Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Testimony Tuesday - Week 13!

Welcome back! It's a beautiful Tuesday morning and can I just say "Hallelujah, woop woop" that this week is the week leading up to the grand celebration of Easter! It's my favorite time of the year and I LOVE when it closes near. The thought of Jesus conquering hell, death, and sin forever makes me wanna dance. Am I the only one?

 I'm so excited to share with you a special testimony today; it's from someone near and dear to my heart... my mother-in-law! I honestly couldn't pray for more genuine and joyful in-laws. My mom-in-law, Judy, is one of the most joyful people I know and I love that it is a gift given to her by our sweet Lord.
 
 

 
 
I have something very special to testify about. It’s that I received my joy back last year!
I have been a Christian for over 40 years. Married to a wonderful Godly man for 38 years and I lived with joy for much of that time….but slowly I allowed "life" to steal my JOY. Sometimes we live in difficult situations. For years God had strengthened me during difficult times and gave me strength and wisdom. He used the bad for good. But at some point slowly I allowed myself to become weary. I started asking "what about me….when is my time?" Selfishness was the start to my becoming weary…and not looking to God for my strength and for ways to bring Him glory. Instead I was looking for MY WAY to be happy! Colossians 3:17 "Whatsoever you do…do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto man" I knew that I wasn’t suppose to live my life to please others(including myself….only God.) My dad had abused us all of my life…especially when he was drinking…then my brother committed suicide….and then my parents health began to fail (heartache can contribute to many health issues)….then my identity changed….I had been a wife and mother and LOVED it!!!! Now my nest was empty and my husband was always busy….after losing my brother, my nephew, my mom, my dad, and my grandmother….it seemed like my life was filled with one loss after another and in the midst of it all….somewhere along the way I LOST MY JOY. II Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind"
How did I find it you ask? Well, let me tell you about something God used to help me. A friend told me a few years ago that she had gone through an experience …a conference called "The Encounter". She couldn’t tell me much detail except that it had changed her life. So after a couple of years I had an opportunity to attend this "Encounter". I went seeking….seeking God…seeking answers to why I had so much resentment in my heart and seeking to get my JOY back. This encounter was a time away to get away from the hustle bustle and reflect, listen, and take time to hear from God. It was a time to evaluate myself and be evaluated by others. During one of the "designated "quiet times before the Lord I saw myself kneeling at His feet. As I knelt there I began to vomit. All of my bitterness and resentment was coming out of me and when it was over…I was free of all bitterness. I was happy…I had my Joy again…God immediately began filling my heart once I let go of the hardness and hurts of my heart where bitterness had been accumulating. I have been forgiven of so many wrong doings in my life by the Lord and by loved ones I have hurt. How dare I keep holding them to such a strict standard when I had not lived up to that standard myself! What a hypocrite I have been! So you see, this is not about me or what I have or have not done. It is not about others or what they have done or not done to make me happy or sad. This is about a loving God who has forgiven me. And willingly continues to forgive me. Who gave His Son to save me from my sins …to save me from myself! It’s about a Heavenly Father who loves me and wants good things for me. It’s about you and I first taking time to listen to God. It’s about seeking Him.
Since that "Encounter" I sometimes start to allow disappointments and hurts to come in to my heart and I want to mull over them and think about how much I’ve been hurt….but then I take that hurt….express my emotion and disappointment and lay it back down at the feet of Jesus. So my friends, I pray that God uses this testimony for HIS GLORY and that you are drawn to His goodness and faithfulness.
Blessings!
 
Judy


Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long

 
Psalm 31:24

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
 
 
 

 

 


 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Coffee Date Vol. 2

Happy FRIDAY! Today I'm linking up with Jenna to share my highlights from the week! I hope you've had a bright and sunny week like I have!
 
1.
 
 
 
 
 
Our first picnic with friends by the river happened this week! It was the most beautiful of weeks thus far, I've had our windows in our home open all week, so this picnic was glorious! Plus, it was the first time I've ever made hamburgers. So there's that ;)
 
 
2.
 
