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What 50 Years of Marriage Looks Like Today

Many people asked that I share what I said at my parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary party. It was truly an amazing evening. The awe and happiness had nothing to do with the decorations nor the food. Most all of us were simply in awe of all that my parents had accomplished through Christ and inspired that we can, too!

First, the following is the speech I wrote and recited.

I understand that many of you won’t read this much (“It’s too long!” I said it faster than you’ll probably read it! 😂🏃🏾‍♀️); but, I also understand that there are many among us that need to hear the words within this and know that all things are possible with Christ who strengthens us!

…For those of you still getting to know me, you’re about to find out how – using my parents – God took me from a single mom of a 2 year old at 20 to a woman married to the man God made specifically for her for 12 years.

I could go into great detail but instead I’m going to take this opportunity to tell you some of the principles that I learned through my parents marriage that allowed me to recognize when my future husband found me and that he was indeed my future husband.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 talks about the value of a friend:

9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor.

10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.

11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone?

12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Possibly only those of us who have been married for at least a decade know why I would bring up friendship at a wedding anniversary party. You see, marriage…true GODLY marriage is built upon God, trust, and love. With those three principles amongst them how could two people not be or become the very best of friends. My parents have always had many friends such as many of those here this evening. No friend, though, has ever surpassed the title of “best friend” with either of my parents except for the spouse sitting alongside of them. My parents taught both my brother and I at an early age that there was simply no pitting one against the other – they were and are a team. Two are certainly better than one. “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.” I was not a witness to many incidents of either of my parents falling. I don’t believe this is because they haven’t fallen because being 40, myself, I know that realistically that’s simply not possible that they did not fall. No…I truly believe that my parents simply caught one another before the other ever hit the ground. They were just that in tune with one another.

I have seen my parents go through the struggle of losing friends, the struggle of losing parents yet to Heaven, the struggles of Satan‘s attacks against their family. I’ve seen my parents go through the journey that is parenthood. I have seen the stresses of bills, air conditioning units going out, cars breaking down, their church breaking apart, and even a child running away.

Yet through it all, they were and are a threefold cord just as in Ecclesiastes 4:12. My mom is a strong piece of twine. My dad is an equally strong piece of twine. But until we all recognize that it is taking those two pieces of twine and wrapping them around that third piece, we will never truly attain what is God seeks for us to attain in our marriages. Because it is most definitely God that is the third of that threefold cord. And, every time my dad could be heard praying in the den… every time my mom could be heard on her knees in her bedroom… There was never any doubt in my mind that they were and are a threefold cord wrapped around God.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is a passage we all know so well. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”

I want to talk about “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” You see, God will truly never give you more than he is prepared to equip you for and, man, did He equip my parents. One of their children was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome at a time when no one had a clue what Tourette Syndrome was. Their other child was diagnosed with severe clinical depression at the young age of 16 which disrupted not only that child but the entire family. I can tell you that there are many adjustments, many battles, many hurdles. Yet, I will say that Love (that is God) bore it all. He bore all of the things. Love caused my mom to believe when she prayed and her prayers availed much. Their love hoped for all things – even the complete restoration of our family of which God provided. Love surely endured all things during that season. Love covered a multitude of things like words that can’t be taken back, actions that had consequences. And lastly, that love never ended – even to this day. That love has only grown stronger. Only the love of Jesus, the authentic love that is God, can do that.

1 John 4:16 says, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” and Colossians 3:14 says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” My mom and dad showed me that God is love and if we would simply “put on love” and abide in Him – everything would come together in perfect harmony. That principle has been a strong one that has bound my husband and I together in the very toughest of times. It is a principle that has taken four individuals and turned them into an unbreakable family unit. No matter what the family went through….my parents always abided in Him as will David and I, as will Jocelyn and Elijah.

For just a moment I want to give you a little piece of insight into who Charles and Valree Miller are:

Song of Solomon 8:7 says, “Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.” If you asked my parents what they would go back and change, they would say nothing. There is no thing on earth that can quench their love nor is there a thing that can drown it because it is a perfect love forged in the fires that this world has forced them through and – just as the Bible references many times – their love has been refined and come out gold.

Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” The day my dad set his sight on my mom (or rather her legs as he would tell it) that day at the phone company so many years ago, he didn’t know to what extent but even then he knew he had found a good thing. Since then, He – as well as the rest of us – have obtained favor from the Lord because of her. Whether it has been her never questioning my dad anytime that he said God had spoken to him, whether it was any time my mother needed to speak confidence into my brother or I, whether it was the need of any family member that my mother would race to meet… Because of her we have obtained favor.

John 15:12-13 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” That verse reminds me of the time that my father told me that He had God’s ear. He had obtained an honest-to-goodness audience with God Almighty and God asked him what he wanted. Did my dad ask for the bills to always be paid? For a promotion? No. He said he wanted my mother to have her promotion. He asked that she have His blessing on her career in Home Interiors and my mother received it that same day. My mom went on to earn everything from grandfather clocks to diamonds all because she was walking in the favor of God that my dad had asked for her. Her customers not only respected her but they loved her and many still treat her as family. What greater love is this?

