Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year in Review

On my old blog, I did a post at the end of each year highlighting what I had done in the previous year. Really, it's just a nice way to be able to quickly look back at what has been going on. Since I don't keep many traditions from my old blog, I decided I'd implement this one.

• 2012 IN REVIEW •


In January, I had the bright idea to cut off all my hair. In case you've forgotten, my hair used to be incredibly long. In October of 2011, I decided to cut off a little (8 inches). Since that wasn't as traumatic as it could have been, I decided to go the extra mile and chop it all off. It was undoubtedly the second-worst hair idea I'd ever had. The first being the bowl cut era.


Though still mourning the loss of my beloved hair, I did my best to make it work for our first Valentine's Day as a married couple. Needless to say, it was all kinds of wonderful. My new husband knows me so well, and he planned a much-needed getaway for us. Also, I started this blog!


This month started out pretty epicly, when my Great White macbook started to die. My ever-loving and Apple-supporting husband insisted that we get me a new computer. But, one trip to the Cool Springs Apple Store later and we're both the owners of brand new iPads (because hello, that's cheaper than one computer for me!). My precious husband spoils me so much! Also during the month of March, we had our annual gospel meeting at EH and I got to know an amazing speaker, brother Jimmy Clark! We also started taping three new programs for the Gospel Broadcasting Network, and that meant that I got to meet/know a little better two amazing, godly men: Cliff Goodwin & Chris Clevenger. From the moment they were introduced to mine and Robert's life on a regular basis, it has truly made all of the difference.


April was one of my favorite months of this past year because, after 8 long months apart, my best friend traveled all the way from Florida to come see me!! Alyssa and I had a wonderful week together, filled with the OTH finale, sparkling grape juice, Nutella to go packs, Ferrero eggs, and REAL European Nutella. It was remarkable.


May brought a little bit of sadness, as two of my dear friends had their first little boy--and he had some difficulties. They spent a lot of time in Vanderbilt, and I spent a lot of time in prayer. Thankfully (and praise God for this!) little Cullin responded well to the surgeries and treatments, and has developed into the perfect and most precious little boy of all time. And while I would never wish this kind of fate upon anyone, I know that the trial that Jake and Shea were placed in helped us all; it helped my prayer life and my faith in God, and no doubt it helped theirs. *This photo is from December because that's the first time I got to meet Cullin, but isn't he the most precious!?*


June was a wonderful month, filled with all kinds of kid-centered things. For the entire month (8 sessions) we had Summer Bible School, so that kept us pretty busy every Tuesday and Thursday. But, one of my favorite kids in the entire universe, my precious niece Jenna, had her first birthday! We definitely enjoyed being a part of that day (since Robert is now a full-fledged uncle!).


How could July not be an incredible month, as it marked a pretty huge milestone for us: our one year anniversary! It was a tumultuous and crazy year, but it was the best I've ever had! Being married is just awesome.


This month brought our yearly spiritual recharge in the form of PTP (Polishing the Pulpit). We got to spend lots of time listening to amazing sermons, as well as lots of dinner times around amazing Christian people (such as Paul & LaDon, Joe & Pam, Tim & his dad and brother, Brandon & Jade, and my grandmother). It was a much-needed, amazing time. Already looking forward to another year should God give us that time.


Just when you thought your year couldn't get any more exciting, we bought OUR FIRST HOUSE! September was a crazy time of packing, cleaning, moving, unpacking, arranging, cleaning, rearranging, losing things, and finally getting settled. It was wonderful, and everyday I am still so thankful that God blessed us with such a wonderful place to call home.


October may have been one of my favorite months of 2012. After a month of home-buying/moving stress, we took a 5 day vacation with Robert's family to Florida, and it was a well-timed getaway for sure! On the heels of that trip, though, came the Ironaton campaign that we filmed in Talledega, AL. It was another much-needed week, in that we got to spend some quality time


Again, another month of awesome stuff happening. Obviously everyone loves Thanksgiving, and we spent that in Pulaski this year. It was a wonderful, fattening day followed by the annual putting up of the Christmas tree....and the now annual going to the store to get more lights. The following week, I went to Miss Mary BoBo's for the first time with Robert's family for his grandmother's 81st birthday. It was absolutely fantastic, and I would recommend it to anyone who has never eaten off of a lazy Susan*. Finally, to cap off this wonderful month, my podcast released on TLN's website, marking the beginning of exciting times ahead for sure!


And now, December is upon us. This year has been crazy-packed with tons of epicness, and I'm sad to see it go. But, this month definitely portrayed exactly what the rest of the year was like: pure and unadulterated awesome sauce. To start, we had a food giveaway at East Hill and we helped to show God's love to over 500 families. It was a beautiful thing to behold, and I was so blessed to be a part of it--not to mention how blessed I am to be working under the oversight of such amazing elders!! The very next weekend one of my dearest college friends got married, and that was just fun times all around!

Obviously this year has been incredible. I would like to give a huge shout-out to the followers I have of this blog, because you are what keeps me going. I would also like to give a big thanks to my supporters/faithful readers who come here via Facebook. You are all such an encouragement to me and I thank you so much for strengthening me as I try to strengthen my own faith.

May you have an amazingly blessed 2013.And, in case you were curious, you can check out my previous years in review here and here.

*Also, don't you just feel bad for the lady that the lazy Susan was named after?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

12 from 12: A List of Blessings

Last year, I started the tradition of listing some of the blessings of the previous year. It was a beneficial backward glance at the great things God had given me (as the Giver of all good and perfect gifts - James 1:17). This year, I want to have the same sense of thankfulness for my Father, and so I will do a post reflecting twelve of the greatest blessings from this year.

12 blessings from 2012

12: A running, working car. For the entire month of October, I was Prius-less. Poor Julius was shop bound after a run-in with a reindeer. It was through that experience that I learned not to take for granted having a vehicle--and not taking for granted having two vehicles between the two of us (Robert and I of course). God has given us so many physical blessings, and through the unfortunate events surrounding the whole deer fiasco, I learned to appreciate them more.

11: A great job. There are a lot of people who don't have jobs, and therefore I am very thankful that I do. There are a lot of people who have jobs who don't enjoy their jobs, and so I am again very thankful that I do. There are a lot of people who have and enjoy their jobs, but don't get the fulfillment that I do, and again I am so thankful. God has blessed me with the opportunity to work in the field of video editing (closely akin to the journalism field), and not only in a field which I enjoy, but working with subject matter that is so rewarding. Every day of the week I get to work with spiritual lessons and sermons, around people who love Christ and aim to do His will. Since I can't be a preacher, I think this is the greatest job I could ever have! I love what I do.

