25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 19

Still playing catch up! 🙂 I have been studying and going over this chapter ALL day. It is a tougher one for me than past ones. The big divorce word comes up and it hits very close to home. I love how God brings us to our biggest walls and the very things that make us squirm in order to teach us the truth! OK, it’s a love/hate type of thing but in the end I always come out thankful!

Main points from today’s chapter:

  • The art of marriage
  • What Jesus says about divorce
  • The true definition of “eternal life” and how we gain access to it

 

  • The art of marriage

Matthew 19:4-6 (The Message): “He answered, ‘Haven’t you read in your Bible that the Creator originally made man and woman for each other, male and female? And because of this, a man leaves father and mother and is firmly bonded to his wife, becoming on flesh – no longer two bodies but one. Because God created this organic union of the two sexes, no one should desecrate his art by cutting them apart.'”

I LOVE that this translation uses the word art to describe what God has created between man and woman. I am so saddened by how marriage is looked at these days. It is made so disposable. Vows seem to be just words people say while they stand in front of the decorations they took out a loan to pay for. I see young people who view marriage as just a thing you do and if it doesn’t work out, you just get rid of that one and upgrade like the newest iPhone. Couples getting together for the reason of simply not being lonely. ART is always unique. It is always handmade and put together with thought. Most times, art is worth a lot of money and people will pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to get their hands on it. Art is inspired by moods, hardships, life experiences, nature and the beauty of what surrounds the artist. Marriage is similar in the way two people come together with two totally unique views on life. Their marriage is a unique blend of give and take, ups and downs and compromise. No two marriages will go through the exact same string of events nor will they go through the same reactions from both wife and husband. Each marriage is a work of art, gaining more and more value over time.

  • What Jesus says about divorce

Matthew 19:8-9 (The Message): “Jesus said, ‘Moses provided for divorce as a concession to your hardheartedness, but it is not part of God’s original plan. I’m holding you to the original plan, and holding you liable for adultery if you divorce your faithful wife and then marry someone else. I make an exception in cases where the spouse has committed adultery.'”

Matthew 19:8-9 (NIV): “Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.'”

I listed 2 translations of this scripture because it challenged what many believe these days, including what I believed before this. I guess I hadn’t really put a ton of thought into what was acceptable as far as divorce goes. I guess I had my own ideas about acceptable reasons for divorce, however, I am NOT God. I am just a single sinner living here on Earth trying my best to study and follow the Bible. If I am staying true to my beliefs that the Bible is our guide, then I suppose that means I better change the way I think about things according to what is in this guide I refer to!

  • The true definition of “eternal life” and how we gain access to it

Matthew 19:16-24 (NIV): “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ ‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’ ‘Which ones?’ he inquired. Jesus replied, ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’

This scripture threw me off as well! Wait a minute…..I thought all we had to do to earn “eternal life” was to accept Jesus as our Lord. I grew up thinking that we could not earn Jesus’ love but rather that it was given freely. I was at a loss and I certainly did not want to write a study on the matter if I didn’t understand the concept, myself. So I studied it all day and here is what I found! It makes TOTAL sense to me now. It may require some extra reading if you are as interested as I was in the “real” meaning of eternal life. Here is a link to a teaching I read on the matter and it cleared things up once and for all!

Basically, it says that eternal life does not refer to living forever in heaven but rather, the QUALITY of life we are given NOW if we get to actually KNOW our Lord in a close and intimate way. So our salvation is being forgiven for our sins and gaining access to heaven. “Eternal life” takes it one step further and enters us into a relationship right now. I suppose you could compare it to a marriage. You can say your vows and sign a piece of paper saying you are married and that may be good enough for you. But in order to actually experience a close and intimate relationship with your spouse, you must make a daily effort to put into that relationship what you hope to get out of it. It’s a constant work in progress but the reward is immeasurable.

This being said, YES – we do need to follow the commandments in order to EARN eternal life (a close and intimate relationship with our Father).

