Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

 

To Celebrate or not to Celebrate?

With the day of Halloween approaching, many of us who are Christians, have our views about whether to celebrate this holiday or not. Halloween like any other Christ-centered holiday has been turned into a secular holiday. Originally Halloween was a holy holiday for the saints. In fact, the word Halloween comes from the word ‘hallow,’ which means ‘holy.’ Halloween began as ‘Hallows Eve’ meaning holy evening. It was the night before ‘All Saints Day’ which is dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and the faithfully departed.

According to The Free Dictionary, hallowed means “to make or set apart as holy, to respect or honor greatly; revere.” We use the word ‘hallowed’ in the Lord’s prayer “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” Matthew 6:9

So how does a holy holiday meant to honor the dead, become about worshipping devils and demons?

Halloween is believed to have been derived from a pagan holiday, Samhain, which was celebrated on the same day as Hallows Eve by the Northern Celtic People. Pagan resources will say this holiday was ‘Christianized,’ when really it’s origination is entirely Christian, having originated from the Roman Catholics.

To celebrate All Hallows Eve, the Church held a vigil, where they worshiped, prayed and fasted (in honor of the dead) prior to the day of the feast. Even though both holidays may have similarities in celebration of the dead, the pagan and Christian holidays are separate, not associated with one another.

Is it true Halloween is on the same day as a pagan holiday? Yes.

Is it true the origination of Halloween was in fact intended to be a holy holiday? Yes.

Halloween, just like any Christian holiday has been altered to conform to secularism. Christmas has become about Santa Claus, Easter has become about the Easter bunny and Halloween has become about the devil.

Does it mean that Christians should not celebrate these holidays just because they have been secularized? Of course not! Otherwise, we would not celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas or the resurrection of Christ on Easter. Just because the world changes the definition of something doesn’t mean Christians should conform to it.

Romans 12:2 ESV
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

As Christians should we participate in this holiday?

If we participate, does that mean we are conforming to the pattern of this world?

Our decision to celebrate or not celebrate should be based on the truth and God’s desire for us. Whatever we decide, I don’t think there is a wrong or right answer. How we choose to celebrate or not to celebrate, can shine Jesus’ light to others.

As Christians, when we allow our children to participate in Halloween it doesn’t mean they are worshipping the devil. Halloween is an opportunity to open the doors of the church for those who normally don’t attend. That is why we see churches inviting the community in by hosting trunk or treats or fall festivals. It is a chance to expose Jesus to non-believers.

Even though the world has made this holiday about evil and darkness, it is an opportunity for Christians to shine the light of Jesus.

What better way to shine the light of Jesus than in the dark?Click To Tweet

As Christians, we can make choices in how we celebrate this holiday. We can choose not to allow our children to dress up as vampires, murderers, demons or devils. We can carve jack-o-lanterns with a cross and put a candle in it. We can hand out candy that has a Bible verse on it. We can pray for the boys and girls who come to our door that may not know Jesus.

7 Ways to shine the Light of Jesus (Click on link to download).

7 Ways to Shine the Light of Jesus during Halloween

How we choose to celebrate or not to celebrate this holiday can be a light to others. If you choose not to celebrate, share why and allow it to be a light to others during this dark holiday. If you choose to celebrate, let it be for the glory of God. Let His light shine through your family for others to see.

How do you celebrate or not celebrate Halloween?  Please Share! 

What are your thoughts on Halloween?

Happy Halloween!

“ the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 NIVClick To Tweet

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Does Our Faith Save Us?

Is our faith enough to save us?

Earlier this month a beloved Pastor named Jarrid Wilson took his own life.  He was a Pastor of a Harvest Christian Fellowship and founder of Anthem of Hope Ministries, a ministry to help those who struggled with depression and suicide.  He brought many to know Jesus and was an accomplished author of a few books, “Love is Oxygen,” “Jesus Swagger,” and “Wondrous Pursuit.”

As a Pastor and Man of God we think how can this happen?  It goes to show struggles are real and even godly people aren’t exempt.  How is it a man who walked with God so closely, spread His good news, helped hundreds with depression and brought many to Christ take his own life?

Jarrid Wilson’s situation asks deeper questions.

Did Jarrid not have enough faith?

If His faith didn’t save him, then what’s the point of having faith?

So many people in the Bible can ask the same question.

Did Daniel’s faith save him from being thrown in the lion’s den? No

Did Shadrack, Meschack, and Abendago’s faith save them from being thrown in the fiery furnace? No

Did the Israelites’ faith save them from being attacked by the Egyptians? No

Did Jesus’ faith prevent him from being crucified on the cross? No

You may be thinking, then what is the point in having faith if it doesn’t keep me safe?

Samaritan’s Purse put out a movie a couple of years ago called  ‘Facing the Darkness’ which was a documentary of the Ebola crisis outbreak.  Dr. Brantly the doctor and first American to contract the Ebola virus, said something so profound. He said, “Faith is not something that makes you safe. My faith did not save me but got me through it. My Faith actually brought me to the Ebola crisis.”

These examples of faith did not PREVENT them from being put in scary, dangerous circumstances. Standing firm in their faith DID PROTECT them and allow for God’s greater plan to happen.

If Daniel didn’t have faith we would have never seen GOD’S POWER to shut the mouths of lions.

If Shadrack, Meshack and Abendago didn’t have faith we would had never seen GOD’S POWER protect them from being burned in the fiery furnace and how God was with them.

If the Israelites didn’t have faith we would have never seen GOD’S POWER to part the Red Sea providing a way out from their enemies.

If Jesus refused to put his trust in His Father’s hands, we would have missed out on the greatest plan that ever existed—OUR ETERNAL SALVATION.

