Rejoice in His Blessings this Year. Join Me in #Blessings366

At my most recent MOPs meeting, I was talking to some of my fellow moms and telling them that I wanted a break from social media. Facebook becomes a time suck for me. I get so wrapped up in reading and liking posts that before I know it, I’ve spent an hour getting absolutely nothing accomplished.

So, I had decided that I wouldn’t be doing my “Blessing of the day” in 2016 so that I could keep myself off of Facebook.

One of the moms begged me to change my mind. She told me she had gone through some really hard times this past year, and my “Blessings of the day” posts were what helped encourage her to keep looking up. She told me I had no idea how much those daily pictures and posts had helped her, and she couldn’t imagine not having them to look forward to in 2016.

I told her I would pray about it, and the more I did, the more I knew I had to keep sharing. Not just for her, (though I do love knowing it was an encouragement to someone out there!), but because of the effect it had on me. I was able to look back through this past year and see all God brought us through… and there was a lot! God was so good, and even on the hard days, I was still able to find some kind of blessing during that day. It’s been a great way to remember to be grateful, even when times are tough.

#blessings_366

So, I will keep tradition alive, and I will share my blessings each day in 2016. Because it’s a leap year, I’ll have to change the hashtag, so this year, you can find the blessings at #blessings366 on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

I would love it if you would join me. Your photos don’t have to be anything fancy. Just find one blessing every day and share it using the hashtag #blessings366.

If you are committed to participating in #blessings366 this year, grab the button below and put it on your blog. It’ll help remind you to share your blessings with those around you.

#Blessings366
I am excited to see what the Lord does in 2016, and I’m hoping you’ll be a part of it. Let’s give all the glory to our Savior this year and watch the blessings roll in!

Time May Not Heal Wounds, but God Can

god heals wounds

I must tell you that this post won’t be like most of my posts here. But I can promise that it will be straight from my heart.

For several days, I have been following a conversation on Facebook that started with a check-in at Bethel Baptist Church and the words “So many memories.” Some of the comments on the post have made me sick to my stomach, and I have spent days thinking about my time at Bethel and Schaumburg Christian School.

The summer of 1989, my mom got transferred to the Chicagoland area, and we moved from NE Ohio to Buffalo Grove, IL. Being in a very religious family, the first thing my parents set out to do was find a good Independent Fundamental Baptist Church for us to attend. We tried several, but nothing felt right. Then, we visited Bethel. And that was it. My parents loved it, and the fact that it had a Christian School made it even better. It was quickly decided that we would become members and my brother and I would attend the school.

I started sixth grade in the fall of ’89. That year, and in the years to follow, I formed several friendships that I still hold onto and treasure today.

But SCS (Schaumburg Christian School) wasn’t an easy school. There were rules. LOTS of rules. Girls couldn’t wear pants. Not ever. And shorts were even worse. Skirts and culottes hem lines had to hit the middle of your knee, and they had to touch the floor when you knelt on the ground. A pinch above and your parents were called and they had to bring you a change of clothes or take you home for the day. Oh, how I hated that rule. And our basketball uniforms. Oh my heavens. They were ridiculous. Or what about the fact that when our youth group went to Six Flags, girls had to wear culottes on roller coasters that went upside down. How on earth was that modest?? In my mind, it was just stupid. We even had to wear skirts or culottes to sporting events. I remember, more than once, watching soccer games in 20* weather and freezing my hind end off. It was horrible. And the boys had just as many rules. Their hair had to be cut above their ears and kept off the collar of their shirt. I can’t remember their exact dress code, but I don’t remember seeing boys in jeans and/or tshirts very often. And they had to wear pants when the youth group went to Six Flags in 90* heat.

Rules were very strictly enforced at SCS. Spanking was allowed, and it happened often. Demerits and detention were given out like condoms at most public schools today. It didn’t matter if you were a boy or a girl, you were expected to follow their rules to the T.

My Junior year, I tested every boundary and ended up being expelled from SCS. My parents then sent me to a more liberal Christian school, so that I could continue receiving a Christian education. I was hurt and angry at everyone and everything. I survived my Senior year, graduated, and tossed away my parents’ dreams of my attending a Christian college and decided to stay home and attend a community college because I had met – and fallen for – a boy.

The November of my first semester of college, I got pregnant by that boy. Because I was part of such a strict Baptist family, and we still attended Bethel, I was terrified. I hid my pregnancy for almost 6 months. A week after my Dad was diagnosed with mesothelioma, I told my parents I was pregnant. I had no choice. I was starting to show. Things were about to get real.

My parents went to the pastor of the church, and I was told my name would be removed from the church membership, and I was no longer welcomed in the church. The thing that hurt me more than hearing all that was the fact that my parents stayed at the church. I became even more angry – with God, with my family, with the church, and with life.