10: Robert's great job. If you aren't a preacher's wife, this may not make as much sense to you. Obviously if you are married to someone who isn't a preacher, you want them to have a good job. You want them to enjoy their job. At the same time, though, their job is theirs, and you probably have your own to deal with. The life of a preacher is far different than that. His job affects everything--including our spiritual life. For most people, if the need arose to change congregations because spiritual needs weren't being met (or some other situation), that would simply mean changing what time you got up on Sunday mornings to accommodate the time difference from driving to church A to now driving to church B. For us, where we worship is everything. If something happens and we have to change congregations, it upends our whole life. I am beyond thankful that the church at East Hill is so loving and caring and wonderful. The elders here are some of the greatest the world over, I fully believe. They have such confidence in and appreciation for Robert, they love us so very much, and they are so spiritually minded. It means the world to the both of us to be able to labor here and serve under their oversight.

9: Growing closer to my sister. Valerie and I have had ups and downs in our relationship, but this year has really been an outstanding one. I have watched her grow spiritually (and subsequently seen myself grow), put herself out there, and take an active role in the church. I am so proud of her and all that she does--not to mention, she's hysterical and I love every moment I get to spend with her.

8: A new house. This process was so beautiful to me. So many (and I mean so many) people told us that buying a home is a ridiculous process, but we were blessed immeasurably by it all. Truly our God and Father was watching out for us and guiding us in this process, as we could not have been more blessed. Through every little detail of the experience, God's hand was there. There were no hiccups, no hassles, nothing! Plus, we got to pick paint colors and flooring details and landscaping design! Truly it was a blessed experience, and I am so thankful to God for being with us through what could have been a quite tumultuous process. Not to mention, having a home (verses renting and not being able to put nails in the wall!) has truly made Pulaski feel like home to me.

7: Monthly devotionals with the ladies at East Hill (aka our TNTs). Every month of the past year we have had at least 20 ladies take part in a monthly devotional, and it has been a tremendous blessing in my life. Getting to know these wonderful, spiritual ladies at East Hill has made me feel like East Hill is my home, and it has been integral in helping my spiritual life. I will forever remember these precious ladies, one of which has already gone home to her reward. I am so thankful for Janet and all of the memories I have of her.

6: Being a part of the food giveaway at East Hill. In the early part of December, East Hill had a huge food giveaway in which we put together over 30,000lbs of food to give to over 500 recipients. That day, I was put at the registration table and so I got to meet at least 80 individuals or families who would be receiving a box. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever been a part of. On that day, I got to ask all of those people if they wanted to have a Bible study with us sometime, and the majority of them said yes. Some of them were so very excited about it, and you could tell they were really searching for Jesus. It is a beautiful thing to be able to meet the physical needs of the poor, and all the more rewarding to show them the Light of the world. That day forever changed my heart.

5: Teaching the teen girls at East Hill. Words cannot adequately describe the love I have for the five girls that come in that classroom every Sunday morning. They have helped me so very much! I have never been in a teaching role like that--the oldest I've ever taught would be 1st & 2nd graders. Having an older group with real questions and real struggles has forced me to dig deeper into God's word and study, and has shown me things from my past that I wish I could do over. Teaching them has really helped me to appreciate forgiveness, because I need it and have needed it so very much.

4: Meeting/Becoming friends with the Clevengers. If you are a Christian, you understand the deep need you have for finding spiritual friends. As a preacher's wife, I have found that having a preacher's wife friend helps all the more with my daily walk with God. Chris and Melissa have been such a huge part of our lives this year, and I pray that God will continue to grant us the opportunities to work together and be together, as their friendship means the world to me.

3: TLN. My amazing husband came up with the idea for a network of podcasts, and this year that dream has become a reality. I have been so blessed to be a part of this adventure, not only in hosting my own show (which is helping with my public speaking nerves), but also in working so closely with other like-minded Christians (and my mega-talented husband!). Getting to know Chris, Melissa, Brad, & Torrey has been a huge blessing, and the technical kick-off for the network hasn't even arrived!

2: Peace. 2012 didn't have a lot of drama, and can I just say that I am super thankful for that one? I have experienced such contentment and joy in 2012, and I can only thank my Father for that one, as the peace that passes all understanding comes directly from Him (Phil. 4:7).

1: Being married to the man of my dreams. Last year, marrying him was the greatest part of my year, and this year, the fact that I've gotten to spend 365 days with him is the absolute best part. As awesome as getting married was, being married is all the better. Waking up beside the love of your life every day outweighs any other blessing there could be. I am ever thankful to God for allowing me to have time with Robert! I love him so, so much, and I have loved our first full year together.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Broken Homes

So many people that I know are experiencing the hurt that comes along with broken homes. With that in mind, I urge you to read this post. If someone you love is dealing with the heartbreak associated with this growing epidemic, send them this link and encourage them constantly.

With broken homes come broken hearts and broken people. Have you ever felt alone, unwanted, or disregarded? If so, these verses are for you.
"Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." Gal. 4:7 
"Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the riches of His grace." Eph. 1:4-5 
"I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty." 2 Cor. 6:18
God wants you. When earthly parents don't, God does. When family turns their back on you, God won't. God made a way available so that we could be a part of His family--that we could be adopted into His family--and that way is Jesus Christ. When we come in contact with Jesus' blood, we become adopted sons and daughters of God. You know the great thing about adoption? It takes planning. It takes desire. It takes motivation. It takes love.

We're all sinners. At some point, we have separated ourselves from our God. But, He loves us anyway, and He is faithful to forgive us when we come back to Him. Why? Because He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die so that all of the things that separate us could be taken away. And so, when other people disregard you or disappoint you or neglect you, don't get too down. The God and Creator of the universe wants you, because you are special--you are important--and you are loved.

When our earthly families do something to disappoint us it really hurts. Thankfully, this same God who wants us to be a part of His family, has graciously offered us peace (Phil. 4:7) and the comfort of His arms (2 Cor.1:3).

God loves you--yes you--specifically. And that is why He sent Jesus--so that you, specifically, could be a member of His royal family.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

10 Thoughts on Overcoming Trials

We all go through trials. At some point (and at multiple points), all of us will experience things that seem too tough to handle and too big to conquer. In those moments, remember these things:

1: God thinks you're strong enough (1 Cor.10:13). 

2: The Shepherd is by your side (Psalm 23:4).

3: The Potter is perfecting you (James 1:4).

4: The outward must suffer for the inward to be renewed (2 Cor. 4:16).

5: If you overcome, you will be given all things (Rev.21:7).

6: Though this life may hurt you, the second death will not (Rev. 2:11).

7: When people lash out and hurt you, you are building a great reward (Matt. 5:12). 

