were His favorite (Not sure I understood). Another sent a message saying they ran out of characters and for me to figure out who wrote it and then message them- which has been impossible. I mean, honestly impossible. And the compliments I got were really sweet. If you want to leave me a note, then here's the link:
 Just keep it clean and kind, of course!

My family has been getting a LOT of advertisement calls and letters. I received one that tried to make me believe my car insurance was needing updating (Can you say scam?) so I answered. Wrote them the funniest, loveliest note on purple paper and sent it back. Strange, I didn't get a reply??? I mean, sure, I left no return address but still, they sent the first letter, so they know my address. Could be that asking them to pay me to help them come up with better advertising was why they didn't reply. Who knows.

Well, I've chatted enough for today. My chores are waiting and there's things to be done- including more crocheting. I hope you got some chuckles or a smile out of this post!


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Little Bitty People- A Short Story by Me

Little hands tugged at Anne's skirt as she set the mixing bowl on the counter. A little voice begged her, 'Up!' as Anne tried to stir the cake batter. Little feet stomped impatiently when Anne didn't stop what she was doing and give the little person attention.
"Yes, Abbie, I heard you the first time. Just hold on." Anne sighed, looking down at two big blue eyes and hoping her little friend could wait just a minute more for her to pour the batter into the cake pan.
This was Anne's life. A constant little shadow following her around, interrupting her work and feeling like all Anne's attention belong to that little person alone. Did it get annoying? Sometimes, but Anne was so used to her shadow that she rarely thought about it anymore. In fact, Anne actually liked the fact that someone thought she was the best thing since sliced bread.
For the past year and a half, Anne had been babysitting two year old Abbie and her older siblings while their parents were at work. It had been a long year and a half, with Anne learning more about children than she had ever been taught in all her twenty-one years. She had learned that:
Little people don't like vegetables more now than they had when she was little (Or maybe she just had forgotten how yucky green beans were when she was a child.)
Little people didn't understand that crayons and markers weren't made for the exclusive use of decorating walls, furniture, carpet, other little people....
Little people couldn't understand the phrase, 'One cookie at a time' any more than she could understand 'I say I nee' one mooooore'.
Little people didn't like being ignored.
It was the last one that had been the biggest lesson for Anne. When she was a child, she had always hated being ignored by grown ups, or her need to talk pushed aside by adults who didn't want to listen to her chattering. Now that she was an adult, she had tried her best to never ignore any child because she knew what that felt like. So when Abbie begged for a book to be read to her, or any of the other four children had a story, dream or joke to tell her, Anne never said no. The only downside? She didn't get much of a chance to get her work done. Like today.
The Wilsons were having company flying in and Anne had barely had time to get the house tidied up by noon. Mrs. Wilson rarely asked Anne to help with household chores- she knew five children kept Anne busy- but her job allowed her little time to get home and clean up before the company arrived. Anne didn't mind helping, and even offered to bake the cake Mrs. Wilson would have otherwise had to rush to make when she got home.
"Hannah, can you bring me some old rags?" Anne called to the oldest Wilson child.
She picked Abbie up and carefully poured the batter into the pan, balancing the bowl with one hand and hoped the two boys, Lane and Lee, didn't run into the kitchen and cause her to drop it.
"Eat dat?" Abbie asked, pointing to the chocolate batter.
"No, not yet." Anne laughed. "We have to bake it first."
Hopefully she could at least get the kitchen clean, and the living room straightened up before the company arrived at four o'clock. Anne hurried to get the cake in the oven, fix the children's lunch and started emptying the dishwasher. She had just put the last dish away when the doorbell rang.
"Oh no, I don't have time..." Anne groaned. "Please don't let it be a salesman or robber."
The Wilson children ran to answer it but Anne sent them to the playroom, just in case.
She opened the front door cautiously, seeing a tall young man standing on the porch.
"Can I help you?"
"Package delivery for Mary Wilson?"
Anne took the package and hurried back to the kitchen. Abbie was in the middle of emptying the canned goods.
She had just finished sliding the last pan into the oven when there was a knock on the door. Anne ran back to answer it, expecting the delivery man to have returned. Instead a elderly couple stood with suitcases in hand.