 
 
Hubby & I ventured downtown to for a fun date outdoors. We enjoyed the scenery, bought snowcones, ate at a delish Mexican restaurant, and went back home to snuggle. I love spring dates with my man.
 
 
3.
 
 
 
 
It was such a beautiful day Wednesday that I decided it was a perfect day to start our spring home renovations :) My sidekick, Penny, chilled in the sun while I listened to worship music and the lovely little chirping birds all around.
 
Ta-da! I'm so in love! It still needs a second coat & a cute bench with yellow flowers but I am loving our teal door! It's so us & so welcoming!
 
 
 
4.
 
 
I can't tell you how blessed we are by new friends. Especially new friends who share the same faith and are getting married this year! Oh, and who have the cutest pup ever. And I'm shooting their summer wedding! So many good things. Having friendships in marriage is such a God thing. I am so passionate about community within the body of Christ so this makes my heart happy!
 
 
5.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/181146887/do-not-be-afraid-matthew-1031-quote
 
I have been LOVING this week's time with Jesus. I started a new study from Love God Greatly that is delivered to me via email every morning, started a new prayer journal, & decided to start from the beginning of the New Testament. Because Jesus' words are so loving, comforting, convicting, and all the things amazing. I so so so encourage you to do the same! He is so good to us!
 
 
What are your highlights from the week? Happy SPRING!
 
 
 


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Testimony Tuesday - Week 12

Happy Tuesday! This morning is beautiful. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the coffee is brewing, and Jesus is alive! This week, I want to share a story of a life that has effected me greatly. This woman is a true servant of Jesus. Years ago, she discipled me through life after high school and singleness while she was single as well. Her heart made an impact on me forever. Today we are both married and so thankful to God for all He has done. This woman is bright light in a dark world. Here's a bit of her testimony...
 
 
 
"Going to church was a regular part of my childhood. Every Sunday, we were the first family to arrive; we unlocked the doors, set up the chairs, put out the hymnals, and greeted everyone who arrived after us with a hug. We were also the last family to leave after putting everything away. It was natural to me; a habit. Something we did as a family. But that’s all it was. Something I grew up doing.
The older I got, the less church mattered to me. When I was in college I didn’t go at all. And that was when I needed it the most. I was so busy trying to be the girl my friends expected me to be that I never found out who I really was. I drank, partied, and even experimented with pot a couple of times (I’m very thankful that didn’t become an addiction but alcohol was an addiction). My life was an endless cycle of school during the week and parties on the weekend. But this was not a satisfying way to live. I battled depression and thoughts of suicide. I never felt good enough. I never believed that I measured up or had any real value. My friendships were superficial and the guys I dated didn’t want to get to know the real me, and so I suffered in silence. I never told anyone about the anxiety attacks, the depression, or about the night that I almost took my own life.

During the darkest night of my life, I sat huddled in a corner of my bathroom with a knife held to my wrist. I was locked in a battle that I could neither see nor hear. Whether I sat there for minutes or hours I do not know. What I do know is that someone, somewhere, was on their knees that night. When I awoke the next morning I wondered why there was a kitchen knife in my bathroom sink. Slowly the memory of the previous night came back to me. And still my life didn’t change.
Several years later I began seeking something different. I didn’t know what I was seeking I just knew that I wanted something different. It was during the summer of 1999 when I was working one of my first professional acting jobs. I found myself not wanting to go out with the rest of the cast after rehearsals and performances. I spent a lot of time by myself that summer. When I returned home at the end of the summer I found myself visiting a new church (only because mom and dad were visiting there). For the first time in my life I really listened to the sermons; and it seemed that the pastor knew all about me. His sermons spoke specifics about my life; my emptiness; my hurts; my mistakes. After about a month of visiting the church, the wall around my heart came crashing down as I whispered the words "Yes, Lord." I didn’t even know what I was saying "yes" to. My heart and soul wanted the peace and joy my pastor was talking about. I don’t know if I really believed it then or not, but I sure do now. In an instant the Holy Spirit came flooding into my life and washed away the dirt and the grime.
 
