Thursday, September 16, 2021

Thankful Thursday


Happy Thursday, friends! I am joining in with Rebecca Jo and Leslie for this weekly blog post once again. I hope you'll join us! 

One thing that has stood out to me this week is how different my days are now. I know it sounds strange to list this first, but here's why I am thankful for this new season in life—I don't have anyone in the house with me, so it frees me up to pray more. I have time and the empty house to do this on and off throughout the day and out loud. I kind of love this! I am also still adjusting to the newness of it all, because my morning starts early as I get everyone out the door and make them lunches, but I'm figuring it all out. Add to this a puppy in the house and it's slightly chaotic and an adjustment to figuring it out, but I am managing just fine. 

I am so thankful for the gift of prayer uttered on behalf of those I know who are sick right now. Many of you are following along with my pastor's wife with her being in the hospital and last night he updated us on how she was doing. She had another good day yesterday, one in which her numbers were better. Even if these are baby steps, I'm so glad they're baby steps heading in the right direction! 

I'm thankful my friend's husband went home from the hospital too. I know she is beyond relieved.

I'm thankful for the conversation I had with my sisters yesterday as they drove home from an overnight trip.

I'm thankful that I got to see my friends last night after church ended! We met up for about an hour after that and it was so good to sit and catch up. 

I'm thankful that last night I had a really good night of sleep and that I woke up feeling better today. I went to bed not feeling good last night. It's just sinuses again, because we keep having dips in the temperature. It got really cool here at one point yesterday in the afternoon and my ears started bothering me and my throat was scratchy. That's all gone today, though, thankfully. 

I'm thankful for reminders like this.

And I'm thankful for a great day of Bible study homework yesterday. My friend mentioned this verse when she taught and I needed to hear the words.

Thanks for reading along! Love to all.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

some great songs


Happy Wednesday, friends. I thought I'd share some more of my favorite worship songs right now. I always love knowing this kind of thing. I figure if I like that, other people probably do as well. I'll jump right in.

First up is I Speak Jesus by Charity Gayle.

I love this song God Will Work it Out by Maverick City Music (featuring Naomi Raine and Israel Houghton).

I love Sufficient For Today, also Maverick City Music.

I've mentioned this next one before, but it's worth the repeat. This is Believe For It by CeCe Winans.

I'll end with one last favorite, and that is Psalm 34 by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

The reason I share things like this is because the Lord so often ministers to me through worship music. I know He does that for others as well, so that's why I do this. I hope these songs bless you like they do me. 

Thanks for reading my blog! Love to all. ❤

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tuesday around town


Happy Tuesday, friends! I have a question for those of you reading this and who write on a blog—would you be interested in joining a link-up through me? I've tried this before and it did not work well at all...and it takes some figuring out and scheduling on my end, so I'd love an honest opinion from you on this topic. This idea came to me as I prayed yesterday. I was thanking the Lord for the people He has put in my path that have been reading my blog and encouraging me lately and I was able to name of those of you whom I feel like are friends in real life, even if we're spread across the country. And that got me to thinking how much I'd love to take a tour of the town you reside in right now...if we can't do that in person, what better way than through a blog link-up?

So think about it and let me know your thoughts. This would be a bi-monthly thing. (Updated to say that I went ahead and went with it and created an inlinz party for anyone who wants to join in.)

That being said, I thought I'd share about my hometown that I lovingly refer to as The Ville. I live in Collierville, Tennessee and have the privilege of being able to tell you that I grew up here and stayed here my whole life. Our claim to fame here is that in 2014, Parade magazine awarded us with the "best main street in America". I'll include a link here for you to read about what the pros had to say about our little town. 

