DIY Primitive Welcome Candles

It’s fall, and I don’t know about you but I’ve got the decorating bug. I want to tuck berries and leaves in every cupboard and basket I can find. Chunky knit throw blankets come out for chilly nights, and Yankee Candles are just plain a “staple” during this season.

I also love putting Welcome Lights into the windows. They look so cozy. So today we decided to take our plain welcome lights and give them a more primitive New England look. I thought I’d share how I did it. Here’s the finished product. You can buy them like this but they are pretty pricey if you want to do every window. So we make do and do it ourselves.

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Last Christmas I bought battery operated window candlesticks at a Benny’s, a local hardware store.  I got the type that you set once and they turn on automatically at that same time every day, and then shut off six hours later. They are LED and they flicker slightly.   I knew that the basic shape was right and that I could make them look older pretty easily. Here’s the before:

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To give them a primitive look, Hope and I spray painted the base black. I used flat Rustoleum spray paint from Walmart.

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While they were drying, we heated beeswax chips in the microwave  at 50% power for about 3 minutes, checking and stirring every minute to see how melted it is. I used beeswax because I had it, but you could use any yellowish colored wax or old candles that you might have. Melt them down and add a 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg to give the wax a “grubby” look.

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Then, carefully dip your candles in the wax. Don’t burn your hands with the hot wax, because hot wax burns. Ahem. Ask me how I know. Make sure you are doing this over newspapers or parchment paper to protect your countertops. You want it to look bumpy and waxy. Spoon the wax over the candle filling in any holes or gaps,  to make sure the whole thing is covered. I drizzle wax on the sides to make it look drippy.

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Then I rub extra spices on the wax to make it look older.

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Then, with an xacto knife, cut through the wax so you can get the battery cover on and off when you need to.

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You can make them look as primitive as you want by adding more wax or more spices, and deciding how nubbly you want them to look. Below, the right hand candle is the most primitive.

IMG_4412.JPGBy the way, I used my iPod to take the pictures while I was working because I didn’t want my nice camera to meet with a wax accident. Sorry about the quality. You understand, don’t you? :)

You can take these right out of the bases and tuck them into baskets, or use them as night lights. Super cute.

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What do you think? Have you tried making these? Let me know if you do! Enjoy!

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Purpose for the Sidelined Mom

Nobody wants to live a sidelined life, especially young mothers who are full of energy and dreams. We want to make a difference and live with purpose, but frankly, life with little kids feels like being left out of the game all together.

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The rest of the world seems to be tackling life, moving ahead, and making progress, and we are very much stuck in the house. In fact, we haven’t made it out of the house in three days.

Do you ever wonder,

Lord, when am I actually going to do something of meaning for you? When will my life count? I’m home with these kids all day, every day. Everything I do is undone within 24 hours and nothing seems to last. I dreamed of serving others in your name. I long to share your mercy with others. I’m itching to encourage someone with your great love today.

I thought all these things when my kids were young. Especially on the bad days. You know the ones. On those days, I felt like I had missed my boat somewhere, somehow.

Those are exactly the times when my faith was tested. I wondered if God remembered me. Did He hear my prayer? Does He think that I am only qualified to wipe noses and break up toddler fights? (Which can be pretty scary, sometimes.)  I wondered if He realized all the lovely things I wanted to do for Him….if I wasn’t stuck in this house.

And then, one day, in the midst of my pity-party, God pulled back my blinders and showed me that He HAD in fact, answered my prayers. What I called “stuck”, God called “serving Him.” I wanted to go somewhere exciting to serve, but the Lord set up my base of ministry in my home. 

Perhaps you’re discouraged today. You thought that God would lead you to some exciting foreign mission, or to tend the sick in His name, or lead a Bible study, or to mentor women, or to have a ministry of encouraging hurting people, or feeding the poor. You thought you’d have this amazing calling.

From where you sit {looking over the mounds of laundry and your toy strewn living room} life is pretty mundane, and you’re discontent, wondering if this is all there is for you. You fear God’s passed you by somehow and that everyone else is doing the important work.

BUT, what if God has answered your prayer and you just don’t know it yet. Consider this:

What if God’s special mission for you is to be the one to encourage your own husband in your own home? Imagine how wonderful it would be to have him come home to a smile and a hug, a warm meal, and a “you’re important to me” look that lets him know you care?

What if God sent you to cook for those little faces right in front of you?  To give them a cup of cold water, in Jesus name?

What if God put you there to nurse sick kids in kindness in the middle of the night? To dry their tears when they are having nightmares? Someone has to do it.

What if God sent you teach your own children the Bible? Your teaching will impact generations for Christ, including your own grandchildren. That’s a pretty big assignment. Did you talk to your kids about God today? Are you pouring your life into teaching them first? Perhaps you could start there.

