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56 YEARS OF LOVE LESSONS – HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Today’s guest blogger is Erica from Coming Up Roses.

Find the original post here!

This post may contain affiliate links; see site footer for more details.

Happy Hump + Happy VALENTINE’S Day, friends! Are you someone who loveloveloves or despises this holiday?? J + I celebrated last night since he’s got a work meeting tonight, so I’m hungover on chocolate truffles this morning and I ain’t mad about it. 😉

This V-Day, I was trying to think of what kind of content/advice/thoughts I could put out on this THE day of lovelovelove. And I realized…I’m SO not cut out for that. But luckily, I know two people who totally are.

My Nana & Pop have been married for 56 years – they’re the living embodiment of true, selfless love. (Let’s play “how long will it take before E tears up writing”). They’re the two best people I know (note: already crying). I know my Nana is tied for CUR’s #1 fan (alongside my mama) – she’s a daily reader. A few weekends ago, J + I went up to spend the day with them, take them out to lunch, and just enjoy the day together just the four of us. ‘Twas SO STINKIN’ NICE, especially since it’s usually the whole clan hanging out and not as much 2-on-2 time like that. And it was so stinkin’ nice getting to learn so much more about them still, about their life + love. I mean…56 years.

Can you imagine that?

56 Years of Love Lessons by popular Philadelphia lifestyle blogger Coming Up Roses

Their wedding picture – also can we talk about how GORGEOUS Nana’s dress is?!?!?!

56 Years of Love Lessons by popular Philadelphia lifestyle blogger Coming Up Roses

We live in a day + age where divorce seems like an epidemic. Left and right, marriages fail. Couples break up. Partnerships end. 56 years? Try 5. Or 10. And it’s oh so sad + discouraging to feel like love can no longer withstand the hardships of today’s society.

My Nana & Pop give me hope.

And I think they can give hope to so many people omg, because they’ve been through some friggin’ low lows, too, and are still living a beautiful life + love together, after nearly 60 years of partnership. For some perspective, when they got married, they had odds stacked against them. First off, they got married “out of order.” In my Pop’s traditionalist Czech family, his mother expeced his older brother to be next in line to tie the knot. But Pop fell in love with Nana and wanted to marry her, so he did – against his strict mother’s wishes. They had about $5 to their name. They moved into Nana’s childhood home…where Nana’s mother still lived…and where she continued to live for the first 25 years of their marriage. Y’ALL.

Let that sink in.

Today, I don’t many folks who could fathom having an in-law live under the same roof for 25 years. Heck, some folks can’t even manage a long holiday all together before dying to be back in their own space. Beyond that, they were her caretaker’s as she aged and became sick, and they did it willingly + with joy.

No complaining. No struggle bus-ing. No resentment.

They also lived in a time where you really had to just do what ya had to do to provide for your family – it wasn’t as much of “dreamer” world as it is today. Today, we’re all so stinkin’ lucky in that we can truly wake up with a dream and make it happen. That wasn’t the case back then, largely because of resources! If you weren’t born into it, you had to make it happen, and obvi you didn’t have the iPhone to help ya do it. 😉 Pop wanted to be a State Trooper, Nana wanted to be a nurse. Neither one had the chance to do that, because real life at the time didn’t allow it. And neither one is bitter about it. They always put their love + their family first, and if that meant they couldn’t personally do something, that was A-OK. Which is so inspiring I think, especially in light of so much messaging today that’s dripping in do you-you-you.

I think in anyone in the world, my Nana & Pop truly “get” what it takes. Their life is proof of that. Their life is proof that you have zero control of the cards you’re dealt, but you have every ounce of control over how you respond + react to your hand.

SO. I had asked them to put together THEIR thoughts + “advice” that they think has contributed to being together for a true lifetime. I wanted them to be able to mull it over + think about what they can say really contributed to the fact that so many years after “I Do,” they STILL do…love AND like each other. 😉 My Nana handed me a stack of paper with her handwritten notes, which I just typed here exactly as is, unedited.