 

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25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 16

We are studying the book of Matthew, chapters 4-28 and we are on chapter 16. How are you all feeling? I feel like I have gained some major insight from reading through these stories. If I am being 100% transparent with you then I will tell you that until the start of this series, I may have opened my bible a total of 10 times with the intention of studying on my own. I never did have this huge interest in reading the bible. If I ever did open it, it was in church or I was led to it from a book study I was doing. My least favorite subject in school was history and I always thought that’s what the bible was…..a huge book of history lessons. I see differently now! Every single chapter we have gone over has had some very valuable hidden treasures buried within it, and I actually find it quite fascinating trying to apply these parables, metaphors and lessons to my own life and sharing it with others!

Let’s dig into chapter 16 and see what the word has for us today. 🙂

Main points:

  • Proof that Jesus is Lord, is in the “sign of Jonah”
  • Watch for the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees
  • Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and is blessed
  • Jesus is in the driver’s seat, not us

 

  • Proof that Jesus is Lord, is in the “sign of Jonah”

Matthew 16:4 (NIV): “A wicked and adulterous generation lookds for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’ Jesus then left them and went away.”

Wondering what the “sign of Jonah” is?

This link describes it well:

Question: “What is the sign of Jonah?”


Answer: The phrase “sign of Jonah” was used by Jesus as a typological metaphor for His future crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Jesus answered with this expression when asked by the Pharisees for miraculous proof the He was indeed the Messiah. The Pharisees remained unconvinced of Jesus’ claims about Himself, despite His having just cured a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute. Shortly after the Pharisees accused Jesus of driving out demons by the power of Satan, they said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:38–41).

We are human and because of that we will naturally have questions. Even growing up as a Christian my whole life, I would be lying if said I hadn’t questioned some part of my beliefs or considered be open to other people’s thinking. You could probably blame this on the rebellious tendencies I have on occasion! ha! Somehow, in all of my questioning though, I am brought back by scripture or by the things I have experienced. The verses above, mentioning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (and his prediction of it!) are proof enough for me! Don’t feel bad for having questions, this just means you are a deep thinker and won’t accept ideas simply because you are told to. You can, however, rest on the fact that you have scripture and the holy spirit to back up any questions you may have!

  • Watch for the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees

Matthew 16:5-7 (NIV): “When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. ‘Be careful,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ They discussed this among themselves and said, ‘It is because we didn’t bring any bread.'”

When the disciples had no physical bread for their journey, they assumed Jesus was warning them against the physical yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

You know I think Jesus and I would have been buds. He gets me! I am always thinking in metaphors and feel like people don’t understand me lol But Jesus was all the time talking in metaphors!!

In Matthew 16:8-12 (NIV) Jesus goes on to explain: “Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Remember from the previous post in chapter 14, when we talked about the bread representing teachings/service? I believe the yeast to be the intentions behind the teachings, just as the yeast is the necessary ingredient needed to make bread. The quality of the yeast, will show in the quality of the bread.

  • Peter declares Jesus is the Messiah and is blessed

Matthew 16:16-19 (NIV): “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'”

  • Jesus is in the driver’s seat, not us

Matthew 16:24-27 (NIV): “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.'”

This totally reminds me of children thinking they know more than parents. Most of the time kids don’t appreciate the lessons parents instilled in them until they are well into adulthood themselves. It’s just hard to see the situation for what it is, until it’s over and we see God’s perfect plan unfold.

Jesus wants us to have his plan in mind before our own, always thinking WWJD (to be extremely corny) before we react to anything this life brings us. So, let’s be selfless. Isn’t that one of the greatest messages behind life in general? The greatest goal we could ever have is to love like Jesus loves, putting others before ourselves and experiencing the freedom, connections and closeness in our relationships because of it! The grudges we are holding…..we may think it is making us feel better because we had the last word or we may think we have “the right” to feel the way we do but in reality, forgiving someone and showing grace towards the situation will change it faster than holding a grudge ever will. Showing grace doesn’t always mean we allow others to walk all over us; showing grace can mean setting boundaries, walking away and letting the other person know that it’s all good. That God must have had a different plan, and we are totally content with going down a different path without holding on to any anger associated with the end of this one. Amen, to that. (Sigh of relief)

 

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 14

Hi guys 🙂 Welcome to Day 11 of our series I call, “25 Days of December” where we are studying the book of Matthew, chapters 4-28 in hopes you are able to find some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction!

During this series I will be mostly referencing The Message and NIV translations, but will occasionally reference biblehub.com where many translations can be found.