My baby girl was born the following August, and my dad was getting sicker by the minute. The one thing he wanted more than anything was to attend church as a family before he died. So, he went to the elders of the church to ask for permission for me to come back to the church, at least until he passed away.

The day after their meeting with the pastor and deacons, I got a phone call from the head pastor. (Please note: This pastor is no longer associated with Bethel in any way.) In the phone call, the pastor asked me why I didn’t give my daughter up for adoption because “it would have made things easier for everyone.” I was horrified. I responded that it was my mistake, my consequence, and I was the one that had to deal with it. {Looking back now, I am sick over the fact that I ever called my daughter a mistake. God doesn’t allow mistakes to happen.} The pastor then went on to tell me that I was allowed to attend the church, but only with my parents, and I was to realize that I was only being allowed back in because my father was such a good member and he was knocking on death’s door. IF I wanted my name back on the church role, I needed to stand up in front of the entire congregation, go into detail of my sin, and apologize to all of them. We said a few parting words, and I hung up the phone angrier than I had ever been in my life. Who was he to tell me I needed to confess my sin to the entire church? My sin was between me and God. It was no one else’s business. And if I had confessed my sin TO God, that meant it was forgiven and cast “as far as the East is from the West.” At least that’s what I thought I had been taught all those years….

I went back to Bethel, and stayed the 10 months until my Daddy passed away. Then, I left  the church and started trying other churches. After many different churches, I finally settled on a very small Bible church. A few years later, I moved back to Ohio where I eventually met the man who would become my husband.

Fast forward to 2008. I had been married for 5 years and was pregnant with my 5th child. We had moved to the North Georgia Mountains in September of 2007 and had been attending a small Independent Fundamental Baptist church since our first Sunday there. It’s a small country church where women don’t wear pants to services, and certain aspects of the church make Bethel look liberal.

For months, I had been under conviction about my salvation. I would get sick every time I would walk into the church because I KNEW something wasn’t right. One Sunday night, I couldn’t take it any more. I went forward and accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. For REAL.

And then everything changed. The bitterness and hatred toward Bethel and SCS melted away. And as I look back now, I WISH I had the opportunity to send my children to that school. The education, the friendships, and the Biblical foundation I was placed on was something I wouldn’t trade for anything. No, SCS was not perfect. And neither was Bethel. A lot of mistakes were made by administration AND students. {Myself above all others.} There was a lot of hurt. But to look back now, I only want to recall the wonderful memories that I have. Memories of being the absolute worst girls basketball team EVER. But sharing more laughs through those 5 seasons than I could even begin to count. Memories of wonderful friendships that I could never replace. Memories of being “forced” to memorize Scripture… which to this day, I can still recall to mind and quote when I need them. I thank GOD for the ability to do just that.

I want to look back at my time at Bethel and SCS with an open heart and be thankful for what I learned while I was there. I don’t want to look back at the bad things that happened and the mistakes that were made.

I still keep in touch with many friends from SCS and Bethel on Facebook, and I smile every time I see a post about what’s going on at the school. I’m quite impressed at how fantastic their girls basketball team has become – and how much better their uniforms are. They’re still the dreaded orange, but they are normal looking uniforms. 🙂 I’ve even seen pictures of girls in pants both in the school and at sporting events. There are good changes being made at both Bethel and SCS, yet, not once, have I ever seen the school change their convictions of the teaching of the gospel. And I’m still proud to say I was a part of it…. once upon a time.

But that’s why the post on Facebook has me so upset. People are tearing the school and the church apart because they can’t get past hurt feelings. Some have admitted to openly being involved in SIN, and yet the church is wrong for calling it sin. I’m sorry, but the Bible is very clear on homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), lying, and “he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16 – 19)

To the ones that can’t let go of the hurt, I hope that one day, you can truly give it all over to the Lord and let Him take care of it. And to the ones that feel the need to stir up strife and refuse to let the conversation drop, shame on you. I pray that you will realize you are giving Satan more power than he should EVER have, and you are fighting his war. Just know that in the end, the victory will be the Lord’s. And if you are not saved, and if you haven’t given your life to Christ, I pray with all my might that you find Him, RUN to Him, and let HIM transform you into the man or woman HE desires.

My heart is heavy tonight, but I will still choose joy, and I will still rejoice for the changes God has made in my life. I am so blessed.

Thank you for letting me get this off my chest.

Living Modestly in an Immodest World

Living Modestly in an Immodest World

I was walking through the local grocery store the other day, and my jaw dropped to the floor. The woman in front of me in line at the deli counter seemed to be visiting from a local nudist colony, because, honey, she sure didn’t have any clothes on. Well, let me rephrase that: She had clothes on, but they certainly weren’t covering anything at all.

