Coming Clean

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Swiffering. Is that a verb these days? It’s like sweeping and mopping and dusting  – all rolled into one satisfying chore. Or at least that’s what the advertisers would have us consumers believe.

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When you have 3 furry creatures roaming around your home, however, swiffering may not be ‘enough’. I learned this the hard way last night. As you can imagine, this past month of moving into our new home, unpacking the boxes and furniture from 42′ of moving truck plus several car loads, deep cleaning hasn’t been our focus as much as unpacking and getting rid of the thousands of boxes that have been invading our home. But having 3 pets kind of trumps your plans for what’s on the ‘to-do’ list and so, when I traveled into town (yes, I have to say that now) to run errands, I knew that Wet Swiffers (the lavender scented ones are my favorite) had to be added to the shopping list. The fur was beyond the limits of my Zyrtec.

So I got home, unpacked the car and began cleaning. First, the toilets (yay! all 3 of them!) had to be scrubbed down – that’s ALWAYS THE FIRST THING THAT GETS CLEANED! Yuck. And then the dishes…(Getting used to well water and not having a disposal is taking some getting used to…) And finally, the swiffering.

But as I began swiffering the kitchen floor, I noticed it was a mere smattering of seconds before my wet moppy pad thing was unusable.  It was full of fur and dust and living in the country. So, I switched it out for a new one…Repeat process. Several times.

Eventually, my kitchen floor was clean and smelled wonderful, but it dawned on me…Next time, I need to sweep first and then swiffer.

That might seem obvious to many of you, but understand I am new to 2 things:

  • Being a ‘stay-at-home’ (mostly) wife
  • Having ALL hard surface flooring

Cleaning can’t be done with a quick fix to be done right. Cleaning is a process.

And so it is with allowing Christ to change us from the inside out.

We don’t become perfect people overnight. As a matter of fact, we don’t reach that state of grace until we go to live with Jesus at the end of our earthly lives. On earth, He is constantly molding and shaping us into the Christians – the Christ followers – He has planned for us to be.

I was brought up in a Christian home. I grew up knowing the Lord. But somewhere along the way, I lost sight of Him. He was no longer at the forefront of my decision-making. He became like a long-lost friend: I knew Him…but we hadn’t talked in forever and even though He was making the effort to keep in touch, I wasn’t responding to His texts.

I remember rekindling our relationship.

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It didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t go from the party-scene to youth ministry in a moment.

First, God grabbed the broom. Then, He showed me the dustpan…and we began. He started with one room and eventually swept the entire house. Next, He dusted. Room by room…And the swiffering has only just begun.

He is the Potter. We don’t become a beautiful piece of art overnight.It is the process of sanctification which molds us into that which He has destined for our lives.

Don’t seek out the ‘quick-fix’. Cherish the process with Him.

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Redeeming Love

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Thursday

Have you ever read a book that just CHANGED YOUR LIFE?!?! Getting to know the Lord more fully through Scripture is utterly life-changing, and certainly has proven so for my life, but in the past several months, I read another book that really got to me.

So much so that I began recommending it to every person God put on my heart. You may know how much I LOVE Goodwill shopping and I began praying before all of my shopping expeditions for the Lord to place a copy of this book on the shelf so that I could share it with more people. (And He provided!!)

I talked about my LOVE of the Book of Hosea yesterday, and this book is actually a version of that piece of Scripture, rewritten in a more modern setting.

You may, or may not, know this, but Hosea is a short book in the Old Testament about a prophet, by the same name, who God asks to marry a prostitute…and to continue loving and pursuing the prostitute – his wife – no matter what she does or how unfaithful she is…no matter that she has (at least) one child while they are married by another man…no matter that he ends up having to pay to purchase her out of slavery…no matter what.

And as you may have drawn by your own conclusions, the account of Hosea and his unending pursuit and relentless love for his unfaithful wife, is ALSO a picture of the way God loves us.

Think about that.

How many times have I run in the opposite direction at full-speed away from God? How many times have I prayed for forgiveness, only to make the same mistakes over and over and over again? How utterly LOST have I been that I couldn’t find my way back to Him, and yet, He purchased me out of slavery when no one else would have?

That is amazing grace. His truly redeeming love does not ask us to be the finished product to win Him over. No. He pursues us just as we are, and molds us into His creation.

Read this book. Read Hosea in the Bible. Discover the unrelenting love He has for each one of us, no matter how far we have strayed or how unfaithful we have been.

