Behind The Ring

Behind The Ring

For those of you who know Joe, you know he is a very resourceful person. So it should come as no surprise to learn that he dug the gems for my engagement ring out of the ground. He had always wanted to make the ring his proposed with from scratch. Yes, SCRATCH. He wanted to forage for all the materials down to the silver but after realizing this was a lofty goal, he settled for the gemstones. So how did he do it?

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Photography by Cottonwood Road Photography

First, let’s go over the basics. Did you know gemstones are actually minerals but not all minerals are gemstones? Minerals have to be super pretty to be considered gems and those gems are then polished and cut into jewelry-quality stones (Example: Quartz is pretty much worthless but under the right conditions, it’s also amethyst). The minerals lucky enough to call themselves ‘gems’ are classified into two categories based on their rarity:

Precious: diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire.

Semi-precious: Amber, calcite, jade, amethyst, topaz, etc.

This designation can change at a moment’s notice. Amethyst used to be considered one of the cool kids but got demoted as more and more deposits were found. Overall, the value of a gemstone is rated using the “Four C’s”: cut, clarity, color, and carat. The reddest, largest, clearest ruby is considered the best. Pretty simple.  There are a lot of minerals in the United States and there are actually a lot of places that will you allow you to hunt for your own. So Joe had a few options. Luckily for him, Texas is known for its blue topaz and for good reason. Blue topaz occurs naturally in only two places on earth: Brazil and Mason County, Texas, making it pretty rare.

FUN FACT: Did you know that diamonds are not actually rare? The only reason why you see them in the precious gem category is because of a diamond monopoly and really good advertising.

 

Joe took two trips over a 6 month period to pan for topaz in the creeks of Mason County. On the first trip, he didn’t find anything. But on trip #2, he found the three stones used in my ring. In their natural state, gems are considered “raw” and need to be cut (the Four C’s!) and polished. So just because you find a decent sized gem doesn’t mean that’s the size it’s going to be in the ring. Thankfully the stones he found did the trick and he walked away with a 3 carat white topaz and two 1 carat blue topaz.

 

He took the gems to his friend’s jewelry studio, Gevandov, and he was able to match Joe up with someone who would cut the topaz for him. Joe chose the arrangement and viola. All he had to do was pop the question. Now, I was fully aware that Joe wanted to make the ring himself. So needless to say, I was a bit nervous as to what the ring was going to look like. Joe knew the types of settings I liked and had asked me general questions on colors and styles. The rest was blind trust that Joe knew what he was doing. On September 18, 2014, he dropped the knee and popped the question. I grabbed the ring out of his hand before he could finish the proposal.

was absolutely floored by how good he did. It’s an absolutely gorgeous ring and so

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Photo by Ron Accord Photography

much work and thought went into it. One of my favorite things about it is the fact its not perfect. If you look closely, there is an “impurity” in the main stone. Looks like a splinter. What a perfect reminder that marriage doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

If you are interested in hunting for topaz (or any rocks or minerals), Joe and I would love to be your guides. Let us know!

 

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The List

The List

Fun fact about me: I lead a bible study/small group of soon to be 9th grade girls. In 6th grade, after going through a biblical dating series, I had them write down their ideal husband so as to show them years later how ridiculous their versions of the perfect man were. I was going through them a few days ago and stumbled upon something I didn’t expect to find: my own list! Even crazier: I made this list 2 months before dating my husband.  As I realized the timing of my wishlist, I was curious to compare the man I thought I wanted with the man that I married.

dating

 

The “Real List” (left):

  • A man after God’s own heart. Found him :).
  • Has self control and respects my boundaries. Little did I know that the man I would marry would not only respect physical boundaries but put a ‘no kissing’ rule in place.  I was not happy about that at first but am so thankful for it now!
  • We agree on politics and theology. Early on in our relationship, we had a lot of tough conversations about the age of the Earth. Joe, being a geophysicist, believes the earth to be millions of years old. I grew up as a young earth supporter, vowing anyone who disagreed with me “wasn’t really a believer”.  Needless to say, this was a sore issue for me. In the end, it provided both of us an opportunity to study scripture and science, learning that the two don’t have to be opposites. Science and scripture can be used to support both views.
  • Wants to have kids. We want a minimum of 3 and already have their names picked out (nicknames, too).
  • Good at confrontation and communication. I find this one hilarious because prior to dating Joe I would have told you I was the worst at conflict and communication. Why did I put such high standards on the man pursuing me? Thankfully, Joe and I are learning to be better communicators as we deal with conflict. Something that doesn’t come easy for the both of us.

