Monday, February 13, 2017

Do You Need To Go Heavier?

I classify myself as a 'fitness loner' since most of my fitness routines are done by myself.  I like to think I"m disciplined enough to keep a fitness routine and although I am consistent, the same routine is done over and over.  This is great to stay healthy and active, but is a  poor plan when additional results are desired.

Recently the opportunity to attend a fitness class came.  During class we were using hand weights and our instructor would periodically ask "Does anyone need to go heavier?"  She would often encourage the class if the weight being used felt comfortable, it may be time to go a bit heavier. This is a benefit of group exercise, to be challenged to reach goals and to do a little more than what is comfortable. The instructor knew that if we were comfortable with our weights, we would not achieve the greatest results.  It takes tension and resistance along with more effort for continued progress

In fitness, the more tension and stretching of the muscle, the more it builds. Strength training is also called resistance training because it involves strengthening and toning your muscles by contracting them against a resisting force. When you strength train with weights, you're using your muscles to work against the extra pounds (this concept is called resistance). This strengthens and increases the amount of muscle mass in your body by making your muscles work harder than they're used to.

To be spiritually fit, it is not the easy routines of life that bring growth. It again calls on tension and resistance. To grow stronger in the Lord, choices must be made with what is most beneficial to take in and to give out. The goal for Christians is to be more Christ-like in our words, actions, thoughts and deeds.  It is His love that equips us to make the needed changes such as daily drinking in His life giving Word.  What we put in our minds and hearts will come out in actions.  Setting aside a time to read the Bible sounds easy, until something interferes (like sleep, activities,work etc.). Then the challenge begins!  Prayer is a discipline that when pursued gives great strength to us, is a blessing to others as we pray for them and in hard times brings deliverance and help from the God with whom nothing is impossible. Being Christ-like in our actions works well until the resistance of self desires are brought into the situation.  How willing are we to defer to another whether in attitudes, words or actions?  But as we seek to be like Christ, and as we put our focus on allowing His love to flow through us, we gain spiritual strength and bear spiritual fruit, (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness etc.)  No one enjoys the pain of trials, but to the Christian, God is always at work for our good and we can rest assured He is still in control as we draw nearer to Him and those times can bring great spiritual growth. 

Just as that group fitness class encourages the participants to be focused, to join side by side to work to achieve goals the church is the place for us to be with and be encouraged by other believers. When our instructor (pastor) speaks words that require us to 'go heavier' or dig deep into our hearts to grow in areas, we are strengthened. 

So, whether physical or spiritual, don't be afraid of heavier weight, effort or diligence.  That's how we get stronger!

Monday, January 30, 2017

What Does a Well Balanced Friendship Look Like?

“Friend” has taken on a new meaning in a world influenced by social media. It’s often used to describe someone who you barely know, who follows your life at a safe distance, communicating by clicking a “like” button.  But as busy women in our daily walk, we see lots of other women, we may call friends.  Some walk along side us and cheer us on, some walk behind us and add additional weight and baggage, some may seem to wear us down with negativity, jealousy, comparison, gossip etc.  

Cultivating true friendship takes much time and effort, something many of us do not have an abundance of! But for the Christian woman, here is a glimpse of some friendships based on characteristics of Biblical women that are worth seeking out. 

An Elizabeth
We need an Elizabeth in our lives, someone that will speak into our lives.
What does this Elizabeth look like? She is likely an older woman (older than you). She will invest time, energy, wisdom, and will hold you accountable for maturity in Christ.
*One of my Elizabeths came up to me at church, understanding the feeling of way too much to do that sometimes catches us with me, sat me down and asked "What can you let go this week?"  Pondering her question, I made some plans to help with time management for the coming week.

A Mary
We need to have in our life a Mary. A Mary is a young person (usually younger than us)  in whom we can invest our own lives, a young person to whom we can give time and energy and hold them accountable.  Because we have been given much, we need to give much. 
*It often takes so little to encourage busy young moms these days. A kind word, a text, a smile of understanding helps them relax and gain confidence to be all they can be. 

A Martha  
We also need a Martha. All of us need somebody who is our peer that we’re maybe in the same age group, maybe we’re going through the same season in life. We’re respecting each other’s time. We give each other that time and energy, we hold each other accountable, so it’s a mutual relationship. It's fun, easy and adds much joy to our life.  
*Too much time with a Martha can keep our relationship balance a bit lazy.  We're not as encouraged to strive upward as we grow with our older woman friend and we may not be so guarded to share our influence on younger women. 

It takes a balance of all three to help us mature in Christ and share with others the things we've learned.  This balance brings a beauty to our Christian friendships and influence. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Are You Approachable?

In John Maxwell’s Winning With People, he says good relationships are the foundation for achievement. Relationships are more than just the icing on the cake in life: They are the cake—the very substance we need to live successful and fulfilling lives. 

As Christians, we are called to be Christ like in behavior and in Scripture commanded to 'love one another.' Jesus set the example of loving others before us.  Not only did He love us enough to die for us, but we see through the Bible many accounts of Him sharing and loving those around Him. 

People miss incredible opportunities to connect with others because they do not make themselves approachable.  This has been a hindrance for me.  Due to insecurity and fear, I hold back and allow the other person to lead.  But, often times the other person is feeling the same way!  Someone has to go first!  Even if we're not ready to instigate fellowship, we can be approachable. 

