Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Book of Mark Study: Week 4

I've missed the past few weeks updating the Mark journey but Week 4 is ready to go!

Day One: Mark 11:20-33

v. 24 "Therefore I tell you, whatever you as for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

This verse can be one of those that we just pick out and then apply it to our lives however we want thinking we'll get exactly what we want. But I think the key things here are - asking in prayer, and believing we have received it. There are definitely things I have prayed for and hoped would come true, believed that God would do miracles, and then things went the exact opposite. December 8, 2016 comes to mind for sure. Did I not believe enough that God could heal my Momma, no, but its in the believing that He could have that makes the difference in my mind.

As I was reading Mark, you have seen that I also read "The Circle Maker" and Batterson talks about how we should pray in a way that we have confidence that we will get what we've prayed for if we believe it has been promised to us - like the Israelites and Jericho. Again this can be a bit tricky when we don't get what we want, but if we focus on what the Scriptures say about asking (in His name - John 14: 13-14; things that are good and that come from the Father - Matthew 7:7-11; in prayer and believing - Matthew 21:22 & Mark 11:24; and many others).

We have to keep our motives in our prayers pure. Yes, I'm totally fine with asking the Lord for UGA to finally win a National Championship again, and I believe that He could do it, but does it glorify His end game? Eh, maybe not so much. Make sure you are asking for things that bring Him glory and expand His kingdom, and for the Dawgs to win.

Day Two: Mark 12:1-27

vs. 1-12 The Parable of the Tenants

I don't always realize what the Lord has given me to be a good tenant of - or talents as another parable talks about. Pastor Louie did a message on "Don't Waste Your Influence" earlier this year and I think it sort of fits into this section. The people in the parable were given a vineyard to manage for the vineyard owner and then they kept killing the people who came to take some of the fruit back to the owner. Then they killed the owner's own son (symbolism of Jesus' death a few chapters later) and then Jesus said "What then will the owner do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others" (v9). I don't want Him to take the gift He's given me and then give it to someone else.

My prayer for this day was to have my eyes be opened for those things I need to tend to in my own vineyard so that they bear fruit for the Master.

Day Three: Mark 12:28-44 

vs. 37b "The large crowd listened to Him with delight."

Though the crowd wasn't quite understanding all the parables and teachings of Jesus, they were still drawn to Him and His words. The same can go for those that are around us. They may not totally get what we believe or why, but there is still something about Him that draws them to us and ultimately to Him...or at least there should be.

There was also a challenge placed on me to truly delight in Him every day.

Day Four: Mark 13:1-36

vs. 2 " 'Do you see all these great buildings?' replied Jesus. 'Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.' "

Everything we have on this earth, physically, is worthless in eternity. Tell me you've heard this joke...

Man: "When I die, I am taking my gold with me"
Man dies...
St. Peter: "Welcome to Heaven!"
off to the side James says to John..."Should we ask Peter why that man brought pieces of pavement with him?" (Revelation 21:21 says the streets of heaven are made with gold

Y'all our possessions aren't worth anything in eternity. So why is it so hard for me to clean out my closet?!?! Why do I put so much value on the brands I wear or simply what I wear? I need to focus more on what my clothes say about who I am and who He is instead of who I'm wearing.

Day Five: Mark 14:1-26

vs. 13-16 "So He sent two of His disciples, telling them, 'Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, "The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?" He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations.' The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared Passover."

There's a ton of things packed into these 4 verses in my opinion and I'm going to break it up by people.

Jesus - His reputation completely preceded Him. People didn't always agree with what He was all about nor did they always understand Him, but He was known as "Teacher".

How am I known? Am I making the effort to be known well or just be well-known?

The Owner of the House -  Y'all, this guy's house was already ready for Jesus! He had room in his house, in his life, for Jesus to move into and work with.

Anyone who knows me knows I generally have to do a major clean up before people come over. So this one was a great challenge for me - Do I have prepared room in my life for Jesus to move and work? Or do I have to "clean up" right before He arrives?

The Two Disciples - These guys were ready for anything. We've seen several times, even here in Mark, where the disciples just didn't get it. Basically all of chapter 8. But here in chapter 14, they didn't question Him at all. No "What man? What's his name? Can't we just go to a restaurant? Why do we have to go into some stranger's house?" Maybe those are only questions women would ask, but from knowing the disciples previous history, I imagined they would have had lots of questions. Yet, they didn't - they finally got it! Let's all just shout FINALLY! right now.

Lord, where in my life are You (or people around me) trying to show me my "FINALLY!" moment?

