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encountering an extraordinary God in my ordinary life

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In a conversation recently with a friend, we were talking about how common it has become to come across provocative or sexual images and content on the internet. You can be reading an article, get almost to the end, and begin to see more-than-you-asked-for images. How sad, but true. She then said “Even Pinterest”!  I immediately agreed, because just a few days before I was thinking about that very thing and wanted to blog about it.

Our family has experienced first hand the dark side of Pinterest and other areas of media, like DS games. I hope to help parents – where you may not realize dangers, like we didn’t when we have cautiously given our kids access to media. There is a growing trend of younger and younger kids getting smart phones, and through those phones, the internet or apps that lead to the internet.

When we had finally given our daughter the Pinterest app on her iPhone, she was way above the average age of those getting one, and she let us know often! To make a long story shorter, on the Pinterest side there are boards and genres on there I didn’t know existed. I pin recipes, house decor, and crafty ideas, but there is also fantasy, nudity, and much more that anyone can see.  Even the ability for strangers to message your child.  I found a blog that gives more detail about what we encountered as well:

https://www.familoop.com/parenting-blog/the-hidden-dangers-of-pinterest-for-teens

I am not saying Pinterest is bad, but there is a reality that it’s an access point to a world that we don’t want to see, much less allow our kids to see.

One of of our boys had bought a DS gaming system from someone at school.  Anytime the kids have something techy it gets handled through Travis.   Honestly, if they came to me I would most likely say no, so in order to be balanced in our parenting, Travis has taken on the responsibility of checking out the games and such.  Well,  in this instance I guess he thought I had, and I thought he had – neither had.  I sat down next to one of my boys just as they were going to put the DS away and I just asked to see what was on there.  I clicked around a bit to the home screen and noticed two games glaring right at me.  One was called ‘The Abyss” and had a very visible pentagram on the title graphic.  The other was “Darkness of the Soul”.  Very obvious to me that these games had no redeeming value!  I calmly shared why these weren’t games that we were going to entertain ourselves with, and told him I would pay him for what he bought it for, and then I threw it away.  Our boys said they really hadn’t  played those games, but used it to play games we already Read More

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My Love

I know Father’s Day has come and gone, but it’s always a good day to honor Travis for the husband he is to me and for the daddy he is to our kids.  This year as Father’s Day got closer I was thinking about how much Travis has given of himself over the last 16 years of our marriage – and even before!

When he decided to move across the country 4000 miles to start a family with me, he sold a brand new (never even ridden) Honda Shadow motorcycle that he won!!!
He got up with me every night with all of our babies!
He has gotten up with me all the nights I haven’t slept.  Patiently waiting for me as I toss and turn.  Some nights watching tv with me 😉 (I do sleep better now!)
Many nights, has answered the middle-of-the-night calls from our kids after waking up.
Always has come home after work and connected with the kids and asks if there is anything he can do to help around the house!
He makes the bed in the morning!!
He listens to our kids and helps them process through their life.
He is always reading something to grow as a husband and father.
He has been insanely creative with different birthdays and anniversaries to make me feel special.
 (guys, if you want some ideas he has tons.)
Has a hopeful perspective on the future – in other words – stays calm when I worry.
He plays Quelf with the kids!
He has played with baseballs, footballs, volleyballs, and soccer balls with the kids many hot, humid evenings.
He is willing to take cold showers so I can take a hot one – with 6 people in the house the water can go quickly in the mornings.
He shares with me what he’s learning through books, podcasts, and articles.
He shows our kids that we are always there for them.
He knows the good, bad, the ugly me.  He overlooks so many things I see wrong about myself and loves me anyway.
I could go on with many more ways he shows his love toward us.  I am so incredibly blessed and thankful God chose him for me.  Words just don’t capture what my heart feels.
Travis, you are truly a gift from God!!  You are devoted and faithful and I love you!
your adoring wife,
Amy
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Get yourself a new outfit

We have all been there, standing in front of our closet staring at the wall of clothes with nothing to wear.  We have all had days where the outfit that worked last week just doesn’t look right on anymore.  Like a bad hair day, I have had many bad outfit days!  There are some old clothes in my closet that I need to get rid of – they are just in the way and distracting me from the clothes that really look good on me.  It’s amazing how one new outfit will make me feel – I see my closet in a whole new light with so many possibilities.  Out with the old, in with the new.