It was at that moment I was thankful I had left the kids at home while I ran to the grocery store. I did not want to have to explain to my 4 year old why you could see the woman’s bottom hanging out of her shorts. Nor did I want my 8 and 9 year old boys subjected to her very blatant form of living pornography. And in the next moment, I got angry. My husband works at a grocery store. I don’t want some woman dressed like that prancing around in front of my husband, no matter how close to God he is.

Anyone who is a frequent visitor of this blog knows that I believe in modesty. I believe we are commanded to keep ourselves covered and that our bodies are meant only for the eyes of our husbands only. ONLY. (And, yes, this even includes when breastfeeding in public, though the world is very angry that I said my peace about that issue. It also includes going to the beach, lounging by the pool, going to the grocery store, and most importantly: any time you enter the House of God {aka your local church}.)

Over the past few months, the Lord keeps bringing the issue of modesty to the forefront of my mind. I’ve sort of pushed it aside, because, frankly, it’s a very touchy subject in today’s world. My last post on modesty didn’t go so well, and I’ve been hesitant to talk about the subject again.

But, then I remember 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I shouldn’t fear what others have to say if I am simply following Christ.

So, here goes…

Why is Modesty Important?

We all know that men and women think differently. God made us that way on purpose. Men are visual creatures. Most women are not turned on by the sight of a scantily clad man, however, a man is easily turned on at a glance of a woman in a bikini. That’s why there are so many magazines and websites that cater to men, and only a handful of them for women. (Although I will say that I’ve noticed a major change in this over the years. There are now more movies and books that are catering to women and getting them to think impure thoughts and lusting after men. It makes me sad, sick, and angry all at the same time. The worst part is that women are falling into this trap that has so obviously been set by Satan himself.)

I will never understand the way a man’s mind works. Ever. And it’s ok, because that’s how God designed it. But after talking to my husband at length about this, I can start to understand that the way we dress can and most likely will affect the thoughts that go through a man’s mind.

Now, before you get angry and start typing the nastiest comment you can come up with, I am not putting all of the blame on women here. Yes, a man is responsible for his own thoughts. Yes, he should be so in love with Jesus that a completely naked supermodel could walk by him and he wouldn’t even bat an eye. Unfortunately, we (even men!), are all human, and we fall into sin daily.

What I am saying, though, is that we as women should not be a stumbling block for any man, especially through the clothes we are wearing.

(And let me just interject here – just because you are wearing a long skirt does *not* make you modest. Modesty comes with keeping all of your parts covered. You can wear pants and be modest. You can wear shorts and be modest. And you can wear a long skirt and a t-shirt and still be immodest. If your clothes are so tight that every curve is showing, or if your cleavage is hanging out of your top, you are not being modest.)

Also, have you ever really thought about the verse, Matthew 5:28? It clearly states, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Did you notice that the man has committed adultery with her? YOU are being brought into this – whether you want to be or not.

And, yes, I have heard time and time again that there are some men that can look at a woman that is completely covered and still lust after her. It is sad, but that is between those men and God. They will have to answer for that one day. But as women, we must be careful not to cause any man to stumble.

What does the Bible Say About Modesty?

Let’s look at several key passages about Modesty: First, 1 Samuel 16:7 states, “for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”  In today’s world, so much attention is placed on the outward appearance, yet that’s not at all what God is focusing on. He wants your heart to be fully surrendered to Him. Does this mean you have to go out and buy the frumpiest clothes you can find and not spend any time at all on your appearance? Absolutely not. But I truly believe that if our insides are beautiful and centered on Christ, that beauty will shine from within and bring a special glow to your countenance. You can still dress nicely and spend time on your appearance, but when worrying about what we look like on the outside becomes more important than how close we are to God on the inside, there’s a problem.

Secondly, we are flat-out told in the Bible that we should dress modestly: 1 Timothy 2:9 – “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;” As Christian women, our desire should not be to put our bodies on display, but instead, our outward appearance should reflect our Christian values. Basically, we shouldn’t put something on to say, “Look at me! Don’t I look good? Don’t you wish you looked like me?” In fact, they should say something that is just the opposite: “I have Jesus in my heart, and His love has transformed me from the inside out!” If you have truly experienced that change, there should no longer be that desire to draw the wrong kind of attention to your outward appearance.

Thirdly, we are to be in the world, but not of the world. People should be able to look at us and see an obvious difference.  (Romans 12:2 – And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.) When we ask Jesus into our heart, it should transform us. We should no longer desire the things we once desired. And we should want to please Jesus in all things – even in what we wear.

How Can I Live Modestly in Today’s World?