God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs (Psalm 103:8-10 TM).

I — yes, I alone — will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again (Isaiah 43:25 NIV)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son… (John 3:16)

His love, my friends, is so unsurpassing we cannot even begin to wrap our little minds around it.

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All Our Fruit Comes From Him

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Wednesday

One month and counting in Maine, and we have been BUSY. Church events, planning a youth ministry from scratch and this house. Y’all. This. House. I can’t wait to share our finished product. And honestly, for the changes we are able to make now it shouldn’t be too much longer before we can do the big reveal! Wahooo!!!

One blessing, though, in our move is substantially bigger than the updates we are making toward making this house our home, and all the other activities we are involved in – it’s time with the Lord. What an extravagant gift! I’ve had the privilege to be involved in an awesome women’s Bible study (‘Breathe’ by Priscilla Shirer – it’s awesome!!), and in my read straight-thru the Bible, I have just made it through Hosea. I am loving this beautiful land. This quiet. This time.

And today, God blessed me with a Word from Him He knew I desperately needed to hear. And honestly, it’s my new favorite passage of scripture:

Healing for the Repentant

Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
    for your sins have brought you down.
Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord.
    Say to him,
“Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us,
    so that we may offer you our praises.
Assyria cannot save us,
    nor can our warhorses.
Never again will we say to the idols we have made,
    ‘You are our gods.’
No, in you alone
    do the orphans find mercy.”

The Lord says,
“Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;
    my love will know no bounds,
    for my anger will be gone forever.
I will be to Israel
    like a refreshing dew from heaven.
Israel will blossom like the lily;
    it will send roots deep into the soil
    like the cedars in Lebanon.
Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees,
    as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon.
My people will again live under my shade.
    They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines.
    They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.

“O Israel, stay away from idols!
    I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
I am like a tree that is always green;
    all your fruit comes from me.

Let those who are wise understand these things.
    Let those with discernment listen carefully.
The paths of the Lord are true and right,
    and righteous people live by walking in them.
    But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.

Hosea 14:1-9

I stand in awe. His love is extravagant. It is all we need. HE is all we need.

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So many times All the time my prayers are asking and pleading and begging…and every time His answer is the same: I am the Lord Who provides.

How beautiful that His love knows no bounds!! He is even our SHADE!! (And on days as hot as today, I can fully appreciate that attribute – and I’m sure you can too!) We don’t just serve a god who makes us happy in this moment. We serve the Almighty God, the Creator who provides for our every need.

I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me. Hosea 14:8b

He asks us to follow Him, and He will provide. Stop for a moment this afternoon and reflect on that for a moment…Whatever it is you are worrying about and stressing over, give it up to God. Fully surrender to Him. He. Will. Provide.

Return…to the Lord…for your sins have brought you down…Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us [Lord], so that we may offer You our praises.

Hosea 14:1-2 (emphasis & editing mine)

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The Nomadic Not-So Newlywed Lefebvres

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Thursday

I can’t believe it. Tomorrow evening we begin our drive to Maine. Time flies much too quickly, and the past six months of discernment for us has not proven to be any different. Before we knew it, summer had arrived – and with it, our big move up to Maine.

I know it took me quite some time to allow God to soften my heart to the idea of moving back. Don’t get me wrong – Maine is a gorgeous place, and I can think of SO MANY PEOPLE we connected with in 2014-2015 who are amazing, life-changing, life-long relationships. But being so far away from home was hard. Being ‘alone’ with 10 feet of snow outside your front door and a sedan (Read: No AWD vehicle) in the driveway was hard. Feeling as if you weren’t being spiritually fed was really hard. And so, even though we knew we probably shouldn’t have, we left.

There were just so many easy ways to justify our move back to Georgia…and it didn’t take long before we were able to justify it for our own hearts.

Turning around and choosing to follow God’s plan was a pride-buster. God had His plan for us in that too! It isn’t easy to admit you were wrong and do a complete 180° turn with your life, changing all of your plans and returning to a place you ran away from.

People (who aren’t in ministry) always ask me, “Is youth ministry all you’re going to do? Isn’t that more of a part-time thing? Is that really the reason you’re moving back up?”

