1 Degree Matters

Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 in Blog | 40 comments

  Have you ever noticed when the temperature outside goes up one degree? I don’t, yet the thermometer shows it has. It isn’t until the temperature changes by five or ten degrees that I begin to feel it. I notice the cumulative effects of a bunch of degrees, but the individual degrees themselves, go unnoticed.   “Your eyes [God] saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”  ~Psalm 139:16 ESV On February 2, 2012, I will have been alive for 13,272 days. (Yes, I factored in leap years!) If I live to be 80 years old, I will hit 29,242 days. If God has not written that many days for me, I have less than 15,970 days left on this side of eternity. This is not that many when you consider the whole of human history. It puts each of my days into perspective, doesn’t it? Since God has taken time to write about each of them, then it means each day of my life is indispensable to Him. What I choose to do each day matters. I may not remember what occurred on day 6,808, but I notice the cumulative effects of my days, today. Coincidently, the new year has arrived. We have no idea what the days before us will hold. Some of them will make sense and others will not. On some days our hearts will be joyful, and on others they may be broken. No matter what unfolds, both of us will do one thing: change.   “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  ~2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV, emphasis mine In my opinion, the process of becoming more like Jesus Christ can be just as mysterious as the 2 Corinthians verse I just quoted. Sensing our transformation in Him can be challenging at times. We who have received Jesus Christ as Savior need encouragement as the change happens. This is why I am here. I am writing to you because I believe each day you encounter provides a chance for freedom to be found, change to be embraced, and glory to be seen. I don’t want you to miss out! I believe what you choose to do with your individual days matters.   “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away,our inner self is  being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen…”  ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18a ESV I welcome you to One Degree! My prayer for this blog is that it will help you grow in your faith and that it will be a source of encouragement to you. Some of my blog entries will focus on a particular verse or chapter of the Bible. Others will challenge you to stop and worship. Some will…well, you’ll see. I would love to meet you! Drop me a note below that includes your first name and what the current “temperature” of your relationship with God feels like. Is it cold, lukewarm, or hot? Why do you...

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Why I’ve been silent in the midst of all the shootings

Posted by on Jul 20, 2016 in Blog | 4 comments

      Observation #1: I didn’t plan on going into a bookstore. It wasn’t on my list of errands. As I loaded my groceries into the back seat of my car, I remembered I needed to buy a friend a gift, so off to the bookstore I went. Finding the perfect thing for her, I approach the cash register to pay. This is when I first notice him. His shirt is half untucked, and his shoes are covered with the dust that covers everything here in the desert. He speaks Spanish. He is shifting his weight from foot to foot, waiting by the cash register for someone or something to arrive. I wonder about this man’s life story. The store clerk interrupts my wonderings by asking me to step forward and pay for my purchase. I step beside the man and hand the clerk my money. As I was doing so, another store clerk walked behind the counter and presented the man beside me with a closed box. He stopped moving, smiled at her, and opened it. I want to grasp what he is saying because he is speaking Spanish quickly and with great excitement. The look on his weary face changes. I’ve seen the same expression on my son’s face as he took his first steps, or when we surprised him with a trip to Disneyland. My son’s excitement was evident when he saw the peak of the fake Matterhorn from Harbor Boulevard. This man exhibited the same look on his face. But why? I glance into the shallow box; understanding at once. The man carefully lifted a black leather Bible out of the box as if it were made of bone china. The cover was newly engraved with what I assume to be his name. From no name, to a name engraved in gold. I can barely keep my emotions in check. This mama is familiar with the power of the Bible he is holding. We lock eyes and I muster a huge grin while holding back tears that want to fall. No words are needed between us. We possess different skin colors and speak in different languages. But in our spirits, we are united. And we both realize it. For many years I denied Jesus access to my heart. And yet, He loves me and forgives me though I am still far from perfect. What breaks my heart is that countless names around me are not written in gold. There are many people who continue to deny the deity of Jesus, the only One who unifies people of different colors and backgrounds. To them I write with kindness and in love: Jesus is the Messiah. Names are being engraved in gold. I want yours to be too.   Observation #2: Let’s talk about my car. My wonderful husband works hard at vacuuming and scrubbing the thing. Bless. You can hop into my car and conclude from a casual observation that nothing moldy is growing on the seat in which you are sitting. But, I direct your attention to this:       Yep, gross. In the nooks and crannies of our car, invisible to everyone, is a plethora of crumbs, stale potato chips and fossilized french fries. Our car is not clean is it? It...

