For Better, For Worse

For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness, in health. Till death do us part. Marriage is pledging to be with another person no matter what: in the hard moments, in the joyful moments, in the scary moments, in the exciting moments. It’s often messy and tear filled, beautiful and rewarding. As a spouse we get the unique and amazing experience of doing life with someone for the rest of our lives. We see them at their worst and at their best, and we get to be their biggest fan.

We get the privilege of encouraging our spouses to follow their dreams, accomplish their goals, and grow into the person God has called them to be. We get to encourage their talents and their gifts and help them cultivate them. We get front row seats to see how God is working in their lives, and we get to hold their hand and look back with them and say, “Wow, remember when things were like that? Look where you are now. Look where we are now.” That is beautiful, and we can’t take that for granted. It is a huge blessing to be intimately involved in someone else’s life. Sure, sometimes it’s hard – often times much harder than we would like it to be – but it is extraordinary.

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoPriscilla Du Preez

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Worship

What do you think of when you hear the word “worship”? For a lot of us I would bet we think of singing in church; we think of giving ten to twenty minutes once or twice a week singing words that may or may not mean something to us. Or perhaps we think of our tithes and offerings as worship. Both of these things are worship, but they are only the tip of the iceberg.

So then if we’re missing the point, let’s ask some questions.

  1. What is worship? 
    • Worship is the expression of adoration or reverence.
    • Worship is something that God alone deserves (Exodus 20:2-6).
    • John 4:23-24 says that “true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”(emphasis mine)
    • 1 Samuel 15:22 says, “to obey is better than sacrifice.”
    • Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (emphasis mine)
    • Isaiah 29:13 says that if we are only honoring God with our lips but not our hearts, we are not truly worshiping.

    Essentially, worship is not something that we do once a week, it is something we are to do through our lifestyle. We are to worship in Spirit and in truth, two   things that are forever inside us when we allow Jesus to take His rightful place as   king of our lives. Offering our bodies as a living sacrifice is not something you do once, it’s continual dedication of ourselves to the Lord.

  2. Why do we worship?
    • If you’ve ever been in a relationship with someone you really like you know what it’s like to desire to get to know someone. You want to know everything about them – what they like, what they dislike, what makes them tick, their middle name, everything! – and the more you know the more you want to know. Our relationship with God is similar: when we spend time with Him and get to know Him, it stirs up the desire to get to know Him more, and when we get to know Him, we can’t help but worship Him.

•••

Worship is so much more than singing songs and giving money, it’s continually honoring God with our lives.

When we obey His command to love our neighbor, that’s worship.

When we choose to be like Jesus and pray for those who persecute us, that’s worship.

When we take the high road instead of stooping to the level of those who hurt us, that’s worship.

When we extend grace, that’s worship.

When we choose not to compromise our values, that’s worship.

When we stand and sing and pour out our hearts to the Creator, that’s worship.

When we use our gifts to further His kingdom, that’s worship.

When we die to ourselves and live solely for Him, that’s worship.

Our lives are meant to be continual acts of adoration and reverence of our Creator and King. Worship is not something you get away from life to do, worship is something you do amidst the messiness of life. Everyday is a blank slate. Everyday is a chance to choose God or self. What are we going to choose today?

Photo credit: unsplash-logoAnubhav Saxena

 

Life-Long Learning

In less than four months I will be graduating with my Bachelor’s degree!

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I am, however, going an extra year to get my teaching license. This is honestly pretty exciting because though I am ready to be done with school, I also really love learning.

Learning isn’t confined to a classroom, though. Nor is it confined to any one period of time in our lives. As we live our lives we are constantly changing and growing. Any and every point in our lives is a great time to learn.

I love to soak up information about the season of life I’m currently in as well as future seasons. I’m not a mom yet, but I hope to be some day. So I do spend time reading articles and books and listening to podcasts that have to do with pregnancy and parenting because someday they will be relevant. I’m not a teacher yet, but I try to learn as much as I can to help me with that season of life. I am also currently a wife and a follower of Jesus, two things that I’m not going to stop being; however, there is always room for growth and development and thus I strive to learn and grow constantly.