We are located near Memphis, but far enough away that it feels different here. We have close to 50,000 residents residing here, according to a couple of online sources that I looked at, but the thing about The Ville that is truly magical is that it feels like a small town. We have the most charming town square that I actually visit pretty regularly, we have an outdoor mall, churches on every corner, a wonderful municipal school system, and the prettiest public places and spaces. We have strict rules on signage here in The Ville and it has to be kept below a certain height. We have zero billboards and I am glad for that. Our power lines run underground in most of the neighborhoods and we're established enough that we do well out here on the edge of our county. I literally grew up here and I'd be thrilled to stay here for the rest of my days, or as the long as the Lord would have me here. 

In the coming weeks I'll share some pictures of the locations I mentioned that I love, along with some personal stories to go with them, but this week I am sharing about my favorite place and home away from home: my church.

It's hard to believe that we've been attending Collierville First Baptist Church for ten years. Jonah and Noah were eight years old and finishing up their second grade year in elementary school, Drew was eleven and finishing the fifth grade and Graham was twelve and finishing sixth grade. The further we get in time, the less everyone remembers our old church that the boys were all born into or grew up in during their earlier years of childhood. It became important to us to attend a church in the community we lived in and the boys were always wanting to go with their friends from school who would invite them for certain events. Ever since Graham was six years old, our kids played recreational sports here, even though we were not attenders at that time. 

I always served in whatever ministry my sons were in, which I feel is extremely important. That means I've worked in the nursery at our old church and I've served with the children's and youth ministries. I spent many a week as a kids' camp counselor and heading up a portion of VBS or backyard kids' clubs. I've been a Sunday school (Bible fellowship) co-teacher and youth volunteer. I've co-led community groups for teenagers, I've traveled with youth to camps in Florida and North Carolina, I've been on a mission trip with my church, my sons have been on mission trips, I've volunteered to fill in for a season in the nursery, I've volunteered my time as an assistant in the women's ministry, I've helped decorate the church for Christmas, I've sung and helped lead worship in church on Sunday mornings and for Bible study and women's conferences—you name it, I've done it. I feel blessed to be able to say all of that, by the way, because it's important to go and serve others within the body of Christ.

I love the people that make up this body of believers. I love the pastors and staff and I pray for them so very often. I've seen a lot of staff and pastors come and go, but I can say with confidence that even though change is hard, it's okay and necessary to grow. Most of you know me pretty well and how much I hate goodbyes. We've said goodbye to some incredible worship pastors, but I'm grateful for being able to serve and worship under each one who led. I learned things with each of them and I'll always consider them friends. We have a new worship pastor now and I'm so thankful for him and his sweet family. Change is always necessary.

We've seen a lot of change with youth pastors, as well, which I feel is very normal. My sons have sat under some solid teaching and I am so grateful that they can say that and for the friendships they formed with their leaders at the time they were in youth. I have sat under their teaching and preaching as well, during the years I spent with the youth and I was always thankful for what they did for the youth leaders to help us deepen and grow our relationship with the Lord. One in particular was always giving us great books to read on spiritual leadership that I still have and read today. 

I have prayed with these people, poured into some of these people, laughed with them and cried with them. I've traveled with them and become the "new kind of friends" because of the state we saw each other in (at camp, in a swimming suit, or on a dusty field in Arizona) and I will forever hold them close in my heart. The wonderful thing about being a part of the family of  God is that we'll always be family—even when people come and go, even though things change. I can say this about people from our old church and old pastors that I've seen come and go.

My time spent attending church has not been perfect and there are frustrations that popped up here and there, but the Lord always reminds me to get my eyes back on Him instead of the circumstances going on around me. He is quick to remind me that people are imperfect and everyone will eventually let me down. Jesus is the only One who never will.

At this time in my life, I have the pleasure of being able to serve in two areas that I love—in helping with leading in worship on Sundays and Wednesdays, either in choir or on a praise team and by helping write Bible studies with a team of four other ladies for women anywhere who want to study the Word of God.

