Get FULLY Dressed

Armor of God Eph 6:10-17

No matter how hard I try to make the best decisions.  No matter how well life seems to be going.  Hiccups happen.  Life Happens...

...there are battles that need to be fought.

Some battles we can see -- they stare us in the face!  They are with people; in our relationships.  They are with our thoughts; battlefield of the mind.  They are physical, emotional, and financial.

I've been experiencing BIG battles lately, they make no sense.  They are exhausting and I can't see them -- but, I can feel them and sense the chaos around me.  I can see the confusion and discouragement these battles bring into my life, into my relationships, into my business decisions.

::::::  Have YOU experienced this "type" of battle?  ::::::

These battles,  are BIGGER than me and in my flesh I am not equipped to face them or go through them.  They stop me in. my. tracks.  They paralyze me.  They distract me and prevent me from taking action.

WHY?  Because, "...our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." {Ephesians 6:12}

WHY?  Because these are spiritual battles that can ONLY be fought in the spiritual realm.

No external tool that I have access to is strong enough to fight, overcome, and experience victory.  I need to get fully dressed everyday + mindfully tap into the spiritual tools for the spiritual battle, The Full Armor of God:  {click to tweet that}

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes." Ephesians 6:10-11

What does this mean and how exactly do we get fully dressed with the armor of God?

We've got 6 essential pieces that equip us:  Belt. Breastplate. Shoes. Shield. Helmet. Sword.

Armor of GodLets take some time to unpack the "outfit" -- will you? With me?

"Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:14-17

I've heard this verse too many times to count, but have never taken the time to study it, have you?  There's no better time than the present.  Plus, knowledge is power if we apply it into our lives!

I hope you will join me on this adventure!  IF so, simply CLICK THIS LINK.  You will receive a FREE printable version of the graphic above + emails from me to ENCOURAGE you as we unpack each piece of armor.


For it is by Grace

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8

The envelope was unmarked and addressed to me. I hesitated to open it, thinking it was probably junk mail or some unwarranted solicitation. It nearly went into the trash pile without a second glance.

But, something told me to go ahead and peek inside. When I did, I was amazed. It contained a touching note and a check for a significant amount. Anonymously. The person’s note spoke of being blessed. God had used something in my writing to touch her intimately. She knew of struggles my family was facing and wanted to help. Somehow, she found my address and acted upon that nudging...

...I was overwhelmed.

She gave a gift. A gift I could not repay or even personally thank her for giving. A gift I simply had to receive.

As I think about Christmas, it’s easy to get caught up in all the mayhem of the season. Presents, decorating, baking, parties, cards, shopping and everything else. It seems everywhere we turn there are distractions the world is throwing at us. But the best gift is the one we cannot give. The one we don’t deserve. The one we can’t repay. The one we simply receive.

Jesus.

He chose to come to be the Way. Without Him, we have no hope. Without Him, or future is dark. But, if we choose to accept and receive His gift of salvation, we are secure. There is hope.

Every year about this time, I try to steal away and relax with Him. Even if it’s just for an hour or so, stepping out of the hustle and bustle of the commercialized Christmas activities keeps me focused on the true meaning: His unbelievable gift of salvation for all eternity. His choice to humble himself to a life of poverty and scorn, only to die a death He didn’t deserve and pay the price for all sins past, present and future. In order that we might spend all of eternity with Him...

...He loves us that much!

No store gift could ever compare.

And, He knows that there is nothing I say or do could earn His gift. I simply have to receive. Lay down my pride, my fears, my doubts, my control and anything else that my hands might be grasping on to hold. Empty them, so that I might receive the best gift ever.

Jesus.


God Don’t Make No Junk

Remember the t-shirts in the 80’s that said, “I’m perfect, ‘cause God don’t make no junk?” Bad grammar aside, the saying was brilliant and I am proud to say I rocked that shirt much longer than was cool, especially since mine was an iron-on appliqué. I had an inordinate amount of self-esteem as a kid, and…

…wanted the world to know it.

Yet somewhere along my way, I lost that confidence and began to question myself. In my head I heard “who do you think you are?” over and over.  Eventually I listened to that voice so much that I forgot the answer.

When it comes to the topic of self-esteem and feelings of inadequacies, women seem to have the market cornered, or so I thought until I heard Marianne Williamson words.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”

Like Paul the Apostle, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. He was a beacon of hope for many and a bane to a few. In the last twenty-something years Mandela emerged from prison a freed man and has worked tirelessly to free others from their hate, from their pre-conceived ideas, and from their own self-doubt. He has worked to unify a nation that was steeped in tradition and prejudice, and in many ways {small and large}…

…he has succeeded.

