I’ve been part of places where the moment you let your weakness show…admit to your shortcomings…let on that you aren’t perfect like Christian’s are “supposed” to be…everything changes.
I have been a military wife for almost 12 years. In that 12 years, our family has lived in five states, seven different houses, been across the United States states five times, logged thousands of miles on the road and in the air, missed family funerals, missed weddings, missed birthday’s, packed, unpacked and repacked more times than I can even count and made millions of memories.
There aren’t many things about this life that I regret (unless we count that very first apartment that we lived in, but I try to forget about that one). This military family life has given us the chance to visit so many places, see so many things and meet so many people. We have memories all across this great nation and have birthed children in three different states [Florida, Alaska and North Carolina]. Each place we’ve lived holds a special place in my heart because it holds a piece of my heart.
All of that to say that despite how great the opportunities have been; how amazing the memories are and how much we have been able to see and do through this lifestyle…I struggle more now than I ever have with whether it’s all worth it.
Leaving behind the first place that truly felt like home (that wasn’t home) in 2018 has been the hardest thing I have had to endure these 12 years.
Harder than the financial strain that we endured as newlyweds.
Harder than the colic Noah battled forever.
Harder than the three natural births of my children.
Harder than the nine month military separation we experienced in 2010.
Harder than potty training or sleep training my boys.
If I’m being brutally honest, that’s been the case since we left. Sure, we’ve met some acquaintances and landed in a church where we’ve been able to get involved. Josh and I lead the Youth Small Group and teach the teens every week in AWANA. The kids are back in school and Josh loves his job. But, there’s still always that sense of not belonging.
We go from place to place, every three to four years. Groups are established; friendships are formed. Everyone has their “crowd” and their rhythm with the people they associate with. It’s like visiting a new church and being the only one who doesn’t know that the seat in the fifth row on the right side belongs to someone. No one who has been there has to say it out loud and no one would dare tell you for fear of being rude, but when the usual occupant of that seat arrives, you feel the vibe that you aren’t where you’re supposed to be. That you don’t belong.
Military life is much like that.
No where that is your “home” other than the place you originally grew up. No where that feels like a place you’ve settled. No one house to make memories in or reminisce about. More than anything, few—if any—connections that run more than skin deep. Once in a blue moon, you’ll meet the rare few people who let you in…truly let you in, for a season. But, as with all seasons, things change. People change; hearts change; lives change. Eventually, the struggle of maintaining a distant friendship becomes too much. Eventually, you’re left with nothing much memories.
We’ve actually had people own the fact that being friends with us was “too hard.” While I appreciated the honesty and slight brutality of that statement, it made it feel like we were “too much trouble” and “not worth investing in.” While I understand that not everyone is equipped to pack up and move few years and that opening up to us [as a family] means opening your heart to us as well. There’s always the reality that we could be called to leave at the drop of a hat or at best will only be around for three to four years.
Nonetheless, after almost twelve years of treading in shallow water friendship, I wonder often what the deep levels of friendship look like. The friendships that span the miles and the years. The kind that we all dream about and hope for but rarely find. The kind of friendships that you expect to have when you’re in school only to discover later that they aren’t real.
Friendships, like any loving relationship, require work and sacrifice. Unfortunately, like most relationships, it’s typical that only one person is willing to give that kind of sacrificial love away. Heartbreaking as it is and has always been, as a military family we trudge along from station to station; opening our hearts and our homes in hopes that someone, someday will dive deep and get away from the shore.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.Proverbs 18:24
I nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement when I saw the new ESV Jesus Bible on Shelley Giglio’s instagram page. I first saw The Jesus Bible when it released in January 2017. I have been a fan of Louie Giglio and his preaching since my friend Laura introduced me to his sermons in 2013. The first sermon of his that I ever heard was one he did on Laminin. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it here. It wrecked me in the BEST way and I’ve been a fan of his since. Naturally, when I saw that he had a Bible release, I wanted to snag a copy of my own.
When it was originally released, it was only available in the NIV translation. At the time, we were attending a church that was using the ESV, so I wouldn’t let myself purchase copy. Then, much to my surprise, a new version in the ESV translation hit the shelves this past month. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy from the great folks at Zondervan to review.