I promise that I do not take either of these things lightly. I truly consider them an honor to be able to do and I am willing to do them both for as long as the Lord wants me to. I always have to pray and ask the Lord to help me guard and protect my heart...I never want to be prideful about either of these things and I want to do them both for His glory. He alone is worthy of praise and honor! I consider it a blessing that He allows me to serve in these ways and if you ever want to know how you can pray for me, pray with me about what I wrote above. I always want to make sure that my heart is in the right place and that I am never after the approval or applause of man. I want to pour out the talents that the Lord gave me for Him, I never want to waste them or take them for granted. 

Some of my favorite events are held around Christmas.

Tablescapes is a yearly women's event that I love, when women volunteer to decorate tables and we enjoy dinner together and a night of Christmas music. I also always love whatever our Pastor preaches through in that season and I love our Christmas Adam or Eve candlelight service. 

Twice a year we have picnics on our property and one thing I love most is that there are ALWAYS people there inside the building. Lots of people work there, but there are always events taking place inside, either for the people that attend there or as part of something for our town. Just last week a luncheon was held there for town officials and the chamber of commerce. We have lots of Bible studies and Bible fellowship classes to offer and there is even a gym that people can use to work out in for free. Don't trust the treadmills, though—ask me how many times I've almost face planted on one when it abruptly stopped on me. There's a walking track above the gym and when it's too hot or cold outside, you'll find most of my sons there playing or watching basketball games.

I love that it's a hubbub of activity for our community and I LOVE that we have a cross standing on our property that towers over everything in town. It's what we're known for and I'm so glad the town approved for us to have something like that. It's not a perfect place with perfect people inside, but you'll always be welcomed with open arms, you'll hear sound teaching and preaching, you'll hear great music. and you'll find something you're looking for either for yourself or for those in your family. We have a new S.H.IN.E. ministry that is incredible— "seeing Him in everyone" is our special needs ministry from children on up to adults. 

I hope you've enjoyed learning a little about the place where I spend most of my time outside of my home. I feel so honored to able to say all of these things about a place I love to be. I could talk about this all day, but if you have any questions or want to reach out about finding a church near you, please comment or email me. I'd love to talk to you more. I'll end with one last thought—find you a church home and plug in to a small group! It's so important, especially in this day and age. 

Thank you for reading my blog! I'd love to hear from you. Love to all! ❤ 

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Sunday, September 12, 2021

a few things


Happy Sunday/Monday to you, friends. I hope you had a good weekend! I didn't do much, so rather than sharing my typical "weekending" post, I thought I'd share about some things on my heart. I always ask you how I can pray for you, but I'm asking for you to help me pray for someone our family loves. 

I want to start out by saying how glad I was to be at church yesterday. When my heart is overwhelmed, there is nowhere I want to be more than with my church family. Todd and I got to church by 8:15 yesterday morning, and I was shocked to see my pastor's truck in the parking lot. Last week his wife Darlene came down with covid and double pneumonia. She was taken to the E.R. and admitted 24 hours later in to the ICU, where she had to be put on a ventilator to help her breathe. There are other things going on here and there that may be normal for covid patients, but that sound scary here in the world I know. 

I am sure that if I feel like that when I'm overwhelmed and uncertain, how much more my pastor might be, with his wife in the ICU, on a vent and with him being unable to visit. He gave us an update on her and thanked us for our prayers, and then he worshiped with us and listened to a phenomenal sermon. I was so blessed by watching him this morning, and what his posture says about someone in such need at this time in his life. As the godly example he is, I thought about a few things that stood out to me that he is doing right now to help him cope with uncertainty and thought I'd share them with you. 

First, he isn't secluding himself and shutting himself off from being with his faith family. I can almost promise you that he is thinking where else would he want to be than at church, amidst his family. I cannot say that with complete certainty, but I know him well enough to know that has to be the way he is thinking, or he wouldn't have been there today. 

