The Holy Land-Audra's pick
Believe me, I know. This is not your typical “vaca spot”. I usually prefer a nice warm beach, sitting and watching the kids play in the waves. In fact before I went myself, I would have never thought of it in that way. It’s expensive, it’s not relaxing, it’s very far away, the media makes it look pretty scary...and I’m sure we could think of a few other negatives. But, it’s incredible! It is a life changing trip that if at all possible, you should go. Start saving now, start praying if your afraid, make a plan (even if it’s for a few years away). The Bible comes alive and you see things in a whole new way. It’s definitely not typical, but it is amazing!
San Diego, CA- Laura's pick
It's hard to pick just one favorite vacation spot, because we love to travel! We have been to San Diego twice and it is one of our favorites because of it's beauty, weather, and there is so much to do in a days drive. We rented a car and went exploring. One day we drove south into Tijuana, Mexico and spent the day. My favorite though is when we drove north along the coast up Highway 1 to Los Angeles. The little surf towns had the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants on the water (and still today is the best fish tacos we have ever had!), and we really saw surfers getting out of their Volkswagon vans! We were able to visit at Saddleback Church (Rick Warren) one day too as we headed up to LA. La Jolla is one of my favorite places to visit while out there as well...one day maybe my husband will get to play at Torrey Pines!
Texas Roadtrips - Rebecca's pick
There have been a couple of years that we decided not to go the Disney or beach route and headed to Texas instead. And, I will say, because these vacations included lots of new experiences, they have been the ones that we remember the most. We loved San Antonio and soaked up the Alamo tour and dinners on the River Walk. We followed that with a few days at Schlitterbahn waterpark in New Braunfels. At the time, it was ranked the biggest and best waterpark in the world on the Travel Channel.
Another Texas trip that we loved was a stay in Dallas/Fort Worth. Our time at the JFK Museum at the Texas School Book Depository was very poignant and moving. We lingered there for a quite a while as the impact of those events swirled in our minds. Walking the downtown streets was so enjoyable and filled with neat sights, too. We also visited the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and saw money being made. And, we went back 100 years in downtown Fort Worth to the Stockyards and watched the daily cattle drive down the streets. It was so neat! And, there's always Six Flags over Texas and conquering those roller coasters fears! And, the Fort Worth zoo is our favorite! The kids ask often when we are going to go back!
Helen, Georgia- Tammy's pick
If we're not going to the beach, we love to explore unique cities. Helen, Georgia is one that stands out in my mind. We spent two fun-filled days in Atlanta, and then drove 2 hours north to Helen. Their tagline is "It’s the charm of Bavaria, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains." It truly was like stepping into a German city. We loved roaming the cobblestone streets, sampling the German food, talking to the costumed tour guides, and listening to the European music. It was a relaxing vacation, full of rich memories. We're eager to return! http://www.helenga.org
Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach, Florida- Susannah's pick
I've been all over the place but my favorite vacation spots have to be these two beaches. They are such a gorgeous stretch of white sand and so peaceful and rarely crowded. The reason I love them the most is because of the many fond memories I have of vacationing there with my mother nearly every summer.
You ALL know our sweet friend today. In fact, she’s been here before. We know you will be encouraged by her own story of how the Lord not only saved her, but continues to walk with her today. Please welcome Susannah back as she shares about God’s goodness in her life.
In September 2015, I was 34-years-old and had just self-published my first book, “Ten Years Taken”. It was a joyous time because my childhood dreams were finally coming true! Since I was a little girl, I’d wanted to be a writer. And finally, after many years of writing and editing and ripping up manuscripts, everything was coming full circle. I was travelling around the state to speak at book clubs and libraries, appearing at book signings in community centers and churches, giving interviews to local newspapers and radio stations and recognized as a real author. People even stopped me in Target to talk about my novel and the characters I had invented! It was such a surreal time, and I was ecstatic when “Ten Years Taken” was listed among the Top 30 best-selling self-published books on Amazon.
My mother was truly my biggest fan. She was on the front row at every event, first in line at every book signing and she bought 18 copies of each newspaper or publication I was featured in. She constantly advertised my book and shared my blog posts on social media and continually told me how proud of me she was. She said she’d always known I’d be an author.
One cool Saturday night in September, my mama hung the next day’s church clothes on her closet door. She placed a cup of water on her nightstand next to my novel and climbed into her plush bed. And sometime during the night, while my mother slept, her soul went to be with Jesus.
I watched my young father die of a heart attack when I was eleven, and when my mother passed away, I suddenly felt like an orphan. I felt like a 34-year-old orphan. I was so utterly lost and alone and without any roots. I didn’t know how in the world I was expected to live a lifetime without my mother because she had been my rock, my friend, my spiritual mentor, my everything.