And the answer is that youth ministry – ministry of any sort – is more of a full-time job than any 40-hour per week career on the planet. Youth ministry is LIVING your life for Christ, as a role model for teenagers with keen eyes and ears and their finger on the tip of every social media site you could possibly ever be a part of.  Youth ministry is waking up with your coffee in the morning to read scripture and study the Bible for hours. Youth ministry is always having your phone on so that anyone in your youth group can call or text at any time of the day or night. Youth ministry is planning a calendar full of events, studies, snacks, and trips a year in advance, to mesh with every possible school system. It’s praying constantly for yourself and others. It’s being a counselor and an encourager and a rule-reminder. It’s draining. No more leaving work ‘at work’. It’s all the time. The pay is awful (Read: Zilch). The health benefits are non-existent – there’s no overtime either.

But it’s the most wonderfully fulfilling “job” I can fathom.

Following the Lord is the most incredible journey…It’s literally beyond anything you could ever imagine.

We have been riddled with sneers about our ‘moving so much’, but literally, are you where you are called to be?? Or are you just settling for what’s less complicated?

Paul tells us, “As far as you’re concerned, we’re homeless, shiftless wanderers like our ancestors, our lives mere shadows, hardly anything to us.” 1 Chronicles 29:15 (MSG) 

Peter says, “”Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:11-12

As Christians, we are called to be like nomads. Jesus tells a rich man in the gospels that in order to follow Him, the man must give up everything he has and leave it behind to follow the Lord. Is our faith that important to us? Or are we so concerned about remaining in the same house, close to our friends and family, in the best school district for our kids and close to our jobs, that we give God a deaf ear when He calls us out?

Think about it. It’s of utmost importance… WHO are you living for?

You or the Lord?

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The Way Life SHOULD Be.

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If only we all kept that verse written on our hearts…Take heart, JESUS has overcome!! We have no reason to fear, if we only follow His Word and His Leading.

If only we had more carefully heeded this Scripture last May…

Check out the video below to find out how God redirected everything and is bringing us full circle: {click or tap on the image below and the video will play}

2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.”

I cannot express to you how immeasurably that verse fits into our impending move and new journey for His Kingdom! The Lord has made this next step an increasingly joyful one for us! Gone are the fears about money and creature comforts and being tasked with a hugely important endeavor – for we have the freedom of knowing we are in the will of God. We know without a shadow of a doubt He has provided and will continue to! We walk in His freedom as His children, joint heirs with Christ!!

What a weight off our backs to allow Him to guide us and carry our heavy loads of worry! What a joy to serve our Sovereign Lord and King! What a privilege to be entrusted with such vital ministry!

Please continue praying for us and please pray especially for this grassroots youth ministry!

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I promise to do a better job of keeping you all posted on God’s work in our lives and through us. As soon as this move is complete…and our house is painted…and unpacked…I think I’ll have a little more time on my hands… #wishfulthinking Well, at the very least, I won’t have a 29 mile = 2 hour commute. Each. Way. #bethankful

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Asheville, NC this weekend!

We love you all and hope you’ll all pay us a visit!!

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He Will Do the Rest

It’s Thirsty Thursday!! And I was pondering what I might post today…but upon reading the following blog post from some amazing missionary fellow bloggers in Italy, I knew this was the message we needed to share today!!

It’s More ‘Good’ Than We Acknowledge

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I often wondered why such a seemingly unimaginably awful Friday as this is called “Good Friday.” Translation certainly has something to do with this naming, as the word ‘good’ in Old English is better translated to our modern day ‘holy’. And it is certainly a HOLY Friday. Today is the day we commemorate God sacrificing His one and only Son, Jesus, on the cross. Killing Him in a horribly painful way to save us all.

All of us.

So if you are thinking you are too ‘bad’, too old, too tainted, too far gone, not good enough…that this sacrifice was not for you because you don’t need the Blood of Jesus Christ to save you… Well, however, crazily un-PC this may be…

YOU’RE WRONG.

There is one single way to Heaven: Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:16

You cannot be good enough. You cannot give enough or go to church enough or meditate enough. The only thing that is enough is Jesus.

On today, Good Friday, God is asking you to do one thing: Acknowledge He gave His only Son a death sentence to save you. Believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and that He loves you – beyond ANY type of love you have ever experienced, beyond any type of love you could imagine. Nothing on this earth gets remotely close.

Once you acknowledge this fact, you simply have to believe, thank God for the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE and allow Him to be your Savior, by asking Him to forgive you and turning away from your past.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”               John 3:16-18

This is a reason today is a ‘good day’… without the death of Christ on the cross, there could be no resurrection, no Easter Sunday. He died for YOU and for ME, and in doing so overcame death completely. His resurrection on the third day means that the day I die, I can say with confidence that I will be with Jesus in Heaven.