I say that to ask you to think about something—when times are hard and fearful, do you shut yourself off from the world? Looking around in church this morning, I could see a lot of empty seats. I get that it's great to live in a world where we can watch church online, but friends, it is not the same. The worship isn't the same (or completely nonexistent) and you're depriving yourself of like-minded fellowship within the body of believers. If my pastor can show up to church on a Sunday when his world is rocked by the direness of his wife's condition, how much more can we show up at church, even when we don't feel like it? Keep in mind that the enemy is very real and he wants you to stay away from your church family. He wants you alone, distracted and anxious. 

Know that I say this to challenge my own self. My tendency is to go into recluse mode, but that is when the enemy operates. Don't lock yourselves away from the body of Christ!

Second, my pastor is immersing himself in the Word of God. Just this morning he read several passages out of the book of Psalms that have comforted him this week. If you are going through something hard, do not neglect reading the Bible! If you don't know where to go to read, Google it with whatever word you're feeling (discouraged, lonely, anxious) and passages will come up that you can read to combat whatever you're going through.

Again, it's my tendency to neglect this time, but that is a very clever tactic of the enemy. Don't ask me how he so easily does such a great job at this, but he does. Even when I don't feel like it, I MUST spend time with the Lord by reading the Bible.

Third, he let us know and share in his struggles. It was not easy for him to get up and talk about Darlene and I know if I'd gotten close enough to him, I'd probably have seen dark circles under his eyes. He still got up and he shared with us from the very bottom of his heart. He had nothing to keep hidden from us and he was not ashamed to admit how hard his week has been since she became so sick. He thanked us for our prayers on their behalf and I can imagine he has prayed until his voice has just about given way.

I know we don't always know what to pray when life is really hard. Did you know that we don't HAVE to know what to pray? Romans 8:26 says this: And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. Did you catch that? The Holy Spirit prays for us! We don't have to have the words to say, the Lord knows our heart and He knows what we want to pray for. 

I also know that when we are feeling our worst, it can be hard to let people in on the fact that we are struggling. But that is another tactic of the enemy and he wants us to think we're alone. We are not alone! If we are believers and followers of Jesus, then we know that He is always with us. He will never leave us or forsake us! He also wants us to suffer in silence to keep others from praying for us. Here is the thing—the enemy is after those of us who belong to Jesus. He already has the world, but it's us that he wants.

I said all of that to encourage you to be open and honest with those you're closest with. Don't struggle and suffer in silence. Reach out and let someone in to storm the gates of Heaven on your behalf. I also said all of this to ask you to pray for Pastor Chuck and his beautiful (hilarious and crazy) wife Darlene. She is unlike any pastor's wife I have ever known! You literally never know what is going to come out of her mouth, but she is a faithful servant of God and she fiercely loves her husband, children and grandchildren. She is loyal to a T and she will stand up for someone who has been wronged faster than you can blink. I know that when she wakes up and becomes herself again, she is going to be so irritated at all the time she had to spend in a bed, in the hospital. I say that half jokingly, because I do think that's partly true, but I also know that she will be very quick to tell everyone and anyone Who deserves the glory for her overcoming such a serious illness. 

I have another friend whose husband is in the hospital right now and I texted with her right before I started to write this blog post. Will you help me pray for Bill and his wife Connie? Connie is a dear friend of mine from choir and my heart aches for her, Pastor Chuck and anyone else who has a loved one in the hospital alone right now. My heart aches for the patient, but equally so for their spouses stuck at home while they're in the hospital. I bawled my eyes out this morning during the time when my Pastor spoke to us, while we worshipped, and when I drove home from getting dinner at Taco Bell tonight. 

Life is hard! But God is bigger than all of it and I am so glad for the hope we have in Jesus. Do you know Him? I don't know how anyone makes it through this life without a close relationship with Him. Well, I do know, because I see how miserable they are. I'd love to talk more about this if you're interested. Thanks for reading and thanks for helping me pray for my friends. Love to all. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Friday Favorites, 9.10.21


Happy Friday, friends! I'm linking up with Andrea and Erika for this weekly blog post. 