Every area of our lives should follow that pattern of out with the old, in with the new.

I just read in Colossians 3 that we are to take off the old self – put to death the sinful earthly things lurking within you, Have nothing to do with

sexual immorality,

impurity,

lust,

and evil desires.

Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

Now is the time to get rid of anger,

rage,

malicious behavior,

slander,

and dirty language.

Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.

God wants to help you get a new outfit!  All the way back in Genesis God was helping Adam and Eve with a new outfit.  They tried putting together their own, but God made a new outfit for them Genesis 3:21.   If what you are wearing is old and you don’t know how to move on from sexual immorality, impurity, lust or any of the above, God has provided you with a new outfit.

Colossians 3 continues and says:

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves,

you must clothe yourselves with:

tenderhearted mercy,

kindness, humility,

gentleness, and patience.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

 

Putting on our new nature in Jesus is possible with His help.  Don’t stay in those old – outdated clothes, get the help from a friend to look at your outfits and give honest feedback as to what looks good on you!   Get rid of them!  You have new clothes to wear!

-Amy

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For years I have battled negative thoughts.  This is my confession.  It feels like someone who gets an addiction, I have found myself being drawn back over and over into a negative, doom-situation thought pattern.  The mind is a powerful thing.

I look back and can see that it began because of something traumatic happening around me. I battled fear.  I know what God’s word says about fear, and I have seen victory by believing God,  but I still let it creep back in.  There is a difference in believing God in your head and believing God in your heart.  Too often I have not allowed the knowledge that I have, to sink into my heart;  I have not trusted God the way I should.  Somehow I have been so consumed with the worry and concern of possibilities that I have lived (thought) out of a false reality instead of God’s true reality.

I have always been a fighter, always been stubborn and strong.  I was born with some extra organs that needed serious surgery – and without God’s miraculous touch and my being a fighter,  I wouldn’t be here.

My strength in my teen years covered many insecurities, and when I found myself pregnant before I was married, my desperation for God and my determination to be strong for my child and myself got me through.  What I didn’t realize until recently was I was I had still been holding on to a feeling of insecurity.  I have been trying to cover my own weakness because I can’t stand the thought of someone thinking poorly of me, instead of walking in the reality that in my weakness I am strong in Christ.  I have lived trying to prove to myself and everyone around me that I’m good enough.  That was my life before Jesus Christ, but I have been living like His death and resurrection for my sin wasn’t good enough.  That it couldn’t cover me or protect me if bad things happened.  I said it did, but my thought life would suggest differently.  God forgive me.

As time has passed, and life’s painful circumstances have occurred, I have not fully walked in the hope of God’s promises by faith.  His word is full of hope, but I have allowed myself to be so overwhelmed by what is seen.

God says in Hebrew 11:1 the fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

Our faith is what sets us apart from the world.  We don’t respond to the pressures and pain of this world the same way.

I wrote earlier that the mind is a powerful thing, and when we find ourselves responding the wrong way, remember that our God is loving and MORE powerful, and when we cry out to Him for help, He does!

I want you to know and feel hope today.  You don’t have to be stuck in a cycle of fear or negative thought patterns.  Life doesn’t have to be suffocating.  God has set us free, covers us with His love and kindness, and makes us strong when we are weak.  We just need to let go of pride – our own thinking.

God has made me a fighter, surrendered and strong, so I can hold on to Him and trust in His words.

What words has God said that you need to live?

 

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An overwhelming great gift

Some days I’m overwhelmed!

Being a working mom is hard!

Everything that I would normally do as a stay-at-home mom I still do, but in a fraction of the time.