Start with Love, Patience, & Understanding! Prayer and faith!

Sometimes being quiet and keeping things and feelings to yourself and they seem to work themselves out

Were young and had to learn a lot of things, day to day. We went together for 2.5 years, but you still don’t know everything about each other. Time does that, ups and down and God helps you through them. And the blessed Mother Mary intercedes for us to God. Pray to her always!

Working together is everything and keeping your love alive! Having our children were happy days. Thanking God for healthy, beautiful children was the best news. Early days were not financially easy, but we got through them.

Proud to see our children grow up and do well in school and go on and get a good education. They all got good jobs and work hard to succeed.

Then in future years we got two beautiful grandchildren, Erica and Michael. Erica graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Marketing and Management and now has her own business (blogging and such). Now she is married to a great guy, Jamie!

Our grandson Michael will be graduating in May from Penn State, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. We are blessed in every way and thankful to God for all the good things in our life.

Also from day one we took care of Mom and we did our best. There were a lotof things to deal with, but we got through them with God’s help and a lot of prayers! We loved her with our heart and soul! She was quite a lady in every way. She raised a big family and had nine children. Life was never easy but she did it with love.

The having, the holding, the family and raising, the working, the planning, the celebrating, the cleaning up after, the dividing and conquering, the memory making and especially the sticking by each other through all of it. And we did it with so much love! With God and the blessed Virgin Mary’s help!

56 Years of Love Lessons by popular Philadelphia lifestyle blogger Coming Up Roses

Can we point out that Nana was one of NINE? Also, I lovelovelove her point about actually being quiet sometimes, and things seem to work themselves out. This is HARD for me, oftentimes, because I’m not quiet. Like, ever. Ha. In any argument, I’m quick to wanna talk it out or address an issue head-on. But of course I’m not always right, and there are DEF times when I think I should’ve just kept my mouth shut and it would’ve turned out better in the end. My Nana is such a *patient* woman, which is something love could use today.

Also, the power of prayer. Nana is one of the most faithful women EVER, I swear. She’s a total prayer warrior. And really, I think that’s probably why she can get through ANYTHING with the attitude that she has – because she just hands everything up to God. (The epitome of trusting in God). 

They don’t pick fights. They know when to address something versus when to let something slide in the bigger picture. Which is something I’m soooo bad at sometimes oh my gosh. 

They always knew they’d get through. They just had faith and kept truckin’ along.

I asked my mama + my Aunt Donna + Jamie to chime in with their two cents, too, about things they’ve seen slash learned through/because of Nana & Pop’s relationship over the years, since we’ve all been directly impacts by it and have seen it blossom…

56 Years of Love Lessons by popular Philadelphia lifestyle blogger Coming Up Roses

MOM:

  • Selfless love! They always do things for each other out of care, not a sense of obligation. They. WANT. To. Nana still pours Pop’s juice every morning. I can still remember that from my childhood. And even little things like that let you know someone is caring for you.
  • They don’t keep score!
  • They don’t complain. They had to endure lots of tough stuff – very tight finances, caring for ill relatives, Pop working lots of overtime to make ends meet, living very modest lives. And their attitude was just to do what you need to do and keep going!
  • They celebrate the little things. They appreciate what they have! I’ve never heard them wishing for luxuries or complaining that they did not have them.
  • They did things for themselves. Pop was (and still is) a great handyman. He can fix pretty much anything or build a new one! He’d learn how and do it himself. Both are great cooks and bakers. They had a large vegetable garden and we grew up canning and jarring all sorts of veggies. Nana was not a seamstress making clothes from scratch, but she can mend or repair basically anything that needed it.
  • They tease each other playfully and Pop can always make Nana giggle. 😉
  • They have inside jokes! And they have certain looks that they can give each other that speak volumes.