I have to say right up front, which is not at all like me, this week has not been my favorite. Once again it has felt heavy and there are lots of hard things going on in the lives of people that I know and love. Life is so hard sometimes! I'm so thankful for the hope that we have in Jesus. Even when things are so hard, I know that He is right there with me and He is always at work within our lives, because He dwells within us who belong to Him and by through the power and ministry of His Holy Spirit.

Also, can you believe tomorrow is the twenty year anniversary of 9/11? It does not seem possible.

On a lighter note, there have been some bright spots here and there throughout the hard, and that's what I am going to focus on today. 

I cannot even handle how cute this dog is. I'm so glad we have her in our home! She makes me laugh, she makes me swoon with how cute and sweet she is, and sometimes she makes me crazy because she doesn't listen well yet. Even being so, puppy cuddles are my favorite. She loves to sleep on me or in my lap as I sit in my chair.

Bible verses like these are always my favorite thing to read. This is so wise and practical! It's also very, very hard to do, especially in light of our world today.

Have you heard of this podcast? It's all about God stories from people just like you and me. This particular day Sophie Hudson was the guest, and it was one of my favorite things I heard all week. She is such a great encourager! It makes me want to read her books all over again.

These 3 wick candles from Aldi are my new favorite candles. The ones I got (all the same) are "Pumpkin Apple Fritter" and smell divine. They're $3.99! I got one for $6.99 that smells like something baking in the cutest fall ceramic jar. I made a special trip there yesterday just for the candles, because when I went to HomeGoods last week, none of theirs were what I was looking for.

(My other favorite brand of candles are sold there, the DW Home brand.)

Seeing our dear friends and old neighbors on Sunday was one of my favorite moments from the week. I was so glad they dropped by unexpectedly! It's been way too long since I last saw them, at least three years. 

Bible study day was one of my favorite days as well, and my friend Lynn taught this week. She did SUCH a great job! We have some incredible teachers within our women's ministry and I feel so fortunate to be a part. (I only write, I am not a teacher.)

Seeing my dad is always a favorite part of my week and today is no exception. I even have plans to make us a yummy lunch of tortellini with sauce, salad and garlic bread.

Phone conversations that uplift are always my favorite. I may not see or spend time with my best friend much these days, but I treasure our phone conversations. I've talked to her several times this week, because of it being a hard week. 

Time with my husband has been my favorite thing this week, as well. We spend our nights watching Manifest on Netflix. It's SO GOOD.

I can't wait for church on Sunday. It's my favorite place to be these days and one of the few places I go each week. I'm on a kick of staying home, which I never get upset about. Our home is my favorite place to be and it makes me so happy when it smells good and looks cozy for when the weather finally changes.

Well, I could go on, but I'll end it here with a couple of new and possibly favorite worship songs. Know that this is my heart's cry this week, when everything feels hard. 

I hope you listen to these a few times and that the Lord ministers to you through them both.

Thanks for reading my blog, friends, and thank you again for all the sweet words and encouragement lately. Love to all. ❤

Thursday, September 9, 2021

thankful Thursday


Happy Thursday, my friends. I'm joining in once again with Rebecca Jo and Leslie as we co-host this weekly linkup. 

One thing I'll start off with is the gift of encouragement, from people I don't even know face to face! I mentioned here recently that I've had more "traffic" on my blog posts lately and I am so thankful for the encouragement that so many of you have given to me! Yesterday's post was especially that way—if you click on the image below, you can be redirected to check it out, if you're so inclined. 

I am thankful for podcasts. I was telling my friend yesterday that the things that are keeping me sane right now are Jesus, podcasts, phone calls with family and friends, and lots of lots of reading. I am so thankful I have a plethora of these things at my fingertips.

(This is a new one I just found yesterday. It's about God stories. I need all the encouraging and uplifting I can get right now.)

I am so thankful for cozy nights spent at home with my husband. Right now he feels like my safest place and I have come to enjoy our Wednesday nights at home alone. We are making our way through the show Manifest on Netflix and when the episode ended on Tuesday night, I literally gasped. I wanted to watch another one, but I had to go to bed.