In order to respect your time and holiday vacation, I will go ahead and get started!

Main ideas to be discussed today are:

  • King Herod
  • Feeding five thousand
  • Walking on water

 

  • King Herod

Matthew 14:3-12 (The Message) tells the story of why John the Baptist was beheaded: “Herod had arrested John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison to placate Herodias, his brother Phillip’s wife. John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herod wanted to kill him, but he was afraid because so many people revered John as a prophet of God. But at his birthday celebration, he got his chance. Herodias’s daughter provided the entertainment, dancing for the guests. She swept Herod away. In his drunken enthusiasm, he promised her on oath anything she wanted. Already coached by her mother, she was ready: “give me, served up on a platter, the head of John the Baptizer.: That sobered the king up fast. Unwilling to lose face with his guests, he did it – ordered John’s head cut off and presented to the girl on a platter. She in turn gave it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples got the body, gave it a reverent burial, and reported to Jesus.”

This is deep. So many things going on here! Adultery, fear of being found out, revenge, peer pressure, manipulation, murder, and so many more. We may think this is pretty far fetched, but is it? It may not always end in murder, but adultery is all around us even if we are unaware. People stopping at nothing to make sure their secrets are not found out. Going to great lengths to seek revenge on someone who brought light to the truth at your expense. The unfortunate results of giving into peer pressure. People manipulating people in order to get what they want. What can we take from this? Well…..the person behind this whole scene is the very king, himself. Don’t always believe that because someone holds a “leader” title, they have pure motives! We are all human and we all sin. Do not place people on a pedestal that they don’t deserve to be put on!

 

  • Feeding five thousand

Matthew 14:16-21 (The Message): But Jesus said, ‘There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.’ ‘All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,’ they said. Jesus said, ‘Bring them here.’ Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They fathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.”

We have all heard this story of the bread and fish being multiplied. I remember it from Sunday school, but I always thought it was about the miracle behind the food. What I didn’t realize until tonight is that this is a metaphor! If the little food they had is the little bit of service we provide in God’s name, all we must do is pray a blessing over our ministry and it will be multiplied to feed the thousands! Our “ministry” does not have to be a big building with a fancy name! We serve in our ministry each time we share our story or help the homeless person sitting in the cold. We are all called to do different things and if we truly believe that we have a purpose and we walk in that, our efforts will be multiplied and go on to serve more and more people!! I don’t think there is any greater reward than that!

  • Walking on water

Matthew 14:29-31 (NIV): “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Two things here:

  1. Peter, through faith, was able to walk on water but when he started to fear he was no longer able. Not only is that pretty awesome to be able to do such a thing as walk on water (see where faith can take us?), but the first hint of fear prevented him from “walking” in that miracle any longer. In the same way that we must learn how powerful faith is, we must also learn how powerful FEAR is!
  2. Another thing, that sometimes gets neglected in this story, is the fact that Jesus didn’t hesitate for one second to save Peter from the waves he threw himself into. Peter, with his lack of faith, started to drown in the waves and Jesus didn’t punish him for it or ask questions first- he saved him from his own mess first, then asked questions. Like parents, letting their children make mistakes then discussing the situation with them in hopes of highlighting the learning moment. Jesus knows we are human and we will not walk in 100% faith all the time. He does encourage us to have faith, but is also there to save us when we have failed to have that faith.

25 Days of December: Matthew Chapter 12

Hi guys! Second study post for today! I’ve sat down with my hot tea, box of Kleenex and my bible and I WILL get these two chapters posted for you! I have been fighting this terrible cold/sinus infection, but I recruited my husband to watch the kids while I rested this morning and I’m finally feeling well enough to open my eyes!

If this is your first time reading, we are on post #9 in the series I like to call “25 Days of December” where we are studying the book of Matthew in an attempt to access some “soul food” during this season of busyness and distraction.

I want to remind you that I will be referencing The Message and NIV translations with occasional mentions of biblehub.com. If you do not have a bible handy, you can click here to link straight to Matthew chapter 12 on biblehub.com. In other news, I was recently asked what bible I use. If you would like to view the two bibles I use, you can visit Amazon through these links: link 1 and link 2 and purchase your own! (Note: link 2 is to a bible that is SIMILAR to The Message translation that I use. The exact one I have, is not available on Amazon but the one linked is a women’s version I’m sure you will love! If you are looking to gift one, there are many other versions available including men’s (NIV), youth (The Message) and children versions!)

