Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesday Truth - What Are Your Goals


“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”                      
-1 John 2: 15-17

We are to be IN the world, not OF the world. God has created us and placed inside of us hopes, dreams and goals. It’s exciting to have a plan in front of us. The world tells us to move forward, do what’s best for us and acquire our plans and goals for ourselves. All our goals and dreams should revolve around one thing: Jesus. Everything we do, achieve, desire, work for – should be for the greater good of God’s Kingdom! We can’t hide our intentions from God, he knows our hearts. In Proverbs 16: 1-3 it reads, “To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue. All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” In my study Bible it asks three questions about your plans/goals/dreams/desires: Is this plan in harmony with God’s truth? Will it work under real-life conditions? Is my attitude pleasing to God? These are all great things to keep in mind when pursuing the plans God has for you. Remember years ago when the Jabez prayer hit our Christian community? I often find myself going back to this prayer when faced with a new goal or plan. 1 Chronicles 4:10, “Jabez cried out to the God of Isreal, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.” Let’s break this prayer down. Oh that you would bless me – I often ask for God to bless me so that I can bless Him! And enlarge my territory – When I ask God to enlarge my territory I ask that He would expand the number of people that I can reach for Him. That He would open doors for me to do His work. Let your hand be with me – When I am doing God’s work, if He is not walking alongside me, then I am doing it all in vain. So I ask Him to guide me and direct my footsteps so that I stay in His will. And keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain. It is so easy to fall into the trap of sin. Satan doesn’t like it when we are working for God, so I always want to be on guard and ask that God would keep me safe from sinful attitudes, thoughts and actions. In your walk with the Lord, how are you being IN the world, but not OF the world? Are there any changes that you need to make? Talk to God about that right now.

Heavenly Father, as I immerse myself into the world, guide me as I make plans and goals for my life. In 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14, your word says, “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” Through you, help me to be all those things as I work at keeping in step with your will for my life. Amen.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Love Language Cards

When writing a romance novel, you have to put into account how others want to receive love and what makes them feel appreciated! The same goes for those in our lives. God made us all different - and we all give and receive love differently. The key is to know who needs what and when. I'm happy to share the idea that my friend Sara Hochstetler had on helping us along on figuring that out...

Love Language Cards and why I made themWhat is your love language? What acts speak to the heart of your spouse and children?  It gets overwhelming to remember what each child needs from me. Am I praising them enough? Hugging them enough? Am I making them feel like they are a priority to ME in the ways that matter to THEM? I felt frustrated by feeling as if I was not doing "enough" at the end of the day. So I made these cards for my boys so THEY could tell ME what they needed. Now it is up to them to communicate to mom and dad what they are feeling. All they have to do is put it on the fridge (where it will get my attention) and then I can love on them in the way they need it! Of course this works for Mom and Dad too. If you are not familiar with the 5 Love Languages-here they are:

Quality Time, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service and Receiving Gifts

You can take the test for your family here.

What I've come up with is a set of 6 magnetic cards on a ring (easily hung on a Command strip hook on the side of the fridge). One for each love language plus one for mom and dad. You can pick from the titles shown plus some others I have or come up with your own. Your family is unique-embrace that! Come up with as many cards as you want. Extra cards will be $1 each. Cost of 6 cards is $10 plus shipping (if necessary).
Contact me through my Facebook page where you can see all the example cards. Please know each card design will be different but you can pick out of 3 options for style. They are Girly, Boyish or Both. Or tell me what  style you would prefer per card if that works better for your family.
Here's a sneak peak at the cards!
Thanks for reading!
Sara Hochstetler



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Truth - When I Get in the Way


“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”                     
-1 John 2: 15-17