Day Six: Mark 14:27-42

vs. 37-38 "Then He returned to His disciples and found them sleeping. 'Simon,' He said to Peter, 'are you asleep? Couldn't you ket watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit willing, but the flesh is weak.'"

In Draw the Circle, Batterson actually addresses this passage. He throws out the question - 'would Peter still have denied Jesus later if he hadn't fallen asleep and prayed through the night?" And it challenged me to really ask myself - "what would be different in my life if I prayed through the night?" and not literally through the night, but through the whole circumstance and not just when it was convenient or comfortable.

Day Seven: Mark 14:43-72

vs. 72 "Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: 'Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.' And he broke down and wept."

Peter recognized that he had made a mistake in regards to his relationship with Jesus. I believe that he was truly broken in spirit when he wept. What is my response when I've realized I've made a mistake - do I sweep it under the rug and ignore it or does it truly break my heart?

Week 5 will be out next week and it only has the last 3 days!

Thanks so much for following along :-)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book of Mark Study: Week 3

I didn't share my Mark journey last week in hopes that you would check out my posts over on my fiend, Jessica Mathisen's blog as her featured Sisters of Influence.

So let's head right in to week 3 now! 

Day 1: Mark 8:1-21

vs. 17 "Aware of their discussions, Jesus asked them: 'Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?"

Leading up to this in chapter 6:30-44 and 8:1-13, Jesus had performed two miracles regarding bread. How easily they forgot! They didn't ask for eyes to see or hearts to understand what He had been doing in their lives and right in front of their own eyes. We (myself totally included) must ask for our eyes to be open to what He is doing in and around us! If not, we'll be just like them and people will begin to say "how did AllieDanae not see what He was doing in her life?" - I don't want that, do you?

Day 2: Mark 8: 22-38

vs. 31-32 "He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took Him aside to began to rebuke Him. But when Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter. 'Get behind Me, Satan!' He said. 'You don not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'"

Speaking of not having the eyes to see, when I do see what He's trying to teach me, how do I handle it? Do I question or rebuke Him? Do I tells others when He wants me to share or do I keep things to myself? There are definitely areas in my life that I just don't fully understand why/what He's doing in my life. Maybe it is because I haven't asked Him to fully reveal it to me, or because He has been slowly revealing His plan but I have been like Peter, and questioning Him.

Day 3: Mark 9:1-32

vs. 22b-23 "'But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us.' 'If You can'? said Jesus. 'Everything is possible for one who believes.'"

Oh Lord, please turn my 'if You can' mentality & prayers into a 'when You can' ones. I want to learn to pray with confidence (vs 29). That's another reason I love being in the middle of the 40 day prayer challenge while reading through Mark. My prayers lacked some confidence in the God of the universe, but now I want to pray knowing that He will move when and how He wants.

Day 4: Mark 9:33-50

vs. 42 "If anyone causes one of these little ones - whose who believe in Me - to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea."

Well, that is harsh, but so important to remember. There will always be eyes watching us as believers. In this instance, I believe He was talking about not just actual little children who believe, but "young" believers as well - those new to the faith. Paul says it best in 1 Cor 6:12 about how all things might be permissible but not all are beneficial to our lives. We have to be careful of the impact our lives are leaving on others - especially new Christians. We are called to a higher standard of living.

Day 5: Mark 10:1-31

vs. 21 "Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One thing you lack,' He said, 'Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.'"

Okay, first let's talk about the first part - Jesus looked straight at the man who was genuinely asking a question about a struggle he was having and Jesus gave him instant love. We know from vs. 22 that the rich man was really sad about Jesus' answer, and we don't 100% know what happens to him. But Jesus loved that he was willing to ask the tough questions. Confession: I don't always ask Him the hard questions, because I'm scared of the answer.

The second part is in regards to a message that Priscilla Shirer gave at the Grove one night close to this day. She talked about how her son held on to his tooth to tightly because he didn't realize that he'd get an even greater treasure once he let the tooth fairy have it. Y'all, for some reason that story really resonated with me more than the typical 'if you open your hand, the Lord will be able to take away and put back anything He wants you to have'. [[One note - I do agree that He doesn't always take away, but it is the willingness in our hearts for Him to have it back]]. He really wants to offer us His best, so we need to give Him our best.

Day 6: Mark 10:32-52

I'm breaking this down into 2 parts because they're both so great.

vs. 35-40

The Bible doesn't say He'll give us what we ask for, but our hearts and motives have to be pure and theirs was not. Can I recognize the true motives of my requests and prayers? If they're not pure, am I willing to change them and my prayers as well? That can be ridiculously hard.

vs. 46-52

The blind man had the true faith to ask Jesus for exactly what he wanted (which I struggle to do, but King David is a great example of how to pray badly and confidently). He knew that Christ had the power to heal his eyes if He wanted to. That is the key point here.