8: You aren't the first (Heb. 11:37-38)

9: This is making you closer to Christ; a sharer in His sufferings (1 Pet. 4:12-13)

10: You will not be destroyed by this (2 Cor. 4:8-9).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Must-Tell Monday: Husband Edition

I feel that this post has been a long time coming, and if you aren't in the mood for sappy or gushy or the like, you should probably abort this post immediately. =)

For nearly a year a half, I have been married to the most remarkable man in the universe. Every single day of that year and a half I have been more proud of him than I ever thought possible, and instead of simply telling him about it in the same old ways all of the time, I thought I would share some of those ways with you.

1: Robert is incredibly passionate. He has often remarked to me that 'if you can do something other than preach, you should'. I am so thankful that he can't do anything but preach (not that he doesn't have talents--we'll get to that later). There is no other occupation that Robert would rather have, because he loves serving our God more than anything. From the outside looking in, people often ask us if we spend enough time together or if he takes enough time off or if he rests, etc. etc. But I know my husband, and I know that he works as much as he does and as hard as he does because he is oh-so-passionate. I am ok with not being his first love, because I want him to love God more than he loves me. And one of the things I love most about him is that he has such a zeal and a light in his eye when he talks about doing the Lord's work. I am so blessed to be married to a man who loves God so much and is so dedicated to serving Him.

2: He loves me so well. Don't get crazy thinking that Robert doesn't spend enough time with me because he's so passionate about his work. He is always making sure that I am taken care of, that my needs are met, and that I have anything and everything my heart desires. He is so good about making sure I'm not left home alone too much or that I don't have to do all the work around the house by myself. He is always looking out for me and putting my needs above his own. I know there are days when he'd rather just kick back and relax, but he'll come right in and take the trash out for me or ask me if he can help with supper. He also urges me to buy things that I want--even if it's just a fleeting 'that'd be nice'. He wants me to be happy, and he wants to make that happen in any possible way (though he must not realize just being married to him is enough!).

3: He is so amazingly talented. The idea for The Light Network came from Robert, and subsequently all of the tech-y stuff that goes along with podcasting has fallen on his shoulders. He has set up our home office to be a studio for my podcast--complete with all kinds of mixers and wires and microphones. He has set up his own office as a complete studio with more technology than I can innumerate upon. He does all of it himself, too, because he just gets it. TLN would not be possible if it weren't for his tech talents, though I know he would never want to toot his own horn.

It isn't just TLN, though! Robert does a lot of the tech stuff for the congregation here at East Hill, and has even done work for the Memphis School of Preaching, the Ironaton congregation, and tons of work for GBN! He has so many talents, and he is using them for God's glory. I could not be more proud of the man I married!*

4: He is a wonderful teacher. In relation to the last point, I wouldn't have my video editing job if it weren't for Robert. He taught me everything I need to know about video editing, and continues to teach me on a regular basis! I wouldn't be able to do my podcast on TLN if it weren't for him, wouldn't have a job that I love if it weren't for him, and therefore wouldn't be able to serve God like I am if it weren't for him! I am only able to do what I do because of Robert and the amazing way he teaches. BUT, it isn't just about tech stuff. This year, Robert has been teaching the Wednesday night Bible class at the East Hill congregation, and I have learned more from that class than probably any other (and I'm not the only one who says that!). We have been studying through the Bible (starting in Jan. at Genesis and ending Jan. 2nd in Revelation), and it has been a remarkable, eye-opening study. He has challenged us and opened our eyes to so many things, and that's because he's such a great teacher! He's relatable and knowledgeable, and we are just so blessed to have him!

5: He is such a good friend. While I can't speak for all of his friends, I do know how much time and effort he puts into relationships. I know that he really tries to be there for people and really invests in them. I know that he cares deeply for others and doesn't simply put on a front. I know that he is willing to put a lot into other people, and even sacrifices his schedule to make things work. He is one of those wonderful people who is willing to do anything for you, and he's so personable that it makes you want to open up to him and be close to him. I am so blessed to be not only his wife, but his friend.

Recently, one of our (unmarried) friends said that they didn't like husbands/wives calling each other their "best friend" because the term "husband" or "fiance" or something else sounds more formal and means more. I, for one, am so thankful that I am married to my best friend...and that he's been that way from the beginning. Mine and Robert's relationship started on the best friend playing field. Actually, we were so nervous about dating because we were such good friends already. But our best friendship (aka sharing every detail of our lives) turned into something much more beautiful than I could ever imagine, and yet, we have retained our best friendship throughout the taking on of new roles. And I love that about us. I love that Robert is the person who makes me laugh the hardest. I love that he is the one who knows exactly what to say or what face to make to get me to crack up. I love that he makes road trips so enjoyable, and makes the tensest moments bearable. I love that we don't have to speak to know what the other is thinking, and that just one glance from across the room can lead to tons of laughter.

As soon as Robert and I started becoming friends, I knew that he was the best I was going to have. He has always been so easy to open up to, so caring, and so accommodating. While I may be a bit biased, I know that others think he's a good friend, too, and I'm so proud of him for being the type of person that people want to be friends with.

As you can see, I am so blessed to be able to call Robert mine. And while this post doesn't have a devotional thought, or maybe any point at all for any of you who may still be reading, I think it's important to share it, because I want my husband to know, every day, that I am so proud of him and that I love him more than anyone else in this world.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Want Some Encouragement?

The Light Network was designed to encourage, enlighten, and empower Christians across the globe. While the official 'launch party' isn't scheduled until January 5th, pilot episodes of most programs have already been released.

In case you haven't checked out the website, I wanted to give you a few details about each of the shows that have released:

1: Preachers in Training. This is a paneled podcast hosted by my husband, Robert Hatfield, and is specifically designed for younger preachers. Each podcast will have different guests (some younger preachers, some older), and will serve to encourage younger ministers in their work, as well as answer some questions that a lot of them have. If you or someone you know is a preacher, or is thinking of becoming a preacher, send them to this podcast.

2: Culture Shock. This podcast is hosted by Torrey Clark, a MSOP grad and a minister in LaGrange, Georgia. The purpose of this podcast is to bring Christians' attention to current matters going on in the world, and put a Christian spin on them. If you are interested in current events, politics, our government, and the like, check out this podcast. Really, all Christians should arm themselves with knowledge of the world around them, and I would encourage you to check out this podcast weekly.

3: Biblical Manliness. The world defines manliness in some pretty silly ways. Chris Clevenger takes a look at what the Bible has to say, and presents the message in a clear and concise way. All Christian men should avail themselves to this podcast! We need more biblically manly leaders in the world!

4: The Salvation Podcast. As the name suggests, this podcast is all about salvation. Perhaps you have some tech-savvy family members who aren't faithful to the Lord. Maybe you have questions yourself about what constitutes true salvation. Whatever the need, this podcast will serve as a means of teaching the simplistic truth of gospel salvation.