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Why Your Kids Are Never Too Old for Bedtime Stories

Posted by on Jun 9, 2016 in Blog, Guest Posts | 0 comments

  Hi friends! I pray that your summer is off to a fabulous start. I want to introduce you to a new writer friend of mine, Janet Thompson. I recently purchased Forsaken God?, her newest book, and I cannot wait to dive into its pages. I know you will be blessed by her words. Here is Janet: “Grammie, who are the people in that picture frame?” my ten year-old granddaughter, Katelyn, asked as she and her seven year-old sister climbed into sleeping bags to spend the night in the loft at our house. Katelyn was pointing to black and white pictures of my grandparents and my parents, all who died before she and her sister were born. As I tucked the girls in and explained who each person was in the picture, Katelyn whispered in my ear, “Wasn’t your dad murdered?” Katelyn’s mother, my daughter, never knew her grandfather—my dad. My father was a California highway patrolman shot in the line of duty when I was ten-years old—the same age as Katelyn. I had told my daughter the story of her grandfather’s bravery, and she told the story to her daughter, and that’s how family stories stay alive long after the heroes of the stories are gone. I’m sure my granddaughters will want to hear the story of their great-grandfather many more times, and their mom and I will eagerly tell them about their family history. No matter how old we get, we still enjoy hearing stories of things we did as kids, or about funny stories on family trips, or some of the stories of hardships and joys our family has encountered over the years. These stories bond us together with camaraderie and shared history. We tell these stories repeatedly at family reunions, around campfires, during celebrations, reminiscing at funerals and memorials, and at bedtime as the activities of the day quiet down to a peaceful reminiscent time before the enveloping of sweet sleep. But it only takes one generation neglecting to pass down a heritage to the next generation for a way of life, family history, or a belief system to vanish. That chilling fact underlines the magnitude of our responsibility as parents and grandparents to share family, and Bible stories with our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and for them to do the same: “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4). God made sure the Israelites freed from Egypt had a whale-of-a-tale and bedtime story to tell to future generations, of all ages. Before freeing the Israelites, God provided a platform to display his miraculous acts and wonders for a story too incredible not to share . . . and we still tell the story today . . . or at least we should: Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD.” —Exod. 10:1-2 God specifically and repeatedly tells his people to pass down to future generations all the awesome wonders they saw him do...

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Planted With Hope

Posted by on Mar 30, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

  Our family is moving across state lines again this summer. Friends, the same choice is before me every time we move. Am I going to dig in and open my heart to what is coming? Or am I going to dig up the past, cling to it, and close my heart to what is next? Dig in or dig up. New life or no life.     Speaking of digging in, I want to introduce you to a special friend who is joining us here today. Our family lived in Little Rock, Arkansas for four months. I needed to “dig in” fast! As God perfectly planned it, I connected with Tricia Goyer on Twitter. Understand that Tricia had around 60,000 followers on Twitter. I doubted she would even see my tweet let alone message me back. But she responded, inviting me to come to church with her family. Several years later, I remain blessed by how she encourages me and prays for me. Tricia recently released another book in her Pinecraft Pie Shop series, Planted With Hope. This delightful read focuses on finding love in unexpected places, friendship, and community. And it also has FOOD. Yes, sprinkled throughout are recipes that make your mouth water (move aside, Pinterest). Romance and recipes? Planted With Hope has them both- I highly recommend it! With more on friendship and her latest book, here is Tricia Goyer:     I say the same thing every time my kids are about to meet one of my friends: “Oh, you’re just going to love her!” Because of my work as a writer, many of my friends are also writers, and they are scattered all over the US (and world!). We meet up with friends on road trips, and sometimes my friends visit and stay in our home. Having healthy relationships with my friends is important—not only for me, but for my kids. Here’s why: 1. My friendships are a model for my kids. From my friendships my kids learn how to treat friends, how one should be treated, and how to grow relationships in healthy ways. Kids do what we do, not do what we say. If we want our kids to have healthy friendships, we need to model them! Friendship is a skill that is learned, and the best place for your kids to learn it is from YOU. When you are trustworthy, caring, and honest with your friends, you children will learn to be those things, too. 2. My friendships become my kids’ friendships. In many cases my friends become my kids’ friends, too, as my children grow. My friends usually have great stories to share, and they have great advice. My 23-year-old daughter has great relationships with many of my friends … and I love it because I know that if they share a story or a bit of advice it will be helpful and godly. 3. My friendships give insight into myself. Every time my kids meet one of my friends they walk away knowing me a little better too. When I’m with my friends I’m Tricia, not just Mom. They see different sides of me, and they hear stories about me, too. My kids love learning more about me, and they discover things I’d never think of sharing. 4. My friendships impact my life and my work—and my kids benefit. My most recent novel Planted with Hope is...