56 Years of Love Lessons by popular Philadelphia lifestyle blogger Coming Up Roses

DONNA:

Mom and Dad are the epitome of a marriage made in heaven. God made them amazing individuals and when He bound their hearts, a solid bond was made that could never be broken. Their commitment to God, each other, and their family is unmatched. They’re my role models, and to them, ALL blessings they truly deserve, as they glorify God every day! Their individual quirkiness, funny private looks to each other, and subtle yet grounded PDA’s are only some of their qualities that make their marriage and relationship one that everyone should strive to achieve. After about 60 years together, what better love lesson than theirs…through it all!

J:

What I’ve learned:

  • Faith is a big part of a successful marriage. Having 25 years of your marriage be with an in-law there, many of them in caretaker capacity – it can be a tremendous challenge on your relationship so faith is SO IMPORTANT.
  • Focus on family over perception. For a man to get married and spend the next two decades in his wife’s house with his mother-in-law is not considered “ideal” for our generation today, but Pop put family first over maybe his own personal ideal. You’ve gotta be selfless in your marriage.
  • The important things in a marriage. It’s not always comfortable, and we shouldn’t expect it to be.
  • They’re always aware of each other and what each other needs. Pop always talks about Nana and is looking to see what he can do for her, and vice versa.

Look at the way they look at each other. Look at it. I mean…

56 Years of Love Lessons by popular Philadelphia lifestyle blogger Coming Up Roses

56 Years of Love Lessons by popular Philadelphia lifestyle blogger Coming Up Roses

If that’s not lovelovelove, I don’t know what is. 🙂

Whatever your relationship status today, I hope you feel hope.

So much of how we experience life – so much of our story – stems from our perspective. So much of what my Nana & Pop have been through might leave some feeling less-than-stellar, throwing a pity party. Their attitude has always been to just make it work and do it all with love.

Whether you’re single, in a relationship, about to tie the knot or married for a decade, I hope that attitude rubs off on ya a bit today.

Make it work, do it all with love.

Whatever you’re doing in life – be that your relationship with your S.O., your girlfriends, the random person that sits outside the Dunkin’ Donuts on your way to work every day – do it all with love.

What are you doing this Valentine’s Day? What’s the most inspiring love story you’ve heard?

Whatever your plans are today, I hope you know + feel how loveloveloved you are.

For what it’s worth, I lovelovelove each of y’all so much and am SO grateful that you’re here. I owe so much to you, and I wouldn’t slash couldn’t do Coming Up Roses without you.

Sending you SO much lovelovelove on this Valentine’s Day + everyday.

signature blog

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Love Nudge (Review and Giveaway!)

Love Nudge is a new app developed by Moody Publishers, the publishers of Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages.

If you’re unfamiliar with Gary Chapman, he is a graduate of the Moody Bible Institute and holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degree in anthropology from Wheaton College and from Wake Forest University. He also received Master of Religious Education and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The 5 Love Languages is a book that since 1992 has sold over 11 million copies. The premise is that everyone has their own “love language,” the way they primarily communicate their love to others. According to his theory and research, each person has one primary and one secondary love language.

By doing a thorough quiz (there are some more simplified ones out there but they’re for sure not as meticulous), you can discover your love language. The idea is that, through this, your spouse will know how to “talk” to you in your own language – and vice versa – and you’ll communicate better than ever.

Based on the book sales – but more importantly the testimonies – that have come out of this ministry, it’s clear to see why this book and its message have moved into the 21st century by becoming more accessible as an app.

Now, I’m going to be completely honest with you:

As a person who read the original book, this app is great but it really should accompany the book. The book will give you a greater understanding of your game plan and it will motivate you greatly. It’s actually a really easy read, too.

Now on to the app and my opinion of it…

The app is FREE right now. I dont know how long that will last, maybe forever. The 5 Love Languages has always been an affordable book so I can’t really see them suddenly making this a $5 app – though its worth it.

http://youtu.be/9iVxDY0ihOo

The app is easily downloadable and easy to walk through. It walks you through basic information, quizzing you to determine your love language, and allowing you to invite your spouse or future spouse to join in the app with you.