What if God sent you to encourage anyone who entered your home with the wonderful message of mercy and forgiveness that you’ve received? Imagine the impact a heart full of gratitude and a mouth that spills forth praise and thanksgiving could make on a discouraged younger mom, mailman, or neighbor?

Perhaps the biggest ministry impact we can have is right here, in these four walls.

Now, I know you’re doing many of these things, because women get things done. But, we all know that we can serve willingly or grudgingly. Sometimes, we’re going through the motions but our joy is all gone.

Let me encourage you to do what you’re doing for Jesus sake, and the joy will return. 

“Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

The location of your ministry doesn’t make it big, the Author of your ministry makes it big.

And if you are at home with little ones all day, praise God for such a ministry! Give them your best. Be the best example you can be. Show them how much Jesus loves them by being His hands and feet.

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That perspective changes everything, doesn’t it? :)

This, I can do Lord, for You!

7 Tips For Dealing With Toxic People

Today I’m sharing some of the best advice I’ve been given for guarding my mind and heart when it comes to toxic people.  Nothing mind blowing, mind you, just plain common sense, because if we’re not careful, their craziness will affect us.

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“Love covers a multitude of sin.”

I often get email from hurting women in need of advice about dealing with what I call a toxic person.  I posted some of this on FB after a woman shared some of her “crazy person” struggles with me, so some of this is not new.

When I say “toxic person,” I mean a person who is unhappy/hateful inside and chooses to attack you because of their own bitterness. Their modus operandi seems to be seek and destroy. They vacillate between two extremes: Flaming anger in the form of outburst, attacks, and slander, or the “You’re dead to me approach” which is a little more humorous.

In “You’re Dead to Me”, they’ll maybe they go out of their way to exclude you or ignore you (and then of course let you know that they did! lol)

Or maybe they pull out the old silent treatment, complete with stoney faced scowls and glaring eyes. Lucky you. ;) Either way, it’s not actually true avoidance because they want you to know what they are doing. (I know. It’s exhausting just typing it.)  A better description would be the long distance, passive-aggressive attack.

Anyway, you get the picture. They look for a way to make you hurt. They attack anything associated with you: your reputation, a ministry, your kids, your marriage, your clothes, likes and dislikes, your personhood. * **

Sooo, say you’re dealing with a “prickly/toxic person.” I don’t know why they are prickly and neither do you. Maybe they’re insecure, or jealous, or just plain unhappy in life. Maybe they’ve been hurt themselves and have dealt with it in negative ways. How do you deal with them, while loving them, and not “owning” their junk?

7 Tips for Dealing With Toxic People

1. Remember this truth:Nothing other people do is because of you, it’s because of themselves.”

You aren’t responsible for someone else’s bad behavior or words, they are. Nasty words and actions are a reflection of their heart. Rude behavior is about them, not you.

We are all responsible for our own actions and words. You are responsible for you and I am responsible for me. And I can choose whether or not to let your words, actions or reactions affect me.

2. Don’t take it personally.

Very little about what others say or do is about you. It’s about them and their experiences, fears, insecurities, and their own inner workings. Sometimes people will attack with words, to your face or behind your back. Don’t take it personally. Don’t put any mental energy into it. “What Susie says of Sally says more of Susie than of Sally.” Don’t take in their poison and internalize it! Call it what it is: Their poison.

3. Don’t assume anything.

When someone uses their words against you, don’t assume that it has anything to do with you. (See rule #1) They might be spewing venom at you or trying the slow-drip injection method of sending hate your way, but even with all that, don’t assume that their behavior toward you has anything to do with you. It’s about them.

It’s tempting to want to get into it with them. Don’t. Especially if this is their pattern. That’s exactly what they want. A feuding heart wants someone to feud with.

If you refuse to fight or ignore the behavior all together, they’ll look for someone else to attack. (Hopefully. Is it horrible to hope that!? lol Sorry, I hope it’s not you!)

If you choose to return “evil for evil” or “tit for tat” then YOUR actions and words are YOUR problem. Then, it would be about you.

4. Refuse to Be Like Them. 

“Watch and Pray, lest you fall into temptation.” I know that this is out of context, but the principle can be applied here.

People who hold grudges are on self-destroy mode and they don’t know it. Perhaps they’ve never been forgiven themselves, or have never learned to forgive others. The result is a heavy, guilty, unhappy conscience.

As Christian women, we don’t have options when it comes to forgiveness. The commands are clear: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” End of command. No caveats or exclusions.

When you remember how much you’ve been forgiven by God, you’ll be able to forgive others of their wrongdoing toward you.