The “Fun List” (right):

  • Can dance. For anyone who has seen Joe work the dance floor, I can proudly say I married the best and worst dancer I’ve ever met in my life. He can two-step something fierce and also freak dance (for lack of a better term). We have literally had requests for what his ‘fans’ refer to as “The Airplane”. Ask Joe when you see him…
  • Slender with dark hair. Basically the opposite of Joe. And to be honest, I don’t know what I meant by ‘slender’. If I meant that health is important to the guy, then Joe fits that bill. But it kinda sounds like I wanted a member of One Direction… which is gross to think about. Who knows…
  • Will take me to musicals. This one seems weird to y’all but I have grown up loving musical theater and musicals are a huge part of my childhood. So I was super pumped to find out Joe likes them too. Or at least doesn’t hate them.
  • Has good taste in fashion and music. I honestly have no idea why this is even on this list. Fashion and music have never been things I cared about. And I married a man who had a mullet for three months and who loves Icelandic rock music. But he can sure rock a bow tie.
  • Can sing. Not the worst singer in the world.
  • Wants to stay in Dallas or Texas. He didn’t for a long time. For the first 1.5 years we dated he wanted to move to Ohio or overseas which was not cool with me. We both grew in that area. I learned to have the heart of Ruth (Ruth 1:16) and he learned that Dallas is a pretty cool place.

Finding this list made me reflect on a very important lesson: God is a far better matchmaker than I am. If I had gotten everything on my list, I would have married an extremely weird combination of Gene Kelly and Kirk Cameron. Was my heart in the right place? For the most part, yes.  But let’s be real. When we think of the ‘perfect man’, we don’t think of a human being. We think of storybook character. We think of all these qualities and all these attributes that really mean jack-squat. The perfect man exists but He died on a cross and rose again over 2,000 years ago. So when we look for who we want to marry, we shouldn’t look through rose-colored glasses, we should look through the lens of the cross.

The first time I met my husband he was barefoot, had long hair, and spoke 4 sentences to me. He is completely opposite of my personality type, would prefer I made my own deodorant, and thinks showering everyday is a waste of water. And I couldn’t imagine spending my life with anyone else. I am truly in awe that I could love someone so much. Little did I know 3 years ago that my 8th graders wouldn’t be the only ones getting a lesson.

I’m More Excited For My Marriage Than My Wedding

I’m More Excited For My Marriage Than My Wedding

I have been engaged for a little over two months now and wedding planning has been in full swing. With less than 4 months to go before the ‘big day’, there are still quite a few details to hash-out. Now that I’m on the planning side of things, I’ve noticed something: The modern wedding has taken the focus completely off the marriage. Instead of focusing on celebrating the union of two people who love each other, the merging of two families, and the starting of a new one, the modern wedding celebrates the quality of your centerpieces, the creativity of your wedding favors, and the price tag of your wedding dress. Have we forgotten what we’re celebrating?

After signing up for The Knot (a wedding website that helps with planning, ideas, forums, etc.), my inbox suddenly started getting a lot more e-mails: “50 Wedding Photos you NEED at your wedding”, “Look 10 Pounds Thinner”, “How to make your first dance perfect!”. The wedding industry thrives off comparison, encouraging you in whatever way they can to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. The wedding you’ve wanted since you were two is no longer good enough, big enough, or glamorous enough. There are rules to be followed in regards to programming, timing of events, and the color of the mother-in-law’s dress. Expectations are so high, no wonder women turn into Bridezillas. They are consumed with wanting a movie-worthy celebration. Women strive to compete in a make-believe contest for “Best Wedding” until they drive themselves crazy.

“In 1959, Bride’s magazine recommended that couples set aside two months to prepare for their wedding and published a checklist with 22 tasks for them to complete. By the 1990s, the magazine recommended 12 months of wedding preparation and published a checklist with 44 tasks to complete.”