The copy I received was the Multi-Color/Tan, Leathersoft™, Comfort Print with this beautiful cover design by Britt Bass. Photos don’t really do this cover justice, y’all. It is stunning. The leather is not as stiff as calf-split leather, so it folds a bit and it more pliable. Sometimes, leather can be a bit tougher to work with but I found this one the perfect blend of flexibility and sturdiness.
Another thing I loved about this Bible was the font styling. As a web and graphic designer, I’m somewhat of a font snob. I am very particular about readability and font size. I do a lot of work on my computer, so my vision with books is starting to wane a bit. The Jesus Bible ESV translation uses an 8.7-point font size. To compare, the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible (pictured below) uses a 7.5-point font size; making the font in the Jesus Bible a bit larger and easier to read.
As you can also tell, the paper in The Jesus Bible is white and not off-white/tan/ivory, making it appear a bit cleaner and more crisp. The paper quality is about the same as the ESV Journaling Bible; I used both ball point pen, gel highlighters and Zebra Midliners in The Jesus Bible with no issues with bleed through. There is a bit of ghosting with any sort of gel based pen, but Micron works without any shadowing.
I have carried this Bible to me a few times now to church and find that it’s not overly heavy and I love the sidebar notes throughout. It doesn’t have the feel of being a “study” bible and the notes within the margins offer a bit of clarity on things that might be a little bit harder to understand right away. The margins (where there aren’t sidebar notes) are large enough for plenty of your own notes. I wouldn’t recommend doing any kind of painting or heavy marking in the sidebars, as the paper isn’t really thick enough. But, for standard note taking, it’s ideal.
I think this Bible is ideal for anyone looking to see how Jesus and the redemption of mankind is woven throughout scripture. It’s insightful and well designed with ample room for personal study. I do not recommend it if you don’t like notes, commentaries, etc. throughout or if you need/want the entire margin area for your own notes. I also don’t recommend it if you are searching for something that is heavy with cross references. If you’re looking for a ton of cross-references, I would recommend this Bible instead.
You can view more versions and cover designs of The Jesus Bible on their website or check out their free sample reading. You can also find Louie Giglio, Passion City Church and Zondervan on Instagram.
I received a complimentary copy of The Jesus Bible from Zondervan in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. In addition, some links on this post are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase through my link, I receive a small commission per sale. Thank you for continuing to support this ministry.
If you have followed me for a while, you know that I have a handful of love languages: coffee, words of encouragement, Bibles and beautiful paper products. Every once in a while, I come across a product or two (or ten!) that merges some of those things together. Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you guys a look here and on Instagram at some of these great products! The biggest issue you will have will be deciding which on you like best!
I originally came across Heather Vreeland on Instagram through the Hope Fuel account. Y’all know I love beautiful photos and beautiful products. The Hope Planner jumped off the screen at me and I loved the mission behind it:
Ever find yourself suffering from “to-do list tunnel vision” – an overwhelming focus on the things of this world that take up our time and attention, but ultimately drain you? Us too. So we set out to reshape the way we manage life by devoting time on our daily to-do list for God, because he is the ultimate sustainer. Doing so changed our lives and we want you to try it too
As a wife, a student, a mama of three kids (two of them in school), a business owner and a blogger, I am constantly looking for ways to streamline my life—our life—so that I can keep up with everything. Running a home, managing my blog posts and email schedule, and staying on top of the going on’s at church make a physical planner a requirement.
As someone who frequently has to keep post-it notes or scratch paper handy during my quiet time for all of those stray thoughts, I love that this planner provides plenty of room for all of it. There’s a section for me to write out a scripture or verse, pen a prayer, maintain my schedule for the day, jot down dinner and list my to-do’s all in one place. Each Sunday is a double page spread with more room for sermon notes, praise & thanksgiving and the usual scripture and prayer spot.
One thing about these planners that I liked was that they are undated. While for some, this may be a con, I like that I can begin this planner whenever I choose. No more wasted months (because, seriously, who hasn’t bought a planner before that months already gone in it?). I can even use it for a month, bypass a month and come back if I wanted to. That’s the beauty of a blank calendar.