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A way to pray when you need courage

Posted by on Mar 1, 2016 in Blog | 8 comments

      Hello… how are you? Life on the other side of my computer screen kept me away from this space. I miss meeting with you, for I am a people person. A doer. An Adele enthusiast. A teacher with a passion for the Word of God.  “Away” is challenging for me! I am obviously sharing my musings again and writing book #2 with a dear friend. Will you pray for us to have courage? Our topic is touchy. Speaking of courage… I remember my college speech class. They taught us techniques to calm our nerves. Imagining a naked audience supposedly did this. I tried it the next time I presented. The thought of naked people did not bring me courage. #justkeepingitreal You may not be a public speaker, but I bet an area in your own life causes you distress. Perhaps your prayers to God for courage appear to hit Heaven’s figurative ceiling. I get this, friend. Let’s pause and revisit a scene in an ancient garden. We are going to learn an important lesson about courage there.     Remember back with me to the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus finished his last supper with his closest friends. One disciple was out betraying Him. The other disciples were falling asleep. Jesus knew what God was asking. The time had come.   Jesus prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet, I want your will to be done, not mine.” ~Matthew 26:39b NLT If it is possible. Let… suffering be taken away. Yet, I want your will. Fourteen words. Perhaps the most pivotal words ever spoken. They embody courage. They are courage. How often do we surrender them in prayer or are we working for more courage? Do we hope courage will fall upon us once we listen to the soundtrack of Braveheart? Or trust courage will fill us if we were more like Batman, She-Ra, or George Washington? This line of reasoning needs to stop. Just like the naked people technique. #seriously We have a God that created us in His image. He fills us with His courage whenever we ask for it in humility and trust. Our prayers do not bounce off figurative ceilings. God is not dead nor deaf. He hears. God sees our heart attitude when we talk with Him. Remember the garden. Follow Jesus’ example. Go ahead, lay the 14 words above on top of your life. Ponder them. Pray them over big and seemingly insignificant stuff. For courage: confronts and helps a loved one bound up in destructive behavior accepts the terminal diagnosis leaves the comfort of a prosperous career to serve the poor and needy believes Jesus is who He says He is- inviting Him to be Lord and Savior over your life says sorry, making things right rises out of bed despite paralyzing anxiety or depression embraces runny noses and reading the same Curious George books for the 100th time loves grey hairs and muffin tops risks rejection, believing someone else in the room is desperate for a friend too. One Degree Moment: God knows what you are going through and the courage you need to push through it. He will not compete, however, with ridiculous techniques or She-Ra. He wants you. Click on out of here and ask for courage as Jesus did in the garden. Remember 14 words. If Jesus uttered them, so can we. So must we. Ready yourself for a fresh dose of courage. Your sphere of influence desperately needs you to have some. And thank you, God, for NOT making naked audiences a source of courage....

