Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015 Recap

It's so cliché and also true, but it's hard to believe that 2015 is almost over.  It seems as if it just began and yet it also feels as if it has been a long year. 




God has taught me much this year about contentment.  You may remember that I chose that word as my One Word for 2015. The funny thing is that not only have I been reminded time and time again by the Holy Spirit about being content, I am also still very focused on grace (which was my One Word for 2014). I haven't chosen my One Word for 2016 and am praying about that in the next week ahead before the new year.  All I know is the past two years have been amazing growth experiences in my walk with Christ especially in those areas, so I don't want to choose willy-nilly!




I want to give a bit of a testimony of 2015 for you. If you read the linked post above you note that I wrote of my discontentment in my career.  And if you know me personally, you probably know that in August, I started in a new position within my company.  Obviously, I praise God so much for this answer to many prayers.  But the true testimony of God's glory comes in the timing of this promotion.  See, even though I knew my focus was to be more content, and I studied about it, determined the root causes and also how to combat them, I still didn't fully realize it until July! 




I clearly remember the prayer.  I was finally surrendering.  Oh, I said the words many times before, but God isn't fooled, He knows our hearts.  We can lie to others and even ourselves, but God can't be deceived.  I was driving from Durham back to Raleigh while filling in for someone at work.  I remember fully, wholeheartedly declaring that I would be content wherever God placed me.  Even if I never got another job and stayed there for the next 18 years until I retire that I would trust God and know that He decided it was to be that way and I would be content.




Because that is the biggest lesson I learned, lack of contentment is lack of trust.  It's believing that God is holding out on you.  It's believing that there is something better than what He has given. The complaints we make are much deeper than we realize- they reveal a lack of trust that God has given you ALL you need and it is the very best for you!  I cried right there in that truck, talking to God and confessing it all.  Admitting my sin and begging for forgiveness.  And I knew in that moment that I truly, honestly, deeply meant it and I felt so FREE! 




And the next part of this story is where God decided to show off.  See less than an hour after that whole experience, I got a phone call offering me the position I have now.  A position I had applied for in January and interviewed for in February.  But because of the hold ups and God teaching me about trust, it wasn't approved until that day at the exact time that I was surrendering to him!




It's easy to say, sure, I became content, because God changed my circumstances.  But the root of the discontentment was lack of trust.  That doesn't change based on circumstances.  Lack of trust would rare it's ugly head in other ways. But I can honestly say over the past couple of months, when I needed it most, that my deep trust and confidence in God has been solid, because of that meeting we had together in a truck in July.





God is in control.  He is sovereign. Nothing happens that He doesn't allow.  And if something happens we may disagree with, then we need to trust that He has a plan and a purpose for it and then we need to surrender it to him.  When we think we know better than God, we can't let things go and they cause bitterness and discontentment.  But when we FULLY trust in him and his word, we rest and we know peace.




I pray for each of you a peace this coming year that you have never known. Peace doesn't mean you will have a year free of trials or hardships, but it does mean that you fully trust that God will protect you through it and you will grow stronger and develop a deeper relationship with Jesus. 




Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours.




And many prayers for those of you who are hurting this year and have yet to find that peace.  I pray you trust God more in 2016 than you ever have before!






Love in Christ,




Alyson

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction -Book Review



I would like to start this off by saying, I am a big fan of Candace Cameron Bure. I, like all females who grew up watching Full House, loved D.J. Tanner and secretly (or not so secretly) wished we were her.  And though I didn't follow her career after Full House, right around the time I was married, I stumbled upon a website she started called RooMag (sadly it's no longer available, so don't worry about searching Google for it.)  She had a host of bloggers writing about all different areas- fashion, faith, fitness, family and food, because apparently all good blogs are about a topic that starts with the letter "f"! ;-)

Anyway, it was here that I learned that she was now married with three children and that she claimed to be a Christian.  Well the skeptic in me started searching her personal website for what she thought being a Christian meant, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that for her it was more than a proclaimed belief in God for the sake of not going to Hell (this "belief" unfortunately is all too common in those professing to be Christian, yet they live lives that in NO way look like Christ).
No, Candace Cameron Bure, in her statements of faith believes in the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ and is the Real Deal!


Fast forward to last year, when I found out that she would be on the reality TV show Dancing with the Stars.  I must admit here, that I had never actually watched the show.  And in fact, my husband and I don't watch many TV shows as all, unless they are on Netflix.  But I was super excited for the light of Christ to be shown from an actress in such a public way, and had no doubt that she would glorify God at every turn.  I will admit that I still didn't watch the show live when it aired, but I watched her dance from the previous night the next day and voted for her every single week! And Spoiler alert if you didn't know, she came in third!

Now fast forward to present day, (I know you are thinking finally- isn't this a book review)... when I heard Candace (I'll just refer to her as Candace, because you know, we are BFFs and everything- haha) was writing a book about her experience on DWTS, I thought that would be pretty cool to take a backstage look at a reality TV show.  And while yes, there is a lot of behind the scene information that she gives, this book is SO MUCH MORE than that!


I loved her format, each chapter is about each week in the competition. And I really enjoyed her openness and honesty about her struggles, fears, sins and how God revealed them to her and then how she processed and dealt with them all ultimately coming out a stronger Christian on the other side of the competition. Another aspect about this book that I was surprised to find, but oh so delighted in, was Candace's use of scripture.  She didn't throw around any ole' scripture reference or pick out one verse, but instead she discussed passages of scripture, from David in the Psalms to Esther and to James in the New Testament.  She dove into the Word, sharing the truths that God had revealed to her in them and how they applied to her.  And as if all of that wasn't enough, she shared the gospel. That's right, hopefully nonbelievers will pick up a copy of this book and will be able to read about the saving Grace of Jesus Christ to a world desperately in need of saving because we are ALL sinners every single one.

I don't want to give anything away, but I will tell you that something else I appreciated about this book is that these struggles that she faces are NO different than the same issues we face in our not-so-famous lives.  Communication issues with teenagers/kids, worry about other people's thoughts about our actions, approval, doubt, fear, marriage.  Candace offers insight into very common, every day issues that everyone faces and also the hope that Christ offers in those areas and situations.