I love that this planner forces me to PAUSE…to STOP and to remember that God and God alone leads my steps during the day. By seeing that reminder there that scripture and prayer need to come first in my day, before everything else, I’m able to recall what matters most to me and in my life. Since these planners don’t run for an entire calendar year, they are also a bit more affordable than some of the other one year planners; coming in at only $34!
This planner is PERFECT for busy women on the go. The sections are short and not for longer, more in-depth study. For many of us, we are looking for ways in which we can get down to it, straight to the point but still keep God the center of our life and the center of our days. The thing I loved most about this planner is that I can write down my focus verse from whatever I’m studying, write out my key prayer or the thing heaviest on my heart and then list out what else I need to do for the day. I bring this planner with me to my table and it helps me stay anchored and grounded in what I’m doing throughout the day.
I received a complimentary copy of the Hope Planner in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. In addition, some links on this post are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase through my link, I receive a small commission per sale. Photos on this post courtesy of Hopefuel.
As a mom who has battled anxiety and depression for almost twelve years, it’s easy for me to think that everyone around me, including my children don’t notice when I’m having an anxiety attack. I have lived with it for so long that there are days I don’t even realize I’m struggling. The weight on my chest feels like it does most any other day, as I’ve become so accustomed to what it feels like. Yet, for my children—especially my oldest son, the anxiety I try hard to mask isn’t always hidden from his curious little eyes.
“Mom? Are you okay?”
I was standing at my kitchen sink, hot tears streaming down my face, elbow deep in dish soap and dirty plates. I had had enough. Anxiety had taken it’s grip on me and I was overwhelmed.The house was a mess. My boys wouldn’t stop fighting. My husband was running late. Dinner wasn’t ready. The baby was screaming. My Bible lay open on the kitchen table, untouched yet again. My coffee mug sat on the counter to my right, still full and ice cold. I felt frumpy as I was still sporting the pajama pants I’d slept in the night before—at 3:00 pm.
No. I was not okay. My mom anxiety was at a high. I wanted to scream it as loud as I could. I wanted to throw the plate that I was holding on the floor and pitch an all out fit. I was tired—scratch that, exhausted from the weight of all of it: mothering, wife-ing, the parenting, cleaning, folding, diaper changing, baby rocking, constant cuddling, consoling, refereeing and bandaging. I was done. I had spent, at this point, eleven years of my life focusing entirely on someone else. It was always someone else. And that day? Enough was enough.
Perhaps the hardest thing about becoming a mother lies not in the job of actually taking on the new role you are tasked with or in taking care of the new human in your life, but in the learning to lessen yourself. I fully expected becoming a mom to change me when I had my first child, but I never expected it to diminish me. I’d always heard stories of moms who claimed to “lose themselves” when they had kids. I could not even begin to grasp how someone could do that. Then, I was thrown into the world of unending diaper changes and nonstop crying. By days end, I was so tired from all of the noise and fussing and whining that I didn’t have time for me and eventually, I didn’t even know who “me” was anymore.
Perhaps the hardest thing about becoming a mother lies in the learning to lessen yourself.
On this particular day when my almost eleven year old asked me if I was okay, the weight of it had just become too much to carry. Rather than telling him that I was fine when he could clearly see the mascara running down my face and could see the trembling of my shoulders as I silently released my stress and anxiety at the kitchen sink, I chose to be honest with him.
“No, son. Mom is not okay.”
I wanted him to see that his mom was a real person, with real stressors and real feelings. That, despite the attempts that I made to keep it all together for him and his younger siblings, there were days when I just wasn’t okay. When I just couldn’t keep it together anymore. Days where, despite how much I loved him and his siblings, being a mom just wasn’t fun for me. It wasn’t easy for me. It wasn’t even enjoyable for me. That even though I loved my children more than life itself and even though I would willingly lay down my own life for any one of them without hesitation…some days, I just wasn’t happy.
When I willingly opened up, spoke truth and allowed my sweet oldest baby to see that his mom was struggling and that she was hurting, I gave him a chance to practice all of the things that I had been so desperately trying to teach him: empathy, kindness and the willingness to lend a hand when someone needs it. He wrapped his tiny little boy arms around me and gave me a hug. He laid his head on my shoulder, because he’s almost as tall as I am now, and told him that it was all going to be alright and that he loved me.
