Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The voices in my head...and my heart

Sadie Robertson (yes, from Duck Dynasty!) posted this list on twitter a few weeks ago:

Why is it so important to develop the skill of discerning God's voice? Because we know things go awry when we listen to Satan's voice instead of God. In Jeremiah 7:23-24, the Lord commanded his people, saying "'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.' Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward." 

Sometimes I have so many thoughts running through my head that it's tough to just STOP and determine what is real, aka GOD, and what is a lie. Unfortunately, no one is exempt from Satan's distracting voice - even Jesus, who heard Satan in the desert. (Matthew 4:1-11) Still, we are commanded to "resist the devil," and in return promised that "he will flee from" us. (James 4:7) For me, this means closely examining the voices in my head:

The voice giving me anxiety about the future...
That isn't God.
The voice telling me I'm not good enough...
That isn't God.
The voice making judgments about the people around me...
That isn't God.
The voice in my heart reminding me that "all things work together for good" if I fix my eyes on HIM...
THAT, my friends, is God.

By the way... not only is this list a reminder to listen to God's voice, it is also a reminder to emulate his voice. "Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children." (Ephesians 5:1); "He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction." (Proverbs 13:3) As Christians, we should filter our words through the list above - regardless of who we are speaking to. We need to start asking ourselves:

* What is the purpose of my words?
* What will be the consequence of my words?

Who is speaking to you now? Whose voice are you emulating now?

 photo signaturecopy_zps1eb623ba.jpg

Friday, April 12, 2013

The "It Factor"

I've known Gail for almost my whole life, and I have never heard anyone speak a bad word about her. After all, what bad is there to say? Gail has this way of making each person she comes in contact with feel special - I believe she accomplishes this so easily because she truly cares about each and every person she becomes acquainted with. She just has that "it factor" - the quality we all aspire for - that makes it easy to put her on a pedestal. Gail is the picture of joy, strength, and most importantly, trusting God through trials and tribulations.

Photo by Jacqueline Leigh Photography
(Also, she's beautiful, right?!)

Jesus himself identified this "it factor" in Luke 11:33-36 (NKJV) when he explained, “no one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light...Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.”

The enemy tries to steal our light every day. Sometimes, things get so bad that {{forget the light switch}} Satan tries to blow the entire fuse box! Gail learned about Satan's thieving ways better than anyone when she endured the tragic loss of her son a few years ago. However, the light of God - the "it factor" within Gail - still radiates from:

every word she speaks
hug she offers
and smile she passes on from across the row.

Jesus's love is contagious, when you come into contact with Gail, it's impossible not to catch it! 

Let's all aspire to be like Gail this weekend, and let the "it factor" - the light of Christ - shine through us to inspire the people around us!

 photo signaturecopy_zps1eb623ba.jpg

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Before and After: Kitchen Tile!

Hubs and I are so excited to finally have our kitchen tile done. It was essentially our first "renovation" in the new house. 

It's unbelievable how many types of tile there are, and all of the aspects you must take into account when choosing! (Besides price, because some can get super expensive!) Personally, I love travertine tile. However, it's not the most durable - so it wouldn't have been the best idea for a high-traffic area like the kitchen/hallway. We contemplated ceramic, but it also cracks, so we decided to go with porcelain.

We looked at a few local tile distributors, but believe it or not, Lowe's had the cheapest prices for porcelain tile! The one we chose is called Ivetta White. My favorite aspect is its natural look, which you don't find often in the less expensive tiles.

Without further ado, here are the before and afters!

 photo signaturecopy_zps1eb623ba.jpg

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"and I will answer You"

I'm not quite sure how the bookmark got here (I've racked my brain looking for an explanation)... but out of curiosity, I began to read...

"All the days of my hard service I will wait,
Till my change comes.
You shall call, and I will answer You"
* Job 14:14b-15a *

...over and over, realizing its significance, when suddenly, I felt God telling me something...