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Beauty in the midst of “ugly”

Posted by on Oct 8, 2015 in Blog | 2 comments

  3 years ago my mama won. She finished her race for the cure in the arms of her Cure. The beauty of God is evident in the midst of “ugly.” He is close to the brokenhearted. This I know.   2001 “Tracy, your mother’s on the phone, do you want to take her call?” That is strange… my mother never calls while I am at work. “Hi mom…” “Tracy… it’s… it’s… falling out.” My mother was weeping. “Mom, what is falling out?” “My hair, it is coming out in clumps. I was taking a shower and now it is all over the bathtub. Your dad is at work and I am here by myself. I just need to hear your voice…” The lump in my throat grows thick. I will not lose control of my emotions. I picture her naked laying on the floor of her bathtub. Scared. Alone. “Tracy, are you there? Should I keep pulling it out?” “Oh mom, I will sit here with you while you do. You’re going to be ok. I am with you…” “Ok… Tracy, I feel so ugly.” Minutes pass. I cry silently on the other end. “Tracy, I think I am done.” “Mom… mom, you are and will always be beautiful to me.”     2007-October 7, 2012 My mother’s hair returned, but so did the breast cancer. Now it was all over her body. More hair was lost and more chemo was taken. There were days when my mother needed to hear my voice because her pain was great and because her reflection repulsed her. My answer remained the same: “Mom you are and will always be beautiful to me.”     October 8, 2012 It hurts to look at what remains of my mother’s body. I rub her bald head and grasp the skeletal remains of the hands that first held me. It’s just me and her in the room. I am not sure what to do with the silence. The lump in my throat is growing. I will not lose my emotions. I am her daughter and I hate cancer. But I love a God who is good and gracious. What doctors said was impossible, He made possible. He honored countless prayers. Jesus is coming to free and heal her now…     +11:00 am I lean in close so she will be sure to hear me. She can no longer speak or open her eyes. I know that she needs to hear my voice one more time.   “Mom… I am here now. I am so thankful God chose you to be my mom. It’s time for you to go home to Him now. You are and will always be beautiful to me.” And then I sing “Amazing Grace” and “Jesus loves Roxie” over her again and again…     +1:25 pm My mother won her battle against breast cancer. She beheld Beauty, literally. Her suffering ended. Her questions answered. Her joy is unending.     March 28, 2013 I stand beside my grieving father as we clean out my mother’s side of the closet. Her clothes smell of her perfume. I quickly place the shoes she wore to my wedding in a trash bag. To stop and hold them is painful. Her High school ring and pearl necklaces...

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Making it to half-time

Posted by on Oct 1, 2015 in Blog | 4 comments

  Half-time is upon me. It seems I spent the majority of my twenties and thirties running up and down the “court” of life. Figuratively speaking, I made some killer 3 point shots. But I’ve also thrown some “Hail Marys” and shots that bounced violently off the rim and into my opponent’s arms. Some of my figurative shots continue to circle slowly along the outer rim of the net. I have yet to see whether the balls will go into or out of the net. I only know that I am thankful I took those shots.   “I have won and I have lost, I got it right sometimes and sometimes I did not. Life’s been a journey, I’ve seen joy, I’ve seen regret, Oh and You have been my God through all of it.” – Lyrics from “Through All of It” by Colton Dixon   Tomorrow I turn 40 years old. According to life expectancy statistics, I have made it to half-time. How I am handling this milestone? I am honestly relieved and surprisingly giddy about turning 40. Some believe that being/looking young and the “first half” is where “it” is at; life after 40 is less than. I respectfully disagree. Sure, youth afforded me the ability to actually remember things. My hair was all the same color. When I was younger, I eagerly stayed up past 10:00 p.m. Being single and childless allowed me to travel the world, look nice in low rise jeans, and go by myself to the bathroom. Truth is: God blessed me during my “first half” and I am grateful. But my “first half” was not always easy or exciting. At times it was confusing. Messy. Heart-breaking. Did I mention there was a lot of running? My “first half” also had the added pressure of figuring out who I was and how I was going to put points on the board. That being said, I do not believe life after 40 will be easier either, for I just hurt my ankle simply by walking across the living room floor. #truestory But this I do know– God has brought me to 40 so that He can bring me through what is to come with the faith He grew inside me during my first 40 years. #takingthistothebank #canyouputhashtagsinblogposts?     So as half-time nears, I’ve noticed a shift in my heart and in my spirit. A sobering if you will. My mother received her breast cancer diagnosis when she was fifty-one years old. For me, fifty-one is only eleven years away. I hear the tick of my own clock a little bit louder now. Each tick reveals that I am tired of running and tired of the self-inflicted pressure to score points with people around me. I’ve heard the cheers and jeers of those calling my name. I’ve come to learn that noise is not all it is cracked up to be. Neither are points- they can be taken away as quickly as they are earned.     I don’t know what season you are in as you read this. 40 could be years away or it could be years ago. Perhaps 40 is just around the corner and you are starting to freak out because you are listening to the world’s lie that the end of your awesomeness is near. Do not buy into it. You are a child of the Holy and perfect God. He watches your every dribble, shot, and foul. Listen to His voice above the noise and take the shot when He tells you to. Stop looking at the scoreboard-...

