Friday, November 30, 2007

NOT very spirtual!

Ok, so you know the whole Christmas thing is coming. Right? I mean some people have had their houses decorated since before Thanksgiving.. which totally confuses my Caroline... so how can you miss it? Christmas music is on 100% of the time on some unmentioned radio stations and it has been since before Thanksgiving... which is already making me tired.

Poor Thanksgiving gets NO air time!

So while I AM looking forward to Christmas... especially the shopping... love me some shoppin'... but it's the whole competition of it all that I struggle with. Like the people down the street have their lights up outside and they are fully decorated and ready to go. I have a few wreaths up and some fun Christmas rugs down, but other than that we do not have our tree up nor do we have lights on the house yet.

Then there's Caroline wanting to know where OUR tree is and why OUR lights are not up! Well, I am trying here kid!!!!!! It just seems almost impossible to get it all done at the same time that others have theirs done. Oh my word the PRESSURE!

I fully believe that THIS is why the true meaning of Christmas gets lost. We (I) are so concerned with keeping up with the Jones' and the Smith's and the people down the street that we forget that this IS NOT A COMPETITION!!!!!!!! We do NOT have to have our house decorated the minute we put the leftovers in the refrigerator after our Thanksgiving meal! We do NOT have to have the perfect decor and the perfect lights on our houses.

Jesus had NONE of it and it was still His birthday!!

Don't get me wrong... I do love me some shoppin', but I also love me some decoratin'! It is fun for me to be creative and try new things. I love to have my house warmly decorated and I enjoy the process. It is just that I do not enjoy the comparing and the feeling of "I am not on top of things like they are " that we feel as we see different decorations appear.

It is okay friends. Decorate when you can. Do what you can to make your home a special place, but do not put pressure on yourself to have it done RIGHT THIS SECOND! We have lives to live, bills to pay and work to do. Our kids need us to help with homework and our houses need a cleanin' still! None of those are necessarily fun, but they are priorities. Jesus knows that we have responsibilities and He expects us to take care of them... first!

I don't know if you need it or not, but sometimes I need permission to not be the first one finished! I officially give you permission to take your time... enjoy... Merry Christmas!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

To Any Length!

Yesterday on our way home from school we got behind a school bus. We were about 5th in line and the bus was moving very slowly. We got to an area where two different neighborhoods branched off of the road that we were traveling and the bus stopped. A mom, who was parked on the edge of the road near the first neighborhood, went to the bus and retrieved a very small child and took him to her car.

The door closed and the bus continued driving very slowly. By this time several more cars had accumulated behind us. Suddenly, out of the second neighborhood this blue car came speeding past all of us... bus and all! She got in front of the school bus, stopped her car, got out of the car and ran back to the bus.

Her baby was on that bus!! Girlfriend did not care who's world was inconvenienced or which laws were broken... she was getting that baby off of that bus! She took him, his gigantic book bag and another bag and ran to her car. People began honking their horns and becoming very agitated. She did NOT care! She had her baby and she was not concerned about anyone or anything else!

When we love someone or something so much we will go to any length to make sure it is taken care of! We will stop traffic, we will break laws, we will cause others to be angry, we will take a stand! None of that matters when we are responsible for another human life.

This is EXACTLY what Jesus did. He came in a manger, and as a baby, made an insecure king very angry. He stopped the plans of many rulers in both the government and the church. According to the Pharisees, He broke laws (remember picking wheat on the Sabbath? What about healing on the Sabbath?).

Jesus did everything that He did because He is responsible for another human life. During his life on earth he did what he had to do at the time for the sake of the lives of those who physically saw and touched Him.

On the cross He was responsible in a far greater way. Without His sacrifice every one of us would be in hell. Actually millions of human lives throughout history would be. Including me. Including you.

To what length do we go for Him? I know that if my baby had been on that bus I probably would have done the same thing that the mom did... in the face of potential danger and the frustration of others I would have taken a stand for my girl. But, what do I do every day to stand for Jesus?