Then, he scooped up his almost-two-year-old sister, who had been screaming at my feet for more minutes than I could recall, and carried her into the living room and started to play with her so I could finish my dishes.
I didn’t get any “me time” that afternoon, or any afternoon that week. I didn’t run away from my stress the second that my husband came home. I didn’t even get the rest of the house clean that day. But, I did see that the countless hours that I spent tirelessly and endlessly caring for everyone under my roof were not in vain. I also realized that “losing myself” in the role of motherhood is not only normal, but it is good, holy work. Losing ourselves is never a negative connotation the way that the world seems to portray it. Losing myself, losing my pride, losing my sense of “all about me” makes me more like Jesus.
Jesus tells us plainly throughout scripture that we are called to deny ourselves and follow Him. Maybe some of us can deny ourselves on our own; learn how to let go of our own selfish ambition without needing someone to force us to do it. Yet, for me, I am not disciplined enough or selfless enough on my own to deny myself of the dreams, goals and ambitions that I have. So, God gave me children. Those children have forced me to become less of who I am for the sake of becoming more like the one who created me.
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I have said this many, many times in the past. I have written viral blog posts about it, shared videos about it and even taught about it in small group classes before. Yet, I still find myself needing to say it again:
I grew up in a small town, raised in a small Southern Baptist church in Alabama. I thought there was only two translations of the Bible—the King James and the NIV. We sang hymns out of the hymnal long before there were screen projectors used for anything other than Vacation Bible School song lyrics. Everyone sat in the same seat on Sunday morning and tithed using the designated and appropriate envelopes. Southern Baptists are really good at rules, fundamental religion and legalism.
Growing up, I really thought that the King James Bible was the only one we could use or trust to be “right.” The preacher was supposed to preach out of the KJV and the rest of the congregation who didn’t understand words like, “quaternion” (cf), “neesings” (cf), and “pygarg” (cf) were to use something like the NIV (the only acceptable alternate translation in the ’90s). No one I knew had ever gone to Seminary, except the pastor. No one I knew had ever been to any sort of Bible college. What I knew about Jesus, was based on what I learned at Youth Group.
I went to church because that’s what you do down South. Church is Sunday morning (if it’s not hunting season) and maybe Sunday evening if there’s no football. Generally, church began and ended for the majority of folks before noon on Sunday. As I have gotten older, gone out into the world and learned to stand on my own two [spiritual] feet, I’ve learned that there’s a lot about the “American” church that we are getting wrong…starting with the religious aspect. There are two main lies that are killing the growth of the church and hindering the beauty of the gospel.
I’ll just go ahead and dive right in and make the ultra conservative, KJV only folk twitch a bit. No where in scripture does it read that there is only one translation of the Bible that you should read. There is too much “KJV is the only accurate translation” going on out there and quite honestly it’s ridiculous. The old English wording of the KJV is exhausting to read and leads to frustration and agitation. King James had the first translation of the Bible written in 1611. When asked his opinion about Bible translations, the late Reverend Billy Graham once stated that modern translators have access to older Greek Manuscripts that have been discovered since the KJV was written…possibly making modern translations more accurate. (src).
It is also helpful to remember that, while King James “authorized” a particular translation for the Church of England in the 17th century, it is no more authoritative for us today than any other translation.Billy Graham
I recommend using multiple translations; find the one that you are most comfortable with and get in the Word. I use an NKJV and ESV translation for my studying and personal quiet time. I often use the Amplified Version on YouVersion and have used the NLT translation at times for clarification. God wants you in the Word. Any attempt at getting in the Gospel for the sake of hearing from the Father will be acknowledged by Him.
As Christians, we are COMMANDED to go and tell the world about Jesus. Not go into our comfortable neighborhoods and share with people who look like us. In this progressive, opinionated culture we live in, too many seem to believe that you have to agree on every issue to communicate. While we, as Christians, have standards according to the Gospel, we aren’t meant to isolate ourselves and put ourselves in boxes. In fact, by learning how to communicate with and engage people who do not believe that way we do, we learn how best to relate to those who think differently without changing who we are.
