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."

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Let Them Be Children

What was your childhood like? I remember mine being filled with days of running around the yard, using my imagination and toys to create adventures with my siblings and our friend who lived around the corner from us. I probably spent 8 hours a day outside, playing and enjoying the sunshine during the summer. During winter, I spent my days playing dolls, making crafts or reading after school hours were over. It was a great childhood.

My mom did a great job raising my siblings and me. Our childhood was filled with encouragement in the right places, and careful discouragement in areas that would harm us if we went down those paths. Our TV shows were monitored, and if you got caught trying to watch something that was trash, you had better be prepared for a week of no TV privileges. Music was carefully selected, and there were even Veggie Tales songs we didn't listen to! Certain toys weren't allowed to cross the threshold of our home, because they were (and still are, in my opinion) trash. We had a bedtime and chores. The girls weren't allowed to pierce their ears until we were 12, and no makeup until 15- we were taught we were beautiful as God created us and didn't need artificial beauty. Didn't need a curfew because my mom had enough common sense to know that children shouldn't be allowed to go out on their own!

Things you would never find in our home were:
Bratz dolls and fashion dolls that dressed indecently (Which I'm still trying to understand why any parent would allow their daughter to have these, I mean, what kind of impression do they make on young girls about their appearance?!)
Anything that had to do with Halloween.
Harry Potter, or any kind of magic (And yes, we watched Disney movies but had to fast forward the magic parts when watching our video cassettes. And this is something that still goes for my young siblings)
90% of TV shows and movies that were for 'kids' (especially when we had satellite TV for a brief time). Most of them would be considered clean compared to the shows now days, but they were no good back then and still aren't.
Games and movies that encouraged excessive violence and destruction. The worst you could have found as far as violence was my brother had a cap gun, a GI Joe (which he threw away because we girls made him marry our Barbie dolls, and, as you know, girl toys have cooties) and he watched the old Ninja Turtles.
Pop music. Still a no and for good reason.
Anything that encouraged the need for boyfriends/girlfriends at young ages. I remember there was this one board game with a phone and had something to do with crushes or whatever? Yeah, that was a no.

You might be thinking, well, your family was probably Amish or something, that's so strict. Eh, no. We are Independent Baptist, and conservative, but we're not so strict we couldn't have or do anything.

See, my family believes childhood should be just that: childhood. Not 'getting ready to be a teenager'-hood. We were encouraged to play and use our imagination and have toys for as long as we wanted to, because we were children. It's bad enough that you only have about 15-16 years of being a child. Why would we make that time any shorter?

Nothing makes me more upset or sick than to see parents allowing their children be bombarded by the world during their childhood. Not just allowed, but it is encouraged.

Young girls are put in bikini's and skimpy clothes as soon as they are born now days (Babies in bikinis?!?!?! No one should be in one, but certainly not anyone under the age of 18)
They're encouraged to dress in styles that would be indecent on adults, and is perverted for children when they're only 8 years old.
By the time they hit 10, they are taught they need makeup and allowed to go out with faces painted.
By 13 they think they need to look like every model out there to be considered pretty, with as much skin showing as possible, and the tighter the clothes the better.
They're given fashion dolls that dress, in a word, trashy and encouraged to try to look like them.
They're taught to look up to singers like Arianna Grande and Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber who are some of the most ungodly role models a child could find, and walk around singing lyrics to songs that an adult should be ashamed to sing- all when they're under 15 years old!
Boys are taught that they need to dress like a gang member, and walk around eying every girl they come across in a vulgar way.
They're given violent video games and encouraged to spend all their time playing them (and then parents wonder why they are violent!)
Children are allowed to watch movies of kids and teens 'falling in love' and worrying so much about their crushes/boyfriend/girlfriend instead of their education, and the idea that if you don't have a relationship by the time you're 16, you are an outcast is pushed on children.

Parents think it's funny and cute that their 10 year old has a crush or a boyfriend/girlfriend. It's NOT! This is a child we are talking about! The farthest thing from their minds should be crushes and relationships, people! Teach them to focus on their education and relationship with God!