It really is like a fitness app but for your relationship health. Instead of you marking that you met your goal of running a mile (inset me laughing hysterically here), you’re checking off that you used some words of affirmation for your spouse today. “Today I told him how much I appreciate all he does around the house. Check!” Every goal met help each of you to fill up your love tank. 😉

This app actually came at a great time for my husband and I. Every relationship goes through their seasons and we’ve certainly seen our share of them. This app reminded my husband that his words have great power in regard to me while holding me accountable to do my part in our relationship rather than my being part of the problem or being bitter.

Sometimes we can forget who we were…who we are. We only think about the thing that interrupted who we are. But God wants to restore us to what we were meant to be.

I dont know about you but I don’t want to become that bitter old couple that stay married but fight everyday as if they hate each other. I want to mourn when we are separated and celebrate when we’re reunited. God wants that for us too.

So, all in all, I really like it. My husband likes it. I sent the link to my 22 year old daughter and her boyfriend of four years. I mean if you have a nail that needs to be driven in… and there’s a hammer right there, wouldn’t you use the hammer that was given to you? This is a free tool to help make your relationship easier and a greater success. I would think everyone would take advantage of it. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Love Nudge for Couples will help you put the concepts of The 5 Love Languages into action in ways that are easy, obvious, and satisfying.

1. LEARN YOUR LOVE LANGUAGETake the official 5 Love Languages quiz to discover your preferred Love Language.

2. CONNECT WITH YOUR PARTNERUse the app individually or invite your partner to download, take the quiz, and link profiles.

3. SET YOUR GOALSSet goals to regularly take on activities that align with your partner’s Love Language.

4. NUDGEStart nudging! Send your partner a playful nudge to suggest activities or to find out how full their Love Tank is.

Download the LoveNudge App and be entered to win Dr. Gary Chapman’s #1 New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages®, The 5 Love Languages® for Men, AND The Love Languages Devotional Bible (hardback)! Click below to enter and for more details.

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What I’ve Learnt After 3 Years of Marriage

Today’s guest post by izzabelle.co can be originally found here!

On 20 December 2014, V and I exchanged our marriage vows on a lovely little yacht somewhere on the open sea, surrounded by our dearest family and friends.

I still remember how it was raining incessantly that month, but on that day, the sun broke through. And that’s just one small example of God’s goodness and mercy in our journey as husband and wife.

We crossed the third-year mark while on a road trip to California last month. I must say that whoever thought marriage would equate to living “happily ever after” certainly never tried it! Still, we’ve had a fulfilling few years together filled with memories that I’ll cherish forever.

But before I got married, I struggled a lot with the very concept of marriage and what it would entail. I thought it would be boring. I thought I would feel “trapped” and lose some degree of freedom (okay, all of it, really).

I’m happy to report that I have shaken these thoughts off, though it took me a long while to do so. And by God’s grace, I have come to enjoy being a wife.


what I've learnt after 3 years of marriage

HERE ARE 6 THINGS I’VE LEARNT ABOUT MARRIAGE:

1. Being married doesn’t make me any less of a woman.

Once you tie the knot, one of the first questions people around you will inevitably ask is whether you’re having kids. I know they mean well, but I don’t just want to be regarded as a baby-making machine from this day forward. I am still a woman who has dreams to realise and goals to achieve.

2. Mundane moments are plentiful – but they’re also what has helped me grow. 

Recently, I did an enneagram test and discovered that my personality type is a 7. According to the test results, I “approach life with curiosity, optimism and a sense of adventure”. That also explains why I abhor mundanity and repetition (because they aren’t fun or exciting, duh). But that kinda is what marriage looks like once you get settled into a comfortable “flow”. You probably already have certain couple habits; well, life’s pretty much the same old, same old when you get hitched.