If you follow me on social media at all (and if you don't, what are you waiting for??) then you probably saw many of these pictures before as I was sharing about the book.  The reason is, because I was chosen to be part of the launch team for the release of the book. (EEEK- I know lucky me)  But before you start thinking there is funny business going on, I assure you that the only thing I have been given is a free download of the first chapter, that I didn't even download because I already bought the kindle version of the book.  All of these thoughts within this blog are my own and I highly recommend that you buy a copy of this book for yourself, because it is that good.


And once you've read it, I'd love to know your thoughts. Connect with me on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, email (coveredlifeblog@gmail.com) or you can leave a comment here!

Love in Christ,

Alyson

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Time to Be Silent

So hey everybody... welcome back.  Sorry for the unplanned hiatus that has occurred here.  I will simply say that there is a time to speak and a time to silence  as mentioned in Ecclesiastes 3:7b.

I try very much to stay true to what God lays on my heart.  I believe in the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to call us out on our sins.  What I like to share with you is the journey I am on in putting those sins to death.  However, there are times, when I write a blog and don't share it, which has happened a few times within the last couple of months.  And honestly it's because I believe that sometimes my words may be taken in a judging way, calling out someone in their sin, when this is not the intention or the place for that.

Do I want people to be challenged and spurred on to deeper faith through the words I share? Absolutely! But I want it to be clear that the Holy Spirit is the one stepping on those hurting toes through those words and not me.  So, sometimes I don't share my posts...

Anyway, enough of that- here is a catch up for you all because now is the time to SPEAK!! ;-)
We have had some wonderful family time this summer, in South Carolina with TJ's family and here at home with my family and Sister, Brother-in-law and nephew who came in for a visit.

Our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Family after my nephew's themed
sixth birthday party!  My son just wants to go home with him, hence the concerned face.

Also, exciting things are on the horizon- in September we are beginning an Awana ministry at our church and I am assistant commander.  That has been fun and I am thrilled that we will be offering this.

And this week I managed to finish three different books! Let me clarify that by saying that two were already 3/4 of the way completed and two of the three were audio books. (which I am a HUGE fan of during my loooong commute!)  Be on the look out Monday for my Review of one of the books, Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction by Candace Cameron Bure.

Another new exciting happening is that I am starting a new job on Monday!  I am still within the same agency, just in a different unit.  I'm super excited about this and want to share more about that in a separate post because this rambling one has already gone on for far too long!


Friday, June 12, 2015

Happy Birthday PLUS a Giveaway

June has always been one of my favorite months.  It was the month that school ended (until college). It is the month that summer begins.  Full of long days, lemonade, family time, ball games, cook-outs and summer camp.  Plus June always starts with my birthday (as in June 1st).

And if that wasn't reason enough to celebrate I have another reason to share with you... This month marks my one year anniversary (or Jam-iversary) as an Independent Consultant with Jamberry!  Hard to believe it's been a year already! A lot of prayer went into the decision to start with Jamberry, and I'm happy to say that I believe I'm right where God wants me to be. 

I've had the opportunity to meet some great people, pay for extra expenses like Christmas and Birthdays, slow down my nail biting habit (that is actually gone as long as I'm wearing the wraps) and discover my small but still existent creative side by designing my own wraps!  Plus, I got to have fun nails and feel pretty and help others do the same! ;-) (You can check out more of my Jam story on my Jamberry page above.)

So in the name of celebrations, I have a present for one of you!! I am giving away 2 half-sheets of nail wraps! Each sheet will provide a full mani and a full pedi! One is perfect for the Fourth of July and the other is just fun for anytime and kind of reminds me of the pool! :-)


There are 5 possible ways you can enter:
1- This website (comment at the bottom of this post, please include your name in your comment)
2- Facebook (Like my facebook page facebook.com/alysontamerjams AND comment on the picture that I post about this giveaway.
3- Pinterest -Repin the pic about the giveaway-(pinterest.com/alywtamer/)
4- Instagram- Like and comment on the picture of the giveaway (instagram.com/alywtamer/)
5- Twitter Retweet my tweet about it (twitter.com/alywtamer)

So if you do all five you get 5 entries into the drawing!! Your comment doesn't have to be elaborate, a simple- "Mine!" or "Pick Me!" will do! ;-)

The contest runs from now through Friday June 19 at 11:59 pm. The winner will be announced by Monday, June 22 at noon.

I look forward to celebrating with all of you and to reading your comments! If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email: coveredlifeblog@gmail.com -though that won't count as an entry. ;-)

Happy Day (as my son says) and good luck!



Love in Christ, 

Alyson

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Why We Need Some "Me Time" Everyday

So throughout my life, I have come to an understanding that when God places the same idea, scripture, topic in front of my face multiple times from completely different sources, He wants me to pay attention!  It can be something said in Sunday School or discipleship groups, or from the sermon, a blog post, or in my quiet time...either way, I usually hear or see it several times.  The funny thing about this particular topic, is that I had already received the message and decided to share with you all here, when I heard the idea again this morning in my Make Over Your Mornings course (that I mentioned in my last post from Money Saving Mom).

Before I share it with you, I'd like to confess something about myself... I didn't realize how selfish I was, until I had a son.  Sure there was an adjustment when I got married.  But as I mentioned in this post, I had such a desire to be a "good wife" I went a bit overboard with my expectations.  But when I became a mom, I had absolute complete love for my little one.  I didn't actually mind getting up and feeding him and changing his diaper... as long as his daddy woke up, too! And through the past couple of years I have unfortunately made my frustrations known when I've been interrupted while trying to just take some time for me. 

But I fully believe that we do need to take some time for us every day. See, what has been showing up in front of my face over and over for the past few days is that I need to refuel, recharge, renew etc.  The unfortunate thing, is there is this idea that to take time for yourself makes you selfish.  In some instances, like the lady who left her 9 year old home alone for a weekend so she could go to the beach with her boyfriend- that is absolutely the case! Or when I am playing a game, or looking at social media and feel inconvenienced when my husband or son are interrupting me... yep- selfish. 