When I was a single mother I quickly went to God and said, “You have to be everything now! You have to be my best friend, my Father, my Helper, my daughter’s Father,….everything!” Why? How did I know to run to Him immediately? Because my parents had taught me Psalm 143:8 through their own actions so very early on in life: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Their lives are a testament that if you so choose to entrust your life to God, He will never fail you and you will reach heights you never imagined.

So, (to my mother and father) “Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice with the wife of your youth. May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. And may we all follow in your footsteps.

Second, I kept hearing the same word all night – sweet.

I want to make sure I say that because if you look in God’s Word you’ll find two things: good things are like a sweet aroma to Him and He likes sweet incense; and there are many, many, things of God that are sweet.

What a wonderful testament to hear, and feel, throughout the evening – that my parents were “so sweet!” I imagine God found them very pleasing, especially on this particular evening.

https://youtu.be/jhRmtpZbC60

*The topper on that cake was from my mom’s mom and dad’s 50th anniversary!*

I want to encourage you today to always choose the sweet way.

Finally: legacy.

Their daughter spoke of God.

Their granddaughter honored them by singing beautifully.

Their six-year-old grandson recited John 3:14-19 by memory.

Praise God His promises are Yes! and Amen!

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The Nasty, Notorious, Infamous Case of the Mondays

It’s so sinister. It’s so dreaded that you actually begin showing signs of its impending approach on Sunday, before it’s even arrived! You don’t think, you know, everything will be miserable. After all, it’s Monday!

The alarm didn’t wake you. The coffee maker breaks. The kids – ALL OF THEM – can suddenly not find any matching shoes. You had to go BACK home because you forgot all of their backpacks. WHY CAN’T THEY REMEMBER THEIR OWN BACKPACKS STILL?! Dunkin Donuts line is too long but you sit through it anyways because their coffee is your nectar and you’ll just have to live with the guilt that you gave the kids donuts for breakfast instead of a sausage and egg Hot Pocket this morning (because let’s be honest who actually stops and cooks eggs, sausage, toast, and the works for their children every morning?!).

But…why? Why is Monday seemingly always like this? Well, I think if we were really honest with ourselves we would look back and say that that kind of Monday only happens rarely. Still, though, no matter if everything falls apart or if there’s no traffic at all, Monday still feels like Monday!

The Telegraph shared the findings of a scientific study done by Marmite that indicate that “many people don’t smile on Mondays until 11:16 am, and that half of us won’t turn up to work on time, either. Mondays also tend to be fairly unproductive, with only about three and a half hours of actual work getting done. And those in the 45 to 54 year-old demographic will moan for about 12 minutes on Mondays, making them the most susceptible to the suck that is Monday.

Experts indicate that the reason behind our hatred of Mondays is a result of humans being governed by deep-rooted tribal habitsand that we prefer to ease into the week rather than tackle it head-on first thing Monday morning. In fact, those that do the latter may end up burning themselves out before Friday hits.“*

Even this blog 😂 I’m writing it at 2:30 P…M…on Monday and scheduling it to post next Monday! I witnessed my best friend experiencing a true case of the Mondays and simply could not sit idly by and allow her to fall victim to it! 😐😂❤️

The fact is this: life expectancy is 79.3 in the United States. Now, don’t freak out – it’s just a number, an average number, and an estimation at that. But if we take that number and we calculate how many days we’ll have in 79.3 years we will get 28,963.73 days. If you then deduct the weekends, you get 20,688.3785 days. That is 71% of your life (5 days out of 7) that you’re ALLOWING YOURSELF to live in misery.

That’s right. 🤷🏻‍♀️Sorry to tell you this but Monday is just a day – like any other. Though the world would have you think otherwise, Monday has nothing against you nor has it waged war on you.

So here is my question for you…

Well, I don’t know about you but I don’t think I’m going to continue to waste 71% of my life complaining and allowing a day to turn me into its doormat.

Why do you think we often begin to dread Monday before it’s even arrived? I think it may have something to do with this…

Now, I’m not going to sidetrack and begin to talk about which day is the Sabbath – whether it’s Saturday or Sunday. I’m also not going to berate or guilt you if you are in the ministry and can’t seem to find your day of rest. I am going to remind you, however that God called us to have a day of rest. If you’re constantly going, then Monday is going to be a reminder that your hamster wheel is never stopping. That’s why – then – Saturdays and vacations become your goal.

That brings me to goals! Is your goal to be miserable every day of your life? If so, this world has got a great deal for you! This world has figured out how to keep you worried, overspent, in debt, stressed to the nines, and seeing death long before you ever should and all for the low, low, price of your happiness and often a lot…lot more!

That’s right! All of that stress is there for the taking!

Now, if you’ve decided that this world’s idea of success, and the stress that comes with it, isn’t for you, then how about let’s look at the alternative. Shall we?

It starts in your mind. That’s right – your head! It doesn’t start with breathing exercises. It doesn’t start with post-it notes and scheduling. Nor does it even start at the beach. It starts in your mind.

Once you begin focusing on God, you can no longer focus on all of the calamity around you.

Did you know that one of the very first things a runner is taught is to never look behind them? They are trained to never look behind but to always keep their eyes ahead of them looking at their goal – the finish line. It has been proven that if they turn around they will slow down and it will affect their race. Those that keep their eyes on the finish line always arrive faster than if they are distracted.