It's time to stop taking baby dolls out of little girls' hands and cramming a cellphone in them.
It's time to stop taking toy cars from little boys' and putting a video game in them.
It's time to stop pumping music that You should be ashamed to listen to into young ears and minds.
It's time to stop dressing children like adults, in clothes that even adults shouldn't be wearing.
It's time to stop encouraging children to have crushes and have boyfriends/girlfriends.
It's time to stop letting our kids look to the world for their guidance in how they look, act and think.
It's time to stop cramming the influences of the world into children's minds.

Why can't children be children anymore? Why can't they have toys that don't require a charger or batteries? Why can't they play outside and use their imagination instead of sitting in front of a computer playing on Facebook? Why can't they spend time playing games with friends instead of watching shows that will do thing but encourage them to act in a worldly manner? Why can't we teach them that while they are growing up, there's no need for boyfriends and girlfriends and crushes? Why can't we teach our kids to be proud of their appearance enough to keep themselves well kept, and teach them to rejoice in how God created them to look without artificial beauty? Why can't we teach them to respect the Bible and the commands God has given us regarding our separation from the way the world lives?

They only get to be children once, and then they have the difficult task of being an adult for the rest of their lives. Don't take that time of childhood away from their prematurely, and don't let the world steal it either.

I know all this isn't something that can be fixed in a day. But godly men and women who are raising children should see what is going on and stop their children from having their childhood ruined by what the world says children should be.
God gave parents the responsibility of raising their children according to His Word, and it's something they need to take seriously because what they teach and allow is what the next generation will believe and teach. Childhood seems to be growing shorter and shorter with each generation, and that breaks my heart.

I wish every child could have the simple, uncomplicated childhood I had. I was allowed to be a child until I grew up at the proper time.

Yes, I am a bit passionate about this topic. I love working with children and so it breaks my heart when I see the world stealing away what should be the happiest time of their lives. I don't care to see parents let their children's lives be molded by the world and then hear the complaints when the kids fall into sin that they were encouraged to go towards while they were growing up.

So, I beg you...

Let them be children.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Not Desperate, Single and Serving Contentedly!

Why is it that when a girl is single and of marriageable age, everyone thinks she is desperate for a relationship?

Okay, so some girls are.

But not all girls.

Believe it or not, some of us have come to the point where we grew up and realized we don't have to have a boyfriend or husband to be happy. We can be happy and live our lives without a man in them for the time being.

It's not that we don't look forward to the day when God gives us a relationship, if He does. It's just that we know there are more important things to do with our lives than sit around and pine for a relationship!

It doesn't mean that we don't have hopes for 'one day'. It doesn't mean that we ignore all men, believe we are too good for them and have no need for them. It doesn't mean we can't have a hope chest or collect things for our future homes, for our future families.

It simply means we are living life now how God has called us.

Yes, with all my heart, I want a husband and family of my own. But I know that those will come in God's time, if He so wills for my life, and I'm more than willing to wait on His timing.

But I refuse to get jealous each time one of my friends starts a relationship. I refuse to sit around with my life on hold until I have a wedding ring on my hand. I don't want my life to be dependent on whether or not I get married.

In short, my happiness is not dependent on a man, on another human being.

I have my family. I have my friends. I have my shop. I have my Sunday school class. I have my church. I have all that I could ask for.

Most importantly, I have my relationship with Jesus. I have all that I need in Him.

My happiness and my joy, my peace and my hope are secured in Him because He is the only unchanging anchor in my life.

And the place in life He has chosen for me right now? I like it. I like my life the way it is right now.

If I get married one day, that is wonderful. I'll be happy and rejoice.

If I don't, I will still be happy.

Obviously, God has a reason why He wants me to serve Him as single right now. I may not understand the why or for how long, but I don't need to. As long as I'm serving God, I know I will be happy because I'll be in the center of His Will for my life.

