Taking on our sin and shame
Carrying a burden that was not His own
All the while being innocent and pure.
Experiencing our human condition
Our simple joys and our happiness,
Friendship and love
And, ultimately our sadness, loneliness, and misery.
Before His death
He experienced betrayal,
abandonment, and condemnation.
He felt and went through everything any of us could ever go through.
And, this gave Him more ammunition to love us so.
And, more reason to turn His back on us and allow us to suffer and die in shame alone.
But, rather than turn His back on us, He embraced us.
He loved us.
He wept for us.
He shed His blood for us.
He died for us.
He took our punishment, our sins, and our shame and bore it on His shoulders.
He carried all of it up Golgotha’s hill, while being spit on, mocked, and called names.
He bore the collective weight of all our burdens, sin, and shame.
This is what true love is.
Thank you, Jesus
For loving us so much.
In my last post, I told you I would share with you more ways you can be a better steward of the environment. So, here I am! I believe that the best thing you, or any of us can do to help Mother Earth is to produce as little waste as possible. There is a huge movement that began in the early 2000’s and has been steadily growing in popularity ever since, it is called the Zero Waste movement.
Wikipedia tells us that Zero Waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean. Only 9% of plastic is actually recycled. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature. The definition adopted by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) is:
Zero Waste: The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of all products, packaging, and materials, without burning them, and without discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.
So, let’s stop here for a bit. Just the term “zero waste” sounds impossible, doesn’t it? I am not going to lie, I don’t know if I will ever truly be a “zero waste” person. But, I can tell you that there is an amazing amount of stuff we CAN do. As Kathryn from GoingZeroWaste shares with us, “The true goal of zero waste is to rewrite the story of our consumption. It’s to put value back into our belongings and to focus on living instead of collecting junk we don’t need. It’s not about perfection; It’s about making better choices.” (By the way, Kathryn’s website is my favorite Zero Waste website. She has a great story and tons of great information on how to live Zero Waste.)
I think the biggest single piece of advice I can give you is to simply be more thoughtful. Be more thoughtful when it comes to your purchases. Can you buy the item you need used or second-hand? Do you really need whatever it is you are buying? Is it something you will like and/or use years from now? Is it well-made? Will it last? If you truly do not need it, refuse to buy it. Start jotting down the cost of everything you *could have* bought for a month and see how much money you are saving.
Be more thoughtful when you go out places. Are you going grocery shopping? Bring your own bags for produce and to take your purchases home in. Are you going out to eat with friends? Bring your own straw, cloth napkin and reusable containers to take home any left overs. (This is a million times better than bringing home a doggie bag made from styrofoam.)
Be more thoughtful in what you get rid of and how you get rid of it. Cleaning up and cleaning out your home and belongings is a good thing. (Remember my post on Less is More?) Is what you are getting rid of still good and useable? If so, then donate it to Goodwill or another charity, or maybe ask if any of your friends could use it. Can the item be used for something else? For instance, that old t-shirt could be cut up and used to make cleaning rags or maybe you could cut the arms off and sew up the bottom to make a shopping tote.
Be more thoughtful about the trash you do produce. Buy items that come with minimal packaging, or better yet, no packaging at all. Is there any possible way to reuse said trash? If so, please do. Can you compost it? If so, please do. Can you recycle it? If so, please do.
If you become more thoughtful and conscious now, the world will be better for it tomorrow. Again, I know this is hard; every time you change your way of thinking, it is a process. (And, admittedly, sometimes it’s a long and hard process.) However, if you start thinking in terms of what small changes you can make, and start making those changes today, over time your efforts will grow. Take one small step and make one small change this week. Take another step and make another change next week. The third week, you will become preoccupied with something else in your life and you will fall of the wagon. That’s ok! We are only human after all. Just get back on the wagon when you remember.
I will leave you with this great quote from Maya Angelou. I think it fits this topic very well;
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
In my never-ending search to find an answer to my health issues, I learned from a book called Tox-Sick by Suzanne Somers, that toxic chemicals bombard us from every angle and that they can and are making us sick. (And, yes, I am talking about Suzanne Somers from Three’s Company!) So, towards the end of last year, I finally decided to make a real effort in changing what was coming into our home and negatively affecting our bodies.
Basically, any product that consisted of ingredients that I could not pronounce got replaced with natural ones. I do NOT like the harmful chemicals that compose most of what we use to clean our homes and bodies with. I stopped buying household cleaners, laundry detergent, soap, hand sanitizer, fabric softener, toothpaste, body wash, deodorant, and shampoo and started making my own. (Or buying it online from people who make it with only natural ingredients.)
When I started doing online research for natural recipes and products to start using in our home, I came across some other information that was deeply disturbing to me—how much trash we produce and throw away.