Instead of choosing to see people as people, we often see them as sinners, forgetting that that’s what we all are. Instead of choosing to remember that God cleansed our unrighteousness, we often see ourselves as righteous. Instead of choosing to share the beauty and freedom we have found in Christ, we try to not to “get involved” with anyone who may not look or think or act the way we do. We don’t live among sinners and become like sinners; just as Paul didn’t live among adulterers to become an adulterer. He associated with and connected with sinners to win more souls for the Kingdom.
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.1 Corinthians 9:20-23 [emphasis mine]
Jesus came to save the sinners. He came to heal the broken. He came to bring life back to this dead world. Living as though there are certain “qualifications” for being worthy of the gospel by our own standpoints and beliefs is the exact opposite of all that Jesus stood for. Let’s spend more time sharing Jesus than teaching folks about religion.
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Growing up whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be, there were always three things I would say: a wife, a mama and an writer. As I got older, I realized that there was a difference between being a “writer” and being an actual published “author” who makes money from their writing. I have been a writer for as long as I can remember, but do actually get paid to share my words and my heart with people would be something totally different. For now, I just share what God gives me on my tiny little stage that is this blog and Instagram in hopes that one day, I may accomplish the thing I have always dreamed of doing.
God was gracious enough to grant me two of the positions I hoped and prayed for for so long by making me a wife to my husband of almost 12 years and a mama for almost 11. Both of which are roles that I don’t take lightly and that I appreciate more than I could ever put into words.
Being a wife and a mother isn’t enough for me.
It has taken me a very long time to reach the point where I can admit that. The idea that as a Christian woman I should find my contentment, fulfillment and joy in being a wife, mother and homemaker is a stereotype that I have often felt ashamed of not fitting. I used to wonder if there was something wrong with me because, as much as I love my family and my roles within our home, they have never served to fulfill the empty space in my life.
After seeking God with much anxiety and worry that I was disappointing Him, He finally showed me that my role within my home was never meant to be my only role. He revealed to my heart that He is the writer of all of our stories and that He alone fashioned me together and compiled my being long before I was ever thought of. He knows that these roles that I am in right now don’t even begin to completely scratch the surface of what I dream of doing or being or accomplishing. Admitting that I am not fulfilled by these positions in my life is absolutely okay.
God knew before I came along that I would have the heart of a creative visionary. He gifted that to me and fashioned in me the desire to accomplish, do and be more than a mom and wife. He gave me passions that are rooted way deep down within my being that won’t go away (believe me, I’ve even tried to pray them away). Not all of us are wired the same. Not all of our lives are meant to look identical. What looks right for you doesn’t have to look right for me. While I take my role within our home very seriously and believe it to be the most important thing I will ever do, I don’t find my fulfillment there.
If you’re a mom and a wife and you’re reading this, wondering why you still feel like there’s more for you; why you’re not as over-the-moon-content with your role as a wife and mother; Whether there is something wrong with you because you don’t get that feeling of worth that you once did in your regular job…Let me be the first to reassure you that you are not alone.
Those feelings that you should be doing something more? They’re totally normal. That empty void that once was filled with work or business or your hobbies? It’s okay to miss those things and want to pursue those things. Wanting to be away from your children for a few hours a day to do things that give you energy and make you feel refreshed—whether it’s working out, painting or doing yoga—doesn’t make you a bad mother.
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.Colossians 3:23-24
Wherever God has placed you, whatever He has called you to, work at it with all that you are. If you feel like you’ve been called to a wife and a mother, go give 100% of yourself to your position within your home. If you’re a wife and a mother, but feel God wants you to do more, then you give 100% to the things that God has placed on your heart. We were made…created…to give Him all of you because that’s what He deserves.
It isn’t wrong to want something more than changing diapers and folding laundry. You aren’t failing because you aren’t completely fulfilled by being at home with your children all day. You aren’t a bad mom because you chose public school over homeschooling so that you could pursue your other passions during the school hours. Let’s stop putting motherhood into a box and making everyone who doesn’t do it the same way feel less than. We’re all doing the best we can…and that’s enough.
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Where are all of the christians in the public school? Should Christian parents send their children to public schools? These are big questions and big topics amongst believers as we get back into the swing of the school year. I heard someone say not too long ago that children who are in the public school systems are (basically) being indoctrinated and graduating believing exactly what the schools tell them. Which, right now, is a whole lot of craziness.