While I know most people mean well, I do wish they'd stop viewing single people as desperate. It makes those of us who aren't racing for the altar feel like we are outcasts or something.

Just because I am single does not mean I am desperate.

To my friends out there who have came to the point where they can happily say they are single but serving contentedly, isn't this better than wasting our time searching for what only God can bring? We can do so much more if we are willing to serve Him joyfully as singles than to waste our time whining and complaining that He hasn't given us a spouse.

To those of you who haven't reached that point, can I tell you something? If your happiness resides solely in your relationship status, you will never be happy. You can never know true happiness and contentment until you understand that God is the source of true joy and peace and happiness. Please stop putting such emphasis on finding someone. Instead, find your happiness in God and where He has called you for now.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Introductions to More Friends!

I thought I'd take a moment to say something about some other friends of mine who mean a great deal to me!

First off I'll start with one of my fellow writers. She's the best poet I know. She's a published author. She makes the best flavored sugars you'll ever taste. She had a vast knowledge of just about anything you ask her about. She is surrounded by books, kitties, and majestic floofs (aka her bunny). I met her a while back on a crochet and knitting website, followed each other on Pinterest and Instagram, and she quickly became one of my best friends.

Her name is Annie, and she is Awesome. And if you argue with that fact, I will probably never speak to you again.

I can be assured that if I need advice of any nature, Annie will have a common sense answer for me. Writer issues like thinking up a name or new country? She's got that too. Just need to vent? Yep, she is amazing at listening and not judging when I'm being whiney or ranting over something trivial. In short, she's the kind of friend everyone needs, because she's everything in one cute, awesome and very brilliant person. Also, she makes paper butterflies.

The next friend I want to introduce y'all to is one who is very dear to my heart. She comes from a very similar life as I do, and she's always there to provide encouragement and help when I need it. She's probably my most faithful reader of this blog too, a fact which doesn't go unnoticed to this writer! And when it comes to knowledge of home remedies, she's an encyclopedia of wisdom. When I want to discuss my brother's corny puns, annoying habits or greatly admired overprotectiveness, I know who will always understand because her brother and mine are almost twins. When it comes to friends who I can rely on for prayer requests, she is at the top of the list. We might not get to speak to each other often, but she is truly my sister in heart!

May I introduce, Taz, one of the best adopted sisters a girl can have.

Did I also mention Taz can, without fail, make me laugh until my sides hurt? And her brother is just as awesome as she is! I can't thank the Lord enough for bringing this wonderful friend into my life, and for letting us meet thru the same crochet/knitting website! When I need a heart to heart talk about what is bothering me, Taz understands better than anyone else and always helps keep me straightened out when I get angry and upset.

The next friend, or should I say friends, I want to introduce I haven't known for the longest time, but they are truly some of the sweetest girls you could ever know. They sing, they sew, they have survived having a bunch of brothers. And they are two of the few people in the world who won't judge when I tell them I spent my life savings on yarn and fabric. In fact, they might even encourage me to do so, just a little ;)

Danielle and Laura, you two are the best!

And finally I want to introduce one of the sweetest ladies I've had the privilege to know thru social media. She's strong, she is loving, and she is the best first-time grandma I know (Her grandbaby is ADORABLE!). She's also one of the best mothers I know. And when it comes to Snapchat filters, she is the master! She's been an encouragement to me and without fail makes me smile each time I hear from her!

Mrs. Connie is one of the most wonderful examples of what a truly loving mom and grandma should be. The world needs more Snapchatting, encouraging and godly grandmas like you!

So, those are just a few of my very special friends I wanted to introduce to y'all. If you have the privilege to know these special ladies, know that you are blessed beyond belief. I know I am! The best part about these friends of mine are they aren't just friends. They're my sisters in Christ.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Seeds I'm Sowing

To every person who has hurt me, made fun of me, insulted me, or made me feel like I was unwanted, worthless, useless, unnecessary, ugly, stupid, unloved, disliked...