 “One of the criminals hanging there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” The other one, however, rebuked him, saying, “Don’t you fear God? You received the same sentence he did. Ours, however, is only right, because we are getting what we deserve for what we did; but he has done no wrong.” And he said to Jesus, “Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!” Jesus said to him, “I promise you that today you will be in Paradise with me.” Luke 23:39-43

With death being the great uncertainty in life, knowing my destination is an amazing comfort that allows me to live for Jesus, able to follow Him no matter what the consequences are – not that any of us are ever 100% successful in this. We all sin, no matter how much we try not to. As much as I strive to listen to God, satan tempts me too.

I do not understand what I do; for I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate. Since what I do is what I don’t want to do, this shows that I agree that the Law is right. So I am not really the one who does this thing; rather it is the sin that lives in me. I know that good does not live in me—that is, in my human nature. For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it. I don’t do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do.If I do what I don’t want to do, this means that I am no longer the one who does it; instead, it is the sin that lives in me.” Romans 7:15-20

Craig and I are about to embark on a new adventure for Christ – the details will be ‘spilled’ soon – and so many people have asked, “How can you just follow like that – no questions asked?”

And I have 2 answers:

  1. Plenty of questions were asked – whether they should have been or not. We are not experts, by any stretch of the imagination, in trusting God, but we are trying. He asked us; we pleaded with Him; we questioned Him; we questioned each other; we relented; we followed.
  2. Faith in the outcome. God the Father sent His Son to die for our salvation. Jesus, flesh on earth, asked for there to be ‘another way’…He was frightened. He was both totally human and totally God. But He followed His Father’s Will – and while it was painful for Him…more painful that I could ever fathom, His Father knew the outcome…and aren’t we all glad He obeyed?

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

You may have seen on Facebook or Instagram that someone recently made some pretty rude comments toward Craig and me regarding our infertility. I am trying to believe that they misinterpreted our faith for complacency. Just as I ask the Lord to ‘help my unbelief’ for my Christian faith, I ask Him the same mercy for our lack of children.

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‘Though [the Lord] brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.’ Lamentations 3:32

‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.’ Ecclesiastes 3:1

“Through the Lord’s mercies, we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I hope in Him!’” Lamentations 3:21-24

He loved us so much He sent His only Son to die for us even though we did nothing to deserve this. If He loves me this much, He will provide for our every single need. How could I possibly doubt that? How can I worry about food, bills, a mortgage, children…when He provided even His only Son for me.

Can you fathom that?

Think of the person on this Earth you love most – your child, your spouse, your parent. Now imagine the entire world is sick. A disease is killing every person on earth and it is spreading like wildfire. The only cure is the blood of your loved one. That’s it. To save the world, you have to hand over your husband, your son, your daughter, your mother, your father, to be killed. And not in some pretty way. And not to a group of people who are grateful. No, you are handing over the one you love most to pain and torture so unbearable you don’t dare imagine it. And to a group of people who hate and despise the one you love most.

Could you do that? Could you sentence the love of your life to death to save people who don’t deserve it, even remotely???

I couldn’t. I don’t possess that much love.

So how in the world can I turn away from the only One who could, and did – Just for you and me?

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Thirsty Thursday with Craig: Mighty Last Words

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When my  wife approached me, asking if I were willing to write a blog entry for the day, my first initial thought, as always, is more along the lines of ‘ARGH!’, instead of what it should be – which is,”YAY!”  I am not a writer at all! It takes a lot of time and effort to write out what I feel others could write out better in a mere 5 minutes. In situations like this, I turn to God and really try to see what He places on my heart to share – After all, it is Him who I want everyone to see through our blog.

What I could clearly hear Him telling me to write about was something that has been on my heart the past 3-4 weeks, in a stronger than usual way – the yearning to share Him and His word with others. This is not an exactly easy thing for me, though, as I am someone who does not always like to go against the crowd or cause feathers to be ruffled.  But God has said, reassuringly, that not only are you going to share My Word, but you are going to do it in writing. Well, then, let’s take a look at what the Bible has to offer on the subject of sharing God’s word!