But in day to day life, we NEED to take some time for us.  So let's further clarify this "me time"... those small moments of time for you whether it's early in the morning before the kids wake up, or at night after they've gone to bed, or during nap time, or during your lunch break while you are at work (pick me), we need to make the most of them.  The first priority for me in those times is checking Facebook- NO it's not! If I do, then it sucks all the time away... so no, the first priority for me in those moments is time spent with God. A devotion, a Bible study, reading through the Bible- whatever-- it's digging into God's word, and spending some time in prayer.  How can I possibly be the godly wife and mother that God has called me to be, if I am not first filling myself up with Him?  How can I serve in ministry at my church, or volunteer, or be an example to others, unless I take time to recharge and refuel with God and his word?  

In the past, I have mistakenly let this time slip and in so doing, I end up trying to give and serve and find myself worn out and coasting on fumes.  Cars won't go on "want to" and neither will we be able to go and go, on willpower alone.  We MUST take time to spend with God and set that as a priority.  



So our first priority in "me time" is to equip our souls and the second is to take care of our bodies.  We NEED sleep.  Before you make excuses about why you can't because of your kids let me say, I get it.  I remember the middle of the night wake ups (multiple times a night).  But I also know that I will be better off not to stay up late watching that TV show or movie, or looking at the computer or phone screen or even reading.  Sure those things may fit into the definition of "me time" but they shouldn't come before your quiet time, sleep time (however long that is for you 6, 7, 5 hours), or even exercise time.  And routine exercise doesn't have to be about being a certain size, but instead it's about taking care of your temple and being healthy whatever size you are and it's important.

See this is what I've learned and so I'm sharing.  Because I have absolutely struggled in this area. I use moments that could be better spent equipping me and instead turn into a bit of a sloth in front of the TV.  I'm not saying that TV and social media are of the devil, because in and of themselves they aren't. But what I have found is that when I am not glued to the TV or my phone then I am much more productive in keeping the house picked up, spending quality time with my son and husband, and feeling rested.  And because I want to reach the full potential that God has prepared me for- being a godly wife, mother, daughter, sister, employee, friend, Pastor's wife, etc. then I have to use the precious moments of time I have, to refuel (by spending time in the word), recharge (getting enough sleep or as much as possible in this season), and re-energize (by exercising and eating well).  By properly taking care of me, I am able to selflessly give to others, which makes this whole "me time" thing not selfish at all.  

And depending on the age of your kids, you can always have family fit time where you exercise together. On Sundays and sometimes Saturdays, our family has family nap time! haha  And I highly recommend modeling a quiet time for your kids, where they have theirs when you do... not really an option at this point for me with a 2 year old but hopefully something for the future!

Whatever this looks like for you, I encourage you to discuss it with your husband and work together to set time aside for both of you to accomplish these 3 priorities in your routine.

Love in Christ,

Alyson

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Making Over My Mornings

I don't know about you, but if I start out my day on the wrong foot it seems to throw a kink into the whole rest of the day!  This may mean I over sleep (hitting that snooze button just one too many times) or I can't figure out what to wear, or my hair is just going crazy!  So when I saw that Crystal Paine at Money Saving Mom had put together a web course about making over your mornings I was pretty excited.  Mainly because I have been following her blog and Facebook posts for a few years now and really like what she has to say, but also because my mornings could do with a bit of a makeover!




First things first, I was curious what this "web course" would entail. When you purchase her class (which is only $17) you get a workbook and access to fourteen less than 5 minute videos from Crystal -one for every day of the course! The total amount of time this takes is 15 minutes or less a day- totally doable!

Each day has a couple of ideas or tweaks and opportunity in the workbook for you to record your goals and strategies.

For example, day two's title is "Your Morning Begins the Night Before."  From elementary school my mom always wanted us to lay our clothes out the night before...sometimes that happened. ;-)  But it definitely became a goal when I entered the workforce after college.  So part of my nightly routine is to lay out Bug's clothes (on daycare days) and pick out my outfit as well... hubs is on his own! ;-)

Another important thing to do the night before that has a HUGE effect on my morning and entire day is go to bed earlier than too late! One of my stressers in the morning is traffic on the way to work.  Due to where I work it is pretty unavoidable, but I have found that if I can leave my house 10-20 minutes earlier the traffic is MUCH better...or maybe I don't feel as stressed about the possibility of being late because of wrecks or back ups because I have a cushion... either way earlier is better for me!  But more times than not, at night I lay in bed looking at my phone and any of the apps of social media, Pinterest or games that can suck my sleepy time away and before I know it, I've been laying there for an hour when I should have already been asleep! And when I go to bed too late, I am much more inclined to hit that snooze button 3, 4, 5 times!

You may be thinking that these ideas aren't rocket science, and you are correct. But when was the last time you really focused on your morning routine? And like this example, how much the night before can play a role in your next day's success?  And even though we know it, how often do we actually put steps in place to change it?

And that's what this course is about.  It's taking a look at the first part of the day and figuring out how to structure it in such a way that helps with the flow of the rest of the day.  You may be saying, Crystal is a work at home mom who homeschools, how is what she says going to work for me?  Admittedly, she mentions taking a nap when your kids do in the afternoon, which I have done during my lunch break before (mainly when I was pregnant) but isn't all that realistic in most cases (even for the moms who are at home)! However, Crystal offers great tips for all moms, no matter what season of life you are in, whether you are getting your kids ready for school, or are setting up your routine for being at home. Or like me, who just has to get myself up, ready and out the door (thank you my wonderful husband)-- there is great info for everyone!

So I encourage you to check it out.  You can (hopefully) click the picture above, or you can visit this link: https://gr161.isrefer.com/go/MYM/tamer7911/ (which is my affiliate link for the program).  And there are also Facebook groups you can join with others who are going through the course.  And if you decide to do it, PLEASE let me know.  I'd love to discuss it with you and have added accountability!

Love in Christ,

Alyson

PS- I have added pages at the top under my header about me and a Jamberry info page.  You can totally check those out, too!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Just for Fun


Today I have a just for funsies blog post.  It's different than my normal posts, but there isn't really any formula to my blogging anyway- so here you go!

Question 1: How tall are you?

5'5"

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?

Not really...I sing some, but that's not all that hidden.

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

When a blog is completely covered in ads and I'm trying to read it on my phone and end up going to another page or can't scroll because of pop-ups.  Even if it was an article someone recommended I read, if that happens... I usually stop reading. :-/

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?

Empty toilet paper rolls that haven't been replaced but have the new toilet paper within reach or sitting on top.  Seriously, you are sitting there anyway if you needed toilet paper, how hard is it to change out the roll?