Now that we have our reading material, let’s get started!

Main points for this chapter will be:

  • Heart over Religion
  • Qualities of a handpicked servant
  • A good person’s heart will produce good fruit
  • The power behind words
  • The danger in leaving a person “vacant”
  • Obedience is thicker than blood

 

  • Heart over Religion

Matthew 12:6-8 (The Message): “‘There is far more at stake here than religion. If you had any idea what this scripture meant- ‘I prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual’ – you wouldn’t be nitpicking like this. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath; he’s in charge.

Our Father prefers we have a good heart behind our actions vs. following any sort of rules or religion.

  • Qualities of a handpicked servant

Matthew 12:18-21 (The Message): Look well at my handpicked servant; I him so much, take such delight in him. I’ve placed my Spirit on him; he’ll decree justice to the nations. But he won’t yell, won’t raise his voice; there’ll be no commotion in the streets. He won’t walk over anyone’s feelings, won’t push you into a corner. Before you know it, his justice will triumph; the mere sound of his nae will signal hope, even among -off unbelievers.

A true servant with God’s best interest in mind will not go through the streets announcing himself. He will never walk over anyone’s feelings or bank account to make a point and would never bully you into a position of “following their rules.”

  • A good person’s heart will produce good fruit

Matthew 12: 34-35 (The Message): “‘It’s you heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season.'”

Matthew 12:34-35 (NIV): “‘You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.'”

A person’s true intentions will be made evident through the fruit they produce. Although, it may not be obvious right away, their intentions WILL become obvious with time!

  • The power behind words

Matthew 12:37 (The Message): “‘Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.'”

It is pretty clear in this verse: your words have POWER! Be careful how you use them!

  • The danger in leaving a person “vacant”

Matthew 12:43-45: “‘When a defiling evil spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return it finds the person spotlessly clean, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits more evil than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse off than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place. That’s what this generation is like: You may think you have cleaned out the junk from your lives and gotten ready for God, but you weren’t hospitable to my kingdom message, and now all the devils are moving back in.‘”

This specifically speaks to people who have come clean before the Lord but then do not pour back into it, the word and promises of God. I feel like this is our obligation, as believers. We are not only called to go out, find the lost and show them to God; but to continue to pour love and support into them. If we are not available to do this, it is our job to make sure we point them in the direction of somewhere they can find their “soul food!”

  • Obedience is thicker than blood

Matthew 12:46-50 (The Message):  “While he was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers showed up. They were outside trying to get a message to him. Someone told Jesus, ‘Your mother and brothers are out here, wanting to speak with you.’ Jesus didn’t respond directly, but said, ‘Who do you think my mother and brothers are?’ He then stretched out his hand toward his disciples. ‘Look closely. These are my mother and brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys my heavenly Father’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’

To me, this means that the people we are reaching out to are just as important as our own family. We should view others as our brothers and sisters in Christ!

 

When the number of years you’ve lived and the number of houses you’ve lived in are the same.

I’ll start with my high school writing assignments. You know the very memorable ones you keep in scrapbooks? The ones that ask you to collect memories, traditions, family trees etc and compile them into one big beautiful portfolio of your life up until that point? Those ones.

Some of the assignments were easy for me and I loved them! Especially the ones about personality, hobbies or dreams. I have always had an interest in what makes people different, and still love it! The assignments I had trouble with, however, were the ones about memories. The ones where you had to pick your favorite family tradition or describe the home you grew up in. I struggled with these because, like the title suggests, I didn’t feel like I had that.

Now- this isn’t pity party time where I tell you about how awful my upbringing was. I had many wonderful things about my childhood, including but not limited to the times my sister and I would jump and play on big round hay bails til the sun went down, or the walks we would take with my grandma down back country roads to collect pop cans. I also have memories of going with my dad to work for 3 weeks on “the big truck” all across the country, eating at the buffets and taking pictures of all the beautiful places we visited. I’ll never forget how good my mom was at stuffing stockings! In fact, there aren’t many big presents I even remember but I remember almost every stocking I ever opened!

