Month: April 2019

Teaching My Kids To Be Pure

The way of Holiness is a pure way of life. Purity of heart and physical and sexual purity go hand in hand. I believe that the best way to establish purity in the heart of a child early on is to teach them to love Jesus. He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8. Right now, my bio kids (6 and 3) are too young to teach about sexual purity, in depth. I do believe it starts young, though. For example, I wouldn’t sit down with my six year old son and have a sex talk. But I do tell him what his private parts are and that no one should be allowed to touch them. I do my best to establish trust with my little ones, letting them know that mommy loves them and that they can come and tell me anything. Another aspect of purity that I teach my kids is being kind to others and doing your best to treat people the way that you want to be treated. I had a talk with my 9 year old step daughter recently. I bad mouthed someone in front of her, and the Holy Spirit convicted me about it. I felt totally awful and repented to the Lord. Later, I went to my step daughter and I told her that what I said was wrong and that it is wrong to talk bad about people behind their backs. She said, “Well, Amy. It’s okay. No one is perfect.” I responded by letting her know that I know that, but you should still do your best to do right. Small expressions of integrity and purity of heart in front of your kids can make lasting impacts on them for life. Consistently living a life of purity in front of them and covering them in prayer can form them into healthy young people who have lifelong relationships with Jesus. Of course, everyone has their own free will and many teenagers rebel against their parents’ teachings, experimenting with things they’ve always been told they shouldn’t do. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old, they will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6. A lot of kids grow up going to church 2, 3 or 4 times a week and watching their parents serve in the church all their lives. Some are turned off by this. A big reason being, there was no love shown. Religious teaching without love is really a burn. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” – 1 Corinthians 15:56. Religious rules and regulations without teaching the true nature of God, namely His love; can turn anyone against the church for a long time. Even the rest of their lives. I’ve seen it in my own family. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus is relentless in His love for each of us, and will pursue us ’til the day we die. The point I want to make here is that the earlier a child’s heart is turned toward Him, the better chance they have at not only a good life, but eternal salvation! Another thing I do my best to be mindful of as a parent is what I allow my kids to see with their eyes. Keeping them pure and away from ungodly influence as long as possible is my goal. Again, it starts with the life I live in front of them. Also, what I allow them to see on television, YouTube and video games. One day, I was on the phone and my son was playing a video game in front of me. I wasn’t paying attention to what he was playing until I heard him laughing. So I looked at the screen and freaked out. The game he was playing had a woman in a club giving a man a lap dance! When he saw me freak out about it and tell him he couldn’t play it anymore, he burst out crying. So I immediately calmed down and told him he wasn’t in trouble. I asked him if he’d ever seen the naked lady on the game before and he told me no. Then I went to my husband and told him what I saw our son playing. I guess when he got the game system, that game was built into the system. My husband went and talked to him, telling him Jesus doesn’t like the game. Then he deleted it. My son is innocent and didn’t know why the woman on the game was dancing for the guy, but if we had continued to let him play it, he would’ve become corrupted by it. As my kids get older and grow into preteens, then subsequently teenagers with budding hormones, I will continue to pray about how to teach them sexual purity and the importance of staying pure before the Lord. I know all too well, the effects of being sexually active young and the impact a sexually impure life has on an individual. Because I love them so much, I want better for them. Most importantly, I know, and am learning more of the love of the Lord. I want my little ones to know Him for themselves.