Encourage people through your words and your writing
Be a good example
Practice these things in your everyday life
One day I will call you to do these things in a bigger way
And then you will be ready to answer my call.

Our omniscient Lord knows exactly what we're thinking at each and every moment.
He knows our dreams...
Our regrets...
Our passions...
Our desires...
He certainly knew what was on my heart when I opened my Bible last night, looking for direction. 
Our all-powerful, loving God can make anything happen according to His will when we trust in Him and submit to His plan for our lives.

You know what You have in store for me, Lord - thank You for revealing it to me more and more each day. When the time is right, it won't be a struggle. I won't be unsure. You will open all the doors. When You call...I will answer You.

 photo signaturecopy_zps1eb623ba.jpg

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Doers, Not Hearers Only


"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."

*** James 1:22-25 ***

Think about the last sermon you heard that really affected you. Chances are, there was a lot of head nodding (and depending on what kind of church you attend, maybe a few Amen!s thrown in there). I think that most of us who regularly attend church can recall a time where the preacher's words hit home, and nodding our heads thinking "mmhmm...exactly... I need to work on that!"

Now I've got a question for you... how many of you can recall a time where you actually DID something with that message after you left church for the morning? Hmm... after the family brunch/football game/afternoon nap, that sermon may seem like a distant memory that is all too easy to push to the back of your mind. Example: In November, a pastor from our church who doesn't usually preach on Sundays gave this AMAZING sermon. I raved to everyone I knew that it was the best sermon I'd heard in years! But now that I'm thinking about it... I can't for the life of me tell you what it was about. Whoops. Note to self: look up Pastor Jim's sermon recording on church website!

Many Christians, myself included, have a problem with PRACTICAL APPLICATION. We attend church, we hear and read God's Word, we believe it and are moved by it, but somehow we skip the connection where it actually affects our lives. It doesn't always change us! James compares this to looking in the mirror: "he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was". I think what he's getting at here is, it's easy to walk away from our sin when it's no longer staring us in the face. However, notice that James doesn't say, "he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and agrees with it", or "he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and is touched by it"... James promises that "he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it" will be blessed. The application, the "doing" is the key: He will bless us if we not only agree with but also live out His Word.

When you go to church or read your Bible, ask yourself: how can I apply this to my life? What changes can I make to live out God's Word?

 photo signaturecopy_zps1eb623ba.jpg

Friday, March 1, 2013

Start Marriage Right - The Newlywed Learning Curve

Mom and I were lounging in her sunroom one afternoon, discussing my impending engagement to my now-husband. At the time, I was blinded by rainbows and butterflies... remember that "ignorance is bliss" phase, newlyweds?!

My husband and I had a few laughs on the drive home about how nobody understood our relationship, how perfect we were for each other, and how the phrase “marriage is hard work” didn’t apply to us. We were in the type of relationship that others only dreamt of, and our marriage was going to be so easy...

BOY, were we in for a learning curve!!!

Read more about the lessons we're learning at START MARRIAGE RIGHT!

 photo signaturecopy_zps1eb623ba.jpg

Friday, February 8, 2013

Faithful Friday {The Source of Temptation}

Each and every one of us face temptation in our daily lives:

tempted to be lazy
tempted to get angry
tempted to lust after someone
tempted to lie
tempted to be selfish
tempted to put life before God
tempted to judge
tempted not to take care of yourself

Feeling convicted yet? I know I am!

Sometimes I get irritated with God when I'm having trouble with a particular temptation. The conversation goes something like this:

God, why are You putting me through this?! I'm trying to grow as a Christian and now You throw THIS in front of me? I'm not strong enough to resist it! YOU KNOW I'M NOT! Can't You just make it stop?

...and when, predictably, I give into the temptation:

I'm sorry God, I really am. I didn't MEAN to do/think/feel/act ___, but I told You! I can't handle it! I asked You to take it away and You didn't. What else did You expect?