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What Kindergarten taught this mama: Slow and steady wins the race

Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Blog, Motherhood | 6 comments

  “A hare was one day making fun of a tortoise for being so slow upon his feet. ‘Wait a bit,’ said the tortoise. ‘I’ll run a race with you, and I’ll wager that I win.’ ‘Oh, well,’ replied the hare, who was much amused at the idea, ‘let’s try and see.’ “ ~ excerpt from Aesop’s Fables, “The Hare and the Tortoise”     I have a problem. Like the hare in this fable, I am “much amused” at the idea of slowness. I am in love with immediacy.   “When the time came both started off together, but the hare was soon so far ahead that he thought he might as well have a rest. So down he lay and fell fast asleep. Meanwhile the tortoise kept plodding on, and in time reached the goal. At last the hare woke up with a start and dashed on at his fastest, but only to find that the tortoise had already won the race. Slow and steady wins the race.” ~excerpt from Aesop’s Fables, “The Hare and the Tortoise”   Walking my son through Kindergarten is eye opening. Did you know that a group of crows is called a “murder?” Did you know beavers have transparent eyelids? Yeah, me neither! I’ve also learned that God has given my son the ability to grasp reading and mathematics quickly. Before his teacher presented addition, my boy figured out that 20 + 20=40. When I asked him how he knew this, he answered, “40 is the number that just popped into my head.” I started to believe that this whole school thing would be easy for him. Wrong. When my son comes across a math problem or word in a book that he does not automatically know, he becomes frustrated.  Asking him to build the problem with his math blocks or to break the word into different phonetic sounds, aggravates him. My little man wants to know instantly the answer without understanding the why  behind the correct answer. He is his mother’s son- easily amused at slowness. A lover of immediacy.     What I learned while walking my son through Kindergarten Whenever I face a challenging “word” or “problem” in life, I do not desire to plod along through it like the tortoise in Aesop’s fable. I want the answer or change I wish to happen quickly. This mama wants to move through life’s seasons and problems like I move through the drive through at Chick-fil-A. Plod along? No way- give me my waffle fries before they get cold. However, Slow and steady wins the race. Friends, Kindergarten has taught me to surrender my love of immediacy and preference for impatience. I must slow down- not in a physical sense, but in a mental/spiritual/emotional sense. My mind is often racing at night, preventing me from sleeping soundly. Worry and anxiety take up residence in my heart and mind. My prayer life wilts. I devour food with gluten, or countless opinions, hoping they enable me to move on from whatever I deem is imperfect or inconvenient in my life. I am a lover of immediacy. And I need to stop being one. Friends, would you pray for me? Pray that my desire and ability to plod along would grow. I will reach God’s unique finish line for my life. He has much for me to learn and enjoy as I plod along towards it.   One Degree Moment: Friends, I would love to pray for you too! Who do...