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Motherhood: Grace In The Journey

Before I had my own kids, I was a stepmother. Still am, but that’s how I started on this journey. I’m 7 months pregnant with my third bio child now, and I’m so excited for this baby to come. Motherhood has been an interesting journey for me and I want to always be able to learn from my children. When I met my husband and stepchildren, I had never been in a serious long term relationship, and certainly had never dealt with parenting at all. My oldest step daughter was 12, about to turn 13 at the time, and it was not easy with her. Thank the Lord, I was learning to pray! Through the years, I have drawn closer to the Lord and I want to be closer, still. There’s so much room for improvement in any area of life for anyone. I think, if you don’t grow as a parent, your children will suffer the cost. I look back at things I did, and things I didn’t do in these past 7 years, and I am grateful for grace. I can forgive myself and move forward because I know God isn’t mad at me. He’s already forgiven me. My son is 6 now, and I’m happy that he’s about to have a little brother. I look at how big he is, how polite he is, how well he’s doing in school and I am so proud. He had a speech problem early on and I put him in speech therapy, and I’m glad I did. He has grown so much, developmentally. He’s my quiet child. My bio daughter is 3 years old, and she is definitely a character. She’s a little chatterbox. I don’t know how many words that girl says in a day but I’m pretty sure it’s more than average… And she gets into everything. Which is normal for a 3 year old, but this one is sneaky. So I’m working on it with her. But I’m actually enjoying her. My 19 year old step daughter, she is pregnant with her third right now, as well. She’s started her own family. I used to act like I was her mother, but I don’t anymore. I stressed myself out too much doing that and started collecting gray hairs. So I started trying random acts of kindness with her, as well as just praying for her on the regular. Now, my 9 year old step daughter, I see her about 4 days out of every month. So I have a very short window of time to have an impact on her life. So I pray. Before I had any kids, I pictured life would be a lot different than how it turned out. God had different, and bigger plans for me. I think I want to stop at 4 bio kids. So we’ll see if the Lord sends us another one. One thing I’ve learned to stop doing is beating myself up for the things I don’t do perfectly. I look at my downfalls and my flaws, then I try and come up with ways to improve on them. As mothers, we need grace and our kids need grace. That’s why prayer and obedience is so important. If you make a mistake as a mother, it could affect your kids without the grace that the Lord provides. There are so many adults who are in therapy from how they were raised as a child. I did therapy for years, and I’m not sorry I did, but now I first and foremost depend on Jesus. I pack myself with Christian devotionals, with sermons, with Bible study time and just stay as close to the Lord as possible. And I need more of Him! I want my kids to love Jesus because they know he’s the best Way of Life, not because they’re afraid of hell, or that I might be displeased with them if they don’t serve him. I need grace, so I do my best to give it to them and I want them to learn to seek it from the Lord as well. As long as we keep growing and moving forward, everything will fall into place!

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The Divine Romance Book Review

An allegorical work of Christian literature, The Divine Romance by Gene Edwards is a book that I, personally think everyone should read. I was going to say every believer should read it, but I think that non Christians should read it too. I was able to read it in one sitting, over the span of five hours. Those of you who are speed readers may read it faster than that, being that it’s only just over 200 pages. The book starts before the beginning of time, when God was alone. Before He created the earth and everything in it. Throughout the book, the angels witness creation, the fall of man, man loving and abandoning, then loving and abandoning God again, the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I love the picture of the seed inside of God and the seed inside of us. In the beginning, Adam walked through the earth, surveying God’s creation with Him and the Lord asks Adam if he thinks everything is good. Adam hesitates and ends up asking God if he has a counterpart like the animals do: A female to his male. God tells him, no. That he was made in His image and that He doesn’t have a counterpart either. Then God tells Adam that in order for him to make him a counterpart from himself, the seed that he is would have to die and she could be brought from him. God asks Adam if he is willing for this to happen. He answers, yes. So Eve is brought forth from Adam’s body and when they meet, Adam and Eve come together and become one flesh. The book then goes on to chronicle the bondage of Israel and the love God has for them, even though they keep turning their backs on Him. Hosea is in the middle of the book as well, shadowing the love of God for Israel (who is a foreshadow of his bride) with his love for Gomer, though she betrays him with adulterous affairs. Nearing the end of the book, the kingdom of Heaven is brought to earth with the manifestation of the Word of God, born as man (Jesus Christ). When Jesus is crucified, as the nails are being driven into his hands, he tells the angels to go back through eternity past and gather the souls of past people born on earth, and all the principalities and powers of darkness, including death and put them on the cross with Jesus so they can be crucified with his body. An excerpt: “At that moment, unseen by any earthly eye, no less than an archangel strolled into the garden and knelt beside the cold, still form of the Son of God. He stared at his side and a wound made by a Roman spear. “Yes”, whispered the angel. Exactly the same place. A gaping hole. And something missing. Only this time, not a bone!” The servants surrounded the body of the Nazarene and carefully placed Him in the ground… As one might plant a lonely, solitary seed. With that, the two men departed the garden, leaving a leaderless archangel to contemplate the scene before him. “An open side. A singular species… One who died without ever knowing a counterpart… now cold and still. This lonely one who abode alone for so long… has ceased to exist. And now… now He is planted in the soil… as a seed? The earth has become a grave for the Seed of of all seeds. “And what a grave it is. God is buried there! Does no one realize, God is buried there! Never has there been such a grave. Buried with Him, principalities, powers, all darkness, the enmity between Jew and heathen, Adam… sin… all creation! And… oh yes… one small comfort – Death… he lies also here, entombed! (End of excerpt) After Jesus is buried, three days later, He is resurrected and the first part of the culmination of souls that will make up God’s counterpart (the bride of Christ) is born. The first believer. And that’s all I’m going to give you. I hope this review is enough to pique your interest so that you go get the book and read it. I thoroughly enjoyed it and got excited about God, and being His all over again, just as I do when I have a good Bible study session. So please, go and order this book!

