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That pile of laundry. That sink full of dishes. Footprints all over the floor I just mopped. And didn’t I just organize that bookshelf and clean that mirror? You couldn’t tell by looking at them.

It’s a typical feeling. A feeling I assume any stay-at-home-daughter, wife, or mother gets frequently. That feeling of not being able to keep up, of repeating the same cleaning and cooking processes over and over and over – without ever seeming to get ahead.

 It can be a stressful emotion. We want that clean, organized, and well-decorated house. You know, the ones Pinterest cheerfully flaunts every time we sit down for a brief scroll-through? We want the crusty loaves of whole wheat bread and fresh apple pies cooling on our counter tops. We want the blooming rose bushes of Better Homes and Gardens. Even those adorable little snowflake marshmallows you see around Christmas are just so enthralling.

I have to admit right here and now that Emilie Barnes is my hero. Pinterest is like a best friend. I have a passion for organization, creating lovely atmospheres, and all things pertaining to candles, Pine Sol, and the perfect piecrust.

But that is not always real life.

Real life tends to be a clutter of dirty little boots, piled-high laundry (no matter how hard it is labored at), and even the occasional burned dinner. Sometimes the bread doesn’t rise. Sometimes the bed doesn’t even get made, let alone the sheets changed. And – horror of horrors – sometimes we serve boxed macaroni and cheese for supper.

And none of it is worth stressing about. None of it is worth hurting the people around us because of our tunnel vision on things. Because, when we focus on inanimate objects like that dirty floor, the wrinkled coverlets, or soiled tablecloths, we tend to forget what is truly important. We tend to miss the hearts of people around us.

I am very adamant about good housekeeping. But I’ve had to take a step back over the years as the Lord started working on showing me what is truly important.

In the end, what will our best memories be? Or our worst regrets? Will we look back on life and be sorry that we scrubbed the bathroom shower on that day when a hurting friend needed someone to call her instead? Will our children remember us for being angry at the water they dripped all over the floors after playing in the rain? We could have spent all afternoon cooking a gourmet meal, but if we are snappish and too tired to give our husband the attention he really wants after dinner, was it worth it? We might have gotten a dozen business-related emails done, but have entirely forgotten to send that text message to the boyfriend who really needed a word of encouragement.

Life is fleeting. Work will always be there. People won’t be. Babies grow up, grandparents pass away, and treasured friends get diagnosed with an incurable disease. In a single moment, the people we take for granted or are so busy “serving” that we forget to enjoy can be taken away from us.

So cherish the moment. Let’s strive together in not allowing busyness to make us forget what is really important. Martha Stewart, Good Housekeeping, and Better Homes and Gardens all have their proper place and are wonderful tools. But the hearts of people and treasuring relationships come first.

 Cherish the moment.

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About the Author :

Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog or Facebook to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing.

This week during bible study, a minister at my church spoke about how God allows certain things to happen that temper us, not torment us. Immediately I thought about the process of tempering chocolate. I am not sure that everyone knows what I am talking about but it is a process of heating and cooling chocolate to form stable crystals. These crystals then assure that the chocolate will be firm at room temperature. Supposedly tempering chocolate can take about thirty minutes but it is a very detailed process that involves a person’s undivided attention.
This journey first begins with selecting your chocolate. There should not be any other solids in the chocolate, meaning something like fruits or nuts, and the chocolate should be of good quality; it should not have any white or grey streaks. I thought this was such a powerful correlation to the life of a believer because God chooses us and we do not have to fix ourselves up or add anything; He wants us as we are, in our purist form. It does not matter if it is dark, white, or milk chocolate, it just needs to the right kind of chocolate in order to be tempered. This reminds me that God is no respecter of persons, He just wants someone with the right kind of heart; a person who fears Him and does what is acceptable in His sight.
So Peter opened his mouth and said: 'Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him,'” (Acts 10:34-35, English Standard Version). What has taken place thus far has only been the selection process. The chocolate, just like us, needs to be refined; it has to be chopped in three quarters, melted, and brought to a particular temperature. After this takes place, more chocolate has to be added, cooled, stirred until it reaches the right temperature and then it has to be tested. When the testing is over, any chunks of chocolate that remain within the melted chocolate must be removed so that it does not disturb the cooling process. This sounds all too familiar, if you really think about it, this has everything to do with our walk with Christ. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” (James 1:2-4, English Standard Version). This is something that happens continuously throughout this journey and sometimes it can honestly be frustrating. We are often ready to give up right when we are near the end of our tests and trials. This week has been very difficult for me and it has shown me where my trust in God truly lies. Our faith can waiver when we do not get immediate results from people and this also applies to our relationship with God. In the past, when I did not get what I wanted immediately, I would think that the Lord or a person sees I have a need and not meet it, I would automatically think that I must take care of it on my own. When I try to do things based off of my own efforts, without Christ, I fail. I end up being exposed, vulnerable, and hurt with no covering. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust,” (Psalm 91: 1-2, English Standard Version). God is our refuge, and He is the one who tempers and prepares us for what is to come. He sees what we cannot. Though we can get ourselves ready by being in a relationship with God, reading His word, praying, and serving Him, we only know so much. If we are under the shadow of the Almighty, then He will get us ready for the battles that are to come. An Elder at my church once said, “If you want certain things in your life, to take a knee and bow down to Christ, then you must bow before Him first.” We have to let God temper us so He can add and remove the things that will bring us closer to Him. We can give all of our broken pieces to God and He can temper them so that we come out smooth, shiny, and ready to serve.