Meal plan

Cook

Clean

Laundry

Homework

School projects

Sign school papers

Sometimes (most of the time) the above list is all done at the same time in the evenings.

referee disputes

prepare for the following day

spend “quality” time with 4 kids

build/maintain a healthy marriage

quiet time/ prayer time with God

make sure my kids are doing the chores

Personal care: hair, face, teeth care, (exercise would be good too)

make sure the dog is fed, watered, and had outside time (a walk if she’s lucky)

And MORE

What about hobby time, people outside of our family time, and any extra curricular time!

There is not time for it all…I’m overwhelmed, how do other women do it??!

Then there is the work-time!!

I love it all though.   I know God has blessed me with an amazing husband, 4 incredible kids, and everything else.

Only God can keep my sane and get me through hour by hour through our busy life.

It seems like whether you work outside the home or a stay-at-home mom (with little ones)  its a tiring job.  There seems to always be a need for more time or more energy.

Par for the course, I start writing and finish it over a period of a week.  So between times of starting this and finishing it, God reminded me on my birthday last week through the verse of the day from youversion.com that HE is the one that provides ALL I need.  The best gift and I’m overwhelmed with His love for me!

“But he replied, “My gift of undeserved grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

So for those who stay-at-home or work when your bragging to your friends or to your husband that you’re overwhelmed remember….

We can do this in HIS strength!

 

 

 

 

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Lessons from an Octopus

A couple of years ago  I had been praying about my thought life and how out-of-control it gets sometimes with all kinds of worries, comparisons, and woe-is-me attitude. I needed Him to step in and do some major reconstruction in there.   Jesus showed me that it’s not always a “poof, it’s fixed” moment, but He gives us what we need and teaches us practical ways to change.

Travis and I went downtown and as we were leaving from Starbucks I noticed the most hideous display window across the street in none other than a Louis Vuitton store.  It was red polkadot background with red octopus tentacles hanging all over and coming up from the bottom; they were covered in white suckers.  It was awful!  As we drove home Trav turned on Pandora -Josh Garrels station- and his sound was great so I wanted to see what he looked like.  On his website I clicked on photos and in one random photo was octopus tentacles – stick with me – I know it sounds weird.  I was thinking “what is with these gushy sea urchins showing up everywhere.”

The next morning another tentacle caught my eye.  This time it was in a discipleship Journal magazine.  I was alerted and so I read.  Wow was God getting my attention.  The writer was saying her thought-life was sabotaging her growth in Christ; I relate!  She would come to the “altar” but it was like putting an octopus on there with appendages flailing and falling off and every part of it not quite being surrendered.  God showed her it was going to take major discipline.  She had to commit to a process, take every thought captive – set her mind on Jesus, and trust He will do the work through His power to bring her mind to a halt from frenzied thinking.

 I’m committed to that process too!  Even though sometimes those tentacles seem especially unruly!

 

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

 

Have you thought about that God is so for us that He purposely sets up some interesting ways of getting our attention and teaching us?

-Amy

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at the end of your rope

Have you ever heard the expression  “at the end of your rope”?

It sounds cliche’ like an expression of feeling out of control.  An expression saying  “I’ve tried everything I could or know to do and nothing is working.”

Sometimes with the most sincere heart we think we have handled a situation the right way.  We have prayed about it, we’ve read scripture, we’ve listened to sermons on it, and we’ve asked God to help.  Or maybe its an area of sin in your life that you thought could be managed and eventually go away.  At some point we wake up and have that feeling that I’m at the end of my rope…

I have no more rope to cling to, I’ve exhausted all my resources.

Its usually at this point that we realize we can’t make things work the way we want them to and we can’t control sin and manage it.  Nothing can be done in our own strength at all!  It’s supposed to be in Jesus’ strength.