The gist of the message was that our society is so skewed in their thinking these days that we are teaching everything but truth. That they are being taught and thus believing that they can choose which gender they want to be based on how they “feel” and that we are allowing our children to roll out of the school system and into the world like tiny little political robots. Like our school system is popping them off the assembly line and shipping them off into the world to do and be and believe whatever they have told them they need to believe.
Now. Let me say, I do believe that there is an anti-Christian/anti-Conservative agenda within our nation right now. I don’t disagree with that notion and I don’t argue that. We do not live in a “christians and their beliefs matter more in the public school” type society anymore. We live in a time in which everyone does believe that they can be what they want who they want based on their feelings. We have children as young as seven choosing to be a certain gender because they ‘feel’ like they should be and parents backing that choice in an effort to gain for themselves 10 minutes of fame. We are living in fallen times and it’s heartbreaking.
That said, the American public school system is not at fault for the state of our nations youth and fallen morality: PARENTS ARE. The fall of our youth and our teenagers may have something (and I mean a very small something) to do with the path that our culture is going down. But, schools are not 100% to blame for our nations depravity. The lack of parental involvement is where the real issue is.
When I was growing up, my mom and dad knew everything I did, everywhere I went and every single person who I went with. Overprotective? Sure. Overbearing? Somewhat. Over-involved? Not really. Cautious and aware and looking out for my well being? Absolutely. My parents knew where I was, when I was there and who I was with 99% of the time. There was not a whole lot that I did that that they didn’t know about. If I wanted to go places or hang out with people, they were going to know about it or else I was going to stay at home. Simple as that.
Our culture says that parenting in this manner is wrong. Children need “freedom to express themselves” and they have the “right” to make those kind of choices. They don’t have to tell a parent where they are or who they are with because that “infringes” on their rights. Lemme tell y’all something: my children lost their right to make their own major decisions the day that they were born. Mama didn’t do 20+ hours of labor to give them free reign to make choices that I know could harm them.
Our culture tells us that kids need to make choices and I agree with that. But, the Lord tells me that my children need guidance. They need direction. There may be some christians and gifted educators in the public school, but it’s not their job to build up my children in their faith. They need me to impart wisdom and shed light into their lives and their circumstances. Our children are given to us as a gift to shepherd and guide and lead in hope and truth. They don’t need their christian parents to rely on the public school for growing their faith.
When we see children walking in the ways of the world, what we are generally seeing is a child who is lost and without that kind of guidance in their lives. When we see a “product of the system” we are witnessing a lack of parental intervention. Now, that’s not to say that every single child born into a Christian family will accept Christ and receive salvation at a young age. That would be amazing, but that’s not biblical and it’s not a guarantee. There are tons of stories—including my own—of prodigals who stray the path and walk away from their beliefs. That doesn’t mean that it’s the public schools fault.
I have watched Christian private school children land in prison. I’ve watched Christian private school children end up addicted to drugs and alcohol. I have witnessed Christian homeschool children fall into debauchery and sexual sin. I have watched public school children pastor churches and become missionaries. There is no one right way to educate our children. There have been plenty of christians from the public school who have made a cultural difference. Powerhouse Christian author A.W. Tozer never once attended seminary or earned a biblical degree. He was born into poverty and mostly self-educated…there was no Christian private school or Christian homeschooling for him (src). C.S. Lewis attended boarding school (via). Billy Graham attended public school and actually found the first Christian University he attended too legalistic (src).
All of that to say this: I believe our role as Christian parents isn’t to force ourselves into a bubble believing that we are doing wrong by our children if we send them to public school. We aren’t doing wrong by our children if we send them to private school. We aren’t doing wrong by our children if we choose to homeschool them. We are doing wrong by our children if we depend solely on education to shape them into spiritually mature, kingdom warriors. Teachers are paid to teach—reading, writing and math. Our job as parents is to mature our children’s faith-inside and outside the home.
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In 2008, I started my very first blog (affectionately known at that time as The Kirkland Family Blogspot…catchy, no?) on the Blogger platform to keep our family and friends up to date on my first pregnancy and the happenings in our life as a newlywed military family. Y’all…it was terrible. I remember using colored backgrounds with red text like something I had done during my MySpace days in college. Bad, bad, bad design. I think at one point I even had YELLOW writing. I can’t even, you guys.