 
I had no desire to drink after that day. The profanity that I used to use on a regular basis would no longer form on my tongue. My friends were no longer the people I wanted to hang out with (and their off-color jokes weren’t appealing any more). God quickly replaced them with mature, godly friends who helped me grow in the Lord. Most notably was the addition of a mentor after I’d been saved for a few years. Mrs. Amy became a very important part of my life and it’s because of her that I began to mentor young ladies.
I’ve been saved for 14 years now and God has blessed me immensely. I’ve never regretted the decision to give my life to Christ Jesus. I’ve seen Him work in my life and change me into the woman of God He desires me to be (and He’s not done yet, by the way). I know now that I do have value. I am a daughter of the King. My purpose is to glorify Him. The depression is gone. I’ve only had one anxiety attack since I’ve been saved and because I turned to Christ in prayer it was gone just as quickly as it came on.
Following Christ hasn’t been easy. It’s difficult. It’s very difficult. Don’t be deceived into thinking that becoming a Christian will suddenly make all your problems go away. To this day, I still deal with consequences from decisions I made before I met Christ. Satan tries to steal my joy on a regular basis. He reminds me of my past and tries to make me feel worthless and useless. Sometimes, he is successful. But God always reminds me of His love for me. I am worthy because I belong to Christ. I am useful because I serve Jesus. I am of great value because the King of the universe gave Himself for me. My story is simple: I am a sinner who has been saved by grace. It is my prayer that all who read this share the same story: Sinner saved by grace. 
 
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift. Eph. 2:8 HCSB
 
 
 
Below are some verses that God uses to lift me up when I am feeling down. I pray these bless you as they have blessed me.

Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? Isaiah 43:18-19a NASB

The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 HCSB


Monday, March 23, 2015

A Joy-filled Weekend

 
 
 
 
 
What I'm learning:
 
 
Jesus promises that storms in life will come upon us. They are inevitable. But we don't have to be caught off guard by them. We can be prepared when the rain starts to fall by putting on the armor of God, which may be rain boots for the storm coming. I don't have to fear even when I'm in the midst of a hurricane of life because I trust and worship the One who is in control of the seas and the storms of life. And He gives joy unspeakable. {thanks to the blog ladies who put on the Hunter Boots giveaway a few months ago. I love them!}
 
 
What we have been up to:
 
 
 
 
 
My mom & sister, my ohana, came to visit us Friday! We got caught up on life, talked about Jesus and how we are praising Him in the storms, and we also ate lots of chocolate and shopped until we dropped! I was in my happy place!
 
Then Saturday happened. It was one of the best in a long while. Jesus truly does give rainbows after the rain.
 
 
 
 
My chemex slow-and-beautifully-smooth coffee maker came in the mail and we enjoyed that and The Word for a few hours in bed. Talk about dreamy. I love, love, love Saturdays at home with my hubby.
 
 
 
 
We also scored two of the coolest pieces of furniture at an antique store over the weekend. Only $200 together! This was a blessing because we had been searching for bedroom furniture but I didn't want to pay a fortune! I cannot wait to get my hands on the sander and the paint. Yes! I think I'm going to paint the dresser and mirror a distressed cream color and maybe go with a light seafoam color for the other cabinet. Yay for awesome finds and a beautifully fun and lazy weekend!
 
 
What is coming:
 
+ Week 12 Testimony Tuesday kicks off tomorrow! If you missed last weeks testimony, check it out!
 
+ Also this Wednesday is the first week of the Growing in & with God link up. Share what you are learning in your prayer life with God!
 
+ In need of some home inspiration for this Spring? Check out five ways I'm revamping our home this season!
 


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Five Ways to Revamp Your Home!

Spring has sprung here in Tennessee and I am more than ready for Spring cleaning! Lately, I have been on a pinning-spree with all things home related. Home d├ęcor, DIY headboards, kitchen remodeling... you name it, I'm pinning it. I used to think that revamping your home into something new and fresh took too much time and too much money and too much knowledge of all things carpentry. But I am realizing that with just a few tips and tricks, what normally would cost a fortune to try can really be done by any average person for half the cost! And since Spring is right at our doorstep, it's the perfect time to open up those windows and get to stylin'!
 
