Thursday, April 17, 2014

Anchor of God's Word

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness"
2 Timothy 3:16

My mom and I take a yearly trip to the outlet malls in San Marcos. We get a hotel room and enjoy 2 days of shopping and girl time! I have had so many great memories with her and truly cherish the time together. This year, on our way home, we began talking about the direction of the church today. One thing really stuck out in that conversation-we are getting away from the Bible.

"If we cut loose from the anchor of God's Word, we will not be free. We will be slaves of personal passions and popular trends"
John Piper

As we focus more and more on community groups and topical studies, we have cultivated a generation who looks elsewhere for answers rather than the Word of God. I had a small group leader in Dallas who would not allow us to give advice unless we have Scripture to back it up.

I have been hugely convicted of this. I memorize Scripture, I study the Bible, but am I truly using it for "teaching, rebuking, correcting and training" (2 Timothy 3:16)? The Bible was intended to be our anchor, our source of hope, and the guiding light that points the way, but somewhere along the way, we have begun to source our advice from other places. Instead of looking to Scripture first, it is easy to ask friends, read books, or "think on it". As the storms have entered my life, I have become very aware that the Word is not my anchor. I have cut loose and have found my own passions and popular trends have entered in. Friends, there is no freedom found apart from God. The winds will toss us about if we are not truly holding fast to His promises and His truths. 

God's Word:
-Comforts us (Psalm 57:1-3)
-Reminds of us His promises (Matthew 11:28)
-Is a compass (Proverbs 3:5-6)
-Teaches (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)
-Gives God's viewpoint (John 17:17)

The Bible is relevant because it is revealed. 
My challenge today is that each major thought you have you back up with Scripture. Oh what freedom we can find from the lies of Satan if we listen to the truths of our Creator! What joy we find when we meditate on the truths of who God is. What peace we have when we are reminded of His promises. What comfort we hold when we know we are His eternally. 

May you be blessed by His Word!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Before Winter...Or Never

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness"
2 Timothy 3:16

I am in a women's Bible study group that has been such a blessing for me over this year. It is a mixed group with everything from college students and grandmas. I love that I get to dive into the Word with ladies of all different walks of life. We studied Philippians last semester and are finishing up 2 Timothy this semester. What has been so neat about this study is the depth of study we go into as we look at Scripture. 2 Timothy has just 4 chapters, yet we spend the entire semester talking over every nuance of every word, we look to other Scriptures for clarification, and we are given analytical tools that help us as we study. This has been a practice of studying the Bible that has grown me immensely.

On Sunday, as I sat at the kitchen table with coffee in one hand and my Bible in the other, I was making notes and writing questions as I went. As I got to one verse, I know I had read it many times but never spent any time thinking about it. Honestly, it is one of the verses I usually just skip right over. Man, am I glad I didn't:

"Make every effort to come before winter..." 
2 Timothy 4:20

At first glance, I found no true application in this verse, but I knew that all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Why did Paul write this, and why was it included as a part of the Word of God? Could I really walk away with any application from this simple verse?

As I began to think about the winter we just faced (and have gotten another taste of today), I know I am not the only one to be glad the bitter cold is behind us! In the time Paul was writing this letter, Timothy did in fact need to come before winter if he was to come at all. As we all knew, Paul's time here on earth was coming to a close and this was the last chance for Timothy to come see him.

Winter is a season, and seasons pass. Likewise, opportunities will come and quickly go. If we do not "make every effort" to seize the opportunity, it will go as quickly as it came. There are some things that need to be done "before winter"...or never.

This command has really struck hard. God has laid out opportunities before me that I need to grab hold of before it is too late. There are people in my life that I know I need to speak the name of Christ to, there are decisions that need to be made, and there are callings for me to be His hands and feet through service. Today is the day because tomorrow may be too late.

Some things must be done “before winter” or they will not be done at all. There are doors of opportunity that open before us today, but if we do not take advantage of them, by springtime they will be forever shut. You can’t wait forever to respond to things that are important. Things that seem small today become large tomorrow. Shakespeare said “There is a tide in the affairs of men which, when taken at flood, leads to fortune…” Sometimes we must respond now, we must answer now, we must act now, we must not wait or delay or put things off. We must not say, “Tomorrow is another day.” The Bible says, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:13-14). That’s all we are, just a vapor, a mist, we’re dust in the wind, like the grass of the field that is here today and gone tomorrow.

What opportunities are you neglecting today? Before winter...or never!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Blessed Be Your Name

"I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, according to Your word to Your servant."
Psalm 119:75-76

As I drove home from teaching my cycle class last night, I was stopped in my tracks by the words of a song on the radio. "Blessed be Your Name" was one of those songs I had grown up singing in the church youth group, but the words did not hold full meaning until recently.

