Thoughts in the Faith

#walk

This month, I’ve been participating in Larabar’s photo challenge on instagram. I haven’t been spot on, missing a few days here and there, but it’s still fun to try and do most days. Well, yesterday’s word was walk. Here is what I posted:

photo(42)

@larabar photo challenge day 28: my #walk with Christ has been lifelong, since before I was even aware of Him. That walk looks different with every phase of my life. Right now, it includes a church of people who meet in a movie theater and praise God with rock worship music. Through the successes and failures and joys and sorrows, Jesus has always been at my side. He is at yours too, even when you don’t acknowledge Him. He loves you as His son or daughter!

We all go through seasons in our life. As Joyce Meyer says, you are always heading into the fire, currently in the fire, or on the way out of the fire. Our relationships with the people we love ebb and flow along with these seasons. In particular, I feel like the way I view my relationship with Jesus ebbs and flows as well. But the most wonderful aspect of that relationship is that His love for me never has seasons. It is CONSTANT. He is always there for me, even when I ignore Him. And while our faith journey is just that – a journey – He is always right where we leave Him.

No matter which season you are in right now – or which side of the fire – I encourage you to have hope today. To remember that this life IS a walk. Sometimes we run. Sometimes we stop for a breather. But one thing – ONLY ONE THING IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE – is constant, and that is God’s love for you. Let Him love you today. I pray for you, my wonderful readers, all the time!! Peace as you begin this new work week.

Creative Crafting, Mmm...Food...

A Valentine’s Day Round Up

I confess, I have never been all that into Valentine’s day. Don’t get me wrong – middle and high school was wrought with butterflies-in-stomach as I wondered if my longtime crush would finally say something or if I, in fact, should make the first move. In college, it became awaiting packages of smidgens from my dad or a care package from my mom. As serious relationships ebbed and flowed after college, some years were memorable and some were less so.

Three years ago, after dating for only one month, my now husband drove all the way from Murfreesboro to Nashville, with flowers and a vase he’d bought and arranged on his own, made friends with our office janitor, got into my office, left said flowers and a card on my desk, and got back to Murfreesboro in time to teach at 8:00 a.m.

I’m preeeetttty sure I already loved him at that point, anyway.

And it was the start of a new era – an era where I love Valentine’s day more because it is an excuse to make things that are pink and shaped like hearts than it is a special holiday. My husband and I have so many things to celebrate throughout the year that truly, this is simply another day to be together, which is A-OKAY with me!

I confess, I haven’t had time to make much valentine-y stuff this year, so here are a few of my favorites from the past! Click the photo to see the original post. I hope to make something new over the weekend!

Valentine Chocolate Scones

Valentine Scones

Valentine Sewn Paper Tea BagsValentine Tea

Valentine’s Cupcake Wrapper WreathValentine Wreath

Valentine Heart PieValentine Pie

Valentine Present WrappingValentine Present

And of course, NEVER forget about Amy’s Caramel Apples…

amy's

 

Life As I Know It

Three Years Since the BEGINNING

Last night, Jonathan and I had a mini-celebration in honor of our first date, which was January 14, 2011. First of all, I can’t believe that 2011 was three years ago. Second, I can’t believe how long we’ve been together. On one hand, it has flown by. But on the other hand, I feel like we’ve always known each other.

So much has happened in three years. Our first year together, I got a new job and finished grad school. Our second year together, we got engaged. Our third year together, we got married, moved, quit our jobs, started new jobs / grad school, and got a puppy. PHEW. All along the way, we have traveled, made new friends, learned about each other, and formed the foundation of a lifelong partnership.

First picture: A few weeks after our first date (1.14.11), when the Packers one the SUPERBOWL (2.6.11). (When he wore a cheesehead for me, I knew he was the one.)

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A favorite engagement photo (11.10.12):Nashville 2

A favorite wedding photo (6.29.13):

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Life As I Know It, Thoughts in the Faith

We Are Broken People {Gospel Part 2}

Last week, I talked about the Gospel. It has really weighed on my heart lately to share this message more often. Also along those lines, I want to talk about the Church. How do you define church? What has your experience been? Please, share, and consider this, as well…

We are all complete hypocrites. Not a single person is without sin, from gossip and drunkenness, to theft and murder, there are a million ways we all “mess up” every single day. And while it can be easy to say, “well sure, but I’m not THAT bad,” what really makes one thing that much worse than another? We sin constantly.

It is because of this that “the church” has such a broken and shameful 2000-year history. Many tragic events have occurred throughout history in the name of Christ. It’s terrible, and while I had no part of that, it is something I recognize and apologize for, regardless. Even today, we make mistakes and hurt people day in and day out, yet many of us go about our business and to church on Sunday, put on a smile, and pretend to be great. It is this hypocrisy that often turns away non-believers. Many people I love dearly say, “Why should I go to church when the guy in the front row was out drunk last night? And the next family over treats each other terribly? What’s the point?” And really, who can blame them for feeling this way?

The point is that we are all human. Your preacher, your neighbor, your child – they all make mistakes. The beauty of faith in Christ is knowing that we can seek forgiveness, even on the darkest days. Even when we look at God and say, “I did it again, even when I told you I wouldn’t. I messed up.” He looks back at us and says, “I know, and I forgive you, and I love you.”

He forgives us. (!!!!!!!)

