Little actions…big impacts

Nanie and me spending some time together...

Nanie and me spending some time together…

My grandma recently took part in a prison ministry project with a local church to send Christmas cards to those in prison. Always one to encourage others, Nanie didn’t just promise to send one card, but completed nearly 100 cards.

Her inspirational cards also included her favorite Bible verses and handwritten notes about the hope we have in Jesus.

Recently, the pastor of the church announced that the Christmas cards had been well-received. In particular, one man had written that he felt his life was hopeless and was about to commit suicide.

Nanie’s card arrived just in time.

The Lord softened this man’s heart and used Nanie’s card to spark an interest in the Gospel in the man.

The little action of taking the time to write a card made a huge impact.

My friend, Mariann, and her young homeschooled daughter take the time to haul their pet alpaca to nursing homes where they visit with residents, sing songs with them, discuss the projects she makes from alpaca wool, and, most importantly, Mariann shares about Jesus. If there’s an interest, she elaborates and shares her rich testimony of God’s goodness and grace.

One of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, Mariann is taking the little action of spending time with others and turning it into a huge impact on, not only the residents of the nursing homes, but also her elementary-aged daughter.

A young man named Brock who works with my husband recently attended the funeral of a fellow co-worker. While there, Brock heard the pastor speak of salvation. He later asked my husband and another co-worker about Jesus.

Two days later, Brock met with the pastor from the funeral and gave his life to Jesus Christ. Each day, he and my husband meet during breaks where Brock asks questions regarding his newfound faith. My husband blessed him with a new Bible and two other books to read to encourage his faith.

Because my husband took the time to meet with Brock and pray for this young man, Brock’s life has been changed for eternity.

Little actions. Big impacts.

A man named Philip at our church has a zest for the Lord. It’s seen clearly through his actions. Philip won’t be joining the Newboys matthew 2540anytime soon,  yet he sings his heart out to the Lord each and every Sunday.

While many worry that they can’t carry a tune and what others might think if they truly lifted their voices to Jesus, Philip pushes all that aside. To the newcomers of the church, his faith and devotion toward God are evident.

They see something in him that sets him apart from others. Something they want.

Such a small action. With such a big impact.

We must never think that those seemingly minute things we do will not influence someone.

To the contrary.

God uses us each day to be a light for Him. May we all shine our lights brightly and make an impression for the better on those around us. Friends and strangers alike.

Who knows…that impact we make may just make an eternal difference.

 

 

6 Ways to Encourage Other Moms

mom13Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love ~Mildred B. Vermont

Motherhood has been said to be the best, yet sometimes hardest job in the world. And I agree. So how can we come alongside other moms and encourage them in this job?

Here are six ways to make a difference in your mom-friend’s life:

Schedule mom time. Whether one-on-one or in a group, plan some mom-time. It can be as simple as meeting at the playground, taking the kids for ice cream while the moms chat, or spending some time at the public pool. What a nice break to chat with and catch up on all the happenings (we moms benefit from playdates too!) Here are some great ideas for arranging a girl’s night out for a group of your mom friends.

Offer to babysit. Date nights can be few and far between, especially when children are babies and toddlers. Present a coupon to your friend offering to babysit her kiddos while she and her husband re-connect. What an awesome gift for your mom-friend and her marriage!

coupon

Be a listening ear. Last week, through tears, I spoke to a fellow mom about something close to my heart. I was grateful for the time she gave me and the down-to-earth suggestions she offered to me with unparalleled grace. Ask a mom-friend how things are going, take the time to listen – really listen without judgment – and to be her sounding board. Sometimes we moms carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. To have a trusted friend with whom to share those burdens is priceless.

Offer to pray. What a powerful thing prayer is! Ask your mom-friend what her specific prayer needs are and then dedicate to praying for those needs. Sometimes telling someone we’ll pray for them can sound so cliche and can often be forgotten in the midst of our busy days. Remedy this by not only truly praying for your friend each day, but also praying with her whenever you’re chatting on the phone.

Accept her as she is. For some reason, it seems as though mothers often receive the brunt of the criticism and are held to higher judgment. Why do we moms judge each other so harshly? I’ve seen moms judge other moms regarding choices and number of activities (or lack thereof) of another mom’s children; judgment about the way other moms are raising their children; the differences in priorities in families and what they choose to allow or not allow their children to participate in; or even how many sugary snacks fellow moms allow their children to eat in a week.

Moms, this should not be so! Instead, we need to come alongside fellow moms and accept each other the way God made us. Not to say we can’t offer suggestions when warranted (or asked for!) but unsolicited and unkind advice is never appreciated.