Each example of faith, including Dr. Brantly’s brought them to the heart of a crisis where their lives were at stake. Through each act of faith, we were able to see how trusting in God’s plan moves mountains and makes the impossible, possible.

How big is your faith?

Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

It’s not the size of our faith that moves mountains, but the size of our God.  

IF our FAITH was enough to save us, there would have been no point in sending Jesus. Click To Tweet

Our faith allows God’s greater plan to play out. Our faith does not save us, but God’s grace does. 

Our faith will not SAVE us from our bad circumstances or GUARANTEE us a life without struggles. Our FAITH will not prevent us from being thrown into a pit of lions, a fiery furnace, being attacked by our enemies or contracting a deadly disease. Having faith does not exempt us from harsh realities of this world.

Our faith DOES allow God to be in control and puts the trust in HIS capabilities. Our faith is the very thing that will get us through to the other side and live in the abundant blessings God has to offer. It doesn’t matter what circumstances we are up against, when we have faith we become OVERCOMERS in Christ. Our faith allows us to experience PEACE in the storms and JOY in our struggles because of what God has already gone ahead of us and done.

Where will you allow your faith to take you?

Our faith may lead us into scary, dangerous places.  Be encouraged……..

God's grace will not take us where his love cannot protect us. Click To Tweet

God’s grace and love are greater and bigger than anything in this world.

1 John 4:4 “ You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

How has your faith protected you in your hard circumstances?

Friends, suicide is never the answer.  If you are having suicidal thoughts please reach out and ask for help, call a friend.  Please know your life matters, you are worthy and valuable.

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5 Ways to Make a Killer Instagram Feed

This post will be a little different than my others posts.  I have asked my friend Becky Nutall, to do a guest post on a topic I’ve been interested especially since she has such a creative eye and is a photographer extradoinaire!

Have you ever wondered why some instagram feeds are so much more eye appealing and attention grabbing than others?  Why some instagram feeds can draw you in and keep you scrolling through their feed more than others?  What makes an instagram feed more attractive than the other?

Five Ways to Make a Killer Instagram Feed:

1. Pick an Aesthetic
Settle on a cohesive aesthetic that is seen throughout all of your photos. When you stick to an aesthetic, it will give you freedom to post content that might not necessarily flow; ie. food, travel, fashion, mom life, etc. When the color scheme and lighting are consistent with your aesthetic, you are going to have an Instagram profile that causes people to stop and scroll awhile. You might choose bright & minimal, dark & moody or colorful & vivid. Whichever aesthetic you choose, make sure it is appealing to YOU and to your eye. Don’t just copy another feed. By all means, be inspired, but find your own style. Doing this will make sure your feed stays consistent and scrollable.

Here is an example of my feed from my photography business @bschwartz. This profile lends to a bright, soft color palette with clean backgrounds and consistent lighting.

2. Shoot for your Aesthetic

Having professional photos or at least professional looking photos is important. I always encourage bloggers to learn a few tricks for photographing their own content. Here are a few tips to capture great photos;

• Keep your backgrounds clean and neutral.
• Always shoot in natural bright, daytime light. Photos taken in
bad lighting typically result in blurry, grainy and/or out of
focus images.
• Wipe off your phone camera lens. You would not believe how
much clearer your photos will be with a clean lens!
• There is also a time and a place to hire a photographer. When you do so; plan, plan, plan. Have several weeks if not months of content planned out that you can shoot for. This makes it possible to get the most for your money.

3. Edit for your Aesthetic
My personal Instagram account @nuttallhomestead is similar to my work account since it is what is appealing to my eye (as I mentioned above). Here I give myself a bit more freedom to bring in darker tones and more contrast. My @nuttallhomestead account still lends to bright whites, clean backgrounds and natural lighting.

My personal account is a mix of images shot on my film, digital, or iPhone camera. A large majority of the photos are iPhone shots that, I grab of my family on the go.  Everything I shoot on my iPhone I edit on my phone.
To help you curate a scroll worthy feed and have it flow naturally, you must have a consistent approach to how you edit your images. The two apps that I recommend are Lightroom and VSCO.

I personally use the Lightroom app since it works best with my style.
VSCO is a great option if you would like to edit your feed more towards the dark & moodier side.
Aside from those two, there are hundreds of photo editing apps out there, so find the one you like best, and then stick to it.

Here are few quick editing tips that I apply to almost every image I post;
• Brightness: I always pump up the brightness to give may images a clean crisp look.
• Contrast: I use sparingly but just enough to give my images a good pop and make my darks dark.
• Warmth: I always bring the warmth down and slightly desaturate the blues and teals in my photos.

4. Curate for your Aesthetic
Look at your feed as a whole, not just individual photos. Your grid should tell a story of you and your brand. The wedding venue I own @clayvenues is consistent with the tips I have given above, but is warmer in its color palette.
A viewers first impression of you and your brand is when they click your name and those first 15 images pop up.

Are you telling them to stay and scroll, or are you scaring them off with a disjointed feed? If your first 15 posts are not appealing to the eye, they will most likely click back and find somewhere less hectic to scroll. I know this is all a tall order, but below are a few tips to help make it more simple.


The hardest part of making your Instagram feed look cohesive is figuring out how to make each individual post look good beside the others. The best way to curate your feed, is to preview it in a grid app before you post to IG. My favorite app for this is called Plann, it allows you to upload images and then move them around to find the most appealing order.

My favorite feeds have blank space, clean backgrounds and they avoid redundancy in their posting. An example of something you would avoid while utilizing Plann, would be posting two selfies in a row or posting two selfies on top of each other. This is the beauty of Plann, you can upload all of your “to be posted images” and move them around until they fit just right.