Now, Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to be “transformed.” How? Well, John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

You see, He’s already given it (peace) to us. Just like his salvation, it’s right there simply waiting for us to receive it! Quick question: when your mom or your dad told you as a child, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it.” Did you question whether they would take care of it? I bet you didn’t. How much more does your heavenly father want to take care of your problems?

I hear you, right now: BUT HOW?! Relax. Geez. You act like it’s Monda… never mind. I won’t leave you hanging.

Proverbs 16 says, ““The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits. Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established. The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.”

Now, in the NLT, it says it a little more clearly for the average Joe…

You see, if you will go to God, “The Lord gives the right answer.”; and if you “commit your actions to the Lord,” “your plans will succeed!”

So, instead of repeating the mantra in your head that “Mondays suck!” begin talking to God, aloud, whether in song or in prayer. Who cares what your kids think? I’ve got news for you: they think you’re crazy anyways. So just run with that. As they get older, they will remember the days that mom or dad would talk to God and they will follow in your footsteps.

Begin giving God your problems whether it be your eyeliner breaking and smudging all the way across your face or your coffee maker no longer coming to life. Begin thanking him for the fact that He woke you up this morning which means he must have some sort of plan for you still. Then, really top it off by asking God what it is that He has for you to do today!

Instead of dreading the upcoming week, begin looking at it as five days of opportunity to fix what you broke last week, begin the thing you’d never began but intended to, and talk to the person you know you should’ve talked to already!

You may not turn your Monday into Funday but you will change your life into a life of purpose; and purpose makes us want to get out of bed. Achieving purpose gives us a sense of accomplishment and pride; and it drives us to continue on.

So, I want to leave with you one last passage from the Bible where Paul says something that is extremely poignant:

“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Https://thenextweb.com/shareables/2011/07/25/scientific-study-confirms-that-mondays-suck/?amp=1
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Stop Weeding!

Recently, I have been overwhelmed and battling every single day. It has felt as if I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop and I have a closet full of shoes! I went to my husband and told him this with tears in my eyes. He prayed over me and one of the things that he said was, “God, allow us to weed out these problems” (or something along those lines). In that moment, the Holy Spirit reminded me of how weeds grow in relation to grass. He gave me revelation and I hope to share that with you today.

But first we have to understand how weeds grow.

“The conditions that allowed for weeds to flourish must be corrected or they will continually be a problem. You can kill the weeds all you want, but if you do nothing else, they will return.
Lawns must be maintained in a way that promotes a healthy lawn, while discouraging lawn weeds.
Overseeding, aeration and other maintenance activities may be needed in the beginning especially to promote the best lawn possible.
For most grasses, it’s better to mow the lawn at the highest recommended level. These tactics will hinder weed germination and growth since most weeds cannot compete easily with a thick lawn.”
Lawn Care Academy

You see, If the grass is tended to properly and it is allowed to grow at its intended height, it actually stifles out the weeds all on its own. The grass and the weeds are competing for sunlight and whichever gets the most nutrients gets the most height. Subsequently, whichever gets the greatest height stifles out the other. And allow me repeat what they said: “You can kill the weeds all you want, but if you do nothing else, they will return.” ALL YOU WANT!

You can kill the weeds all you want but they’ll never stop coming if that’s all you do – kill the weeds.

I have always recognized and told others that if you have a purpose and a plan placed within you by God – which we all do – satan seeks to destroy that. That being said, life can be such a distraction to our eternal life and calling! I have been allowing my attention to go to the weeds and to tending to them rather than my spending time on tending to the grass in order that it would kill out the weeds on its own. (In this scenario life’s mishaps, misery, and mayhem are the weeds, God’s purpose and plan for me are the grass.)

Then, to add insult to injury upon myself, I backed away from reading His word and delving deeper into it and replaced those priorities with things like worry, busted tires, homeschool trials, emotions, and more.

“Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed. “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:24-30‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I was literally tossing away and neglecting the “wheat” (my walk with God) while rooting up the weeds!

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve gotten caught up weeding rather than nurturing the grass. Maybe you’re mourning, worrying, healing, working… All of these things are “life” but guess what? They’re not life giving!

If you’re feeling lost, untethered, as if you’re drowning, allow me to remind you…

No amount of worrying, planning, crying, venting, nor weeding can do in months what God can do in but a moment.

So, allow me to encourage you to stop whatever weeding you are doing right now. You may very well be pulling up purposefully-sown grass with them! Instead, take time to nurture your grass. Take time to water your life with water from the well that never runs dry.

In case you need a little help getting started…

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Review & Giveaway: Not My Jesus

This book was given to me (no money was exchanged) for my honest opinion and that’s what you’ll get! I am not an affiliate and receive no money from this or any purchases.

Warning: this book is not for the faint of heart. If that front cover doesn’t get that message across, nothing will! 😂

I began explaining the book to my first-grader (mainly because of the cigarette) and he wound up taking over saying, “Plus, Jesus was brown, with brown eyes because He was Jewish!” #HomeschoolWin

Ever heard the hashtag #NotMyPresident? If not, you’re probably not reading my blog and therefore I don’t need to explain😅. If you have, then you know that many have voiced their negative opinions of our current president by tagging their statements with #NotMyPresident. Bob Fabey, an Anglican priest, plays off this notorious hashtag with his book titled Not My Jesus.