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?

Hmm... I don't know if I could ever pick just one... but there is one that has stood the test of time in that I haven't gotten tired of listening to it since I first heard it in college: "Video" by India Arie

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?

I don't have one myself...and I don't spend a whole lot of time on Etsy actually, but I did order this necklace in grey from Happy Little Lovelies and loved it!  

And recently my husband has discovered a shop called 1689 Beard that sales beard oils and beard balm to keep his beard nice and healthy.

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

I'm a mom of a toddler-when am I ever alone? haha...  I am a HUGE fan of naps. For him and for me! ;-)  I also started watching "Once Upon a Time" on Netflix last year, but have since caught up with the show that is now on break for summer. :-( So I am looking for a new show that my hubby won't like, to binge watch when I'm alone- any suggestions are welcome...

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?

Unfortunately, I am a big fan of pretty much all junk food.  Ice cream may be my favorite though, especially if it's homemade.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?

No, I do not.

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?

Let's see, the Bible is the obvious answer ;-)  for the unobvious, I will say that I really enjoyed You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan.  It is technically a marriage book, but very much focused on your own relationship with Christ first. And I loved it and highly recommend it!  Another nonfiction that I recommend to all single ladies is "Lady in Waiting"- it completely changed my thoughts on "waiting" for a man and the fact that I didn't actually need to have that mindset.
Fiction... hmm, I very much enjoyed the Harry Potter series.  And I like Christian fiction books and I've enjoyed the Veronica Mars books, because I just cannot get enough of that show.  

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?

If you know me, this won't surprise you - but I don't really do much make-up or have a big detailed crazy-long beauty routine. But, I will say that anything that allows me to let my hair air dry while accentuating my curls and decreasing the frizz is my favorite! And because I don't wear a lot of make-up, I also really like Mary Kay's Mineral Powder Foundation- it's not liquid and heavy and goopey. Instead it is light and easy! And as a bonus I can use it to put on my mascara because the lid is like a mirror- (because that is seriously all I do- powder foundation and mascara with sunscreen underneath now that I walk outdoors more.)
Hmm, so I guess I did have a favorite or few! 

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?

I was offered some home-made cake by a co-worker, when I asked what the occasion was, he said it was his birthday... whoops, sorry...Happy Birthday?! :-/

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Besides water, probably coffee.  You can have it blended, iced, hot, flavored! 

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?

Well, I really love the movie "Shag".  I've watched it so many times with my family that not only is it a favorite, but there are so many memories attached to it now! 

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

Well, I went to a very small high school (60 in my graduating class).  That being said, we didn't follow usual social norms of being in one group.  So, I was a Beta Club nerd and Valedictorian, I was a band geek for a couple of years, I was a jock playing volleyball and softball, I was a redneck FFA (Future Farmers of America) president, and I was a class officer and on Homecoming Court... so there you go.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Well, I'm pretty happy where I am...but I would have a house in New York, Ireland, the mountains, and the beach I suppose with a helicopter to get to each quickly, or a jet I guess for Ireland and New York...you know, since we're dreaming! ;-)

Question 17: PC or Mac?

I am a PC fan myself, however when my computer died I became a Mac girl at home since that's what my husband has.

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

My hubs and I kiss every day so I don't know if that counts... but he sometimes leaves me sweet notes on our dry erase board on the back of the door... which is really pretty sweet since most of my notes to him are a list of things to not forget - that I make at his request! :-D

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?

Probably Candace Cameron Bure.  

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

Jen Thorn- she constantly encourages and challenges me with her posts.

So there you go all the things you now know about me that you never wanted to! ;-)
And if you have any suggestions for shows to binge watch, blogs to read, hair/beauty products to try, or books to read please share them with me-  I am always open to other's ideas and suggestions!
Have a fabulous day!
Love in Christ, 
Alyson

Monday, May 25, 2015

Happy Memorial Day

Today is a repost of my Memorial Day post from last year... because I still believe all I said then!  Happy Memorial Day.  Thank you service men, women and families for your service and sacrifice.

Posted originally on May 26, 2014:

For many people, Memorial Day means pools are now open for the season. Beaches are begging to be visited for the weekend. The work week is shorter. And the day isn't complete without cookouts, friends, and fireworks.  And we are truly blessed, that today, we have the freedom to be able to do any of those things.  

But, let us not forget what Memorial Day is really for- it was established as a day to remember and honor the many men and women who died while serving in the military.  You may not be personally associated with anyone who has ever served in the military, but there are many families who know first hand the sacrifices that are made by not only the soldiers, but also their families.  There are long hours of training and many days they spend separated from their families.  And for some, the ultimate sacrifice of their life has been given.




So whether you have a cookout, go to the beach, or place a US flag on the grave of a fallen soldier please take just a moment to remember the many men and women who gave their lives for your freedom. I encourage you to thank God for them and to pray for the families they left behind.  And also, pray for the safety of those who are currently serving and their families.


Love in Christ,

Alyson

Friday, May 22, 2015

When Life Knocks You Down

Sometimes life just stinks... It just does. You don't get the promotion you were counting on.  Your car breaks down. There is an illness or disease.  Whatever it is, it completely takes you down.

So what do you do when you get knocked down?  Well, as we've always been taught... you get back up again.  There was even a song by Chumbawamba (seriously didn't know that was their name, had to look that one up) about it in the 90's- "I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never going keep me down..."

If that was as easy as it was, I guess I could stop writing right here.  But it's not that easy.  Sometimes you not only feel knocked down, but there seems to be one thing after another that keep knocking you back down no matter how hard you are trying to get up.  Picture an ocean current that has you flipping and rolling all over the place.

It seems easier at these times to just give up.  To throw yourself a pity party and call it a day, week, or even a year.  BUT, does giving up make it any better?  Are you happier?  Are you missing out because you decided to quit?

It's been a pretty blah couple of weeks for me- hence this post. And the problem is that when the first blow came, I said all the "right" things and told myself what I needed to do (let it go - I even sang it!) but I didn't.  And then the next wave hit and I lost my temper- all over my poor husband. Then the next and the next.  Until I woke up Thursday morning sure that it was Friday and then devastated (ok not really, but pretty bummed) when I realized that I had 2 more work days instead of one.  Because I am exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally spent.