We should never take it upon ourselves to dole out punishments for other people. That’s not our job. That’s God’s territory. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”

Our job is to have faith and trust Him to do what He says He will do. He’s not a liar. He’s powerful enough to take care of us and promises to do so. He will avenge wrongdoing. Maybe not on your timetable, but at exactly the right time.

5. Pray for them. 

We all need prayer and praying for someone who “persecutes you” or “despitefully uses you” is a command of God and one that we cannot omit. If you want to obey God, you’ll love your enemies and pray for them. You can’t hate someone you are sincerely praying for.

6. When appropriate, model normal, kind behavior.

First off, when is this not appropriate? When physical, emotional, or sexual abuse is present or probable. It’s not your job to deal with that person.

But barring extreme cases, kindness is always classy. Be kind. Be above reproach with your words. Let your actions reflect Christ.

7. Live your happy life, and smile. This, too, shall pass.

You are responsible to live your life and you only have one. Life wholly and fully.

These principles will actually stop you from choosing to internalize the actions of others, and from accepting the affects of their anger and bitterness into your life and mind.

It will allow you to see past their hurt and actually love them and perhaps minister to them. At the very least, you’ll not be giving them the same tit for tat treatment that the rest of the world gives them back. Maybe something about the love of God in you will make them want to know more about Him? Maybe kindness will break the bone? ;) Prov. 25: 15

We’ve all dealt with this before in one way or another and I feel for all of you who are dealing with this right now! I know how hard it is to trust that God will bring about good through this situation!  I’m praying for you!

I know this list is not complete. What ways have you found to deal with toxic people in your life?

 

*The Bible calls this HATE and MURDER in the NT, and NO Christian should ever be acting in this way. It is a sin to hate even one person. It’s also a sin to not love someone as you should, according to 1 Cor. 11. Now, our love is rarely as “Christ loved” or as “fervent” as it should be, but to succumb to hate or to choose to withhold love from someone is just plain devilish.
**Sometimes in ministry we have to deal with/counsel toxic people. Know your limits. You can’t help them if you begin playing their games. Objectivity/wisdom is needed to see through their behavior. Sometimes you can become the target. If so, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to affect any change in them. Refer them to someone who can help them, or a licensed counselor.

Hey, What Are You Looking At?

It’s that time of year.

We began our homeschool year this week and as I evaluate where each child is, the old tendency to compare surprises my heart yet again. Comparison is always a cruel tormentor:

Maybe we should have done that curriculum all along. Why is she struggling with these math facts? Did I use the wrong method? Did I not spend enough time with this child laying foundations? 

Panic creeps in as we compare our “right now” to some dreamed up version of what life must be like in the Joneses house.

The snare of compare. (pdf here)

Sometimes I wonder if the Lord feels like calling to me, HEY, What are you looking at?! Get your eyes back on Me!

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Where He Leads me, I will follow.

Do you ever feel this way? Maybe you don’t homeschool, but do you wonder if you should perhaps be feeding your kids all organic food, or decorating your home like so and so, or maybe you should try the child raising techniques that the Joneses seem so enthusiastic about?

It’s easier to follow other people’s methods than to follow the Lord.

It’s easier to take our cues from flesh and blood, from what can be seen and measured, from the confident homeschooling mom who seems to know just what she’s doing, than it is to walk by faith.

There are no glaring advertisements when you walk by faith. No printed confirmation tickets to where this ride is going to take you. No money back guarantees if you didn’t enjoy the ride.

But the just shall live by faith. Even in matters of child raising and education.

When we look to Him and set our gaze on His Word, peace ensues.

The comparison ceases as we step-step-step gently in the path He’s provided for us.

The glorious truth is that Jesus will lead us if we are willing to follow.

And although it’s fine to ask for help and wisdom from seasoned women who have had great results, we have the promise of generously, “liberally” given wisdom, to anyone who asks in faith.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

I know from experience that it’s easier to hop on Google than it is to sit and pray.

I know it’s easier to talk to a friend than to pray.

It’s easier to try to do more and be more in the pursuit of excellence, but what God wants is your faith, and with that faith, He’ll perform for you. Do you believe this? Do you believe that God can take your humble efforts offered up in faith and multiply them and make them powerful for His kingdom?

When our eyes are gazing on Jesus, we can be confident that He’ll guide us through prayer and His Word.

I will let you in on a little secret: Jesus can answer your child raising questions. I can testify to this many times over. I can remember needing practical life wisdom for several issues with our kids. I would pray and ask the Lord to make His will clear and let us know how to deal with this child. I remember kneeling by the side of my sleeping stubborn toddler’s bed. I was to the point of a near break down after a particularly bad day, and I begged God to send me answers. I can tell you that He always did either through a book, or wisdom from an older woman. And once I prayed about it and left it with the Lord, I was in “wait and see” mode. I was expecting answers, and He never disappointed. We have an open ended invitation to ask God for wisdom any time we lack it. It’s one of our BEST resources. God loves your kids more than you do, after all!