5. Last but not least, remember to have fun, share what you love, share what brings you joy and share your life in a beautiful way. People will follow along with the story when you are passionate and have a cohesive feed.

About Becky:  I am a fine art film wedding photographer. My husband and I live in Colorado Springs with our one year old son, Clayton, and pup, Stella.
  I had the privilege of attending Brooks Institute of Photography, where I received a bachelors of art in professional photography. I have captured hundreds of weddings over the past 14 yearsWhen I am not shooting weddings, I have been busy with our newest venture of starting Clay Venues, a modern event space in Colorado Springs.
  I love to workout, bike with my family and spend time on our back patio.

I would love to connect with you all and see your beautiful Instagram profiles grow.
www.bschwarzphotography.com
@bschwartz
 @nuttallhomestead
 @clayvenues

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5 Things I’m Doing This Summer to be More Intentional

Now that school is out summertime can be a busy time of the year.  As a working mom, if I’m not intentional with making plans, summer will be over and kids will be back in school before I know it.  I’m entering into a new stage of life, where my kids are becoming ‘tweens’ and I have the joy parenting bad attitudes and arguments with their sibling.

I want to make summer fun, but I also want to use it as an opportunity to grow and learn.

5 Things I’m Doing This Summer to Be More Intentional:

1. Making Day Trip/Weekend Getaway Wish Lists:  This year I’ve asked the kids what are some fun activities you want to do this summer or some local places you want to visit we would normally not do during the year. We have an RV and want to go on weekend camping trips so we’ve made a list of places we want to visit.  We are a military family and never know how long we will be where we live, so we want to visit as many places as we can!

If you live in Colorado, places that have made the list are The Denver Mint, Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, Durango, Estes Park, Aspen, trampoline park, Royal Gorge train, Cave of the Winds, and indoor sky diving.

2.  Making a reading list.  I love to read.  Summer is a great time to catch up on books, I haven’t had time to read.  So the kids and I are making a summer reading list of books we would like to read.  If you have any recommendations for a 12-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy, Please leave in the comments below.

My kids aren’t the most avid readers so we have to be intentional about making time to read.  Their school has a point system where they receive points for reading which goes towards a grade which is a wonderful incentive for them to read more!  And also the fun day trips we planned can be a fun incentive.

Books I want to read this summer Thirst by Scott Harrison, Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors, A Case for Miracles by Lee Stroebel, Dear Wife by collaborative writers and Boys in the Boat.

3.  Making a Chore List.  Boring, right?!?!?  As a parent if I want to help build character in my child, chores are one of the best ways to do it.  Doing chores helps us all be a part of a team that helps contribute towards maintaining the household, it’s not just one person’s job to take care of everything.  We pick age appropriate chores (and they receive an allowance), and make sure they’re done daily/weekly.

Giving them an allowance also helps teach them how to manage money by saving towards something they want to buy themselves (which they always appreciate more than when something is just given to them).

4.  Setting side an intentional time for family games and devotionals.  Do you have any fun favorite family games you like to play together?  Going camping has definitely got us more motivated to play games together.  But at home my favorite game to play is SPOONS.

It’s a card game, where everyone sits in a circle.  One person has the deck of cards.  Each player has four cards in their hands.  The purpose of the game is to get 4 of a kind.  Whoever gets 4 of a kind first takes the first spoon until all the spoons in the center are gone.  Whoever is left without a spoon gets a letter.  Whoever spell the word SPOON first loses.  Sometimes this game does not always end well.  There may be the occasional fighting and tears, but the more we play, the more we learn it’s not always about winning, but just being together.

Setting side a time to do family devotionals is an ever evolving process.  The time that usually works best for us is right before bed.  We’ve picked You Version Bible App   Bible reading plan we can read together as a family and have meaningful conversations that really work on our hearts.  Two Bible reading plans we’ve picked to read together are Compassion: 30 days of heart work and Homegrown: Cultivating Kids in the Fruit of the Spirit.

Does your family read devotionals together or a Bible reading plan?  Which one do you do?

5.  Joining a Bible Study Group.  This summer I’ve opened my home to a group of women from my church to complete the on-line Bible study by Kelly Minter “No Other gods,” by Lifeway.  This summer Lifeway is offering the videos for “No Other gods,” for free when you sign-up to do the on-line study.  It is a great way to connect with other women who I would normally not connect with and we get to complete a Bible Study together!  And if you’re schedule is too busy sign up to do the on-line study! Just click on link above or image below.

No other gods by Kelly Minter

What Bible study are you working on this summer?

I would love to hear what you are doing this summer and what steps you are taking to be more intentional.

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Why We Should Let Go of the Miracle

Have you ever prayed so hard for something, for someone a situation for weeks, months, years and the outcome still hasn’t changed?  What if that miracle, that outcome we’re praying for isn’t what God wants?

Of course we all WANT good health, our families to be SAFE, our kids to make good choices and not fight, our spouses to love us unconditionally even when we mess up.  Lately I’ve been seeing so many families going through so some hard devastating circumstances–their child has cancer, dad has cancer, there’s been an accident or a death.  There is a desperation for God to come through to resurrect our devastating circumstances.

But, what happens when God doesn’t come through and grant us the Miracle we’ve been asking for?

Doesn’t God care?

Why wouldn’t God want to heal a child whose about to die?

Why wouldn’t God want a family to stay together and heal the person with addictions?

Why wouldn’t God want to fix this unbearable, horrendous situation that will only lead to more destruction?

