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

Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Review: Unglued

Unglued:Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by Lysa TerKeurst

Photo Source

Unglued.  Such a small word, yet it encompass so many emotions and reactions and for many of us, daily realities. I know of very few, like actually maybe one or two, people who seem unflusterable (I'm pretty sure I just made that word up)...unflappable. Not that they are zombies void of emotion, but they just don't get ruffled easily.  So this book probably isn't for them.  Instead it's for the rest of the billions of us, who do have tendencies to get unglued.

The term unglued in the sense most would think about it would mean completely flying off the handle, blowing up and spewing anger and hurt all over the place- mostly all over another person.  But Lysa TerKeurst shows that becoming unglued doesn't always have to be an outward show of emotions, but that it can also be a stuffing down of emotions, letting them fester and turn into bitterness and even possibly "retaliation rocks" that are stored up and hurled at a later date.  And that's where the subheading of the book comes in: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions.  Because even if we believe we are doing the honorable and godly thing of not having an outward breakdown and "losing it" if we are stuffing those emotions down and continuing to chew on them without actually processing them or Letting Them Go, then we are still unglued and not doing the godly thing.

What I love about this book is TerKeurst's honesty and transparency.  She shares story after story of opportunities where she could have chosen a different course, but still managed to come unglued, and she also tells of the times she did choose, despite what her first thoughts were, to make healthy responses.  These are real life examples, that I can honestly say I have also experienced an example like that- hateful email- check... broken computer- check... so busy and stressed that one more thing will make me lose it...check!  TerKeurst writes this book in a conversational tone and because I was listening to the audio version, it felt like she was riding in the car with me just telling me stories!

But there is not only a lot of stories and examples, there are practical steps and tips that she gives to help you make those wise decisions even when your emotions are raw.  Before you think this is some kind of self-help book, I assure you it is not.  It is a book firmly rooted in Jesus and the Word, and fully covered in grace.  TerKeurst herself, repeatedly reminds us that we will not be perfect, but that we can make "imperfect progress."  I love that.  Imperfect progress.  It's a step in the direction toward godliness (which as Christians is where we should be heading) but a reminder that we are not perfect, but God is oh so gracious.

I highly recommend this book to those who know they struggle in this area as well as those who believe they have a handle on it-- you just may find that you are actually a stuffer!  And as I mentioned, I actually listened to the audio recording of this book, which was narrated by Lysa TerKeurst, and I highly recommend that as well. 

* I would like thank christianaudio Reviewer's Program for the audio version of this book in exchange for my honest review.

You can purchase the audio version of this book from christianaudio.com, the Kindle or papercopy from Amazon as well as many other retailers.

And just as an aside, there is also a Bible study for this book, that might be a great options for a Women's group.

Love in Christ,

Alyson

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Discontentment: Part 2

Step one- admit there is a problem.  I shared about my sin of discontentment here.

Step two- find out what is causing the problem... read the three main causes of my discontentment here.

And today's post is step three- now what?  Now that I know what is causing me to be discontent, how can I battle it and ultimately put it to death?


Ways to Fight Sin


1- Jesus... I mean seriously, He is always the answer, but in an actual here-is-a-step-you-can-take-way I say number one is prayer.  Lots and lots of prayer.  It starts with a prayer of confession, admitting that you are struggling with ______ *fill in the blank with your sin* mine is being content.  Confession is about complete and absolute surrender.   Not just, "God, here's a peek at this sin I'm harboring in my soul, now I'm going to close myself back up and keep it"...nope. Our prayer of confession (for any sin) should have a portion in it of, "here it is Lord, now I give it to you."  And sometimes for the really deep-rooted ones you may even have to pray for God to give you the strength to give it to him or for God to take it.  Just like in a garden, when weeds have started to grow, you can't fully combat them unless you get all the way down deep to the roots.  It does no good if you see the weed and try to just cover it up by kicking a little dirt over it or ignoring it. 

