Truths that carried us through 2020

2020, a year marked by quarantines, changes, masks and unrest. Yes, my life has looked a lot different this year than I could have ever anticipated, but this one truth in particular has kept coming back to me; the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything. This truth has flooded my soul with peace and brought my heart to worship over and over. With so much fear and talk of death this year, I can’t help but be reminded that we live in a fallen world. Covid-19 is just one by-product from the curse of sin. And yet, Jesus Christ came to conquer sin and death! He willingly died on the cross and rose again so that I could experience life, both now and forever.

As a follower of Jesus I do not need to fear death like I once did because “He is the way, the truth and the life” and for the believer who has trusted in Him, “to die is gain.” The Bible tells us that one day God will make all the crooked paths straight, wipe every tear away and that “in His presence” we will find “fulness of joy.” After a year filled with many sorrows, this truth is comforting to me. However, the true life He offers isn’t reserved only for eternity. As a follower of Jesus I also get to experience life from Him, every single day. Jesus Christ has given me access to the Father through His own death and resurrection so that when I am afraid, when my soul feels empty, when my heart finds it hard to love, I am able to go to my God and He calms, fills and energizes like no other.

Over the past 9 months I have listened to the following song many times and it has been just one of many reminders to not forget what Christ’s work has accomplished for me. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow and all of eternity without fear. 

Chrystal


When I think of 2020, I think of COVID: the two are pretty much synonymous. So when I think about what was one truth that carried me through 2020, I cannot help but tie that to the one truth that carried me, and continues to carry me, through COVID. 

When COVID first hit the headlines and our country went into lockdown back in March, it struck fear to the very core of my being. There were so many uncertainties and unknowns about it (and do I need to add that there still are many unknowns?) that my mind was racing with all the potential outcomes of how it could affect my family. Add into the equation that I was expecting our second child, and the question marks about bringing a new life into this world in the middle of a pandemic loomed at the forefront of my mind. 

But God in His mercy, chose to use those days to remind me of His tender care towards His children. Through trivial events like a broken-down vehicle, browned hamburger that spilled all over the floor, and an IGTV devotional clip that I happened to watch, God reminded my anxious heart that He cares about these things that weigh on our hearts because He cares about us, His children. Matthew 6:25-34 points out the futile nature of worrying. Why is worry and fear so futile? Because “if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” 

Will he not much more

God cares for the most everyday and mundane things in the world–the birds and the grass–but we so quickly forget that it is us, humans, who are made in His image. We are His prize creation, not the birds and the grass. 

We are the ones for whom He sent His Son to die for on the cross, not the birds and the grass. 

We are the ones who will one day live in eternity in His presence, not the birds and the grass.

Why then, are we so foolish to think that God would care for the birds and the grass, but not us?  

Will he not much more?

God is our Father and He promises to care for us.  When we are tempted to doubt His compassion and care for us, James 1:17 reminds us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” In 1 Peter 5:7 then, we find instruction on what to do when our hearts are troubled and anxious: we are told to cast “all [our] anxieties on him, because he cares for [us].” [emphasis added]

Is there any doubt that God will always take care of us? 

Grabbing hold of these truths of God’s sure and steadfast care for me, His child, during those beginning weeks of COVID was such a balm to my anxious heart. Yes, there might be still be great pain and sorrow in store for me and my family. Yes, life might become less comfortable than what I’m used to it being. But I can still rest in the truth that God is my Father and He will care for me. 

Angie


God’s got this.

I’ve said these words many times over the past year. I say it as much to myself as to my listeners. 

My heart has needed the truth of God’s sovereign control more than ever during 2020. 

I love planning, making lists and crossing things off my calendar as complete. 

It has been so good for me to take an eraser to my plans and say “if the Lord wills, I will do this or that”. 

This past year has exposed my heart’s desire to be in control. In the midst of our world feeling strange and swirling with unknowns, it has shown me that I never was in control in the first place. Rather, it was a feeling of control. Yes, 2020 has been hard but it has been good for my heart to recognize that no matter my feelings, no matter the circumstances God is, has been, and always will be in total control. His plans will always be fulfilled. God’s sovereignty is a truth I have always known but 2020 has made this truth come alive; a truth which I cling to and find rest for my soul in.

Rachel

Why I Write

Why do I write?

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’m about to enter a season of transition as we
welcome baby #4 to our family and have been wondering if I truly have time for writing.


In short, the answer is yes.


Why? Because writing is a tool God is using to help shape and fashion me into His likeness.