I don’t try to sin. I don’t think to myself, “you know what I’m going to do today? Gossip and drink too much wine and envy my friends who make more money than I do.” But I still do it, and a lot more than just that. Sometimes, I recognize it immediately. Other times, it may take quite a while for me to confront what I know to be true.

If you have left a church, or avoided them altogether, due to our tumultuous Christian history or because of your own experiences, I urge you to know that “church,” as we know it, is an organization made of humans. Measly little humans, always making mistakes. But The Church is a much larger idea. The Church is described in the bible as “the wife,” where Christ is “the husband.” WE are the church – not some building we visit on Sundays – and so we are supposed to be in relationship with Christ, just as a husband and wife are in relationship with each other. Yes, a church is a community where we share our faith, hope, struggles, and relationships. And it can take time to find a physical church that suits you and your family’s needs. But THE CHURCH is so much greater than that.

If you don’t go to church, whether it’s because of your past with a church or your view of church-goers, I encourage you to think more about it. Read about it. Spend time visiting many churches to see what they have going on. But most of all, remember that we, as people of faith, ARE the church, and the building is simply a place to be in community with others just like us.

And as I mentioned last week, a few times, please do not forget that you are loved.

Life As I Know It, Thoughts in the Faith

The Good News {Gospel Part 1}

Where are you at with Jesus?

Yep, I said it. The J-word. The Big JC. One of the most taboo internet topics. JESUS is TABOO. As messed up as that is, I know it is completely true. Why do I hesitate to talk about my faith freely with friends and family? Why do I not write about it more often? Why do I keep my mouth shut at times when I know someone needs a little hope? Because I know I’m not supposed to make people “uncomfortable,” and knowing that fact makes ME uncomfortable. I don’t want to make waves. I don’t want people to dislike me. I have my own fair share of insecurities, fears, and shame. And anyway, what right do I have to share the good news when I am so incredibly imperfect myself? Who would want to listen to me, anyway? More on our human imperfections in a future post.

It has been on my heart to share more about Jesus. Perhaps writing about Him on my blog is a slightly cowardly way to start, but at least it is a start. I don’t know you, where you are at with Jesus, or what is on your heart right now, but I want to tell you some good news throughout a few blog posts (this being the first). In fact, the BEST NEWS.

You are loved.

You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.

No, don’t believe me? Didn’t hear me?

YOU ARE LOVED.

The Gospel

Merriam-Webster says: Gospel: The message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and Salvation. From the Latin words meaning “good tale.”

Today, I am going to keep things pretty simple and straightforward. We can dive in more with a few future posts. So in a nutshell, this is The Gospel…

God created us. But we are imperfect. We sin. We are hypocrites. We are undeserving of the love God gives us – a love beyond anything we can even understand.

But because God loves us SO MUCH, He sent his son Jesus to die for our sins. When Jesus was crucified, He went to hell. After three days, He rose up from hell and ascended into Heaven. He did this, He SUFFERED this, so that we will not have to. So that we can live eternal life, long beyond our time on this earth, with Him and with all of our loved ones who also love Him.

THIS IS THE GOOD NEWS! We are forgiven. Day in and day out, when we sin in small and large ways, we can ask for forgiveness and we are FORGIVEN. And we are assured of eternal life with Jesus when we accept Him into our hearts, when we say with our whole hearts that we know the Truth, and we believe the Truth, and we live with this beautiful hope.

Accept Him into your life today. You may have never prayed a moment in your life, but you can start right now. Prayer is simply talking to God. There are no magic words. He will help you in this life. He loves you. He will take care of you eternally. Ask Him to help you know Him. Ask Jesus to be in your life. If you don’t know what to say, try this as a suggestion…

Lord, I come to you now in prayer because I believe you sent your only son, Jesus, to die for my sins. I know that He came to earth, died, was buried, rose again, and now is with you in Heaven. I confess my sins and ask for your forgiveness. I ask you to help me live my life in You. I am ready to trust Jesus as my savior. I ask you, Jesus, to come into my heart and live through me.

I cannot promise you that you will immediately feel like your life has made a 180. (And maybe you don’t need a 180 – maybe you only need an 83 or something.) I cannot say that being a Christian makes your life easy – if anything, it can be even more challenging. But TRUST Him, and let your burdens be lightened knowing that God knows your heart, and loves you, and forgives you. Our God is an awesome God. Do not forget it!

Life As I Know It

Final Countdown

If I could, I would insert an audio clip here of Gob’s magician performance from arrested development, blasting “Final Countdown.” But I’m not tech savvy enough for that, lucky for you.

But it really is the final countdown – just five more days until the BIG day! But truly, what have we always heard? Married only makes you married. While I know that the actual act of getting married won’t really change much between Jonathan and I, it DOES change something big in our lives. It’s a new level of committment. It means that if one of us says something stupid, we don’t face a break up. It means when one of us accomplishes something incredible, we’ll have a partner to celebrate with. It means committment, through thick and thin and every bit of it.

I don’t know yet what it will be like to be a wife. I know there will be ups and downs, of course, but my wish for each of us, as spouses, is that we can continue to focus on the great attributes of the other. When the daily grind gets going, it can be easy to say “stop doing that” or “could you not” or “why do you always” instead of saying “I love you because” or “I love when” or “you are so {insert positive characteristic here}.” I have prayed a lot about this – how do I give and receive criticisms and compliments? I believe this simple concept will help to really make our day-to-day lives special. Not to sound like a naive-almost-newly-wed, but I am ready to really dive into this marriage full throttle and see what I can learn!

Married people? Any advice?