This book is not about politics. It’s not about hipsters, cell phones, smoking, nor homosexuality. It is about who Jesus is not and who He is. More importantly, it’s about who Jesus is … to you!

I recently asked, on my Facebook page, “Who is YOUR Jesus?” These are some of the responses I received:

“The Way the Truth and the Life, never changing, never failing….. I do have to say “Your” Jesus…. is The Jesus… He can’t be changed to fit my needs or my wants/desires.” – Dawn L.

“My Deliverer! I’m so blessed that my Jesus thought enough of even me to sacrifice Himself and I will do my best to live my life to honor Him. Thank God for grace!” – Sabrina M.

“Interesting and difficult prompt. I would say that “my” Jesus, the one I normally think of, is less passionate, less humble, less concerned about me, less confrontational, and less interesting than the Jesus that I encounter in reading, meditating, and praying.” – Patrick M.

“My deliverer and strong tower, yet my precious God who holds me in every instance of my life. He never fails and is always there when I need him, gently leading and guiding. I love my Jesus!” – Sue G.

“Love.” – Victoria R.

“My Jesus is a radiant light that guides me on my path. He’s my savior, my redeemer, and His love knows no bounds. Even when I’ve gone astray, his mercy and love pulls me back in. ” – Tiffany R.

“Creator – through Him everything was made that is made. Healer – by His stripes we are healed. Savior – no one comes to the Father but by Me. Redeemer – full of grace and truth (John‬ ‭1:14‬). He has redeemed me from the bondage of sin and given me life everlasting and joy unspeakable and full of glory.” – David M.

For myself, Jesus is so much. He is an incomparable friend, yet one that holds me accountable. He is grace and mercy, yet soul-jarring conviction. He is healing and provision, yet also guidance and wisdom.

Fabey starts right out the gate, grabbing you by the ears, describing many people’s versions of who Jesus is. He even references the now infamous Talladega Nights prayer many of us know where Ricky prefers his Jesus to be 8 pound, 6 ounce, newborn infant Jesus.

He goes on, after describing everything from Santa Jesus and black Jesus to judgmental Jesus and blonde Jesus, to share some “Jesus tweets.” Many of these “tweets” will be shocking to a lot of readers. What’s sad is that they should not be. Because Fabey is doing nothing more than quoting Jesus from the Bible.🤷🏻‍♀️

Fabey challenges his readers:

“We frequently see Jesus as of looking through a keyhole, unable or unwilling to see a bigger picture. In fact, the sad truth is we make Him out to be what we want. In short, He looks like us. He carries our wants, wishes, ideas, and leanings with a spiritual spin. This gives us the divine right to feel, act, or think the way we do because Jesus did it that way. He is used to justify our biases and, in turn, becomes nothing more than a caricature of the flavor of the day – our preferred flavor.”

After reading this book – a book full of humor, sarcasm, bluntness, reality, and truth – I was left with the question, “Who is this book intended for?” Is this book for mellenials, the confused, new in Christ, people looking for a laugh? After all, Fabey goes off the rails if you compare his book to mainstream Christian books. I can’t imagine anyone of my grandparents snuggling up to this one. He doesn’t mince words nor does he cater to sensitivities. So… I simply emailed Fabey and asked.

His response:

“I am targeting the millennial crowd. Especially the de-churched.”

Honestly, his response gave me a lot more peace about this book. Millennials (many but not all) have developed during a time of segregation. There is now segregation of thought, belief, feelings. Fabey actually addresses this in his book and how detrimental it can and will be. This is one of the points that he makes that I wholeheartedly agree with – that at one time we could simply agree to disagree. Now, if we disagree we can’t be friends. We’ll take our ball and go home. No, it’s not as simple as that but in some ways…it is.

For instance, it’s very difficult to understand how one person can know that there is a living being inside of someone else and be OK with the killing of it; yet, if I shut down all dialogue with them how will I be any different from those that would simply turn a blind eye? Am I not to open up a conversation with those people on how precious that life is, possibly changing their minds into a direction that is not my perspective but that of Christ’s?

He talks about the power of “Othering.” Othering is when we have a “Oh…them 😒” mentality.

Fabey, I believe, is trying to redirect a generation from the “My Jesus is okay with me just as I am” mentality to the truth of Christ and who He was (and is) that day He met a woman at the well.

Let’s be honest: Christ called her out. She was living a life many would call a Jerry Springer life and Jesus called a spade a spade. He didn’t leave it there, though. He gave her hope and a reason to change her life. That is who Jesus really is – He is truth even when it hurts but He’s also grace and love. The problem, as Fabey points out, is that many want one without the other – truth and judgment (without grace) for their oppressors, or grace and love (without truth) for themselves. That’s simply not who Jesus is.

So that being said, if it takes Fabey being somewhat controversial or “in your face” to get a dialogue going about who Jesus really is, then who am I to say that his delivery is shocking or insensitive?

In all, I wouldn’t say that I disagree with Fabey. I would say we share different perspectives about a few things and we would certainly differ in our delivery. I can imagine that we would have a very colorful and interesting conversation over coffee if he and I were to sit together.

