Pumpkin Everything! - Audra's pick
Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin costumes, pumpkin carving, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie,pumpkin patches, pumpkin painting, pumpkin cookies... we are all about pumpkin themed activities. They change as the years go and the kids grow, but we always find a way to incorporate them into our fall.
Leaf Looking - Laura's pick
I know, "leaf looking" sounded pretty silly to me, too! We recently moved to a different area of our state and found out that "leaf looking" is something that is taken seriously. One spontaneous drive and we quickly discovered why everyone gets so excited about fall and the leaves changing...it is beautiful! We counted the many different shades of red, orange, and yellow that capsulated the mountain landscape. God's handiwork was made evident on our leaf looking journey!
Backyard Bonfire - Rebecca's pick
A tradition in my family over the years has been a bonfire and hot dog roast in my parents backyard. My father, daughter, and brother all share fall birthdays and we love to circle around the fire, snuggle under blankets, share stories and celebrate them during this special time.
Apple Picking - Tammy
When we get the chance, we visit my parents' place in upstate NY during fall break. One tradition we love is picking apples and eating apple cider donuts at a local orchard. Now that they are older, they pick and carry the bag of apples and easily finish the bag of warm, fresh donuts we were going to bring home to share. lol.
Six Flags - Kelly
My family's top fall activity is Six Flags. The Buck's are theme park people. We go from open to close and this momma enjoys it so much more when I am not sweating my face off. I love how it brings out the kids in me and my husband. When we lived in Texas we had season passes so we miss not being as close to one. But, you can bet that our fall break plans will include a thrill ride and a dining plan! Haha!
We had no sooner stepped out of church Sunday when an incident turned my rejoicing heart into one that was cold and hard. My attitude showcased it. Not so much my words, for I spoke few on the short car ride home. But the air all around me was cold and condemning.
Once we entered our home, my man asked me if I was all right. You know the routine, I responded with, “I’m fine.” when everything about me said just the opposite.
Then it happened.
I opened my mouth, and the ugliness in my heart spewed forth. An exchange of words passed between my man and me, accelerating as my words became swords daring him to spar with me.
From the corner of my eye, I saw the shock in my youngest face.
Here was her momma, just moments ago rejoicing and praising Jesus, now a prickly mess of ugly emotions. I watched her take her Bible over to a chair in the next room and begin to read it. “How sweet,” I thought, “she’s found a passage to pray over us.”
My man had had enough of my ridiculousness and walked away, and I finally cooled my jets and took my erratic thoughts captive.
Later that afternoon, this same child and I were chatting when she mentioned the argument she had witnessed.
She - “Momma, you know when you and Daddy were fighting?”
Me - “Yes, dear one, I’m sorry you witnessed that.”
She - “I had turned to Proverbs 31, and nowhere did I see how you were acting.”
Me - stunned and scrambling over my thoughts I finally answered, “Yes, you are correct. My actions would not be found in Proverbs 31.”
She - “Most of the time you are a Proverbs 31 woman, though.”
Me - sadly smiling, “Yes, but thank you for loving me enough to point out when I am not.”
That was yesterday, and here I am 24 hours later still chewing on this incident, this conversation in light of whom I present myself to be not only to the world, but to my children.
I mutter and sputter about how emotions seem to be dragging many around by the nose today in the public square. Yet, in my own home, in my own heart, am I any better? While a nation might not be tearing apart because of my erratic emotions, something much more significant is at stake, my testimony in front of my children.
As I flipped open my Bible, I prayed that the Lord would reveal something new to me in Proverbs 31. In all honesty, I wanted to make this a parenting post, to wax eloquently about the beautiful reward found in verse 28.
But verse 12 stopped me in my tracks.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
My words and actions were evil?
My heart wanted to sweep this notion under the rug, but following my heart obviously led me into trouble in the first place. So I put on the brakes and looked up what the word “evil” meant in the original text. I was stunned by what I uncovered. Are you ready for this? It means “disagreeable, unpleasant, sad, unhappy, unkind…vicious in disposition.”
Bing! Bing! Bing!
That’s why my daughter didn’t see a Proverbs 31 woman in me! I was acting in a way which was just the opposite of a Proverbs 31 woman by being disagreeable, unpleasant, unkind toward my man, and - gulp - vicious in disposition.