These ordinary moments of life together test me the most – and grow me the most. Cooking, washing the dishes and doing the laundry are things I honestly do not enjoy doing, but I recognise that they are ways in which I am learning to serve and be selfless (my husband will be SO happy to read this!).

3. Problem areas won’t disappear; they will be magnified. 

Most articles on marriage will tell you this – and it’s true. I get sooo irked by V’s loud chewing, while he gets upset when I fail to follow his system for doing the dishes, or when I install the toilet paper roll the “wrong way”. When we were dating, these were small things we never thought would surface as issues, but they have.

Of course, there are other deeper issues that have revealed themselves throughout the course of our marriage. And I truly appreciate that my husband has served as a faithful friend in that aspect, by making me take a hard look at certain areas of my life that I needed to seek forgiveness from God in, or stop holding onto too tightly.

God created marriage to unfold beauty, depth, strength, and love that could never be discovered in a land of “easy.” God created marriage to help us enter into the world of what real love looks like. If we are able to look past daily irritation, inconvenience, and selfish resentments to get a glimpse of the real thing, it will bring us to our knees in worship. Not of our marriage, but of God, himself. God created marriage to show us what his love for us looks like. 

— ADRIEN SEGAL, DESIRING GOD

4. You will have to give some things up.

Since I’ve gotten married, I think the biggest change in my lifestyle is that my schedule has been less filled with spontaneous meet-ups or late-night hangs with friends. To be frank, it’s still a struggle for me to relinquish certain things. This is definitely a work in progress.

5. Personal space is important. 

I absolutely need – no, crave – time for myself. It’s been integral to my sense of well-being when I was unmarried, and it remains so today. My alone time helps me to recharge, reflect, and gives me room to indulge in activities I enjoy. I’m glad that my husband respects this need, and has never given me any grief about it (ok, the fact that he’s a total introvert who also needs personal space has helped!).

What I’ve found useful is to physically demarcate an area in your home that is 100% yours. In our Vancouver apartment, my table is in our bedroom, while V has a separate study table outside. We didn’t do this in our Singapore home, and it’s definitely something I want to continue practicing when we go back.

6. Your influence and giftings will expand. 

The wonderful thing about big life transitions like marriage is that you’ll have so many stories to tell, and so many insights to share, with those who are about to take those same steps, or even to those who aren’t on this path yet.

My husband has also encouraged me to pursue things I never would’ve had the gumption to do on my own. Case in point: This blog. I’ve been writing for most of my adult life, but writing for myself (and not for the company I work for) is pretty unfamiliar territory. But it’s been a fun ride so far – and I can’t wait to see how God is going to use me and this space for His glory.


If you’ve made it this far along in the post, I wanna say a huge THANK YOU for reading. And if you are married, I would love to hear your own thoughts and lessons on what it has taught you – just leave a comment below!

Bible, bible verse, family, Friends, friendship, god, happiness, healing, jesus, Life, Love, Marriage, Parenting, prayer, Uncategorized, Valentine’s Day, women

50 Magical Date Night Ideas!

Today’s guest post comes from Minding the Kings.

Find the original post here.

You know, sometimes Mr. King and I just need a date night. A time to ourselves where we can set our responsibilities aside and enjoy each  other’s company. It’s so important to spend that time together and cultivate a strong relationship. A strong marriage relationship sets the foundation for a strong family! But after a while it can be hard to come up with date ideas. We want to mix it up! We want to try something new! Going to the same couple restaurants every time gets boring, and when we just go to a movie we aren’t really engaging with each other. So I sat down and came up with a list of ideas we could try. Then I thought, we can’t be the only ones looking for new ideas! So, I’m sharing the magic with all of you!

**Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Click HERE to learn more**

50 Magical Date Night Ideas

  1.  Go for a bike ride
  2. Create sidewalk chalk murals all over town
  3. Take selfies together with random strangers, then create a photo book of your adventure
  4. Go out and do random acts of kindness together
  5. Go Fishing
  6. Look up workout videos from the 80’s and have fun working out and making fun of them together!
  7. Taste test candy or snacks from other countries
  8. Put together a 1000+ piece puzzle
  9. Visit an art museum, take notepads and pens in with you, and pretend to be art critics!
  10. Build sandcastles and look for shells at the beach
  11. Go canoeing
  12. Do an escape room
  13. Go ice skating or roller skating
  14. Go shopping together and pick out clothes for each other to try on
  15. Make music videos by recording yourselves singing and dancing to your favorite songs
  16. Do a craft together, like making a tie blanket, a stepping stone for your garden, or painting flower pots
  17. Rent a movie that’s in a foreign language, then make up the dialogue for it while you watch
  18. Have a water balloon fight, then relax together in a kiddie pool
  19. Do a color run or mud run together
  20. Go Bowling
  21. Take a class together (painting, cooking, etc)
  22. Explore a nearby  town you’ve never been to before
  23. Go Horseback Riding
  24. Play Frisbee and have a picnic at the park
  25. Do a progressive dinner restaurant tour: Have an appetizer at one restaurant, split an entree at 2 other places, and finish with dessert somewhere else!
  26. Read together
  27. Go Geocaching, or play similar types of games, like Pokemon Go, Draconius Go, or Zombies, Run!
  28. Go riding quads, dirt bikes, a side-by-side, or other recreational vehicles together
  29. Volunteer together
  30. Look up a new recipe, go shopping for the ingredients, and make it together (maybe try this one!)
  31. Go Swimming
  32. Create a vision board together
  33.  Look up massage techniques and try them out on each other
  34. Taste test and rate different brands of cola, different flavors of M&M’s, or other foods and drinks!
  35. Play strip poker
  36. Set up hammocks, then watch the sun set and stargaze together
  37. Do a couple’s photo shoot
  38. Go camping. REAL camping!
  39. Play video games together. Multiplayer ones, so you are both playing!
  40. Get to know each other even better by doing a questionnaire or asking “would you rather” questions
  41. Go on a scavenger hunt
  42. Work together on a scrap book of your favorite memories
  43. Borrow I Spy or Where’s Waldo books from the library and spend time together doing them
  44. Have a Nerf war or a Nerf sharpshooter competition
  45. Stay in a hotel room with a Jacuzzi and pamper yourselves
  46. Have a game night playing your favorite board, dice and card games
  47. Do a fast food taste test: Gather 1 each of the same item from different fast food restaurants (chicken nuggets, cheeseburgers, etc). Then one person wears a blindfold while the other feeds them the foods from each place one at a time. The blindfolded one has to guess where each item they try is from!
  48. Build something together. Doesn’t matter if its from IKEA or made from scratch.
  49. Go out and play Pool together
  50. Do a $10 date: Each person gets $10 to shop with. The objective is to find 2 things to buy for your other half, 1 thing they would like and 1 gag gift!

For 15 more fun ideas, head over to My Cup Runs Overand check out her list!

As rare as our date nights are, this list will last my husband and I a LONG time! I hope you find some ideas you can use to make your next date night magical! Let me know in the comments what your favorite ideas are!

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…but God

This has been a…hard year.

A year of a lot of loss but also a lot of prayers answered.

We’ve lost loved ones.

We’ve lost dreams. I lost a very personal dream but also was delivered from cancer, pain, and gained…a lot of weight 🥴 from that lost dream.

Milestones were not forgotten but … prioritized, often not in the order we wished but in the order which was right.

A dear friend found she had cancer….but God and she fight.

She still fights today.

We celebrated 50 years of God-focused marriage between my parents.

We finally found our Church home after nearly a decade of praying and seeking, going through different seasons, and being used at various places.

So, while we have seen loss and experienced hurt…we rejoice – I rejoice – because though we prayed and often felt like He didn’t hear us, He knew what was down the road and where our specific brand of love and talents were needed most. He saw us through fear. He delivered us from slings and arrows.