I found myself disagreeing with Fabey, or at least the way he conveyed something. Some of his views and opinions are pretty extreme to me. Yet, many times I found myself saying, “Yes! Exactly!”

One such example is when Fabey references Matthew 13:38 where Jesus is calling people weeds that can potentially choke things or other people out. They – weeds – grow in the wrong place. If you’re in the wrong place you’re a potential problem. You need to know where you belong otherwise you are going to “clog up the works.”

His book takes you from who you may think Jesus is, through a journey of how dangerous misinterpretation can be and onto the promise and potential of who you – and this world can be – if we can grasp who Jesus truly is.

I would agree with Fabey that this book is for millennials and the de-churched. I would add that this is for the prideful, somewhat close minded, those that are absolutely convinced that their mind cannot be changed. This book is for the Christian and the unbeliever. I would also say that this book is for people who simply like to see different perspectives. This book is for groups who like to just talk about Jesus and how this generation, or world, relates to Him today.

*I would probably not give this book to someone brand new in Christ as many of the topics are for people who are already at one extreme or the other, not someone who is in a transitional period with God.

There is a lot of information packed into a very small book. This is not just a book of flash and fancy but a book that is referencing who the messiah is, how important He really is, why Jesus is the way that He is.

If you read this book, I cannot wait to hear your take on it! I would definitely say that this is a book club book. This is a conversation starter to be sure. With such topics as, “Who is your Jesus?” “Which generation should we turn back to?” “Are our Jesuses the same?” “What is truly a zealot?” I could go on!

Can’t wait to see if you’ve won? Buy it here…

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Review & Giveaway: Paul, Apostle of Christ DVD

I was given this DVD, no money, for an honest review and that is what you’ll receive. 

Paul Apostle of Christ

If you missed seeing Paul, Apostle of Christ when it was in studios, have no fear – buy the DVD today! I recommend the Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital combo that’s available. That way you can watch it anywhere, anytime.

91EfS8Orh7L._SL1500_.jpg

“Paul (Faulkner), who goes from the most infamous persecutor of Christians to Christ’s most influential apostle, is spending his last days in a dark and bleak prison cell awaiting execution by Emperor Nero. Luke (Caviezel), his friend and physician, risks his life when he ventures into Rome to visit him. Paul is under the watchful eye of Mauritius (Martinez), the prison’s prefect, who seeks to understand how this broken old man can pose such a threat. But before Paul‘s death sentence can be enacted, Luke resolves to write another book, one that details the beginnings of “The Way” and the birth of what will come to be known as the church. Their faith challenged an empire. But their words changed the world.”

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Check out the trailer here:

Pretty awesome, huh?

For those that may not know, Paul – or Saul of Tarsus as he was also known – was an apostle who taught the gospel to the first century world. He was both Jew and Roman Citizen. This gave him both opportunity and strife, but more importantly it gave him perspective and a path to lead many to Christ. A man who was once dedicated to the very persecution of Christ’s followers becomes one of those that he would have put to death before. Paul’s story is an amazing one, an intriguing one, and certainly one can understand why everyone – Romans and Jews alike – would be curious as to what (or Who) would make a man change so extremely! Truly only a real encounter with Christ could make such a man turn from everything he believed to be true only to lose all of his earthly gains but gain his Godly calling.

You cannot go wrong with such a cast as Jim Caviezel, Olivier Martinez, and James Faulkner. This film is from the same studio that brought to you Risen and War Room. If you loved watching Jim Caviezel play Jesus, you’ll be blown away by his representation of Luke – friend and physician – risking his life to venture into Rome and visit Paul as he spends his last days in a prison awaiting execution.

“Their faith challenged an empire. But their words changed the world.”

Get to know the man that wrote many of the books you hold so close to your heart and teach to your children. Add this DVD to your collection and allow his life to come alive before your family’s eyes.

Want to win your own copy?banner

 

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Review & Giveaway: Always Enough Never Too Much

I received this book for my honest opinion, no monetary gain, and my honest opinion you will get. 

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“We’ve all been there. We know that sneaking, small voice in our heads all too well—you’re too loud. Too quiet. Too young. Too old. Too unimportant. Too ugly. Too silly. Too serious. You’re not as successful as she is—look at her perfect family, look at her high-powered job, look at her great hair and size 4 skinny jeans. Why can’t you be more like her—be more in general? Why do you expect so much from everyone? Why can’t you take up less space? Ask for less? Be less? The lies track well-worn paths in our minds and our hearts, wearing us down and making us question our role in God’s kingdom.
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Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan, bestselling authors of Wild and Free will help you replace those lies with God’s truth. This devotional flip-book is designed for you, the woman who feels like she can be both too much and not enough—sometimes in the same day. When you  banish lies and insecurities and find your identity in Jesus, you can embrace these truths: You are always enough. You are never too much.”

 

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I think it’s appropriate that this is called a “flip book.” I’ll tell you why: because sometimes you need to FLIP the script on your life!

This past year has been a year of “too much” and “never enough” for me. This book is what I’d call an “on time” book for me. In a world that has programmed us to instinctively compare ourselves to one another and judge ourselves against litmus tests that God never set forth – other than His Word – it is refreshing to find a book that is truly edifying. It is refreshing to know that I’m reading words that are inspired by the Word of God in order that I might get back on the rails that I derailed from and remember who I am in God’s eyes. It’s nice to know I’m about to “flip” things back to the way God intended.