Day 7: Mark 11:1-19

The first few verses (1-11) are always hard to read because I know what the same crowd does to Jesus just days later - ask for Him to be crucified, but we really can't say we wouldn't have done the same.

Can anyone explain to me the reason vs 12-25 are in the Scriptures? I totally understand how they relate to prayer and having confidence that God can do whatever we ask (including withering a tree for us) but I feel like He could have said it another way. Whatever. I just think its kind of a funny story, although super serious at the same time. It's serious because the reason Jesus flips the tables (turning God's house into a money scheme) and His explanation of the fig tree and prayer is huge.

Go read it. Then let me know what you think!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Life Post Grad: Upgrading Your Wardrobe

Today, I am so excited to have Carolyn Keating from Heritage Lifestyle Design on the blog to talk about taking your wardrobe from college comfy to career professional. She has years of experience working in the fashion world from merchandising to account management and now she is a personal wardrobe stylist.

So let's get to it! What items can they keep from college?

My name is Carolyn Keating and I'm a personal stylist, business coach and owner of Heritage Lifestyle Design. My career has always been within the fashion industry. I started in merchandising with a well known menswear brand before transitioning to a women's accessories company where I spent nearly a decade as an Account Manager. I launched my business in the Fall of 2015 after working as a freelance wardrobe stylist. Seeing how an outfit can make my client's confidence soar to new heights is  amazing!  Understanding your personal style and how to dress for your body/career/lifestyle is a game changer. When we look great it directly impacts our level of confidence. We’re all creatures of habit and can easily fall into a style rut because we pair the same top with the same bottom, wear it a bunch of times and then get bored. Boredom usually equals shopping! I work with my clients to give them creative solutions that utilize more of what they own and we take pictures of everything along the way. Each of my clients receives their own personal lookbook that references the outfits we created. It saves them time, money and a bit of their sanity when choosing what to wear each day.

What are the must have items new college grads need to purchase?

One of the biggest challenges when transitioning from college to work is developing an office appropriate wardrobe. What a grad needs to purchase will depend on the industry he/she is working in. If they're going to be working in a more traditional industry like finance button down shirts and more conservative pieces are a necessity while creative environments and start ups may allow jeans at the office.  Understanding your work environment and taking note of what others in the are wearing each day, especially colleagues in senior roles, will help you to zero in on the best pieces to invest in. 

What items can they keep from college?

This will also depend on what industry a recent grad is hoping to break into. Good rule of thumb: If it's skimpy, low cut, backless, see through, has holes or stains, or is something you'd wear to a club it's probably not appropriate for a day at the office. If you'd wear it out to a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant with a date or your grandma you can probably hang on to it for a bit. 

Tell us the best places to shop!

There are so many amazing places to shop at every budget. You can find great pieces at department stores like Nordstrom, chains like Banana Republic and on the racks at TJ Maxx. The trick is to look at the material and construction of the garment. If stitching isn't straight or loose or the material is shiny or clingy it's probably not going to wear well. I've picked up blazers at H&M that have been mistaken for Theory and spend more than I should have on a designer blouse that lost a button within hours of wearing it. Don't rely on the price tag to be your guide.

Some of us cringe when thinking about having to wear "grown up" clothes. How do you suggest expressing personality while dressing as an adult?

If you find yourself in a corporate environment where suits are the norm look to accessories to inject a little personality into your wardrobe. Just make sure you're not going overboard, a big pair of statement earrings may be too distracting in the boardroom. Your accessories should help you stand out in the right way. 

In this series, we'll be talking about how to nail the interview, but what should they wear?

This will depend on the job and industry. Under no circumstances are jeans, shorts or short skirts appropriate. When a suit isn't a requirement a dress or pencil skirt works well for ladies while a pair of chinos is a great alternative for the fellas.  Research as much as you can about the company and its culture beforehand and always dress to impress. 

More about Carolyn:
I’m a Personal Stylist and Business Coach who firmly believes confidence is the best accessory. I teach people how to wear more of what they already own because spending a lot of money isn’t necessary to have great style. As someone who struggled for years with defining my own style I know exactly what it feels like to stare at your full closet and find nothing to wear. Before starting my career as a personal stylist I worked in the fashion industry in NYC selling to retailers big and small throughout the country. When I’m not helping build my clients confidence through their wardrobes you can find me with my husband and dog, either hiking in the park, catching up on a weeks’ worth of TV or trying to squeeze in a quick nap on the couch. 