But here's the thing, if I stay in this defeated state then even small things that can typically roll off my back with no second thought feel like 50 pound weights added to my shoulders.  And I don't know about you, but I don't have any desire to carry around any extra weight!

So, what do I do?  Well, I pray.  I cry out to Jesus.  He already knows what's been happening and God's been allowing it. Now if that makes you feel angry or betrayed by God- then first tell him that.  But make sure you go to step 2 which is ask what He wants to teach you through it.

God isn't some puppet-master who doesn't care about his creation.  He obviously cares very much- He sent his only son to die for us!  And there are things we may have to go through because the world has been broken by sin and because God is refining us and developing our faith.

Step 2 can also (and usually does) include intentional specific Bible study and talking with a trusted wiser brother/sister in Christ.  And step 3 is about praising and thanking God.  This doesn't mean you are healed, over it, moving on- this is when you are still in that place of unrest. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances.  I know easier said than done.  But before you write it off, I encourage you to give it a try.


When we are rejoicing, praying and giving thanks our focus is redirected off of ourselves and back where it belongs- on Jesus.  When I focus on Jesus and all he is and all he endured my troubles become just what they are- momentary in light of eternity.  We can't lose sight of the Gospel because that is our purpose and mission on earth- to spread the good news to all the earth so that people's lives will be saved for eternity!

I believe that Satan takes joy in our complaining and wallowing.  Because when we are stuck in that place we aren't sharing the hope, peace, and love that comes from knowing Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord.

So as I stated before, sometimes life really does stink.  Sometimes stuff happens and it literally and figuratively knocks you flat on your butt.  But don't stay there. Get back up and continue the journey.  Praise God through it.  Pray through it. Give thanks through it.  And continue to focus on God and how good, mighty, awesome, powerful, loving, merciful and sovereign He is instead of focusing on yourself.

Love in Christ, 

Alyson



Friday, May 15, 2015

Old Habits are Hard to Break

I am quite a metaphorical person, as in I love using commonly known ideas or situations as a comparison to aid in the understanding of more difficult concepts. If that didn't make sense, bear with me and perhaps it will in a minute...

Last summer the manufacturer of my contact lenses stopped making the brand of contacts I had been wearing for over ten years.  I was quite bummed because they were a great fit.  But in my quest to find new contacts, with each new pair I tried, my eyes started being itchy and red and I was unable to keep the contact in for longer than a day and half.  For someone who leaves there contacts in for weeks at a time this was quite inconvenient, not to mention painful.  After several eye doctor visits, while taking time off work, and changing solution and contacts I was still having the issue.  So last autumn I started wearing my glasses exclusively... until a week ago, when I put in my contacts to take my son to a swim party.

Since then I have been back to wearing my contacts (thankfully with no eye issues).  The crazy thing is, that even though I don't have my glasses on, I still find myself reaching up to adjust them.  At night I go to take them off and during the day I attempt to push them up my nose- but they aren't even there!

One time after it happened it made me think of how we are as Christians when we are dealing with our sin.  Our sins can really affect our day to day activities not to mention our emotions and reactions.  And even if we have repented of the sin and are praying and reading scripture so that Jesus can have victory over the sin, our old habits are hard to break.  We must be on guard every day, dying to our flesh (those sin natures we are born with), and living for Christ who gave us new birth making us new creations.



How many times do we just react a certain way because we always have even when we know we shouldn't.

It's a bit of an over simplified metaphor for such a complex issue as sin, but the craziest things remind me of spiritual things and I just roll with it.  And lucky you, because I have a blog, you get to hear (read) about it!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend and perhaps even catch yourself starting to fall into the habits of your old self and stopping in your tracks by remembering that you are a new creation!

Love in Christ,

Alyson

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Why is Being a Christian Hard Sometimes?


Why is being a Christian so hard?  It didn't seem to be as difficult when I was younger.  Shouldn't it be easier to be more Christlike the more mature I become in my faith?

When I was little, I seriously thought that the older I got the easier life became... walking is much easier than crawling, and growing taller meant I could reach things with more ease.  Obviously this idea of ease with age was thwarted some when Algebra was introduced with end of grade tests and puberty, then college and bills and finally an adult- "Can't nobody tell me what to do anymore!"  But as all adults over the age of 22 know, the added responsibilities that you now have, actually keep you more focused and grounded than your 21 year old self thought they would.

So what does this have to do with being a Christian? Well, I'll tell you...

When we are new believers, likened to babies on milk, we are taking it all in, soaking it up like a sponge.  We are hungry and can't get full. And with each new truth we grasp, we grow and progress in our faith journey.  As we start getting more into the solid food (deeper truths) of God's word there may be some bumps in the road that are opportunities for our faith to be honed and strengthened. Through them, we start to fully believe that God is who He says He is because He has proven himself faithful. I believe there are some believers who stay in this place for a long time... I know I did.  I wanted to learn from others and read devotion books and basically have someone else digest the more difficult concepts of scripture and then spit it out to me in succinct bullet pointed form that I could easily accept without too much digestion on my part.

Now, hear me when I say this that I am not opposed to devotion books or teachers or pastors.  I think those things are very helpful, and I think teachers and pastors are vital to our knowledge and understanding.  But, there comes a time in a believer's life where they have to make a decision.  Not the decision of belief- that one's already done if you are Christian.  The decision I'm referring to is the one where you decide that you want to really be all that you were created to be.  Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we were created with a purpose- a purpose that God has already planned for us: "For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them."  In actuality, all Christians should continue to mature and live in this purpose.

And not to scare you but this is the part where being a Christian becomes the most difficult... but it's also the most amazing (on earth because it gets way better in heaven).  But this takes us back to the original question.  And in my (completely unauthoritative, I'm a sinner too) humble opinion being a Christian is harder now because we are more aware of our sin. And if we truly want to walk in the purpose God has prepared for us then we don't want that sin to hinder us.

