4 Ways to Pour from An Empty Vessel

4 Ways to Pour from An Empty Vessel

Everywhere I look these days, I see people promoting this thing called self care.  And I don't disagree that taking care of our bodies - which comprise the temple of the Holy Spirit, after all! - is a bad thing.

But we're also commanded to be selfless, to put others first, and to be giving.  So, while I think that self care (or temple maintenance, as I prefer to view it) can be a good thing if not overdone, there are going to be times when we have nothing left of ourselves to give, and yet giving of ourselves is exactly what we need to do. 

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3 Ways We Can Find Comfort in the Hallway

3 Ways We Can Find Comfort in the Hallway

I don't know too many people who love to wait or who eagerly welcome difficulties in life.  And I've shared before about my dislike of hallways.  But as my faith has matured, I've also come to realize that we can have hope and encouragement even during seasons of waiting.

If you're facing difficult circumstances or are waiting for something, there are 3 ways to find comfort in the hallway.

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The Hallway Hymn List

The Hallway Hymn List

Our church congregation sings a mix of both hymns and worship songs, and I've been greatly blessed by both.  Because the two seem so different to my musician's ear, however, I've always kept the two separate in my mind.  And since I shared my Hallway Playlist in my last post, today I get to share about my most beloved hymns!

There are SO MANY excellent hymns of the faith that it was difficult to select just a few to share here!  Several of these I've grown to love after playing them on the piano.  It's funny how that happens.

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The Hallway Playlist

The Hallway Playlist

Do you love listening to music?  Even though I'm a musician by training, I actually don't listen to a lot of music.  It's not that I don't love it, and it's not that I don't have enough access to CDs or Youtube.  I think it's just that in the business of this season of raising spark plugs, I just don't usually think about turning it on.

However, there have been a few songs that have really ministered to me, especially during seasons of struggles (or hallways, as I like to refer to them).  Today, I'm sharing a few of my favorites and why these specific ones have impacted me. 

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Should You Do A 90-Day Bible Reading Plan? Things to Consider Before You Begin!

Should You Do A 90-Day Bible Reading Plan?  Things to Consider Before You Begin!

Although I've read through my Bible numerous ways, until recently, I'd never ventured to a 90-day Bible reading plan.  It usually takes me 1-2 years (sometimes even 3, if I'm in a busy season of life) to read through the entirety of God's Word, so the idea of consuming it in a mere 3 months was a bit daunting.

After some consideration, I finally committed to the challenge this past February.  It was extremely difficult to keep up with the daily reading portions, but by the end of April, I had successfully finished my very first 90-Day Bible Reading Plan.  

I learned so much from this exercise that I felt I should share some of my takeaways in the hopes that my experience will help you decide whether or not you would benefit from reading your Bible in 90 days, too.

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10 Ways to Pray When You Don't Know What to Pray For

10 Ways to Pray When You Don't Know What to Pray For

Last week, a friend shared with me about a very difficult situation she was facing, so I asked, "how would you like me to pray?" 

"I'm not exactly sure," she responded.  "It's hard to know what would be best."

After my friend left, I thought about her situation and others like it.  Sometimes, it's not clear how we should be praying.  We know we need to pray, but what do we do when we don't know what we should pray for?

It's in those times that I have to go back to God's Word to learn what to do.  The Bible offers at least 10 ways to pray when we don't know what to pray for.

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3 Things to Consider When You Feel Like A Lousy Christian

3 Things to Consider When You Feel Like A Lousy Christian

I was truly looking forward to Easter.  Jon and I planned to send out newsletters to our various email lists.  We planned to attend our church's sunrise service.  We envisioned a detailed Passover lunch just like we've done the past several years.  I thought it would be fun to take beautiful family photos.

But life happened.  Jon, Wing Man, and I were still battling headcolds we'd contracted the week before.  The warmer weather brought with it my annual headaches that I suffer from every Spring.  There were no newsletters, photos, egg hunts, or special church services. 