 Here are seven characteristics of an approachable person.

– Personal warmth. Approachable people truly like people and generate personal warmth toward the people they meet.

– Appreciation for the differences in people. Approachable people appreciate people for who they are and what they have to offer.

– Consistency of mood. Approachable people are even-keeled and predictable. You know what you’ll get because they are basically the same every time you seen them.

– Sensitivity toward people’s feelings. They tune in to the moods and feelings of others, and then adjust how they relate to them.

– Understanding of human weaknesses and exposure of their own. Approachable people are honest about their abilities and shortcomings.

– Ability to forgive easily and quickly ask for forgiveness.

– Authenticity. Approachable people are real. They engage with others on a genuine level.

These are some small things that when practiced can make a big difference.  Will you join me in becoming one who is more approachable? 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Christmas 2016

Christmas....once it's past it is easy to not even think about until next fall!  But, I found a few pictures I didn't post and even though Christmas is past, decided to share them and relive the sweet memories.

Christmas Eve at my husband's parents house.  Big family, lot of food, family and celebration!

Sweet hubby and I by the tree!

Then home to spend with our oldest who travels on Christmas Day. 

Convinced hubby to take another pic in front of our tree!

All the girls take an annual photo!

My boy's signature photo...this year, they let the youngest son in on it!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Embrace Grace...Even When's been said that grace is not simply a prayer we say before our meals, it is a lifestyle that receives the grace of God and in turn transfers that grace into the lives of others.  Day in, day out and in a multitude of ways.

Definition of God's Grace – How do theologians define it?
"What is grace? In the New Testament grace means God’s love in action towards men who merited the opposite of love. Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves."

This post is about an area I'm learning to grow in grace.  Unintended pregnancy.  In our culture, it is very common,and hardly receives any attention.  In our churches it certainly attracts attention along with confusion on how to respond.  

 God's Word tells us we all have sinned,(Romans 3:23)  but He offers forgiveness when we confess our sin.  Grace means God moving heaven and earth to save sinners who could not lift a finger to save themselves. Grace means God sending His only Son to the cross so that we might be reconciled to God. Although all sin is condemned, unintended pregnancies in unwed girl offer a physical reminder to others and often bring the tension out between judgement and grace.  

For the church, it should be our greatest desire to draw others to Christ.  He is the All Sufficient One who alone can work in the heart to bring forgiveness, transformation and turn ashes into a thing of beauty. But some areas are difficult to find the balance of grace and discipleship.  In the past year, I have become a part of our local Pregnancy Care Center.  It has been truly eye opening to see the hurt, pain and struggles but often also the grace of God reaching into situations and transforming them. 

Embrace Grace, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed for the purpose of providing emotional, practical and spiritual support for single, young women and their families who find themselves in an unintended pregnancy. The primary goal of Embrace Grace is to empower churches across the nation to be a safe and non-judging place for the girls to run to when they find out they are pregnant, instead of the last place they are welcomed because of shame and guilt. 

The ministry Embrace Grace provided a vision and a purpose for girls with unintended pregnancies. 

VISION: for every girl with an unplanned pregnancy to have a church to go to for spiritual, emotional and physical support

MISSION: to inspire and equip the church to love on single and pregnant young women and their families
Love Box

Love in a Box is a pro-love initiative launched to help save babies and help moms get plugged into local churches for spiritual, emotional and physical support through an Embrace Grace group.

Boxes are distributed to pregnancy centers nation-wide and given to young, single women with positive pregnancy tests. The box is full of gifts that will inspire hope and impart love to a mom that may be scared for her future. 

Each box consists of a Fearless Journal and pen, a Bump in Life book, a baby onesie, testimonial letters of girls that chose adoption and chose to parent, an invitation to join an Embrace Grace group and a Brave Girl letter that can be written by YOU!
 You have the opportunity to speak into the life of a mom that could possibly be contemplating a life or death decision. You can encourage, uplift and inspire her to choose life and to get plugged into an Embrace Grace support group at a local church.

We want to help brave moms choose life and get plugged into a spiritual family so they can be saved, discipled, mentored and be a part of a community that loves them the way Jesus loves.  

I was offered the opportunity to review some of the products in the Love in a Box, the journal and pro love necklace.  Both of these items are tangible reminders that can be used daily to remind girls that life is the best choice.  

If you would like an opportunity to win and share these gifts, a giveaway is being held.  Click HERE to enter. 

If your heart is touched and stirred to point others to Embrace Grace, here are a few ideas to get you connected:
  • Start an Embrace Grace at their local church so young women with unplanned pregnancies have a support group. 
  • Partner with the national organization through prayer and support at Embrace Grace 
  • Download and print our brave girl letter HERE and mail to address below for us to place inside a Love in a Box. 

You can mail your Brave Girl letter to:
Embrace Grace, Inc.
Attn: Love in a Box
700 W. Bedford Euless Rd., Ste. G
Hurst, TX 76053

For Christians, churches, families and many young girls, this is a delicate issue that can be responded to with great grace.  

*Disclaimer:  This product was receive from Embrace Grace in exchange for reviewing the item and that this post is part of the FrontGate Blogger Network.