Barbed wires and concrete; wire cutters and sledgehammer.

Lately, I've been checking out various blogs and interesting websites; sometimes, it's for a design element that I'd like to try out for a website or because the layout itself is visually appealing and it kick-starts my creative streak.

This time around, however, I've been checking them out for their content. Not because I still find the layout awesome (They can be incredibly attentive to detail, while others are minimalist at best; both should reflect the writer(s).), but what a person says should matter and it does matter.

It's almost by accident that I find a blog or two that shatter my perceptions of life, family and, most importantly, faith. Frankly, I needed those perceptions smashed to tiny shards; I've been flippant and numb in those areas.

In one blog entry, two simple pictures speak volumes. The first picture has a little girl (Possibly one of Mrs. Voskamp's daughters.) holding a picture saying "You are loved"; the next picture has "and together we can do it (Jesus is in us!)!" Later on, she writes about how someone that is closed off eventually entraps herself in that "protective barrier" that she builds for herself.

For the record, my preferred way of building walls like that was with concrete topped with barbed wire (Figuratively.); the walls were thick and the barbed wires pierce the toughest skin. That way, no one will hurt me and I won't let their words hurt.

However, words hurt deeply and they can bear the most unpleasant of scars. Proverbs 12:18a says it like this: "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts..."

God wants a vulnerable heart; He wants a teachable pupil; He wants a trusting child.

The rest of the verse in Proverbs is encouraging: "...but the tongue of the wise brings healing." It is that soft-spoken word, that encouraging cheer, that prayer being lifted up by a close friend is what heals that heart. Thankfully, I've met several women like that and they don't know just how helpful they've been.

Another blog (One I just stumbled on this evening!) has an entry back in December 2010 that spoke of this very thing; however, the author encourages sisters in Christ to take up a commitment of words. The link to it is here and I encourage everyone to read it.

Yours truly has used words as barbs and as scourges in her past (Some as recent as this year!). I can't do that anymore, seeing how hurt I've been.

It's time to bring out the heavy-duty wire cutters and a sledgehammer; God's been at work and it's time for me to come to the wall and tear it down.

One more thing: To those women that have been encouraging and uplifting me as of late? Thank you. I believe with all of my heart that God has placed you in my life so that His glory can be seen and that He will be praised.


This week in Scripture!

I had the fortunate blessing of going to church this past Sunday (It was Easter; I can't help but celebrate the fact that my Savior's alive!); during the past week I came down with bronchitis and, while it affected my ability to sing in the choir (It's not good for a soprano to squeak while failing to hit a high note!), I was still able to make a joyful noise. :)

I'm thankful that I was well enough to stand in the choir and to be able to worship with everyone; I'm even more thankful that God was glorified.

Being thankful for what I have and not desiring what I don't is something that I need to work on; that said, my Scripture verses this week are from Colossians 2:6-7, which goes like this:

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

I'm focusing on that this week because I should be thankful for what God graciously gave me; I shouldn't dwell on the things that were "missed opportunities" or "unanswered prayers". Those things weren't meant for me to begin with; He knows what He's doing and He wants what's best (It's similar to what a father would do for his children; God is the same way in that aspect!). Why not let Him lead you?


Good Friday musings

Today is Good Friday, a day in which Christians are reminded that their Savior was tortured and executed for them.

I had wondered why we call it "Good Friday", since it normally isn't considered a good thing for someone to face his or her execution (At times, it's obvious that I'm still a toddler in the faith; today happens to be one of those days!); however, it's what happens three days after Jesus' death that makes it "good".

Jesus was resurrected (Latin resurrēctiōn, which is the past-particle of resurgere, which we get "resurge"; that means "to rise again").

Given that Adam (the first man) brought us death (through the sin of disobedience), I think that it's appropriate that the Second Adam (Christ) brought us life.