I'm thankful for unplanned visits and friends that are more like family. 

This is sweet Katie, one of my dearest friends and old neighbors. The years they lived next door to us were beyond magical and I know neither of us will ever forget the years we had together. What a blessing friends like these are! We camped with them and the path between our houses was much loved and often used. 

I am thankful for long weekends. Last weekend was so, so good. I spent Saturday at home and completed most of my Bible study homework, I cleaned some, did other house thing and caught up on laundry. 

Most everyone was gone all weekend, so I read, I watched movies—it was perfect.

And speaking of reading, I am so thankful for an online community book club I joined recently. I found a new author that I love—Pamela Kelley—and her books are so good! She has written a ton of them, so I have loads to keep me busy until I read them all. I also love that within that online community, people give excellent book recs.

I'm grateful for new (nice) neighbors and kind sons. Todd and our new neighbor Josh were talking yesterday and Josh told him how nervous he got when he pulled up and found out that we had all these sons with big trucks. He actually told someone this week how nice all our sons are—and that will never be lost on me. His kids are equally as nice and have great manners. Also, funny side note—he and Todd knew each other because of Todd's work with the sheriff's department and Josh is a firefighter for Shelby County. 

I am so thankful for good food. I love to cook, but I really love good food. I almost always prefer to eat at home, because I can make most things better than restaurants. A huge pet peeve of mine is unseasoned food, and thanks to all the Food Network shows I've watched over the years, I have learned some invaluable skills that my family greatly appreciates. If you click this picture above, you'll be redirected to a link with the recipe. I loosely followed that recipe, and had the chicken resting atop potatoes. The drippings from the skin on, bone in chicken breasts soaked into the potatoes and HOLY MACARONI it was good. Trust me.

What are you thankful for this week? I'd love to hear from you! Click on the blue button below to link up with us. Thanks for reading, friends. Love to all! 

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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

being a light in a dark world

I came across a quote on Facebook this weekend that stopped me in my tracks. It perfectly explains how I've been feeling recently, but put into more eloquent words from Dave Willis, author and pastor. I'll share it here:

"Be careful with too much news. We're the first generation in all of human history who has 24/7 access to all the world's problems at our fingertips. Technology has outpaced the human capacity to handle the information. We weren't meant to process all the world's chaos; and when we try, it only creates stress, anxiety and frustration. Have an idea of what's happening in the world (and in your specific community), but also have peace in knowing that you can't solve the world's problems. Do what you can to love your family, serve your community and make a positive impact where you can, but sleep in peace knowing the rest is in God's hands."

Isn't that profound? I don't want to put these words on the pedestal that only the word of God deserves, but I had to read it several times and then I shared it on my Facebook page. I don't even get onto Facebook much these days, because my nerves cannot handle it, but it was worth the trip just to read that. Read it a few times for yourself if you need to, then come back and read the rest of my post.

As someone who suffers with anxiety, I want to encourage you in how you "do" social media, your blog or real life. I know that for myself, I've made my online presence individual to who I am and I try to use it all in line with my spiritual gifts. For instance, I am an encourager and I love to do that for people. You will not find political posts or world news when you search for me online. I personally feel like the world doesn't need one more opinion, even if your opinions are the same as mine.

I want to point most of all to Jesus, not current events. I want to share what spoke to me in my quiet time reading that day, I want to share ways you can spend time with Jesus, I want to share Him with anyone and everyone. I know that's not for everyone, and the Lord made us all different—what I like to do, you may not and vice versa. I just want to encourage you to think about what you share before you post/write/say it. I can't handle talking about things that are only political or having to do with the madness in our world today. If that's you, keep it up, but understand that not all of us can handle those conversations every single time we see you.

Also know that sometimes I do need to have conversations like this. Sometimes I feel like the world is just way too much and I need to vent a little to people who are like-minded. I do this often with my mom and with my best friend. They both know that when I say things, I'm up to my eyeballs with being tired and weary of what I see all around me.