Sadly, there also seems to be so much rivalry between moms. Case in point: stay at home moms vs. work-outside-the-home-moms; homeschool moms vs. those who send their children to public school; moms who feed their kids organic health foods vs. the macaroni and cheese moms; sports-minded moms vs. the musical moms; jeans and t-shirts moms vs. business attire moms, married moms vs. single moms; and the list goes on. Put a group of women in a room and this becomes a sad reality as we size each other up in ways we should never do.

Commit to accepting your mom-friend as she is. Be her biggest fan and her most trusted confidante.

Send an encouraging note. What about mailing a thoughtful note to your mom-friend telling her she’s doing a great job and how much you value her friendship? Such a gesture is sure to make her day.

Never more in our lives will we need close friends than as we journey through motherhood. And moms are some of the most awesome and important friendships God will ever bless us with.

How do you encourage your mom-friends?

 

This post was also linked to http://www.rosilindjukic.com/2015/02/facebook-is-not-your-frenemy.html

Top 50 Christian Workout Songs

weightsThere’s nothing quite like a good beat with uplifting words to accelerate your heart rate. Whether out for a run, mountainbiking, or in the gym on the elliptical, these songs guarantee a workout like none other. And with these upbeat tunes, time will fly by and you’ll scarcely notice you’ve been working your heart and muscles for the past hour.

Some from the past and some from the present, in no particular order, here are the top 50 Christian workout songs:

1. Greater – Mercy Me (and really, you must watch this video – it’s hilarious!)

2. Do Life Big – Jamie Grace

3. Made New – Lincoln Brewster

4. Me Without You – TobyMac

5. Big House – Audio Adrenaline (so this song is very old, but it’s still a goodie! And check out the video. We’ve come a long way with technology).

6. Restart- The Newsboys

7. This is the Time – Superchick

8. Words – Hawk Nelson

9. Overcomer – Mandisa

10. Do Everything – Steven Curtis Chapman

11. Turn Around – Matt Maher

12. You Save Me – Kutless

13. Lay Me Down – Rush of Fools

14. Take My Life – Jeremy Camp

15. All the Time – Whosoever South

16. Hurricane – Natalie Grant (Moms, can you identify with this song?)

17. I Am Free – Newsboys (another oldie but goodie)

18. This is Who I Am – Third Day

19. Drifting – Plumb

20. God’s Great Dance Floor – Chris Tomlin penpen

21. Make Believe – Seventh Day Slumber

22. Everything About You – Sanctus Real

23. Right Beside You – Building 429

24. On My Own – Ashes Remain

25. Jesus Freak – DC Talk (take a trip to the past and check out Toby Mac and Michael Tate in this video).

26. Every Good Thing – Afters

27. I Thank You – Rebecca St. James

28. Come to the River – Rhett Walker Band

29. I Believe – ZoeGirl

30. Shake – Mercy Me

31. The Only Name (Yours Will Be) – Big Daddy Weave

32. The King is Coming – Newsboys

33. Hello My Name is – Matthew West

34. Finding Who We Are – Kutless

35. Alive – Hillsong Young and Free (check out this video for some dance-move inspiration!)

36. Song of  Hope (Heaven Come Down) – Robbie Seay Band

37. Risen Today – Aaron Shust

38. You Lift Me Up – Rachel Lampa

39. Reckless – Jeremy Camp

40. Promises – Sanctus Real

41. Tonight – TobyMac

42. More Love More Power – Jeff Deyo

43. Reaching for  You – Lincoln Brewster

44. O Praise Him (All this for a King) – David Crowder Band

45. Incredible – Building 429

46. This is Love – Kutless

47.  Matchless – Aaron Shust

48. There’s Gotta Be More – Stacie Orrico

49. Fix My Eyes – for King & Country

50. I Refuse – Josh Wilson

And, as a bonus, here are five awesome “cooldown and stretch” songs:

1. Remain – Royal Tailor

2. We Won’t Be Shaken – Building 429

3. More of You – Colton Dixon

4. That’s What Love Looks Like – Among the Thirsty

5. Beauty of the Cross – Johnny Diaz

What are some of your favorite Christian workout songs?

 

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12 verses to encourage the burdened heart

Life is hard. Things don’t always go as we’d like. Discouragement, disappointment, fear, and anxiety can overtake us at a moment’s notice. Everyday we are faced with trials, hardships, and frightening news about the world around us. What should we do when faced with these feelings?