My encouragement for you is to follow God on the path He has prepared for you. Keep your eyes on Him. Your life, home, ministry, and family dynamics may look totally different than mine. God has made us all unique, and He’s leading us, by His grace, to the end He has planned for us. Our job is to trust Him, obey His word, live a life of holiness and FOLLOW.

Don’t try to make your path match the Joneses. Follow Jesus.

 

 

Favorite Weekend Links

I hope you have a great weekend. Here’s a newsy post for you. Grab some coffee and enjoy!

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News:

Rebekah is already back at school and Emily is headed there tomorrow. Pray for them, won’t you? We’re hoping that any health problems that Em had her freshman year will be no longer an issue now that she is an appendix-free girlie, as of this summer. :) Pray for Rebekah to be a servant-leader on her hall in her role as RA.

Also, I’m excited to tell you about a great opportunity the Lord has given me. I’ve been asked to be a contributing author to an online resource/counseling website for hurting women. It’s launching this October and honestly, this team of writers is out of my league. Two words: Karen Ehman. Yes, she’s one of my favorite authors (hospitality ninja) and she’s also a contributing author. Also, when you read all of these women’s bio’s and then you see mine, you’ll laugh. ;) But, I’m honored to be part of such an amazing team! I’ve learned so much in the past two months from all of them, working behind the scenes, getting this project together.

Just because an opportunity presents itself, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s from God. So, I’m following God’s lead (and seeking Peter’s advice and the advice of godly friends!) as He hands me ministry opportunities in the areas of writing and speaking lately. I’ve always wanted to write books, because I’m so thankful for the part that “book mentors” played in my spiritual growth. I hope to share what I’ve learned about life– motherhood, hospitality, ministry, mentoring—and be a help to some other struggling woman. I’ve never wanted to speak to women, because, my comfort zone is speaking to teen girls or teaching younger children, but the Lord keeps nudging me and giving me opportunities to speak for Him. A godly woman schooled me: “Satan’s women are out there spreading his message! How can the Lord’s women not speak for Him?”

I feel the Lord is preparing me for that “someday” ministry right now. He’s swinging doors wide open, and I wish I could say that I strut through them with confidence, but my reality is that I peek through the crack of the door onto the other side pretty timidly, and fearfully, not really sure if I’m ready to take that next step and walk through. Pray for me as I write, that the words of my mouth (keyboard) will spoken in love and will point people to Christ.

Articles I loved:

4 Ways to Live Out Your Role as Helper: Jen Thorn

The Truth About Grace For Today: Ruth Simons

How To Have Joy: Christine Hoover

Why It’s So Critical We Connect With Friends: Lisa Jacobson

If Your Child Is Looking At P*rn, Give Them Grace: Jessica Thompson (Elyse Fitzpatrick’s daughter)

Talking With Your Children About Persecution: Kara Chupp

Ferguson and My White Son: Trillia Newbell

Currently Reading:

Women of the Word (Advance Reader Edition): How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds
The Holiness of God
Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

 

Kindle Deals:

Women Living Well: Find Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Your Home is $.99 today.

Funny:

You know it’s true! ;) lol

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  Crafty:

 Easy Fall Watercolor Tutorial for kids. 

DIY Pearl Statement Necklace via Gracelaced. Ruth has an amazing sense of style and this necklace is gorgeous!

Yummy:

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

Copycat Vanilla Chai Recipe (Just like Dunkin Donuts)  I’ve eliminated a step to make it super easy. This is a great mix to make for your college students! My girls love it!

Great Quote:

It makes me boil when I think of the power we profess and the utter impotency of our action. Believers who know one-tenth as much as we do are doing one-hundred times more for God, with His blessing and our criticism. Oh if I could write it, preach it, say it, paint it, anything at all, if only God’s power would become known among us.”  Jim Elliot

*post contains Amazon affiliate links at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting this blog.

Easy, Fall Watercolor For Kids

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Here’s an easy fall watercolor you can do with your younger kids. This was done by Holly when she was 11. This can be done with cheap Prang or Crayola watercolor boxes.
1. Gather a variety of leaves outside.
2. Bring them in and trace them onto watercolor paper, marking veins and stems.
3. Begin with yellow. Paint washes of yellow. Allow to dry.
4. Next, overlay orange and watery red. (The more water you use, the less intense the color. Let kids play with this concept to get a variety of tones.) Let dry.
5. Add greens. Make greens by mixing blues and yellows. Let dry.
6. Make the leaves “pop” by adding dark purples or browns to the background. This pushes the lighter colors to the front and adds visual interest. Allow to dry.
7. Frame.