 
We are to be IN the world, not OF the world. Last week we talked about the people that surround us, our friends. Today, let’s talk about the one person that always seems to get in the way. Ourselves. We live in a very self-centered world. It’s all about: What can I do to make ME happy. To make ME succeed. What’s best for ME. What’s easy for ME. How can I obtain more wealth, prestige and power for ME. Notice a pattern here? Me. Me. Me. So if this is what the world tells us, what is God telling us? We can find it in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others!” Not quite the same is it. And not only do I have to work on this continually for myself, but I also have to press it upon my children in a way that shows them how much I love them while explaining that life is not always about them. My middle son, Brayden, gave me a good example of this when he was in Kindergarten. I went to the school to have lunch with him and stayed for recess afterwards. We had a great time playing and then the bell rang, announcing it was time for the kids to get in line to head back to class. Brayden jogged up to the line and right as he found his place in line, a kid ran up and pushed him out of line and said, “Haha, I beat you. I’m first.” Let me tell you, it about got ugly on that brisk April day on the playground. Mama bear stepped forward ready to grab that kid by the collar and let him know how I felt about the situation, but I stopped when Brayden just shrugged and said, “That’s okay. God says that the first will be last and the last will be first!” Bible burn. Not gonna lie. I loved it and my heart swelled with pride…and then I cringed over what my reaction was going to be. What a great reminder as we submerge ourselves into the world to put others before ourselves. I’ll be honest, I struggle in this area. I can be a very selfish person. And the one person I should be the most giving with, the one that I should always put first, I don’t: My better half - my husband. I can do it, but it takes effort and doesn’t always come easy for me. This is an area where I claim...I am not a perfect person, but I serve a perfect God, who’s not done with me yet!!! In your walk with the Lord, how are you being IN the world, but not OF the world? Are there any changes that you need to make? Talk to God about that right now.

Heavenly Father, as I immerse myself into the world, help me to keep my eyes on YOU, so they are not on ME. In 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14, your word says, “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” Through you, help me to be all those things as I put others before me. Amen.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Small Time Author Meets Big Time Author = Mind Blown

Today I had a pretty awesome experience. If you are a fan of Christian Romance novels, then you will appreciate what I am about to tell you. I had the privilege of meeting Denise Hunter this afternoon. (Enter squeal here!!) Just her and I on a little one-on-one talk at Starbucks as we chatted about life, kids and writing! What?!?
 
 
 
Long story short: I found out that Denise lives in Fort Wayne, and only being an hour away, I gathered some nerve and e-mailed her asking if she did any writing workshops or if maybe we could meet sometime. Ya know, "Please meet with me, a wanna-be-author that is a complete-stranger to you." I mean, who wouldn't jump at the chance? A lot of people wouldn't - but she did!! She so kindly offered to meet with me.
 
What an encouraging time of picking her brain, gleaning off her experience and wisdom, sharing our stories, and having some good laughs together! Sounds like a perfect afternoon to me. I came with a long list of questions that she graciously answered about: how she started, why she writes, how she markets her books, her relationship with her publisher, suggestions for how-to books that can help me improve my writing skills, her writing process, how she comes up with ideas, how I can get more involved in writing groups, etc. Great information for an author that has no idea what she is doing!!!
 
If you haven't read any of her books, I urge you to give them a try. Not only do I speak very highly of her as a person that is generous, kind and loves Jesus, but she is also a fantastic author. You can find Denise's books in local bookstores or here.
 
Sometime I'll stop smiling, right?!?
 
 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Truth - Choose Wisely...


“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”                     
-1 John 2: 15-17

We are to be IN the world, not OF the world. If you’re like me, you’ve heard this statement many times before, but what exactly does it mean for us believers? First of all, it’s easier said than done, isn’t it! When we believe in God, sin has no power over us. When we follow Christ, it changes our hearts and we should become less interested in the things of this world and have more desire to be like Jesus. Over the next couple weeks we are going to talk about how we can submerge ourselves into the world and yet hold our ground. Today let’s talk about the people that surround us. Why are we here on earth? We are here to serve God and lead others to him. Paul’s ministry tells us that we are to make ourselves a slave to everyone, to win as many unbelievers as possible. To find a common ground, to not have a self-righteous attitude, to make others feel accepted, be compassionate to their needs and problems, and to live a life that looks different than theirs. The trap here for many believers is when we make these people our core people. Now, please understand me. I’m not saying we can’t be friends with unbelievers. God encourages us to be! But the concern is inviting them into our inner circle. In 2 Corinthians 6: 14 it says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”  I think it even goes deeper than unbelievers. We need to remember that believing in God is way different than living a life that glorifies God and having a relationship with Him. Knowing that, we must choose our core people wisely. So let’s take a look at the people in your life. Who are you with your friends? Do you change who you are when hanging out with different groups of people?  Do you change your morals, values, language, television and movie tastes, etc.? God tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.” What do you do with the people closest to you in life? You share who you are and you seek advice and wisdom. Let’s look at a few verses that God explains to us the damage this can cause.

“A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20

“Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips.” Proverbs 14:7.

In your walk with the Lord, how are you being IN the world, but not OF the world? Are there any changes that you need to make? Talk to God about that right now.

Heavenly Father, as I immerse myself into the world, help me to keep a strong foundation. In 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14, your word says, “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” Through you, help me to be all those things with the people I surround myself with. Amen.