In the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), there is a pattern of a message from Jesus and then a miracle to follow.   Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.  There is nothing wrong in wanting, hoping or praying for the Miracle.  Not to sound depressing, what if the miracle NEVER happens?  Where does that leave us?  

Why We Should Let Go of the Miracle

Here is the point I want to breakdown.

God is capable of anything, any miracle beyond what we could ever ask of him. What part of the miracle are we putting our hope in? The Gift of the miracle or the Giver of the miracle?Click To Tweet

When a Miracle happened in the Bible, they all started one of two ways–without any expectation/anticipation of the miracle or with a believing person or crowd who was seeking the Messiah not the actual miracle.

When Jesus healed the official’s son (John 4:46-54), the official sought out Jesus for a miracle to heal his son.  He traveled a far distance to find him.  The man believed Jesus had to be present to perform the miracle, but in this case his mere spoken words healed his son.  The official sought out the one who was able to heal and Jesus granted the miracle.

In John 5, the handicap man sitting by a pool was not expecting Jesus to approach him and ask, “Do you want to be healed?”  Jesus merely instructed the man, “pick up your mat and walk.”  This man had no expectation to be healed and simply followed his instructions and was healed.

When Jesus fed the crowd of the 5,000+ people in John 6, they were seeking more of the Messiah and what he was able to do.  When they were seeking and following him, they had no expectation he would feed the entire crowd with just two loaves of bread and five fish.  They were seeking what Jesus was able to do, wanted more of Him not the reward of the miracle.

When We Let Go of the Miracle-

Letting go of the Miracle is HARD.  

When we hold onto the Miracle, we put our Hope in WHEN or IF THE MIRACLE happens, we’re then seeking the GIFT.

Letting go of the Miracle, puts our Hope in what God is ABLE to do and TRUST He knows what’s BEST, we’re then seeking the GIVER.  

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves hard questions and sit in the reality of the truth.  What am I putting my Hope in the GIFT or the GIVER?

I’m not saying let go of the miracle and lose your hope.  I’m saying let go of OUR expectation of WHEN the miracle WILL HAPPEN.  We can’t put God in a box and DEMAND, ‘God, I want this miracle to happen, DO IT!’  We can’t EXPECT God ‘to FIX it‘ the way we want it.  When we do, we’re putting a limitation on the miracle of what He’s ABLE to do.

Behind Every Miracle There’s a Deeper Message

Sometimes the deeper message isn’t God changing our outcomes, isn’t ‘fixing it,’  or even the miracle–it’s changing our perspective and changing our hearts.  Sometimes God is waiting for the Breakthrough or the Miracle to Happen within US.  If our hearts aren’t in the right place, we will never be able to receive the greatest miracle God has for us–Peace and Freedom.  Eternal peace and freedom resides in God’s outcome of what He’s holding in His Hands not our circumstances that fall in this world.

There is PEACE and FREEDOM when we stop displacing our hope in things that may never happen and TRUST IN GOD'S OUTCOME, what he has for us is ENOUGH and more than we'll ever need. Click To Tweet

Jesus NEVER  performed Miracles to PROVE Himself or give another sign He was ABLE.  He is ALWAYS Able and CAPABLE of the IMPOSSIBLE.

Are you praying for a Miracle?

Where Do you put your Hope, in the Gift or the Giver?

Is there an unsettling struggle in your life and you can’t put your finger on it?  I challenge you to sit with these hard questions and be truthful and honest with your answers.  We will never regret pursing the truth.  Join me next week when we discuss, “When God’s love is the outcome.”  Your are loved my friend!

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4 Easy Ways To Simplify Your Health

This week is a guest post from Jen Roland, who is owner/blogger of Faith Fueled Fitness.  I love faith and fitness and am excited to have Jen guest post and share her insights of making health simple and easy.  Make sure to check out her recipes and fitness workouts!  Have a great week!

In Him,

Heather


4 Easy Ways To Simplify Your Health

There are two words that every new mom dreads.

Bathing suit.

While not explicitly stated, when my sister-in-law asked me to be a bridesmaid – in Florida and by the beach – those two words were exactly what I heard.  Holding my one-year old on my hip, I envisioned stuffing my post-pregnancy belly into a strapless bridesmaid dress.   The mental image was less than flattering.

I needed a way to simplify my health especially with a baby.

But, I was determined.  I vowed to lose the rest of the baby weight, get in amazing shape, and do whatever it would take to get my pre-pregnancy body back.

For the next five months, some might say I was a little “obsessed.”  I worked out for over an hour a day and followed a strict meal plan.  I cut out all refined sugars, eliminated caffeine, and passed on the pizza at parties.  When her wedding day arrived, I received lots of compliments about how “amazing” I looked.  My husband must have agreed, because I came home from that trip pregnant with baby number three.

Two weeks later, after experiencing heavy bleeding, I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma, deemed a high-risk pregnancy, and directed to halt all physical activity.  At 33 weeks, I went into labor, was hospitalized to stop the contractions, and sent home on strict bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy.

When I was given the green light to exercise three months after my son was born, I was starting from ground zero.  This time, God showed me that I needed to approach taking care of my health differently.  He taught me that if I wanted to change my habits, I would need to start by changing the way I think about them.

It began with renewing my perspective from fitness and nutrition as vehicles to achieve the perfect body to fitness and nutrition as opportunities to glorify God by caring for the body He gifted to me.

As I started to view my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, I began to treat it that way, focusing on life-giving foods that helped me operate at my best without counting every calorie that went into my mouth.

God revealed that in letting my thoughts and actions revolve around when I would work out or what I would eat, I had made my body an idol.  I needed to break free from the obsession so I could focus more on Him.  As I put Christ at the center of my health journey, it became less about perfecting myself and more about living to please Him.  This shift in mindset has had a tremendous impact.