Enjoy!
*You can do this on a smaller scale, making stationary by using watercolor greeting cards, available at any craft shop.
** for older kids, add acorns, berries, twigs to the mix.

Holiness for the Church That Is Too Ridiculous

Are you frustrated by the pursuit of holiness? Does it seem like an impossible task? You’re not alone.

Pretend with me that you are seated in a church sanctuary. Now, look around the room at the people nearby. What kind of people do you see?*

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In my imaginary church, I see

  • A frazzled mom impatiently SHUSHING her kids in the sanctuary.
  • A moody husband who rolled his eyes and belittled his wife yet again with sarcasm.
  • An energy-drained single mom trying to make ends meet on her own because her husband is a good for nothing.
  • A married couple who live side by side in cool indifference.
  • A heartbroken woman who dulls the pain of her husband’s unfaithfulness by excessive spending and endless Botox.
  • A guy whose pornography addiction has devastated his wife, leaving her fighting depression and overbearing guilt.
  • A ministry couple who came to church fighting and will continue the argument after the morning worship service.
  • The bitter woman who proudly carries a chip on her shoulder like it’s a victim badge.

On any typical Sunday, in any given church, you’ll find pews full of sinners. (If you find a church that’s perfect, let me know!)

We’re all ridiculous in our own ways. And still the command rings in our ears:  “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” I almost want to snicker, Are you kidding me? Holiness seems about as likely as lassoing the moon.

But the command remains. What’s a raggle-taggle church full of ridiculous sinners supposed to do with this command?

Be Holy. Set apart. Consecrated unto God. Single-minded. Obedient.

First, humble ourselves. Stop thinking we can do this alone.

Then, draw near to God and claim, yet again, His enabling grace.

Grace motivates us to keep on going. Kinda like when you taught your kid to ride a bike, and they tipped, and fell, and failed. You kept cheering them on, and holding the back of the bike for them, running alongside, never leaving them for a minute, telling them that they could do this thing. You encouraged them toward a goal, but their lack of fear and confidence in your good will toward them motivated them to try, try again, keep peddling, keep getting up, even when they are unbalanced, wobbly, scared and have never done it right before.

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It’s the same with Grace. If we feared getting the proverbial ax every time we mess up, we wouldn’t even try. But grace leads us, nurtures us, teaches us in love and keeps encouraging us in the right direction. The same grace that saved us keeps us and teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live sensibly, upright, and godly lives in this present life. (see Titus 2:11,12)

God’s grace does not stop when you’ve failed. It pulls you back, spurns you onward and helps you to see big picture. Many people tell you that when you fail, you should look upward. Of course they mean that you should look upward to God and from your circumstances, and I know what they mean.

But I believe that God’s grace teaches you to look downward. God’s grace teaches us to see things with an eternal perspective. We start at heaven and look down, and all of the things we thought were so big actually pale in comparison to eternity and spiritual treasure.

If you have legalistic tendencies, grace alone may disturb you. So, lest you misunderstand, and think that I am encouraging recklessness and lawlessness, a caveat:  a focus on God’s grace that ends in disregard for God’s laws is not grace at all, but licentiousness.

“Legalism makes believers think that God accepts them on the basis of what they do. Licentiousness makes believers think that God does not care what they do. Both errors have terrible consequences. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Grace should not make obedience optional. When God removes good works as a condition for His acceptence he does not remove righteousness as a requirement for life. The standards of scripture glorify God and protect His people from harm.

Resting on God’s grace does not relieve us of our holy obligations; rather it should enable us to fulfill them.

Bryan Chapell, Holiness by Grace: Delighting in the Joy That Is Our Strength

Grace-living that relies on God to help us live in ways that please Him produces fruit that looks like Him.

  • Selfishness takes a back seat as you live for others and God’s glory.
  • True ministry to others can take place as your heart is purified and base motives removed.
  • Closeness to God occurs as pride falls away and humility is embraced.
  • Your love for others is seen more clearly as you truly learn to love and obey the Lord.
  • Your reasonableness is known to all men.
  • You fulfill your call to be “holy and blameless BEFORE HIM.” Eph. 1:4

Martin Luther, the once Catholic priest turned reformer, when he realized that good works and law keeping could not save you, but faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone, encouraged us to drop what we once considered our spiritual “trophies.” These words should encourage you to stop attempting holiness for the wrong reasons. God does not owe us anything because of our feeble attempts at holiness. He loves us and desires us to be holy and spurns us onward with His power.

Martin Luther, from The Sum of the Christian Life:

It will be exceedingly difficult to get into another habit of thinking in which we clearly separate faith and [Works of] love … even though we are now in faith… the heart is always ready to boast of itself before God and say:  After all, I have preached so long and lived so well and done so much, surely he will take this into account… But it cannot be done. 