"Oh, you must be Anne! Mary said she might not be here when we arrived." The woman said cheerfully.
Anne frowned. "You must be the company Mrs. Wilson told me about." She smiled. "Come on in. We're, ah, still trying to get things done here."
"I'm Alice, and this is Fred. We're Mary's aunt and uncle." The woman explained as they came in.
"Please, excuse the floor. The kids were playing games while I finished the kitchen." Anne blushed and knelt down, scooping up puzzle pieces and board games.
Abbie came running to Anne and climbed onto her back, making her task that much more difficult.
"Mama said to take your suit cases to your room," Hannah said, taking the aunt's bag and showing them the way to the guest room.
Anne moved as quickly as she could with Abbie in her arms and had the living room clean before the aunt and uncle returned. Abbie chattered away, and Anne did her best to answer.
"Something smells really good." Fred said, smiling as they took a seat in the living room.
"Oh, that's the cake," Anne smiled. "It'll be ready for dinner."
"You sure do have your hands full." Alice commented with a smile. "Mary is fortunate to have found such good help."
"Well, I try my best. The children are sweet and that makes the job much easier." Anne answered.
Thankfully, she spotted the Wilsons pulling in the driveway and sighed in relief. If nothing else, they could entertain their company while she finished in the kitchen.
Anne ended up staying for dinner, and helping serve and then clean up. The Wilsons were able to sit and relax with their company while she cleaned, then Mrs. Wilson took Abbie to put her to bed after dessert.
"So," Fred said, "I have a notion that you children like story books."
The children agreed.
"Well, I just happen to have this little note book which I've been sketching in while I've been here, being a writer and all..." He produced a little book from his jacket pocket. "Now, I had some idea of what to write, seeing as your mother had told us all about you. But I wrote up this little story and I'll read it to you, if you want."
With unanimous agreement, he began to read.
"There once was a village of little bitty people. There weren't a great many of them, just enough." He showed them a pencil sketch of the Wilson children. "There was a tall one, who loved talking about horses."
Hannah giggled.
"There was a almost as tall one who loved his dessert but knew when to stop- especially when his mother said to."
Peter grinned.
"There was a quiet one who had the biggest brown eyes anyone had ever seen."
Penny wiggled and her face lit up.
"There was a little one who was fast and believe he could catch a star to keep in his pocket if it fell just right."
James giggled.
"And there was a tiny one who talked almost nonstop. These little bitty people knew their king and queen had important work to do most days, and so a fair maiden was chosen to be their princess. Now, she had a great many tasks assigned to her by the king and queen. She had to keep the village feed, keep the village neat and tidy, and keep the village happy. She worked very hard, and almost didn't have enough time in a day to get all her tasks done. The little bitty people tried to help, but they had their own chores to do.
"The little bitty people loved their princess. She always listened to them, and never banished them away with an angry word. She played games with them, although she might have to play and work at the same time. She was patient with them and made them feel like they were the most important people in all the world, because she knew to the king and queen they were.
"One day, the king and queen asked the princess to do something special. They were having ambassadors from a far off village coming to their home. They wouldn't be able to greet them when they arrived at the village, but they trusted the princess and the little bitty people to do the job for them. And they did. The ambassadors felt very welcome in the village and they were made comfortable. Then they were fed delicious food and a special cake that they wished they could have the princess make all the time.
"Now, the ambassadors were very pleased with the princess. They told the king and the queen that they were so impressed by her hard work that they wanted to reward her for her service to the king and queen. They wanted to give her a leather pouch with several gold coins in it, but they didn't feel that was enough. They wanted to give her a gold box of rubies, but they didn't think that was enough, either. So they had an idea.
"You see, one of the ambassadors was famous storyteller. He had told hundreds of people stories, and he had been looking for a new story to tell. He decided that the best reward he could give the princess was to tell of her faithfulness to her duties and her excellent care of the little bitty people. He wrote her story and drew pictures."
He held up a sketch of Anne, with Abbie in her arms and a cake in her hand, with the other children pressed close to her sides.
"Now the whole world would know about Princess Anne and never forget her. The end."