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Raising Kids To Be Holy In A Secular World

I was in my kitchen, finishing dishes the other night and I heard the Lord speak into my heart the word, “Holy.” My son was standing there, so I started to explain holiness the best I could to a six year old. I think about my own childhood at times, remembering how rebellious I was as a teenager and I wonder how my own kids will be when they get older. The pull of the secular world is even stronger now than it was then. Which was only about 20 years ago. My son is only 6, and he already is starting to ask why he can’t do certain things that other kids do. Sometimes I get anxious, but mostly, I remember that I need to PRAY hard for them on a consistent basis. I never want my kids to be scared of Jesus. Growing up, I was. Raised in religion, I was always scared of doing something wrong. Afraid that God would “get me.” I never want that for my kids. Love is who God is! I want them to know the true nature of the Lord and choose to love and serve Him because He loves them so much. I want my kids to love the Lord because they see him in nature and recognize the blessings in their lives from Him. It starts with me. And the Lord does remind me of that often. Letting the Holy Spirit work in my heart and change me is going to affect the way my kids know Jesus. Being obedient to the Lord will change your kids’ lives too. Ultimately, they have their own free will and will have the choice to serve Him or not when they come of age, but the Word of God says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6. I mean, I take my kids to church on Sundays, I pray with them at night, they see me praying and reading my Bible throughout the day, I read them their kids’ Bibles and play Bible stories for them on YouTube. I pray for them every day… What more can I do? One thing I do pray about often is the influence of other kids in school. School is the one place my son spends time that I don’t know exactly what he’s seeing and hearing. But I trust my Father, that whatever I instill in him at home is ingrained in his mind when he hears other kids at school saying bad words or being disrespectful, or talking about things they shouldn’t know about at that age (yes, in kindergarten). Being an example of holiness is the best thing I can do. Again, not being perfect, I need the Holy Spirit for this. Parenting is just another area of life (a big one!) that we need to let Him lead us in. Your kids seeing your love for the Lord, giving thanks to Him for all you have, and being kind and giving to other people can have a huge impact on the way they grow up. Holiness is not boring. Holiness is not a burden. Holiness is not hard. Without the Holy Spirit it is. It’s impossible without Him! I have learned that holiness is freedom. Freedom from trying to be something you’re not. Freedom from having to impress somebody. Freedom from comparing yourself to what others have, because you’re content and grateful for what the Lord has given you. I don’t regret having been through what I have in life. Because of the testimony I have now. But I believe the sooner a child begins a relationship with Christ, the better. A person’s quality of life has got to be so much better, the sooner they let the Lord lead them on the path of righteousness. I think, the biggest influence secularism has on kids these days is TV, the internet and video games. So much can be put into their young minds through the screen time they spend. So as parents, we must be cautious. Parental controls, being mindful of the games they play, taking the phone away at night, and limiting screen time in general is key. Encouraging other activities to take up their time is important too. As i write this, I’m hoping this post doesn’t sound restrictive and overbearing, but this is the way we must be as parents today! I believe that one who is truly concerned about raising their kids in the Way of the Lord will see the value in this. My kids have fun! But I teach them respect and a love for the Lord at the same time. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” – James 1:17. Fun comes from God! Our heavenly Father doesn’t want to withhold anything good from His children. It’s a lie from the enemy of our souls that following the Lord is boring, dull and uneventful. One that I fight against my children believing… Ultimately, my children are not mine, first. They belong to the Lord. And I submit them to Him frequently. I let Him do the work in me, as a parent. Then I pray; And the Lord is faithful, so I trust Him. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7.