Thank you Carolyn for helping us grow out of our play clothes and learn to dress to impress!
You can follow her on IG and Facebook for style inspiration.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Grieving Process

I still can't believe that it has been 6 months since we lost Momma. Since we were so open with our emotions, thoughts, and feelings while in the middle of the horrible situation, I've been wanting to write about the days and months following and how we (or really I am) are processing, handling/dealing, moving on...whatever word fits. But even now, going back to those days still feels just how it did then as my sister, Amanda described it - "it is truly like an elephant is sitting on my chest".

Yes, 6 months later that heaviness is still there. Of course some things are different, and yes, I know that time heals, and oh I'm praying that's true. But I'm really learning to give myself grace and permission to handle (I hate using that word or even saying 'dealing with it") it the way I need to. I guess the best term is to grieve as a I need to and it looks different every single day. And since I love journaling and blogging, I think this is part of my grieving and moving forward process.

I think I first need to reiterate that we are Christians, and we know without a doubt that Momma is in Heaven. That is not part of my grieving. I know I will see her again and that she is surrounded by His glory and ultimate joy. It doesn't have to do with how strong my faith is, but that my faith means I believe everything He says to be true and how faithful He is.

But I am grieving. Every single day. Not one goes by that at least one tear doesn't fall, and for the first 2 months, I ended up crying myself to sleep every night. I don't see that as negative, but just part of the process. The phrase "Gosh, Lord, I miss Momma" also gets uttered a few times a day, sometimes mixed with a direct "Momma, I miss you". And it hurts. Oh, how it hurts. I don't even know how else to describe the sucker-punch type feelings that just hit when I'm not even thinking about it.
  • Washing my hair - "this was the last extra bottle Momma bought for me" - and wham an onslaught of tears over shampoo. SHAMPOO.
  • Trying to remember a certain recipe or laundry trick.
  • Finishing the last 2 books she wanted me to read. 
  • Crocheting blankets and finishing the last one she helped me design.
  • The scent of a certain candle.
  • Not being able to watch one episode of Fixer Upper since. 
Of course there are so many other things that remind me of Momma or times I just want to pick up the phone and call or text her about something so small and insignificant. 

Momma and I are so similar in many ways. Looks, obviously, but mainly in the way she understood my feelings. How we handled things and what we got excited about. My sister has other parts of Momma that I don't have and what a gift it is to have my sister continue to be my counterbalance in life. I always thought Momma was the only one who truly got me, but I can see now just how much all of my siblings fit right into the perfect pieces of my life.

If you know me, you know how much of a Daddy's girl I've always been. He has always seen the bigger picture of things when I get bogged down by the details. Not that details are wrong, but he always has an eye for what is best in the long term. As different as we 4 kids are, he has and still continues to support our dreams. These past few months have obviously shifted things in our relationship to an even stronger bond. As he's missing his wife, he also has 4 kids who are grieving, and I can only imagine that's a tough role as a Daddy. He's been my rock at every turn in life, and that hasn't changed even with his own grieving.

We've all had to learn how to do life a bit differently. To be completely honest, we've failed sometimes and missed opportunities to support each other. There's a HUGE learning curve. The biggest thing I think we've learned as a family is to keep open communication. Each of us is grieving in different ways and we have to all be there for each other and support even if it seems like an odd way to grieve. When you go through something like this, the worst thing to do, in my honest opinion, is to close yourself off from those who love you. It can be so easy, especially when they are hurting too, but because they are the ones that totally "get it", you/I desperately need them. 

I don't cry myself to sleep every single night anymore, and maybe that is "time healing all things". There will be holidays, weddings, birthdays (some already we've experienced), babies, sporting events (gosh, as a past season ticket holder, she would have loved watching the Falcons in the Super Bowl), tee-ball games, gymnastics meets, etc, that will no doubt cause us to miss her something fierce. She was all about family - her family, then Daddy's family, and if you knew her, probably even your family. That is part of her lasting legacy. Family. And I am ever so grateful for it as it has been the ultimate support for the pain of losing her. 

I don't know what your family tree is like, and I know mine is extremely rare in today's world. And with the risk of sounding cheesy, maybe its time for you to mend some broken ties or strengthen ones that are already there. Life is short folks, and time is precious. Harboring grudges or ill-will does good for no one. I pray that God will begin to move in your relationships with your family and friends.

Also, give yourself permission to laugh as you grieve. Trust me, it goes a long way.