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The beauty of sharing suffering during a mammogram

Posted by on Feb 12, 2015 in Blog | 4 comments

  My bosom is burning for a couple reasons today. Many of you are going through some tough stuff right now. Know that my heart hurts and breaks for many of you. Something unexpected happened to me earlier today… so bear with me, for I pray the following encourages you.     Because of my mother’s history with breast cancer, my doctor decided it was time for me to have another preventative mammogram. Lovely. Earlier this morning I went to schedule my “gram” only to learn they had an opening right then that I could take. Even lovelier. As I filled out the paperwork, a familiar sadness returned… my mom. Breast cancer. Lord, why must my mind go here? Please help me keep it together, at this moment, in this place. As the tech wrestled me gently into the most bizarre upper body positions known to womankind, she asked me the one question that penetrates my heart so deeply: “Tracy, can you please tell me about your mother’s history with cancer?” There the question was~ hanging out there like I was, in all my contorted and flattened glory. In the midst of cold metal, slight pain, and awkwardness, I shared the cliff note version of my mother’s story. I also shared how Jesus carried her and me through it all. I finished and saw tears in her eyes. The tech proceeded to share about her own sister, who recently passed away from brain cancer. Jesus is carrying her now too. I immediately forgot how ridiculous I felt and looked. For it didn’t matter that it was a different type of cancer. It didn’t matter that her loss was recent and that mine is becoming not-so-recent. It didn’t matter that I was still hanging onto a metal slab for dear life and that she was a stranger. What mattered is that loss has scarred us both. What mattered is that two strangers took the risk of sharing their suffering with each other. What matters is that Jesus soothed my sadness by introducing me to another child of His who also said, “I’ll see you later” before she was ready to; before she understood all the “whys” she tossed Heavenward. Which brings me to the second (less literal) reason for why my bosom is burning today~ During a MAMMOGRAM (for goodness sake) I was reminded that something beautiful and inspiring happens when we share about suffering with one another. So I will continue to share. I will continue to risk. Yes, I know that not everyone has dealt with whatever you are dealing with. Yes, I know that when you open up to someone they can reject you, laugh at you, gossip about you, or twist your words and use them to manipulate you. Yes, we must use wisdom in regards to what we share and with whom we share it. But ALL of us have scars. So risk and share. You may have more in common with a friend or stranger than you realize.   *********** To those who are suffering: please know that I am NOT writing “get over it.” Nor am I trying to minimize what you are dealing with. I just pray that God’s comfort, wisdom, and peace would be noticeable to you right now. I also pray that God would place another child of His who needs to hear about your suffering in your path- even though you may feel unprepared or ill-equipped to share right now. I pray that someday you would be courageous and share your suffering. And I pray that you would...

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The 1 thing I appreciate about “50 Shades of Grey”

Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 in Blog, Motherhood, Teen, Whatever Girls | 12 comments

  I’ve read through several debates surrounding the movie, 50 Shades of Grey. Some mothers plan to watch the film even though they will not allow their daughters anywhere near the books or upcoming movie. I applaud these mothers for not allowing their girls to read or watch 50 Shades, but it troubles me that they’ve read it; anxious to view it on the big screen. For if 50 Shades is purely fictional, and a beautiful “redemption” story then why not let your daughter watch it with you? If its sexual images will quickly exit your mind after the movie ends, then won’t these same images quickly leave her mind too? A lot of people are saying this film is harmless. Why are you telling your daughter it is harmful? There is a deeper reason explaining why you will not let your daughter see 50 Shades. There is a deeper reason we mamas should not watch the pornography and violence esteemed in this movie either. And it is simply this~ God does not want the eyes of our daughters feasting on filth since He created them in His image and calls them to be holy. (Genesis 1:26-27, 1 Peter 1:15-16) Mamas, we must not forget that we are also daughters and image bearers of this same God. I do not believe He wants us to feast on filth even though our “freedom” and a movie rating allow us to do so. So please stop. You are called to be holy as your Heavenly Father is holy. Saying one thing, but living out another angers, frustrates, and divides. Hypocrisy cripples our relationship with our daughter and our Heavenly Father.     The 1 thing I appreciate about this movie is that it makes me pause and reflect on my own integrity as a mother. I should not hide any of my choices from my daughter. I should not use a movie rating, or the “when you get older you’ll be able to handle it” excuse, as continual crutches either. Fellow mamas, 50 Shades is giving me an opportunity to give my daughter my heart. I wonder what my daughter would think and feel if I said: “I am not going to view this film because I wish for you to do the same. If this movie isn’t good enough for you, it isn’t good enough for me. I will lay aside my freedom to watch this, simply because I love you. I want my wishes for your actions to mimic the reality of my actions.” Versus: “You are not allowed to see the movie, but I am going out to have fun and watch this movie. Someday you will understand.” Or, “Whoops, I didn’t intend for you to find this particular book under my bed or on my Kindle. Um, no you cannot read it even though I did.” Which response esteems my daughter instead of making her feel inferior or incompetent? Which response promotes doing life together authentically versus doing life separate and falsely?     My prayer is that you feel prompted to pause and reflect if you still desire to watch this movie. We mamas must be intentional about possessing integrity, so our relationship with our daughter AND our Heavenly Father remains honest and holy. May we allow the Holy Spirit to show us if going to this movie opens...