Everyone, at one time or another, needs to be reminded of God’s love and that He never leaves us.

God’s Word has much encouragement for the burdened heart. Here are 12 inspiring verses of God’s promises to be with us and give us comfort no matter what life tosses our way.

 

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mb philippians 4 13

mb isaiah 41 10

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mb psalm 23 2 3a

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mb psalm 46 10

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mb psalm 91 4

mb psalm147 3

mb1 peter 5-7

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What are some of your favorite verses that you’ve drawn upon in those difficult times?

10 Things to Do This Year

It’s hard to believe we are almost into the second month of 2015. Truly, where does the time go? New Year’s Resolutions are rarely kept these days, but what about 10 things to do2015 mom blog this year that aren’t resolutions? How about…

  • Giving more hugs. According to Carnegie Mellon Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University,  “more frequent hugs protected people from the increased susceptibility to infection associated with being stressed and resulted in less severe illness symptoms.” Yet another great reason to hug your spouse and your kids!
  • Writing a letter…and mailing it! Whether it’s someone across town or across the country, participate in one of yesterday’s pastimes and pen a letter and mail it. In our modern times of emails, texts, and messaging, it’s a fun and unexpected surprise to receive a handwritten letter.
  • Reading the Bible in a year. Yes, you can do it! Whether you start in the Old Testament or the New Testament, set aside time each morning or evening and grow in the Lord by reading His Word.
  • Using a pedometer. Need a little extra incentive to fit exercise into your busy schedule? Why not purchase a pedometer and track your progress? These can be purchased for around $10. According to The Walking Site, 10,000 steps a day is a reasonable goal to strive for. This doesn’t have to be achieved all at once. Rather, according to The Walking Site, “you can start with as little as ten minutes per day and gradually increase your walking routine.” With your new pedometer, you’ll be on your way to better health in no time!
  • Practicing saying “I Love You” in a different language to those you love. Below are some examples…

ways to say i love you

  • Leaving a comment. Many businesses have “comment cards.” If someone went the extra mile for you, take a minute to complete the comment card and be sure to include the person’s name. Excellent service at the pediatrician’s office? The local Mexican restaurant? The public library? The YMCA? Many of the responses those comment cards receive are negative. Accentuate the positive and reward good service!
  • Trying something new. Ever since our family tried snowshoeing last year, we have been hooked. Think of an activity you’d love to try – ice skating? Knitting? Photography? Sculpting? Water aerobics? Vow to try a new activity or take on a new hobby this year. snowshoeing8
  • Writing a nice review for that book you read that you absolutely loved. If you just read a book that you can’t wait to tell your friends about, why not also pen a review of it on Amazon, CBD, or Goodreads? Trust me, authors depend on honest reviews from readers who enjoyed reading their books. Writing a book is hard work and time intensive. One of the best rewards is knowing our readers treasured the words we strung together on the pages of a book.
  • Turning it off – electronics that is. A study done and reported on the Baylor Media Communications website indicates that “women college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cellphones and men college students spend nearly eight…” That’s a lot of time on the phone!  Even more shocking is that “the average American adult spends 11 hours per day with electronic media,” according to an article on Mashable. Why not take a break from phones, social media, electronics, and the TV? Once dinnertime hits, all electronics are off. The benefits will astound you. You’ll find time you never had and a closer relationship with your family.

What’s something you would like to do this year?

 

What is Real Beauty (Part Two)

what is real beauty2Last week in my post What is Real Beauty? (Part One) , I discussed now our culture has dictated what makes a woman worthy – body size and type, hairstyle, facial features, and attractiveness.

How unfortunate that we have fallen into the trap of believing those things make us worthy and then doing whatever we can to ensure we fit the “mold” society has developed for us.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe we should do what we can to keep ourselves healthy. As a former aerobics instructor and one who loves a myriad of outdoor activities, I am a firm believer in exercise. We should also do our best to eat a healthy. My family will be the first to tell you this doesn’t always happen and that pizza nights do occur. :) But we should make an effort to take care of the bodies God gave us.

As the mother of two daughters, I worry about the effect society has on their body images with magazines with their airbrushed and “perfect” models, the TV commercials, and the obvious quest for girls, even those in elementary school, to look a certain way.

How can I impart to my girls that what’s on the outside is far less important than what’s on the inside? How can I not just tell them this truth, but ensure that it’s something they will understand and carry with them their entire lives?

  • I can remind them of their value. The One who created them loves them so much He sent His Son to die for them. That tells each of us more than anything about our worth. Psalm 139:13 says: For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I tell my girls not to read over this and take it lightly. On the contrary, really read what God is telling us through this verse. He knit us together. Not haphazardly, but with intention.