We are not done learning when we are finished with school; we aren’t done until we take our last breath. Read books, go to conferences, listen to podcasts, read blogs. Learn. Grow. Change.

With love,

B

Photo credit: unsplash-logoNick Hillier

Heart-Matter

When we invite Jesus to be the Lord of our lives we become free from not only the penalty of our sin but from the Law as well. Though the books of the Law are still important and give us wisdom, we are no longer bound to it. While of course there are things that are simple – I mean, we really shouldn’t be out thieving and murdering – our lives are no longer solely painted in black and white.

This being said, a lot of people don’t live this way. The message of the church often seems to be full of dos and don’ts, cans and cannots. We have freedom in Christ and God has given us free will, but not everything is beneficial to us (1 Corinthians 6:12). The Bible also instructs us to use our freedom wisely (Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 2:16). Freedom in Christ isn’t about legalism, it’s about motive, which took me awhile to understand (Phylicia Masonheimer is very helpful with this topic).

The Bible lays certain things out clearly for us, but other things are vague or not mentioned at all, and what it boils down to is our motive. Is what we’re doing beneficial to me? Is it hurting someone else? Is it hurting my witness to someone else? And perhaps most importantly, why am I doing it? For example, there’s a lot of controversy over whether or not Christians should drink alcohol. Firstly, the Bible does not prohibit drinking alcohol, it prohibits drunkeness. That leaves us each with a choice of whether or not we choose to drink. Are we prone to making irresponsible decisions? Are we drinking because it’s “cool”? Are we drinking as a coping mechanism? By drinking are we encouraging a friend’s alcoholism? What is our motivation?

We have great freedom, but with it comes great responsibility. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be caught up in legalism – in fact, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for that very reason!- but we should exercise our freedom wisely through prayer and self-examination.

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoFlo Karr

Just Do It

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

-Chinese proverb

•••

How often do we find ourselves saying, “I want to do           ” or “Someday I’m going       to           “? If you’re anything like me, the answer is probably “much too often.” What I have realized lately is that if you want to do something, just do it.

You want to learn to paint? Buy supplies. You want to write? Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). You want to exercise more? Find a gym.

We become obsessed with waiting for the right time to do things, but most of the time, there is no “right time.” Why start tomorrow when there is a perfectly good today? Take the first step, even if the first step is just researching what you want to do and figuring out what supplies or resources you need.

We also let the possibility of failure become a stumbling block to us. One of my professors once wisely said, “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing wrong.” What he meant was that if something is really worth your time, it’s worth the knowledge you gain from your mistakes. Every mistake is an opportunity for growth. I dabble in crocheting, and a friend of mine wanted a hat for Christmas. I think I started over on the darn thing about seven times. I was doing something wrong, and it took patience and the willingness to try again to get it right. The finished product, though not perfect, looked a lot better than if I would have just given up and left it a half-done mess.

•••

If you are wanting to try something new, stop being your own worst enemy. Also, it’s okay to do something simply because you enjoy it and not because you’re going to show it to the world. Who cares if your paintings aren’t masterpieces? If you enjoy doing it, don’t stop! Don’t let the voices of the world or the voices in your head stop you. Just do it.

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoChristopher Sardegna

Love Isn’t All Romance and Glass Slippers

I am a huge Disney fan. I love Disney movies, Disney World, Disney in general (my husband and I even have Mickey and Minnie Christmas stockings, and I’m totally wearing my Mickey pajamas while writing this post).

The downfall to Disney is that it distorts our view of love. Have you ever noticed that couples in Disney movies rarely have any conflict? In a lot of the movies you have one person from a high socioeconomic status and the other from a low socioeconomic status (for example, Prince Charming and Cinderella or Jasmine and Aladdin) yet they just seamlessly merge there lives together? Yeah, that is not realistic at all, and it’s not just Disney: the media in general portrays a false version of love. We expect constant passion and spontenaity, but love isn’t all romance and returning glass slippers, it’s a day-by-day, moment-by-moment choice. 