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About the Author :

Francine E. Ott is truly thankful to have a relationship with God and is seeking Him daily for guidance and any opportunities to walk closer with Him in truth and love. Francine is a choreographer/dancer, teacher, and soon to be counselor who has a heart to see God's transforming power, renew, restore, and heal the minds, souls, and bodies of people's lives.

I never learned how to sew, and while I have a pretty extensive shoe collection, a pair of Chacos are not part of it.  My first experience with Tolkien was joining some college friends for the midnight showing of the first installment of The Lord of the Rings series, and my idea of “dressing up” for the movie was wearing a cardigan and pearls. (Although, those elf gowns were pretty chic.)  Whats more, I will never forget the reaction an acquaintance had when I asked, “Who is Beth Moore?” Had I committed some sort of blasphemy?  Clearly, if there was a code for doing “Christian single female” well, I had not cracked it.   

That is not to say that I did not try.  It’s just I could never quite reconcile the obvious fashion friction between my Jack Rogers sandals and a Patagonia jacket clearly meant for protection from more inclement weather than the wind blowing in the upper deck of my college football stadium.  Thankfully, I didn’t put up that fight long, and embraced the truth that my Nalgene bottle would more likely be filled with Diet Coke rather than electrolyte enhanced water.  

While I had come to terms with the fact that I may not have a future in camp counseling and repelling off rocks, I still was striving for something.  Striving for the approval of others: friends, parents, boys, and pastors.  Even more deeply, I was striving for the approval of God. I believed if I could mold myself into what I thought it looked like to be a “good” follower of Christ, He would accept me more.  Yes, He saved me and I believed He loved me, but I definitely had fallen into the trap of believing God did not particularly like me.  I thought, God must think I am a silly girl.  I am equally stimulated in theological discussions as I am E!’s Live Coverage of the Red Carpet. I absolutely LOVE good conversation and good coffee, but I am perfectly content to do that downtown….on a patio…in the city. I also believed God must have been real annoyed with me because I continued “messing up.”  Like He must be thinking, “Seriously, Dorothy, here we are again?!” I kept trying to carry the shame of my sin He took from me on the cross.  For sometime, I believed the lies that I had to “work my way up” to God liking me. And I believed working my way up to this approval required meeting some criteria of a checklist I had created in my mind.  What I learned though, is that this confusion and insecurity was not at all from God.  When I began to let go of striving to be something other than the daughter He created, I was able to begin abiding in His love.    

God is just as interested in me, the girl who loves to paint her nails hot pink and flip through as fashion magazine as he my dear sister in Christ who makes her own laundry detergent. 

What God is getting at is my heart.  He created me, He created you, dear friends, in His image.  There is a freedom in that!  Gosh, He MUST like us.  Knowing and believing how much I am truly loved in turn creates a deeper desire to obey Him and seek Him in my life. Security in Him is the best confidence booster, ladies.  I am still learning to let Him mold me, even though I still often want to take on the potter role myself.  I find, though, when I let Him take control of reshaping me, I am left feeling much more whole and accepted than I could ever achieve on my own.  

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About the Author :

Dorothy is a 30 year old writer residing in Greenville, South Carolina. She has a Bachelors of Arts in Theatre from Clemson University. In her free time, she likes to soak in all the fun her city has to offer and hashtagging her goings on with #thisis30.

Some of you may know that this week was the MTV VMA Awards.  This event honors the year’s best music videos and is always known for its provocative and controversial performances.

This year, Beyonce was the final act of the night, performing for 17 minutes a medley of her songs, ending with her winning a prestigious award.  At one point in the performance, Beyonce was highlighted by a huge screen behind her, with the word “feminist” in big, bold letters.  Her anthem to womanhood is that sexuality is power.

And the internet blew up in approval.  Scores of people on Twitter were praising Beyonce and her definition of feminism.  She is who they want to emulate.  She is who they admire and look up to.

And my mama heart was grieved.

I’m not surprised by anything I saw Beyonce say or do.  Because she lives as a product of the world she is a part of.  She uses her beauty and sexuality to define her, and sets a raunchy performance as a standard for the “freedom” women and girls should strive for.  Her brand of feminism is alive and well.

And I’m not going to tear her performance apart.  Because Beyonce doesn’t know who she is in Jesus – if she did, this performance would not have been what it was.

Instead, I want to call out to the women of God.  It is time for us to raise a different standard of what it means to be a strong woman. 

It is time that we walk as women of bravery, fighting the battles in our lives with the armor of God.