 
 
 
Paint Your Cabinets
 
http://www.confessionsofaserialdiyer.com/how-to-paint-kitchen-cabinets-a-step-by-step-guide/
 
 
Instead of spending a fortune on new cabinetry, why not paint the ones you already have? There are a ton of DIY guides all around the internet. I can't wait to go for an off-white distressed look in my kitchen this Spring.
 
 
 
 
Get Creative with Wood
 
http://www.woohome.com/diy-2/top-30-the-best-diy-pallet-projects-for-kitchen http://littleyellowbarn.com/?b2w=http://littleyellowbarn.blogspot.com/2013/02/diy-barn-door-headboard.html
 
 
Pallets are the new black. You can create literally anything out of wood. Pinterest is the best place to get ideas but look around your home and see what you're missing. Instead of spending money on a new coffee table, why not make one? What about a new headboard? Pallets, wood, stain and some nails are just about all you need! I cannot wait to get my hands on some pallets and create our own headboard for our master bedroom!
 
 
 
 
 
Add a New Focal Point to Your Favorite Room (or all of them!)
 
http://amandamedlin.com/2013/10/kitchen-home-tour/  
 
 
Whether that's your kitchen, bedroom, or living room, adding a new focal point creates a fresh and updated look. I love the idea of adding those bright antique plates to a kitchen or dining room wall. Photo collages are the perfect way to spice up your bedroom or living area. You can even have more than one! I love the idea of a photo collage in the living room of your family and a few local finds to make your home a bit more "you"!
 
 
 
 
 
Add Wallpaper
 
 
 
Painting is fun and great but want to really make a statement? Add wallpaper. When I used to hear that word, I used to think 1970s. But there is a plethora of options for any style!
 
 
 
 
 
Bring Nature Inside
 
 
 
Flowers make me happy. Adding a mason jar with fresh flowers to your coffee table or a fake bouquet in your kitchen brings in a sense of happiness and airiness to the room.
 
 
 
 
 
I can't wait to try all of these this Spring. It's going to be a busy season!
 
These are just a few things you can do to freshen up your home this Spring! What is your favorite DIY project?


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Testimony Tuesday - Week 11

Happy Tuesday! It's one of my favorite days of the week all because of Testimony Tuesday! This week's testimony comes from a fellow blogger, Brandy, whose testimony of God's faithfulness and hope encourages me greatly...
 

"To be honest with you, three years ago I would have never offered to share my testimony. Not because I was ashamed of it or that it revealed deep dark secrets of my past. The opposite rather… I felt my testimony wasn’t exciting enough. I don’t have the tear-jerking transformation that many who come to Christ share. Neither do I have the story of a church-bred “Christian” who later realized my “prayer” was insincere. The truth is I used to envy those people. I envied the beautiful, powerful testimonies like the one you read last week. But in the last couple of years, God has shed a new light on my story. He’s opened my eyes to see the beauty of His faithfulness and power of His grace regardless of the before and after. 

My earliest memories of God are as a pre-schooler. Though my parents didn’t go to church at the time, I would make it to Sunday School every week by way of my grandpa. I can recall singing “be careful little eyes what you see” in the Kindergarten talent show and chanting the lyrics, “I am a C, I am a C-H, I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.” I remember staying up after curfew in those first few years I learned to read to pick apart the stories in my Precious Moments Storybook Bible. One story in particular that always made me cry was the woman who gave all the money she had. I can remember sitting in that pink-walled room telling God that He could have all of me…. but in my mind then the title of Christian was still something to be earned. I loved to attend VBS and I would pray to God often but somehow I’d missed the Gospel.

Years passed, my parents divorced, my mom remarried, and we moved houses. Not longer after the switch, our neighbors invited us to church. I was thrilled about this given that I hadn’t been going with my grandpa for years due to a family issue. At first it was just my sister and I but soon enough my mom and stepdad came along. After a few months of attending, it was time for our first VBS there. I can remember being at the “lesson station” and I was the only one there that night. There were two teachers and one student. Those teachers could have skipped the lesson and offered extra play time but by the grace of God they found it important to teach to me. It was the first time I really heard the Gospel and understood that I too could become a Christian. The next day, at age 11, I kneeled down in my pastor’s office and accepted the grace of Jesus to be my righteousness.