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How To Spend Time With Jesus

Having a relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in anyone’s life. Whether you accept Him or not, it’s true. Jesus is the reason we’re here on this Earth and the only guarantee of everlasting life. His love for you is more amazing than one can imagine. I know because the Bible says so, yes. But also because in my own relationship with Him, the love I’ve experienced has been amazing. But I know that there’s so much more to Him.

Which brings me to what I want to talk about with you. You know we’ve all get busy lives with a million things to think about and a million things to do. At the end of the day, we just want to relax, right? Getting in that time with Jesus can sometimes take discipline because after a full day of life, sometimes I can shut down and don’t want to talk to anyone. But it’s still important to find that time at the beginning of the day, during the day and /or the end of the day for Jesus time. There are different ways.

Thing is, He’s always available because He can hear you wherever you are, whenever. So if alone (or even semi-alone), you can have a conversation with Him. Talking to Jesus can become a part of your daily life. Depend on Him for everything. To pray, you can get on your knees and physically and spiritually submit your life to the Lord. It’s even okay to just sit and raise your hands in worship to Him. A good way to get into the presence of the Lord and invite Him into your alone time is to put some worship music on and sing to Him. Then start to declare who He is to you. Savior, Friend, My Hope, My Life, My Rock. And as you usher in His presence, ask for forgiveness, pray for others’ needs, and thank Him for every way He keeps blessing you.

I want to talk about how to get in Bible reading time. I love to sit down and read my Bible. Turn the pages and read chapter after chapter after chapter. But it’s not always convenient. You know, there are audio bibles for every book of the Bible on YouTube. Just type in the box the book of the Bible you want to listen to and you can lay down and close your eyes or even work at your desk or clean the house and listen at the same time. Another really awesome resource is devotional books. There are a few that I use. One that I have and have gone through the entire thing is called Daily With The King by W. Glyn Evans.

 A good devotional can be a really good companion when you’re developing a relationship with Jesus. It can bring conviction, comfort, strength, hope and more… Let me go back to audio Bibles. The best one I’ve come across is called the Bible Experience. It’s a dramatized audio Bible that 400 different actors came together to do. It really sucks you in and gets you interested, if you’re not already.

It’s one of my favorite things! 🙂 So I mean, your relationship with Jesus doesn’t have to be boring. We’re talking about a relationship here, not a set of rules that you need to check off your list. So don’t be afraid to seek God about what He wants for your life and to grow in love with Him!