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You might notice that this book has two titles… kind of. I’ll explain it perfectly (and give you a sneak preview) in this short video:

Now that I have my own copy, I know exactly who I’m going to gift one of these to. It’s a pastor’s wife. It would amaze you the pressure that is on women that we look at as if they have it all together and we wish we were them. You may find that the very same insecurities that plague you are plaguing the very people you think have it all. So… don’t just keep this book to yourself – when you’re done, gift it to someone else. If you want to keep yours forever, then consider someone else who may feel the same way and gift them a copy. It may be the very think that helps them to become who they are truly meant to be in Christ simply by empowering them!

Now, after you get your Prime on and and grab your copy of Always Enough Never Too Much, you may find you want to get another copy for someone close to you:

Win 1 of 5 Copies of God Loves Mommy & Me

 

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Review & Giveaway: Born to Wander

I was given this book, without financial compensation, for my honest opinion of it and that is always what you’ll get from me. 

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Why are we so restless?

All of us have a little wanderlust—a desire for that next thing, that new place, but this competes with our longings for security, control, and safety. We don’t like how it feels to be unsettled and uprooted. Whether we’re navigating a season of transition, dealing with the fallout of broken relationships, or wrestling with a deep sense of restlessness, we are all experiencing some form of exile. And most of us do whatever we can to numb the feelings of unbelonging, powerlessness, and unsettledness that come with it. But the truth is that exile has a profound purpose if we can just learn to lean in.

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Over and over again Scripture tells us that the people of God are exiles and wanderers. And this is good news because exile is what transforms us into pilgrims.

In Christ, we are no longer directionless wanderers, but pilgrim followers who have a clear purpose and a secure identity.

In Born to Wander, Michelle Van Loon weaves together personal stories and keen insights on the biblical themes of pilgrimage and exile.  She will help you embrace your own pilgrim identity and reorient your heart toward the God who leads you home. Engaging and thoughtful, enhanced with practical suggestions, prayers, and questions, Born to Wander will teach how to trust God even when you don’t understand what’s happening around you and follow Him even when it hurts.

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If you keep chasing security, you’ll never find it. Embrace the purpose behind the wandering and discover the freedom and safety of resting in God alone.

“Every one of us carries a restlessness that runs as deep as the marrow of our born-again bones. Our relationships shift like tectonic plates. We change jobs. We switch churches. And our culture tells us the cure for our restlessness is to buy a new mattress, a new car, or a new tube of toothpaste.”

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This book is an interesting one for SO many reasons but I really felt like it was on time for my husband and I because we’re in this place where we feel like God is trying to position each of us for movement but we’re trying to be good stewards and be what we’re called to be – good providers, lenders not borrowers, etc. There’s a balance there between finding security in God and not allowing your own mission to secure your family come between you and His will for your life. We want to make sure that we’re not getting in His way even if we’re doing so with the best of intentions.

Michelle Van Loon, a master storyteller and Jewish follower of Jesus, is helping me to navigate a little better through this place that I’m in in my life. I also think this would be a great book for anyone in a transitional period of their life: marriage, divorce, college, graduation, relocation, and more.

Here’s a sneak peek at the Chapter titles:

  1. Uprooted
  2. Sent
  3. Waylaid
  4. Displaced
  5. Warned
  6. Divided
  7. Remembered
  8. Trekked
  9. Sojourned
  10. Diverted
  11. Revealead

I don’t know about you but some of those titles jumped out at me and others flat-out screamed. I hope you’ll consider picking up this book today, or for someone you care about. I was impressed with the way this book helped me to change perspective and remember God’s picture is so much greater than my mere snapshot of today.

Can’t wait to purchase your own? Click below!

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Book Review & Giveaway: BibleForce

I was given this Bible for my honest review and as most all of you know I only want to share with you guys the things that really work for my family and I’m always honest about my thoughts. I received no financial compensation for this.

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BibleForce is a brand-new Bible storybook that is illustrated with exciting, comic-style artwork that kids will love. My six year old absolutely loves it. I have to be honest…I’m 40 and I love it.

I grew up with The Children’s Bible “in Colour.” There’s nothing wrong with it. It was awesome. In fact, around 15 years ago, when my daughter was my son’s age she read it from cover to cover by herself. We were very proud. I think we can all agree, though, that for this next generation of kids… some (not all) of our books are a little like watching a black & white television for them. I mean…I grew up on this:

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 But my son is all about this…

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See the difference?!

I can’t blame him! Look at the detail and imagery! It’s amazing. Adam being made out of dust, alone, is awesome and looks like a work of art! All kidding aside, I want that image of Adam on his knee framed to gift to my husband. It’s … wow.

Your children will love the detail and action of BibleForce, and parents will love having a book that gets their children engaged in reading Bible stories. Vivid art, incredible detail, and easy-to-follow text will get readers of all ages enthusiastic about reading this chronological and fast-paced retelling of the Scriptures. It includes nearly 200 fully illustrated stories that take children through the adventure and action of the Bible and help kids understand the full story of the Bible. The focus on Bible heroes makes the stories even more thrilling. After all, that’s what each parent wants – to get their kids hooked on the Bible so that they want to read it themselves, want to delve deeper on their own!