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The most awkward gift given to Jesus

Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

  I want to extend my deepest thanks to Pastor Skip Heitzig for his latest sermon series on the three gifts  of the magi. Doing an in-depth study on the wise men and their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh in the Biblical Christmas narrative is fascinating and a delight to this Bible loving gal. In the interest of giving credit to where it is due, the inspiration for this post comes from the notes I took from Pastor Skip’s Sunday sermon. Be encouraged dear readers and Merry Christmas!       Have you ever received a gift at Christmas that was well… strange or awkward? I have. So did Ralphie. Remember Ralphie, the central character in the movie A Christmas Story? He received pink bunny jammies as a Christmas gift. Most of us can probably relate to poor Ralphie. I wonder if Mary, the mother of Jesus, could relate as well? Time had passed; and her infant son was now toddling around the house. The cattle was no longer lowing around her, and her so-called “silent night” turned into busy days filled with housekeeping and child rearing. And then wise men appeared at her door, bearing gifts for her son. Gold: so shiny and powerful. Frankincense: so costly and fragrant. Myrrh: wait… what? When Mary looked at the myrrh, she might have felt the same as Ralphie did when he beheld his pink bunny jammies.     Myrrh was an ancient resin that was used in a variety of ways. Myrrh was used in women’s beauty treatments, perfume, or it was used to dull the pain of minor aches and sprains. Myrrh was also used in the embalming of a deceased person. What a strange or awkward gift to bring to a small child… or was it that strange or awkward? “Unless you don’t see the shadow of the cross falling on the crib, you won’t see the crib clearly at all… The purpose of the crib was the cross.” ~Pastor Skip Heitzig The gift of myrrh was a beautiful, symbolic reminder of the purpose of Jesus’ birth. Mary knew this. So did the magi. These wise, powerful, and esteemed men had known their place before a wide-eyed, babbling little boy. They traveled a great distance to worship and to give costly gifts to the young Jesus, because through Him, and only Him, the salvation of all mankind would and did come. The purpose of the crib was indeed the cross.     Not only was myrrh gifted to Jesus at the beginning of His life by the magi, but myrrh was also offered to Jesus by Roman guards as He hung dying on the cross. Jesus refused to drink the mixture that contained myrrh though, because He knew it would numb His pain. (Mark 15:23) Once Jesus died, his body was bound in linen cloths, spices, and wait for it… myrrh. (John 19:39-40) This is so beautiful to me. Myrrh at the beginning. Myrrh at the end. A gift that is truly fitting for the King of Kings. Even the best Christmas light display, beautifully wrapped gift or beauty of new fallen snow pales in comparison. This friends, is Christmas.     The gift of myrrh was not like Ralphie’s pink bunny jammies. I think Mary realized this and treasured what it represented. So should we. The cross couldn’t have happened without the crib. Jesus came to earth and fulfilled His purpose. He will come again, and His second coming...

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