So You Think You Can Write Book Review

I’m shocked by how much I learned from this book. I’ve been a blogger for 7 years, and I thought I knew mostly everything about blogging. I’m also not a non-fiction fan, so I wasn’t even sure I could trudge through it. Well, instead of trudging, I flew through page after valuable page.

So You Think You Can Write Book Review

McCoy is easy to read and answers the questions that you want to ask, including the hows and whys. It’s nice to have an inside look into her personally as well as her business success. There are helpful (and funny!) graphics throughout this book, which was great for processing the data.

I learned something new in every chapter about keywords, online writing, and Google. Pick it up – it’s well worth the time!!

Please let me know in the comments or on Facebook if you have questions about this book – I’d be happy to answer them!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

New Ways to Speak the Five Love Languages

This post is sponsored by Groupon. All opinions are my own! Affiliate links may be included; thanks for reading to support this site. 

I need a translator. Stat.

For the sake of my marriage, someone please tell me how to speak nailguns and caulk and lawnmower repair.

Early in our marriage, I had a predominant love language called “gifts”. I enjoyed giving things to people, and I enjoyed receiving them as well.

My husband’s love languages were words of affirmation and touch. Obviously, I’m not very good at those. (That’s the rule about love languages, don’t you know: you can’t be great at your spouse’s.) My husband failed in the gift department, but at least we were square.

new ways to speak the five love languages

Somewhere along the way (ahem, kids), my love language morphed into acts of service. My husband still spoke words of affirmation and I still stank at that, but he has tried his best to become a physical servant…

And he’s excelling at it! So much so that I was thinking my husband wanted to work on a project to avoid me. Well, true to womanly form, I like to change my mind, and I think my love language is saying, “I give up on how clean the house is; just sit down and spend some time with me!”

His love languages haven’t changed. 😀

As I was browsing the Groupon Goods page, I noticed that you can actually find ways to speak every love language with the products there. No, not just gifts!!

When I browsed I noticed:

Gifts: Duh. There are gifts upon gifts upon gifts for every kind of person. PB2, anyone?

Acts of Service: Does your husband’s love language involve a home-cooked meal or a clean home? I saw pots and pans sets and tons of organizational products that will help you translate your love to his ears.

Quality Time:  My favorite way to spend time with my husband is by doing something fun and new, preferably outdoors. The main Groupon site is a great place to buy adventure tickets, but I also think it’s easy to make your own adventure! Grab a hydration pack for your fun day or take a hammock to the park for something more low key.

new ways to speak the five love languages

Touch: OK, so this one should be easy, but let’s spice things up!! Make sure to spray the poopouri and put on something special (both items are sold on Groupon Goods!) to make intimacy a priority.

Words of Affirmation: Use the Love Talk journal my husband and I have used in the past – especially if words are not your specialty. Basically, you trade a journal back and forth with a note to each other. Great for the busy couple. I saw this beautiful leather journal my husband would love.

new ways to speak the five love languages

Maybe I’m alone as a woman – does your love language change like mine seems to? My husband, so sure and steady, just has to keep up with me haha! Making him feel loved should be easy, but it’s certainly not my mother tongue. I always need fresh translation tools like this. Do you see any other Groupon good you would add to the list?

Find more info about Groupon Goods here:

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Work Zone Ahead!!

work zone ahead

Hi friends! I have a busy month coming up with my pay-the-bills job, so I’m taking a break from writing!

Thanks for understanding, and in the meantime, feel free to browse years’ worth of archives by clicking around on the categories at the top or side of the page. 😀

 

The Purpose of a Single Christian: Is it Marriage?

A young woman (well…my age) sits on our plastic church chairs every week. She serves with the youth. Her presence in community, accountability, giving, and missions work is consistent.

Another young person, a man, also chooses those plastic chairs every week. He’s up early hauling equipment in and out each Sunday, and the coffee plus his smile are what greet folks as they enter a church that meets on astroturf.

This young woman and young man are single. And they just sat through a fantastic marriage series in those plastic chairs, they heard and even possibly served at the marriage conference this spring, and they are constantly surrounded by married couples fighting for God-serving marriages.