Fast forward to January 2011 and I took a big leap, purchased a hosting account with Bluehost (I have continued to host with them ever since) and moved from Blogger to Self-Hosted WordPress. I purchased the Genesis Framework and my first Studiopress child theme and went to work. For nearly nine years I have tinkered with and coded using nothing but the Genesis Framework. I love the Genesis Framework, the Studiopress crowd and all that Genesis has to offer. Yet, recently I found myself struggling with the creative aspect of the designs. Despite their flexibility and the remarkable quality of their work, I started to feel really limited in what I could do aesthetically.
I started to notice that a few of my favorite photographer friends and Christian speakers were using something new to me…something called Showit. I loved what Jasmine Starr had done to her website, my friend Elizabeth was rocking a new design on her business site and Ashlyn Carter…well she’s always just fabulous. They were all using Showit…and they were all using it in a totally and completely different way.
One thing I had started to notice with Genesis was that everyone looked the same. Whether you purchased a premade theme from a high-quality designer like my friend Lauren at Restored 316 or you bought something directly through Studiopress, it was getting harder and harder to set myself and my clients apart from everyone else. I knew that I needed to step back, revamp and rework things. So I signed up for a free trial to see just what this Showit thing was all about.
Y’all. After just a few days I was completely hooked.
Seriously. They are honestly only as limited as your imagination. The simple “drag and drop” function makes it easy and quick to customize one of their existing templates or just start from scratch and create something totally unique to you and your business. I could spend hours sketching out new designs and drawing them in their design window because there is just so much flexibility.
Let’s face it: Mobile responsiveness is here to stay and there’s just no way around that. With any WordPress based template, there’s a whole separate set of coding that goes into optimizing a site for mobile. It’s somewhat complicated and it’s ever-changing. With Showit, it’s honestly as simple as click, drag and drop. Which brings me to my next point…
I have been in the design business for nine years and the world of Html, CSS, and PHP changes every time you turn around. Much like an Instagram algorithm, the constant change and the never-ending updates to the way things work is exhausting. Quite frankly, with three kids and a business to run, ain’t nobody got time for that. My top priority as a business owner is to make sure that you are getting the BEST service possible and that your website is updated, current and at its best at all times. When the coding dynamic changes (again), it’s not fair for me to expect you, my client, to make the changes to keep it going on your own. With Showit, you never have to worry about that. Want to move something? Change an image? Replace a link? Click and fix, baby.
No, not the WordPress coding side, but the content management functionality that leaves WordPress at the top when it comes to writing, sharing and publishing online content. You get the same blog posting, page writing, image inserting functionality in your normal blog posts that you would with any other WordPress based site. User-friendly and fast makes for a happy business owner.
Okay, you really don’t have 99 problems with Showit, but for real. SEO isn’t an issue either. Every page in Showit is setup, built and designed to allow for you to optimize your content and your reach with Search Engine capabilities and reliability. Time to up the ante on your keyword analysis, because the Showit team thought this one out. Whether it’s page titles, meta descriptions, alt tags, or industry-specific keywords…they’ve got that covered.
When you purchase your Showit account, your hosting is included! The thing I think I am most looking forward to in the new year come 2020, is not having to renew a $200 hosting account because Showit has that taken care of already. I would much rather pay a monthly fee of $24 (which is about the equivalent of my Starbucks order…don’t judge) than pay a much larger price once a year. For small businesses and startups, this yearly price tag can be a lot harder to budget for than a small monthly fee.
I have worked with so many different clients with so many different hosting providers. I know good customer service and I know all about really bad customer service. Showit ranks up there with some of the most knowledgable and friendly of any business I’ve ever had to encounter. Next to the ladies over at Cultivate What Matters, Showit probably has most companies beat when it comes to this vital part of business success. They not only have a wide variety of help articles available for browsing, but their live chat option and response time is stellar. Not only that, but I’m currently in the process of migrating my personal website over to Showit from WordPress and they are handling everything involved with the move so all I have to do is handle my design work and create new content and they do the migration work for me (which is one of the most time consuming and tedious parts).