“What The Cost Of Your Engagement Ring May Say About Your Marriage”Huffington Post

Back in the day, weddings were not an elaborate affair. They consisted of small family gatherings at the home of the bride or groom’s parents.  The dress wasn’t shopped for or even white, it was simply the best dress the bride owned. It wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that weddings started to get fancy. The upper class started to throw parties similar to weddings we see today. In the 1900’s, brides began ordering a dress specifically for their wedding day. Wedding registries, as we know them, didn’t exist until the 1920’s. Before that, the only wedding gifts were in the bride’s dowry: a collection of items her parents presented to the groom along with their daughter. This turned into guests giving essential items to the newlywed couple so they could start their life together with life’s basic needs met. Today, not only are guests expected to give a gift, they are expected to bring another gift to any and every shower they attend for the couple. The engagement ring has changed a lot as well. Though most of us have never lived in a world where diamonds weren’t “forever”, the classic diamond engagement ring didn’t exist until 1947. It was part of a marketing campaign by DeBeers, a diamond cartel, trying desperately to fight the collapse of diamond prices due to the Depression. They created a campaign that dramatically changed the wedding industry and consequently, the diamond is the primary stone used for engagement rings.

“In 2012, total expenditures on diamond rings were roughly $7 billion in the United States alone.”

“What The Cost Of Your Engagement Ring May Say About Your Marriage” – Huffington Post

It has always cost money to throw a party and in the 20’s and 30’s, the average wedding cost $5,000 (adjusted for inflation). According to The Knot, the average cost for a wedding in 2013 was $29,858.  That is almost a 500% increase. Couples now spend more than the U.S. median income on their nuptials. What was once a religious covenant has become an example of extreme consumerism and the ultimate form of self-expression.

Weddings were once a simpler ceremony. An intimate celebration between families to celebrate the unity of their children. For religious peoples, a wedding celebrates the union of a couple as they become one before God. A covenant. A promise of fidelity and love for a lifetime. Have we lost sight of this? What if we were more excited about our marriage than our wedding? What if we put more effort in our relationship with our fiance’ than the design of the cake or the color of the flowers? I firmly believe that if we put more emphasis on the marriage than the party, marriages would look a lot different than they do today. Now, is it intrinsically wrong to spend a lot of money on your wedding? Not necessarily. However, I would argue that one’s heart can be in the wrong place. I’ve had to stop myself a few times in the midst of wedding planning from falling into the comparison trap, comparing my wedding ideas to those of my peers and to those in magazines. There is nothing wrong with wanting your “Happily Ever After” wedding. But when we lose sight of the purpose of the wedding and the meaning of marriage, we lose sight of everything.

“[The wedding is] just the beginning of your life together, not the climax.” – Dr. Steve Orma

That’s why so many men and women become depressed after their wedding day. Post-wedding depression is an actual diagnosis. Once you’ve walked down the aisle, the cake’s been eaten, and the attention has gone, reality sets in. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Your marriage just started. You’ve just embarked on the hardest and most rewarding journey of your life and it’s not always a party. And that’s ok.

I pray my wedding day isn’t the happiest day of my life. I hope it’s the next day, and the next, and the next. I hope for a lifetime of happy days amid tough times. I pray that we use our wedding day to glorify God, to love on those who have supported us and will continue to do so, to eat good food,  to have good conversations, and to dance until our feet fall off. I pray we wake up the next morning, with our hearts even more determined to love each other the way God loves us (1 John 4:19). At the end of the day the flowers will fade, the food will be thrown out, and the dress will sit in your closet, but the covenant made will last a lifetime.

I’ve never kissed my boyfriend.

I’ve never kissed my boyfriend.

“How will you know if you’re compatible if you guys have never kissed?”

258325_10102726882657174_305337452_oThis question is the very reason why my boyfriend and I haven’t made a big deal about the fact that we haven’t kissed yet. We haven’t lied about it or hidden it and, if you asked us, we’d tell you without shame. But there is definitely a stigma around choosing to save your first kiss until marriage.