In all situations we are supposed to say “Jesus, it’s my desire to handle this the right way, but I can’t…I need you to do it, I need your strength and help.”   Sometimes the situation won’t change quickly, but because of God’s grace we are able to walk through the toughest of things with our head lifted high.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

David  was good at recognizing quickly that his help was coming from God and no where else.  There was a time of waiting.  He poured out his heart and emotions to The Lord, but  ultimately he had a secure hope resting on Gods faithfulness.

Psalm 61 Please listen, God, and answer my prayer!  I feel hopeless, and I cry out to you from a faraway land.  Lead me to the mighty rock high above me.  You are a strong tower, where I am safe from my enemies. -David

-Amy

 

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the Perfect Pattern

This is a continuation from my previous post.  Definitely some pretty cool info on honeycombs and the hexagonal pattern which got me thinking about patterns in our lives.  Grab a cup of coffee this ones kinda long, but worth it I promise.

2 Timothy 1:13 says Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

this pattern isn’t some formula of doing all the right things

Romans 12:2 Says Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

God calls us out of the pattern of the world with it’s behaviors and customs that are usually selfish and often corrupting.  Most christians avoid worldly behavior, but our refusal to conform to the world’s pattern must go even deeper than that.  It’s possible to avoid behaviors, but still be proud, selfish, stubborn, and haughty.  We need the Holy Spirit to renew our minds!!

Along with the Holy Spirit transforming our minds we have to cooperate with Him in doing our part to follow His pattern 

and for a pattern for others to follow.

The bees are very active in a hive and the baby bees learn by watching the older mature bees build the combs and work.  If we want those around us to be saved and and new believers built up we have to show them a different pattern of living and it’s not just going to be because we don’t hang out at the bars or watch rated R movies.

A few verses down in Romans 12:9-21 the subject line in the NKJV was Behave like a christian..of course as soon as I read it I saw BEEhave.

So let’s look at some of these patterns, which of course is just a handful from the honeycomb of scripture

    • Love must be sincere Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  The word sincere comes from a latin word that means whole, clean, pure, uninjured, unmixed,sound, genuine, pure, true, candid, truthful  we can’t smile on the outside to someone and criticize on the inside.  We can’t lend a hand to help someone but inwardly complain that we never have help ourselves.  Our love toward each other has to be pure.  I read a quote this week in a book and it said “the most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere”
      Be devoted to one another in love and HONOR one another above yourselves The bees are not all trying to be the queen or drones, or workers; each has a purpose, like we do. We all are important.
      Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord– have you ever seen a hive buzzing with bees, they’re pretty zealous!
      Be joyful in hope and patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. The bees all build with the hope that what they contribute to the colony is creating a better hive/honeycomb for the whole group…we do this in the body of Christ.  what is the mission of the church?  our hope is in our future glory
      Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality. This can be as simple as taking a plate of dessert to your neighbor and having a conversation.   It can be bringing a meal to someone sick.  One of the most powerful lessons I learned on love was when Rachael Butler brought me a meal when Austin broke his arm – It was like my heart was unlocked to a whole new dimension of God’s love through that meal.
      Bless those who persecute you– Don’t sting them!
      Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn
      Live in harmony with one another– associate with everyone even those who are low position; you are not too good for anyone!
      If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyoneThis is not just the kind of peace that means you can tolerate being in the same room with someone, but a true heart transformation that replaces annoyance with love.
      Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
      Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath
      Overcome evil with good. The bible says a soft answer turns away wrath…and Proverbs 16:24 says Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Bees build up their cells evenly no cell is higher than the other.  It would create a space problem and they would be bumping into each other in the wrong kinds of way.  How many times I have built up walls in my heart toward someone, because of an offense or feeling threatened – I’m not in any physical danger it is just my PRIDE and it’s only based on what I think the other person is thinking about me.  When I build up this walls to guard my heart I don’t leave any room for God or others in my life.  Our lives will only look like Christ’s if we do things His way.  There is no other way that works.

 

These are some practical patterns

We are not perfect, there is no way we are going to get all of these areas right, but we are being made perfect in Jesus Christ.  That’s when the Holy Spirit stretches us forming us into His image (we have to be pliable like the wax- it’s usually when God heats things up in our lives that this happens) and He fills in the gaps in our imperfect shapes, to closely fit us together making us stronger than before.