I may not be called to do all Nelson has done. My life may never have a movie made about it. But I have a purpose nonetheless.

I am a child of God.

I am called to be light. I am called to love. I am called to use my brilliance, my beauty, my talent, and my ‘fabulosity’ and change the world around me.

Me.

Anything less would be missing the mark. Anything less would be a lie!

I value myself because I was designed by a Master Maker: a brilliant Craftsman. I was made for a purpose. I was made for a dream.

And God don’t make no junk!

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Today’s Post is shared by: Dayna Bickham.  She is a writer and speaker from the Houston, Texas. A wife and mom of two teen girls she loves to cook, garden, and spend time with her family.  Her blog, A Year in the Spiritual Life is about discovering your purpose in Christ. Follow her on Twitter: @DaynaBickham.


Today Is A New Day

Last week I had the opportunity to meet my "on-line" friend and fellow Keeping it Personal blog contributor, Carey Scott -- in real life!  She picked me up from the Denver airport and we road tripped it to Breckenridge...

...it was a beautiful day!

 We talked, and talked, and talked.  We laughed, sipped our coffee, and browsed the village shops.  We fell in love with phrases -- the words, so beautifully put together and framed in this piece of art -- we both bought it... 

TODAY IS A NEW DAY!

you can start fresh wipe the slate clean

BEGIN AGAIN

Today you can EMBRACE kindness

practice COMPASSION

STAND UP FOR justice

talk to strangers

ASK FOR HELP

LISTEN with your whole heart

OFFER HOPE

work for the common good

LOVE well

be the change you wish to see in the world

I'm anxious to hang this on a wall where I can read it frequently.  These powerful statements are encouraging and they remind me of who I desire to be and the mindset I strive to embrace and sow into others.

I've had several people ask me where they can get one of these.  The cute little shop we purchased ours from is Marigolds Farmhouse Funk & Junk, Breckenridge, CO.  They don't have a website, but they do have a Facebook page with all their contact information here --> http://www.facebook.com/marigoldsfarmhousefunkandjunk

Be ENCOURAGED...TODAY is a NEW day!

Question:  Which one of the phrases in the picture stands out to you most?  Why?  Share your comment by clicking here.


Gratitude Turns What We Have Into Enough

I don't know who first said this:

"Gratitude turns what we have into enough."

But, what I do know is --  I should paint this on all the walls of my home and tatoo it to my forehead...

...maybe then I will remember.

Gratitude... being thankful... showing appreciation... saying thank you

It seems so simple. And, yet, as some other things, gratitude can be deeply profound. When I begin to be grateful for what I have, when I show appreciation for what someone has done, and when I say "thank you" often, my outlook changes. Instead of dwelling on the few things I don't have, I become overwhelmed at the multitude that I've been given...

...and what I have becomes enough.

Gratitude turns my stuff into enough. Like many Americans, I have stuff. I have lots of stuff. I have stuff I have forgotten about and stuff that collects dust. I have stuff hidden in my closet and buried in my basement. Still... there is stuff that I don't have that I want. When I become thankful for the stuff that has collected, I seem to want less stuff.

My stuff becomes enough.

Gratitude turns my checkbook balance into enough. Not only do I want more in my budget... so do the four I love the most. We all want more than our family budget can support. We all want to go places, see things, buy stuff {...more stuff}. Gratitude turns that diminishing checkbook balance into enough.  Enough to buy our basic needs...

...and live with less.

Gratitude turns my marriage into enough. Let's face it, my man did a lousy job picking the perfect wife. And, honestly, the opposite is equally true. Neither of us are perfect and after all these years together, we still get on each other's nerves. Gratitude for who he is, appreciation for his gifts and abilities, and a daily dose of "thank you" makes our marriage more than enough.

The simple act of gratitude turns what I have into more than enough. I simply need to remember.

Question:  Do you see that gratitude turns what you have in your life into enough?  Share your comment by clicking here.

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Today’s Post is shared by: Heidi Kreider.  She is wife of 18 years, mom to 3 Es, and Jesus lover. She is the author of The Secret of Counting Gifts and The Secret of Counting Gifts Gratitude Journal and blogs about unwrapping God's presence at www.heidikreider.com.