I think the real question now is why wouldn’t you move to Showit? Who are you blogging with? Are you a Showit user already or are you with WordPress? I’d love to know what made you choose your current platform. If you’re interested in making the transition to Showit, I would love to help! Leave me a comment or drop me a line and let’s talk!
Church Hurt…almost everyone who has ever attended church on Sunday mornings has experienced it. Sadly, I received an email a few days ago that broke my heart. It wasn’t the first of its kind and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It was from a sweet soul who, like many, have fallen victim to that hurt I’m referring to. You know the kind I’m talking about.
The downward glances and the feeling that no matter what you do, you will never be one of them.
Because in church, there are cliques. Every church, every size, every place. There are the ones who attend weekly because it’s what you do. There are the ones who only come for special events. Then there are the ones who are always on the “in.” They are the cool kids. The ‘chosen ones’ as Josh and I have referred to them in the past. No matter what they do or who they upset, they manage to stay on the up-and-up within the congregation.
In one sense, that’s okay. It’s good to have stable and reliable individuals within any body of believers—assuming of course that they are held to the same biblical standards as everyone else and held accountable for their words and actions. What’s not okay, however, is when the church becomes a social club that only allows certain folks in. That’s where the American church is missing the mark. We have exchanged the notion of welcoming in “sinners” with the belief that we are too good for them. Generally forgetting that we are sinners, too.
Being a member of the American church has taught me a few things over the years. Some good, others not so good.
There is a misconception that a pastor is untouchable and immovable. Friends, this is a lie. I have heard far too many stories of ministers, preachers, and pastors who have fallen and fallen hard. Some who have fallen due to monetary struggles (i.e. greed and embezzlement) but more often than not, with personal struggles and temptations. Pastors who have placed themselves in situations that likely could have been avoided, but were not. We are encouraged to pray for our pastors and it’s our duty to remember that because they are pastors, they are often on the devil’s radar. We also cannot forget that they are human. They are not God nor are they perfect. They are broken individuals just like we are.
I wish this wasn’t true, but it is. Wouldn’t it be nice to believe that people inside the walls of a church were the most loving, welcoming and encouraging people around? Wishful thinking, I know. Nevertheless
We [the American church] are turning people away all on our own because we have failed to welcome them into our ranks. That homeless person who sits on the back row every few Sundays that no one speaks to? Has anyone welcomed them? Have you? M
Personal conviction from the Holy Spirit is often much bigger than we recognize. Our job is to give grace.
Are you smiling, only shaking the hands of the people who you don’t make you feel uncomfortable and passing by the ones who look too ‘messy’ or ‘broken’ for you to acknowledge? We are failing them, friends. We’ve got to step up our game.
Whether it’s the youth minister, the preacher’s wife or the pastor himself…some people will seemingly never catch flack for their conduct and behavior. I have personally been on the receiving end of hurt by a pastors wife at least three times that I can distinctly remember. You know what? It sucks. It hurts. But they are people, too. They make mistakes, too.
Despite the pain that that has caused me in the past, I know that I personally have hurt people unintentionally in the past before as well and I do not want someone to hold that over my head one day when I am a pastors wife. We cannot always be perfect and we are going to mess up. Such is life.
On that note, we also need to remember that as a church body, we do not always know what goes on behind the scenes. That thing the youth minister did that rubbed you (or perhaps the entire congregation) the wrong way? That thing the preacher’s wife did or said that you thought no one else noticed? The comment the pastor made during the Sunday service that didn’t quite sit right with you? We don’t always know the full extent of what goes on after the fact in those circumstances. We don’t always know what God may be doing in them, with them or to them as a result of their actions. Personal conviction from the Holy Spirit is often much bigger than we recognize. Our job is to give grace.
It’s easy to look at the church and see only through the eyes of someone who has been hurt, burned or burdened by it. I’ve been there. I get it, believe me. In the midst of my own pain after dealing with some of the worst “church hurt” I have ever experienced in my life, I walked away. I turned my back on church as a whole and never wanted to go back. I know others who have been hurt by churches in the same way and haven’t been back in decades.
Our responsibility as believers isn’t to everyone else and their actions. It’s to ourselves and how we are acting within the walls of the church and community we have been placed. The questions is, are we doing it?