With men you may boast:  I have done the best I could toward everyone, and if anything is lacking I will still try to make recompense.  But when you come before God, leave all that boasting at home and remember to appeal from justice to grace.

Let anybody try this and he will see and experience how exceedingly hard and bitter a thing it is for a man, who all his life has been mired in his work righteousness, to pull himself out of it and with all his heart rise up through faith in this one Mediator.  I myself have now been preaching and cultivating it through reading and writing for almost twenty years and still I feel the old clinging dirt of wanting to deal so with God that I may contribute something, so that he will have to give me his grace in exchange for my holiness.  And still I cannot get it into my head that I should surrender myself completely to sheer grace;  yet this is what I should and must do.  The mercy seat alone must prevail and remain, because he himself has established it;  otherwise no man can come before God. 

Are you depending on God’s grace today to give you the power to change, or are you running on empty/exhausted from trying to live the try-hard life for yet another day? You can’t do this on your own. You need enabling power. Plan to sit with the Lord today and ask Him to open your eyes to your need and His all sufficient resource, GRACE.

*This exercise, adapted and personalized from Bryan Chapell’s Holiness By Grace.

How to Be Holy When You Wake Up Grumpy

How are you supposed to be holy when you wake up grumpy?

We know what holiness is not, and what it looks like, but how do we get there?

If I had to describe myself when I wake up in the morning, holy is not the first word that pops into my mind. Tired, yes. Holy, no.

Some mornings I wake up grumpy. I don’t want to face the day. I wake up overwhelmed.

So, what now?

KGcbEHoSLmcHyhqA2nfl_76591_667052060003591_1045050051_nHoliness is not about being perfect. Jesus was the only person to walk this earth in a sinless manner. He was perfect for us!

So, holiness is not a matter of attaining perfection, but of mimicking. We want to follow Christ’s example, because we want to be like Him. And, holiness is not about feelings, but about direction. We are purposefully choosing to walk as He commands. Obedience. Choosing the right path.

Here’s what that looks like in real life:

You wake up exhausted. Instantly, thoughts flood into your mind: problems, worries, what-ifs.

You breathe a prayer for help: “Lord, this day, all of it is yours. You are ruler of my life. Help me to follow You.”

You have two choices: you can feed on the negative thoughts, or you can choose to feed on what’s true, honest, just, pure, lovely. You can choose to praise God with your heart, soul, and mind.

Holiness is about making excellent choices.

The phone rings and you’re greeted with that problem person (Love your Nellie Olsen!) and her stinky remark. You have another choice. You can use this person’s sin as an excuse to sin yourself and retaliate in kind, or you can choose a higher road. You decide to overlook the lousy attitude and treat this hurting person with care and kindness.

The kids wake up and didn’t seem to get the “holiness” memo either. They’re bickering and grumpy, and general selfishness seems to reign supreme. You could react in kind, with snarky remarks, put-downs, or threats, or you could see things with eternal perspective, encouraging them to follow you while you follow Christ and His commands, helping them see where they’ve fallen short of God’s code of ethics for loving others well.

The list of scenarios could go on and on, but you get the picture. Holiness is about obedience and not necessarily about feelings.

Some quick tips for pursuing holiness:

1. Take time to be holy. It’s a song, I know, but the truths are spot-on. The more time you spend communing with God through prayer and Bible reading, the more transformed your mind will become in your desire to pursue holiness. Cut out needless distractions to make time for the Lord. Then, go out and serve people in a way that points all the glory back to Him.

2. Don’t make excuses for your sin. Call it what it is and agree with God. Make it right with the person you’ve offended. If you don’t own up to your own sin, you won’t put it off or make progress in holiness. (Confess, find forgiveness, move upward.)

3. Listen to your heart. And I don’t mean in the sense that you’re following it. Listen to what you say to yourself when you are alone with your thoughts. Where does the needle of your internal compass land, when you have a free moment? If it’s on problems, then you’ve got to recalibrate. If it’s on bitter or unloving thoughts, you’ve got some forgiveness to do. If it’s on worry, take time to get to know your God. (You can only trust God to the extent that you know Him! The more you know His character, the greater your ability to trust Him!) Self-assess what’s going on in your own spiritual life.

4. Just do the next right thing. The flesh is not your friend, so whatever feels natural in the heat of the moment, don’t do it. Don’t tell that person off or give her a piece of your mind. Don’t give the cold shoulder and pretend they’re dead. Don’t yell at your kids. Don’t manipulate behind the scenes. Don’t gossip or slander. All of those sins feel good for a minute, but that’s it. They’re killing your spiritual life, your testimony, and your quest for holiness. It’s not worth it. Count the cost, and do the RIGHT thing. Take the higher road. When everyone around you is “seeking their own,” you love others enough to transfer that care that you once had for yourself to them. That’s God’s way. That’s what He did for you. Loved you when you were unlovely. We’re trying to be like Him.