While my flesh wants to cling to the loss, the hysterectomy, the pain, the fear, the weight gain, the heartbreak… my spirit cries out in joy and appreciation for the hope of Heaven, no cancer, loving and being loved again in a Church family, and my family’s every need being met.

What do YOU choose to thank Christ for, today?

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When I die…

I am feeling some sort of way this evening due to the passing of our Grampa Woody. Most often I give allowances for everyone’s feelings but my own. So, if you’re reading this, forgive me and allow me a moment in time to -for once – allow my own.

When I die I pray that I will have left a legacy of love, grace, patience, understanding, and above all a blanket of God’s love. I pray that the people that are a part of my life will forgive my every fault, because there are many. I pray that people will sit around a table and think of me fondly. I hope that, while I may not have many friends, I will have friends of great substance that will miss me and miss that something that I was always able to give them.

I hope that, whether they are friends or family, the people in my life will not just be able to but will choose to not reflect upon the ways that I failed them. This may sound like a selfish thing to hope for; but, this piece of hope is held for them and not myself. After all, I will be in heaven with my Father. I will surely have failed some. I will surely have disappointed many. I say this because I have failed myself and disappointed myself more times than I can count. Yet, for my loved ones’ sakes, I pray that their hearts are not heavy and their minds are not burdened by my past or some thing I heaped upon them; but, rather their hearts and minds would be set upon the Lord.

Of course, I pray that I live a life that is free of all of this and full of a multitude of things that would make God proud of me and subsequently the people around me. But my mind keeps going back to the people that Christ loved. He loved the tax collector. He loved the filthy beggar. He even loved the woman of ill repute that many looked upon as if she were a dog. I can strive for perfection everyday (and I will); yet, there has been only one faultless Man who walked this earth and it is not I.

I have been the black sheep all of my life, as far back as I can remember. A lot of that was probably my own doing. I certainly don’t blame anyone for it. I have disappointed many people and, sadly, proven many right on occasion. I am also not the same person that I was 10 years ago, 20 years ago.

I pray that the people in my life will love me now, in the end, and after the end as Jesus would love me… not for me but for them. I pray that their hearts and minds will be devoid of any negativity so that they would know the peace that passes all understanding, the true miracle that forgiveness truly is, and the love of God that comes only from the Father.

If I am truly lucky… abundantly blessed, those that I leave behind will celebrate my homecoming with praise and worship that lifts up into the heavenlies and grabs God’s attention for just a moment; and, He is pleased.

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Don’t Give Up

A lot of people quote Matthew 6:1-4 when speaking about good deeds.

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.

Matthew‬ ‭6:1-4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Tonight, I would quote Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

So many times (because it’s in our fleshly nature) people only remember, talk, dwell, focus on past mistakes.

They define you in their own minds by what they hear or by that moment.

I feel like someone needs to hear this, “Don’t give up doing what’s right!”

There’s a very important word in the passage from Galatians – the word “if.” IF we do not give up, then in our due season we will reap.

Many times we’re beaten up… for just doing the best we knew how through Christ; and, so often, we get abused and blamed when we may actually be the injured party.

In those moments, we have to not speak – for it’s God that promotes us – not us. Anything that we do for ourselves can just as easily be taken away. Anything God gives us, however, cannot be taken from us but by Him and His permission.

I praise God that in those times, God remembers what I did. He’s my daddy and I know, in that moment, HE was proud of me – IS proud of me. I hope you’ll remember this too.

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Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids: Billy Graham’s God’s Good News

I received this book (no money) for my honest review and that’s what you always get!

