The Great Commandment

#relationshipgoals

Matthew 22_37-39

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The Beauty of God’s Grace Through Forgiveness

God's grace or poor taste

As I was sitting on the plane this morning, I was brainstorming a few new post ideas and in all honesty, this post was initially going to be about summer reading. In a sense, I suppose it still is, but not in the way I first thought.

Not until after Blake and I got home from the airport, unpacked everything, snuggled the doggies and got a load of laundry going did I stop and fully realize that today is Sunday. If you’re anything like me, when I’m on vacation all the days just seem to run together. I don’t respond to e-mails or phone calls and I don’t even so much as crack open my planner. Thus, I knew today was Sunday, but I also “forgot” today was Sunday.

I hadn’t remembered that on Sundays, I’m usually the first to wake up and get ready. I start my day by listening to Air1 while I shower and put on my make-up and then do my hair. Afterwards, I put on a pair of jeans and my MET Kids shirt and I go to church where I attend the first service and I serve in children’s ministry for the second service. By the time I get home, it’s usually between 12:30 – 1:00 pm and my entire day up to that point has been completely focused on God. Today, my complete focus prior to 1:00 pm was getting back to Houston and my regular environment! But once I realized the significance Sundays usually hold for me, I decided there was nothing else to do but stop and watch my missed Beth Moore Bible study session from last Wednesday.

This particular session was entitled, “Difficult Times, Difficult People,” and it wasn’t until almost the very end of the hour-long lesson that I became strongly convicted to write briefly about God’s grace rather than the wonderful summer fiction novel that I just finished. (I’ll write about that soon, promise!)

Up until today, I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on why “bad things” happen. I know that a lot of times Christians and non-Christians struggle with why God allows certain things to happen when he has the power to prevent them from happening in the first place. My justification has always been that we would not appreciate the good without the bad. While I still feel this to be true, Beth Moore has taken it one step further and it really hit home for me today.

“In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.” – 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 (NLT) We are dealt difficult circumstances in life so that we will TRUST in God. Just as a father wants his children to trust in his decisions so does God want us to trust in him. We are not wired to live this life on our own and of our own understanding and our own strength. I cannot tell you how difficult this has been for me to learn after being raised to be such an independent individual, but it is key in our relationship with God.

This act of trust is not only integral in growing closer to God but it also goes hand-in-hand with another action we must live out in our relationships with other people. “I tell you, her sins – and they are many – have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” – Luke 7:47 (NLT) If we want others to show love, then we have to show forgiveness. What the other person chooses to do with that forgiveness is up to them. We are not to give forgiveness with stipulations and we are not to withhold forgiveness just because someone else’s sin is more visible at a given time than our own sin.

Here’s how trust and forgiveness collided for me today. Yesterday was my dad’s birthday. I haven’t spoken to my dad or seen him face-to-face in 15 years but yesterday he was on my mind quite a bit. It’s not always this way on his birthday, but it was this year. I now feel this was to prepare me for today’s Bible study lesson and here’s why. I came to a peaceful resolution with God several years ago regarding my anger and hurt over my dad but I always feared that my children might one day end up “fatherless” as I feel I was and always will be. Today, I realized that I had worried about this scenario playing out in the future, but that I never put this fear into God’s hands and trusted him to not let it happen.

What a wonderful thing it is that God does not always wait for us to reach out for him or for us to “have it all figured out” before he extends his grace to help us. I now have a wonderful husband who I know will one day be an amazing father to our future children and I also know that I can’t take any credit for bringing us together. God is the Father that I never had and if I will trust in him, he will take care of me, no matter what. Maybe you feel the same way. I thought that I was finished growing from this particular chapter in my life but today, I realized that I’m not. I’m happy that I already had a good, secure foundation in my relationship with God so that Beth could lay this new layer on top and bring me a new perspective on forgiveness and trust through the hurt of the past.

The quote at the beginning of this post made me laugh out loud during my study time this afternoon. It’s funny, but it reminds me on a more serious note that we are all broken and sinful but that God’s grace is enough to make us whole again.

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Wrestling With the Truth

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How to Stay Connected to God While Traveling

Air1 Daily Hope

I have really been looking forward to this week of vacation and spending time with family and don’t get me wrong, time away from the humdrum of regular life is something everyone needs once in a while. But how do I stay connected with God when my regular daily routine is gone?

Being what I consider a “relatively new Christian,” I still haven’t fully nailed down a specific period of time for Bible study and prayer on a daily basis. Honestly, I find myself doing most of my prayer and worship in the car. This is especially true in the summer, when I end up spending lots of time stuck in traffic going to and from work.