Thank you, Not for hurting me or any of the cruel, hateful things you did and said. But thank you for teaching me some valuable lessons.

Thank you for showing me what it's like to be the person who is pushed away as unwanted, unnecessary or unloved, because now I will never let another person feel that way.

Thank you for showing me that making fun of me, for calling me names and making me feel like ignorant, says a whole lot more about YOU than it does ME.

Thank you for showing me what harm cutting someone down, criticizing them and insulting them can do, because now I guard my mouth and thoughts to make sure I never harm someone the way you hurt me.

Thank you for showing me just how ignorant it is to gossip and lie about someone, because I'll think of how your sin hurt me before I let gossip take root in my life.

Thank you for showing me that the person saying I'm useless and that no one likes, is trying to make me feel bad so they feel better.

Thank you for showing me that just because someone says something negative, hateful or downright evil about you or to you doesn't make it true.

But most importantly, thank you for showing me that you needed someone to be kind to you, to be your friend, and to pray for you, despite the way you treat others.

You might think you hurt me- and truth be told, you did- but I outgrew that hurt. I learned from it. God used what you did to teach me what I shouldn't do, shouldn't say, and shouldn't be.

Thanks to you, I've learned how to help those who are hurt by people like you. I have a better understanding of how to help them, and how to teach them to learn and grow from the actions of people like you. When I see someone hurting the way you made me hurt, I can now help that person because I understand what they are feeling.

So, that being said... I'm praying for you. It may have been recently you hurt me, or years ago, doesn't matter, I don't care. God loves you, and because of that, I will love you enough to pray for you. Obviously, you've gone through things that made you the person who would hurt me, and that person needs God's salvation and grace and mercy every bit as much as I do.

The truth is, nothing you said to me was true.

I am loved, and I am wanted By God, by my family, and by my true friends.
I am valued by the One who gave His life for me, and what a person thinks of me matters so little in comparison to that.
I am not ugly or stupid, because I was created to be exactly the way I look by the Creator of the Universe, and He makes nothing that is worthless.

See, there's this wonderful verse in the Bible, and I'm going to share it with you.

Galatians 6:7 (KJV)
 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Instead of allowing myself to sow seeds of bitterness and hatred against you, I'm going to sow seeds of forgiveness and love. I'm going to pray for you with the love of Christ, because I don't know what you went thru to make you the way you are. 

I'm not going to let you hurt me again, because I'm putting it in God's Hands. Maybe you'll come to know Jesus Christ as your savior, maybe you'll get right with the Lord, and I'm not going to let bitterness cause me to keep you from that by retaliating and hurting you in return. All I can do is pray for you now. 

And hoping you become the same one day,

Monday, July 3, 2017

Give Yourself a Break From Heartbreaks

How many secular songs have been written about broken hearts? Probably too many, right? I mean, we can't walk through a store without hearing a song about two star crossed lovers who called it all off and one party is whining and/or fussing about the other. I'm not belittling true broken hearts, as I understand they can be painful, especially when they are a result of an ended relationship that had moved into something like engagement and had to been called off for genuine reasons. But I think too many times, we set ourselves up for heartbreak by our own actions in little things. And we end up with a broken heart, a heart that's in pieces, that could have been intact for the right person by giving a little of our hearts away in different ways.

For instance, crushes and flirting.

A friend once told me not to get my hopes up when it comes to a guy, because it sets me up for heartbreak. You know what? She was right. Having been disappointed a few times over crushes (Yes, I'll admit I've had my share of them) that never went anywhere, I realized I had been setting myself up for heartbreak. I think that's the true danger behind crushes. We get ourselves convinced someone is perfect and the right one and we can't imagine a future with anyone else but them. We start planning our futures (in my case, I plan the dream wedding *rolls eyes*) and we even begin to push all reason, and even God at times, to the side in order to maintain the belief that we are right and things will be perfect.