5: Navigating the New Testament. I am the host of this podcast specifically geared toward women. Because of the generic nature of some of our other shows (salvation, current events, etc), this podcast will zoom in on one area of the Bible, namely geography. Because I have traveled to numerous countries and cities mentioned in our New Testaments, this podcast will feature geographically specific content designed to help women of the 21st century appreciate the biblical text more. Through pictures and a study of the 1st century culture, the aim of this women's podcast is to help us draw out lessons from the New Testament that we may have previously overlooked.

6: Under the Juniper Tree. Melissa Clevenger hosts this timely and much-needed women's podcast. Depression and anxiety run rampant in our society, and Melissa sheds biblical light on the shadows of life. If you or any lady you know struggles with these issues, please point her to this podcast. As sisters in Christ, we are all here to help and encourage one another. Or, perhaps you know of a women who is outside of Christ but struggles with these things. This podcast serves to point people with real problems to the true source of comfort.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's The End of the World As We Know It

According to the Mayans, today is the last day that this earth will see. There have been parodies and jokes and all kinds of hilarity surrounding these predictions, and I suppose a few people who actually buy into to it all. As Christians, we know that "of that day and hour no one knows"(Matt. 24:36). We know that the coming of the Son of Man will be as a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2). We can be assured that if the angels in heaven aren't even aware, the Mayans had no way of predicting such a thing.

And yet, I think this is a perfect time for us to get serious with the day of Judgment. While we don't know when it will happen--when Jesus will come back to take us all home--we can know that it will happen, and just because we don't know when, doesn't mean we shouldn't be ready. Perhaps today would be a bit more somber if as many people as were making jokes about the Mayan calendar were seriously considering their soul's final abode.

Jesus said these words in Matthew 7:13-14:
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."
While we don't know when time will come to a close, we do know that it will only be the minority who get to enter into eternal rest and be with their Savior forevermore. That isn't because God doesn't desire the majority be in heaven--on the contrary! He sent His Son to die an excruciatingly painful death so that all of us could be in heaven (2 Pet. 3:9). Instead, the fault lies with the majority, for they are unwilling to make Jesus the Lord of the life.

Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:3,
"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven."
Paul admonished the Galatians, saying,
"Now the works of the flesh are evident which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like, of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (5:19-21)
While considering our souls, we must take heed to what the Bible says about those who will/will not be admitted entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said that it is only those who are born again who will be granted admission into the kingdom of heaven. Romans 6 tells us that we are born again through baptism, then raised as a new creature. Unless we have been baptized (for the remission of our sins - Acts 2:38), we will not live with Jesus eternally.

Paul added to the thought by giving us a list that we should think seriously about. At the end of verse 21, Paul said that anyone who practices such things would not inherit the kingdom of God. That means if you are practicing any of the aforementioned sins (adultery, fornication, drunkenness, etc.) you are not ready for the judgment day to come!

However, I think it would be beneficial to look at one final text. John, the apostle of love, wrote this to his Christian brethren in 1 John 1:7-10
"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us."
After we are baptized, we don't remain perfect and sinless. Contrariwise, we sin daily! John is speaking to Christians--those already washed by the blood of Jesus--and he tells them that if they claim they are sinless, they make God a liar!

All of us need forgiveness and grace. Regardless of what state you find yourself in today, you need the blood of Jesus. If you have not been baptized, consider where your soul would end up should the world end tomorrow. If you have been baptized but are continuing in the works of the flesh as Paul categorized, confess your sins as the apostle John commanded! All of us can attain salvation! God has made it so easy for us! All we must do is believe that Jesus is the Son of God, turn from our sinful ways, confess Christ as Lord, and put Him on in baptism! Compared to what Jesus went through to bring us salvation, it is nothing at all to submit to Him and live for Him daily.

May we each get our lives in order so that, were today our last today, heaven would be our final abode!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

10 Promises from God

Life is rough sometimes. Now, perhaps more than ever, our nation needs to turn to God. Why? Because God can heal all wounds and give all peace and make all things right. He has promised us so much, and that's what I want to focus on today. 
10 Promises from God
1: Everything will be okay (Romans 8:28).
2: I will help you bear your load (Matt. 11:28-30).
3: I will give you everything you need (Phil. 4:19).
4: I will give you far beyond what you can comprehend (Eph. 3:20). 
5: Don’t be afraid when you’re in trouble; I’m already there (Psalm 46:1-5). 
6: No one can hurt you because I am here (Heb. 13:6).
7: I will withhold nothing from you, My child (Psalm 84:11)
8: Give every worry to me. I’ll handle it (1 Pet. 5:7). 
9: Don’t you know, I’ve already given you everything (Rom. 8:32). 
10: I’m not going anywhere (Heb. 13:5). 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tragedy and Mary

I have already done one post on Jesus' mother, Mary, and the things we can learn from her. In the wake of Friday's tragic events, however, I simply cannot get her off my mind. And here's why:

Mary knew tragedy.

John 19:25 says, "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother...". Not only did Mary know tragedy and heartbreak, she experienced it first hand. She watched her son hang on a cross and suffer indescribable pain. She watched as the blood trickled down His brow; she heard Him cry out in pain; she looked on as His body hang limply after He'd given up the ghost (Lk 23:46). We read this story and we focus on Jesus--and rightly so--, but imagine for a moment that you are Mary. No mother should ever have to experience this! And yet, she was there, experiencing what no one should have to, for her son.

Surely we have all muttered (or at the very least thought) that no person should have to go through what those 40-something parents are having to go through. Their innocent, beautiful children were slain in an unexplainable, evil act. They are, without doubt, suffering immensely. But they aren't the first.

Mary watched as her beautiful, innocent Son was brutally murdered. She was there as the crowds chanted, as the soldiers prodded, as the darkness gathered. She saw firsthand, much like these parents are seeing now, the evil that was in the world.

And yet, because of all that Mary had to suffer on that day, we can all have hope--yes, even those parents of the children whose lives were cut too short. You see, because of the cruel death of Mary's innocent Son, we can all have life (John 3:15-16). Because of her Son, we can know that those innocent lives from Sandy Hook will be in a land with no more death and no more pain (Rev. 21:4). We can have full assurance that God will avenge their untimely deaths (Rom. 12:19), as He will avenge and ultimately purge all of the evil this world has ever known.

Mary was not crushed on the day that her Son died. Instead, Mary knew that He would rise again and claim victory over death. We, too, can know that victory will be ours. In the last day this earth will ever know, Jesus will once and for all claim victory over death--and all of those who will be faithful to Him can claim a part in that victory (1 John 5:3-5).