Be Still or Be Stilled

Be still and know that I am God. It is a command that has sweet reward. To say "Enough!" to the busyness of this life and settle in with Him is always a good thing. Knowing that He is God. He is faithful. He is Good. He is powerful. He is truth...

...and He is enough to cover our "Enough!" Praise You, Jesus!

Be still? So, maybe you are familiar with that verse in Psalm 46:10. Maybe you surrender to the command to “be still” often.

Maybe not so much. You hear the strong command and the gentle call. Perhaps, you are like me and you hear it, but other people and things get in the way. You are easily distracted. You want to be still, but activity is often more appealing.

What about being "stilled?" That is the action of God “stilling” you.

Zephaniah 3: 17 has a part that says, "He will quiet you with His love." That means He will STILL you. He will "leave off speaking" with his love (unspeakable love, tender mercies.) Have you ever had someone's silence minister great love to you?

...No words are necessary.

I picture my child that is crying uncontrollably and when I hug him closely, he begins to breathe and settle. You know that moment when the crying stops, and there is just that lingering grasp for breath. Then after a few moments they are totally at rest and peace in your arms. That, my friend, is being STILLED.

There’s a great song that Kari Jobe sings called, “The More I Seek You.”  And this verse... this verse moves me...

I wanna sit at Your feet
Drink from the cup in Your hand
Lay back against You and breathe
Feel Your heartbeat
This love is so deep
It’s more than I can stand
I melt in Your peace
It’s overwhelming

So, be still or be “stilled.” Either way, allow God to hold you and minister to you with His precious silence. You might just find yourself being able to breathe and settle.

Photo Credit: God's Fingerprints

Don't Stop Here

Yesterday was a "wrap" -- we finished the 31 Biblical Virtues to pray for your kids.  BUT for me...

...this isn't the end.

I plan to keep the conversations going, to keep discussing the virtues with my nuggets.  It will look different -- I won't be so rigid since I'm not writing about it as I go, but I plan on sharing examples when I see opportunities to do so and encouraging them to live out these characteristics.

I commit to pray for them.  This was just a start -- I'm SO grateful for it!  I see how significant it is to be mindful of these things not only for my children, but for myself too!

If I could choose one word to describe the last 31 days on this journey it would be

--> AWARENESS <--

My eyes have been opened to so many things and I am inspired to continue to learn, grow, and teach my boys.

What about YOU?  What did you think of the journey?

IF you joined us part way though, I want to encourage you to...

...keep on going.

Maybe you're new here -- it's never to late to start.  Just jump in on whatever calendar day it is and journey through the 31 virtues -- you won't regret it!

Remember you can print the graphic here and if you want to read all of my reflections, I've created a page that has them all in one place here.

"All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother. I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life."  - Abraham Lincoln


Virtue: Servant's Heart

A person who waits on another.  Someone who is helpful, who assists or attends to needs, or is of service.  To have a servant's heart, in my opinion, is to...

...be mindful and aware of others.

To be alert and willing to be available if need be in some capacity.  To have a servant's heart is to have no earthly strings attached when some level of action is taken; freely giving without expectation.

This quote describes a servant's heart...

"Work for a cause, NOT for applause. Live life to express, NOT to impress. Don't strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt." - Unknown

We are blessed with two very special people in our lives who truly have servant's hearts; my parents.  They are my kid's grandparents, and my husband's in-laws.  They just so happen to be staying with us in our home for a couple of weeks and the boys realized this virtue in their grandparents this morning during our discussion.

My mom wakes up each morning and makes everyone breakfast.  She's doing the grocery shopping, organizing spaces of clutter, doing laundry, and last night she made dinner for all of us -- set the table, and cleaned up!  She does this all with a smile on her face and joy in her heart.  Additionally, she's been working with Zach on his country report for school...

...just because she wants to be of service.

My dad, he's handy and will embrace any project we put on his plate.  He's helpful to not only us, but I see him offer his gifts and talents to my mom's sisters, my friends, my siblings.  Anyone who needs a handy-man or who has a "honey-do-list" he will tackle it and...

...whistle while he works.

I love my parents.  They continue to set a very good example of this virtue for me and my children.  What a blessing.

"Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people" Ephesians 6:7

I pray, "God please help my children develop servant's hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as if they were serving the Lord, not men.  And Father, give me strength to grow in this virtue and to keep my eyes focused on You, may You be my audience of One."