This is really a sad and dangerous place to be, this wandering in 'crushland'. Because at the end of the road through this place, we end up at heartbreak and hurt. And can we be honest? We all know nothing is going to come of it. No matter what we convince ourselves of, deep down, we know.

The worst part is, we rob ourselves of the joy we would have if we guarded our hearts and truly waited for the right one to come along. We trade emotional ups and downs for the patience we should have had in waiting. We lose that focus on serving God wholly when we begin to focus on people.

Ladies, those of us who are waiting on God to send the right guy, do we realize that somewhere out there really is a guy who is waiting for us and praying for us? That's not just a bunch of quotes on Pinterest that we can save and go 'aww yeah he's out there somewhere!' when we're feeling desperate, lonely and like we will be old maids forever. He's really out there. Your future husband. Do you honestly believe he's going to want a girl who is carrying around the memories of a hundred and one crushes? If not for your own sake (And Your Own Sake is important, I'm not saying it isn't) then for his, don't you think these crushes are doing more harm than good?

I understand, we battle the flesh. Crushes are hard to avoid at times. But honestly, you could probably avoid 90% of them by reminding yourself that your future spouse is out there and until you are actually in a REAL relationship (aka, courting or engagement) and on the road to marriage with them, you have no use for feelings for someone who you might not (probably won't, even) marry.

And to be honest, for those of you who struggle with flirting, the same rules applies. What good is flirting with every person you come across going to do? That's just as bad as a crush, worse even, because you are encouraging someone who you may not marry. Learn to be friendly and a friend to someone Without flirting. It's not impossible.

I understand this post may sound a little harsh, but I'm reminding myself right alongside y'all. Melissa Holliday needs reminding just as much as anyone else that crushes are useless emotional phases that are based off feelings rather than facts. None of us are perfect, we all are still growing in the Lord and learning. We're still battling our flesh and that's a fight that won't end until we're in Heaven. But we can take precautions to guard our hearts and not allow things to come between us and the Lord as we wait on the right guy. We don't have to set ourselves up for heartbreak.

So, I've come up with a few tips to help y'all (and myself!) Here they are:

1. Stop with the celebrity crushes. I don't care what musician, what actor, what famous star they are. Stop it. Of course they are going to appear perfect- that's the image they want you to see! You're not going to marry that celebrity, odds are, and having a crush on them is going to do nothing to help you. It's only going to encourage you in letting yourself have an infatuation on every person you come across. And if I'm honest, and you are too, the celebrity probably Isn't a believer or leading a godly lifestyle, so why would you even allow yourself to become enamored with them?! As believers, we are called to be different from the world and separate from it, not in love with it!

2. Learn to see people as friends and not crushes. Don't even give in a little on this. If someone is genuinely interested in you, they will be honest and tell you. You don't have to have a crush on them and make yourself believe they like you. IF they do, they will tell you. Learn to be just a friend to people. And this works in reverse too. Be honest with the ones who show genuine interest in you, so that you don't accidentally encourage a crush.

3. Focus on God. Stay in His Word. Stay in prayer. The more time you spend with your Savior and thinking and meditating on the Scriptures, the less time your mind will have to focus on people and crushes. Don't give excuses why you can't be reading your Bible or praying when you can spend time on social media (or even reading this blog). Put your phone down, turn the computer or laptop off and open your Bible. Get out from in front of the TV and get on your knees in prayer.

4. Seek Godly friends and get encouragement from them. Truly godly friend will not encourage your crushes, but rather will encourage you to see the Lord and His Will. While all friends are happy for their friends when there's a new 'possibility', the best friends will encourage you to pray and truly seek God about someone before you start falling into the infatuation trap.

5. Instead of flirting and encouraging flirting, try being a genuine friend and just having conversations with the opposite gender. It's not impossible. You don't have to flirt.

6. Remember the One who created your heart knows what is in it. God sees and knows what we go through. He isn't blind. He wants what is best for us, but sometimes that means He has to teach us the hard way when we insist on going our own way in matters of our hearts. Remember my post on not following your heart? Our hearts CAN deceive us, and we need to rely on God rather that our feelings and emotions.