With every fiber of my being I hate what happened on Friday. I hate that those children we taken from this world in such a cruel and painful way. I hate that people are hurting. I hate that people are blaming God. I hate that the world that we live in is so evil. But, I can find peace in the midst of this tragedy, and if you will turn to God, you can too. Let the words that Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in 1 Thess. 4:13-18 comfort you.
"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God wi ll bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words."
Death is not the end. Undoubtedly Mary knew that as she watched Jesus hang on the cross, and we can know that ourselves in the face of tragedy. Whether we are taken brutally from this life, die peacefully in our sleep, or are alive when Jesus comes back and all of world is destroyed, we can have a hope (expectation) of heaven for our final abode.

Please continue to pray for the hearts of those affected by this tragedy. Pray that they can give their lives over to God so that they can experience the peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7) and have the hope of reuniting with their children one day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dearly Beloved

One of my closest friends is getting married this weekend, and in her honor I thought I'd write a little something.

I've only been married for 17 months, so to say I know all about marriage is quite an understatement. But, if I were to give any kind of advice about marriage, I would probably say this:

1: Confide in your spouse completely. There are going to be times when it might be easier to just keep back a piece of information, or maybe not ask that question that's been bugging you, but really all that will do is drive a wedge between you. Proverbs 31:11 says that a virtuous woman is one whose husband trusts her. Be the kind of husband/wife that will have the total trust of your spouse.

2: Admit your weaknesses. All of us have weak moments spiritually speaking. When you are in the midst of one of those moments, let your spouse in on it. Have them pray for you, with you and privately. It is no doubt their words will encourage and build you up in those weak moments. It will also make your relationship more God-centered, and really that's what will make it last.

3: Lean totally on your spouse. There are going to be hard times, that's just a fact of life. In those moments, it might be easy to go to one of your friends who's "always been there", but take special thought to go to your new spouse. The amount of time you spend crying together, praying together, talking things out...that will make all the difference. You will come out on the other side of whatever trial it is a better and stronger couple.

4: Make time for alone time. Sometimes it's hard to get away. Sometimes it's difficult to get away from work--or to not take work home with you. But, purpose in your heart to make time for alone time. It may not be weekly; some months it might not even happen. But be sure to plan out special times throughout the year that you can look back on and enjoy those memories. It doesn't have to be expensive--some day excursion somewhere enjoying the scenery. Just be sure that you get away, just the two of you.

5: Don't let them slip. You are going to be your spouse's biggest influence; take that to heart. There may be times when they want to get into a rut, but be sure to gently pull them out of that. Don't let them slack on duties, or even slack in a loving, Christian attitude toward others. Encourage them to always do and be the best that they can for God, and help them out of any temptations that may come--even if that means removing some of those temptations from their reach.

6: Always, always, always say I love you. This one really goes without saying, but it's so important. Sign every text, end every phone call, let your final words every night be these: I love you. And don't just get into the routine. Regularly, make it a point to look your spouse in the eyes and really tell them that you love them.

7: Don't let society define your marriage. There are SO many societal rituals and rules about marriage and different things you're supposed to do in marriage...don't take them to heart. Figure out what makes your marriage work, specifically, and keep it up. Don't let the pressures of society make you feel bad about your marriage--like you have to live up to something that the world has set in place. You do in your marriage what makes you and your spouse better and happier--period.

8: Let God define your marriage. Ephesians 5:22-33 gives us insight into the roles of husbands and wives. As a wife, be sure that you submit to your husband; that you allow him to have that rule over you. As a husband, be sure that you love and cherish your wife, and that you looking out for her soul in every instance.

9: Try to get involved in some of their interests. There are always going to be things that you like to do that your spouse doesn't, and vice versa. I think it's healthy to have those things. But, try to take on something new, too. Don't just stubbornly say you have no interest in something, try to give in and enjoy it with them.

10: Never, ever put your spouse down. Robert and I engage in self-depricating humor a lot, and we joke with each other a lot, too. We joke with each other in public settings as well, but I never feel like Robert is making fun of me or trying to hurt me or using a piece of knowledge to make me sound bad. Be sure that you don't ever put your spouse down in public. Be sure your spouse (and everyone around!) always knows how in love with your spouse you are. And if there are other people making fun of your spouse, be sure to stand up for them and compliment them. Be your spouse's biggest fan, even if there is something negative going on at home. There are always going to be trials and tests and arguments, but never air those in public. Always be your spouses biggest supporter and encourager, and again--make them feel safe.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


There is a lot of hype surrounding today, and understandably so. Today is the last day in our lives (and probably the lives of our children) that we we will see a sequential date: 12-12-12. And that's exciting to us. Really, though, does it matter? Probably not.

If you're like me, you don't believe in luck. You believe in blessings from God Almighty, as all good and perfect things come from Him (James 1:17). And so, instead of basing your attitude about today on a sequence of numbers, meditate on another 12-12 with me.

Romans 12 has always been an inspiring section of scripture to me. To begin with, the apostle Paul urges the Romans to be a living sacrifice--not conformed to the world, but transformed...a perfect picture of living a holy and sanctified life. As the chapter continues, we are introduced to a segment that is generally referred to as a guide on how to behave as a Christian. It is within that context that we read the following:
"rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer." (Romans 12:12)
On this twelfth day of the twelfth month in the twelfth year of this century, why not practice the things that Romans 12:12 urges us to do.

1: Rejoice in hope - Biblical hope isn't the same as worldly hope. Biblical hope is an expectation, not simply a wish. And so, because of all of the things God has promised to those who love Him and are faithful to Him, we can rejoice in our hope of our expectation of heaven. We don't have to live in doubt, wondering what will happen to us when we die. We can rejoice and have confidence that we and our loved ones who are living faithfully will all be in heaven when this earth is no more.

On this day of superstition and luck (and in the coming days with the Mayan calendar mumbo jumbo), remember that our eternal destiny is already known by our Father, and that His promise of heaven has already been given. It does not take luck to get into heaven--it takes obedience to God's word.

2: Be patient in tribulation - Perhaps this point is even more relevant around the holiday season. Sometimes family gatherings can be hectic and chaotic and stressful. Other people tend to be stressed, which can then lead to negative encounters while shopping, driving, and even assembling to worship! Though it is the season to get stressed out, try your best to refrain from such. Know that in whatever trial or pitfall you find yourself in that the God of all comfort is there with you. Mediate on such passages like 1 Corinthians 10:13 and Hebrews 13:5. Know that God is bigger and stronger than anything that could ever come your way, and in Him we have strength and a peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7).

But also know that your attitude makes all the difference. Sometimes we don't think of attitudes as sinful, but they can be. Instead of flying off the handle because you've had a bad day or letting your lips flap because someone has gotten under your skin (am I the only one who struggles with this daily!?), remember whose you are and how Christ reacted when placed under extreme stress and tribulation. Did He lash out at the crowd crying "crucify Him!" or respond when those soldiers beat Him and spat on Him? No day you have ever had will be that bad, so remember to practice some patience.