God considered my actions/words as evil.
God, forgive me.
As I was praying about this the Spirit pointed me to a passage in James 3 which perfectly sums up this good versus evil which wages war in my heart.
Good - vs. 13 - Who among you is wise and understanding?
Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.
me - I want to do good.
Evil - vs. 14 - But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.
me - But my selfishness often bullies my "want to do good" and reigns supreme. I need to stop kidding myself and call my selfishness what God calls it - evil, sin.
Evil - vs. 15 - This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. (Ouch!)
me - God considered my actions on Sunday evil, because my selfish motives played out the way a child of the world would act instead of how a Jesus Girl should act.
Good - vs. 16 - But the wisdom from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, reasonable,
full of mercy and good fruits,
unwavering, without hypocrisy.
me - If I want to do good - and for my child to recognize me doing good as a Proverbs 31 woman would - I need to be Holy Spirit led, rather than Tammy led.
Tammy-led actions bring disorder and division.
Spirit-led actions bring love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Walking thru these verses in James spotlights my desperately wicked heart and how more times than I am willing to admit, I don't choose to "do good and not evil" to my man. Rather, I allow selfishness wrapped strongly in my emotions to lead me instead of staying in step with the Spirit.
God, forgive me.
This incident has given me pause and thankfully has been a wake-up call. I've asked for forgiveness and have implemented a new strategy: all interactions with my man are now schooled by Proverbs 31:12, “Bring him good and not evil, Tammy.”
While this turned more into a marriage post rather than a parenting post, the bottom line is that the greatest thing I can do as a momma is to be a Proverbs 31 woman to my child's father.
May Sunday be one of the last times my child sees me drop the "Proverbs 31 woman" ball. I’m not expecting to live a perfect life, but after Sunday’s gentle reproof, I will work harder at keeping in step with the Spirit to showcase the beauty and life-giving peace found in thriving as a Proverbs 31 woman, for the glory of the Lord and for my (and my children's) good.
How about you, my friend? Are your actions toward your man good and not evil in word and deed? If not, would you consider schooling yourself with the, "Bring him good and not evil, __________." mantra? Others, including our children, are watching. Let's joyfully and victoriously point them to the power of dying to self so we can showcase the beauty of being a Proverbs 31 woman.
For further reading on this topic
Modern Day Mary's
love him like Jo loves Chip
How to End Your Marriage
Blessings in Obedience
Tammy Valdivia - Jesus Girl, wife, momma, student, teacher, lover of dark chocolate, milky coffee, deep talks, and lively laughter. Oh, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
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Remembering the things God has done in the past is an integral part of our faith building journey!
When I first wrote this little devo I had just come out of a major surgery, I was still unsure of the results, and I was struggling with "the whys" of it all.
As I read this story in Joshua of how God was calling the Israelites to remember His goodness and faithfulness to them and to remember how far He had brought them, I decided I needed to do the same!
This was one of those huge markers of faith in my life, that has changed the way I see so much. The Lord reminded me in that season that He is good, no matter the outcome, and He reminded me that He had proved it over and over if I would just REMEMBER!❤️
click here for the rest of the story
If you are struggling with a "Why" today, or just walking through a difficult season, try thinking back over God's faithfulness in the past.
If things are going good, don't forget to take note, you never know when you might need a reminder.
Here is a little backstory before we begin. In Joshua 3, Joshua and the Israelites had just crossed the Jordan River. The Lord had worked amazing miracles to make it happen and that’s where we will pick up.
The Lord spoke to Joshua: Choose 12 men from the people, one man for each tribe, and command them: Take 12 stones from this place in the middle of the Jordan where the priests are standing, carry them with you, and set them down at the place where you spend the night.
Then Joshua set up in Gilgal the 12 stones they had taken from the Jordan, and he said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you may always fear the Lord your God.”
Read Joshua 3 & 4 for the full story!
Our Takeaway -
Try setting up your own "Gilgal" to remind you of all that God has done in your life.
You will need:
1. Smooth Stones you can write on
2. Paint Pen
3. Bowl or Plate to contain the Stones
Fill the bowl up with the stones. Make a list of miracles, blessings, or victories that God has brought you through in your life. If you have children try to include them in this part. Then write a word or two that helps remind you of each of these times on the stones. Leave some blank stones in the bowl for future triumphs that you will want to add.