  1. Writing helps me to process swirling thoughts. Thoughts that I often don’t take time to
    sort out otherwise. Sometimes, God has been nudging me in multiple different ways with
    one truth that I need to take the time to process and until I actually write it down, it’s just
    up in my thoughts where I’m saying “Yeah, yeah. That’s a good truth. I’ll get around to
    addressing that at some point in my life.”
  2. Writing stretches me. Sometimes when I think about writing a post on a certain topic it’s
    an area I’m really struggling in. I think of how unqualified I am to write about that topic
    when I’ve been failing to apply the truths I am also presenting. However, oftentimes God
    has reminded me that He doesn’t need me to be perfect in order to use me and that the
    very act of writing out truth can be a tool He uses to refresh and cement my own straying
    heart.
  3. Writing is a hobby for me. I find it relaxing and inspiring to gather words into sentences
    and paragraphs in order to express thoughts or passions.
  4. Writing can encourage others. In small ways and big ways, the writing of others has
    helped to shape and fashion who I am today. Whether it’s a deep, theological book or a
    quick blog post on a day when I need some encouragement, both can have a profound
    impact on the next choice(s) I make. And while most people will never know the impact
    their writing has had on me, it’s reach is often further than they realize.

So, while it may be foggy, imperfect and sparser than I’d like in the days ahead, I plan to keep on writing. And I hope God continues to shape both me and others through the gift of words.

“Don’t heat up the house” meal ideas

It’s summer and it’s hot outside. Heating up your kitchen sounds like a terrible idea, but you still have to feed your family. What should you make? Today, we’re sharing some of our favorite supper ideas that won’t require you to turn your oven on. Salads, sandwiches and quick stove-tops will help to keep your house cool, while still providing ample sustenance for your family. (And if you’re running out of time, don’t forget that sometimes it’s ok to just make a run for takeout pizza too!)

Salads:

Beef Taco salad

Chicken Taco Salad (with black bean salsa)

Cobb Salad

Southwestern Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad

Sandwiches:

BLT’S

Chicken Salad

Ham Salad

Egg Salad

Tuna Salad

Monte Cristo’s 

Cuban Sandwiches

Tomato and Basil Grilled Cheese

Pork BBQ

Turkey/Apple/Brie 

Tomato/Cucumber/Mint

Breakfast for supper:

Overnight oats

Crepes

Waffles/Pancakes

French Toast

Smoothies

Scrambled Eggs and Toast

Breakfast Burritos

Parfaits

Grill- 

Ham and Pineapple Kabobs

Pizza

BBQ Chicken

Other:

Tuna Patties & Microwave Baked Potatoes

Sushi 

Cooked Chicken from the instant pot/pressure cooker 

Quesadillas 

Wraps

Charcuterie Board

Loaded Potatoes 

Layered Taco Dip and Corn Chips

Fried Rice (you can make the rice and saute the veggies during the cool of the day and just heat it up before dinner)


Life on a Loop

Do you ever just feel like your life is on a continual loop? Like you are just stuck in the same pattern day after day? It is often hard to avoid that as we muddle through our adult life with routines of work, school, parenting, and so much more. Whether we like it or not, we as humans tend to establish patterns in our lives. I have found that some people thrive on patterns while others grow weary of them. I am of the nature to implement routines and patterns wherever I can. It gives me a sense of stability and sense of control. But for those like my husband, it can become laborious and downright exhausting. 

These outward patterns can be more easily identified, but recently I have been giving a lot of thought to the inward patterns of the mind. Sometimes I see these inward patterns displaying themselves as I go about my outward daily routines. When I pick up the same toys off the living room floor for the 8th time in one day, it is easy to become discouraged and frustrated. when I am putting the 3rd load of laundry into the washer, I begin to feel like no one notices all the work I do around here. When I wash yet another sink full of the never-ending pile of dishes, I begin to feel the weight of all the things I need yet to accomplish while knowing the kids tugging at my leg will never allow me to get it all done.  As I allow these routines and thoughts to weigh me down, I am setting my pattern of thinking for the day. I am becoming the “Negative Nelly” that I rather emphatically deny to my husband that I am. 

Have you ever argued with a 3-year-old? It’s a daily occurrence in our home right now. These tiny humans are the worst to argue with because they have little to no logic. It takes all the brain power you can muster to answer their question, “why can’t I have fruit snacks for breakfast?” for the biiiilllllionth time. You know they already know the answer but it is useless, and exhausting, and you just cannot understand why they keep asking… honestly! But imagine that same 3-year-old representing our negative thinking, the thoughts we have running through our minds at lightning speed with no finish line in sight. We logically know that we cannot expect our house to be immaculately clean all the time, or our children to never pick fights. Yet somehow, we cannot resist the urge to groan every time we see the toys all over the living floor, we cannot help but roll our eyes and yell “knock it off!” every time we hear the kids fighting in the other room. It becomes instinctual to react a certain way without even really knowing what we are doing. Just as our toddler is not taking the time to process the answer you give over and over, we are not taking the time to process what a messy house really means, or why our kids are frustrated. We habitually default to the same thoughts over and over because we have trained our minds to do so. 