The Bible obviously has many passages that speak of putting sin to death and walking in the light. But one of my favorites is in Hebrews 12.  The author has just finished listing the members of the faith hall of fame in chapter 11 and he starts chapter 12 by saying in verse one: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (NIV)

Following the example of those saints who came before, we are to throw off our sin and run with perseverance! But it doesn't stop there-- in verse two we are told that the way we run the race is by keeping our focus on Jesus and in doing so we will not be discouraged but can take heart and have encouragement: "Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." (Hebrews 12:3-4 NIV) 

I just want to throw a "Booom!" on the end of that- it's like the author is saying being a Christian is hard, don't make it tougher by trying to run it entangled in sin- it needs to be removed first... look to Jesus- at least you aren't having to shed your blood for it like he did! Boom- sin can be defeated and we don't even have to shed our blood for it because boom- Jesus already did that for us!

You may be wondering how it gets better than that and it doesn't, but the rest is still pretty good, so go ahead over right now and read Chapter 12 of Hebrews...seriously, I'll wait here, you go there and read it but come back. ;-)

If you really read it, (which I hope you did) then you saw the part that also makes being a Christian seem difficult- God is disciplining us. This is not God smiting us or condemning us for every wrong thing we do- so DO NOT get that picture in your head.  God isn't condemning, he's correcting.  Because sin leads to death and destruction and God wants more for his children.

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11

So let's go back for a minute to the metaphor of the race we are running... to run a race well there is training involved and you need to discipline your body to be able to run the race with perseverance. This training/discipline hurts but it is for the greater purpose of not only running the race but finishing the race strong.  If we stay in the place of stagnant faith that I mentioned before then we are barely running the race.  It doesn't mean we sin less or that it isn't still there entangling us- if my shoe strings were tied together, I still may be able to walk, but I wouldn't be able to run with strength and with purpose or with perseverance.

So yeah, being a Christian can seem difficult.  But we cannot lose sight of the hope we have in Jesus. When we focus on him and the work he accomplished on the cross our hardships pale in comparison and we are reminded that they are light and temporary in light of our full glorious eternity in his presence!  So let's run this race with hope and strength and perseverance.  Let's face those sins and repent of them so they no longer hinder us.  And let's focus on Jesus, the perfect example and the perfecter of our faith.


Love in Christ,

Alyson




Monday, April 27, 2015

A Letter to My Son


My Dearest Son, 

I can't believe you are two years old. I want you to know, sweetie, that mama and daddy have prayed for you from before we knew you were you and every day through now...

The day you were born was a really long day.  But through it all, my sweet boy, I prayed for you and for me and safety for us both.  

The plans we initially had were changed, but you didn't mind hanging in a while longer.  The nurse showed us your heart rate and said you were having a party every time mama's body hugged you tight.  I had to laugh, because you already sounded very much like mama and how she was when she was your age.  When the final preparations for your arrival had been made, mommy and daddy sat holding hands waiting to hear your sweet, beautiful voice for the first time.  When I heard it, it was music to my ears and brought tears of joy to my eyes.  And I praised God and thanked him.

Daddy got to hold you first and we took your first pictures in this world.  Then you were taken with daddy to get cleaned up and shown off.  It took a while for mama to be able to see you again and hold you for the first time. While I waited, I prayed. I prayed for you, and me, and daddy and I praised God. As soon as I held you in my arms, I couldn't believe how very tiny you were and how much my body just overflowed with love and joy for you and for God.  At that moment I finally understood just how much God loves us and the extreme sacrifice that He made by sending his own son to save us. And I prayed thanking God over and over for Jesus and for you.

In the past two years, I have been overwhelmed with the pure love I have for you my son. Every minute has been an amazing adventure.  You surprise me every day with something new that you have learned. And I am in awe of the little man you are becoming before my eyes.

I want you to know, Bug, that I pray for you. I pray that you will develop a love for Jesus that grows and grows.  I pray that you go where God leads you and serve Him faithfully and fully.  I pray for your health.  I pray for your protection. But I pray most of all for your salvation.  Because, Bug, that is the most important thing in this world for you.  

As important as it is for mama and daddy to take care of you, feed you, clothe you, educate you, read to you, hug you, bathe you and love you, it is no where near as important as telling you about Jesus.  So my son, I want you to know that mama and daddy love you.  And Jesus loves you too.

I also want you to know that church will be a huge part of who we are and not just a place we go.

We will read our Bibles together as a family, because it is the most important book ever because it is God's words.  And we will memorize scriptures so you can be prepared for the battle that is life.

We will pray together as a family and mama and daddy will teach you to pray, because it is our responsibility to introduce you to Jesus and we don't take it lightly.

My dearest son, I know I will make mistakes, I have already made a plenty. But my promise to you, is that I will continue to pray. I will pray for guidance to parent you well.  I will pray for patience and strength and I will remember to teach you about God's grace by giving you grace. And I will demonstrate God's forgiveness by giving it to you and asking for it from you when I make mistakes. 

I thank God for you daily, my son. I will love you forever and pray for you always.

Love 
Mama 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Take Off That Scarlet "S"

There she is.  That lady at church. You know the one, she corners you every time she sees you and she asks "well meaning" questions like, "Are you dating anyone?" And sometimes she says it and sometimes it's left hanging in the air unspoken, but you hear it anyway..."You aren't getting any younger."

I remember that question, I heard it many times.  And it stings, whether we care to admit it or not.  Because in reality the answer may be out of our control.  "No, I'm not dating anyone...because no one has asked me out." But instead we slap on the happy face and the "I'm Independent Banner" and say, "No, I'm not." And the truly lovely ones say, "Well you just haven't found anyone good enough for you" and the ornery ones say, "You're getting too old to be so picky."

Oy vey! 

I want to tell you today, dear sister or brother, that you are not forgotten.  If you are single and feel like there is this dead-end age where you can't possibly get married if you are older than that, so all hope is lost, I tell you, there is no such age! Even when I tried to make one!  My aunts and mom stitched quilts for my sister and I the summer before my great aunt passed away.  That Christmas, her daughter gave those quilts to my sister and I as gifts, which was so sweet.  However, they were Wedding Ring quilts, meant to go on your marriage bed and neither of us were married at the time.  So the quilts were placed back in their boxes until we were married.  As I got older and older, I began to place an age on my quilt, telling my parents that if I wasn't married by 35 or 40 then I should just get it anyway, plus the wedding fund that they had!