Have you ever thought about how much waste you produce in a day? A Columbia University study estimates that Americans throw out 7 pounds of materials per person every day. (This number 7 is NOT one I like.) This amount of waste equals 2,555 pounds of materials per American each year. If your eyes have not been opened to how horrible this is, I hope this blog post is your wake-up call.
We now live in what I call a “throw-away” world. We buy things, use them once, and throw them away. Nothing is built to last or for longevity anymore. If we get a hole in our sock, we toss it and go buy new ones. We spend $900 on a new mobile phone, just to replace it two years later. We buy paper towels and paper plates with the intention of using them once and throwing them away. In essence, we are just throwing money away.
Hey, I get it, throwing things away is convenient and easy. But, in reality, we are running out space and resources for all the trash we make. We need to start doing better. We must start doing better. For our planet, for ourselves. There are some simple changes you can make starting today. And, they are easier than you think.
Thanks to modern conveniences, we don’t have to wash clothing or plates and utensils by hand anymore. (Thank you, Lord!) Eat your meals from the dishes you own, rather than on paper plates. Start using dish rags and towels to clean up messes around your house, and use cloth napkins with your meals. (Instead of using paper towels or paper napkins and tossing them in trash, you can use your dish rags and towels and toss them in the laundry.) Buy some handkerchiefs to blow your nose in and toss those in the laundry too. I mean, you are going to be doing laundry this week anyway, right? I know I am. And, trust me, you won’t even notice those extra rags, towels, napkins, and hankies in your dirty laundry basket.
Converting your kitchen to a more sustainable paperless system with “unpaper towels” is a wonderful way to reduce the paper consumption of your household. They are so much better for the earth than cutting down thousands of trees.
(As a side note, these natural birdseye cotton “unpaper towels” I bought from This Joyful Home on Etsy are fab! I use them for everything from wiping up spills, to using as napkins, to blowing my nose. They increase in softness and absorbency with the first few washes.)
Also, I am willing to bet that you have some tote bags floating around your house. Over the years, I have gathered quite a few. Start taking those on your shopping trips. Better yet, keep 2 or 3 in your car. That way you have them when you need them. Brining your own tote bags is a million times better than using the crappy plastic ones they give you at the store.
Earth Day is Monday, April 22nd this year, but every day should be Earth Day! These are just a few ideas to get you started down a more earth-friendly, sustainable path. It will also save you money. (Who doesn’t want that?) Instead of throwing away that sock with the hole in it, how about darning it? Maybe consider using your mobile phone for more than just two years. Use your every day dinner ware, instead of paper plates. Heck, pull out that fine china you have on display in your china cabinet. Use that stuff! It is beautiful and you only live once. Enjoy it now!
Let’s stop living in a “throw-away” world. Let’s start being more thoughtful with the items we already own and everything that purchase in the future. Buy items with the intent on using them again and again and again. I will be sharing more ideas with you in next week’s post. I hope you keep following along and start thinking of your own ways to reduce trash and be a caretaker of our environment. God will bless you for it!
One of the things I love most about life is nature. I love being outdoors, I love grass and trees and plants and animals of all different shapes and sizes. I love fresh air and sunshine and rain and wind. Getting to see the beauty in every living thing that surrounds us often takes my breath away. I think one of the reasons I love nature so much is because it was created by God, just like we were. Plus, when we look at God’s creation, it reminds us of His incredible and exquisite handiwork.
So, having said this, it should come as no surprise to you that I am extremely concerned about the state of our environment. Everywhere I look nowadays, I see trash. And, every time I see it, I go through a range of emotions; anger to frustration to numbness to sadness. (Is numbness an emotion?)
The good Lord created this beautiful earth and I believe it is our job to take care of her properly. It is up to us to lead the charge and show others how important it is to treat the earth well. We need to be her caretaker. Taking care of the world is not just an environmental issue, but a spiritual and moral issue as well.
There is a great American Indian quote out there that states, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” I love this quote. And, even though I don’t have kids, I do know plenty of people with kids—and they deserve a clean earth to enjoy.
If you read your Bible, you know that God asks us to take care of His creation. It is His, not ours, and as such, we should treat it with respect and obey His wishes. Both Jeremiah and Isaiah prophesy about the dire consequences that occur when we disobey God and fail to take care of the earth. The following six Bible verses all relay to us that we should be good stewards of the environment:
1. Genesis 1:26
"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'"
2. Leviticus 25:23-24
"The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land."
3. Ezekiel 34:2-4
"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally."
4. Isaiah 24:4-6
"The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore, earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left."
5. Jeremiah 2:7
"I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable."
6. Revelation 11:18
"The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the earth."