It is so easy for me to just do what I want to do and act how I want to act without taking my husband into consideration, but that’s not how marriage is supposed to work. We’re a team, a partnership, and since the moment I said “I do” my life no longer was about my needs. Love is serving. Love is selflessness. Love is not about you. It’s not always easy to act on, though, is it?

•••

In the past ten months of being married, I have learned a lot about what it means to love my husband, and I know that over the next several years I will learn so much more, but for now, here are some things I have learned.

Learn how to love your spouse. One of the most helpful pieces of advice we have gotten is to learn each other’s love languages. My number one love language is Acts of Service. The best way to my heart is for him to do something that helps me out and shows that he understands the effort I put into maintaining our home. If I do the same for him, however, it doesn’t have that big of an impact. Knowing how to love our spouses in the ways that they need to be loved is huge – as is periodically reevaluating your love languages because they do change with time and with seasons of life. In addition to this, simply paying attention to how your spouse reacts to certain things will give you a lot of insight into how you can love them better.

Communication really is key. One of the most frustrating things in marriage is the fact that my husband can’t read my mind. That would make everything so much easier, wouldn’t it? Since that is (unfortunately) not the case, we have to intentionally tell our spouses what we are thinking and what we are needing. Not only that, but it’s important to tell our spouses how much we love and appreciate them, because they need to hear that, too.

Never stop trying. There was a reason Never Stop by Safety Suit was the song we danced to at our wedding. Never stop pursuing your spouse. Never stop trying to learn about them and love them better.

What are some ways that you show love to your significant other? Shoot me an email or connect with me on the blog’s Facebook page!

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoJorge Martínez

I Don’t Have a Five-Year Plan

From the time students start high school they are expected to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. They are encouraged to choose a “track” or program for the rest of high school to help shape their future education and career. The problem I find with this is that life is always in flux.

When I started college, I knew exactly what I was going to do with my life. Little did I know that three and a half short years later I would be married and on a completely different career path than I went in with (and the journey that I took to get there wasn’t a straight shot either). We can make plans all we want, but education and experiences can change things.

Because of this, in my life I choose to make tentative plans over concrete plans. When it comes to the future, my husband and I typically lay out how we could see things going while including alternate possibilities and keeping in mind that things could change completely. For example, when we have kids, we aren’t sure if we are going to home school or if our children will attend a public school, but we have tentative plans for both. This is important because if you set your heart on something turning out a certain way and it doesn’t happen, you will be crushed.

But what about God’s will? I think that in some instances God may have a very specific plan, or specific door, that He intends for us. Other times, however, I think that we have a wide array of doors to choose from, but our attitude is the key. Colossians tells us that no matter what we do, we are to do it in the name of the Lord. I feel that that gives us some freedom in choosing what we do. Want to be a teacher? Do it as if working for the Lord. Want to be a welder? Do it as if working for the Lord. Want to be a business owner? Do it as if working for the Lord.

So, for me, there’s no five-year plan. I have goals, hopes, and dreams for my career and my family, yet I trust that if the Lord has a specific plan for me I will find it and follow in faith. If He doesn’t, I will still treat whatever it is as my calling and do it for the Lord, because God’s will is sometimes a specific plan, but it’s always an attitude.

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoPeter Aschoff

Free Will

From the time humans were created, God has given us free will. Every day we use our free will to make choices on what we do, what we say, how we act, and how we react. Each and every one of those choices have consequences, whether positive or negative. This is a basic concept that people often teach their children as they are growing and learning (For example, if you don’t eat dinner, you can’t have dessert), yet we as adults sometimes have trouble grasping this concept.

We can’t blame God for the consequences of our own actions. If a relationship ends because you do not treat your partner well, that is a result of your own choices. There are things that happen outside of our control, but that is a post for another time. If we are ever going to grow and mature, we have to be willing to accept responsibility for our actions. Not only that, but we have to remember that others are prone to sin, and we have to extend grace to them.