It says in Matthew 10:22, "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."

You know, one time I was shopping in a store for a red shirt. I needed it for the Celebrate America program at church. A lady asked me if she could help me and I told her what I was looking for. She asked if it was for something special.

Do you know what I said? "Oh, I am in this THING at my church and we just need a brightly colored shirt!"

WHAT IN THE WORLD? "This THING at my church!" I said it with such disrespect and it sounded like I was dreading it. That could have been my opportunity to invite the lady to church or at least ask if she attended a church anywhere! I could have used that as an opportunity to take a stand and at least plant a seed, but NOOOOOOO I had to act like church was something that I am MADE to do. I LOVE church! My flesh totally took over and my wanting to fit into the world spoke loud and clear!!

Matthew 10:32-33 says "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."

This Christmas I will say "Merry Christmas!" to whomever I wish! I will discuss our church's celebration with total strangers. I will not be afraid to go to any length to take a stand for my faith and my Father!

He came, took a stand and died for me!!!

What about you? What decisions do you need to make about your stand for Jesus?Shopping for Christmas puts us in many opportunities to share our faith with our community. Working and being with family puts us in close proximity to others all year round! Let's decide that we will not stop sharing His love with others! Or maybe we just need to start!

Take a stand my sisters... go to any length!!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Just Give Thanks!

I know it goes without saying that we are incredibly blessed! While wars and famines go on in other parts of the world we Americans take so much for granted.

Even the Thanksgiving meal is something that we take for granted. Many people in the world would like to have a fraction of that food in a week! We complain of being sick of turkey and dressing after a couple of days, but others eat rice for years and are just thrilled to have something warm to put in their stomachs.

We have churches to attend freely. We have more than one Bible in our homes. We have the freedom to read them.

We have jobs. We may not always enjoy them, but they provide a means for us to eat, be clothed and live. We are able to work. We are able to earn a wage and we are able to provide for our homes.

We have children that are healthy and if they get sick we drive them to the doctor to get medicine that our insurance helps us afford. We do not blink at going to the drug store to get medicine that is prepared and easy to take in order to keep our families healthy.

We drive cars. We do not walk for miles in heat or rain or freezing conditions just to get food or medicine.

We have homes. They are warm. We have more than one blanket. We have more than one bed and we do not sleep in dirt huts. We have clothes, and while we may get tired of our wardrobes we DO have clothes. We can go and buy more... even if it comes from Wal-mart we can still buy something that looks decent to cover our nakedness.

We do not fear. We live in peace. Because of men and women who are willing to fight for our country we are safe. We play with our children, and have lunch with our friends, and talk on our cell phones. We are not victims of violence or slavery.

If we know Christ we have salvation. We are not afraid of a god that claims that we must work or kill others in order to be accepted in heaven or paradise.

Without His suffering we would have nothing. His life gives us peace. His death gives us hope. His watchful eye is ever on us and He is FOR us... not against us.

While days may be hard and seasons may seem impossible... we are EXTREMELY blessed. We are wise to think about our hardest day and then compare it to the majority of the world. We need to give thanks to God above for the way that He has so wonderfully blessed this country and our lives as Americans.

Next year my new goal will be to STOP COMPLAINING! I am extrememly spoiled and I am too blind to see it.

Bless the Lord! O my soul! And all that is within me bless His holy name!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

No Hope

I talked with a lady recently who's daughter had run away from home. She and her family were so distraught over their loved one's choice to run and they did not know what to do. This daughter is just 18 and had tried to commit suicide in the past. They had no idea if her choices would lead to her death. She felt that she had no hope.

Another lady lost her husband to cancer and then her young son tried to commit suicide and lay in a hospital bed due to his distress over losing his dad. They both felt that they had no hope.