Of course, it is normal for a daughter to mourn her mother’s death, but I went beyond typical grieving. I spiraled down into a dark, deep pit of despair. I knew my mother was resting at our Savior’s feet, without the cares of this world, but I couldn’t even find joy or peace in that beautiful truth. I just so selfishly wanted her here with me. I needed her advice. I wanted to hear her laugh. I wanted to feel her fingers running through my hair. I wanted her by my side. I just wanted my mother.
As the months passed, I was still unable to get out of bed many days. I was unable to cook dinner for my family or attend my children’s ballgames. Not only was I devastated at the void in my life, but I was bitter and angry. While spending so much time in my bed sobbing and hiding from the world, I mourned my father’s death all over again. I didn’t foresee my joy ever being restored.
I’ve been saved since I was a little girl. My mother was a great Godly woman and raised me on the promises found in the Word of God. I knew all the Scriptures about hope and restoration and how Jesus was near to the brokenhearted, but still I was utterly broken.
And finally, worn and weary and heavy-laden, I could no longer bear the burden. I was exhausted physically, mentally and spiritually, and in a moment of sweet surrender, as tears fell from my eyes, I gave it all to the Lord. I told Him, “God, I cannot do this anymore. I cannot continue living in this dark pit of grief. I need you.”
When I finally let go of the rope ‒ when I finally surrendered the hurt, the ache, the void ‒ my Savior was so gracious to catch me. He came to me right where I was and gave rest to my weary soul. He gave me peace that passes all understanding. He gave me light in the darkness. He restored my joy.
The Lord has even revealed great purpose in my pain. I’ve been able to show the comfort that He has shown me to others, just as we are instructed to do in 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7. I’ve continually drawn closer to Him and relied on His sweet grace and mercy, and in turn, He’s called me to do things I never thought possible. He’s called me to speak His promises of life and hope to those who are grieving. He’s called me to point the hurting and the broken to Him. He’s called me to use my writing for His glory. He’s given me beauty for ashes not only concerning the deaths of my parents, but also infertility and alcohol abuse and many other trials.
Jesus was battered and beaten and bloodied. He was mocked and ridiculed, and then He hung on an old, rugged cross to die for our sins. What incredible pain and sorrow He went through! But the purpose, the beautiful purpose, was revealed three days later when that tomb proved empty.
And like Jesus’ pain, our pain has great purpose, too.
Of course, I still miss my parents every day. Lord, what I wouldn’t give to be able to pick up the phone and call my mother and ask her to make me a Mississippi Mud Cake. But if my mother was still here, I wouldn’t be commissioned to point others to the Great Comforter. I wouldn’t have experienced His agape love and been proved time and time again that He truly is near to the brokenhearted. I wouldn’t realize so fully how our Father truly works ALL things together for good.
No matter the pain or sorrow or longing we experience here in our temporary home, if it points us to Jesus, it’s worth it.
My heart skipped a beat as he walked into the room. He asked about my day, and then shared about his. It was like that, easy conversations ranging from light topics to deep issues of the heart. I enjoyed our discussions. But soon I realized I anticipated them more than I should. Why?
Because I was a married woman, and this man was not my husband.
Like weeds in a garden, wrong emotions had strayed into my mind and left unchecked began to grow. I started to pour time into this other man. I chose to receive emotional support from this man. I looked forward to the companionship of this other man. And before I knew it, I was on the brink of an emotional affair.
I could hang my head and weep.
My man was a good man. A hard-working man. Consumed with the worries of this world, a boatload of work buried him. He'd come home, eat dinner, and then dive into his work sometimes 2 to 3 hours long. Maybe I felt cheated or neglected, or second place to his work, I'm not sure.
But all I know was my emotional cup was empty, and I looked to refill it in the wrong place.
Temptation comes from our own desires,
which entice us and drag us away.
We women can easily slide into an emotional affair if we feel there is physical or emotional distance in our marriages. Having talked to many women on this very issue, I've felt compelled to share my story. By the grace of God, I caught mine early on, but that isn't always the case.
In the throes of an emotional affair, we are convinced:
- This other man understands me better than my spouse.
- This other man loves me more than my spouse.
- This other man is my true soul mate, unlike my spouse.
These thoughts knit discontentment into our minds, and before we know it we’ve entered the danger zone!
These desires give birth to sinful actions.
And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
Having a thought is one thing, but playing it over and over in our mind is not only dangerous to us emotionally, but also spiritually because we're harboring sinful thoughts.
Thoughts such as what it would be like to be in this other man's embrace, to be kissed by him, and for scenes to unfold in our minds which should be reserved for our husbands. Too soon these thoughts lead to actions, and before we know it, we are having sex with someone other than our spouse.