It really doesn't matter if you're a teenager, or (like me) in your 20's, or maybe even your 30s. It's important we learn to guard ourselves against heartbreaks like crushes and flirting for fun. They don't only hurt us, they can hurt others.

Be the one who considers your future spouse is waiting for you and determines not to let a little piece of your heart be given to everyone that comes along so that you don't have a broken heart before you ever find the right person.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Abstain from all Appearance of Evil

Several times this past week, this verse has came up either in conversation or across my mind when reading something. Different situations, different scenarios, but that verse held as common to all of them.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 King James Version
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Have you ever stopped and just thought about that verse, what it means and how powerful it is? It applies to so many things in our lives! I want to start with the dictionary definitions of the words abstain, appearance and evil.

Abstain: To hold one's self aloof; to forbear or refrain voluntarily, and especially from an indulgence of the passions or appetites.

Appearance: Semblance, or apparent likeness; external show. pl. Outward signs, or circumstances, fitted to make a particular impression or to determine the judgment as to the character of a person or a thing, an act or a state.

Evil: Having qualities tending to injury and mischief; having a nature or properties which tend to badness; mischievous; not good; having or exhibiting bad moral qualities; morally corrupt; wicked; wrong; vicious;  producing or threatening sorrow, distress, injury, or calamity; unpropitious; calamitous

Okay, so, having read those definitions... I think it's safe to say that when that verse says to abstain from all appearance of evil, it's pretty specific, right? We are to voluntarily keep ourselves away from having the apparent likeness or outward signs of anything that is not good, corrupt or wicked. Pretty simple, right? 

Wrong. It's incredibly hard, I'll be the first to admit, although it does get easier.

As a believers, we are to be Christ like. We're to walk, talk, dress and have attitudes that reflect Him. People should be able to tell by our words, by the way we react to situations, by the way we act and the things we do, and the places we go, that we are followers of Christ. Part of that means abstaining from things we know are not glorifying to God. It means not giving room for doubt, not allowing yourself to get into a situation where others could say you compromised and letting your testimony be ruined.

I know I've talked on this before, but I'm going to reiterate that I believe 100% in chaperones. I don't care if you are 15 or 50. If you're not married to them, you shouldn't be alone with the opposite gender (unless it's a parents or siblings or relative). If for no other reason than, again, your testimony, you should want someone (a friend or family member, but definitely someone you know) there as a witness that the two of you did nothing you can be accused of later.

And I don't want to hear "Well, we were in public, there were witnesses!" Umm, do you know those strangers' names and numbers so I find out if you're telling the truth? No, you don't. Sorry. Anyone can say there were 'other people there' but you don't have an actual witness that can say from the time the outing started to the time it ended -the whole time the two of you were together- nothing happened. I'm not for that. I want accountability. I want there to be no room for doubt, gossip or lies.
I'm going to abstain from all appearance of evil by never being alone in a room or vehicle with a guy unless it's my brothers or husband (Not future husband, mind you, but my husband!)

It's so, so, so easy to fall into acting like the world. We're bombarded on every side by the world, and the flesh loves to give in. I could easily act just like girls around me that aren't saved. I could walk the same, talk the same, and go to the same places and dress the same- but I choose not to. I choose to abstain from all appearance of evil.

I don't flirt and throw myself at guys.

I don't worship and idolize and spend all my time following after celebrities and musicians who are obviously not believers and are living ungodly lives.

I don't use cuss words or swear words (Who honestly wants to look that ignorant?)

I don't dress in skimpy no-nothing, shorty-short clothes with my body hanging out and more skin showing than is covered by clothes that look painted on.

I don't spend my time in place with rock or rap or country music blaring.

I don't go in places I know that no truly born again Christian has any business being (And believe me, my local mall is FULL of them).

I don't listen to music that praises everything but God, and encourages ungodly behavior, thoughts and actions.