Another lady is married to an alcoholic who mistreats her with his actions and his words. He is not even trying to help with their children and she feels like she is fighting an uphill battle on her own. With no help and no end in sight she feels that she has no hope.

Each of these ask the question, " Where IS God in this? I feel that He has abandoned me and I have no hope!"

The truth of the matter is that God is here! He sees the choices that we make and while it hurts His amazing heart He is here and He cares. He sees the choices that others make, how they effect us and how it hurts and He is here!

It says in Deuteronomy 4:28-30 "If from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey Him."

When we do not understand the circumstances that we are in as a result of illness or decisions that others make all we can do is "look for Him with all of [our] heart and with all of [our] soul."

The lady who's daughter ran away told me that it had been a long time since she had been on her knees. She prays and reads her Bible, but not on her knees. THIS drove her to her knees at the side of her daughter's bed everyday until her return this past week! She began to experience the voice of God in her life and He reassured her that He is in control!

I sometimes wonder if the Lord uses extremely hard, but temporary situations to get our attention. Using our loved ones is one way to really make us take inventory of our faith and trust in His power in our lives. Abuse is extremely hard and I do not believe that is something that the Lord approves of at all, but He can use ANY situation to pull us to Him. I have never been in that situation and am eternally grateful that is the case, but many, many women are dealing with abuse everyday.

As Christians we have to speak hope into their lives. Even if they know the Lord sometimes their situation is so overwhelming that they can't feel anything at all... especially the touch of the Lord. We have to be that touch. We have to be God's arms and His words of hope and truth need to come from our hearts to theirs as they face these difficult times. There is ALWAYS hope and they need to hear it. Scripture needs to flood their hearts and minds as they face each day in their pain.

It does take effort and time, but what would honor God most? Our pretending that we can't offer hope and walking away or our sharing God's Word with them to lift them up and encourage them to walk one more step?

Lord, give us sensitive hearts for those who are hurting. You are our hope! You are our refuge and our safe place. Help us to point others to You with a message of love and acceptance. Help us to listen to the hearts of others and bring them to our minds as we pray. Amen!
Monday, November 19, 2007

He is our Teacher

"This is what the Lord says- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea." Isaiah 48:17-18

I have had so much on my mind lately with my Caroline having an auditory processing disability. At 6 years old we STILL deal with potty issues and there are things that just should come naturally to her that simply don't. Sometimes I get sort of caught up in the "Well, THAT kid is doing it, why can't she?" attitude and it just isn't fair to her. "That kid" doesn't face the challenges that she does so that attitude needs to stop.

Lately, I have really been trying to seek the Lord for her because my husband and I are just baffled. We are getting help through occupational therapy (which has made a huge difference!) and I know that the Lord sent OT our way. It isn't that we have not always prayed for her but I mean I am looking for some specifics from the Lord about how He would have us handle this situation with her. I am seeking Him for the answers because He is the one that saw her as she developed in my womb. He knows every single part of her and so I am seeking her Maker in this.

The wonderful thing about God's Word is that He truly gives us a Word of comfort, direction and peace as we deal with uncertainties. Even the Pharisees and Jesus' disciples recognized Him as Teacher and God refers to Jesus as the Word in John 1:1. So if Jesus is the Word and He is the master Teacher it is only wise to seek Him for direction and education in all things.

The aforementioned scripture in Isaiah says "I am the Lord your God who teaches you what is best for you." God also gave me a specific scripture to pray for Caroline and it is found in Isaiah 54:13. "Your sons (and daughters!) will be taught by the Lord and great will be your children's peace."

I don't know what you are dealing with today, but maybe you just feel totally ignorant in the situation (the way my husband and I do with our daughter) and maybe you are needing some education. Go to Him. Tell Him that you are desperate for a word from Him and that you need Him to teach you in all things. Read His promises and claim them for your life and the situation that you face. It will give you such hope as you walk the road before you. It is amazing, when you get into His Word and you see His hand at work, how empowered He will make you! You will know that with God all things ARE possible and He will meet all of your needs according to His will.