In the words of Beth Moore, “The ultimate goal for most of us, however, is freedom from obsession so that God rather than the body can be glorified.  This goal is most often realized through recapturing the lost art of moderation.  This means learning to do what we need to do (to keep ourselves healthy) and then getting on with living.”1

When we seek our self-worth, personal fulfillment, or happiness in something other than the Lord our God, we’ve allowed that thing to take an inappropriate position of power in our lives that should be reserved for Him. 

1 Corinthians 6:12 tells us “I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but I will not be mastered by anything.”Click To Tweet

We have the “right” to eat anything we want and we have the “right” to exercise.   However, while something may be permissible, it may not be beneficial.  And while something may be beneficial, it may be unnecessary – even unhealthy – if taken to extremes.

Caring for our health shouldn’t feel like a burden – it should feel “free.”  We can choose to let go of the diet mentality and focus on life-giving choices.  We can choose to let go of obsessing over every bite of food, becoming slaves to a number on a scale, and constantly chasing perfection.  Doing so is an obsession and is actually unhealthy.


4 Easy Ways To Simplify Your Health:

  1. Have a strong WHY for improving your health that is about more than physical appearance. Consider how positive lifestyle habits will allow you to operate at your best so you can give your best to God and others.
  2. Exercise regularly, but not obsessively. Start small with a few minutes a day and build from there (download my FREE GUIDE for short, simple workouts).  Focus on progress, not perfection and consistency over performance.  As you build new habits, focus on what you will do, not what you cando.  Daily wins build momentum and fuel you to keep going!
  3. Focus on consuming nutrient-dense, life-giving foods (not pre-packaged or highly processed).  (Download Living Giving Foods List.)
  4. Adopt an abundance mindset that is focused on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, such as more energy, decreased chance of disease, a closer relationship with God, and improved quality of life.  Shifting our focus to what we are gaining and our health as an opportunity to glorify Him sets a foundation for sustainable change.

As we begin to make small steps toward a healthier lifestyle, we must not neglect the importance of regular quiet time for our emotional and spiritual well-being.  (Check the Resource Guide in my 7-Day Jump Start Plan for some suggestions to get started.)  We can commit our plans to the Lord, asking Him for the strength to keep going when we’re lacking in motivation.  Then we place our eating, exercising, and everything we do before God as an offering, honoring Him through caring for the body He has given each of us.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 Click To Tweet

Properly fueling our body, mind, and spirit is a means to live with purpose to pursue God’s plan for our lives.  When we keep that perspective, we can rest in the fact that our priorities are well-aligned.  We can stop obsessing over things this world says make us happy and focus on the one thing that brings true fulfillment.


Call to Action:   Download 12 Strategies to Simplify Your Health.  Choose one habit that is doable in your current season of life and which would have the greatest impact on your health.  Share it below or in our private Facebook group, along with your WHY.  Why is this habit important to you?  How will it allow you to operate at your best so you can give your best to God and others?

Additional Resources:
FREE 7-Day Jump Start Guide
Life Giving Foods List
FREE Recipes, Meal Plans & Workouts

Related Posts:
Chasing Beauty (Focusing on Where True Beauty is Found)
7 Strategies to Break the Cycle of Emotional Eating
An Ode to Junk Food Cravings (and How to Beat Them)
7 Strategies for Achieving & Maintaining Your Weight Loss Goals
More Energy, Few Cravings (5 Simple Ways to Pack More Nutrients Into Your Meals)
32 Tips to Get Motivated to Workout

To learn more about Jen and her mission of faith and fitness Click Here.

References:

1. Moore, Beth. (1998). Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit. Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press.


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MENDED: A Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

Mended: A Book Review and Giveaway!

One of the most important relationships you can have is with your mother.

 

Mother’s Day can be a mixed bag of emotions for many.  Many celebrate Mother’s Day without their mother, or who have a strained relationship with their mom, and some can’t talk to their mothers at all because they’ve passed away.  Whatever the circumstance, Mother’s Day can bring joy and/or pain.

Today I have the opportunity to share with you the new book Mended:  Restoring the hearts of Mothers and Daughters by Blythe Daniels and Helen McIntosh.

A moment of honesty–I was a little afraid to read this book, in fear it would conjure up unwanted emotions and pains of the past.  

As a child I grew up in a divorced home and had the blessing of having two mothers.  My step-mom from the start treated my twin sister and I as her very own.  Of course there are ups and downs in any relationship but the love we had for each other grew over the years into something greater–a mother/daughter relationship.

My relationship with my (biological) mother was different.  I didn’t understand much about mental illness as a child and didn’t understand why my mother acted certain ways.  As I grew into adulthood I had to learn how to separate the person from the mental illness.  When I was hurt by something she did I had to learn how to forgive and love her for for how God made her.

As the years past, I learned how to stay away from silly arguments that only led to quarrels.  I had to learn how to make healthy boundaries.  I learned how to NOT find happiness in met expectations, but in the reality of God’s plans.  We don’t get to choose who our parents are, nor do they get to choose who their children are.  I admit, there were times in my childhood into adulthood my relationship with my mother was strained at best.

Once I learned to embrace her mental illness was a gift from God in how he made her, I was able to be set free in having the loving relationship with her God intended for me.  She wasn’t responsible or in control of my emotions or feelings in how I responded, I was.  I didn’t have to constantly be afraid of being hurt over and over because I focused on God’s kingdom purpose for her–to be loved for who she was not in what she did.  