The Romans were incredibly cruel with their punishments and, morbidly, perfected the "art" of executing criminals; the whippings alone were more than enough to kill a man. With a crucifixion, a criminal was either tied to two beams formed in a T (During the Roman Empire, the style and method of crucifixion changed considerably; they started with a single pole and eventually moved to what's known as a Latin cross; that appears as a lowercase T to us.) or was nailed directly onto the beams (The nails would go through the feet and through the wrists (There are several nerves and ligaments within the wrists that would be destroyed, but no bones would be broken. The bones and muscles that the hand, wrist and arm meet would hold the nail in place.) in order to anchor the poor soul to the beams.); the condemned would actually die of asphyxia (Being hoisted up in that fashion would make the lungs work harder and the person would be taking deeper breaths to compensate; that quickens the person's death in actuality.) and blood loss from the whipping endured prior to the crucifixion.

It was agonizing, to say the least. That's why we have the word "excruciating" in our lexicon today; crucifixion was a horrendous way to die.

Yet, Jesus died this way. For you. For me. With our sins weighing Him down.

The best part of the whole thing is this: He didn't stay dead.

God was gracious enough to forgive us of our sins, but they were placed on His own Son instead.

Read up on Matthew 27 and 28 to get just a foretaste of what our Messiah went through.


Heavy vocab and easy ice, please!

One of my favorite drinks from Starbucks is an iced vanilla chai and I always ask for "easy ice" (Basically, I don't like watered-down drinks!). Either I get the vanilla chai or a white chocolate mocha. Normally, that's how I really begin my day; I'm barely awake before I have my first sip of caffeinated goodness (Bad Marie!).

That said, I can skip this part or vary my routine and I'm still a happy (although with much less caffeine in my system) Marie nonetheless. In some ways, I've become immune to the effects of caffeine; I can still sleep easily at night after a cuppa joe and I don't get jittery if I don't buy my favorite caffeinated drink.

One thing, however, that I've learned since becoming a Christian 10 years ago is that I will never be able be immune to sin.

There are folks out there that deride (Meaning: Express contempt for; ridicule. The Latin dērīdēre, which is "to mock", is where we get it.) the idea of sin, while others place heavy emphasis on the very thing that God despises and we are called to mortify (Meaning: To put to death. It comes from the Latin mortificāre, which we get "mortician".). I tend to fall under the latter category; sin is serious stuff!

(Perhaps I should have forewarned that this post is vocabulary-heavy; my apologies! I'll provide the meanings to some of the more unusual words. Both my husband and I tend to use words that many people don't know; it's a shame because English is quite a rich, if not interesting, language that has its roots in German, Norse and Latin!)

Christians are called to mortify sin, as if we're putting it to death; we are to despise it to death. We are to hold it in contempt and to loathe it with every fiber of our being (I don't think that there is any other English word that describes such loathing; "audacity" comes close, as does "repugnant" (BTW, that was originally Latin as well; we get "repugnance" from repugnantia.) and "hostile".)

Sin has no dominion (Meaning: Rule, control, ownership; Latin dominionem.) over us once we're clothed in Christ's righteousness (For we fall under Christ's dominion once the Holy Spirit changes our hearts and we are regenerated (Meaning: Re-create or make over; Latin regenerāre).), but it can still knock us off our feet and off of the path that God graciously carved for us; that's why believers are urged to pray, read the Word and to fellowship with other believers on a constant basis.

Sin may not own us, but we still feel the effects of sin from our first parents (Adam and Eve); we still suffer with diseases and ailments and we also die. It's how we deal with that sin (As well as the ones that we personally commit!) that matters. Do we turn it all over to a God that will forgive us yet calls us to despise the very things that we loved to do, or do we turn away from that God and continue to lead lives that displeases Him and depresses our souls?

Perhaps it's time to mortify sin (Put sin to death!) and to glorify God instead.


This Week in Scripture (and then some)!

This week, I'll be focusing on 1 Peter 3:10-12; frankly, my tongue can be put to much better use than sarcasm and condescending remarks.

The verse goes something like this:
For "whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

Today happens to be my 30th birthday; I don't feel much older and I certainly don't feel any wiser. Thankfully, God has both of those covered (He knows how many days I'm to live and He's infinitely wiser than I can even begin to be.). :)

Maybe I should have chosen 1 Corinthians 13:11 instead to mark the occasion of getting older: "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man (In my case, woman.), I gave up childish ways."