I love you... thank you for the encouraging comments that you leave and for the prayers that you pray on my behalf. Please pray for Caroline. She is doing well, but we have a road ahead of us. Let me know how I can pray for you. It would be an honor.
Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hard days?

Don't you hate it when you have a hard day? Today was a hard day for me and my family and I just HATE it! Especially on Sundays when we all LOVE church and want to be there with each other as the usual happy family that we are. I SERIOUSLY love, love, love my husband and daughter. They are precious to me and we usually stand united on things... which is just such a gift. But on those days when things go whacky... oh, do I hate it!

I have an aunt that is really sweet, but her life seems to be the perpetual hard day. She has had many illnesses and has been alone now for several years since her husband died. She also has three kids who just do not seem to care. It seems that each time I talk to my mom and I ask about her sister the news is always bad.

How do you handle hard days?

Today at lunch I jokingly said that I needed therapy! (Truth be known, I probably do, but this time I was joking!) After just one hard day I had come to the conclusion that a good psychological session would do me some good!

Soooo... what happened to giving all my cares to Jesus? What happened to remembering the God who gave me life is bigger than all of my hard days? It is so easy to slip into that human nature response instead of the response that the Lord would have me give, isn't it?

Actually, my life is really great. I mean, yes, my child can seem impossible, but she is healthy, happy and overall not so bad! My husband and I could not be more different, but 95% of the time it works for us so do I really have room to complain?

Sometimes selfishness creeps in. Sometimes we get jealous or tired and just want to be left alone! Sometimes we get busy and forget to put the important things first. And sometimes things just get on our nerves!!!

It is during those times that we are wise to take a step back and look at all of the things that we really have that are blessings. My aunt can look at her home and see that she is safe and warm. She can look beyond her children and see that her sisters really love her and care for her. She can see that she has doctors that really care about her and they work hard to help her be as healthy as she can be. It really is all in our perspective.

Some days are hard, but we can't let those string together to become a hard life! We are wise to be honest and open with those that we love and talk it out. (Not yell it out... talk it out.) We are also wise to get out our journals and our Bibles and look at the promises that God has given us or the way that He has provided through out our past. Gaining that perspective really helps to see that it really was just a bad day.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Protection Forever

Well, I wasn't going to blog about this, but after today I want to encourage anyone who might be fearful in the least! I do not want to, and will not, give the enemy any more attention than he already gets so that is my reason for not wanting to write it out, but I DO want to give My Father, my Protector and my Shield all honor and glory!

Yesterday I witnessed a robbery right next door. Four men drove up in a truck, two got out and one came to ring my doorbell to see if anyone was home. I did not go to the door, but I did look out of my window to see who it was. He did not see me. The other man went to another neighbor's door and knocked. No one was home.

Another man got out of the truck. The three of them went to my next door neighbor's house, kicked the front door in and they all put on white gloves. They went into the house and I called 911. I began to describe all that I saw... the white truck, the 3 men that were coming in and out of the house and the one man sitting in the truck as a look out. They never saw me.

They loaded big screen tv's, a lap top, a projector and other electronics into the back of the truck. I was yelling into the phone for them to get someone to our street NOW! These men were taking their time and they were working fairly slowly. The police were ALSO taking their time and the robbers got away!

I was SO angry! I was not afraid, but I was mad as I could be! It really bothered me that they got away with SO much stuff and they thought that no one was home at the surrounding houses during the day so they could come back!

When I got up to have my quiet time this morning I told God about my concerns. I prayed and looked into His Word for something that I could cling to all day. He gave me Psalm 37:28 "For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever..."

I got e-mails from sweet friends who said they were praying for us. It just feels incredible to have friends who love Him and us!

I was concerned about leaving our home today, but I had to take Caroline to school and I wanted to work out. I went to do those things and when I was on my way home I just prayed that I would not be fearful, but that the Lord would be my shield and my guard.