5. Spend time with those who are pursuing holiness. You become like those you spend time with! Choose carefully. Look for women who are trying to respect God’s word. Spend your “free” time with women who are confident in their identity in Christ, who give and receive encouragement, who are transparent about what they are learning and how they are growing, who will challenge you to be a better person and who talk about others in a positive way, when they are not around. (Of course, there are several types of friends, and we all spend time with a variety of people, but when you have a choice, choose the person who’s walking the same direction as you are!)

What about you? What are you doing to pursue holiness? What would you add to this list?

What is Holiness? {Some Friends Weigh In}

I’m following the restoration of the beautiful Chataeu de Gudanes, a 94 room 1700′s chateau {read: mansion, hello!} in southern France that has seen better days.

An Australian couple bought the place and are restoring it to its former glory. Not only are the pictures breathtaking, but the process of finding bits of hidden carvings here and original artwork there is fascinating! {I get excited when other people are excited about happy happenings in their lives!}

This Chateau is stunning, but each day of restoration makes it more amazing and returns it to the image that the original builder had in mind years ago.

It’s the same with holiness.

We were created in God’s image, but after the Fall, sin left us in disrepair. When we are saved, God begins the restoration process. He gives us new life (think DNA) in Christ, which enables us to be like Him.

God’s desire is that we would be restored to the image of His son. He’s not going to leave us in shambles. He’s got better plans for us, if we’ll cooperate.

The process of restoration includes painful things: chiseling away, sanding off, getting rid of rot and dead wood, polishing, painting, tearing down, building up. But the final product looks beautiful.

How do we keep that restoration/sanctification process headed in the right direction?

“Be ye holy, for I am holy.” This is a right now, present tense calling. And it also includes a continuing into the future tense. Keep on being holy.

My life, lived out in a holy way, is the most beautiful Christian life I can live, whether we have misconceptions about it or not.

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I asked some of my iron-sharpening-iron friends {some pastor’s wives, some ministry wives} to explain holiness. They’re a great group of women (serious about doing the right thing before God and others!) and I really respect their insight so I wanted to share some of their thoughts.

This is a longer-ish post, so grab some coffee and come back and read what they have to say!

What is holiness?

“I would say that I look at holiness as a progressive and continuing work that God does in us and is not complete until we are in Heaven. We are “holy” before God because of Christ…but our life is pursuing holiness continually.

The one infallible test of our holiness will be our humility before God and others. Humility is the bloom and beauty of holiness.” In contrast: “The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is lack of humility”.

My biblical understanding: Separate from worldly views in living and in thinking and in lifestyle.”

“I think a holy person is someone who knows God and takes time pursuing Him. The closer they draw to God the more they reflect His holiness. I know my life reflects what I spend time doing…easy to be consumed with living up to others expectations when i keep Facebook, pinterest, tv…in front of my face. But if my mind is meditating on who my God is throughout the day and putting into it God’s Word, my life will reflect his holiness more. This is how I think holy people can be truly beautiful. I guess the sense of holiness that is ugly is a life of self imposed holiness…trying to be like God through your own strength.”

Holiness in the Bible is to be set apart and sacred. I think holiness is showed by a person who has great self-control because they don’t fly off the handle and sin at every turn of event.

Holiness is not how many standards you have but how you keep yourself “unspotted from the world”. I know plenty of people who are not anywhere close to holiness but have enough standards to make the Pharisees think it’s ridiculous! (Okay, maybe not that bad! :P)

Holiness is dependence on God because you know how wicked and sinful you are. Holiness happens when you keep the 1st and 2nd greatest commandments. Holiness happens when you keep short accounts of your sins with God. Holiness happens when you don’t have a fear of man but when you trust God. 

God wants our worship (what we revere, adore, honor, pay homage to) to be something different, set apart. God wants how we worship to be something set apart. 

God wants us to be sober-minded and set-apart. We aren’t to be like the world and its philosophies. We were ignorant of what we were. We were blind and lost. BUT now we KNOW and we desire to be like Christ…HOLY. So in every aspect of our lives, we are to be set-apart. Many times we like to compartmentalize. “This is the church part of my life, and this is the rest of my life.” We can’t  put on “Christianity” on Sundays and then live however we want for the rest of the week. All of life is worship. What we think, what we do, what we say is all revealing what we worship. So how we do all of those things needs to be holy…set-apart.

For me holiness first makes me think of being and doing what is right. Holiness also stirs up thoughts of not following after what is wrong but seeking to be above mediocre living. For me, my understanding of holiness is living a life that is always striving for what is good and pure and can often come across as self righteous (holier than thou) whether it’s meant to seem that way or not.