So, what do you think about all of this? Don’t you think it is our obligation to do whatever we can to take care of this world that we inhabit? I do! And, I hope you will join me in taking steps to honor God in the way we care for our environment. Let’s start with the simple step of putting trash in the trash can. Better yet, see if that trash is actually something that can be recycled and recycle it.
When we all work together, we can make a big difference! In the coming weeks, I will be sharing more ways in which we can re-direct our thinking and start making changes that will help our earth; ways in which we can all be good caretakers of our Mother Earth.
Social media in now a staple in life. I remember a time not too long ago where most people thought it was just a phase, that it wouldn’t last very long. Even with all the problems social media is having, I think it is here to stay. (At least in some form or fashion.)
When you create a Facebook page, it asks your relationship status; single, married or its complicated. (There are probably more options than this, but these are three I remember.) This got me to thinking, as a Christian, what is your relationship status?
First, I must point out to you that being a Christian actually requires some work on your part. I know some so-called “Christians” who attend church on Sundays and think that’s all they need to do. Just going to church does not a Christian make. (I can make myself a sandwich in our kitchen every Saturday, but that doesn’t make me a chef.)
In my last post, I talked about having a come to Jesus meeting. Well, that is part one of becoming a Christian. The second part is having an actual relationship with Father God. He is not just some entity in the sky, He is alive and He is right here with us. And, He wants nothing more than to have a real, honest-to-goodness relationship with you.
Think about your current situation here on earth. Are you married? Are you currently seeing someone? Is there someone special in your life? Whether you are in a relationship or not, I am assuming you are old enough to know that being in a relationship, any real relationship, requires work. And, it is hard work. But, anything good worth having is worth working for. This is true for a good relationship with your significant other and it is most certainly true in your relationship with the Lord.
Being a true Christian means having an authentic relationship with God. This means spending beneficial, quality time with God each and every day, not just an hour or so on Sundays. I mean, think about it, if you only spent an hour or so with your spouse one day a week, what kind of relationship would you expect to have? Be honest now. It wouldn’t be very good, would it? How could it be? The point of being in a relationship is spending time together. The same is true of being a Christian.
When we spend time with God by reading our Bibles and in prayer, and/or by going to church, we learn more about Him. This gives us the opportunity to grow spiritually. And, I don’t know about you, but speaking for myself, the more time I spend with God and learn about Him, the more time I want to spend with Him and the more I want to grow to be like Him, be a reflection of Him.
As we grow in our Christian faith and our relationship with God, we start to change on the inside and outside. Our minds are being renewed. God uses our circumstances to develop His mind and heart in us. The more time you spend with God, the more you will start to think and act like He does. The Holy Spirit will guide you more and more. His still small voice will grow louder in your head. These are all wonderful things!
Think about your life now. Don’t you pick up little traits of the people you spend the most time with? Do you catch yourself saying things that someone else always says? I do. I am sure you do too. Therefore, spending proper time with God and having a right relationship with Him is vital in our spiritual growth.
So, after reading this, I ask you again--as a Christian, what is your relationship status? Are you realizing that you need to tweak it a bit? Maybe you need a complete overhaul. I am not here to judge. It took me years to understand this and get to this point. I do hope that after reading this post that your perspective has changed, at least a little bit, on what it means to have a right relationship with the Lord. I hope you grasp how crucial it is for your own overall well-being and spiritual growth.
Growing up, I would sometimes hear the phrase, “have a come to Jesus meeting”. I never really thought that much about it. I was one of those goody-goody two-shoes little girls. I didn’t get in trouble much. But, I did know enough about that phrase to know it was not a good thing. I never wanted to hear my parents say those words to me.
As an adult, I still don’t want to hear those words. They are words that people dread to hear, especially in the workplace. (This is something you definitely do not want to hear from your boss.) What is funny to me though, is that this phrase started out with a literal meaning and it has now turned into a figurative one.
A “come to Jesus meeting” was originally an American term describing a Christian religious service where it was hoped that many people would dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ. Back in the 1800s and 1900s, preachers would travel around the country holding tent revivals. They wanted to share the good news of Jesus Christ, the gospel, and save as many people as they could. They wanted people to come to Jesus.
Today, the “come to Jesus meeting” has taken on a figurative meaning and is often used in politics, parenting, and business. This type of meeting is had when you need to point out to someone that they have taken a wrong path. It is not a fun meeting, and quite often it is a last-ditch effort made to straighten out someone before more serious actions are taken. Many times, people use this expression when they are dealing with someone who has a drug or alcohol problem.
I think it is high time that we bring the literal meaning back into fashion. Don’t you?
I want everyone I know, and everyone I don’t know, to have a "come to Jesus meeting"--a real, honest-to-goodness, come to Jesus meeting.