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BibleForce is a great book to be read together and is simple enough for young readers to read on their own. Kids won’t be able to put down this book! We’re reading it nightly in our house and it’s even had to travel to Nana and Papa’s, too!

Want to read something even cooler? (I know – I sound like I’m way too psyched out about this to be an adult. No one told me I had to grow up in all areas, though.) Here it is: With your purchase of BibleForce, you get a FREE AUDIO APP! That’s a $29 value FOR FREE

I’m not going to read the whole Bible to you but I really wanted to show you guys why I’m all about this Bible. So, check out this brief video and consider picking one up for your kids, grandkids, etc.

Want to try and win one of your own before buying? Click below!

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Hearing God In the Now…

Buckle up…this is a long one and I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers.

I am overwhelmed with the repeating words, resounding in my mind like a trumpeting horn, “not my will, but Yours be done.”

I’m increasingly concerned with the people of God, their leaders (not just pastors, but leaders, teachers, praise team members, etc.) especially, not being led by God in the NOW. I will explain my use of “in the now” in a moment.

Jesus Christ – Himself – said in Mark 14:36, “…Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou will.”

Christ knew ALL things were possible; but, He did not want it to be His way. He wanted it to be God’s way. I’m sure Christ, in his infinite wisdom, could have constructed a great way; but, it would not have compared to God’s PERFECT way.

How did Christ know what God’s way was? He didn’t have a Bible to finger through and find the section on “fearing for your life and carrying the weight of the sin of the world on one’s shoulders.” I’ll tell you in three simple words, though He be a very complex and overwhelming being: the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 3:16 tells us very clearly that Christ received the “Spirit of God.” It says, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” In the English Standard Version it says, “the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.”

There is such a thing as a “rhema” word. I really like the way James Rae explains the term “rhema” on Sharefaith.com. The word rhema means, “an utterance.” It’s used to refer to a word received that applies to your current situation or need. He goes on to say, “With this understanding, Christians can count on the written words contained in the Bible to have deep and personal meaning to their lives. And it is the Holy Spirit who enlightens believers when reading a Scripture, with the goal of imparting wisdom, knowledge or understanding in order to have an immediate impact.”

Not every Christian is fully aware, but rather it’s tucked away in their subconscious, that the Bible has been translated many times before you get your handy-dandy Message version. Keeping that in mind, also be aware that there are words in our language that cannot be interpreted in other languages; because they have no word for it and that works vice-versa as well. The word “rhema” is one such word. The best way we can put it is as James Rae does when he says that it is (forgive my abbreviation) an on-time utterance.

Now, if we are to refer to Matthew 4:4, where it says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceeds out of the mouth of God” and In John 6:63 where Christ confirms the use of this rhema revelation by saying, “The words [rhema] that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life,” then each Christian has an imperative, possibly life-changing, question they must answer for themselves.

Do you believe God speaks today?

Notice I did not say, “Is His written word speaking to you, today?” That is understood, it’s a given. His word is always fruitful, always valid, and will always speak to someone willing to hear it.

Further, as a side note to avoid any confusion, I would like to add that a rhema word, whether delivered by reading the Bible, the utterance of tongues, or a word dropped into one’s heart or mind, will NEVER contradict God’s written Word. If it does, that’s not God.

In 2 Timothy, Paul says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” So, please do not for even a moment assume that I am saying anything other than exactly what I am – that God speaks through us through His written word but ALSO through His Holy Spirit, TODAY. That is to say He speaks to us in addition to His written word. The Word of God is just as valid today as it was when it was first being chiseled and penned; and, a word given by the Holy Spirit – by whatever method – is equally as valid.

The key ingredient that we must not miss, though, is “rhema.” Why would God speak a rhema word? Because you need to hear it NOW!

He is not a God that sits atop a thrown, inaccessible to His children. Your earthly father would be called “a dead beat dad” if he never spoke to you. Wouldn’t he? How much more of a father is God to us than our earthly father? If we know how much greater a father He is, then we should logically assume that He would want to speak to us, currently – now, in our every day endeavors.

To give a more specific example: If I were standing on a ledge ready to jump and my dad, saw me, he would lovingly tell me that he was there for me and that I didn’t need to give up – he would help me through whatever was going on. How much more would my God do?

I’ll tell you. When my daughter was a toddler and her father and I were going through a lot, life became very overwhelming for me. The only person who knew that I had seriously considered taking my own life was my husband. Long story short, I was at the end of my rope and sat, numbly, in a pew one Sunday as a visiting pastor preached a good sermon that had nothing to do with what was going on in my life. At the end of the service, though, he called everyone who “desperately needed a touch from God” to come forward for prayer.

I will be honest, I didn’t even really realize I was standing at the alter until I looked up and saw that I was there with my husband at my side. I waited, silently crying, for this visiting pastor to come over, pray for me, and for me to walk away disappointed. After all, I had lost all hope. I wasn’t in that place where you run to God expectantly. However…we froze, stunned, as this man laid his hands on my head, began praying, and then suddenly paused and then lowered his voice and said with authority, “And, devil, I rebuke this demon of suicide plaguing this daughter of God! She is a child of the King!”

