I recently went through the comments on one of my blogs to remove dead links and was amazed at all the blogs that have come and gone just over the last four years. I don't know if those bloggers quit blogging altogether, or if they moved to a different blog/URL and deleted the old one, but either way, blogging is hard work. It's an investment.
I have always wanted to be an author. I love writing. However, I know I wouldn't be where I am today without the amazing support I have from my family. My husband is my number one fan, and he never lets me forget it.
I have also met some other amazing bloggers and authors over the years that helped me along the way.
When my migraines started three years ago, I might have had to give up blogging if it weren't for the support and encouragement I got from my fellow Candid Gals. I originally started Candidly Christian to be a ministry to both readers and authors. Keeping up with a blog is hard, but when you're in it together, it makes it so much easier. However, I never imagined how God would use it to impact me. I have been (and continue to be) extremely blessed.
To everyone who has ever read my blog posts, left a comment, shared them with others, or supported me in anyway, thank you. I know I wouldn't be where I am today without you.
I’ve been working hard behind the scenes for months on my new ministry for Christian women, CandidlyChristian.com. My goal was to create a safe place where women could be honest about their faith, failures, and forgiveness. Let’s face it, life isn’t always neat and tidy, being a Christian doesn’t change that.
Those of you who know my testimony, know that God has used the honesty of other Christian women to grow my faith more than anything else. Knowing that other Christian women don’t have it all together is a huge blessing. Knowing it’s okay to be less than perfect, what a relief!
I will never forget the first time a Christian woman admitted to me that she didn’t have it all together. She wasn’t just any Christian woman, she was our pastor’s daughter-in-law, super fit, a stay-at-home, super mom who was part of the worship team and an international missionary. I’m telling you, she was everything a good Christian should be, and she knew her Bible inside and out.
And then she confessed that she struggled with depression. That she questioned her faith because of an overwhelming feeling of worthlessness. This was super woman, and she struggled with some of the same things I did.
Another time the woman who hosted our Bible study confessed that her house wasn’t always as clean as we saw it each week. In fact, she said if we showed up unannounced at any other time during the week, that it would be a wreck.
Again, a huge burden was lifted. Not because I rejoiced in their struggles, but because it made me realize that struggling was okay.
Who knew it was okay to be less than perfect?
Her candid confession was a balm to my soul.
Many other candid confessions have followed. Some of them speak to me, others make me hurt for the women who are going through them all alone.
When I’ve shared my own candid confessions with other christian women, I usually get one of two responses.
Encouraging Support or Utter Condemnation
Sometimes well-meaning christian women come across the wrong way. Most of them don’t mean to, but it happens from time to time. And it happens often enough to make us scared to be honest.
If you are a Christian woman, I would love to have you join me atCandidlyChristian.com: A safe place to be open and honest about faith, failure, and forgiveness.
We've reached the halfway point in our revelation study, and I wanted to take some time to look back over what we've seen so far. I've actually seen some repeating themes, and I think those are important to note, and I can't wait to see how they play out in the remaining 3 letters.
With that in mind, let's look back on the churches we've studied so far.
The church in Ephesus was recognized for their faithfulness to Christ and His teachings, but condemned for their lack of love.
Smyrna was faithful to the point of death. They had love, and they were praised for their perseverance.
The Christians in Pergamum had love and perseverance, but they were lacking in truth. They remained faithful to Christ, but not His teachings.
And finally, the church in Thyatira was praised for it's love, faith, service, and patient endurance, yet they lacked truth. They tolerated false teachings.
Over and over again, Jesus has commented on their love, faith, perseverance, and whether or not they hold to the truth of the gospel or allow false teachings.
Love, faith, perseverance, and truth. Those are the highlights of the first four letters.
Which brings me to my reflection.
Do we see those things in our own lives?
Do we keep Christ as our first love? ...or do we tend to drift away?
Is our faith in Christ (and Christ alone) enough to sustain us? Do we remain faithful to Him and believe He is in control of all?