I would love to hear your ideas for remembering God's faithfulness in your life. Please share!
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
Yesterday was Mother's Day. A day set aside for honoring our own moms, as well as being honored as moms ourselves. But what if you've experienced something like miscarriage or infertility? Mother's Day can be a painful day for many. Although I now have two beautiful children, I did experience the loss of my first child.
I mention in the About Me section of the blog, that I had some anxiety and fear as a young mom. I think it all started the first time I became pregnant. I surprised Jordan with the news when he came home from work one day, and we could not have been happier! For a couple of weeks we got to live in the joy that we would soon become parents. But at the end of a long week as a school teacher, I ended up in the ER. That night after many uncomfortable tests and exams, all they could tell me was that they were sorry, but I was no longer pregnant.
On the way home from the hospital I was devastated. How could this have happened to me? Wasn’t God watching? Didn’t He have control of the situation? I had been praying since it all started that God would save my baby, and here I was, going home without.
Although I didn’t get my wish that night, what I do remember and hope I never forget, is the unexplainable peace that flooded me. I had never experienced any trauma or loss like this before. I had heard of God’s peace that surpasses all understanding. Now in my own life, it was a becoming a reality. I was so sad and in pain from the process. But through it all, was a crazy, unexplainable peace.
I didn’t know it at the time but God was taking me on a journey to know Him better and to learn to trust Him. God uses our pain to bring us closer to Him. To teach us that our plans aren't His plans. But that His way is always better! Satan will do his best to use these circumstances to try and hinder our relationship with God. He wants us to become bitter and fearful. And many days, he will be successful. But if we press hard into The Lord, He will carry us through!
Be encouraged by more stories like mine on the blog. Click on a link below.
This is a hard one to write but I'm going to try anyway. It's been on my mind all day and I feel like someone needs to receive these words.
So, here goes...
I was sitting next to my daddy last night as we quietly stared into our backyard bonfire. There is always such a calm peace that I feel when next to him. We are both deep thinkers and being lost in thought together brings me such comfort. As my thoughts wandered, they eventually settled on the beautiful fall foliage surrounding me. I broke the silence and shared my thought:
Me: "The tree in the front yard is gorgeous. It caught my eye whenever I walked past the window. It's so beautiful this time of year!"
Dad (pauses for a second): "You know that's the tree that you and I planted."
Me (vaguely recalling the memory): "Oh yeah. We did, didn't we?"
Me (still trying to remember): "Why did we plant that tree again?"
Dad (looks at me...really looks at me...and pauses): "We planted that tree for your sweet baby."
Me (now flooded with the memory): "It's already THAT big? Wow."
I didn't know what else to say. I was embarrassed to admit that I had forgotten about the tree that he had so lovingly planted 13 years ago. All I could say was, "I guess that I buried the memory so deep inside of me." And, I had.
Driving home later that night, while everyone was asleep in the car, I kept thinking about this tree. While the recollection of it initially made me sad, the more I thought about it, the more I saw all the beautiful things that it represents.
To me, it represents:
– That time does heal.
– That the Lord is faithful season after season after season. His faithfulness knows no end.
– The unconditional love from my parents that I discovered when their unmarried daughter confessed that she was with child. I was terrified that this confession would cause me to lose their love. I feared that they would reject me in the condition that I found myself in. Instead, they embraced me and said, “We will do this together.”
– That my years of walking away from the Lord have now been replaced with vibrant, fruit-filled years of walking so very closely with Him.
– That the Lord can use ANYTHING from our past and transform it into something breathtakingly beautiful.
I carried this baby for eight short weeks before he or she went home to be with Jesus. My mom never left my side during that long, painful night in the ER. And, my daddy did the only thing that he knew he could do to help his little girl not hurt so much—he planted this tree on what would have been the baby's due date, June 2, 2001. That I do remember.
I will forever look at this tree differently from now on. I wonder how many mama birds have built nests in it? How many passing neighbors have paused to take it in? What would my parent's front yard look like without it? Not nearly as pretty. And, I wonder, who would I be today if I had not learned of their unconditional love during that hard, hard season?