I grew up in a Christian home and always knew I wanted to save myself for my wedding night. But when my boyfriend asked that we not kiss until the wedding, I admit I was a little upset. No kissing? I remember the first thought that popped into my mind was, “He doesn’t want to kiss me. That is why he is putting this boundary in place.” I felt insecure. Something must be wrong, right? My twisted mind was putting all of this importance on the physical and not on the most important aspect of a relationship: companionship. He wasn’t setting the boundary because he didn’t want to kiss me, he was setting it because he knew that sexuality, no matter how innocent, can cause relationships to get sidetracked, and in some cases, it can confuse what is actually there. He liked me so much that he wanted to put steps in place that would insure that our relationship wouldn’t be focused on the physical, but on Christ.

Like no other before us, our generation has placed a significant emphasis on sexuality and it’s role in dating. Sex is no longer reserved for marriage. Heck, it’s not even reserved for someone you know. It has been cheapened to a recreational activity between strangers. No commitment and no longer special, it has become the entire focus of most relationships. This “try before you buy” mentality is corrupting the beauty of real relationships.

“If the sex isn’t good, the relationship isn’t good.”

“You need to make sure he is a good kisser.”

“How do you know if you want to marry him/her if you haven’t lived together/slept together/kissed?”

With the divorce rate increasing every year and millennials waiting until much later in life to marry, we need to start re-evaluating what we look for in a spouse and what we believe about love.  Despite what culture and the media will tell you, love is not a feeling. Sure, feelings can be a side effect of love but it should never be what your relationship is based on. Feelings come and go and, as hard as you try, you can’t control them. So why would you want to base your relationship on something that is ultimately fleeting? Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”.  Our hearts are fickle things that tend to change their minds based on uncontrollable factors. I know if I trusted my feelings, I would be the most flighty, anxious, over-dramatic female out there. True love is a choice and sometimes, focusing so much on the physical aspect of your relationship can create feelings that aren’t based on constants, but based on how you feel in the moment.

Now hear me when I say that sex and romance play a vital role in marriage and God is for it! He created it! It binds two people together in the most intimate way possible. But it is not the only important component in a marriage and it should never be your deciding factor when looking for a spouse. 

Now you’re probably thinking, yeah yeah, I agree with the sex part, but don’t you think not kissing each other is taking it a little too far? Maybe for some people. It is definitely a personal choice and by no means do we condemn people for kissing their significant

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others. Heck, I know we both want to. After dating for almost a year and a half, it’s really hard! And in our defense, we do allow kisses on the cheek. But we both realized that, in our pasts, we put more importance on the physical aspects of relationships, which shifted our focus off the important things. Though it was Joe who led us in creating that boundary, I came to the realization that not kissing would give me the opportunity to evaluate whether or not I wanted to marry him without being distracted. It hasn’t been easy but it has taught us both a ton, like self-control for starters. And instead of spending our time together having make-out sessions (we are both super jealous of you who do), we talk about life, cook together, take silly Instagram photos, and just enjoy our friendship.

As I mentioned, our physical boundaries are a personal choice that Joe and I made together and will look different in every relationship.  If you are or were in a relationship where you’ve pushed the physical boundaries, there is no shame. God is a god of mercy, love, and grace. We are not defined by our pasts and have been fully redeemed in the eyes of God. Though God calls us to live lives of purity, we will always fall short,  which is what makes Christ’s gift so amazing!

So has not kissing Joe harmed our relationship? Has it prevented us from discovering if we are truly ‘compatible’? Not one bit. In fact, it has made me respect him more than anyone else I know. And when we finally do have our first kiss, I have no doubt in my mind that it will be well worth the wait.