But there is hope.  And it's not some fairy tale Prince Charming coming to rescue you and carry you away- because 1- this is reality and 2- what is he even rescuing you from?  Being single is NOT a disease.  It's a lifestyle.  It's a season.  It's a freedom. It's a calling-(Hello look at Paul)-  "Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." 1 Corinthians 7:6-9 (ESV)




So first things first, stop viewing your singleness as a cross to bear or a scarlet "S" upon your chest. (You know like the Scarlet Letter that she had to wear in shame... just look it up if you don't know.)  And start looking to Jesus.  Because I actually got it wrong earlier- there really is a Prince Charming and he did come to rescue us- but not from singleness- from sin.  So lean into Jesus.  You don't have to be all, "Jesus is my boyfriend" because that's just awkward- instead focus on Jesus is your Lord, your King and you are treasured and loved.

Please know that God hasn't forgotten you.  If you are a Christian, then you are his child. Acts 17:28  He loves you. John 16:27  He knows the hairs on your head. Matthew 10:30 He knows the ache in your heart.1 John 3:20 and Acts 15:8  And He also knows the plans He has for you Jeremiah 29:11 and the work He has created for you- you specifically- to do. Ephesians 2:10 Rest in these promises and truly seek Him.  And when we seek God with all of our heart, he gives us the desires of our hearts. Psalm 37:4  Beware- don't misinterpret this verse into making God a genie who grants your wishes.  Because what the verse is actually saying is as we seek more and more of God (through fellowship with other believers -church, reading his word, praying) and building that relationship with Jesus then our hearts deepest desires will align with God's desires for us.  And let me tell you, from experience, His plan is a WHOLE lot better than anything you can think up!

As the years pass by, it's easy to start feeling this imaginary (or real) pressure to marry. To believe a lie that says you can't be happy or complete until you have your "other half".  That is just bologna. My husband does not complete me, nor do I complete him.  Only Jesus can complete you.  Don't let others make you feel inferior or incomplete like you have this Scarlet "S" upon your chest.  Run to Jesus (who was single by the way) and trust him to guide you.



Love in Christ,

Alyson

PS- You can also check out this post on living life now and not waiting for marriage for your life to start.

**Also the Autism Fundraiser ends April 29th.  If you are interested in more info, you can contact me or check out the info here.



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thick Skin

Life is messy.  It just is. Sin entered the world and broke it. Which led to broken people. My husband likens this to a mirror.  When God created Adam and Eve they were like mirrors reflecting all the blessings God sent down into glory and praise and worship straight back up to Him. But when sin entered the world the mirror was busted.  The blessings still come down from God, but the glory and worship and praise is fractured and going off in all different directions (picture light hitting a broken mirror) and we then worship and praise other things and not just God.


We are a broken people with jagged edges.  And what happens when you encounter a jagged edge? Typically it jabs you and it hurts.  This could be physical pain where you actually do get hit, stabbed, bruised and it can also be emotional pain of harsh words, gossip, meanness, or bullying.  Both pains can wound and cause irreversible damage, but in my opinion, emotional pain even that caused by physical pain is the hardest to heal.

When I was younger, I wanted to believe the best of people.  I truly believed that people were over all good and just had a bad day here or there.  But after being walked over and taken advantage of many times I started developing a "tough skin."  I've heard people recommend many times throughout the past 10 years that you need to grow a thick skin and it seems to be an accepted practice.  But I have a problem with it.  And the problem is that if my outer skin is too thick and hardened then I can't be molded into the person the God wants me to be. (I mean sure God is all powerful, so He can completely break you but I think He also works in more subtle ways.)

I heard one time, I don't even remember where, that people can be like sandpaper - they rub you the wrong way and it hurts to be around them. But quite possibly God is using that person in your life to smooth out some of those jagged edges we were talking about before.  If we have a thick skin that allows everything people say to roll right on past, then we are opening up the door for pride to take root and closing the opportunity for people to point out those areas we need to work on.

Another detriment for having a "thick skin" is the wall it places between you and other people.  We were created for community and relationship, but if we keep our guard up all the time we are keeping ourselves from experiencing genuine, loving friendships.

Now let me say, there are absolutely times when we need to let what people say, roll right off our back.  And there are some relationships that don't need to be strengthened or developed.  This is where praying for discernment can be a HUGE help.  Because I do see (usually waaaay after the fact) that sandpaper people have their purpose, and that I look more like Jesus once they have rubbed me raw, but those are NOT the people with which I want to have deep, loving, trusting relationship. Jesus had an inner circle and the Pharisees weren't in it... not that that sandpaper lady in your church is a Pharisee... necessarily...haha ;-)

But life is messy.  And though becoming a believer in Jesus Christ does repair our mirror as much as possible in this world (as we let it), we are still broken.  We are still in need of grace and forgiveness. And we still need to extend the same grace and forgiveness to others.

In all transparency here, I will tell you that this has been an ongoing process for me over the last 10 years.  I have been hurt by many ugly words posted on social media, blogs, or even spoken to others and I started putting up walls.  It hurt my ministry and it hurt my witness.  Not to mention it's been down right lonely.

But as one blog I read recently put it, I am ready to be more of a rubber band, allowing stuff to bounce right off instead of a rock that keeps everything out.  Because the blog also pointed out that we are to be both a rubber band and a sponge.  Using discernment (that you've already prayed for right) to know what you need to take in and what you need to ignore.  And when we remember that people, even Christian brothers and sisters, are broken we can understand a little better why they jabbed us with a jagged edge, that they may not even recognize is there. And quite possibly God will use both of us as a sandpaper person that rubs (annoys :-) ) each other until the jagged edge is gone!


Love in Christ,

Alyson


**PS If you are here to check out information for the Autism Fundraiser I am sponsoring this month for Autism Awareness you can find that info here

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Autism Awareness Fundraiser

 Hi there!  I'd like to take the time to welcome you to my blog, whether you are a regular reader or just visiting to find out more information about how you can donate to the Autism Society!



"Autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today." (Autism Society Website)  

There are many individuals and families who are affected by Autism and the goal of this fundraiser is to increase awareness in an effort to help those families!

I have set up a fundraising page that you can donate to directly.  Here is that link: https://fundraise.autism-society.org/e/atamer


In addition to that page, as an Independent Consultant with Jamberry I decided to host a fundraiser through Jamberry as well.  Here's how it works: You buy a product from Jamberry, it can be wraps, hand/nailcare products, Lacquer, heater, application kit- (whatever Jamberry sales basically) and make sure the Autism Awareness "Party" is selected at checkout and then 10% of the sale is donated to the Autism Society.