Will we persevere when hardships come our way? ...or will we cave under pressure?
Will we stand up for the truth of God's Word, even if it means sacrificing our standing within our church, community or family?
Those are hard questions, but they are the ones I am reflecting on this week.
A less prominent repeating theme I saw in the first four churches, is works. Jesus said He knew the works of the first three churches, and the church in Thyatira was praised for their service. One of the ladies in my Bible study reminded us this week that faith without works is dead (James 2:20). That's something to remember as well.
Jesus knows your works. What does He know about you?
Do your works stem from love? Prompted by faith? Do they hold to the truth? Do they persevere under hardship? Do they exist at all...
Okay, it's time for some honesty. I have been BUSY!
I've been writing Bible studies for my church, writing books, and blogging for multiple websites.
In fact, on Tuesday this week, I shared an excerpt from the first book in my new Bible study series (read that post here). So far it's the only one that is available on Amazon, but all of the studies I've written are available for free...
Which is where I can only ask your forgiveness.
I realized on Tuesday that I neglected to tell my following here about my new website -- I actually share it with Mr. Amazing which is totally awesome.
All of the Bible studies I've been writing are available there.
You can even sign up to get the current series I'm writing via e-mail or follow along on my blog over there -- right now we are working our way through the letters Jesus wrote the the 7 churches in Revelation.
“Blessed are they
that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
~ Matthew 5:6
I have quite the sweet tooth.
My friends all got a kick out of it the day I posted a Facebook status that
said, “Help! I'm craving chocolate and have lost my M&Ms!” I scoured the
whole house up and down to find my giant bag of M&Ms that I keep hidden
from my children (I do share on occasion—really, I do).
I’m sure you’ll be relieved to
hear I found them and my craving was fulfilled, but what’s even better is the
way God has used that craving to draw me close to Him. It all started with a
question, “When was the last time I craved God enough to search Him out?”
We crave a lot of things:
chocolate, steak, a good book. But how often do we crave God or His Word?
That’s what the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 5:6 make me wonder. Do I really
hunger and thirst for righteousness? What would that even look (or feel) like?
And those questions led me to
the apostle Paul. I think Paul really understood this. He wrote to the
Philippians, “I long to know Christ and
the power which is in His resurrection, and to share in His sufferings and die
even as He died; in the hope that I may attain to the resurrection from among
the dead” (3:10-11 WNT).
Paul craved the righteousness
by hungering for more of Christ. Earlier in that paragraph he said he counted
everything else as a loss. He knew he didn’t have any righteousness of his own,
but only what he received by faith in Christ (vs. 7-9).
The knowledge of Christ is
there for the taking. His life, death, and resurrection are all recorded in the
Bible, all we have to do is open it with the intention of learning more about
Him. We can’t deepen our knowledge of Christ when we open God’s Word thinking
we already know everything it has to say. We have to be open for God to
communicate with us. We have to want to know Him more—to crave Him.
I loved the way one of the
women in my Bible study worded this. She said, “God is a gentleman. He waits for us to come to Him.” A.W. Tozer
said it this way, “God waits to be wanted.”
He doesn’t demand that we sit and eat. He doesn’t stand over us and tell us we
can’t start our day until we have spent at least half an hour reading His Word
and drinking in His Spirit. He waits patiently until we crave Him, and then He
fills us to the full.
When we draw close to God, He
fills us with peace, hope, love, joy, and so much more. Paul wrote in the book
of Romans that he wanted God to fill them with joy and peace so they could
overflow with hope (15:13). When we crave God, He does just that. He blesses us
with more of Him so we can live life to the fullest (John 10:10).
“It is written, ‘Man
shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth
I had a birthday yesterday, and today, I'm going to tell you how old I am. I know women are suppose to hide that sort of thing, but I'm not going to. Why? Because the first thing I've learned during the past 30 years is is that age doesn't matter. Not really. I don't care how old or young you are, it's who you are that really matters. In fact, over the past several years if you would have asked me how old I was, you probably would have got a puzzled expression. It's not something that's important to me, so I have to stop and do the math. I'll probably remember my age this year, though. It's a good round number. (If you haven't already figured it out, I just turned 30.)