In fact, I felt like a pretty lousy Christian for not being able to better celebrate the Risen Savior.

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3 Ways to Remember to Pray for Someone

3 Ways to Remember to Pray for Someone

If you're like me, you welcome the opportunity to pray for people.  But perhaps, also like me, you need a few built-in reminders to keep others' prayer requests at the front of your mind.

Whenever someone asks me to pray, I try to lift him or her up in prayer before I let them know that I'll be praying.  That way, I know I've prayed for them at least once.  But my heart really is to pray for them multiple times.  And I've found three fairly easy ways to remember to pray for them over and over.

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To the Wife Watching Her Husband Slowly Abandoning the Faith

To the Wife Watching Her Husband Slowly Abandoning the Faith

Most Christian wives enter into marriage with excitement, eagerly looking forward to the promise of a beautiful life of faith and devotion to God, strengthened by a strong, believing husband. 

Maybe you were one of them.

Many of us have gotten to enjoy the growing faith and iron-sharpening-iron we envisioned, but for others, sadly, that's not always how the story ends.

While true believers will grow in their faith and deepen their walk with Christ, some wives are facing a completely different, scary reality. 

And maybe you're one of them.

Maybe, instead of seeing your husband's faith blossom, you're watching him slowly abandon the faith.

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How to Read Revelation with Enjoyment

How to Read Revelation with Enjoyment

Revelation has long been one of my favorite books in the Bible.  But it wasn't until very recently that I learned just how rare that makes me - many people find Revelation too gruesome, too weird, and too difficult to enjoy.

While I definitely understand these aversions to the last book of the Bible, there are at least three things we can keep in mind in order to read Revelation with enjoyment as well.

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Why I Gave Up Social Media: One Year Later

Why I Gave Up Social Media:  One Year Later

Last February, I made the difficult decision to give up social media for personal use.  I had many reasons for doing so, and even though I felt it was a good step to take, I was nervous.  Would I feel completely alienated from everyone?  Would I miss important updates from friends with whom I was only connected on Facebook?  Would eliminating my personal accounts give me the peace of mind I hoped it would?

It's been a year since I gave it up, and I'm pleased to report that the world didn't end without me.  :)  In all seriousness, though, I learned several valuable lessons from my social media hiatus.

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Dear Mama Who Feels Like She's Disqualified Herself

Dear Mama Who Feels Like She's Disqualified Herself

Two of the spark plugs were running in the house.  One child was playing harmonica at full volume.  All four were shouting gleefully into walkie talkies that were adding annoying white-noise static to the din.  And I had a headache the size of Texas (not related to the chaotic noise but definitely exacerbated by it).

"Guys!!" I shouted, trying to make myself heard over the clamor.  "CUT!  IT!  OUT!!!!" I roared.

Mama Bear had had enough, thank you very much.

It was only after my explosion that I learned that my neighbor, who had given the kids their walkie talkies, had her own set and was on the frequency chatting away with them.  When I'd blown my top like an explosive volcano, she'd probably heard every angry word.

Yup.

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4 Signs that Your Life Is Unbalanced (And How to Fix it!)

4 Signs that Your Life Is Unbalanced (And How to Fix it!)

I've yet to meet anyone who thinks there is plenty of time to get things done.  Whether you have a day job, a special hobby, or specific ministry, it can be hard to make sure that you're keeping a healthy balance with the various things you need to do every day.  

In fact, as I've worked on my marriage, my parenting, my blog, and my other obligations, more and more, I'm finding I have to work at keeping that healthy balance.  It isn't something that comes together naturally.

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Are Christians Looking at the "Rocks in A Jar" Analogy All Wrong?

Are Christians Looking at the "Rocks in A Jar" Analogy All Wrong?