And, no, I’m not trying to get them to date each other. In fact, these two are not even real people, but collections of the single men and women our church is blessed to have as members.

purpose of a single christian

I myself teach on marriage every moment I can, partly because it’s where God is constantly growing me and partly because I believe we’re in a war where marriages can work for God’s kingdom.

Are singles left out of that?

Is a Christian single person’s purpose different from that of a married person?

Spoiler answer: absolutely not.

Note: I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be single in the church or in today’s culture. I certainly don’t want to downplay the hurt that some have from longing for marriage when God has not yet provided it. The last thing I want to do in this post is offend. So I’m asking God for help and humility. Thank you for hearing me. I also invite you to please share anything I’ve missed in the comments or on my Facebook page.

Jesus pointed out how all of the law falls into only two commandments, and I’m breaking those out into our two purposes, single or married.

Purpose 1: Pursue love of God before all else

 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  (Mark 12:29-30, NIV)

Being content in singleness is directly related to finding our identity in Christ and casting off anything that steals our affection for Him. (Psst… this is no different for marrieds.) Note that this is best accomplished via obedience to His word and Spirit.

purpose of a single christian

For whatever time you are single, God has ordained it. I believe God is sovereign and in control of all of my circumstances, but in this particular one, Jesus specifically says it is given. In response to disciples claiming it is sometimes better to be single:

“Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.” (Matthew 19:11, NIV)

Since Jesus is our true groom, why wouldn’t we want to pursue a loving and full relationship with him?

…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless….[Christ feeds and cares for the church.]… we are members of his body…the two will become one flesh…I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5, selections made to cut out the marriage parallels in the sentences.)

Reading how He loves us makes my heart burst! He loves me and cares for me! He proved it on the cross and proves it over and over again as I feed on his word. He unites me to Himself. These are all marital ideas, my friends, complete with lovey dovey feelings that might make us blush or roll our eyes if they were on public display. And to think that they are! Hallelujah!

purpose of a single christian

Purpose 2: Make Disciples

The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31, NIV)

When God created the first man and woman in the garden, He told them to “fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). But He didn’t just want a full earth; He had put his own image in the man and woman and intended them to make more “image bearers” – more disciples! More people who will worship and glorify His name!

As a single, then, you’re not “left out” of this command. You might go the parental route and decide to become a single adoptive parent or mentor children and youth. Or, you might instead focus on those in your own stage of life who do not know Jesus. Either way, you are creating spiritual children.

I’ve said before that marriage is under attack because it is a primary relational illustration of God’s love for us.

God has given us another relationship that He intended for the world to marvel at and see His work: our relationship with other believers.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35, NIV)

Just being in unity with the body of believers God has called you to, single or not, is a primary way for people to identify the love of Christ! Wow!

What is the purpose of a single christian

A Final Note: Marriage will both end and begin in heaven

Just to state it explicitly: being a married Christian is not better than being a single Christian.

In fact, earthly marriage (intended as it was for earthly things) will end when our time on earth ends.

When the dead rise, they will neither marry not be given in marriage. (Mark 12:25, NIV)

But all the more, we will finally be glorified – ready for our wedding day with our true groom Jesus.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!

For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. (Revelation 19:7, NIV)

What is the purpose of a single christian

All of our lives on earth are an offering to the Lord. Whatever relationship path he has us in currently- if you are trusting God in singleness, fighting for a struggling marriage, or mourning relational loss- I pray that we are willing to take a rest in those plastic chairs, settling into the goodness and trust of who He is and what purpose He has given us.

Resource: I gained more insight into this topic from The Gospel Coalition.

Intentional June – Connecting Gardening to God’s Glory, Week 4

Connecting Gardening to Gods glory

In June, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 4 – Our Summer Experiment

We started an experiment at the beginning of this month. I asked the kiddos where they thought a baby seedling would grow the best – in a pot or in the garden bed?

summer experiment

We talked about the scientific method and hypotheses. What we didn’t talk about was gardening – we do that quite a lot around here (I post some pics on my Instagram), so they’re pretty familiar with the life cycle of a plant.

But how can I connect this to the Bible? There are plenty of ways to talk about plants and Scripture: new life, God’s providence, creation, His order.