Without further ado, here's 30 things I've learned in the past 30 years:
Age doesn't matter - see 1 Timothy 4:12
God is in control - even when you can't see His plan - see Romans 8:28
Jesus died for my sins (and yours) and I'm so thankful that I He did - see John 3:16-18
Everyone has feelings - no matter how hard they try to hide them.
No dreams are unrealistic if they are what you really want and you're dedicated to making them come true.
Water is good for you - but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
Green smoothies make you pee.
There is no greater feeling than being loved.
Success comes and goes, but accomplishments last forever.
I'm not a pet person.
It's better to give than to receive.
The golden rule really is golden.
Blessings come in all shapes and sizes, we'll never be able to recognize them all - see #2
People are far more important than things.
Whiplash causes migraines - and they HURT! - see #2
The best way to fight depression is through praise and thanksgiving.
Everyone has an opinion, but that doesn't mean they are right. It's best to listen and pray - see #2
Imperfection is okay - see #3
Nobody is perfect - see above.
Words hurt, hearts heal, the love of God can carry you through anything - see #2
Things aren't always as they seem.
Forgiveness is a choice - see #3
You can't please everyone at the same time. It's best to what you need to do, and let God deal with the rest - see Galatians 1:10
True beauty is on the inside.
People will fail you, they are about as close to perfect as you are - see #19.
Having cute kids is both a blessing and a curse.
Spending time with like-minded people is essential - see Hebrews 10:25
It's easier to overthink things and worry than it is to trust God, especially when you should be sleeping - see #2
I have always loved Christmas. The decorations. The love. The food. It’s just a joyous time of year. But can I tell you a secret?
Lean in really close…
I HATE shopping. I know I’m a girl and I’m supposed to enjoy it. But I don’t.
I don’t even like shopping during the regular part of the year, and it’s even worse at Christmas. The stores are packed with people, and even though this is the time of year when everyone is making a big deal about giving and caring – shoppers get nasty. You spend ten minutes trying to get down the canned food isle only to have someone behind you reach around to grab the last can of cranberry sauce. You stand in checkout lines for what seems like hours on end just to purchase that one gift you couldn’t find the first time you went to the store. It’s just not fun.
So last year, I made the decision to start doing all of my Christmas shopping online. The mailman and I became quite close friends during the days leading up to Christmas as he dropped off all my packages – and let me tell you – he was so much more friendly than any checkout attendant.
Front door service.
I liked it!
Turns out, I’m not the only one that does this. In fact, most businesses have picked up on it and are starting to post their Black Friday specials on their website – pretty cool huh?
One other thing I’ve learned is that books make great Christmas gifts! I love books – so maybe I’m biased. But you can give me a book any time and I’ll be thrilled (they are much preferred to clothes I will never wear or pretty trinkets my kids will break).
Plus, you can wrap them to go under the tree or stuff them in a stocking. They give you options. And, of course, one of those options is to buy them for yourself to read during the holiday season. I like to think of it as the two for you one for me theory. After all, if you order over $35 worth on Amazon you get free shipping. So tacking on that extra one is frugal.
Finding the right books can still be hard, which is why I wanted to let you know about the Clean Reads Holiday Book Sale going on over at BooklyBooks.com. They have over 30 paperback books listed that are on sale Black Friday through Cyber Monday – racking up over $100 in savings. AND they are giving away a $25 Amazon gift card. I’m personally fond of the romance novels, but they have multiple genres (fiction and non) listed. Check it out at: http://www.booklybooks.com/christmas-book-sale/ And I just found out that Amazon is offering an extra 30% off paperback books now through December 1st - awesome timing.
What about you? How do you do your Christmas shopping?