Since I can’t really open up my Bible and start reading while I’m on the freeway, I tend to gravitate towards options that allow me to listen while I’m on the go. I say this, because while on vacation this week, I’m finding that the same resources I use when I’m busy work great for when I’m out of my normal routine and environment. They’ve been so great in giving me time of daily inspiration and Godly reinforcement that I just wanted to pass along the wealth!

I really can’t say enough great things about Rick Warren and his teachings. When I was first figuring out how to even begin a walk with Christ, I read Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, and I can’t tell you how much it put everything into perspective. Warren writes and speaks in a way that is comforting, uplifting and easy to comprehend. Luckily, he also preaches in the same way. This is why I love listening to his on-line broadcast, Daily Hope

There are multiple reasons that I am a fan of this series. For one, all you have to do is sign up with your e-mail address and each morning, before you even wake up, a new broadcast segment is delivered right to your inbox. All you have to do is click on the link and your daily dose of Godly learning is right there! He delivers his sermons with great catch phrases that make the principles of his segments easy to remember and carry with you throughout your day.

Speaking of things that stick in your mind easily, my other daily on-the-go resource is Air1 Radio. A co-worker stumbled across this radio station several years ago and I literally have not stopped listening since. Although they are based out of California, you can tune in through your car radio all over the country or simply listen via their mobile app. They play awesome Christian pop music, have pastors on staff to pray for you, a daily verse and great DJs that are down-to-earth, everyday people like me who are just trying their best to get through life and stay connected to Christ. My favorite part about Air1 is that most mornings, I wake up with one of the songs I’ve heard on their station in my head and it’s like an immediate reminder of God’s love and a great way to start my day!

God is always with you wherever you go, and as his children, it’s great to have daily reminders to stay connected. Happy listening!

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17

 

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5 Tips to Improve Your Carry-On Packing Skills

Next week is the fourth of July and you know what that means…VACATION! I have not had a vacation from work since Spring Break. That’s March, y’all! This teacher loves her students, but Ms. Callie is in serious need of a week without work stress! Let’s be honest, I just want a week where I don’t have to wake up at a specified time. But that’s beside the point.

This year, Blake and I are flying to the northeast to visit his side of the family. Now, I am not a greater packer of the suitcase. To give you a better idea, I’m not allowed to load the dishwasher. With that being said, I only want to take a carry-on and one personal item on this trip. Checking bags always makes me nervous and my summer clothes don’t take up as much room as winter items.

Since I just realized that it’s actually Thursday and we’re flying out at the beginning of next week, I decided I really need to get my packing list together. I also thought that it might be a good idea to look up some packing tips from those who know better than I and then thought, why not pass along the wisdom? I’ve done some digging around, and here are the top five tips that are going to help me pack for this trip like a pro. I’ve made the title of each tip a link back to the original article in case you’d like to do some research for yourself. If you’ve got some great go-to tips of your own, let me know in the comments below!

1. Color-Coordinated Garments

Usually, I make a very thorough list with multiple outfits before I begin packing. Let’s just say that organization is not my problem. My issue is quantity. I don’t utilize garments that could be paired together with different pieces to create multiple outfits. This means that I normally end up with at least four pairs of pants, two skirts, two dresses and probably eight shirts for a five day trip. Talk about excess. Here’s my new goal: three shirts, one pair of jeans, one dress and one pair of shorts or a skirt. Oh yes, and only two pairs of shoes. Can’t forget the shoes.

2. Don’t Fold – Roll

Since this tip is on virtually every list there is, I guess I’ll give it a try. Honestly, I think I tried to roll my clothes for a trip once and I didn’t think I was doing it the right way so I got frustrated and gave up. It really should be simple, right? I can’t be that ridiculous…plus, this method claims to prevent clothes from having crease lines. This kind of thing drives me nuts, so I guess it’s worth another shot.

3. Don’t Waste Space

I mean, this one seems like a given but where has this idea been all my life – pack your socks down inside your shoes! What?! How simple is that?? Like a moron, I’ve been sticking my socks inside those interior mesh pockets that line the inside edges of the suitcase. This means that my socks, and I’ll admit, my underwear, push into the interior space of my suitcase, taking up valuable room that I need for my larger items! Look out shoes, you’re not safe from this trip!