The part I felt I missed out on, was growing up in one house where all of these wonderful memories took place under one roof with the same close family members and close friends. I was envious of the fact that many of my friends got to experience both parents under the same roof (my parents separated when I was in 7th grade). I would watch as a friend from school would move and just be totally taken over with emotions of missing their house, neighbors, school and friends. I didn’t understand it. Moving came easy to me. It was like it was just another thing you do along with eating, drinking and going to school everyday. I became so used to moving, that I put up a wall towards people and they became acquaintances to me instead of close friends. I was simply preparing for the next move.

It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I came to see how this effected me. Because for the first time, I experienced an outpouring of sincerely uncontrollable happy emotions towards another person. I felt what it was like to be so close to someone that you would do anything for them. What hurt my kids, hurt me. What made them happy, made me tear up out of happiness for them.On the other hand, I saw what my mom saw when she looked at us kids. I experienced the feeling of not knowing the best way to raise them. I felt what it was like to have to make tough decisions even if my kids didn’t understand it. I had to go through tough circumstances that I hoped my young kids would never remember. I felt the feeling of comparing myself to other moms and wondering if I was doing a good enough job. For the first time, I understood my mom.

It was during our cross country move from Colorado to North Carolina this past summer, with my (mostly) happy little family of 5, that I saw my craving for a “home” burst wide open into a tangible dream! It took heartache, lots of it, to get to this point of making such a large move but I couldn’t be more thankful. The most ironic part of the whole thing is that because of this move, my husband and I are far away from anything we have ever known and away from 90% of our family. I have learned many, many things about myself during this journey (and it’s just beginning!)

Things I have learned:

Watching my husband get to spend time with his dad (his parents divorced when he was around Kindergarten age), is top 5 most amazing and humbling things I think I have ever experienced! My heart just explodes with happiness each time I get to see their relationship blossom again after 20 years!

Although, moving all of the time was hard, it also allowed me to experience many different places and types of people. I consider myself a very open person because of this. I don’t see skin color, political views, sexual preferences or circumstances when I see people. I see the person for who they are- a broken person doing their best- just like the rest of us!

Being alone and away from family is extremely hard but teaches you so much about yourself! It has also taught me that being apart does not make you distant, it makes you closer! I am far closer to my friends from CO and to my mother specifically since our move, than I ever was when I had them living down the street.

Making a choice to put your own spouse and kids in front of your sibllings, parents and extended family is a choice to break generational patterns. It is when you start over in a new place and are left with no choice but to be close to the people under your own roof, that you start to see the value in those relationships!

The past has no control over you when you choose to leave it behind and focus on the present. Maybe there were too many memories there? Maybe it was feeling like I was stuck in an ever revolving door of circumstances presenting themselves over and over again just with different faces on them. Maybe it was being too close to grudges I’ve held a large portion of my life. Whatever the reason, getting away from my past and starting over one last time was enough to ignite a flame inside of me that won’t easily be distinguished!

Finally, I learned that God is the author of our stories and whatever plans we think we have for our lives are no match for the plan God has already set aside for us. Just when we start to feel absolutely hopeless, he shows up and makes good out of it. He gives us hope!

 

 

What Freedom Really Looks Like

Following a weekend of celebrating the brave Veterans of our country, it only seems fitting to really reflect on the idea of FREEDOM.

I had a question to ask myself this morning and it was this: If we live in a FREE country and we serve a FREE God, why do we feel so UN-free? Imprisoned, hopeless, inferior, guilty, shameful, suffocated, and overwhelmed were some common themes that seemed to come to mind when I think of a lot of Americans these days.

After talking with God on my morning walk, he left me with this……Every negative feeling we feel can be traced back to one of our needs not being met.

I narrowed it down to 5 needs we must have met to be as successful as we can be here on Earth:

  • Survival (water, food, shelter etc)
  • Faith (something greater than us, quiet time)
  • Love/Relationships (significant other, family, friends)
  • Self Esteem (confidence, self worth)
  • Personality (interests, hobbies, fun)

God also clearly defined for me 3 ways in which we react when our needs are not met or are met poorly.