You don’t have to go to a tent revival to meet Jesus. You can meet Him at anytime, anywhere, anyplace. That is the beauty of Jesus--He is everywhere!
When you meet Jesus, your life will change forever and for the better.
If you have NOT had a "come to Jesus meeting" yet, I would be honored to help you with it, and introduce you to Him.
The first step in wanting to meet Jesus. You understand that you are a sinner and you need some help with things in your life. We are all sinners and need Jesus! You were never meant to live this life alone, you were meant to live it with Jesus.
Second, you need to be saved. Salvation is simply a process of confessing and believing. You must confess that Jesus is Lord, and truly believe that with all your heart. You must believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and that Jesus now lives today. You must believe in the triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Romans 10:9-11 tells us, “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”
Acts 2:38 tells us, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
That is all there is to it. It is both simple and complex at the same time. But, your decision to have a “come to Jesus meeting” it is the most important decision you will ever make.
Do you have a hard time believing that God is real? It is nothing to be ashamed of. I grew up in the church and I believe in God. But thinking of God as real, well, that feels like something completely different, doesn’t it? (It isn’t just me, is it? I hope not!)
As humans, we have this tendency to think that “seeing is believing”. I’ve heard this phrase a lot in my life. I am sure you have too. It is an idiom that dates back to 1639 and it means “only physical or concrete evidence is convincing”. For many things in life, I can understand this way of thinking. There is certainly a case to be made for it. And, no doubt, I am sure there are multiple areas in life where this way of thinking makes sense. But what about when it comes to God?
I don’t know about you, but when I think of God, I think of Him in an abstract fashion. Initially, what comes into my mind is a great, big, all-knowing, all-seeing entity. And, I do think God is that, but I believe Him to be triune. That means, I believe that He is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus was the human form that Father God sent to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus was the human form. But, I wasn’t around to see Jesus in the flesh. Maybe if I was, it would be easier to believe in God. Then again, maybe not. What do you think?
I mean, can we really trust what we see? If you lived in Jesus’ time and saw Him and talked to Him and watched Him perform miracles, would you believe in Him then? It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? Stop and really think about it. If you saw Jesus give sight to a blind man, would you believe your eyes? Would you think that Jesus performed a miracle? Or, was He just fooling you, putting on a show, pulling your leg? No one can make a blind man see. Surely, what you witnessed was not real! Or, was it?
Can we really trust our eyes? Honestly, no, no we can’t. (But we can trust Jesus!)
Psychology experts tell us that our senses can be tricked. Our eyes can be unreliable. Police tend to discount eyewitness testimony because they know that it is the weakest link between a crime and the criminal. Laboratory test results are much more precise. The witness of a crime could tell you that they saw a white male commit the crime. But, DNA evidence left at the scene of the crime tells us very specifically who that person was.
So, back to God. Is God real? You can’t specifically see Him. Even if you could see Him, can you trust your own eyes?
I know and believe God is real. But, how do I know? I have felt His presence, I have heard His voice, literally heard His voice, and I have observed His miracles. And, while I have never actually seen Him in the flesh per say, I have seen others who radiate His love and do His work here on earth. I see Christ through others. I also see His existence in everything around me, each and every day. I see God in sunrises and sunsets, oceans, prairies, and flowers. I see His fingerprint on all of creation.
It’s funny, as I type this out two TobyMac songs pop into my head, Feel It and Everything. Some of the lyrics to Feel It go like this, “Oh, I feel it in my heart, I feel it in my soul, That’s how I know.” Some of the lyrics to Everything tell us, “I see You in everything, all day, And every beat of my heart keeps reminding me.” (If you haven’t listened to TobyMac yet, please do yourself a favor and stop and listen to some of his songs. He is one of my favorite artists. But, I digress…)
Now, I know that just because I say and truly believe God is real doesn’t mean that you do. But, I want you to know God and to believe in God and one day say that you know He is real too. That is a huge reason as to why I write this blog. So, I must tell you another reason I know God is real and why I believe in Him; I have faith.
Faith can be confusing, but it is a basic tenet of Christianity. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews says, “Not-seeing is believing.” In other words, we do not believe what we see; rather, we believe what we do not see. And, that is what faith is all about! Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Jesus told doubting Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
In the Bible, Peter also writes about faith. 1 Peter 1:7-9 says, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So, when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”
Faith is choosing to believe, it is a choice. And, I choose to believe.
If you are just coming across my blog for the first time, I encourage you to go back and read some of my older posts. Maybe you will find some that resonate with you. To get you started, here are some of my favorites: How Do You Get to Heaven?, He Is Risen!, Are You A Fighter?, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Grow Up, Masticate on This!, and Fear God?
God is most definitely real. And, I hope that you find Him soon for yourself. It will be the best thing you could ever do!
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.