4. Pack a Scarf Instead of a Jacket

Now this, I can definitely do. I’m almost always cold no matter where I go, so I’m constantly toting around jackets or sweaters. Instead, of trying to pack something as bulky as a jacket (not to mention getting weird looks because it’s the middle of summer) I’m going to pack a neutral colored pashmina scarf that I just so happen to have. It will work great not only for the cold airplane, but could also pair nicely with an outfit for dinner out on the town!

5. Ditch the Purse

You’ll notice that this one doesn’t have a link to an article. That’s because this tip is from good ‘ol Callie herself! I usually take my backpack as my personal item and pack my empty purse in my suitcase. This way, all of my essential identification items are close at hand and I don’t have to deal with more than two bags in the airport. Also, my backpack can carry far more than my purse ever could and let’s be honest, if the bag isn’t big enough to handle my latest crochet project, it’s not getting used. Not to mention, I was pretty much known as “the bag lady” in high school, so I now try and carry as few bags as possible when I go anywhere. As a side-note, I also pack my potentially breakable make-up supplies inside my personal item so there’s less risk of them getting tossed around and broken in the overhead bin.

Now that I’m armed with new tools, I’m off to make my packing list! Safe travels and happy 4th!

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You First Have to Listen to God if You Want Him to Listen to You

Anybody else ever need a reminder to stay in the word?

Romans 10_17

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How Do We Earn God’s Trust?

Blake and I have recently come to the decision that it is time to take the first steps toward becoming homeowners. This wasn’t something we were planning on for another few years, but as the Lord is always reminding me, things happen to us in His time.

We left apartment living behind and have been renting a house now for the last seven months. Although we are grateful for the extra space (and I love having a garage to park my car!), we feel that it’s time to adult-up and start putting our money toward something we can actually call our own in the future. I wasn’t sure if we would be financially ready for home ownership when our lease is up in November, so we started working with people who could check out our credit scores and give us an honest evaluation of our fiances to determine if searching for our own home would be possible in the near future.

As it turns out, we’re going to need to wait another year unless we want to go the “starter home” route. Personally, I don’t see the point in this, primarily because we don’t have that much standing in the way of our price-point goals. As it stands, our credit scores are not the problem; it’s our lack of down-payment savings. Which really means, “we have no saving habits,” in real-life speech.

As I was driving home from work today, I was thinking to myself and praying about what Blake and I need to do to improve our savings habits and this scripture came to mind; “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?” (Luke 16:10-12 New Living Translation). Don’t start applauding my amazing memorization skills. I did not have this entire passage memorized, I just knew the gist and looked the rest up once I got home from work. That’s when it really hit me that these three little verses are talking about so much more than just finances.

Now, because I like all things nerdy, I could sit here for the rest of the night and research this passage and probably put most people to sleep while winning some kind of nerd award for the longest blog post ever. By the way, I’m convinced that I’ll never be able to read through the entire Bible because I always have to stop and research to death what I’ve just read. So, I’ll restrain myself and just hit the major points that stood out to me.

For one, I was initially looking for a passage of scripture to back up my feelings that Blake and I really need to stick to a budget from now until next fall so that we can have a down payment saved up in the amount that corresponds with the price-point we want. What I saw instead, was that if I don’t start sticking to a budget and creating good saving habits, God isn’t going to trust me with anything: a house, children, opportunities to disciple, career success and the list could go on and on. Whoa, Lord! Pump the breaks! I just wanted to have a little encouragement about saving money to buy a house and act like an adult. Where are you leading me instead?!

Apparently, out of my own narrow, selfish thinking. I’m the kind of person that likes to get down to the tiniest of details and pick things apart bit by bit until I fully understand everything there is to understand. What I see God working in me right now, is that my thoughts need to be broader. I need to realize my impact, on both myself and others, at a higher level. I have to remember that my thoughts, words and actions are much farther reaching than just my own little list of dreams and wishes because what is the ultimate goal? To be trusted by God with what he has given me here on earth so that I can enjoy “the true riches of heaven.” That is the goal! It’s not whether we’ve saved up 5% by next fall or whether we’ve started a family before my next birthday or any of the other things that I have on my list. It’s about whether I am faithful and trustworthy in the eyes of the Lord with what he has so graciously entrusted to me.

In just a small example of how things always come back full circle, I am currently in a weekly summer women’s Bible study at my church, The MET, studying a series by Beth Moore¬†and it just so happens to be titled, Entrusted. Okay, Lord. You have my attention! To wrap all of this up, everything we have and everything we see has been loaned to us by God, and as my mom likes to say, “You should always treat someone else’s property better than you would treat your own.”

 

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