My parents’ love carried me through those dark days. It never wavered, condemned, or withheld affection. It walked with me through the valley and led me safely to the other side. It looked much like the love of our Savior, only in human form. And, in loving me this way, it opened my heart to receive His love—a love that laid the foundation for the intimate relationship that I have with Him to this very day.
Only our God does that. Only our God makes beauty from ashes. Only our God makes the lowly and weak tree grow strong and splendid. He does, he did, and he will keep doing it. Don't discount your ashes as worthless, your pain as purposeless, your brokenness as unworthiness. Give it all to God and watch as He turns each one into something that will one day take your breath away.
Just look at this tree and then believe.
Originally written October 2014.
Still true today.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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Halloween...it's a day that some really love and for others, a day they really dread! It has become an over commercialized holiday like so many of the others, but don't worry this is not a post about boycotting the day.
On Halloween, our family takes advantage of all the community events and our kids love the chance to dress up. To us, it's another opportunity to make Christ known. This one day that the world says is set aside for scary stories, costumes and decorations is no different than any other day that we are to be a witness for Christ. After all, "This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it" Psalm 118:24. He is the creator of everyday!
I remember the first Halloween that our daughter really started recognizing the scary costumes people would wear. She said, "momma, why would people want to look like that?" These are great teachable moments for our children. This was a great time for us to talk about our expectations of Halloween and how our family will be involved in it. Our prayer is that we use all worldly issues as times for conversation and pointing our children to Christ. We want to teach them that no matter what the situation, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven" Matthew 5:16.
I am not sure how you feel about tomorrow and whatever your convictions are, I pray you stick to them. But, if you choose to participate in trick-or-treating, can I challenge you?
Halloween is known for darkness, but it does not have to be a dark holiday. As Christians, we can let our light shine brightest, John 1:5 says, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." We have a huge mission field in our own communities, let's be His hands and feet.
I want to leave you with some fun things to do with your family that will also help your kids learn about Jesus.
Please leave a comment on how your family keeps Christ the focus on Halloween! We can learn so much from each other.
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!
I miss those days when they were so little and innocent and just wanted to be superheroes and princesses! Moreover, what happened to letting me pick out their costumes for them?
As I was searching with my now teenage girl for a costume online a few days ago, we came across a site with several options for tweens all the way to mommas. As we scrolled the site, I caught a word or two of the paragraph above the costumes. It was a quote from a movie. I will spare you the language, but they basically said that Halloween was a chance for girls to dress inappropriately and it be totally acceptable.
"How could they? Why would they? What is their problem?" were truthfully my first thoughts. But as my mind thought back over Halloweens past, one particular night stood out.
I remember the dreadful costume I chose that Halloween. It was before I got married, and I really just wanted to be noticed. I was attending a Halloween party, and I knew there would be guys there. My friend and I picked a much less than decent costume and wore them proudly. I was actually a good girl. I loved Jesus, and I would NEVER dress that way on any other occasion. However, for some reason in my mind, this was a chance to be someone else. To dress immodestly and justify it as" just a costume." Even though it was only one night, its embarrassing now to even think about it.
Unfortunately, that is just the kind of thing that the world tells us is right. Live it up tonight, and don't think about tomorrow. Do what makes you feel beautiful. Modesty is out of style.
But this simply isn't true for a Jesus Girl!
So how should one go about picking out a costume for Halloween?
Remember, you are worth more than your body!
Don’t compromise who you are and what you stand for just for attention!
Don’t let worldly reasoning allow you to justify being immodest!
Save those outfits for your future husband!
Work on being noticed for who you are, not just how you look.
Mommas with Girls, what can we do to help our girls learn to make good decisions in the area of modesty, specifically on Halloween?
1. Model modest attire for your girl to see! Believe me, they are watching!
2. Talk to your daughters about their worth, and that it goes far beyond being noticed by a boy!
3. Help them pick out their costume!
4. Encourage them to cover themselves in a modest way!
5. Tell them often why you think they are beautiful, and find things about them that don't have to do with the way they look!
6. Help them to see past just that one Halloween night.
Remind them that although it may seem a million years away, someday they might have a husband that they want to save those special pieces of themselves for.
1 Peter 3:4
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gently and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
For further reading: What Not to Wear Jesus Girl Halloween Edition