I spent the next several years in high school trying to discern who I was supposed to be and what my purpose was. The trials continued to come with the death of my dad at age 16 and the betrayal of my stepdad at age 20. I wrestled with pain and suffering but each broken heart God tenderly redeemed. For the most part in those years I was a fairly happy person. I loved God, had great friends, a loving family. I was busy making good grades, enjoying sports, spending time with the youth group, and being involved in everything coming and going. I had this deep desire to live for God, to give Him everything, but I was mainly following my plan. If there had been a 10 steps of success for the christian teen, I would have mastered it. But I knew God wanted something more. 
 
 
 
After a couple years of unsettling, God brought me to a place of surrender. I was 3 years in to my Bachelors in Nursing and was planning on becoming a doctor, when God gave me the 2nd biggest choice of my life….. “Do you want to continue your plan? Your safe, mapped out, logical plan? Or do you want something more? Do you want to really let Me use you?” 

After months of living with a pit in my stomach, I couldn’t shake the thought of missing out on what He had in store. I walked away from my senior year of nursing school (along with my cheerleading scholarship, my two great jobs, and my fabulous group of friends). But God faithfully took me on a journey as a ministry intern for a church plant 400+ miles from home. I watched Him provide just in time day after day. It wasn’t logical and there were no calculated steps but that season of faith grew me like never before. 

I watched Him provide housing, gas, car payments, and food. Family, friends, and even the husband I’d been begging for. It was a beautiful time in my life of letting go of that 10 year plan.

Here I sit, writing now, with my own struggles and adventures like so many seasons before. My husband and have entered the world of unexplained infertility where tears and sorrow mixed with peace and purpose come like never before. Husband and I have recently started the preparation of our newest ministry journey that involves a new church plant in my hometown. We’re going through the process now of leaving behind logic (our house, awesome church, Husband’s fantastic job and potential promotion) once again for the sake of the Gospel and following God’s leading. I find emotions repeating themselves so often.

I don’t tell  you all of this to say look what I/we have come through or what we are doing. 
I share this because here’s the beauty I’ve found in my story….

God’s persevering love is faithful and powerful no matter the story.
There are many different testimonies but His grace is the same.
There are many different seasons but His faithfulness is constant. 

The same God that was pursuing my 7-year-old heart was the same one relentlessly chasing it while I was in college and is the same one pushing me on the waves again. The same God who wiped me tears and healed my hurts at 16 over the loss of my father is the same one now bringing purpose to mess when each month disappointment crashes in. When I look back on my life I see the faithful hand of God weaving my story, His story… and though some chapters aren’t as exciting as others and some leave me with tear-filled eyes, this story He’s writing is beautiful simply because the Author is the main character. 

Different season. Different struggle. Different surrender. Same faithful God."
 
 
-Brandy from A Sweet Aroma
 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Ohana.

 
 
This weekend, my brother drove down to stay with us for the weekend. We had such a blast just being lazy and spending time with one another. This morning, he drove back just in time to make it to class. I am reminded of the importance of family whenever I am able to spend that rare but sweet time with my blood relatives. But as I think about family and what that word really means to me, it becomes clear that I am surrounded by family everywhere.
 
When my husband and I moved away right after our wedding, I thought that I was leaving my family behind. But God has taught me the real meaning of family..
 
"Ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind..."
 
We all know that famous line from Lilo and Stitch, a show my siblings and I used to watch when we were younger and still love. It's so true, y'all!
 
Joe and I are so blessed to call so many people family!
 
 
From our own little family...

 
 
 

 
 
to our local church family...
 
 
 
 
 
 
to friends who are family...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
to the family we were born into...
 
 
 
 
 
to the family, the body of Christ all around the world...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
I am so thankful and blessed to be a part of the family of God, a family where nobody gets left behind!