I fall into a cycle, alternating between begging God to shield me from temptation and justifying it when I don't resist. However, when I complain to God this way I'm making a fundamental error: HE is not the one who tempts me! Satan is!

James writes,

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed."
{James 1:12-14 NKJV}

God doesn't tempt us - He just allows us to be tempted. That's part of the whole "free will" thing He gave us! He knows that we ALL have a human desire to sin, and He knows that we will fall sometimes!

God does not expect for us to be perfect. All He truly wants is for us to seek Him in the face of temptation, try our best to resist it - with His help! - to truthfully confess our sins when we give into temptation, and to ask for His mercy and forgiveness - which He freely offers to all who believe in Him.

 photo signaturecopy_zps1eb623ba.jpg

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bloggers Building for God

In 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, Paul wrote,

"For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

Paul's words remind me of the experience that I've had with blogging thus far. I have been so encouraged and built up by the community of Christian women blogging about Christ! What an amazing work is being done from right here from behind our computers!

Here's the dynamic I've observed: one woman will write a post about something (for example, Marquis from Simply Clarke's post on discipleship, or Emily from Newlywed Moments' post on trusting God) and it will inspire other bloggers - myself included! - to write their own posts that build on the topic. Sometimes we continue the conversation via comments or e-mail; other times we participate in a link-up like Faithful Friday or Into the Word Wednesdays. I find it so fascinating to read other believers' views on so many topics that are salient to our lives! What's more is, though our readers may vary from 100-1000, each and every one of us are making an impact for our Lord - blogging is our ministry! I can say this with certainty, because I know personally I have matured tremendously in my spiritual walk since creating this blog and interacting with all of you.


Paul also warns us to "take heed" how we build on the foundation, so as not to undermine Christ. Each of us that minister through our blog must be careful about how we come across! We must think about things like:

  • Who our posts glorify. It should be Jesus, but sometimes we inadvertently glorify ourselves!
  • Using Scripture in context. (self explanatory!)
  • Writing non-judgmentally. Only our Lord can judge! (P.S. - this is something I myself struggle with when writing.)
  • Bringing others to Christ, rather than turning them away. We need to show our readers how joyful and fulfilling life as a Christian can be! I don't mean we shouldn't write about our trials and tribulations - that can be the best testimony! However, I do think we should try to keep Christ as the center, and show how He is helping us through the tough times!
So thankful today for you special bloggers who help me grow in the Lord! I pray that together, we can show God's love to the online community :)

 photo signaturecopy_zps1eb623ba.jpg

Friday, February 1, 2013

Faithful Friday - A Role Model for Trusting God

On its face, Psalm 31 looks like a desperate prayer. David is in a state of distress as he begs the Lord to deliver him from the trials he faces!

Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble;
My eye wastes away with grief,
Yes, my soul and my body!
For my life is spent with grief,
And my years with sighing;
My strength fails because of my iniquity,
And my bones waste away.
I am a reproach among all my enemies,
But especially among my neighbors,
And am repulsive to my acquaintances;
Those who see me outside flee from me.
I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.
For I hear the slander of many;
Fear is on every side;
While they take counsel against me,
They scheme to take away my life.
-- Psalm 31:9-13 (NKJV) --

David feels alone, and his loneliness is taking a toll on his physical and mental health. I can relate to his pleas!  However, rather than allowing loneliness to turn into hopelessness, David remembers the times when God saw him through other trials. He recalls:

"You have known my soul in adversities
And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy" (vv. 7-8)


"For I said in my haste,
'I am cut off from before Your eyes';
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried out to You." (v. 22)

David realizes from past experiences that God is on his side! Instead of blaming God or becoming angry, David resolves to put his trust in God:

"But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD;
I say, 'You are my God."
My times are in Your hand" (vv. 14-15)

Furthermore, he instructs us all to do the same:

"Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints!
For the LORD preserves the faithful,
And fully repays the proud person.
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the LORD." (vv. 23-24)

What an amazing role model David is for all of us!