I am certainly no expert on the brain nor its patterns, but it is becoming painfully obvious to me that this cognitive loop of negative thinking has directly impacted my daily routines and has taken over my attitudes. I was reading through an interesting book on this topic called “Switch on your Brain” by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Cognitive Neuroscientist. She says “As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain. As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.” She also says, “When you think, you build thoughts, and these become physical substances in your brain.” So this is what a leading cognitive neuroscientist has to say about the patterns of our thinking, but what does the Bible have to say, and does it fit with the science?

Here are some verses that relate to our mind:

 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he -Proverbs 23:7  So science is proving what Scripture already says.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” -Romans 12:2   God changes the way we think, and it is good and pleasing and perfect! Perspective!

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:5 Take every thought captive… is it even possible? God’s Word says it is. But how?

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”. -Philippians 4:8 Replace! Replace! Replace!

These verses are great to keep at the forefront of our minds when trying to combat our negativity. However, even with Scriptures like these in our minds, it can be a struggle to actually carry out the “replace method.” One very important key, I believe, is found in implementing Psalms 46:10  “Be still and know that I am God.”  There is great power found in stillness, something most Americans, and many Christians, and especially moms, have no time for. When we have no time for prayer and meditation, our feelings, emotions, and thoughts will continue to call the shots. Take time to slow down, to be still before God, asking Him for His power to course through your mind as HE transforms your thoughts. This may not be an hour or two every morning. It could just be slowing down when we feel the negativity rising, and breathing a “Thank you God” in sincerity, knowing that God will continue to transform us from the inside out. 

There are other Scriptures that highlight the power of our thoughts, but I hope you see the truth behind God’s timeless words. What you allow into your mind often decides your reality and ultimately your legacy. I am reminded of this verse in Exodus 34:7 which says “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” Sobering when we remember that not only do your thoughts shape your life but that they could also influence the lives of your children, their children, and generations after that. This is a heavy thing to consider, but isn’t it true that we often take on the energy of the other people in the room? If our children are hearing all our negative thoughts out loud, it is likely they will take on our negative attitude. I think it is safe to say we had better start working on our patterns of thinking! Our thoughts can determine our reality. So, as we continue to vacuum, dust, fold laundry, and do all those other mundane tasks, what do you choose as your reality? Are you going to let the frustrations of your day take over your thoughts and life? Or are you going to heed God’s Word and allow Him to transform your inward patterns of thinking as you take on the never-ending loop that is life.

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This post was written by Rachel Poborsky. She is the sister of Chrystal Stauffer and the author of “RaisingPobos.” You can find her over on Instagram or Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/raisingpobos/

3 Things I Use to Keep My Home Running Smoothly

Keeping a home clean, food on the table, activities coordinated and life somewhat structured is a bigger task than first meets the eye!

Today I want to talk through a few things I do to keep our home running (somewhat) smoothly!

Every day I use these three things:

1. Calendar planner

2. Simple lined notebook

3. 3-ring binder

How I use my planner

I highly recommend the planners that Hobby Lobby sells. They have the month-at-a-glance as well as each week laid out in a much bigger space for organizing all the nitty-gritty of your day.

The monthly page I use for keeping track of bigger events; church activities, company coming, meeting, etc. So when we need to schedule one of those kind of events I can glance at that page and know what days are already booked.

The weekly page I use to help me know where I am going each day and how to get there. 

I write everything on these pages–from my husband’s meetings to when I need to take meat out of the freezer.

 How I use my notebook

A huge part of keeping a home revolves around food. We need to eat 3 times a day, at least, and with kids that means several snacks thrown in there too.

Just a cheap lined notebook helps keep all things food planned and organized.  On one page is our weekly menu. I always know that I have enough food and what meal it is going towards for a whole week. 

On the other page is a constant, on-going shopping list. Whenever I see something almost gone I jot it down on the list. This eliminates so many “opps I forgot” trips to the store and ultimately saves money. 

How I use my binder

The third thing I use is a 3-ring binder. Here I keep recipes and also a master list of meals our family enjoys. This list is all divided out by meat types and what cookbook it is found in. This system makes meal planning and grocery list writing so much easier! 

These three books work hand in hand to help me stay organized and our home running sufficiently. Meals our family likes are organized in the 3-ring binder which I refer to as I make our weekly menu and shopping list in my lined notebook. I then make notes into my daily planner: what day I will make that shopping trip, when I need to start prep for certain meals, events and details of our week. 

I hope these ideas will help you as you seek to serve your family well! Caring for our families is a gift!