Mended will help any mother/daughter relationship gain the clarity it needs to take steps towards healing.  Blythe and Helen do a wonderful job in asking the right questions and equipping readers to gain a new perspective.  It’s not about the argument.  It’s not about being right.  And it’s certainly not about meeting YOUR EXPECTATIONS.  

When reality doesn't meet your expectations

Disappointment in our relationships happens when we have high expectations and the reality is no where near them.  Everything in between just becomes disappointment.

No relationship is beyond repair. Our relationships with our mothers are more valuable and important than our own agendas.Click To Tweet

I had to ask myself was my disappointment always going to be the focus and highest priority?  When God’s agenda becomes our agenda we are able to embrace his ways and plans in how to love one another in the most loving way possible and let go of our disappointments.

Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7Click To Tweet

Have you put an expectation on someone they can’t meet?

Maybe instead of expecting them to change, sit with God and ask How can I love this person today in the most loving way possible?  The pursuit of relationships sometimes don’t always turn out the way we want them nor should they cost us our sanity.

Giving God your struggles, trusting Him in guiding your relationships is the best way to start in mending each others hearts.  God will tell you when it’s time to set boundaries.  He will tell you when to speak and not speak.  And He’ll most definitely show you how to love.

God is never going to ask you to fill roles you were never intended to fill.  Your role is not to be the Savior.  It’s not to change the other person.  And it’s definitely not to enable.  Our roles in strained relationships are to let go of what we can’t control by surrendering it to God and trusting in what God is able to do with it.

God didn’t say the pursuit of healing and restoration would be without heartache.  But He does promise to hold our hands to get us through.

Are you willing to pursue mended relationships?

Learning how to love my mother in the way God made her was one of the hardest things I had to do, but the reward of the mended relationship was so worth anything I had to go through to get to the other side.  

God is with you my friend, he might ask us to step out of the boat like Peter to take his hand in the storm.  He might ask us to jump into the fiery furnace like Shadrack, Meschach and Abendago.  He might even ask us to spend the night with a bunch of hungry lions at the bottom of a dark pit.

Giving up on relationships is the easy way out and we miss out on God’s miracles.  When we stand firm in God’s promises, trusting to hold our hands to get us through we will never miss out on his miracles of what He is able to do.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers!  May your day be filled with God’s abundant blessings!

   Blythe Daniel & Helen McIntosh 

Blythe Daniel is a literary agent and marketer with 20 plus years of experience in publishing. She is a speaker at writer’s conferences and is interviewed for podcasts and webinars. She has written for Christian Retailing and Focus on the Family publications, and she links hundreds of bloggers with millions of readers through BlogAbout. Her passion is helping authors share their unique stories. The daughter of Dr. Helen McIntosh, she lives in Colorado with her husband and three children. www.theblythedanielagency.com

Dr. Helen McIntosh (EdD, Counseling Psychology) is a counselor, speaker, educator, and author of Messages to Myself and Eric, Jose & The Peace Rug®. Her work has appeared in Guideposts, ParentLife, and HomeLife magazines. She resides in Georgia with her husband Jim. They have two children and five grandchildren. Learn more at our mended hearts. 

Mended is available now for purchase in all retail book stores.  Get your copy today just in time for Mother’s Day!  Click here to buy your copy today or enter a chance to win a free copy below.

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I would love to hear from you!  Leave Your Comments Below.  I pray we all pursue mended relationships that can only be healed and restored in Jesus.  ​In Him,

Enter the MENDED book GIVEAWAY!  To enter must do 2 out of 4:

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Dear WIFE: An Invitation to Practice Connection

Dear Wife: An Invitation to Practice Connection

After years of marriage, we can go on auto-pilot. You pick up the dry cleaning, and I’ll pick up the kids. It is Taco Tuesday and church on Sunday, and one day you wake up and realize you have just been going through the motions. This happens to couples all the time. Their once hot and heavy romance turns into a situation where they are more like roommates than lovers. Or maybe your husband works long hours and you stay home with the kids. By the time he comes home, he is looking for love and all you want to do is collapse when it comes time for bed. There are millions of other possible scenarios, but the bottom line is God has SO MUCH more for our marriages. When Christ is the center of your life, the connection you have with Jesus overflows into every aspect of your life, including your marriage. When we walk in the fullness of Jesus it changes our hearts, our marriages and it changes us.

Enter Amanda Davison. Sometime last year Amanda had a big God-sized dream to help wives thrive in their marriage through community. Amanda formed the non-profit ministry A Wife Like Me and developed an online space to gather wives in community. She assembled a team of authors from across the country to help her implement the vision that God gave her to start a community and a movement of wives. Women who were committed to growing in relationship to Jesus and their husbands by practicing Biblical principles in their marriages. The A Wife Like Me team has written its first book in response to the needs of women through our gathering space and feedback from the blog.

Dear Wife: 10 Minute Invitations to Practice Connection with Your Husband

We have a fantastic team of contributors at A Wife Like Me team who have come together to contribute monthly blog posts and provide Biblical resources for wives. We’ve had the best time coming together under Amanda’s leadership to dream, plan and pray how to best serve wives. And thus Dear Wife was born. Dear Wife is written by seventeen different contributors from the A Wife Like Me team. All the contributors who wrote this book are accomplished authors, speakers, and Christian leaders who have walked through fire in their marriages and have lived to tell about it.

Dear Wife Contributor Team

Dear Wife begins with a sweet invitation to draw near your Savior Jesus Christ and contains 26 invitations, with ten-minute practices, to grow in your connection with your husband by growing closer to Jesus. Each invitation includes scripture from the life of Jesus and a devotional application, and thought-provoking reflection questions to grow closer in connection to The Father and to your husband.