And God is not fooled.  He still sees it, despite our best efforts to cover it with half-hearted attempts to "do better" in our own power.  The only way to fully begin putting that sin to death in your life/heart/mind/being is to come completely clean and rest in the power of God through the Holy Spirit.  This means daily prayers calling on that power to be aware and to resist.


2-  The Word.  Seriously, read your Bible.  I know, these steps should already be part of our daily walk...should being the key word in that sentence.  But if we've allowed sin to creep into our lives- hearts/minds/souls- then chances are we missed a step somewhere and we need to get back to basics.  As a place to start, find scriptures that deal specifically with the sin you are struggling with, in my case contentment.  Write down these scriptures so you can keep them handy. Study them. Meditate on them.  Read scriptures that remind you of who God is and help keep your focus on Him.  Read scriptures about Jesus, learning more about him (how can we hope to look more like Jesus, if we don't know him) and about his sacrifice on the cross- it's less tempting for me to sin, when I am reminded of the payment Jesus paid for my sin. 

"Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually." 1 Chronicles 16:11


3-Take notice of your triggers and avoid them.  This is accomplished through prayer and God's word as well.  In my case, I pray for God to reveal to me when I am becoming prideful or playing the comparison game- basically when I am losing my focus on him.  When I am open to the Holy Spirit revealing to me when I am encountering a trigger, I can just as quickly pray for strength to avoid it.  For me, most of the time it's a single thought.  An untruth that Satan wants to plant in my heart so that it will root and grow and affect my actions and reactions. But when I immediately see that untruth for what it is- a lie from the devil, I can stop dwelling on it and instead fill my mind with God's truths from his word.  Seriously, God's word is our only offensive weapon, how much better will we be equipped to fight if we have his word stored up in our hearts.  Then we can call on it in those times of battle!