As I listened to the words, I was reminded of the goodness of our God even in the midst of our trials. When hard times hit, we can sing "blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering". He is the Sustainer in the midst of the trials, even when "there's pain in the offering". It brings such peace to know He is always there, He is both the one who gives and takes away, yet pours out His blessings through it all. As I took comfort in the song, I was reminded of the promises of God in His Word.

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Job 1:21

"I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up,
And have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
Lord my God,
cried to You for help, and You healed me.
Lord, You have brought up my soul from [a]Sheol;
You have kept me alive, [b]that I would not go down to the pit.
Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones,
And give thanks to His holy [c]name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning."

Psalm 30:1-5

"who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver usHe on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us"
2 Corinthians 1:10

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."
Hebrews 6:19-20

"through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance,proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
Romans 5:2-5

Friends, I pray that we can truly turn every blessing back to praise. While it is so easy to see God's blessings when happiness flows abundantly, I pray that we trust and praise Him in times when those blessings are hard, if not impossible, to see!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Deodorant Stinks

Yesterday I shared 5 common beauty products I try to avoid, but there was a major one left off the list. This was mainly because the truth behind this daily routine rocked my world! Since about 5th grade, deodorant has been a daily and necessary item to include in our morning routine if we wanted any friends at all.

For years, I loved Secret's Cocoa Butter Kiss but that all changed when I took the time to read the ingredients. Check out what is in something as simple as deodorant:

Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex GlyInactive Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Stearyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, PPG-14 Butyl Ether, Cyclodextrin, Petrolatum, Phenyl Trimethicone, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Talc, Fragrance, Ozokerite, Behenyl Alcohol, Panthenyl Triacetate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Acetyl Glucosamine

Wow! I'll be honest...I don't even know what half of that stuff is, but the more I read, the less I liked!

The number one item on the list is aluminum, which is the 'antiperspirant' quality to the stick. Which is a good thing...right? No one wants to sweat and have pit stains! Unfortunately, recent studies have linked aluminum in antiperspirants to breast cancer (Read more here). 

Check out my sweet friend's post on fragrances for more information on fragrance and just how much it surrounds us in our everyday products! Many of our synthetic fragrances are derived from petrochemicals that buildup in our bodies. Repeated exposure has been linked to caner, endocrine disruption, miscarriage, and infertility. (Read more here)

Parabens, also derived from petrochemicals, have been linked to breast cancer, shown to interfere with hormone function, and cause reproductive toxicity.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg! Deodorants/antiperspirants often contain triclosan, propelyne glycol, and steareth-n. 

For the longest time I fought this. I mean, as long as I didn't eat the stuff, I figured I was OK. When I really started thinking (and reading) I realized just how much your skin absorbs, and to top it off, picture your little shaving nix being slathered with chemicals! I became increasingly aware of just how vital it is to avoid these things as much as I can!

So, what do I look for when I buy deodorant?
-Simple deodorant (NOT antiperspirant)
-Does not contain aluminum, triclosan, parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, or any of these other nasty ingredients!
-I like those that contain baking soda, as I have found these to be the most effective at making me not smell like a trash can! There are lots of recipes to make your own.
-Instead of 'fragrance' look for deodorants that contain essential oils
(Check out this article for reviews of organic deodorants)

My favorite is Soapwalla deodorant cream. Have you found any you like?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

5 Beauty Products I Avoid

"Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'" 
Isaiah 46:10

Howdy! Yes, the blog still does exist even though the posts are few and far between! I am so thankful for the rest I have found through taking a break from the blog. God has grown me so much over the past few months through the whirlwind of life lately. I can honestly say I never expected it to have gone the way it has been going lately, but I am praising God that He has declared "the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10).

On a different note, I have been enjoying our journey of cleaning up our house and getting rid of chemicals and processed foods. We have both been feeling so great! As we change the types of food we put into our body, I have become increasingly aware of the other aspects of my house we need to clean up.

Did you know some of our everyday household items have some of the highest amounts of chemicals in them? The average woman puts 200 chemicals on her face every single day (source). Wow! A switch is definitely needed! Here are 5 of the items we have switched (be watching for another post on items we make ourselves):

NatraCare Organic Cotton Tampons

1. Tampons. There is very little talk about our sanitary products, but these items contain high level of toxic ingredients (aha-as we have Toxic Shock Syndrome). These monthly products have caused hormonal issues, abnormal cell growth, and infertility. I have made the switch to organic, cotton tampons that are just $.02 more/item on Amazon Subscribe & Save.

Dr. Bronner's Organic Fair Trade Hand Sanitizer Spray

2. Hand sanitizer. I'll admit-I was the addicted to this stuff for years! I had it on my keychain, in my car, in my work bag, and rubbed it all over my hands every chance I got. Recently I learned everything in a bottle of hand sanitizer and I haven't used it since! The biggest deterrent was learning that the chemicals it contained have been linked to developmental and hormonal imbalances (such as infertility and underage puberty). There is something nice about having sanitizer handy for those moments when you need it, so I was glad to find an organic brand that had 3 simple ingredients!