An Issue of the Heart

An Issue of the Heart

“Fewer guns means fewer murders” – Bloomberg

I do not condone violence in any shape or form, but I think it is ignorant to assume violence will stop if a weapon is banned. People determined to kill will kill by any means necessary. This isn’t a gun issue. It’s a heart issue. The problem lies in the current moral state of this country and if we don’t change the way we raise our children, these acts of evil will only get worse. We need to drastically change the morals and fundamentals we teach future generations. We don’t teach them to face the consequences of their actions. Instead, we teach them to disrespect authority by eliminating punishment and coddling them. We teach them that they can do whatever makes them happy even at the expense of others, which engenders a mentality of “I can do whatever I want. You can’t touch me”. We teach them to value wealth and status achieved through power, manipulation, and greed instead of teaching them the value of education, service to others, and temperance. We let them have it all and wonder why they can’t practice self-control. We encourage experimentation with sex, drugs, and alcohol at an early age and are surprised at the teen birth rate and the commonness of alcohol poisoning and drug overdoses. We teach our children easy fixes to their problems instead of showing them how to persevere through trials, watching in wonder as the abortion rate rises, graduation rates fall, and the number of divorces increase. Guns are not our problem. It is much deeper than that. A little band-aid of a gun control policy will just make the wound messier. We need to take a good look at ourselves and at this country. The United States isn’t the greatest country anymore. But it can be. This next generation has the choice to continue on a path of destruction or to make a change and, in my humble opinion that change starts with the church. We need a revival. We need to start walking the walk and no longer simply practicing what we preach, but LIVING it. No more hatred and legalism, but loving rebuke. We need to not compromise our beliefs but share them with other in love and with purpose. This world is not our home. As believers, we need to start living out our faith, and proving it. A faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:17). The world today is a scary place with evil around every corner. But we have hope. We have a God who loves us to the point of committing his son to die on a cross so that the evil among us and within us won’t separate us from eternity with Him. God will have His justice and Evil will not win.

 “For the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.” Proverbs 24:20 

“If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still.” Ecclesiastes 5:8

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Growing up in a Christian home, the word “grace” has always been a household word. I always knew what grace was and knew that God’s grace applied to everyone, including me. However, recently I have come to realize that knowing something is different than truly understanding something. I know that I’m forgiven and God shows me grace but its never really sunk in. The concept of grace lost its meaning and its significance as I grew up. I’ve always considered myself a “good girl” and have frequently been called a “goody two-shoes” so I always felt like my sins weren’t that big of a deal to God. My sins were easily forgiven. I really never felt truly remorseful for a majority of the mistakes I made. While reading the book Redemption by Mike Wilkerson, I discovered that my attitude toward grace and forgiveness is arrogant. He writes,

“a preoccupation with self-forgiveness is to believe that your sin is a bigger deal to you than it is to God. You think, “Of course God has forgiven me,” as if it were a small thing to Him. The fact is that God is always the most offended by your sin, even when you sin against someone else. No one knows more than God just how big a deal your sin truly is. It cost  him His perfect son”.

He goes on to say, “It is the height of self-centeredness to think your sin somehow offends you (or anyone else, even) more than it offends God”. I felt very convicted by this. I obviously considered my sin insignificant when in reality, my sins don’t differ from murder or greed. All sins are equal in the eyes of God (James 2:10).

My conviction led me to re-read the gospel so I could truly understand the price Jesus paid for my sins, no matter how small or insignificant they are in the eyes of man. Every night I read a chapter and every night I’ve notice a pattern: its all about faith. In almost every chapter someone either lacks faith and Jesus forgives them or someone has faith in Jesus Christ and is blessed because of that faith. As I’ve mentioned in blogs past, I’ve been struggling with worry and anxiousness about my future. Every night I am hit with the realization that my worrying is really a lack of faith in God, which is my constant sin struggle. Despite the fact He has always provided for me and things always work out a million times better than I could ever plan, I still worry. Yet, as I’ve been reading, I have caught myself getting frustrated with the disciples and others who lack faith. Unlike us, they actually met Jesus Christ. They watched him perform miracles, they watched fulfill prophecies, and they witnessed him rise again. They have no excuse to doubt, right? Once again I have considered my lack of faith not a big deal. But I’ve realized that I also have proof of God’s authenticity: the Bible. So I don’t have an excuse. Jesus died for me and I think its trivial that I don’t trust him? Pitiful. However, it is comforting to know the disciples and I struggle with the same thing. Doubt and worry are natural parts of being human. When the disciples became afraid of the storm Jesus said, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm” (Matthew 8:26). God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and EVERYWHERE. And this perfect, loving God gave His only son to die for my sins. ALL of them.