My two invitations in the book are the third invitation entitled What We Really Need and the final invitation Surrendered Service. 

Dear Wife: 10 Minute Invitations to Practice Connection with Your Husband

Do you wish you had more alone time with your husband? Do you find yourself going through the day-to-day busy routine of life while your marriage is on cruise control, without intentional time together spent connecting? Do you desire deeper intimacy and love with your husband?

Being married is great, but being married and feeling intimately connected is what every wife desires.

Dear Wife provides you with twenty-six heart-changing invitations to discover how Christ desires connection with you and how through connection with Christ, you’ll develop deeper connection with your husband.

In this book, you will:
Replace boring and busy with building deep intimacy and love
Swap ongoing complacency with intentional connection
Spend guided alone time with your husband and God
Experience more depth in your marriage relationship
Restore and build connection with God and with your husband

Dear Wife is available for preorder now and releases 5/1. Dearwifebook.com #dearwifebook

Misty Phillip is passionate about helping women overcome challenges in life by seeking Jesus, studying the Word and growing in grace. She is the author of The Struggle is Real: But so is God Bible Study, Founder and host of the By His Grace Podcast, sought after speaker at MistyPhillip.com and contributor to both Dear Wife and to A Wife Like Me.

Website: MistyPhillip.com

Social Media Facebook , Instagram, Twitter


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I would love to hear from you!  Leave your comments below.  Have a Blessed Week! In Him, 

3 Ways To Make Your Courage STRONGER

#Courage #stonger

Courage.  We all need it.  We all have it.  But do we really know how to access courage and use it when we need it?  

God knew we needed courage more than anything so he left 365 Bible verses, with the word courage, as a reminder for each day of the year.  

Do you know someone courageous?

That someone, no matter what the situation puts their life on line, extends their all no matter what the situation or risk?

Corrie Ten Boom and Irena Sendler, two modern-day women were the epitome of courage.  They risked their lives to save the lives of others at the cost of their own lives.  

Queen Esther risked her life to save the entire Israelite race, putting her own life at risk.  In the end when she did God worked out all the details.

Nathan the prophet risked his life boldly going before King David to call him out on his affair with Bathsheba, getting her pregnant and killing her husband to cover up his sin.  Nathan risked a lot by standing up to a king and basically saying, “You messed up and God doesn’t like it.”  Because of Nathan, David repented and God used him for his greatest plan ever—the lineage to Jesus.  

Do you ever wonder what do they have, I don’t?

Maybe our courage just needs a little more strength.  A little more grit.  That something that takes us from just showing up to practice to winning the gold medal.  

3 Ways to Make Your Courage Stronger:

1. ABIDE in the Power of Jesus’ love.  When we abide in the love of Jesus, we receive his power of no fear, because there is no fear in love.  Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4: I bet each person I mentioned above was scared to death, but the benefit outweighed the risk).    

Why?  Because they trusted in the power of God.  When we trust in what God is able to do, we take the worry and stress off of ourselves that it is up to us to get the job done.  God’s strength and power is so much greater than ours. 

Our courage becomes so much stronger when we abide and trust in God’s power of what He is able to do. Click To Tweet

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God;  if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”  God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as he is so also are we in this world.”  1 John 4:11, 16-17.  

God’s love is perfected within us when we abide in him.  When we live as though our next breath is dependent upon his provision.  When we live as though God is apart of our every being.  We can live in the confidence of what God has already done because nothing the enemy does can change what God has already accomplished.  Our courage becomes stronger when we abide in Christ.  

2.  Take Risks.  Every single courageous person I know takes risks.  Courage isn’t courage without taking risks.  The one thing I have learned about taking risks, I would have never experienced the greatness God’s blessings waiting on the other side.  The path God asks us to take sometimes seems scary like we’re walking towards a fiery furnace, but I PROMISE God’s will, will never take us where His GRACE cannot protect us. 

Each step of faith we take, builds our spiritual muscles by testing our faith, refines us like pure gold and brings us closer to where God desires us to be—which makes our COURAGE STRONGER.  

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuinenesss of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes through it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”  1 Peter 1:6.  

3.  Seek Wisdom.  The closer we are to Jesus, the more wise we become.  Wise people seek Jesus.  Courageous people seek wisdom to know what they’re next steps are.  Wisdom helps us make better choices and discern God’s will, if indeed we are going in the right direction.  Those who abide in Christ, receive the power of God’s wisdom.  God’s wisdom makes our COURAGE STRONGER.  The foundation and cornerstone of our lives is based on God’s wisdom and love.  

“By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place;”  Proverbs 3:19 

Everything we do is connected to the one who created us.  God is the provider of our courage.  Without God’s courage we wouldn’t be able to do what He asks of us.  We see God’s most amazing promises revealed because of the courageous steps of faith others took in the Bible.   

  • We saw the Israelites pass through The Red Sea because they were still and didn’t flee.
  • We saw the walls of Jericho fall because the Israelites had the courage to obey and march for 7 days in the midst of their enemies.  
  • We saw David defeat the big giant Goliath with just one stone, because he had the courage no one else had.  
  • We saw what happened when 3 men had the courage to stand up to the most powerful King Nebuchadnezzar (besides Jesus) who ever existed—their lives were spared from the fiery furnace, not a hair was cinged nor did they smell like smoke.  

Making our courage strong is important in our relationship with God.  Without courage we would never witness God’s most glorious plans that could have only been accomplished through him.  Our courage helps prepare our hearts to be ready when God asks us to take steps of faith.  Will you be ready?  

'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.' Joshua 1:9Click To Tweet

What makes your courage stronger?

How has courage allowed you to fulfill God’s purpose? 