3: Continue steadfastly in prayer - Every day of our lives should involve prayer. Our God has done so much for us, and we fail Him so often. Remember to go to Him and thank Him for the time that you've been given, for the people who have blessed your life, and for the physical wealth you have been given in abundance. Our Father is such a liberal giver, and we all have so much to be thankful for.

While the rest of the world is making a wish at 12:12 on 12-12-12, why not say a prayer and thank God for all the marvelous blessings He has sent your way? And, because He has given so much, make a special effort to be a blessing in someone else's life today. Pray that God will give you an opportunity to serve, or to simply make someone's day brighter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Thessalonian Approach

The church at Thessalonica was a good church. Paul would often admonish and encourage them, and his letters to them are quite inspiring. These first century Christians were ready for Jesus to come back, and while they had some questions about His coming, they were doing what they could so that He would find them working and being pleasing to Him.

At the end of 1 Thessalonians, Paul encourages them to "abstain from all appearance of evil (5:22, KJV)." The reason that I find this verse so fascinating is because I think it can teach us a lot about how we should live our lives today.

Perhaps you are a person who has been a Christian for a while, and maybe you don't struggle with doing evil things. You probably aren't tempted to murder, to steal, to commit adultery. You may not have a problem with drunkenness or homosexuality or sorcery. I feel like those who were living in Thessalonica didn't have a huge problem with these things either. They were desperately trying to please their God, much like we are today. And it is to those faithful brethren that Paul wrote those words:
"Abstain from all appearance of evil." 
Paul is all about pushing people to the next level, much like our Lord and Savior was (see Mt 5:21-48). These people in Thessalonica were already doing their best not to do evil stay away from the things mentioned in passages like Galatians 5:19-21 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. And for that reason, Paul urges them to go a step further. As a Christian, it is not enough to simply not participate in evil things. Instead, as holy and sanctified people of God (1 Pet. 2:9), we are to stay away from things that even have the appearance of evil.

God's chosen people must remember that they are to be different. As members of our Lord's body, we are a called out people. If we look like and act like the rest of the world, how called out are we? If we promote activities and movies and television shows and songs and artists that are unholy and immoral, how are we abstaining from the appearance of evil? When we attend concerts where illicit drugs and drunkenness prevail, dances where immodesty and lewdness abound, and movies with foul language and nudity, how are we abstaining from the appearance of evil?

Even if we are not practicing such behaviors, promoting them seems to be just as bad. As holy people of God, we must be different. We must only think on things that are pure, lovely, and of good report (Phil. 4:8). We must set our minds on things above, not dwell on things that are carnal and earthly (Col. 3:2). We must strive to be holy in all of our conduct (1 Pet. 1:15), and that leaves no room for getting caught up in things that have the appearance of evil.

It won't be easy. Choosing not to shop at certain stores, go to certain events, or listen/watch certain things may even bring us ridicule and persecution. But all of that will be temporary, and our faithfulness to God will be rewarded.

Please don't think that this post means I am calling out anyone but myself. I know myself pretty well, and with confidence I can tell you that some of the temptations that are listed in the Bible aren't things that tempt me. However, not letting myself get involved with things that have the appearance of evil--that's something that I struggle with constantly. It is my prayer that I can put this verse in the forefront of my mind, and that you can do the same, and that together, we can encourage one another to a holier lifestyle.
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written 'Be holy, for I am holy.'     - 1 Peter 1:13-16

Monday, December 10, 2012

Please Read: A Story about Giving

On Saturday, the East Hill congregation had a food giveaway. While Saturday was technically the big day, this has been something that has been in the works for a while.

Our elders had the idea (which was an amazing one), and even looked at the stats as far as benevolent requests were concerned and found that this time of year people really seem to need some help. So, they decided that we would put together 500 (yes, that many) food boxes and give them away. Inside these boxes we had rice, beans, cereal, peanut butter, jelly, tuna, corn meal, sugar, peaches, tomato soup, spaghetti, mac and cheese, ham, cheese, eggs, hot dogs, milk, potatoes, and other things I know I am forgetting. By the time things were said and done, these boxes probably weighed 50+ lbs.

We had multiple nights of assembly--from the 500 boxes to the placement of all the supplies inside. We had members from EH submitting names and offering to take these food boxes to families in need. We had people handing out flyers and putting out signs. We had so many people praying for the effort, and really, that's what made the day so successful.

I could go on and on and on with stories from this past Saturday. Truly those of us who were working got more out of the day than those who were fed. But that isn't why I'm posting this. I'm not posting this for any accolades or praise. I'm not posting this so you'll think East Hill did some fantastic job. While our elders did have the amazing foresight to take on such a project, it wasn't about any of us at all. And that's why I want to write this post.

Last night, as Robert and I were walking back from his office toward the auditorium prior to services, we were met by a gentleman who didn't know where to go. He asked us where we normally met, because he'd never been to East Hill before. We told him he could follow us, and we introduced ourselves. We'd never seen this man before, and for our purposes today, I'll call him Mr. M. Well Mr. M went on to explain to us why exactly he was there, and that's the story I want you to hear.

Here's what he said:


On Friday morning, as he was working outside at his home, his bulldozer rolled over. Many of you have probably known of such accidents occurring. This man said that he should have been seriously injured, and yet he came away without a scratch. A couple of hours later, while still pretty shaken up about the morning he'd had, an unfamiliar truck rolled in to his driveway. As he recalled to me last evening, "I figured it was just a bill collector because I've been contacted by a few of those. I was just going to send him on his way because I didn't have anything to give him." But much to his surprise, it wasn't a bill collector at all.

A man from East Hill had been given this man's address to deliver a food box to, though given a different name. Mr. M told the man from East Hill that the person he was looking for had been killed in a car accident years earlier, but that he'd worked for him. So, instead of leaving the residence, the man from East Hill offered the food box to Mr. M.

"I tried to turn the box away," Mr. M told me. "I've always been a giver, you know. I didn't want to take something that someone else probably needed more." He would later tell me that he did need it, though, and that he hadn't had milk in about 4 weeks. He also said that to him, that box of food was worth "five million dollars!" and that'd we'd "put food on [his] table for probably two or three months...I'm really good at stretching my food out."

We told him over and over again that we were so glad that he'd taken the food box, and that we were so glad he'd decided to join us for worship. He said that before the man left his house, he'd invited him to come to worship with us, and "I just felt like I needed to come up here and say thank you to all of you. Can you please announce to everybody tonight that I'm just so thankful for all the things you've done, and that y'all just put food on my table."