For some people, it doesn't take 30 years to give up childish ways; some folks, however, can't seem to let them go. I'll admit that I have held onto some childish ways, but it's time to let them go.

Disciple's "Dear X" suits this succinctly; I recommend that, if you have not heard the song, you listen to it (I linked to a lyrics site, as well as Disciple's site.).


This week in Scripture!

This week began the Scripture memorization challenge set by Kelli of The Beauty of His Love (Hi, Kelli!) and I started a week early (Mainly because I'm weird and silly like that; apparently, people like that about me.) with Psalm 139:13.

This week, it's Philippians 4:5-7: "Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and minds in Christ Jesus."

I'm naturally an anxious person and a worrywart (My husband can attest to this, as well as several friends through the years!), so focusing on these verses should help the anxiety (It's all on the Lord's strength; I'm a weakling!). So far, this has been a tremendous blessing for me; I've been much calmer as of late.

After these verses, I'm thinking 1 Peter 3:10-12, which goes like this:

'Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.'

Not many know this (Until now, since I decided to let the cat out of the bag.), but my tongue gets me into a lot of trouble; I usually reply sarcastically or in a way that's inappropriate in one form or another. This challenge has definitely changed my perspective on things and how I approach people; I'm learning to be a bit more tactful and a lot less sarcastic. I think of my daughter and I don't want her to pick up Mama's bad habits; I want her to grow into a gentle and loving person that loves the Lord with all of her heart instead. There's no time like the present to start those habits that are much better.

A good song that plays on my friend Katelynn's playlist is Michael W. Smith's "Never Been Unloved"; it's a perfect reminder that, although I've been a lot of things (Especially toward God, which upsets me.), I've never been unloved. My gratitude can never be expressed because it's too great to do so.


Sustenance among chaos.

One thing that has been on people's minds as of late is a possible government shutdown (Another happens to be that another earthquake rocked Japan; pray for them and help out if you can!).

What people may not know is that the military is affected in a big way.

Members of the armed forces are considered as federal employees; federal employees will be affected by the shutdown by not getting paid or getting a reduced paycheck. Many of those are young couples that are living on just that one paycheck.

That said, I urge folks to not become anxious.

Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7)

God has this covered already; if He provided the Hebrews with manna, quail and water when they went on their mass exodus out of Egypt, then He can surely provide the necessities for today.

Jesus' message in Matthew 6 also covers this very thing:

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:25-34)

Even among what seems to be chaos, our Father sustains us. We're to seek Him; everything else falls into place (It doesn't mean that life will be honky-dory, but it will be more tolerable since the Creator of the universe is looking out for our best interest.).


Sorta related to knitting. :)

I was challenged by a good friend of mine (Kelli from The Beauty of His Love) to memorize Scripture (One to two verses a week.), starting next Monday (the 11th).

I decided to start a week early; since I love to knit, my first couple of verses will focus on that (Knitting takes a lot of labor and a lot of love; a person who loves to knit or loves the recipient of a knitted gift knows the difficulty and the labor it takes to construct a viable and practical (Or something not-so-practical.) gift.). :D

Here's my verse for the week (All verses will be from the English Standard Version.): For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

This not only strikes me as a knitter, but as a mother; my Bee (Now at 18 months old!) was knitted together by the very One who, in a sense, knitted the universe together and knows how many hairs (Including my gray hairs; eep!) are on my head. To me, I'm awestruck by that; a God who takes the time to count my gray hairs (There aren't many, as far as I know!) and knits a baby in her mother's womb is surely a God that is meant to be personal and personable. Add to that a God that is creative (A duck-billed platypus? Check. A three-toed sloth? Check. A klutzy knitter who prefers heels while trying to avoid a cat trying to trip her? That's a check, too!).

That said, throughout the rest of the year, I'll be learning and memorizing Scripture; thank you, Kelli, for the opportunity and for the challenge!

Knitting-wise, I'm still on my second Swallowtail; I'm a really slow knitter. :)