Did you find this post to be encouraging and helpful?  Please share with others who are in need of prayer.  For more encouraging messages, Subscribe to my blog to receive a FREE ebook and weekly message of hope right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook Page. to keep updated on posts.

I would love to hear from you!  Leave your comments below.  Have a Blessed Week!

Enjoy this FREE Printable Bookmark.  Click on link below to download the PDF as reminder you are Courageous!

We need to know we are not alone.


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What Were The Most Powerful Words Ever Spoken?

Do you know where the most powerful, life-changing words were spoken?  

Do you know who spoke those words?

The most powerful words are from the last dying words from a person.  They are remembered because they will never speak those words again.  

This Easter as we reflect what Jesus did for us, we can witness in Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross his prayers for us.  His last words are so telling of his undying love for us. Here are the dying last words of Jesus.

7 Powerful Words Jesus Spoke on the Cross:

1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). It amazes me even as Jesus was ridiculed, persecuted, beaten and crucified he still prayed for those who were killing him. He even forgave one of the men on the cross who was sentenced with him. Even in Jesus death he prayed for us and still had the power to make people right with God and cared about their salvation.

2. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV). These are the words Jesus said to one of the criminals sentenced with him after the criminal said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Can you even imagine hanging on the cross suffering and Jesus says these words to you, promising you will be in paradise today and you will be with Jesus? This signifies this paradise is something that  only Jesus brings not the world.

3. “Dear Woman, here is your son” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother” (John 19:26-27 NIV). Jesus was saying this to his mother Mary, even in Jesus’ last hours of life he honored his mother by asking John, his disciple to take care of her.

Could you even imagine being in Mary’s shoes watching her child suffer, hanging on the cross, knowing he was going to die?Click To Tweet

Jesus wanted to make sure his mother would be taken care of and entrusted his beloved disciple John to do this.

4. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). This is the fourth saying Jesus says in both Aramaic and Hebrew, from the cross. Prior to this, Jesus had fallen silent for 3 hours after the darkness came. This is the first thing he said after the darkness left. In the 3 hours of darkness is where Jesus felt the wrath and separation from God for the first time.

This statement shows his vulnerability as a human and reveals his feeling of abandonment from God. I think this saying shows how heavy bearing the sins of all of mankind was and therefore cries out to God for help. This shows us we should cry out to God also when we too bear much suffering.

5. “I am thirsty” (John 19:28 NIV). This is so interesting how Jesus asks for water considering he taught his disciples and followers many times that he was the living water, that whoever drinks of the water will never thirst again and have eternal life (John 4:14). It is striking how the one who is the water of life is dying in thirst. I think this shows Jesus craving for his physical comfort to be refreshed with a drink of water.

Jesus not only desired for his physical thirst to be satisfied but his spiritual thirst as well. In scorn, the soldiers dipped a sponge filled with vinegar on the end of a hyssop plant to give Jesus a bitter taste in his mouth. You and I today can ‘give Jesus a drink’ by sharing what we have with those in need by feeding the hungry and giving water to the thirsty (Matthew 25:34-40). Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 383). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

6. “It is finished” (John 19:30 NIV). This statement marks one of the last things Jesus says before he dies. It signifies he completed what he came to this earth to do, to die for our sins. He says the Greek word ‘tetelestai’ which means ‘paid in full.’ Jesus didn’t say ‘I am finished,’ he said ‘It is finished,’ meaning his redemptive work was complete. “It is finished,” is a declaration of Victory! Jesus became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He suffered the penalty we deserved. Even up to the moment of his death, Jesus remained the one who gave his life for us (John 10:11, 14,17-18). Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 340). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

7. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46 NIV). This is the seventh and last statement Jesus says before he bowed his head and took his last breath. Jesus died for us. He offered his body and soul, not for himself, but for us. Jesus did not die as a martyr, but as a Victor, because he completed what he came to do. All of the suffering Jesus went through, his death was not for nothing.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” is actually a bedtime prayer used by Jewish children. It tells us how our Lord died: confidently, willingly and victoriously (John 10:17-18).

It is a prayer of commitment to God before taking his last breath. Those who know Jesus as their Saviour may also die with the same confidence and assurance, that Jesus did (2 Cor. 5:1–8; Phil. 1:20–23). Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 276). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Wow! I can’t even believe all that Jesus was teaching us even in his suffering on the cross and very last hours of his life. It shows me how important prayer is in our lives. Praying is what Jesus was doing up until the last breath he took. He not only was showing us his love by enduring suffering and death in which we deserved, but praying on our behalf asking for our forgiveness.

He comforted the criminal who was suffering telling him about God’s promise of paradise. He honored his mother. He cried out to God for help. He showed his desire to have his thirst quenched both physically and spiritually. Jesus remained faithful even in his suffering. He showed us that God is always with us, he never leaves or forsakes us.

This Easter, we can partake and participate in the victory of Jesus as his gift to us.

What do Jesus’ last words mean to you?

What are the most powerful words you ever heard spoken?

We don’t have to be perfect to accept this gift, have it all together or be someone great. God’s gift of eternal life he offers to everyone, no matter who we are, who we were or who we will be. Opening and receiving God’s gift of eternal life, is the best gift anyone could ever receive this Easter.

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below. Have a blessed and Happy Easter!

Did you find this post to be encouraging and helpful?  Please share with others who are in need of prayer.  For more encouraging messages, Subscribe to my blog to receive a weekly message of hope right to your inbox or like my Author Facebook Page. to keep updated on posts.

I pray the God of hope will fill you with Peace as you Trust in Him!  Have a Blessed week!  I would love to hear from you!  Leave Comments Below.  Happy Easter!


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