If I did all those things, would I look any different from the world to a random stranger walking by? NO! They would not see that I'm a saved person who is trying to live for the Lord. They wouldn't be able to tell by my appearance that I'm a Christian. 

Can I be blunt? If you're doing those things, don't expect people to know or even believe when you tell them that you are born again. This is where the verses about knowing people by their fruits comes into play. You act like the world, people will think you are of the world.

I know that God knows each of us by heart. But I also know the world only sees what is on the outside. They only see what we talk like, what we do, how we dress and where we go and judge by that.

You could ruin a chance to witness to someone by being just like them. 

I've heard people in the past try to justify acting, talking and dressing like the world as a means of winning others to Christ. That's a really ignorant way of thinking and trying to justify sin, let's be honest. I'm not going to drink poison along with someone to keep them from dying. I'm not going to rob a bank to pay someone else's bills. I'm not going to pop three tires on a car to keep one from going flat.

God won't bless acting like the devil to win someone to Him. He never has nor will He ever tell you to sin to be a witness to someone. He doesn't condone acting like the world to win a lost person to the Lord.

And Anyone who tells you that you have to act like the world to win them seriously needs to read their Bible and study God's Word better, because they lack understanding what God's Will is for believers!

God has set us apart on purpose, to be different than the world so others can see Him in us. If you're acting just like the world, no one is going to see God in you!

Abstaining from all appearance can be hard, but the more we do, the easier it gets. Saying no is difficult, I understand, but not impossible. Especially when we choose friends who are not living godly lives, we make it harder for ourselves.
That's why it's so important to surround yourself with believers who are trying to live for God and are also abstaining from all appearance of evil. That's why it's important to avoid going to places where we will be tempted to sin. That's why it's important to guard what our eyes and ears are filled with. That's why it's important we be careful watch we watch and what we listen to. That's why it is important we don't idolize and follow every move of famous people who we Know are not living for God by their words and actions. That's why it's important we live every moment of our lives as if Christ were coming back, and ask ourselves would we be comfortable doing that/saying those words/dressing that way/listening to that song/acting like that/walking like that if Jesus were standing right next to us? Would you really? Would you see Jesus joining in? 

Honestly, it boils down to this: God has given us commands and specifics about how we are to live our lives. Those things that are sin, He died to forgive us of them. Do you really feel no conviction over living like the world, even though it cost Christ His life to pay for those sins?

If you are a child of God, if you are saved, then God will chastise you- He promised to in the Bible. You won't get away with living that way for long without God correcting you like a earthly father corrects his child. He wants us to understand why He said in His Word to abstain from all appearance of evil, and He corrects us when we start to drift and stray away from Him. It's a dangerous place to live when you are saved and purposefully ignoring the commands God has given us. You not only lose the blessings God would have given you if you were living your life according to His Word, but you lose the ability to serve Him wholly and have your service blessed!

If you feel no conviction over living in sin and living like the world, then I hope you would truly search your heart and make sure of your salvation today, because God says in the Scripture that if you are not chastised then you are not His child. There can be no more important decision you can make in your life than choosing to accept the free gift of salvation Christ offers to anyone who will call on His Name. 

If you are saved, and you've been letting the world and the flesh win, and haven't been living for God... why continue another day in that? I'm SO thankful God will forgive us when we sin, and is always ready to hear our prayers when we come to Him confessing our sins!

I know I am in need of that forgiveness everyday of my life. I need God's grace and mercy every minute of my life, and I could never repay Him for it. But what I can do is to live for Him, to live not to please anyone- not even myself- but God, and to encourage others to also 'abstain from all appearance of evil' so that we can be an effective witness to those around us.

To those who are striving to abstain from all appearance of evil, I hope this has been an encouragement to you. I hope you know that you are not alone. I pray God strengthens you in your desire to please Him by your actions, your choices and your appearance. Please don't give up your standards or give in to the flesh when it looks easier to be like the world than to fight against it. God sees your life and knows your desire is to please Him, and He will bless that.

Your sister in the Lord,