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When reading through the different passages relating to this, one thing I found very interesting was the timing of when Jesus gave ‘The Great Commission’ to His Apostles. In Matthew 28:19 He states:

     “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,   and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19

At the time He was saying this, He was just about to be taken up into Heaven to be seated at God’s right hand. Do you recall a time a loved one spoke their last words to you before they went to be with our Lord? Chances are, you can remember very clearly how these words were said, the emotion that they were said with, how you felt at the time… These words quoted from the book of Matthew are Jesus’ last words to us before He leaves this earth to be with our Father in Heaven.When someone we love leaves a last word of instruction, it seems to really strike a chord with us! We want to carry out their last desire with a different kind of motivation.

How many times has someone given an instruction and you really found no motivation in doing it? I am sure many times. In the movie ‘Risen‘, it plays out this last moment before Jesus leaves and in the end, we see the apostles filled with motivation to carry out Jesus’ last instruction on earth!

Nowadays, people have wills to see that their instructions are carried out. They divide up their earthly belongings, which are useless in heaven, to whom they desire. Some might say that Jesus was talking to only the 11 that were there or think to themselves, “He is not talking to me because I don’t know how to speak in public.” But I don’t think that’s the case at all. In Luke 10:1-2, it says:

            The Lord now chose seventy- two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit. These were his instructions to them – “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into his fields.”  Luke 10:1-2

Jesus instructed many more than just the 11! Here, He instructs 72 and is still asking them to pray for more! When He says the harvest is great He means that everyone has the ability to believe but He needs the workers (us) to share Him with the world so that the harvest can be taken in before it withers.

You have many skills that can help to share Jesus. It does not have to be only speaking or writing. Maybe it is that you enjoy cooking. You could simply cook for someone and when you share the meal with them you simply thank God for the food before sharing it with them.  Maybe you’re more of the ‘work with your hands’ type. You can build something for someone and upon completion, ask the Lord for a blessing on the contents or thank Him for the material to construct it.

Just with these simple act it places God at the center and acknowledges the fact He provided the food or the materials being used or given. Thanking Him recognizes the fact that without Him, it would not be possible. You would be amazed at how this simple act could open people’s searching hearts to Jesus! He tells us plainly that we are to plant His seed…The Holy Spirit does the rest!! No one has to wrestle another to follow Jesus. They only need to set a spark…

Jesus says in Luke 12:8-9:

            “I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, The Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels. But anyone who denies me here on earth will be denied before God’s angels.” Luke 12:8-9

That is such a reaffirming statement from the mouth of Jesus Christ himself! Just as a living will is in effect until it is carried out in full, Jesus’ living will is in effect until it is carried out in full by His followers! He instructs us to use our God-Given skills to make disciples of all nations everywhere in any way that we can.  As believers, saved by His sacrificial death on the cross, we must remember that we are the ones to bring Jesus to others who are searching. Just seeking is not enough. People must find Him. If no believer is to show an unbeliever, how will they find Him?

“…but how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?” Romans 10:14-15

I challenge you today to share the Good News with someone is some way – no matter how small. It could be a simple act of kindness to a complete stranger in passing. The Scriptures say ‘how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of messengers who bring good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the good news that the God of Israel reigns.’ (Isaiah 52:7)

Think about that for a moment… The Lord of all creation, who gave the meaning to the word “beautiful”, says Himself that beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring His good news! Let’s share God’s word with a different kind of motivation – The kind a Man’s last words on earth bring – through our thoughts, actions and words!

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A Monday Vlog: My Everyday Make-Up Routine

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Good Morning Folks!

We’ve been hiding out for a few weeks – mostly because we have been crazy swamped! Craig has been in Texas practically the entire month of March and work has been busy. I pulled two nine hour days in the office last week – and that doesn’t include the two hours of travel time on either end. Craig has only been ‘home’ for one weekend this month, so the only time we have seen each other is as I am leaving the house at 6am, and when I finally make it back home around 7pm…until I fall fast asleep by about 9pm.

That does not an easy relationship make. To say the least, it’s been a tough month.

So to lighten things up, and because I had some free time on Saturday morning, I decided to make a much-awaited VLOG.:-) A lot of people – some via social media but most in person  – ask about the make-up I wear. I am no professional by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a *little bit* of practice and have tried and tested every brand and product under the sun.

So…without further ado, I have included my vlog below. **If you are reading this post via e-mail, you can watch the video, by clicking or tapping (via tablet/iPad) the image below. For those of you who are menfolk, I included a background soundtrack of some of my favorite Christian worship songs…So there’s something for everyone!**

Eeeek! I am still freaking out just a little bit over the fact I just unleashed by ‘no make-up selfie’ to the world. Yikes!!