Instead of participating in conversations like these, I will slip away quietly and go pray. I can't tell you how many times I walk away from conversations because it's hard for me to process all that is going on today. Prayer is not "all we can do"—it is by far the BEST thing we can do and it's become my reaction to all things news-related.

I've learned to stay off of social media more. I've read an insane amount of books in the last three months—thirty or so, and it's because my heart cannot handle being plugged in all the time. I haven't removed the apps from my phone yet, but that is my next step. I am on Instagram regularly, because it's mostly just sweet pictures and things that I love to see, like a nicely decorated home, puppies, laughing babies and beautiful architecture. 

I also learned quickly to stop watching all of the news. All of it. I rely on emails from trusted sources and some local people I follow on Instagram to keep me up to date on things going on. I assure you, if you ask me if I've heard such and such going on around me, my answer would mostly be yes. I can't look at all of this stuff all the time, though...I'm not burying my head in the sand as someone recently said to me, I'm choosing to not fill my mind on all that happens in and near my city. I can't, or I'd go insane! I'm not joking. 

I like to use my Facebook page to pray for people. I reached out to people last week and asked them how I could pray for them, and you'd be shocked at the amount of people who messaged me asking me to help them pray. It's always a privilege to be able to do that sort of thing and it's more of my preferred way of being on there. I also do pray for others when I see them post, or read of things going on in the world as I read a headline or something a ministry shares and asks people to pray. I believe in being resourceful in every area of life—this is one way I can do that. I have lots of missionary friends there and it's how I know how to pray for them regularly.

Here is a big one—I refrain from commenting on anything I see that I disagree with in the political world. Know that many of who I am friends with Facebook do not practice this—and I'm not being judgmental when I say that—I see what many of them say on posts with a lot of traffic. That is another thing I feel we could all benefit from considering when we make comments. 

I will say something when it goes against what I believe as a follower of Jesus, because I will always stand up for what the word of God says and why I believe the way I do. I will not back away from that, even if it's uncomfortable for me. That being said, this is where I need to grow a thicker skin. I don't love confrontation, but more and more, it's becoming necessary to stand up for what I believe in, as far as what the Bible says and what the world believes. I'm not saying that this will ever be easy for me, I know that it will not, but I will have to do it anyway. Without getting all doom and gloom here, the Bible tells us that things will get worse before they get better. There will be a day when we will see REAL persecution, my friends. 

I try to not "follow" people that I have to see on a regular basis, whose opinions and beliefs are vastly different than mine. Here is why—I need to love them! A couple of years ago when one of the girls I used to have in my small group while I helped in youth became more and more immersed in the ways of the world, I had to unfollow her on social media. She noticed this and asked me why I did that and I was completely honest with her—I told her that if I wanted to love her like Jesus tells me I need to, I had to stop seeing her Instagram posts. She may have gotten her feelings hurt, but now I know that she respects this about my honesty and it frees me to be able to reach out to her on occasion and tell her how much I love her and that I'm always praying for her—and I genuinely mean every word.

This also means that I have lots of people hidden, others I dearly love. I can't see all that and love them wholeheartedly—maybe you can and that's great! I'm very visual, though and I have a hard time forgetting things. I've done this with one of my son's best friends from youth. His life is vastly different now than it was then and I can't handle his new and prideful lifestyle, if you get my drift. This way, when we text occasionally, I can say that I love him with a pure heart and with no judgment directed at him on my end. Know that we do text every so often and I would say this to him as well, but he already knows that and loves me anyway. I love him, but I would never and COULD NEVER condone his lifestyle. 

Well, I think you get the point of my post, friends. I have days where I am on the struggle bus and I would appreciating seeing some fresh ideas on how to NOT let it all get to me. I pray this encourages you today! I'll leave you with one of my favorite verses:

Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9, ESV.

Thanks for reading! Love to all. ❤

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