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History Of A Mind, Interrupted

I remember just being so out of it. And not in a normal way, like, “I had a bad day and I’ll be okay tomorrow.” No, every day, for weeks, the cycle went like this: Happy and totally fine in the morning, and in the evening; crying, like my life was a disaster. At 13, my mood swings started. And my mom knew that something was wrong with me. She’s told me that I was always an emotional little girl, but this was something different. Right away, she took me to get evaluated and I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Then, my first psych ward stay I don’t remember just how long I stayed. But I do remember hearing of another girl being on a certain medication who had the same diagnosis as I did. Immediately, next time I saw the doctor, I suggested he start me on the same thing. And he did. I’ve been on different combinations of medicine since I was diagnosed, but now I am stable (Praise Jesus!) and have been on the same med combination for a couple of years now. The madness has gotten intense at different times in my life. Elevated or stabilized, depending on what life situation I was in and how I was taking care of myself. No matter if you have a mental health or physical health diagnosis or not, the way you take care of your body and the people you surround yourself with are going to affect your life. After being hospitalized several times already, at the age of 16, I went into a group home and stayed about 1 and 1/2 years. When I left, I went straight into foster car until I turned 18. I don’t know how many times I threatened to take my life when I would get seriously depressed, but definitely more than I can count. I never had a serious, near death attempt. But I have gotten to the point that I would rather have been dead than live with the moods my own mind took me through. I’d often say to my mom, “Why can’t I just be normal?” … When I started seeking God, for real, I think my depressive episodes got even more intense. Being unsure of whether there is a God who cared, and at the same time, wanting with everything I had in me to believe, I cried out to Him… Roughly 6 months after I started to get serious with God, I met my husband. And I won’t go into details, because I have another post telling of how we met. But that night, I cried out to the Lord, in desperation for Life that I never knew. And he answered me. I’m not saying the Lord had never answered my prayers before, but I had never experienced His love, his power, and His kindness. An intimacy that can only be between a soul and the Lord. Even after accepting Christ into my life, I’ve gone through depressions and mania. Never without Him by my side, though. And now, I experience “a peace that surpasses all understanding” (see Philippians 4:7), blessed with faith that the Lord’s grace has poured into my heart. No matter what I go through, I know the Lord already knows what’s going to happen next and that He has everything in control.

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Jesus, Be the Center

Church was all I knew, growing up. I went to church 3 to 4 times a week, on the regular for may years. I went to Sunday school. Was even in the class taught by mom when I turned 11. I went to all of the revivals, we had frequent fellowship dinners. I won a Bible by reciting the books of the Bible, beginning to end in front of the church… And all of my close friends went to the same church. Despite the fact that I had a religious lifestyle, I never knew Jesus the way I tried to. The way I wanted to. For many years. A lot of people I saw in church were just there because they grew up in church and that was what they knew. Or they were still young and had no choice, because their parents made them go (which was the case often enough, with myself). Though I do remember having a longing to have what the other few I noticed had. The ones who stood, openly pouring their hearts out to the Lord in testimony service, unashamed. I wanted that connection with God too. But around the time I turned 13 years old, I started to rebel and seek other sources of love and acceptance. My older sister left home to join the Navy, and at the same time I was hitting puberty and dealing with emotional problems. My mom was busy working and raising the 7 of us and I had no one to really sort things out with. I don’t know that if I did, things would have been different but I questioned God. Being in out of hospitals and being diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, I met different people with strong beliefs that conflicted with the strict religious code I grew up with. Through the years of late night Bible studies, Sunday morning sermons and weekend revivals, I never had a personal encounter with Christ that led me to accept His redemptive work of the cross and start a real relationship with Him. As I questioned, “Is there really a God, I went through depressive times. I tried smoking pot and drinking my pain away. I turned to different men who I thought would give me the love I sought. Then I tried Tarot cards. Looked into Mormonism, considered becoming a Wiccan. I do remember a couple of times, in the midst of suicidal thoughts, crying out to God, unsure if He was really there, to give me happiness and peace. Fast forward to 25 years old. Not too long before, I ended a relationship with a man who said he wanted to marry me. I simply was not in love with him. So I left. We went to church together, he took me out to eat, bought me roses and was trying to help me heal from my past. But I knew I couldn’t be with him. I believe the Lord was leading me away from him because it wasn’t meant for me to be with him. Alone again, I started friendships with a couple more men who wanted a future with me, but things never panned out. I backed away from them both. Let me explain: This is not about the men, but I mention them to get the point across that I thought a man could change my life. I didn’t want to be lonely and depressed anymore. Only when I got serious with God and really sought Him, did I find Him. One night, I went to a Kierra Sheard concert with some people I had grown up in church with and she did an altar call. The invitation to accept Christ at that moment felt very personal to me and I wanted Him. I wanted to go to the altar, but was too ashamed. Thank God He didn’t give up on me, but He kept pursuing me. You see, I was raised to believe that you had to go to church to experience the Lord and had never heard of anyone having an encounter with Him outside of the church walls, so that was pretty uncomfortable to me. A few months after I turned 27, I was seeking the Lord and wound up meeting my now, husband. I’d never met anyone so zealous for God, but at the same time joyful, full of life and just happy. I knew I wanted what he had. We started a relationship, but were going through a rough spot. He had the book, A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren in his house and I picked it up and read it. Upon coming to the chapter about forgiveness, which included a salvation prayer, I got on my knees, acknowledged Jesus to be God, sincerely asking Him to change me and be my Lord and Savior. In those moments, I knew my life truly had changed. Within a month, I was baptized… Learning to trust God with my life has been a process, but I know that Jesus is the best decision I ever made. I am a new creation in Christ! Not perfect, but redeemed from sin! It’s been close to 7 years of me being a Christian and I am a walking testimony. I thank God for eternal life, and I believe eternal life with Christ starts the day you are adopted into the Kingdom of God! Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.” – John 10:10. I seek for a deeper relationship with the Lord and I seek to have that abundant life Jesus died for me to have. I trust the process!