But I wanted to talk about growing in godliness. That though Jesus has completed the work of salvation on the cross, God has still given us a life to live for his glory and to produce fruit (i.e., make disciples) – hallelujah for our mission!

Scripture focus:

 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love. For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately. (1 Peter 5:5-8, NET)

I love the connection here – we’re growing in godliness, “increasing in measure” just like a plant. When we put on godly qualities, we will be more productive in our relationship with Christ! We will actually be more intimate with him! Amazing!

I really want to emphasize with my kids that our salvation is sure, and we still have a mission on this earth – to give God glory in every way!

Why is Christian Marriage So Hard? Hope and Possibilities Within

The look on my face must have been one of utter confusion.

A woman who had been married almost forty years just told our group that, as a young fiancee, she had a bright and sunny outlook on marriage. To her generation, marriage was full of hope and possibilities for a blissful life.

Say what?

Contrary to us millennials who constantly hear and experience, “Marriage is hard.”

Why is Christian Marriage so hard

We’ve heard the stats: divorce rates in the church are the same as outside the church. In fact, anecdotally, many of us know marriages of unbelievers that are thriving and happy and united. 

Why aren’t ours?

Why is Christian marriage so hard?

There are two answers in Ephesians 5.

1. Marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with His people. Thus, much is at stake.

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy…

This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:24-26,32 NIV)

You may already know this, but why does this necessitate hardship?

God has given marriage as a primary tool to teach the gospel (the other big one being the love that God’s people have for each other). Thus, a lot is at stake. Redemption is at stake. Souls are at stake.

So a battle for our marriage is waged. Notice that the famous marriage passages are bookmarked on either side by guardianship against sin and spiritual warfare.

Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Eph. 5:15-16 NIV

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Eph. 6:11 NIV

It should perhaps be no surprise at all that marriage is difficult. It’s a General in a massive battle for the kingdom.

Why is Christian marriage so hard?

Photo by CreationSwap

2. Marriage is a union of two sinners.

You could have guessed this, right? Paul is teaching the “faithful” in Ephesus how relationships work in God’s design, and he has to frequently call out our selfishness.

Get rid of all bitterness…

Find out what pleases the Lord…

Submit to one another…

Love your wives, just as Christ loved the church…

Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies… All from Eph. 4-5

So now we don’t just have a relationship that is under attack by the enemy, but our very selves attack from within, letting selfishness breed like cancer.

I don’t now how well a cancerous soldier can fight. Do you?

Two ways to fight for a better marriage

So what’s the solution? There must be something that can make marriage better!

1. Trust in the victor.

Why is Christian marraige so hard

We already know how this battle ends. Christ’s heel is struck, but the enemy is crushed.

For God has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Cor. 15:57 NIV

We must rest in this truth. Meditate on it and know that God wins!

2. Seek help and accountability.

You must  must  have help to have a great marriage. This includes

  • Personal accountability for your relationship with the Lord
  • Community with others who can encourage your marriage
  • Counseling for traumatic pasts and martial hurts

Why is Christian marraige so hard

After being married for forty years, do you know why that lady was in our group? Because it turns out marriage is hard, and she was leading other married couples to have better marriages, marriages that illustrate God’s work on the cross, marriages full of hope and possibilities. 

 

 

Intentional June – Connecting Water Fun to the Gospel, Week 3

Connect Water Activities to Gods Love

In June, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 3 – Water Balloon Pinatas

Oh my oh my, I can’t wait to do this activity! We’re going to make water balloon pinatas to hang from our trees!!! Fill regular balloons with water, tie with string to your tree, and grab your light saber pinata stick for some water gushing fun! Like this pin:

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/170785010848225800/

Hey, this is Texas. We play in the water every chance we can get. It’s necessary to stay cool.

I really love this activity because it’s rather easy to connect to the gospel and scripture! Have an intentional conversation about how God’s love has been poured onto us while dumping water on our heads? Yes, please!

Focus verse (context: Paul is talking about peace and hope and follows this verse with “when were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5, NIV)

Easy Succulent Centerpieces for a Marriage Conference

Easy Succulent Centerpieces

I’m quite deficient in the crafting department. Notice that all of the kids’ crafts that I use to have gospel conversations with my kids are simple and truly kid-friendly! Or should I say mama friendly?