I am not saying that no woman should ever leave her house covered from head to toe. How each of us are convicted about modesty is between us and God. Personally, I have been convicted to wear skirts whenever I leave the house. (There are times when this does not apply, such as taking the kids to the lake, or if I know I will be doing something where a skirt is not the most modest option. – Obviously riding a roller coaster that goes upside down is not the best place to wear a skirt.) No matter what I am doing, though, I need to be modest while doing it.

There are many, many sites that are dedicated to modest clothing and even modest swimsuits. Here are links to a few of my favorites:

I know what you’re thinking: “Dressing modestly is expensive!” And, I know it seems that way. There are so many websites catering to dressing modestly, yet their prices are so outrageous that the average person can’t afford them. Believe me, I feel your pain.

This is where you have to get creative. Look in stores and places that you wouldn’t normally think of. Walmart often has cute maxi dresses and skirts. Maxi dresses are super cute when you throw a jean jacket or a coverup over them. I’ve also found super cute maxi skirts at Family Dollar for just $10 each. Cato is another favorite place to shop. Their prices are more than reasonable, and their items are usually quite modest.

If you have a top that you just love, but it comes down too low, throw a tank top or camisole underneath it. I’ve read several other websites that have said to buy a pack of men’s ribbed tank tops in a smaller size, and turn them around backwards. While I think that’s taking it a little far, I do often raid my husband’s t-shirt drawer and wear his tanks under my shirts (the right way – not backward). They’re comfortable, and provide complete coverage.

And, if you’re feeling really creative, make your own clothes! I have a pinterest board called “Modest is Hottest.” (Because, well, it is!) It’s got quite a few tutorials for super cute modest clothing choices.

Will it Be Easy to Live Modestly?

Absolutely not. John 15:19 says, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Did you catch that? If we live like we are supposed to live, the world will hate us. They will despise us. They will make fun of us. It will not be easy.

But, some day, when we cross into Heaven, it will be worth it all. To see our Savior face to face and to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Again, please remember – I am not placing all of the blame on women here, especially when it comes to what men think. But I do believe we should all strive to please Jesus, and one easy way women can do that is by what we put on.

You can be beautiful and be modest, and it will be worth it all in the end.

Day 2: 30 Days of Giving Thanks

Day 2: Today, I am giving thanks for my Bible.

30 Days of Giving ThanksMy Bible is my guidebook to life. It gives me answers when I have none, it helps me discern right from wrong, it comforts me when nothing else will. It tells me how to be a better wife, mother, friend, and companion. It encourages me, convicts me, and forces me to dig deeper. I would truly be lost without my Bible by my side. I have read it through several times, and yet every day, I discover something new.

And if you’re curious, I only use the KJV Bible. I don’t believe God’s word should be changed to say what we as humans want it to say, and I think the KJV is easy enough to understand. If there are verses I don’t understand, I may have to study it a little more, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. Another thing that bothers me about other versions is that verses have been omitted. Every word of God is important, and should remain in tact.

What are you thankful for today?

If you are participating in 30 Days of Giving Thanks, please leave your link below. I hope you’ll also grab a button from the sidebar and share it on your blog as well. I’d love to stop by and read your posts on Giving Thanks.

Day 1: 30 Days of Giving Thanks

Last year, during the month of November, I started the “30 Days of Giving Thanks.” It was such a success, and I had so many people come to me about the campaign, that I decided I needed to do it again this year. I will do my best not to repeat myself too much when it comes to what I am thankful for, but I can’t make any promises. 🙂

I hope you will join me in giving thanks this month by leaving a link below to your own thankfulness post.

Day 1: Today, I am giving thanks for my salvation.

30 Days of Giving ThanksI was born and raised in a Christian home. Christ was the center of my home, but, unfortunately, I never really “got it.” I lived a lie for many years, telling people exactly what I knew they wanted to hear, and I played the role of a good Christian girl at church, school, and around people that knew I was supposed to be a Christian. Yet I had never given my heart to Christ.

After I had kids, I continued to bring them up in church, because I knew it was what I was “supposed” to do. I even went so far as to dedicate each of my children to the Lord. Everyone (my husband included) just figured I was saved. After all, I acted like it.

In April of 2008, just a few months before I turned 30, and while I was pregnant with my 5th child, I came under real conviction. One Sunday night, I was sitting in the back of the auditorium, crying my eyes out, just wishing the preacher would start the invitation. I knew I needed to be saved.

That night, I accepted Christ as my Savior, and WOW! What a change it has made. My life is no longer lived in vain. I have a purpose, and am determined to be the wife, mother, and woman God wants me to be.

I am thankful that He never gave up on me, and that I can have the free gift of salvation. What a difference it has made in my life.

What are you thankful for today?

If you are participating in 30 Days of Giving Thanks, please leave your link below. I hope you’ll also grab a button from the sidebar and share it on your blog as well. I’d love to stop by and read your posts on Giving Thanks.