It is time that we courageously go where others will not, in the Name of our great God, to see justice for the poor and marginalized.

It is time that we exemplify purity in our dress and in our relationships, because the boundaries God sets are not hindrances to fun, but instead the gateway to some of the deepest fulfillment a human heart can know.

It is time that we are women who are inclusive, not exclusive; women who build others up instead of tearing them down because of our own fears or hurt.
It is time that we rise up and make the Name of Jesus great, instead of trying to find our own 15 minutes of fame. 

As people, we are wowed by huge performances that reach millions, just as Beyonce’s did.  But friends, that is not how the battle God is asking us to fight is waged.  We wage war on the enemy through mundane, everyday choices.  It is choosing God’s ways over our own, over and over again.

It requires a death to ourselves.  I no longer get to call the shots in my own life.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

When I am defined, as a woman, by the truth of God’s Word, the health of that choice flows onto the people around me. My husband, my children, my friends, my co-workers, and the strangers God puts in my path receive the benefit of God’s work in my life!

It may not seem glamorous, like a beautiful pop star performing for millions onstage.

But it is the definition of beauty. . .revealing the beauty of the heart of God by being the woman that He has called us to be. 

It brings the attention of others. . .not to myself. . .but to the loving heart of God that will bring lasting healing to hurting hearts. 

It means that as we decrease, He increases.

It’s time for us to walk in this world as the women of God He has called us to be!  Let’s show this world what it really means to be a woman!  Will you join me?

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About the Author :

Jen Lord is a passionate follower of Jesus, who has learned about the deep and abiding love and faithfulness of God through miscarriage, death, unemployment and conflict. She has been married to her high school sweetheart, Craig, since 1996 and has two daughters, Meagan (13) and Kelsey (11). Jen is also the pastor of Care Ministries at The Sanctuary Church in Canyon Country, CA. The Lord family shares what God is doing in them in their blog,

"But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

John 4:23-24 is a very familiar passage of scripture for most. 

Not only does it talk about worshipping God. But, it talks about worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. And although we may have read it and even heard this passage preached repeatedly, do we really understand what true worship looks like?

Is true worship simply coming to church every time the doors are open? Or, is it the ability to eloquently quote scriptures?

Could it be a focus on the outward?  Is that the worship God's looking for and seeking after?  

God is tearing down old structures, mindsets and everything that people "thought" was  acceptable worship.  And He's commanding that the worship released from His people, be a worship that's true.

Worship released from a heart that is completely yielded and committed to the Father. From a heart that puts God first and has no other gods. It is a life committed to Him. That's true worship.

Let's look at the life of someone that really understood true worship; Abraham.
Genesis 22:1-3

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 

God chose to test Abraham. And in testing him, God asked Abraham to do something most would say was unthinkable. To offer his only son, as a sacrifice. Abraham loved his son Isaac. But, he loved God more. And, pleasing God was Abraham's priority.

Abraham chose to worship and obey even if it meant it would cost him his only son. Even if it would cost him everything. 

He maintained his faith in the integrity of his God.   We can see it in verse 5. 

Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:4-5 NKJV)

Look at the words of faith he spoke to his servants in verse 5. Those were faith-filled words that attested to his trust in God. 

He was saying to his servants, "I'm going up to worship God in obedience and do what He told me to do."  "And because of what He promised me, I trust Him enough to know that both me and my son will be back."

Abraham chose to worship through His obedience, even when it was painful. He definitely understood true worship. 

His journey to the mountain alone was a three day journey. Can you imagine the thoughts going through his mind during that three day trip? Yet, he continued. With each day and with every step, his actions were saying to God, "I choose to worship."

This is true worship. A lifestyle of obedience. A life that declares to God daily, "I choose to worship."  With every step I take.  True worship is never about empty lip service. It's about a heart that's filled with love for God. 

Let's to back to Abraham.  Every step of obedience he took, was a sweet smelling fragrance in the nostrils of God. Because it was true worship coming from the life of one who had purposed in his heart that he would have no other gods. To include his son, his only son, whom he loved. 

And as we read the rest of the story, we see how Abraham arrived at the place of sacrifice, built an altar, laid his son upon it and was preparing to slay him in obedience as God said, when the angel of The Lord spoke to him. Let's read verse 12. 

“Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:12 NLT)

Abraham passed the test. God was able to say over Abraham's life four very awesome words-"For now I know."  

God knew that Abraham would withhold nothing from Him.  Now, look at your life. Is God able to say those same powerful words about you?  Can He look at your life and say, "Now I know."?  Now I know you will withhold nothing from me?  Those are the true worshippers He seeks. True worship is a life of absolute surrender and obedience. 

Ask God to reveal anything in your life that hinders your lifestyle of true worship. 

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About the Author :

Pastor Pamela Bell is a passionate, lover of God, who desires to see God's people walk in the knowledge of who they are in Christ. She resides in Mobile, AL and serves as an Elder at her church, Gulf Coast Christian Center. Pastor Pamela enjoys reading, spending time with friends and all things chocolate.