 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday Truth - The Road To Forgiveness


“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

                     Isaiah 43:25

Three years ago I lost my son, Brayden, at the grocery store. It was unfortunately the really bad kind where all shoppers heard this over the speakers: “Code Blue!  Code Blue! Attention all Wal-Mart Associates, we are in lockdown. We have a missing child. Boy, age 4, blond hair, red shirt, navy shorts.” Yep. I know. Mom of the year award right here!  I would have dressed up for the occasion had I known. In case you’re wondering, Brayden thought it would be fun to play hide and seek with me…but forgot the slight detail of telling me he was playing this game. And boy did he play well. We (as in myself and the surrounding employees AND managers – enter face palm here!) finally found him down an aisle tucked behind some boxes. Brayden, of course, has never let me forget it. To this day, when we drive into the parking lot, without fail, he says, “Hey mom, remember when you lost me here?”  This situation reminds me of our road to forgiveness, or more so, what it is not.  I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful that I serve a God that doesn’t hold my sins against me. That doesn’t continue to remind me of the times I’ve fallen short. That once I ask for forgiveness, that’s it. It’s forgiven…forgotten!  King David spoke of this truth in Psalm 51:7 after he committed adultery.  “Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”  Hyssop branches were used by the Israelites to place the blood of the lamb over their doors ways. This act saved them from death and secured their release from slavery. When we ask for forgiveness, it not only cleanses our hearts and repairs the separation we made with God, but it also releases us from the sin that keeps us in slavery. It makes us pure again, without blemish. Is there a sin that you are holding on to? Give it to God so He can break your chains and give you freedom!

Heavenly Father, bring to light the sin(s) that keep me captive, that keep me from drawing closer to you.  Thank you for sending your Son to come and save me from my sins, and that those sins are forever forgotten.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday Truth - What is Your Example?

“Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”
– Genesis 37: 3-4
 You know that person that gets under your skin. That rubs you raw. Makes your blood pressure spike and you wonder, “Am I going to have a stroke?”  Yep, that’s the one. Well, I have one. Two, sometimes. Alright, let’s just say three … ahem, moving on! There have been times I’ve wanted to revert back to Bible times and have uproar like Jesus did in the temple. I would have loved to throw a few tables myself. Clearly Jesus had the right, and with good reason…mine would have been just because I was ticked off or hurt. So instead of throwing tables, I threw a few frustrated words that oh so easily spilled out from my not so holy mouth. I held a grudge. I struggled to forgive.  We as parents have a great responsibility to model how we deal with these people in our lives. When we read about Jacob’s sons we see so much anger, resentment and jealousy. Hmmm, does that sound familiar? Isn’t that exactly what Jacob, Rachel and Leah went through? Instead of showing their children the righteous way to respond, they displayed the sinful one that led to sad and bitter consequences among all the children, and how that hatred grew so much they ended up selling Joseph into slavery. I had to stop and ask myself: What example are you giving your children? What words are they overhearing you say? Ouch. In 1 John 2: 10-11 it says, “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” Does this mean we are to like everyone? No. But it’s about our attitude. It’s how we handle these people and the situations that arise around them. My son handed me a piece of humble pie a couple years ago. Jarrett came home so upset because a boy in his class had been so mean to him. In fact, he cried for an hour that night in bed. The next week was his birthday party at school and I made cupcakes with each of the students’ names on them. In my dislike over this child that had hurt my son’s feelings, I put his name on the worst and smallest cupcake – yep! I was deliberately mean to a seven-year-old. Not my finest moment! At the party, they played a game and Jarrett could pick someone to come up front with him (huge honor to a 2nd grader to be picked).  You want to know who he picked? Yep, the kid that had been so mean to him. In my darkness of wanting to stick it to this kid and give him a crappy cupcake, it had blinded me to loving on this kid instead. Maybe he needed a word of encouragement or just a smile or maybe the biggest and best cupcake I made. We can never control how people will react, what people will say, what people will do – but we can always control the way we react, the words we say and what we do!! Do you have an opportunity to bring healing to a relationship? Forgiveness? Let God work through you so you are able to walk in the light and not be blinded by the darkness.
Heavenly Father, you know the people in my life that cause strife in my heart. As I go through training and disciplining my children, do the same for me through these individuals. Mold me to speak only kindness, work on my heart to forgive - even if it’s not asked for or deserved. Guide me to pray for these people and love on them through You and with your strength. Amen.