The first time I heard the "rocks in a jar" analogy, I was intrigued.  The idea of prioritizing my goals and obligations made complete sense.  It was certainly true that unless I put my "big rocks" in my life's jar first, I would never be able to fit in the pebbles, sand, and water as well.  And so, for a long time, I was quite content with the standard "rocks in a jar" analogy.

As I've grown older and my spiritual walk has deepened, however, I've begun to wonder if we as believers are looking at our rocks in the wrong light. 

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Should Christians Approach Goal-Setting With A Different Motivation?

Should Christians Approach Goal-Setting With A Different Motivation?

Toward the end of 2016, I was almost dreading the start of another year.  It wasn't that the closing year had been bad; in fact, it had been a really good one.  But I was worried about goal-setting, or, more accurately, goal-failing.

It happened every year:  I would heroically set goals in January - new habits I wanted to develop, besetting sins I hoped to conquer - only to have reality set in around the end of February when I hadn't made any progress.  Ultimately, with feelings of frustration and failure, I'd throw up my hands and give up on accomplishing any of my goals for that particular year.

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4 Things to be Thankful For this Christmas

4 Things to be Thankful For this Christmas

I love the Christmas season.  The colors, the smells, the excitement - it's all wonderful to me.  And as a believer who understands the true importance of Christmas - Christ's incarnation - this time of year is definitely my favorite.  I'm reminded of all that we have to be thankful for, of all that Christ has done for us.

Sometimes, though, the holidays can be difficult.  The pain of a lost loved one can be exacerbated during the holidays.  The frustrations of financial difficulties are only augmented in the face of Christmas.  And illness or depression don't suddenly disappear or get better simply because everyone else is festive. 

No matter what your current season in life - visible blessings or constant struggle - there are at least four things we can all be grateful for this Christmas.

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13 Verses for A Young Man's 13th Birthday

13 Verses for A Young Man's 13th Birthday

This weekend, my family reached an incredible milestone:  my oldest spark plug became a teenager!  Looking back, I'm not exactly sure how we got here.  There were so many days during the toddler years that seemed to drag on forever, and yet somehow, the years simultaneously flew by.  It's certainly true what they say about the days being long but the years short!

I felt like I should be able to write something profound about parenting a thirteen-year-old, but since I only have about 4 days' experience to draw from, I decided instead to let God's Word do the sharing instead.

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When All You Want for Christmas Is A Potato Peeler

When All You Want for Christmas Is A Potato Peeler

Some years ago, I was talking with our pastor's wife about the lean years when they were first married and he was still in seminary.  She commented, "That Christmas, so many of our friends were talking about getting new furniture or something else big like that, but I would have given anything just to have a new potato peeler!"

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just behind us (do I hear a collective sigh of relief?), you may be feeling overwhelmed with the "lightning deals" and "special steals" that were plastered absolutely everywhere.  Maybe you were able to snag a few Christmas gifts at unbeatable prices.  Perhaps you were even able to splurge on an item or two.  

But maybe you're in a situation where all you want this Christmas is a new potato peeler.

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Guest Post: What If Doing Short-term Foster Care Causes Our Children Pain and Confusion?

Guest Post:  What If Doing Short-term Foster Care Causes Our Children Pain and Confusion?

Today, we have a special treat here on the blog!  In honor of National Adoption Month, blogger Naomi from Living Out 127 is sharing about her family's experience with foster care.  And I couldn't be more blessed to have her here. 

Adoption is something close to my heart.  Not only have I been adopted into the family of God through Christ's work on the cross, Jon and I have been praying about the possibility of becoming adoptive parents, too.   I don't know how the Lord will lead us, but if He chooses to open the door to adopt, we will be thrilled!

Adoption and foster care come with a lot of uncertainty - it definitely can be considered one of life's hallways!  Naomi raises and excellent question below:  what if fostering a child causes our other children difficulty?  It's definitely something to consider, and she does an excellent job of sharing how her family handled this delicate situation.  

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