A beautiful, healthy, perfect pattern…

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Honeycomb

Have you noticed there are a lot of bee themes everywhere this year!  It’s all the buzz this spring!  I’ve been learning a little bit about bees and they are smart little things.  My friend Staci Shiner recently said that God put a lot of detail into how bees are created, live, and work; how much more does He do that with our lives, He cares for us –

we have all been created with a special design and purpose.

That really was one of those awakening statements for me!

The honeycomb is a creation of beauty and purpose and for thousands of years it has fascinated people.    Bees work together to build a honeycomb which consists of a pattern of tiny  hexagons- which is a six sided shape that when built leaves no gaps, no wasted space!

The pattern of the hexagon make the comb super strong

and creates the most usable space to hold honey.  If it were a triangle or square it wouldn’t have the strength and would not hold as much honey.  This was apparently mathematically proven and if you are one of those curious or smart people you can read about it here: Honeycomb conjecture.

A typical hive has around 100,000 cells that takes about 2.6lbs of wax to build.  Bees buzz around each other working simultaneously to build their home. Once it’s built  the hive must stay at exactly 94 degrees for the best possible conditions for the honey and comb. The bees control the temperature through their muscle and wing movements.  The honeycomb cells are slightly angled toward the sun making a nice safe home for the baby bees until they reach maturity. The cells also hold delicious golden honey.  The honey that the bees make is also their food which when eaten  is transformed in their body to wax that is excreted through their pores, they brush it off with their antennas and legs.

They then chew on it to make it pliable to be used to create the honeycomb.

You might say the bees were the ones who wrote the original earth friendly campaign of reduce, reuse, recycle!

Now think about our lives for a moment…what happens when we chew on the Word?

Psalm 119:3 says how sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

We read it, we think it about it, and we walk it out!  Our lives begin to look more like Jesus.  Our words change, what we watch changes, our desires change, and so on but most importantly our mind and heart change.  It’s knowing that God loves us and the character of Christ – that transforms who we are.   As each of us “beloveds” (as Jude says it) are building ourselves up on our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit – we are building on a solid foundation.  We become stronger individually and together.

We begin to see the church as a strong structure made from the pattern of Jesus Christ!

2 Timothy 1:13 says Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

I want to unpack what that pattern looks like in the next post!

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Beautiful Things- Layer 5

I always love it when I can see the resemblance of a parent in a child.  I am fascinated by the way that genetics pass on certain looks and features.  Sometimes it looks as if they had been cloned, in a “mini-me” version.  We often hear “Ava looks just like you” directed at both Travis or I, depending on who she is with at the time!    As children grow,  you begin to see certain character traits or nuances that look just like one of the parents.  It is either just built into them or they pick it up by watching their parent.

We are created in the image of God and when we are in Christ Jesus we will begin to have character traits just like Him.

 

This is the last post in a series  about building layers on a foundation.  Layer 5 is reading the word and prayer.  The more we are around Jesus the more we will look and act like Him!  That only happens when we spend time with Him by reading the Bible.

2 Timothy 3:16 says All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

Hebrews 4:12 says For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Isaiah 55:11 It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

 

If it’s alive and active it means its doing something – it’s changing who we are, but and it’s a big but…we have to participate…we have to do what it says.  God’s spirit in us has the power to change us from angry to kind, greedy to generous, lazy to productive, selfish to selfless but we have a choose to grow to become like Christ.

All that potential is in us the moment we say YES to Christ.   Those traits are in us to grow and it’s through reading the Word and conversation – aka prayer – with God that growth happens.

 

It doesn’t matter what your life may look like now, God can always make beautiful things!  Start that conversation today with God.  He will give you the tools to build in your life love, peace, the ability to have joy in suffering, and a heart that is surrendered and humbled – and we will look more like Him!

Listen to this song, Beautiful Things, by Gungor

   

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