As we were walking to the auditorium, I invited this man to sit by me, since he didn't know anyone there--not even the name of the man who'd given him the box (though we would figure it out later on). I am so glad that I did, because I got to hear so many East Hill members come up and speak to him. When he said thank you to one lady she said, "Well we just wanted to do what Christians are supposed to do, because we love God."


The reason that this is the story I'm wanting to pass along is this:

Taking the time to do things for people really matters. Taking the time to meet people's physical needs really matters. Jesus would often heal a person's physical infirmities before healing their spiritual infirmities, and I believe it's because He knew that they would be much more attentive and responsive. I witnessed tonight, firsthand, what a genuine love and concern for people can do -- the way it can touch a heart.

Sometimes it takes getting out of your comfort zone to make a difference. I know that I have been guilty so many times in the past of not actively seeking out ways to help other people. But if you could have seen the look on this man's face as he proudly shook every person's hand that came up to speak to him, you would want to go out and search for people to help. May we ever be looking for opportunities to serve the poor and the needy and the desolate, because their souls are worth the whole world---and they will never know we are interested in their eternal welfare if we are not first caring for their physical welfare.

Whether or not this story affects you, I needed to write it. I need it to be here so that I can look back--maybe months from now, maybe years from now--and remember Mr. M. I need to remember to search out those who are desperate. I need to speak to and invite those who may not look like "good soil". I need to love every single person that I meet enough to tell them about the gospel of Christ -- to invite them to sit by me, to shake their hand, and to listen to their story.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Leading Ladies: Leah

Jacob is a very well known Old Testament patriarch. He also has a beautiful love story. In Genesis 29 we read the story of Jacob wanting to marry Rachel, Laban's youngest daughter. Because Jacob loved her, he worked 7 years to be able to marry her. As the familiar story goes, Laban tricks Jacob and instead gives him Leah (the oldest daughter) to marry. Upon this realization, Jacob works another seven years to be able to finally wed Rachel. That's true love, people! Devotion at its finest for sure.

But in reading this familiar story, it's hard not to feel sorry for Leah. I mean really, how often do you think about Leah when you think about Jacob? It's not that often! Instead, we think of Jacob and Rachel, of the love that they shared, and the way he demonstrated that love to her children. So where does Leah come into that picture? Here's why I feel pretty bad for her:

1: Jacob didn't want her. Now this one is mostly Laban's fault, as he shouldn't have fooled Jacob into marrying Leah, but that's beside the point really. While I know that times were different then and that people didn't commonly marry for love, Jacob wanted to. And guess what? He didn't love Leah. So how would you feel knowing that your now husband not only doesn't love you, but loves your sister?? When I was in high school, one of the guys I was dating thought that my sister was the most gorgeous female on the planet. Even though this was just a high school puppy love type of thing, it still devastated me, because she was my sister. Maybe it's just a sister thing, but there is this jealousy/self-esteem weirdness involved and I just flat out feel sorry for Leah having to deal with that.

Not only that, but the Bible makes it seem like Leah wasn't as good as Rachel. When reading their first descriptions, the Bible says, "Now Laban had two daughters, the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah's eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance (Gen.29:16-17)." While I'm not 100% positive what the "delicate" or "soft" eyes comment means, from the "but Rachel was beautiful.." makes it seem like it was not a great quality to have. I imagine that Leah has felt inferior to her beautiful younger sister for her entire life, and now she's going to be subject to those feelings for the rest of her life. Don't you feel sorry for her?

2: Jacob loved Rachel's children more. So I don't have kids yet, but from what I can deduce, having kids is a game changer. Suddenly, you'd rather people hurt you than hurt your kids. You'd rather suffer or have less of something than to have your kids go through that. Now look at Leah: she's been the lesser of the two wives (and probably the lesser of the two sisters all her life!), and now her kids are the 'lesser' ones. Jacob shows favoritism to Rachel's kids in very obvious ways (see coat of many colors). All of the children can tell that their father loves his sons by Rachel more (see entire story of Joseph's life). How do you think this made Leah feel? Like I said, I feel pretty sorry for her.

But, when I read the story of Leah and Jacob and Rachel, if I will only step back, I can feel at ease with Leah's lot in life. If you've read the story of Esther, you see that God is directly involved, though not directly mentioned. I feel that it's the same in Leah's life. God is directly working in this story, but we don't always take the time to find out where. So that's what we'll do now.

1: God provided for and blessed Leah. While it's completely my own speculation, I feel that Leah (as normal women do) may have worried about getting married. Her physical limitations probably made her nervous that she may never be married, and if you didn't get married back then, it was a bad thing. But God took care of Leah. While the circumstances that led up to her marrying Jacob might not have been the best, and even though her situation throughout life might not have been ideal, God took care of her. He provided for her and met her needs.

Even though Jacob loved Rachel more, God opened Leah's womb. For the first time in Leah's life, she had the advantage over Rachel. No doubt this was God continuing to look out for her. He knew that Jacob loved Rachel more, so He gave her children that she could love and be loved by. And it wasn't just the children that she was getting to spend time with; obviously she was getting Jacob's attention and affection during this time. Sure, the situation still isn't ideal, but God was blessing Leah's life.

3: Leah's family endured. This is basically the end-all argument for feeling sorry for Leah. Now we know that once Rachel had Joseph and Benjamin all of the other kids were mostly forgotten, or at the very least neglected. I mean, they were so bitter that they tried to kill Joseph. But, while Jacob had always favored Rachel and then always favored her children, God favored Leah's child. Judah was the tribe that lasted; the tribe that Jesus would come from (Lion of Judah - Rev. 5). So Leah had it a little worse off than Rachel in this life, but her family's legacy would be the lasting one. It would be her lineage that would one day save the world. We can obviously draw from this that Leah trusted in God in her life. Just like God blessed Abraham, He blessed Leah. God takes care of those who trust in Him--even if there earthly life doesn't seem blessed (though there are always blessings from God).

I think we can learn a lot from Leah's situation. God is going to take care of you and me no matter our lot in life. No matter if the situations and circumstances are against us, God is going to be there for us, and He will never forsake us. If we're limited in this physical world--it doesn't matter, because God will provide for us eternally.

The more I think about it, the less I feel bad for Leah. God took care of her, and He promises to take care of those who are faithful to Him...which makes me realize I should probably never feel bad for myself, either.