My friend, an emotional affair is the path to a sexual affair. Jesus girl, you do NOT want that.
So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.
Don't be misled! How do we slam shut the gate before we slide down the slippery slope? Next week, I'll share my climb back onto the path of life. Until then I have two words for you.
If this post has hit a tender spot in your precious heart, my friend, I beg you to flee whatever emotional situation seems all glittery and good. It's not. It's toxic and will steal your joy and your peace. Block his number, stop meeting him at your rendezvous spot, stop getting in his space, stop pursuing him, get another job, go to a different church, move, etc.
Whatever it takes, flee as if your life depends upon it, because it does.
If your thoughts are for any man besides your husband, take those thoughts captive like we are commanded to in 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Think of it this way: My youngest daughter loves animals, the smaller, the better. We've had one too many hamsters in her short lifetime. These furry rodents are escape artists extraordinaire. When one escapes, a mad flurry is made to capture the escapee, place it back in its cage, and firmly secure its cage door.
So it is with our errant thoughts about men who are not our husbands. We need to pounce on those thoughts and manhandle them with the Word of God. A few good verses to help us take our thoughts captive include:
1 Peter 1:13
I'm praying for you, my sister. I'm praying for conviction, repentance, and life for you. I'm praying for the scales to fall off your eyes and for you to see this situation for what it is, an affair. A sin. A shallow crumb compared to the feast the Lord has for you.
Don't be mislead! Run, Jesus girl! Run to the cross and live!
One final note: perhaps this isn't you...today. We ALL must guard our hearts. All of us have desperately wicked hearts and are one step away from sin. My sister, keep your guard up, keep your heart soft to the Spirit's prompting, and keep pursuing a life of holiness and purity.
Unraveling An Affair - Part 2
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Do you ever sit around and think about what happens after you die? Hang with me here, this isn’t a morbid post! I pray it’s a post that will bring joy and hope to those that have put their faith in Jesus, but also a wake up call to believers that our work here on earth is not done!
Although there are many Scriptures that talk about Heaven and Hell, the book of Revelation was instilled in me when I was in high school, so that’s where we will camp out today. I wish I could tell you that I know this book from front to back, but that’s sure not the case. Our Associate Pastor at our home church, Topper, taught our youth group every Sunday; and to this day, I am not sure I know anyone who knows Revelation better than he does. What I wouldn’t give to sit under him today, now that I am older and appreciate his wisdom on this book! I would love to one day be as knowledgable as him!
Revelation is so interesting to me! Hollywood couldn’t even attempt to make movies this good, and it’s the complete, inerrant Word of God. My husband and I went to Israel back in January and when I am asked what my favorite part was, my answer is...The Valley of Armageddon! That may seem odd to most people, but I know that’s where the very last battle will take place and that excites me!
So what is it about Revelation that is so intriguing to me? Well first off, it’s a book filled with HOPE and it’s the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing to those who listen to its words and do what it says.
There are two things I want to look at today. The present and the future. But before we do that, we need to back up and start at the beginning.
Who is writing Revelation and how did this book come to be?
The apostle John, while in exile on the island of Patmos, received a vision from Christ. He is the only one of the original twelve disciples that was not killed for his faith. John was sent to Patmos by the Romans for his witness of Christ. Isn’t God creative on how He reveals His plan? God first revealed it to Christ, who in return revealed it to John.
God always has a unique way of uncovering His plan
I don’t have time to go into great detail about the entire book...that would take many blogs, but maybe one day that will happen! So, I am jumping to the end of Revelation and sharing my favorite Scriptures with you today.
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what He has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolators and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
In these Scriptures, we can see the HOPE and FUTURE we have as believers! We also see how we must live for Jesus now! When we talk about salvation, it’s very easy for us to just think about heaven, which is great expectation! But...we have a responsibility in the here and now as believers, to build His Kingdom here on earth. How can we live for Christ now?
In verse 15, Jesus says, “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolators and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
2. How living for the future affects our present:
In verse 12, Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon!”
In verse 14, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”
As much as I love to think about Heaven and standing in the presence of my Savior, I am burdened for those that don’t have this hope. It’s not a topic we like to talk about, but Hell is a very real place. I pray that we see the importance of having Jesus as Lord of our lives, right here and now as we live our lives day to day; and in our future home in Heaven. Who do you know that will not be joining you in Heaven if they were to die today? Is it you? The By Faith She girls would love to discuss this further with you and pray with you! You can email us at email@example.com.
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!
Just in case you missed any of our posts this week, here they are all in one place!
Our Time is Short
Ahh, the lazy days of summer...