My husband asked for my advice and help with centerpieces for our marriage conference. (But he made sure I got help haha!) He wanted something that “the guys” would like as much as the ladies, and I instantly thought of wood grain and succulents.

I asked a good designer friend of mine to help me pick out containers so that I didn’t pick something that would be hideous. 😉

We found some great wooden boxes and white glass square candle holders at Hobby Lobby that we planned to use for the planters. The white glass containers were my favorite – we bought every one that they had and placed those on wooden planks so that all of the centerpieces coordinated in some way.

If you’re wondering how to make succulent centerpieces, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. Er… 4.

  • I used a Walnut stain for the wood (staining is something that is so easy to me – very quick and painless).
  • I lined the wooden boxes with black plastic from a trash bag so that the water wouldn’t damage the wood too much. You can also seal the wood with a polyurethane coat, but I chose not to.
  • At the nursery, I laid all of the plants out in groups and took pictures on my phone. This is so that I would remember later which ones I thought went well together. This was a lifesaver for me!
  • After planting them, I took pictures again to make sure everything made sense. I used this at the venue to place them on the tables.

planning centerpieces

Now it’s time to feast our eyes on some beautiful succulents!

succulent centerpieces 2 succulent centerpieces succulent centerpieces 4 succulent centerpieces 3

 

 

My Husband is Obsessed with Caulk and Tires

My husband is addicted to caulk and tires. And I love it….let me explain.

Anytime a free couple of hours comes around at our house, I hear phrases such as, “The car needs new tires because blablabla.” <–I lack interpretation skills here.

Or, “I need to go to Lowe’s to get caulk for the repair on the trim.”

Umm… what is trim? Why does something that looks exactly as it should need repair? What is this caulk that you speak of!?

When that “caulk” thingie and “trim” thingie involves me planning out something pretty, like built-ins for our living room, I all of a sudden can speak in home repair lingo like the best of them. Pretty + function = happy. Functional gluey paste that costs money and time but doesn’t give me a visual boost = why do we need this?

Am I alone??

My Husband is Obsessed with Caulk

Photo Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/navfac/

There are times when I even get extreme in my questioning of my husband’s affinity for caulk. Sometimes, I get angry, thinking he just wants something to do to avoid us.

Then, I was reading in Ecclesiastes…

If a man is lazy, the rafters sag;

if his hands are idle, the house leaks. (Ecc. 10:18, NIV)

My thoughts went straight to my husband’s attention to caulk lines and cracks in our walls. I thought, Well, he sure is not lazy, and our house does not leak, praise God!

if a man is lazy the rafters sag

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewbain/

But this passage is about so much more than that. Ecclesiastes has many proverbs-like passages, which makes sense considering the writer is one and the same. But in this book, they are mostly in larger contexts communicating broader messages… which means they’re quite confusing to me, and I have to pull out the Walvoord and Zuck commentary (affiliate link)… plus a dictionary to figure out what their big words mean ha.

After all of that, I see that verses 16-19 contrast the difference between a state run by a wise king and a state run by a foolish king, wisdom being a synonym for righteousness and folly being a synonym for unrighteousness in this case.

We see that the wise king is self-controlled (v. 17) and by contrast with the foolish king, the wise king takes care of his kingdom and does not believe bribery or shortcuts will gain anything positive.

Kingdom with a good king

Source: CreationSwap

Considering that the whole book aims to teach that being fully connected to God is the most enjoyable act of life, the righteous king would also “remember his creator in his youth” (12:1).

My husband could be spending his time doing any number of things – he’s still young! We’ve spent half of our life together now, so I won’t say how young, but he’s young enough that he could commit to sports hobbies 10 hours/week or dude nights twice a week or fun weekends away every month. But he doesn’t. He spends his time taking care of the family God has blessed him with, like a wise and righteous king managing his state.

This passage also reminds me of our Great King – King Jesus. We have no fear that he will ever let the rafters sag or the roof leak. He never took a shortcut to His mission on the road to the cross. He bravely and with self-control took on the full burden of our consequence, taking no bribe nor succumbing to temptation. Wielding the supernatural caulk and tires that only the God-man can.