Side note: I also use Psalm 31 as a model for prayer. It's hanging up on the wall of our office at home. Sometimes I read through it, and use Post-Its to write mini-prayer reminders that relate to a particular verse. Then I pray through them all! 

xo Christina

Friday, January 11, 2013

Hubs' Big Debut

Reading this made me cry at work... I truly do love my husband. 
I don't even know how else to introduce this, so here it is: hubs' blogging debut!


Hey everybody it’s me, C’s husband J/Hubs/Babe/Mr. Wonderful! C has been nagging me asking me for a couple weeks now if I would guest post on her blog and the reason I've been dragging my feet is because I just did not really know what to say on these things. I mean I blog stalk my wife every chance I get and love reading what she has to say about me and love seeing all the nice encouraging comments everyone leaves her, but I have had absolutely zero inspiration for this post, which is odd because I am without a doubt the wittiest, most charming, and most debonair man anyone will ever meet, but apparently I also suffer from extreme blogging performance anxiety. (I don’t even know how long these posts are supposed to be. I mean, how many pages in Word is too much??) Alas, here I am, at a loss for anything amusing or charming to say, and since I actually do despise talking about myself, I am going to tell you all the story of C and I, from my perspective.

            Now I know my wife has that cute little section of her blog where she tells how we met and our engagement story and blah blah blah and all that. But this is the real and gritty truth of what went down. Its kind of funny, I have no memory of meeting C for the first time. She claims that it was the day our mutual godson was born, I came into the hospital room with flowers for her sister and earplugs for my cousin. She saw me and immediately fell head over heels while I, on the other hand, apparently had no idea she was even in the room. But we must’ve had made some sort of connection along the way because I began torturing the heck out of teasing her via social media constantly (yes, apparently I flirt like a 9 year old school boy). This went on for a few years actually, until in early 2011 I went to my cousin’s house for dinner and C was there as well. Well, my cousin and his wife went out after dinner to get dessert and left us alone watching the baby. So while C was doing the dishes and I was playing with the baby I walked up to her and said, “So is this what our life is going to be like if Cassie and Jordan die?” Very morbid I know, but it was by far the slickest pick-up line I’ve ever used. Little did I know at the time how right I was. Of course, Cassie and Jordan are still alive, but you get my drift. Well, we started the whole courtship ritual, then got engaged, and then married and all that. But I want to tell you all about today is how that series of events has changed my life. Seriously, like 100%. When I first starting dating C, I was at the lowest point of my life. Things were pretty bad. Looking back on it now I really have no idea what she saw in me outside of my ruggedly handsome face and charming personality. But she saw something; she saw a lot actually. She saw more than I even knew existed. At that time, I was still living with my parents, (seriously, never moved out once, not even in college), I had no car, I had a decent job that I had been at for 10 years but it was a dead end job. She saw through all of that and saw the man I could be. And here I am now, not even two years after we first met, and I am not only moved out of my parents house, but I have house of my our own. If you had asked me three years ago if I would ever go back to school I probably would've laughed. “No way, I’m fine where I am now, I’ll get that promotion eventually.” And now look at me, I’m halfway through getting my Master’s degree. A MASTER’S, me, I’m going to hold an advanced degree. I also spent last night working on my resume and cover letter for job applications, scratch that, CAREER applications. My life is so ridiculously good right now it’s not even funny. And I owe 100% of it to the owner of this blog. I personally know that I have made fun of hear guys all the time make fun of their friends for being whipped or changing when they meet a girl like its some terrible thing, and I know it can be... but when you meet the RIGHT girl, the girl God has planned for you since before you were born (seriously, my mother has prayed for my wife since she was pregnant with me), it is something to be proud of. And when you meet that woman you will WANT to change. I never thought about going back to school or buying a house or even growing up in general because I never had anyone to do those things for. And now that I do, it doesn't stop. I try to do my best to make the best life possible for my wife and I, and I always will. Like right now, I have to go run an errand before I pick up C from work. So thanks for bearing with me through this, and I promise that next time I guest post you’ll get to see that charming witty side of me.