Thinking about it this way makes free will seem like a drag, huh? It’s not. Free will is beautiful: if we didn’t have free will, we would never be able to love genuinely or really live. Yes, there are consequences for choices we make, but not all of them are bad: I choose to pour into my marriage, and as a result it is flourishing. That’s a beautiful consequence!

Free will is a gift, and we should use it wisely because our actions and words have tremendous power.

With love,

B

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Photo credit: Ryan Clements

We Are Meant to be Different

In last week’s post, I talked about how we are to be Christ-like, not necessarily Christian-like. This being said, I think there is a common misconception from both believers and nonbelievers that to be a Christian is to be a carbon copy of every other Christian. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ephesians 2:10 says: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (NLT, emphasis mine). Does every masterpiece look the same? Of course not. So why do we think that we should look exactly the same as our brothers and sisters in Christ? God has given us each different talents, gifts, and passions so of course the way we live out the attributes of Christ are going to come across differently. Some people have a passion for opening their homes and leading Bible studies while others have a passion for working with the homeless while yet others have a passion for traveling as missionaries. Are all of them glorifying God and being Christ-like? Yes.

Additionally, while our core values may be the same, other values we have and the way we express them may look different from other people’s. For example, some parents choose to allow their children to watch television while others do not. Is either of them right? If each is doing what they are convicted about and believe is best for their own family, then they are both right.

For years this was a very difficult concept for me to grasp, but as I’ve grown and matured, I’ve realized it’s okay to look different than those around me. In fact, that is how it should be. There have been times that I have done things simply because it worked for other people, because someone else was convicted about it, or because someone told me to do it. While seeking wisdom from others is certainly important, we need to check this wisdom against Scripture and against our own hearts and then ultimately make the decision for ourselves.

•••

I love seeing the diversity in believers around me: no one’s life or home looks exactly the same. It is beautiful to see how so many different people can glorify God in so many different ways.

You are not called to look like everyone else, you are simply called to live a life that glorifies God, whatever that looks like for you.

With love,

B

Photo credit: unsplash-logorawpixel.com

Christian-Like

“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:4-6, HCSB, emphasis mine).

•••

When Jesus was on Earth, He was the living, breathing embodiment of God. Not only is that mind-blowing, but we are lucky enough to have records of His ministry easily accessible to us. As Christians we are called to model our lives after Christ. Often times, though, I find that we end up trying to model our lives after other Christians. This in and of itself is not a bad thing; Paul even tells those in the church of Corinth to imitate him because he is an imitator of Christ. The problem lies in the fact that other Christians are human and just as prone to sin as we are.

When we are modeling our lives after other people there are a few things we should take into account:

  • Is the behavior we are wanting to imitate consistent with Scripture? If we are looking to another person to try to be Christ-like, we need to make sure that they are behaving in a way that is truly reflective of Christ.
  • Are we idolizing them? If we become obsessed with trying to model our lives after a person or persons, we are essentially worshiping them, making them into an idol. If this is the case, our focus is misguided.
  • Are we looking into Scripture for ourselves? Are we actually studying the Word and trying to understand what it means to be Christ-like, or are we simply letting others do the work while we copy and paste?

•••

We are created in the image of God (Genesis 1). Within us is the capability and responsibility to reflect Him. Other people can aide us in living in a manner worthy of Christ, but they can not be our only source or our faith will crumble. This is why so many people get “burned” by the church: they think that the actions of other humans are always reflective of the actions of God, which is simply untrue. If our view of God is only through other people, we are going to have a misconception of who God is because humans are imperfect and are bound to mess up, unlike God.

As followers of Christ, we should be encouraging our brothers and sisters and be making disciples. We should also allow ourselves to be encouraged and be discipled. This, however, cannot replace seeking God ourselves; we need to go straight to the Source.

•••

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 HCSB

Photo credit: unsplash-logoAlexandre Chambon