And one more nugget of thought: don't let bitterness overtake you. It is so easy to become bitter because of what we go through in this sinful world. Choose to look on the bright side, and like we learn from the story of Leah, know that God will provide for you and take care of you. You will no doubt have many physical blessings while you're on earth, but even if you don't have any...God will bless you eternally: "Heaven will surely be worth it all."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The 100th Post

What do you for the 100th post on your blog? I feel like it's quite a milestone! Now sure, I've been blogging regularly since August 2008, but the fact that I've reached 100 posts on this blog is still a huge deal to me. While I was blogging away on my mildly (ok full blown) ridiculous 'emuhleem' blog, I had a dream. Sure, I would throw in some religious posts every now and then, but I wanted my blog to be less silly and more spiritual. I wanted to incorporate my Christianity into my real life--not just 'preach' and throw out devotionals every day (which, I'll admit, a lot of days it seems that way on here even still). Regardless, this blog was born and I love it. It has made me more spiritually minded. It has made me look at the Bible in a different way. It has encouraged me to put myself out there and teach others. It has truly been a blessing to my life. So, if it isn't beneficial to anyone else, that's fine, because it's worth it to me.

BUT, for my 100th post, I want to do something special, and so I will do a list (because those are my absolute favorites) of my favorite (favorites are also my favorite) verses and people, and let's be real-- that will probably be all the time we need to spend, since you probably don't want to be reading my post for 30 minutes. So sit back, strap in, and get ready. And thanks in advance for reading it. These are some really important things in my life.

1: My favorite verse. For such a long time (6 years!!) Psalm 34:18 has been my favorite verse. It reads, "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit." The reason this verse was my favorite was because of what characterized my life: hurt and brokenness. This verse lifted me out of spiritual apathy and into a life dedicated to pleasing God. Had it not been for this verse I may not have gotten out of the mires of sin.

Now, though, I'm not in that place. I don't feel broken or hurt. Instead, I constantly feel the love of God in my life. It helps that I have a husband who exhibits a Christ-like love for me on a daily basis. In which case, a verse about hurting doesn't cut me to the core like it once did. Which is why I've been on a quest to find a new favorite verse. It's been difficult, though, because there are so many to choose from! For the moment, I have decided on 1 John 1:7 - "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."

While I may not be broken and hurting and apathetic anymore, I am still a sinner. On a daily basis I think or say or do something that I shouldn't, or perhaps don't do something that I should. How reassuring to know that, so long as I am trying (and oh, I am), Jesus' blood continually cleanses me. And that's the tense of the greek word: Jesus' blood doesn't just cleanse me when I am baptized--it continually cleanses me as I try to walk in the light and remain in fellowship with Him.

I will never be perfect, but I am oh so thankful for a Savior whose blood makes me spotless and blameless before Almighty God.

2: My favorite people. First and foremost, you have to know that my husband is my favorite person on this planet. Without a doubt, he has made the most difference in my life. From the moment I met him (ok, so maybe a few months later when he actually started liking to be around me), he made me better. He has challenged me and encouraged me and exhorted me since the very early days of our friendship. He has counseled me and comforted me and cared for me for the last five years. Had Robert only made an appearance in my life, my life would have been abundantly better. The fact that I get to spend every single day with him makes me the most blessed girl in all the world. He is my best friend, and the one who motivates me to be the best I can be for God. I would not have the assurance of heaven were Robert not in my life, because I wouldn't be the person I need to be. I thank God daily for the wonderful gift I've been given.

But that just says a lot about who Robert is to me, not who Robert is. Robert is an amazing preacher. He is an incredibly talented graphic designer (hello Light Network logos), and he has such a vision when it comes to doing God's work. Several months ago, Robert came up with the idea of launching a network of podcasts about Christianity. Now, that idea is a reality. What an amazing husband I have, who dedicates his life and his time to doing the most he can for God!!

I'm sure he's shaking his head, disagreeing with all of this praise, but that's only because he's one of the most humble people I know. He has so many talents, and the church at large is beyond blessed because he chooses to use them in God's service. I pray that I can be an encourager to him so that he will keep on in God's Kingdom, because he is truly using all that has been given to him to glorify our Father.

But notice I said favorite people, so obviously this list must continue. I am also so very thankful for the introduction of two remarkable people into my life this year. Chris and Melissa Clevenger are amazing on so many levels. Chris started taping a program for GBN here in Pulaski, and so we got to know him first. But it wasn't until I met Melissa that I really felt the connection to the two of them. They are both such wonderful servants of God, with the tenderest hearts you will find. They are passionate about serving God and telling others about Christ. One of the most encouraging days I've spent with them was when we went to Ironaton to film a campaign, and they took us to a public high school where Chris teaches a Bible class most Thursday mornings. How remarkable to go into a public high school arena and proclaim Christ! I was so encouraged by both of them, and it was at that point that I felt like my soul was knit to theirs. It is so thrilling to work with people who are so like-minded.

On top of all of that, though, Chris is serving as the co-director with Robert at The Light Network. Chris and Melissa are both doing podcasts, and that just goes to show yet again how dedicated they are to doing God's will. I am better for knowing these two godly individuals, and I am encouraged by them daily.

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention my long-lost college BFF Emily Nelson. While we were in college, Emily was my RA (and briefly my roommate). We had our ups and downs, but I know that God's providence was working in our lives. Had we not met (and had a brief falling out) we wouldn't be where we are today, and that is best friends. Emily is such an encouraging, positive person, and her bright and cheery attitude is exactly what I need most days. She is my biggest supporter, and never ceases to shower me with (undeserved) compliments and praise. She is such a beautiful person, both inside and out, and is the most talented writer I have ever personally known. She is one of my role models for sure. She is constantly trying to do what is right, even when it's the hardest thing on earth to do. She is constantly trying to keep her attitude in check and remain positive, even when things are incredibly trying and difficult. She is such a bright spot in my life and I am so thankful that God brought her back into my life. She is the reason that I can teach the teenage girls class on Sunday mornings (because let's be real--a lot of times I steal her material!). She is the reason that I feel like I can make it through trying things, because she is always there to listen and give amazing advice. It is so remarkable to have a confidant, especially in the line of preacher wifedom.

Thanks be to God for the amazing people He has brought into my life. And these are just four of them!! I am blessed immeasurably more than this, with a supportive family, incredible best friends and a loving church family. God has been too good to me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Today is the official release of the pilot episode of my podcast Navigating the New Testament on The Light Network. If you are interested in checking it out, please visit TLN's website. Don't forget to mark your calendars for January 5th, either!! That's The Light Network's official launch party. We will have a live stream going and will debut a new podcast that day titled "Ready to Worship". You will get to meet the directors (one of which is my amazingly talented husband) and hosts of each of the shows.

Following the official launch party, my podcast (and all of them) will be released once a week (on a designated day). We are beyond excited about this network of podcasts. We feel that we will be able to reach an audience that perhaps isn't being reached with the gospel at this point in time. Please continue to pray for our efforts and for the hearts of all those who will be listening/viewing the podcasts.

I would also like to note that while my podcast is specifically designed for women, the podcast that was released yesterday is for men! So if you're a women and you're reading this, please check out my pilot episode, but be sure to send your husband over to the Biblical Manliness podcast.