As I turned onto my street a couple (that I just love) was walking from our cul-de-sac. They flagged me down and said that they had heard what happened from a neighbor and that while I was gone they had come to pray over my home and my family!!!! They had prayer walked our area of the neighborhood and they were there to pray with me before I went back home!!

My very prayer was that the Lord would protect us and our home especially while we were away, and He sent this precious couple to stand in my driveway to pray while I was gone.

How BIG is our God!? He knows our fears and our concerns and He does things that are super natural to care for us! Not only did He protect me yesterday from the robbers, but He also protected me today... from fear!

"The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him." Psalm 37:39-40

Praise His Holy and matchless name! He IS our protection! He is our stronghold! He is our deliverer! He is our strong tower! He is forever faithful!

What ever situation you might be facing that might be fearful is no match for God! He is bigger than anything we face and He is able to rescue us! Give it to Him. Tell Him all of your fears and let Him be God in the situation! Pray! Trust fully that He will provide and praise Him! OH!! Praise His name forever and ever!!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How Much Do You Love Him?

Do you love Jesus enough to bite your tongue when you really want to say something smart?

Like when you are at the DMV for example.. those sweet and lovely human beings are there day in and day out dealing with the dead beats of society.

Yes they are. You can not deny it. The dead beats I mean... ( I heard a DJ say on talk radio that they are deadbeat dads and pirates, and they LIVE at the DMV because no normal people seem to be there when you go. Ever.)

So it's finally your turn after a 5 minute (or 95 minute) wait! You are sick of people you don't know staring at you. You are sick of standing in line and you are sick of reading all of the state issued paraphernalia that is stapled to the wall.

So it comes as no real surprise when you get to the front of the line and the person behind the counter is less than kind when you don't have your ID ready. I mean, did you not read all of the state issued paraphernalia 100 times during your 95 minute wait? Have you become a dead beat like all of the others during the 95 minute wait?

So how do you respond? Do you love them AND Jesus enough to be kind when they are not?

How about when you are dealing with co-workers or friends (or family! for that matter) who have a "smart mouth"?

(That's what my mom always called it... "You will NOT have that smart mouth with me, young lady!" I have no idea who she was talking to... maybe my brother?)

When these precious people that Jesus loves and died for are being less than precious how do you respond? Do you bite back or do you hold your tongue?

It says in James 3 (yes, you knew I was going there!) verse 6 "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire... "

No one is really saying that it is right for anyone to be a smart mouth. I do not think it is right for anyone to hurt others by what they say, but the thing is... we can't control others! We can, however, control ourselves.

In the situation of the co-worker or DMV person they may not know that we attend church or profess to be Christians until we open our mouths. If we respond like all of the other dead beats then we are no different and we have had no impact for the kingdom!

Now, our friends and family DO know that we profess to be Christians so when we open our mouths they expect better from us!! The way we respond or interact with them is a tale tale sign of what we really believe.

SO... my point? How much you love Jesus comes out of your mouth! Whether or not you choose (WE choose, let's make this VERY clear... I am sort of confessing here!) to be kind with your words will tell others whether or not you really love Jesus.

So I suppose I need to watch my tone, my words and my smart mouth a little closer. I have been convicted lately about how I speak to my Caroline and I know that if I am to point her to Jesus every day then I have to do better about my MOUTH!

Then there are those who are watching how I speak to my child. What does that say to THEM? I mean the license plate that I just paid taxes on IN the DMV says "Redeemer" on it. So when I am not kind and then drive away what message am I sending? I am a smart mouth Christian? Well, THAT'S going to bring LOTS of people to Jesus! (See! there I go again! ugg!)
Friday, November 9, 2007

Through the Roof

The Lord is taking my life and the ideas that I have about ministry in a little bit of a new direction. I am pretty excited, but pretty overwhelmed all at the same time.