Billy Graham remains one of the foremost pastors in America’s history, and parents, grandparents, pastors, teachers, and more will want this lovely edition of God‘s GoodNews for the children in their life to show them the way to the cross and to help them begin a lifetime of following Christ. God‘s Good News is a collection of more than 60 favorite Bible stories told in actual Bible text from the New King James Version, including Noah, Joseph, Moses, David, Jesus, and the disciples, and each story is equipped with a takeaway devotion from Rev. Graham. The takeaways will help children focus on God’s Word, apply it to their lives, and begin walking with God and sharing the good news from an early age. The striking artwork from Scott Wakefield will help children connect with the timeless Bible stories and messages from Rev. Graham.

Christianity is good news. . . . When we open up the Bible, it is good news from cover to cover. It’s the good news that God loves us.

—Billy Graham

This book is yet another part of the amazing legacy that Reverend Billy Graham leaves behind – him ministering, through book, to the next generation.

Graham starts this capturing Book by talking about what he always talks about – God’s love and how “it passes knowledge.” Graham was big on talking about how much God loves us and that tone is set from the very beginning in this book.

Separated – just as the Bible is – between Old and New Testaments, this story and devotion book prepares the youngest for independently reading the Bible.

Meanwhile, Scott Wakefield’s illustrations are making every story come alive in your child’s mind! His artistic interpretation, while beautiful, is realistic enough that the illustrations do not deviate from the Word while still being child-friendly.

Throughout this story and devotion book, your children will hear words directly from Billy Graham’s writings as well.

I highly recommend this book. I know that shouldn’t surprise most of you as it is the works of Reverend Billy Graham. His legacy and history, though, do not just give him an automatic seal of approval by me. Going through this book, I am very impressed with the stories that were included.

So many children’s devotionals include stories such as Adam and Eve, Noah, Esau, Jonah, and others. Many, however, do not include the Tower of Babel, Jacob’s ladder, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, Ruth, King Solomon, Josiah, Zacharias, the sermon on the mount, Zacchaeus, the prodigal son, the widow’s coins, Stephen, and many, many, more. This story and devotion book has more than 60 of them in it!

If you want to know what a child’s honest first thoughts are of this book, before you buy it, watch this short video:

https://youtu.be/pNTE6KfRFZM

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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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Book Review & Giveaway: Young Whit & the Traitor’s Treasure

* I was given this book, no money was exchanged, for my honest opinion of which you always will receive from me.

Young Whit & the Traitor’s Treasure is an Adventures in Odyssey book by Phil Lollar and Dave Arnold. It’s the first in the Young Whit series!

“This Odyssey book series explores the history of the much-loved character John Avery Whittaker. The series introduces newcomers to the larger world of Odyssey. For readers who are already Odyssey-philes, the novels provide the history of the franchise’s most important character.

Whit and his family (father, Harold; stepmother, Fiona; half-sister, Charlie) have just moved to Provenance, NC, in the middle of the Great Depression. Harold will be teaching at nearby Duke University. Not-quite-10-year-old Johnny soon makes a friend in Emmy, who lives across the street and joins him in his adventures. At his new school, he encounters a bully who makes his life miserable, and he makes a new friend in Huck, the custodian. Both of them play key roles in the mysteries and action.

The central mystery in book 1 involves Confederate gold missing since the end of the Civil War and the question of whether Johnny’s ancestor was the coward and thief who stole it, as everyone believes.”

My six (soon to be seven)-year-old immediately loved this book. The preface saddened him. The first chapter grabbed hold of his total attention. By chapter four, he was reading himself just to get more read!

While I would say this book is more targeted at 10 years and older, don’t discount younger ones if my son is any evidence. Every night he wants the next chapter.

The thing that I think I like the most about this book is that I have seen it touch the heart of my son. At such a young age, most boys are emotionally immature. I have seen signs of his heart growing and his sensitivity coming to awareness while reading this book. It’s been a beautiful process to watch.

I love that people such as Focus on the Family appreciate celebrating boys being boys (and girls being girls) all while encouraging them to be their best in Christ Jesus.

So, if you’re young adventurer needs or wants a new book to add to their library – that you know you can trust to be safe for their hearts and their minds – I greatly recommend this book. I plan on buying the entire series book by book.