Monday, January 7, 2013

DIY Project - Our New Pantry

I am so beyond excited right now!

When we moved into our house a few months ago, we didn't have a pantry - just an empty closet in between  the kitchen and the dining room. (I have no clue what the previous homeowners used it for...) For the past few months, I've been keeping the food (ok, let's be honest - the massive amount of holiday treats!) in random cupboards throughout the kitchen. It hasn't worked out well - the shelves aren't high enough so I've had to lay down the cereal boxes... I can't see what I already have so I end up buying extras I don't need... I don't know what's stuck in the back so sometimes things get icky (ew!!!)

I had this vision to turn the closet into a pantry, but it had no shelves or anything at all! It seemed like a tough project for little old me to tackle.

One day last week while I was at work, my sweet husband surprised me by putting the shelves up. It took a lot of measuring, sawing, sanding, priming and lots of other manly stuff I don't know how to do, so I was super grateful that he took care of it all. (Thanks, hubs!) He also remembered me saying that it would be cute to have a chalkboard on the door, so he went to Lowe's and got some chalkboard paint and molding to frame it!

Have any of you ever used chalkboard paint? It's pretty cool, actually. You have to lay on a few coats (we did three) and let it dry for about 24 hours in between each coat.  When it's dry, you "prime" it by rubbing a piece of chalk all over the board and letting it sit for an hour before wiping it off, and voila! You have your own custom chalkboard that is exactly the size and shape you want it! One day when hubs and I have kids, I want to incorporate this into their rooms!

Side note: as I was wiping it down, I had this memory of the "bad kids" who had to wash the teacher's chalkboard after school as a form of punishment. I also remember volunteering to wash the teacher's chalkboard as a form of sucking up. What a nerd I was...

Anyway, I'm super happy with the end result:

I especially love our husband/wife apron hooks :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Faithful Friday

Marquis at Simply Clarke, one of my favorite bloggers, wrote a post today called What Is a Disciple? She explains "discipleship" in a way that I can completely relate to, and it was something that I really needed to read this morning.

In Matthew 16:24-26, Jesus instructed His disciples: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

"Take up your cross and follow Me." How many of us, even us Christians, are really doing this?

Not choosing the parts of the Bible we feel are relevant and avoiding the rest.
Not "toeing the line" between His plan and ours.
Not following Him but complaining the whole time.

I'm feeling a little convicted right now. How about you?

A few months ago, Emily at Newlywed Moments (another of my fave bloggers!) wrote THIS post about trusting God, even when we don't understand what He's doing in our lives. Em concluded that we need to trust Him NO MATTER WHAT and "be faithful in the little things". I really like that phrase. It means that even when things aren't going the way I want or expect, I still must faithfully:

Follow His Word daily 
{{wake up and read my Bible/devotional even though I don't want to get out of bed}}
Praise Him for what He's given us 
{{even when I feel like I deserve more that what I currently have}}
Be a kind, loving, respectful wife to hubs 
{{even when I feel sad, miserable, lonely and friendless}}
Act as a good testimony to others 
{{smile, be joyful, be a good witness at work - even when I wish I was anywhere but}}
Pray for what others are going through 
{{even when I feel like my own problems are bigger and more important}}

Jesus says we have to deny ourselves for His sake. That means that the little plan I have in my head {{ALWAYS}} about how my life could/should/is going to be? He wants me to throw it out the window. He's in the driver's seat. I AM NOT.

All He wants me to do is follow Him. Trust him and be faithful to him. He will decide the rest. And it WILL be better than anything I could plan myself.