I am learning that this is how God works... when the job is bigger than you, and you really do not see how it will all come together, He has you right where He wants you!

Recently, as my husband and I have dealt with some learning disabilities with our daughter, it has become more apparent to me that the special needs population is not really addressed at church. There is one Sunday school class for young children with special needs, and a class with older men, but no real program outside of Sunday morning and nothing for older children. The Lord began to show me things that I really could not ignore.

The first thing I realized is that I have a special education degree that I am currently not using with anyone outside of my home. The ideas that I have as a mom helping Caroline with her school needs came from the education that I have.

The second thing that I realized is that there are children who are being under served or falling through the cracks all together because their parents do not know where to start when it comes to meeting their needs. Imagine bringing home that perfect baby only to realize that he or she is not perfect by this world's standards. Where do you even begin to find help? If their pediatrician isn't aware, or doesn't see the signs that things are not quite right, the child can go for years without help because parents don't know where to start.

The third thing that I realized was that our church is falling behind in reaching out to this population. We do not have a place for these children to hear about Jesus and we do not have a place for parents to come and be fed spiritually. If they can't leave their child in a class they will not be fully fed and ministered to. This is a real problem in the church and it just isn't ok!

The Lord began to show me that He has something planned for me and our church and so we are looking into training options for parents, teachers and volunteers. We are looking at how we can improve the classes that we do have and how we can develop new classes to address these needs in our community.

There is a story in the Bible where Jesus heals a man of his blindness and the Pharisees questioned him about the healing. When the man and his parents claimed that Jesus was the one solely responsible for the healing the Pharisees had him removed from the church, but JESUS Himself went and found him. He not only healed him, but He ministered to the man and his family when the church would not.

I fully believe that is what Jesus would have us do. Go and minister to those who really do not have a place to call their own in the typical church setting. Praise the Lord this is changing across our nation. The special needs population is the largest unchurched population in America because they have never really had a place. Churches are beginning to realize this need and they are beginning to reach out.

This week, my friend, Amy and I met with a man from Joni and Friends. It was so awesome to see him roll into the meeting in his motorized wheelchair. His mission is to help churches help those who can not help themselves. It is awesome to see his heart. The ministry, called Through the Roof, is based on the story of the three men who lowered their friend on a mat through the roof of a house so that he could be with Jesus. This is his heart. To bring those who can not come on their own to the feet of Jesus so that He can touch them, heal them, and save them.

I can not wait to see what the Lord has in store. I am a little nervous, but I am trusting that the Lord will provide for our needs. They will be many! Volunteers, resources, training... that will all come with time and prayer. We will start small, but we must start! It is going to be awesome to see the Lord pull His people together for this purpose and I am trusting and praying for His perfect will.

Matthew 8:17 says, " This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah, "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." He is still in the business of healing, carrying and loving. How do I know this is so? He does this for me every day! And if He will do it for me He will do it for the children.
Monday, November 5, 2007

Stand up! #2

Proverbs 20:27 "The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man, it searches out his inmost being."

Proverbs 16:2 "All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord."

As I was writing last night it occurred to me that I might have sounded judgemental of others and their actions. Actually, it has made me so sad to see the church not looking much different from the world.

It also makes me think of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 that says "Everything is permissible- but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible- but not everything constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others." When we do not take a stand, sure, it's permissible, but is it beneficial? Is it constructive? Is it seeking our own good or the good of others?

If no one takes a stand in our families who will be the greatest influence there? The media? Oh heaven help us! The sports figures?

If no one takes a stand in our Sunday school classes what is the use? Is our attitude that of "well, the Sunday school teacher can take a stand. I am going to do what I want!" It's sad.

Take a stand. Do not allow the sins of this world to be a regular part of our lives as a church or as families who claim to be followers of Christ.

Judging? No, just convicted and praying.
Sunday, November 4, 2007

Stand up!