  • Emotional Reaction (anger, sadness, jealousy, greed, selfishness etc)
  • Put up a wall/Shut Down
  • Find a vice/Numbness

Thank you Lord for this clarity! If I can sit down at the table with God (as people do when they cherish a relationship) and just have coffee with him and bring him my hurts, I believe I can put it in one of the 5 categories of unmet needs and hopefully identify how I am trying to meet it with the 3 reactions. So you may think, although this list is interesting, what do I do once I’ve figured all of this out? How do I fix it? How do I get closer to feeling FREE?!

Through my own recent experiences, and a few little whispers from God, I’m thinking some answers may lie in the fruits of the spirit! Hang in there for a second while I try to make this connection for you. If we root ourselves in the holy spirit- we will bear the fruits of the spirit which include:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness and
  • self control (Galatians 5:22-23).

I have had times through my suffering, though, where I don’t know how to “root myself in the holy spirit,” know how to hear from God or wonder why he’s not answering. I’m learning that when I’m in that moment, if I turn to one of these fruits and try to apply them to the situation……that I start to receive answers! And blessings on top of that!

If I choose to treat other people (especially those who have hurt me) with love, patience, kindness, self control……(insert any of the above)…..I start to see it cycle back around to me and I start to hear God’s whispers again! I feel like sometimes I just need some concrete steps I can take to give myself a little bit of relief instead of always relying on this huge overwhelming idea that there is a God up there listening and then trying to figure out how to hear him, when my physical eyes and ears try to test me. Am I right? This is me, being totally raw with you guys. I can’t pretend like it’s 100% easy to be a Christian all the time. Our flesh and just the nature of being human, sure do love to test us and make us ask questions! I believe God wants us to experience FREEDOM in such a way that we can be open and transparent with our friends and love God and grow in him together! I pray you are able to feel some relief and experience true FREEDOM through some of these strategies I’ve been trying lately!

How I lost 12 pounds in 5 weeks without products or diets

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Disclaimer: this is not a product advertisement or way to get you to buy into a scam in order to lose weight and then still be unhappy when you finally do.

The picture is only a way for you to truly believe the very cliche things I’m about to tell you. I don’t do extreme exercise. I don’t starve myself or even really limit myself. I don’t take any supplements, energy boosters, protein shakes or diet pills. These are my results after 5 weeks. What do I do then, you ask?

  1. I rest when I’m tired (instead of taking energy supplements). I try to get to bed by 10:00.
  2. I wake up at 5:30am and go for a WALK (not even a jog) and enjoy the fresh air, quiet time and, sometimes, company of a friend.
  3. I eat every 2-3 hours. Mostly simple foods (sweet potatoes, almond milk, fish, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs- yes the whole egg, organic jam, local honey, chia seeds, almonds, dark chocolate chips, beans, carrots, celery, Ezekiel toast…..to name a few healthy options). Notice how salad wasn’t listed? Not that I don’t eat it, but it’s not my entire or even half of my “diet.” And guess what!? I cheat 2-3 days a week! I just don’t go overboard. I have Reese’s ice cream and apple pie and real, fatty, made from scratch gravy and cookies etc. I don’t cheat for the whole day. And if I do, I don’t feel guilty or over exercise because of it.
  4. I carve out quiet time for myself, to read, journal, color….whatever suits my mood that day.
  5. I try to do 1 thing a week that will help simplify our lives (clean out a closet, organize the filing cabinet, clean the yard….whatever it is.) The rest of the house is a mess?? So be it. I have young kids and that’s a given during this season.
  6. I’ve learned to forgive people I’ve held a grudge against my whole life. This is a HUGE one! As I’ve been known to eat my feelings.
  7. I budget. Or try my best. Dave Ramsey is a Christian based budgeting plan. Love it.

These are all things God has given us to cope, but we’ve sadly been trained to turn to the world for answers instead. Dieting, over exercising, negative self talk, sex addictions, overspending, drinking, smoking, keeping up with the Jones’. Whatever it is we do. And I say WE, because I still get very tempted to go back to these things sometimes!

Just turning to a more simple life has shown me more results in more areas of my life than ANY other thing I have ever tried!

I hope these things for you. I hope for contentment. ❤️