As the weight of the world and all of my hurt – feeling as if I was not even a blip on God’s radar, washed away. The Holy Spirit descended upon me in such a powerful way that I can truly say that I will forever remember how soothing the Balm of Gilead truly is.

You see, in that moment God knew that the only thing I needed to know was not how to fix my problems, where to find direction in His written word, but simply that God was aware and was there with and for me.

That pastor spoke a rhema word, given to him by an utterance of the Holy Spirit, that FOREVER changed my life. Sure, the devil tried to tempt me with suicide again. The thing is, not only has it never been a temptation since receiving that revelation; but, whenever depression descends upon me, I remind myself that God is aware and watching me, with love, knowing that through Him I have the power to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.

Why did I tell you all of that? Because a rhema word is what this world needs. This world is suffering from problems never before conceivable to mere man. Now, more than ever, we need to hear from God.

Please note that I did not say that we need another prophet. Prophets are great (when authentic) yet they come and go. Some are false and some are as true as the day is long. You don’t need a prophet, though, to hear from God. God is just as accessible to you as He is to anyone else. When apostles laid hands on people, the Holy Spirit was not coming from them. Acts 19 tells us that when Paul laid hands on some believers from Ephesus the Spirit came epi, upon them, not dia, through him.

We were given this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, from God, so that we don’t have to walk through the desert following after a prophet to whom God only speaks to. The only thing you need to hear a rhema word from God is to have the Holy Spirit residing within you.

A prophet has to be followed; but, God is accessible everywhere at all times. Didn’t Christ say in John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me, the works that I do he will do also, and greater works than these he will do, because I am going to the Father”? We can hear from God just as Christ and his apostles did.

I’m always blown away when we read that Christ – Himself – and His apostles did things a certain way but we seem to either think it’s beneath us, we’re too smart to have to do it that way, or we’re just too careless to assure that we’re doing it His way – that the very foundation of our every day lives be constructed in His way. I want to repeat that: “to assure that the very foundation of our every day lives be constructed in His way.” The very basis of our foundation should be believing that God manifested Himself into man; He died for our sins, so that we could live again; and, He sent us a comforter, the Holy Spirit, that should reside within us to direct our paths. Why are we skipping the third part? That’s like leaving the water out of the concrete mix and then wondering why it’s not setting up properly!

In Acts 19:1-7, Paul met some disciples of John the Baptist. He thought that they were believers in Christ, after hearing their talk of repentance. Paul, sensing something was missing, asked them the question, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” This passage, and others, proves that Paul believed that it was possible to be a believer in Jesus without receiving the Holy Spirit. If receiving the Holy Spirit was automatic upon receiving salvation, then why did Paul ask, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

Christ, during his ascension, told us that he would leave us “a Comforter.” If Christ said He was leaving us a Comforter, we need this Comforter!

Why would the Bible refer to the Holy Spirit as a “comforter?” What is a comforter? A comforter is “a person or thing that provides consolation.” “Consolation” is defined as “comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment, a person providing comfort to a person who has suffered.”

Allow me to take you back to the beginning of all of this where I referenced Christ’s illustration of choosing God’s way over His. A counselor can be a wonderful person to go to who will have good ideas of what to say to you; but, I want you to think about how much more your grief would be sated if you heard from the one person who actually knows exactly what to say to give you a peace that passes all understanding. I want you to consider how awesome it would be to have access to someone who is so inundated with the Holy Spirit that, if you’re too blinded by grief, confusion, hurt, etc., they can be a conduit of God to deliver a rhema word to you just as that visiting pastor did for me that day.

Yes, His written word can be a comfort to us, guidance, and more; but, Christ was leaving with us a living Comforter, in addition to a written account of His words.

We need to receive the Holy Spirit because God is a personal God – a God that wants to tailor His conversation specifically to you, not merely give you a generic word that you can apply to every situation.

Again, he is just as accessible today as he was 2000 years ago. The only question each of us needs to ask ourselves, and our leaders, is why are we/they not following a path set before us paved by His rhema word in our lives? Why are we following a generic path that we have drawn based on the few things we have assumed we fully understand from His written word. Our senior pastors, associate pastors, worship pastors, youth pastors, children’s pastors, counselors, Sunday school teachers, praise team singers, praise band members, missionaries, …all of those people that would teach the Church about discipling should be anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit and be in such constant communication with God that they have vision, words, and specific application to add to His kingdom. Just as they should have this, so should each and every one of of God’s children.

In conclusion, I just want to finish out a word from THE Word, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

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Book Review & Giveaway: Go to Sleep Sheep!

*I was given this book, no monetary gain, to give my honest opinion of it.

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Are you looking for a great gift for a baby shower or pre-k graduation? This may be just the book you’re looking for then!

This precious book is the perfect book to add to anyone’s collection to settle little ones down. The hard construction makes it durable to tough ones and assure it’ll last a long while.

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The illustrations are bright and eye-catching while still being toned down enough to help your little one wind down after a full day.

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Sunshine Farm is a place any sheep would want to stay and frolick all day but the day has wound down now and it’s time for all little sheep to wind down, too. Of course every little sheep has their own need right before bedtime but it’s time to say goodnight! So, they little sheep do eventually thank God for their beautiful day and settle down to finally … Go to Sleep, Sheep!

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