Any questions, comments, something I left out? Feel free to comment below or send me a message!

And stay tuned for later this week…I have a feeling my precious Texan husband might decide to post…😉

xoxo,

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Don’t Water It Down

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Thursday

My childhood as an Army Brat is one I wouldn’t trade for anything. We lived all over the world, and my brother and I were lucky enough to spend two years in school at Hawaii Baptist Academy in Honolulu. While I certainly fell away from my faith late in high school and in college, I credit many of my teachers and one of my Bible classes at HBA with my excitement in studying Scripture and learning about God.

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If you want the very best for your children, send them to a Bible-believing Christian school for K-12 – Yes, nowhere is perfect. Yes, the sports/activities may be lacking (or not!). But instilling a love for Christ and the Bible at an early age is such an amazing gift. One that, even if it is thrown aside during adolescence and/or college, can be picked back up with fervor later in life.

All this to say that this morning, on my way to work, I was thinking about my 8th grade Bible class. Hawaii’s population is, if not primarily, largely Buddhist – and this was the case even at a Baptist private school. Bible classes were mandatory, however, and Jesus was a little part of every course, so if the Gospel didn’t manage to touch you in some way, it was only because you were intentionally stuffing your ears full of cotton.

Our Bible teacher that year was phenomenal. In fact, many of the faculty from my years there are memorable. Most of them had traveled to Hawaii to teach at this school as missionaries, and while this may seem like a glamorous calling…Trust me… Hawaii without air conditioning for a Southerner is not even close to glamorous. As Craig can attest since we spent our anniversary trip via ‘true Hawaiian style’, it is HOT.

Hawaiians: Y’all need A/C.

I remember it like it was yesterday…our teacher, originally from Alabama, which made me feel right at home, assigned us to read the book of Genesis and the entire room of eighth graders, characteristically tactless, groaned audibly.

“Now, hold on,” she told us. “The Bible, and Genesis in particular, is quite the soap opera. You won’t find yourself bored at all…As a matter of fact, I dare you to compare some of the events in Genesis to something that could be on the Jerry Springer Show!”

We were shocked! Jerry Springer?!?! Now that was juicy!! And as we read how Eve deceived her husband, Cain killed his own brother, Lot’s daughters getting him drunk…WHOA! How the heck was this stuff in the BIBLE?!?!

The truth is…the Bible is probably the one completely honest piece of literature ever written. Most books gloss over their ‘hero’s’ faults and mistakes…The Bible is quite upfront about David’s indiscretions, Abraham’s initial lack of faith, Peter’s denial…even Jesus asked if there was any way crucifixion could be taken from Him. When we read Scripture, we are reading the living Word of God and that is beyond powerful!

Certainly, there is nothing ‘boring’ about the Bible. You just may need to find a translation that’s easy for you to read. While the King James Version was written in the vernacular of the day, The Message and the New Living Translation and the English Standard Version are more akin to modern language and therefore, easier to delve into and allow God to speak through.

I’m currently reading the first book in a trilogy of Christian fiction…I made the wrong assumption it would be heady and holier than thou, and I have been more than pleasantly surprised. This book is captivating and real and a fascinating portrayal of what the early Christians endured. It is filled with a picture of the ancient cultures of Rome and Ephesus…A society that lacked morality completely and tolerated anything…Anything except Christianity. In fact, Christians were burned as torches for a ‘circus’ the Roman emperor, Nero, held. It is a description of a society that sounds all too (increasingly) familiar…

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And if you don’t believe me… Read this, this, this and this. An Amazon review of the trilogy mentions it is very graphic for Christian fiction…and I wonder…Has this woman read the Bible?!?! It is an honest, if graphic, portrayal of the world early Christians lived in and what they endured for their faith.

And it is important to read in these frightening times.

As Christians, we don’t need to water down what is going on around us…and we certainly don’t need to water down and dress up the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Jesus never claimed His Way was easy. In fact, He tells us the world will hate us and that we will be outcasts when we truly live for Him. His Way is the only way, however and making Christianity into a pretty, neat little package that fits into your particular box is a dangerous path…

The video below provides a great analogy about what palatable packing does to the message of Jesus Christ. {Click the image to play the video.}

Until tomorrow…

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