"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11


4- Get a trusted brother/sister in Christ to be an accountability partner for you.  This IS NOT your best friend, usually.  The reason is, that our best friend will typically side with us no matter what, making them an enabler in most cases.  However, this isn't always the case.  My husband is my best friend.  And though he loves me dearly and is my biggest supporter, he is also my accountability partner.  He speaks to me in truth, calling me out when I slip up and pointing me to Jesus.  As the spiritual leader of our family, I am so extremely grateful that this is the case... but as a human, who struggles with sin, it's not fun or enjoyable.  But I believe if you are a Christian, who is truly desirous of loving Jesus and looking more like him, that though it may ruffle feathers (mainly pride) you will graciously receive their words for what they are- truth spoken in love- even if it hurts.  The key for this step, is to find a Christian brother/sister who is mature in their faith.  Someone who will tell you the truth based on scripture in a loving and gracious way.  Someone who cares about you and your faith.

~~~~~~~~

So these are the basic steps I am using to fight sin, in my case the big one at this time is being content. But I believe these steps can be applied to most any of my sin struggles- overeating, bitterness, not forgiving, gossiping... Will this cure me from ever feeling discontent again? Doubtful.  But whenever I get to that place, I'll start back at the basics and make sure my heart, mind, soul, and strength is loving God fully.

"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." Mark 12:30


Love in Christ,

Alyson

Friday, March 6, 2015

Seasons

I don't remember the first time I heard someone refer to a particular time I was in as just a season.  Perhaps it was when I was single.  Or maybe it was during a particularly difficult time.  Whenever it was, I really grabbed onto it.  It was such a wonderful thought, that whatever place I was in at that time was only a season... temporary, fleeting, here today- gone tomorrow.

The Bible tells us in Psalm 104:19 that God made the moon to mark the seasons and the sun to know when to go down. 
This may not be quite the verse you were expecting in this "this too shall pass" type post about seasons, but stay with me... What I love about this verse is first, it's view of how very BIG our God is- He is in control! He made the moon and the sun and He gave them the ability to function- knowing when to rise and go down.
Second, I love this thought of time passing, a new season is coming and a new day as well... which leads me to think of one of my very favorite verses, Lamentations 3:22-23, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are NEW EVERY MORNING; great is your faithfulness."

Each new day is accompanied with new mercies from God.  He is forever faithful, every minute, every hour, every day, every season. He is in control of it all!

So if you are going through a very difficult time and just don't know how much more you can handle right now- remember it's just for a season. Continue to press into Jesus and the Word and remember that God will never leave us or forsake us- He is faithful!

And for those of you who are not going through a tough time at this particular moment, but are in the midst of parenthood to a teenager, middle-schooler (bless you), a new born, or a toddler (like I am) remember that you too are just in a season.  That may give you comfort, or drive you to tears!  But the reason I say it, is because not only can we focus on time marching on as a reason to hope, but we should also see it as a reason to live.  We need to cherish each moment- the good and the bad.  We need to learn from both and move forward with hope in Jesus.

We don't need to just be passing through, sitting back waiting until finally *whew* this season has passed!  No, we need to be active and doing and living.  We don't need to wallow in the hurt, guilt, shame, pain- yes there is a time for them.  (Here comes the scripture, you probably thought was coming earlier.)  Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."  There is a time to weep and a time to mourn, but there are also times to laugh and dance.

Don't get so caught up in the season you are in that you stop progressing.  Keep moving.  Keep going.  A new season is coming.

And don't be so prideful, that you begin to take for granted this wonderful season you are having and forget the One who blessed you.  Keep serving.  Keep giving.  A new season is coming.

Whatever season you find yourself in at this very moment- just remember it's only for a season.

Love in Christ,

Alyson

Monday, March 2, 2015

Discontentment: Part 1


As I mentioned in this post, my focus this year is on the word Content.  During the past month, I've been chewing on this word quite a bit. 

Let's start with the definition... According to Merriam-Webster the definition of content is "pleased and satisfied: not needing more."

In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul writes, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (NIV)

Though I am still processing and meditating fully on learning the secret that Paul knew, I have discovered three main causes of discontentment:
  


1-  Pride 

If left unchecked, pride can create a sense of entitlement that causes us to believe we deserve more than what we currently have- the complete opposite of being "pleased and satisfied: not needing more."  Pride not only causes us to want more, but tells us that we deserve more. The Bible gives several warnings about being prideful:

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever." 1 John 2:15-17

As Christians we are to follow the example of Christ, who "humbled himself to the point of death on the cross." (Philippians 2:5-8)


2- Playing the comparison game

Each one of us has been created for a certain purpose.  Ephesians 2:10 tells us, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." But when we compare our circumstances to others' we can sometimes feel like we are missing out.

There are people who started working after I did, who are now in positions ahead of me even within the same company.  When comparing ourselves to others who seem to have all the things we want, we can feel discontent and throw ourselves a pity party.  But beware of comparing your life to those you feel are worse off than you, because then you open the door for pride to enter your heart.

It's better to not compare yourself with anyone except Christ.

Which brings me to number 3...

3- Misguided Focus


Our focus as Christians should always be on Christ.  When we allow other things to distract us, we take our eyes off of Jesus and our focus turns to other things... mainly ourselves.  When our focus is centered on Christ, we see through the lens of the gospel.  Through this lens we see people in need and we love them. We see others as Jesus sees them. We live according to the word:
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (Philippians 2:3-4)

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." (Colossians 3:12-13)

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17)
Basically, we act like Christ!  But when our focus is on anything other than Jesus- even slightly, we start looking through the lens of sin.  The view out of this lens, is very much focused on our wants and our desires and we look out for the interest of ourselves.  It's because of this lack of focus on Jesus that we stop being satisfied in him and start looking for other "things" to satisfy us.

And that is really the root of discontentment- not being completely pleased and satisfied with Jesus and thinking we need more than him.

So here are the basic causes of discontentment. I know there are probably many more that I didn't cover so please share them in the comments below.


And stay tuned for Part 2, where I will discuss how to combat discontentment.


Love in Christ,

Alyson