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The Story Of Our Love: The Beginning

Christian Mingle. There’s a movie on Netflix with the title. But before the movie, came the dating website. I don’t know how many love stories have been built there, but am only concerned with mine. Yes, me and my hubby met via Christian Mingle. But I don’t tell our family and friends that. I believe in my heart of hearts that our marriage was divinely arranged. You see, the night I signed up for the website, I was at a crossroads in my life, spiritually. Not only was I seeking a husband, but I was seeking a new life. My husband was the first and only person I talked to when I signed up. I mean, I had used dating sites before, but he hadn’t. We have now been together 7 years. After meeting, things happened pretty quickly. The early days were happy, but tough. When we met, my hubby already had a 12 year old, and a 2 year old. Both girls. So becoming a step mom, getting pregnant with my first, getting married, moving out of state, and deciding to follow Jesus all in the course of just a few months was definitely a change of life. Growing up, I was always a romantic. A lot like Belle, from Beauty and The Beast. A loner, always had my face in a book. Maybe more of a hopeless romantic than Belle, though. I don’t believe in fairy tale endings anymore. I believe in the journey, and going through the thick and the thin. Before I met my husband, I had never been in a long term relationship. I also didn’t know what it would be like to be married to a man who already had kids. So there were some hurdles that, after we got married, we started jumping through together. Coming from two different worlds, both with broken pasts, we faced some things that we had to confront, communicate and compromise about. I am from the a small town and had never been many places. A loner and kept to myself. He is a city guy, very communicative and already lived a lot of life. I look back, and I thank God for His grace. In our mistakes, He has brought us closer. Toward Him, and toward each other. In August, we will be celebrating 7 years of marriage. And our 3rd child (together) will be a month old. So, I am looking forward to a lot. Plans that we have that I believe the Lord will bless. Because “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” – Psalm 37: 23, and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6. Show me a husband and wife who are both perfect, and I will say their marriage is perfect. But none of us are perfect. I’m just glad we made it through the rough spots that we’ve been through and didn’t give up on each other. 7 years, but our journey has just begun.

One of the first pics my husband and I took together.

 

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