Trader Joe's Natural Toothpast

3. Toothpaste. My favorite about the Trader Joe's brand is the price and the fact it contains no Sodium Lauryl Sulfate! With a dentist brother, I don't want to get into the fluoride debate. For the record, I do believe fluoride is an excellent way to prevent cavities and decays, but may have negative effects. I switched, not because of fluoride, but due to the sodium lauryl sulfates, toxic tin, triclosan, artificial sweeteners, and dyes. YUCK!

4. Hand lotion. I love massages, especially ones that use lotions! Avery was being a sweet husband recently and giving me a massage, when he flipped over the bottle and began reading off all the ingredients the one bottle contained. I was stunned! Here we are avoiding junk in our foods, and he was rubbing it into my skin. The pictured lotion is not the brand I use, but mine was bought from a local farm near me. It contains 5 ingredients and essential oils rather than perfumes. The best part-my eczema is GONE!

5. Soap. Unfortunately, Dove is not as pure as they want you to believe. Flip over a simple bar of soap and you will be amazed at all it contains! I have loved my switch to homemade, natural soaps and how much softer they are on my skin! "As well as being unnecessary, the chemicals in anti-bacterial soaps and cleansers are harmful. The two most commonly used are triclosan and triclocarban. Triclosan is a chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbon like PCBs or DDT. It is suspected of being an endocrine disrupting chemical, and it has been shown to harm the thyroid system in animals. Triclocarban is also a suspected endocrine disrupting chemical and has been shown to cause reproductive effects in animals. A 2006 Swedish study found high levels of triclosan in the breast milk of women who used personal care products containing antibacterials. Women who did not use personal care products with antibacterials also had antibacterials in their breast milk, but at lower levels." (Source)

Check out this great guide to less toxic products

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Those who Wait

"Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tires, they will walk and not become weary"
Isaiah 40:31

Good morning! I know you might have totally forgotten this blog exists, or at least think I have fallen off the face of the planet. While the reasons why will remain a mystery, I needed to take a break from the blog for a while. I am still praying over if I will return, my heart was ready for a post! It's pretty safe to say you have all stopped reading this a long time ago, so this is probably a post just for me (and that's OK)...

Every Sunday Avery and I ask each other how we can pray over one another's weeks. This week I told Avery to pray for rest. Life has risen up around me and I have gotten very tired! Everything in me cries out for a break (Spring Break...are you here yet?), but I know time off is not truly what will bring relief. Weariness, caused by the stress and trials of life, needs something so much more than simply just a nap. This type of exhaustion is one that will only find relief from the Lord.

I don't know about you, but when I get tired I like to turn immediately to Isaiah 40:31. Rising up on wings like eagles. Gaining new strength. Running and not getting tired. Walking and not growing weary. This is the strength I want in times when my body and soul are tired!

Somehow, my eyes gloss right over the waiting part. I choose to focus on the finish line, and miss the race it takes to get there. Those who WAIT will gain strength.

Waiting simply takes faith. Faith sees the unseeable (Hebrews 11:1) and sees God (Hebrews 11:27). "Faith is the convinced, convicted heart reaching out to the Almighty" (Precept Austin). Faith trusts His promises are true and He remains the same. Faith recognizes Him as Lord and allows His hand to work in our lives. Faith clings to Him when the turmoil rises up around us.

When we wait, we are truly standing on tiptoe with great expectation! Waiting is so much more than just patiently sitting back, but truly pushing forward in belief! It is there that the strength overwhelms us. As we move forward in faith, we begin to stand upon His promises and cling to Him. Because we know that the time will come when He will fulfill His promises (Psalm 37:9), we can truly run without getting tired! Oh blessed day!

I have a sweet friend who is adopting a little girl from Africa. As I have watched her story unfold, I have been so encouraged by her anticipation and hope throughout the process. She knows that the day when she will hold her baby girl will come. While there has been piles of paperwork and incredibly long periods of waiting, she grows stronger each day. Her eyes are firmly fixed on the few simple pictures she has of this little girl, and she uses that to get her through each challenge she faces.

What is it that you are waiting on? Are you growing tired in the waiting, or are you truly rising up in the wait and growing in hope? Whether it is a wait for a spouse, a child, a house, a promotion, or simply a break from the busyness of life, we can wait with hope that His love will surround us in the situation and be the great Provider (Disclaimer: I am not preaching prosperity gospel, but that is another post for another day!). In the midst of your waiting, fix your eyes on your Redeemer. He won't let you fall!

Source: Wallpapers 4 God

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thumping Thursdays Blog Hop

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April @100lb. Countdown
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Karina - Mom In The USA
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