Recently I have been thinking about the things that I am thankful for. It seems that each time I go to pray I have this overwhelming sense of thankfulness for my husband. Unfortunately it has not always been this way. Let me tell you why.

See when we first met I thought he was the BIGGEST nerd I had ever laid eyes on. (none of this is new to him so don't think I am bashing him... we laugh about this now.) Steve is a structural engineer. That should explain a lot. He was also a huge penny pincher and would not buy himself something new if his life depended on it. He drove this really old, white Toyota that he parked under a tree at work and the paint job on it was just... yuck! His clothes were out of style and he was just kind of.. outdated. He worked hard, and he was very serious minded about his responsibilities.

I, on the other hand, drove a shiny new red sports car. I was a school teacher so I didn't make a ton of money, but as soon as my bills were paid I hit the mall. New clothes were my passion and I loved the fad fashions. I would get out of school around 2:30, go home and take a nap and shower so that I would have all kinds of energy for the evening.

You may be asking yourself, "If he was that bad, and they were THAT opposite, why did she marry him?" (Sometimes I ask why he married ME!?)

He was (and is) a man of conviction. See, he was the first guy that I had ever met that did not try to change for me. Now that may seem weird, but hear me out.

If I picked on him about his car he would say, "It's paid for and I can save money the longer I drive it. How long do you have to pay on that new red thing?"

Or if I made a comment about his clothes he would say, "Well, when someone helps me pick something out that I really like I will wear it, but I will not spend money just to spend it."

Sometimes there would be a movie that I really wanted to see, but it would be rated "R". He would say, "It is fine with me if you go, but I won't be the one taking you. I told the Lord a long time ago that I would not go to rated "R" movies so you will have to go without me."

You see Steve would not let my lack of conviction change his strong convictions in the least. If I used a word that he didn't like (and it wasn't a cuss word either) he would call me out. If I confronted someone in an ungodly manner he would question my intentions. We did sometimes argue about things because we were so different, but I began to see that he wanted the best for my life. He was (and is ) a man after God's own heart and if I was going to date him then I had to step up my game.

Sometimes I wonder about the church. People within the church still act like the world in so many ways. I know that there are standards that are preached and scripture that is read weekly that help us understand God's plan for us, but I still hear about drinking, gambling and affairs on a regular basis. I really DO NOT understand!!

We say that we want our world to change, and yet if we are not willing to change how can we expect others, who don't even know God to change? We say that we want our kids to be Christians and follow hard after Christ, but if they do not see us doing that how can we expect them to?

It is much like me dating Steve. Once I saw the authentic life that he lived, I wanted it too! I wanted the peace that he had. I wanted the relationship with Jesus that he had and I wanted to live what I said I believed instead of being a hypocrite.. which is what I was when we started dating! I could only improve my life by being with him. He was a man that was not going to compromise for any one and I wanted that kind of marriage!

Until the world sees the authentic life of the church it will have nothing to strive for. Our lost friends will see us as people who say we are Christians and go to church, but who still live a drinking, gambling, affair ridden life. What is the difference?

Really the reason that I married Steve was Jesus. It was not his nerdy clothes and nerdy car. (shock, huh?) It was that he lived Jesus in front of me and I wanted to MARRY Jesus!!!!!!! (Of course Steve isn't Jesus... you know what I mean!) His life made me want a life like that...

So what about me makes the world want a life like mine? How do I take a stand and not compromise? How do I challenge those around me to see me as different? How do I challenge my daughter to follow hard after Christ instead of the emptiness that this world offers?

Lord, please help us to take a stand. Help me to be willing to go against this culture and to not allow satan to have one inch in my life, my marriage or my home. Please help us, the church, to live our convictions and not give in to the slightest temptation just so we can impress others. Help us to live solely for You and help us to challenge others to a life of holiness. We will not receive the blessings that You have in store for us until we are willing to be sold out for you. Help us to realize Your plan and to be obedient to follow it. Convict our hearts Lord. Amen!