A holy person is one who is living out Philippians 4:4-9. Quiet confidence, pure mind, vibrant prayer life…a person who is very much in the world, but not affected by it because of close fellowship with Christ. I personally love Berg’s example of sin to a holy God being like vomit to us as moms. I don’t want to be in the same room with it, I hate even the smell of it, I clean it up thoroughly and immediately even though it’s usually the middle of the night. That example breaks down a bit since kids don’t choose to throw up, but as far as understanding how much God abhors sin, it resonated with me.

I believe the BEAUTY of holiness comes when a woman apprehends that she is separating herself TO GOD/unto good works more than FROM others who have chosen sin. Isaiah 1 – 5 is pretty harsh and judgemental. We can sense his frustration with the carnal Israelites of his day. But then Isaiah 6 happens, he sees God, sees his own sinfulness, and the whole tone of the book changes. The unto/from paradigm is beautifully illustrated by a bride. She is focused on one man, and all the others fade to the background. Dozens of New Testament verses refer to the same principle. There is a separation, but it’s towards God/ Jesus Christ, not a contest to see who can be the most separated from the world.

As a parent, I want to teach my children that God calls us to be holy and we should be striving to live a holy, different, set apart life. I want them to know Scripture and apply it to their lives. As they make choices……..what does the Bible have to say about that? How can I best please the Lord in this choice or situation?

 

When I think of a holy person, I think of someone who is trying to please the Lord in every area of life. Someone who is in the Word, someone who is striving to be like Christ. And, considering the circles I have been in, I do tend to think of someone on the more conservative side. We have various friends who are such a blessing to be around because it seems like every time you are with them, and even have just a small conversation, you end up encouraged in the Lord. Scripture just comes out of their mouths….it is normal, it is just “flowing out” because of their time in the Word and meditating on it. So I am thinking of some specific friends who I would consider holy because they are so focused on the Lord, and it just “comes out” all the time in their conversation and daily living.

I think a holy woman is one who is in constant communion with God. We must have a clean conscience before God or that conduit of communion is broken. Holiness is hindered when we have unconfessed sin in our life. Holiness is not a one-upmanship game “standards-wise”, because it focuses on God and not on competing with other people. We’ve all known people who are really obnoxious/outspoken in their displays of “holiness.” Self-focus instead of God focus is pride. So is showmanship in the church. In some circles, Christians love to use holiness for self-promotion (we’re so separated, my kids would never do that, we don’t wear THAT!) (Pride-in-disguise!!) That should make people RUN! :P) Humility and the mind of Christ and inner peace are the outcomes of a truly holy life and mind.

Don’t I have insightful friends!? :) I hope you were blessed by their wisdom as much as I was!

Feeling defeated?

Remember, Holiness is not something you do entirely on your own. It’s not you pulling the whole load and trying really hard. It’s not you doing your best and calling on the Lord when you find yourself in a “jam.”

The Christian life is lives by a series of choices, but the key words here are ENABLED. We are enabled to live as we should. Yes, we make choices. Yes, we choose  holiness or disobedience, but we never go this thing alone. Isn’t it great that as Christian women, we’re never on our own?

We have enabling power through the Holy Spirit to live consecrated (not sinless!) lives!

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

 

 

The Discussion We Need to Have

Reports estimate that that American women spend a staggering $426 billion a year on beauty products. We place a high value on beauty.

We want beautiful homes, beautiful weddings, beautiful getaways to exotic places. Beauty is a good thing, in our eyes. But do we want beautiful holiness?

The Bible describes holiness as a beautiful thing. “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

This got me thinking, “Why don’t we value holiness like we should?””Why don’t we think of holiness as beautiful?”  I asked several teen girls and a few of my friends their thoughts on this matter, which I’ll share in the next few days.

But for now, the first, question: “What’s the first thing you think of when you think of a holy person? The good, the bad, the ugly?”

Some of the answers:

A person who:

  • tries not to sin
  • is reserved, serious,
  • is a monk, priest, nun,
  • is judgmental, outspoken about how people should live,
  • always looks down on everyone else,
  • knows God and tries to pursue Him,
  • always assumes that everyone else is less spiritual or too liberal.

Obviously, from these answers, we’ve got some confusion about what holiness is.

You’d think holiness looked like this:

Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_Project

 

Yet the Bible describes it as beautiful and expected. In fact, we only know what holiness looks like because of Christ. He was the epitome of all that is lovely, and kind, and humble. So why do we have such distorted views of this? And further, how do we follow the command to “Be ye holy, for I am holy,” if we don’t know what it is, or associate it with so many negative and untrue connotations?

I think we need a discussion on this, which is exactly what I plan to do this week.

What are your thoughts? Do you think of holiness as a desirable, beautiful trait for a Christian woman?

Chime in.