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You've just read day 24 of  the series: 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Children.  Whether your children are young or old, whether you’re expecting or hope to be expecting, whether the children in your life are biologically yours, adopted, step, or they are just precious to you — you can join in and pray for them!!

Are YOU IN?

Will YOU journey with me and watch how God shows up as we seek Him and believe in Him for our children?

IF so, simply fill out the form below with the date you want to start!  You will receive a FREE printable version of the graphic/poster + an email from me everyday for 31 Days to encourage you along the way with my daily virtue reflection.

--> To start at the beginning and see the initial invitation/announcement about this series, click HERE


Virtue: Faithfulness

This hymn quickly entered my mind when I read today's virtue...

...G R E A T  is Thy faithfulness

"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
"Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

At breakfast I had the opportunity to talk about faithfulness with my youngest nugget and one of my nephews, my sister and I swapped kids this weekend.

Our conversation was fun.  What impressed me most is that my son was proud to have this discussion, and shared openly with his cousin what we are up to, our daily routine.  He picked up the poster and read today's prayer -- then my nephew looked up the scripture verse in the Bible.

Over waffles, sticky syrup, milk, and strawberries the boys threw out their thoughts about what faithfulness means to them and we unpacked the word...

devotion. loyalty. dependability. truth. fidelity. trustworthy. adherence.

...true to one's word, promises, vows.

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart." Proverbs 3:3

To learn more about faithfulness, to develop more of this virtue in our own lives we must continue to seek first the Kingdom of God getting to know and understand His character as this is another fruit of the Spirit.  As we grow to understand Him more, as we draw near to Him, this fruit will manifest in our lives.

For me faithfulness means to obey God, to choose right, be honest, loyal, dependable, and to trust God - even when the circumstances say otherwise.  I desire faithfulness.

I pray, "Let love and faithfulness never leave me or my children, but bind these twin virtues around our necks and write them on the tablet of our hearts."

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You've just read day 11 of  the series: 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Children.  Whether your children are young or old, whether you’re expecting or hope to be expecting, whether the children in your life are biologically yours, adopted, step, or they are just precious to you — you can join in and pray for them!!

Are YOU IN?

Will YOU journey with me and watch how God shows up as we seek Him and believe in Him for our children?

IF so, simply fill out the form below with the date you want to start!  You will receive a FREE printable version of the graphic/poster + an email from me everyday for 31 Days to encourage you along the way with my daily virtue reflection.

--> To start at the beginning and see the initial invitation/announcement about this series, click HERE


Virtue: Justice

"So, boys, today's virtue is justice, are you ready to talk about it?" I asked this question when I picked them up from school.  My youngest responded in a not. so. energetic. voice, "Sure mom, I guess."  Alright, I was excited, let's talk!  "What does justice mean to you?" I asked...

...S I L E N C E. deer in head lights look on their faces.

"Um mom, I don't think we really know, could you help us out a little bit here?" One blurted out.  So, I shared...

justice = truth. lawfulness. fairness. authority. correction. integrity. honesty. right. impartiality.

The Message version of the two verses shared for this virtue were helpful for me as I explained to my boys:

"God's business is putting things right; He loves getting the lines straight, setting us straight. Once we're standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye."  Psalm 11:7

God is a God of justice and righteousness.  In His perfect time, He will be sure to straighten all things out.  His desire is for all to be treated fairly.

"But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women.  It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don't take yourself too seriously— take God seriously."  Micah 6:8

We've got the. best. life. manual...Thy Word.  God shows us how to live, how to love, how to act justly.  If we ever have a question about "justice" we can go to the Word to discover the answer.

There is SO much injustice happening around the world and even in our "own-back-yards" in our communities.  It saddens me, breaks my heart -- I can not even imagine how our Creator must feel as He loves each and every one of His children.  We were all created very good, in His image, with a specific plan and purpose.

I pray, "God, help me and my children to love justice as You do and act justly in all we do. Amen"

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You've just read day 7 of  the series: 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Children.  Whether your children are young or old, whether you’re expecting or hope to be expecting, whether the children in your life are biologically yours, adopted, step, or they are just precious to you — you can join in and pray for them!!

Are YOU IN?

Will YOU journey with me and watch how God shows up as we seek Him and believe in Him for our children?

IF so, simply fill out the form below with the date you want to start!  You will receive a FREE printable version of the graphic/poster + an email from me everyday for 31 Days to encourage you along the way with my daily virtue reflection.

--> To start at the beginning and see the initial invitation/announcement about this series, click HERE