A major life change is currently taking place in my family. We are preparing to move into our new home! It is an exciting, albeit, hectic and stressful time. Packing up all our belongings is one of those chores that demands physical strength and endurance. And, unfortunately for me, I don’t really have either one of those anymore. (Shout-out to my mystery illness!)
My husband and I have been anxiously awaiting this move for almost a year now. On the plus side, this time has granted me the freedom to clean up, clean out, purge, and pack things a little bit at the time. There is no way I would be able to handle doing all this the week before we move. (Talk about corporal punishment! I get exhausted just thinking about it.)
On another note, while waiting on our home to be built, I came across an idea that I thought was wonderful—and I want to share it will you. As I am sure you have already surmised, I love God. And, I want to grow in Him and share His love and light every day. With this endeavor, I am a work in progress!
I also want to fill my life with as much goodness as I can. This is especially true for our home. I mean home should be our sanctuary, right? It should be the place we long to be and feel most comfortable in. And, while I know that heaven is my true home, I want to make our earthly home as Godly and humble and inviting as I possibly can.
With that thinking in mind, it occurred to me that it would be lovely to find a blessing/prayer to christen our new home with. As I scouted around online, I stumbled upon an even better idea—write Bible verses in each room of your home. I must thank Laura Tucker for this fabulous idea. I encourage you to read her article A Strong Foundation: Bible Verses For Building A Home.
So, after deciding which Bible verses I wanted to use, I got my trusty Sharpie and went to work. Below are some pictures of the results. All of these are now covered in drywall and paint, but we know that they are there. And, more importantly, God knows they are there. I also wrote out this new home blessing in the middle of our living room floor:
May peace so fill this space
that strife will find no place.
May love so lift each heart
that pain will have no start.
May joy be in such supply
that sorrow’s tears will quickly dry.
And may each room be
filled with laughter, joy,
and song all the day long.
Building our new home on the firm foundation of God is the best investment we can ever make. It will pay dividends in every area of our lives. The same is true for you. It is true for all of us. When we put God first, everything else will fall into place.
Do you know that God loves you just as you are?
Just. As. You. Are.
He does NOT care what color your skin is.
He does NOT care how much money you have or don’t have.
He does NOT care if you are tall or short.
He does NOT care if you are a male or female.
He does NOT care if you are gay or straight or other.
He does NOT care about your sex, race, origin, or job.
He does NOT care how many “bad” things you have done in your life.
Look, we are all different and we all sin.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
God loves you.
Just the way you are.
He loves you just as you are, because you are His child.
He made you and He loves you.
Even with all your dirt, bruises, and scars.
He loves you.
Don’t let anyone tell you any differently.
You need God in your life.
I need God in my life.
We all need God in our lives.
Let God in, won’t you?
Don’t think that you can only become a child of God if you fit some mold.
Don’t think that you can only become a child of God if you are “good”.
Don’t think that you can only become a child of God if you are “perfect”.
There is no mold.
God made each of us special and unique.
And the only thing that is perfect in this world is God’s love for us.
There is only one thing you need to do to have God in your life—invite Him in.
Invite God into your life.
Believe in God.
Trust in God.
He is all you need.
The only sin you can commit that God will NOT forgive you for, is the sin of not inviting Him into your life.
So, what are you waiting for?
Invite God in!
I am at a place in my life where one of the things I long for most is peace. I have always disliked drama and politics. I have never understood why people can’t just get along. In my mind, it is simple—treat others the way you want to be treated. Or, at the very least live and let live, as the old saying goes. (And, yes, I do get the irony that I am a theatre nerd, was president of drama club in high school, and have two degrees in theatre—or drama as it is sometimes called.)
At 43, I am officially middle-aged. I hate typing that. In my brain, I feel more like 28. But sadly, my body often reminds me that I am far from 28. Anyway, I have been thinking a lot lately about “the peace of God which transcends all understanding.” This is from Philippians 4:7. And, this is what I want in my life.
So, how do we experience this peace? Where can we find it? How do we get it?
If you read your Bible, you will find the answer. John 14:27 tells us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Jesus left us His peace. It is one of His many gifts to us. We don’t need to ask for it. He has already given it to us. He left it for us a long time ago. Peace I leave with you. We just need to take it. Grab it. Step into it. Breathe it in. Soak in it. Heck, marinate in it!
God is peace. He is even referred to as the Prince of Peace. (See Isaiah 9:6) Once we know God, we can know peace. The more time we spend with Him, the closer we draw to Him, the more of His peace we can experience and benefit from!
Have you ever heard the saying that goes something like, “Who you spend the most time with is who you become”? I have heard it quite often. But, honestly, I am not sure if it is true or not. However, I hope and pray that I become more like God every day. It only makes sense to me that the best way to become more like Him is to spend time with Him.
When we remember to seek God in all things, He becomes our refuge, our sanctuary. God tells us that we can cast our cares, our worries, our problems, our sorrows, and our fears on Him. Then, we can let them go. (See 1 Peter 5:7) Being able to do this gives us peace. Once we learn how to do this, we start to grasp that, His peace really does pass all human understanding.
Now, this can and does take some time. It is not something that magically happens overnight. (At least, that wasn’t the case for me.) It was something that I had to work for. It is something that I still work for. I often have to remind myself that Jesus left me His peace. I just need to reach out and grab it!
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.
Do you know someone who claims to be a Christian, yet acts anything but? They say they believe in God and go to church each Sunday. But, their words and actions tell a completely different story. You witness things they say and do on a weekly basis and wonder if they even know what the word “Christian” means.
Well, I am currently in that situation. (I have been for a while.) And, I have a feeling many of you have been in the same spot. You know that old saying, “Perception is reality.”? Well, it’s an old saying for a reason; because it’s true. It also makes me think of, “Walk the walk and talk the talk.” If you are a Christian, you should not have to tell me that, I should just be able to figure that out by your words and actions. (At least, in an ideal world, I would. Especially if I spend any significant amount of time around you.)
Part of me becomes dubious about anyone who must proclaim things about themselves. If they say something like, “I am a great person. I donate lots of money to deserving nonprofits.” I often wonder where their intentions lie. Are they telling me this to impress me? Do they think it makes them look good? Why would they ever say that out loud? Are they trying to convince themselves that they are a good person? Are they that insecure? I honestly do not get it.
At any rate, I am sharing all of this because it got me to thinking; I am learning a lot about how I want to live my life. Or, in this case, how I do NOT want to live it. The person I have been referring to above has been teaching me that I want to be sincere Christian. I want my words and actions to be clear. I want them to match up and not allow anyone to question or doubt who I am. I want to be kindness and love personified. I want to be a true reflection of Christ. This is called sanctification.
It is all a process in sanctification. I am becoming sanctified. Day by day. I am allowing the Holy Spirit to tear down the old me and renew my mind day by day. This process will continue until the day I die. But, man, am I ever grateful for it.
I am trying to take the lemons in my life and make lemonade out of them. It is my goal to use every possible opportunity I can to learn and grow in my spiritual life, and this is no exception. It is a good reminder to be able to look around at my environment and find places that I can work on. And, this is a huge opportunity for growth. Actually, this particular issue allows for growth on many levels.
What about you? Do you have any “lemon” areas in your life that you can make some lemonade out of? There can be opportunities that are glaringly obvious, and other tiny ones you have to dig for. Either way, it will do us all a world of good if we start to look at these irritants as opportunities for growth. When we start to make positive things happen from seemingly negative situations, that is where our power lies. That is where true growth happens. And, the lemonade you make from these situations will taste so, so good and satisfying.
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.