Psalm 139 13

  • We all three stood in front of the mirror and really saw how God wove us together. I told my daughters: “Look at your arms. They give wonderful hugs. Look at your legs. They can walk, run, kick a soccer ball, and, with your feet, they carry your body wherever it needs to go without fail each and every day. Look at your eyes. They see how to help those in need. Look at your mouth. It can sing, think up funny quips, and say kind and encouraging things to lift the spirits of others. Look at your stomach. Someday, if it is the Lord’s will, you will carry a baby within it. Look at your hands. They are able to draw lovely pictures, write, and do a variety of things from mixing up a batch of cookies to steering a bicycle.” And the list goes on…
  • We had a great discussion about what makes someone beautiful. We each took turns mentioning someone we knew who perhaps the world would not think is gorgeous, but to us, because we know her generous heart, she is beautiful. We thought of a friend who is 90. To the world, she may be worthless and unattractive. To us, she is quite the opposite. Another friend, while not what the world would consider as having the ideal figure, is athletic and healthy. To be strong and healthy is far more important than sporting the latest hairstyle.
  • In the Bible, the Lord indicates to the prophet Samuel who will be the next king. Samuel looks at a family of men and is surprised when God indicates His choice. It likely wouldn’t have been the world’s first choice, but it was God’s choice. Not dark and handsome like Saul, but the runt of the litter and still yet a boy. The Lord’s words about how He looks at the heart are profound. What’s on the inside will last forever. What’s on the outside is temporary.

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  • We love to listen to the following song by Steven Curtis Chapman called “Fingerprints of God.”

Never has there been and never again
Will there be another you
Fashioned by God’s hand
And perfectly planned
To be just who you are
And what He’s been creating
Since the first beat of your heart
Is a living breathing priceless work of art…

The words are profound and the video is well worth the watch at

If I can teach my girls that they are so valuable for who they are, not for what the world wants them to be, I will have achieved my goal. I humbly pray that the Lord will help me to teach them just that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Real Beauty? (Part One)

The message is everywhere. Look a certain way and you are valued. Be a particular body size and type, have a certain hairstyle and facial features and be attractive – all as dictated by our culture – and you are worthy. Anything less and you are unworthy.

This should not be so. Since when did our physical appearance and what society thinks dictate our worthiness?

Instead, we should be basing our value on what the One who created us thinks of us, rather than what the world thinks.

Last week, our homeschool group met for our p.e. co-op. I joined other moms for a chat session while our children participated in their class. These women – my homeschool mom friends – are all unique. They come in all shapes and sizes – apples, pears, rulers, and everything in between. What makes them lovely is not their appearance, but their personalities and their hearts.

I consider not their outward appearance, but instead I value the virtues of…

  • The mom who is financially struggling, but is more giving than anyone I’ve ever met.
  • The courageous mom who struggles to keep homeschooling her children because it’s what she feels is the best choice for them – despite the fact that she does it alone and has no support.
  • The steadfast mom whose faith is unparalleled even as she daily faces obstacles.
  • The mentor mom who started a family later than her counterparts, but who imparts wisdom like none other.
  • The dedicated mom of a cancer survivor. Her son, now 13 and a walking miracle, has been cancer free for the past several years.
  • The brave mom who faces multiple health issues.
  • The prayer warrior mom who is always willing to intercede.

praying

And the list goes on.

So what should we base our beauty on? The latest hairstyles? The clearest skin that lacks even one wrinkle despite our ages? The latest fashions? The size we wear? Whether we are curvy in all the right places?

None of the above.

Our beauty comes from within – from the virtues we possess:

Are we faithful, loving, committed, encouraging, forgiving, kind, humble, loyal, responsible, truthful, and compassionate?

Our beauty comes from knowing the One who created us and knowing we are important enough for Him to send His Son to die for us.

First Peter 3:3-4 tells us where our beauty should come from:

1 Peter 3 3-4

I love the song by Johnny Diaz, “More Beautiful You.” The words of the chorus say it all…

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you.

The words to the song are definitely worth the listen for not only us women, but for our daughters as well. The video is below:

Speaking of daughters, as the mother of two precious girls, how can I teach and instill in them what’s really important and what real beauty is?

Join me next time when I discuss how I have made it my goal to impart to my daughters that what’s on the outside is far less important than what’s on the inside and how I hope to ensure that fact is something they will understand and carry with them their entire lives.