And if you want to help spread awareness, you can consider purchasing one of Jamberry's FOUR available Autism Awareness wraps- one is a regular sheet and the other is for Juniors- PLUS when you purchase one of these wraps, Jamberry donates $2 to the Autism Society- which is part of their ongoing Commitment to Charity!

 




Here is the link to donate through your Jamberry Purchase: http://alysontamer.jamberrynails.net/party/?uid=c253daee-8bd2-4916-af38-d39efa858af7


This Fundraiser will be from April 1 through April 29, 2015.


Even if you aren't able to donate yourself, help spread the word, by sharing this website or the info graphic at the top of the page so that maybe others will!


For more information about Autism, you can visit the Autism Society's website here: http://www.autism-society.org/what-is/



Friday, March 20, 2015

Why my Right may be Wrong for Someone Else

My husband and I have finally conceded that our son, for whatever reason, is not a chicken nugget fan.  The irony of this, to me, is that according to "things you read" chicken nuggets/chicken tenders are the number one thing kids eat and in some cases the only thing they will eat.

It hasn't always been this way, and may not always be the case now.  He used to eat all the nuggets in a 4-piece kids meal, or at least most of them (that weren't thrown didn't fall on the floor.)  Another irony is that our son loves veggies and fruit (before you stop reading I will add not ALL veggies and fruit, and not all the time).  Most parents would LOVE for their kids to eat veggies and fruit and not just chicken. But I promise I don't have some magic list of 5 steps to get your kids to eat more veggies.

Because the truth is, all kids are different- even siblings birthed from the exact same parents!  God makes us unique.  We cannot try to "cram" our kids into cookie-cutter versions of what we believe they should be and we can't judge those parents who try and try to get their kids to eat something other than chicken nuggets to no avail.
 
But what I am seeing in the world, on the internet, on social media, and even in our churches is this pressure to be right. Don't get me wrong.  I am a fan of reading blogs.  And I love Pinterest.  And I love community and the ability we have to share in our experiences and learn from each other. But what I have found, is that I have to read some "How to" blogs with a grain of salt because what works for someone, may not work for everyone. And just because I don't "do life" in this or that way, doesn't make me a bad, mother, wife, Pastor's wife...etc and it doesn't mean I'm wrong.


But the problem comes in, when we all have our own sense of "right"-- if I threw out different topics, I guarantee there would be people who are on one side of the issue or the other and who equally believe that their viewpoint is correct... let's try it:

-Breastfeeding
-Co-sleeping (kid sleeping with parents)
-organic food
-homeschooling
-cats or dogs...or dare I say it, neither!

Now, I am not looking for a ton of comments where you adamantly state your opinion on these things, but I bet as you read the list, your mind immediately went to your "side" of each issue and maybe even to the reasons why you believe your "side" is the "correct" one. But it's time we stop making one side or the other the "right side"  because guess what?  There is NO overall, 100 percent side that is the correct side!  Yep, I said it.  And the reason I did, is because of what I said above- each child, each mother, each family, every situation is different.  There is NO cookie-cutter formula. The ONLY non-negotiable, absolute truth is the Bible.

I'm not saying that you won't have an opinion or that you shouldn't have an opinion or that you aren't entitled to your own opinion.  What I am saying is that you have to quit thinking that your opinion is the right one for everyone and the ONLY one. 

So is there a way we can share our opinions with each other in healthy, loving ways? Why yes, I'm glad you asked ;-) because here are some ways I think we can:
1- Share your opinion graciously- For example, breastfeeding. If there is a mother who has adopted, or cannot get the hang of breastfeeding, don't make her feel inferior by the way you tell her that breastfeeding is best.  Just state that that's what you did and that's what worked for your family.
2- Share your list of reasons, ONLY if they are solicited- don't immediately go into your long list (which can come off as a tirade) of reasons to support your stance.  The only time really that you should is if person is truly interested and asks for your reasoning.  And again, still share your reasons graciously and courteously.
3- If the person doesn't agree, LET IT GO- Remember even though you feel strongly that your opinion is the "right" one, that doesn't mean it will actually work for the person you are talking to or that it is the opinion that was chosen- (think items you vote on and elections).  And just agree to disagree again with courtesy and grace.
4- Be OPEN to hearing someone else's opinion if you are openly sharing yours-  and obviously do so graciously and lovingly. 

Obviously, if we just looked like Jesus this list wouldn't be necessary.  But as I stated, I've been seeing this (and hearing) it everywhere. And not just because it's March madness and people are passionate that their team is the best. ;-)

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4:1-6 (NIV- emphasis added)

As Christians, there are truths that are non-negotiable (as I mentioned above), whether or not you want to home-school your kids or tell them there is a Santa are not "hills to die on."  But when we continue to focus on these debates and see an imaginary dividing line that causes us to see our brothers and sisters in Christ as the enemy, that's when Satan is winning. ( I know he doesn't win in the end, but if a debate I was having about some non-issue is witnessed by a non-Christian then I bet he won't be open to hearing about the loving Jesus I serve or be interested in joining my "family" of believers.)

I heard a wonderful metaphor for this by Lysa TerKeurst in her book, Unglued, - picture a scale, that balances as you add equal weight to each side.  When we have disagreements with our brothers and sisters in Christ and see them as the enemy, we tend to picture us on one side of the scale and them on the other.  But the truth is, that we are all part of the body of Christ, which means we are all on the SAME SIDE and the only one on the opposite side is Satan.  As we fight amongst ourselves, our side gets lower and lower and his gets higher and higher.

I don't know about you, but I am not a fan of giving Satan a single inch in this battle here on earth.  Instead, I want to begin to see issues with an open mind and when there are differing opinions (like what color the carpet should be in the church) I hope I can let go of my pride, and hear another's opinion.  And then, even if "my color" isn't chosen, I want to just get over it and let it go.  Or if a mother comes in who has decided to home-school her children and we are both gracious and loving, then I believe we can realize that neither of us think the other is "wrong" or making bad choices, we realize instead that we are both doing what we believe is "right" for our families at this time!

And let's realize that our version of right may be someone else's wrong- and that is OKAY!


Love in Christ,

Alyson