So for those of you reading this and thinking, “I thought this blog post was supposed to be about grace?”, let me explain. You cannot truly understand grace until you understand the validity of Christ and the meaning of what He did (AKA: the Gospel). Jesus died for our sins. He DIED. He didn’t just ‘die’ either. He suffered the most humiliating and painful death at that time in history and not even for just one person. He died for His friends. He died for His enemies. He died for everyone in His present, His past, and His future. He died for you before you were you were formed in your mother’s womb. He died for your lies, for your greed, for your sinful thoughts and your sinful actions. He made Himself filthy in the eyes of His father. So filthy, in fact, that God turned away from Him. He did all this so that you and I have the opportunity to spend eternity with a loving God. So he suffered for the things I am apathetic for. So no matter how small I consider it in relation to the sins of others, it still cost Him his life. And he did all of this because he LOVES us. Let that sink in.

So as you can see, I’m being convicted a lot recently. And, subsequently, I’m learning a lot too. I was shown the following video from a very dear friend of mine. I feel this video truly encompasses what I tried to convey. Enjoy!

Bitterness is a Loaded Gun

Bitterness is a Loaded Gun

In this season of my life, bitterness is my greatest sin struggle. I have bottled up years of emotional hurt and pain and I’ve refused to confront the people who have hurt me. This has resulted in a deep and vindictive bitterness in my heart. I want to punish those who have hurt me. I want to make them admit they were wrong. However, I know my feelings are wrong, unloving, and Christian-like. What authority do I have to punish someone? Who am I to believe that I know their innermost thoughts and intentions? I don’t know what circumstances or sin struggles have lead people to do the things they do. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Deep down, I think I ultimately want someone to tell me that my feelings of hurt are justified. And they are. But God calls us to love others. In fact, He tells us that Love is the greatest of all things. Because of my pride and stubbornness, I don’t want ‘love’ to be interpreted as the validation of someone’s wrong decisions. This comes back to my desire to punish people. If I choose to show them grace, I feel I’ve lost the battle. I tossed and turned all night wondering why I feel this way. Why is life a game to me? A game where there is a winner and a loser. Someone is right and someone is wrong. The world is never this black or white. Its gray. The only way we can know how to navigate through life’s problems is through the road map God has provided for us: the Bible. And this is what the Bible says about love:

1 Corinthians 13 

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[c] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

I read this passage last night and verses 4-7 really stuck out to me. Love is not prideful, love doesn’t demand its own way, and love keeps no record of wrong. I read these word and realize I have not loved well. Actually, according to these verses, I haven’t loved at all. I have demanded ‘justice’ and vengeance. But in Hebrews 10:30, the Lord says that he alone has the authority to avenge. I am impatient so I want judgement NOW. But the Lord is the ultimate judge, not me. It is not my duty or authority to punish God’s children.

So what is love and how can I show it? Love is not the validation one’s decisions. It’s validation despite one’s decisions. The validation of the PERSON. Love means showing grace because you were created in the image of God not because you earned it. I use the cliche “love the sinner, hate the sin” all the time but never put it into practice. In the end my bitterness is a loaded gun, aimed at the heart of sinners like me. It will lead to the destruction of my relationship with others and ultimately, my relationship with God. “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:13). So today I start a quest for grace. A quest to rid myself of these sinful shackles, showing love and forgiveness to those who have hurt me. For “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

1 Peter 1:22
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”

A Beautiful Redemption

A Beautiful Redemption

My family has been through a lot over the past 2 years. I have been constantly reminding myself to consider my trials pure joy (James 1) and that God is in control. Though I’ve told myself this many times, it didn’t really sink in until tonight. Not only does God have a plan, but he knows our sinful nature. He knows all. Nothing is hidden from Him. He knows its our nature to sin and has planned ahead in order to bring about His glory and the glory of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“For we know all things work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

It is truly a comfort to know that though the trials we go through are caused by our sin, our sins are not too big or too messy for God. He has already planned ahead and made everything work out in the end. No matter what happens, nothing can stop God’s children from being redeemed through Jesus Christ. That is God’s plan: an eternal relationship with us, His children. All we have to do is accept His gift.

So God really does have a plan. God has planned to use these trials I’m going through to bring me closer to Him and make me a stronger daughter of Christ. As hard as it can be at times, I’m going to take every day as a gift from God, no matter what happens. Despite the trials we face daily, each day is truly a joy and ultimately brings us one day closer to an eternity with our Heavenly Father.

And knowing that brings me pure joy.