Loved: Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday and I’m joining my usual Friday link-up with the other writers at Five Minute Friday. Every week we gather as a Christian writer community and craft short posts all centered around a common topic. This week our topic is Loved. Below is my unedited five minute post.

FMF-Blog-post-headers-Round-3-1

This week has been exhausting.

I made my return to the classroom after a seven month maternity leave, my oldest started kindergarten, my baby went to her first sitter, and I am still a little jet lagged from a month abroad. Everyday we’ve taken naps as a family when we get home. All four of us are experiencing the “first week drag.” But in the midst of the fatigue I must say that I feel loved.

I feel loved that so many people have been praying for me or checking on me during this time of transition. I feel loved that so many have offered to help. I feel loved that our daughter was welcomed into school by amazing teachers and friends. I feel loved that the Lord would call me to educate the next generation in my classroom.

As the school year began the prayer I kept repeating was, “Lord, help my students to feel loved this year.”

I am praying for energy and strength to love even the most difficult student. I am praying that my classroom is a place of peace and refuge. I am praying that during the 180 days that I am given with this group of kids that each of them encounter God’s love in some way. As a public school teacher I may not be able to speak it, but I have every right to live it.

I pray that every student feels loved in my classroom this year.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Keep It Simple This Valentine’s Day

3Stitch-Fix-Gift-Card-Valentine (1).jpg

In three weeks couples all over the world will be celebrating Valentine’s Day.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the holiday. Call me cynical, but in my opinion, couples with a healthy relationship should be honoring their bond daily. February 14th is no magical day. It should be a day like any other where gratitude is expressed and moments are cherished.

I also realize that for some, Valentine’s Day can be painful. It’s a reminder that another year has gone by without finding a spouse. It’s a reminder that you thought you’d spend forever with someone and it didn’t work out. It’s a reminder that the person you love was taken too soon. It’s a day that so many try to forget despite social media and marketing tactics thrusting reminders in their faces.

If you are in a committed relationship–make it a good day. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top, but remind your partner that you love them (as you should every day.) Maybe do something different or exchange a small gift. Cherish every day together, not just February 14ths.

If you are one of those people who wish you could skip work and all human interactions on this day I hear you. Gather some of your other single friends and celebrate where you are on your journeys. Lift each other up with words of encouragement, laughter, and a glass of wine. Know that there is nothing wrong with being alone on Valentine’s Day. It’s a day like all the others and don’t let anything make you feel like you are “less than” because you are single.

If you are looking for something for a friend or spouse that is truly unique to them consider purchasing a gift card to Stitch Fix. It’s a simple gift that keeps on giving. With this gift card the recipient can be introduced to Stitch Fix for the very first time. If they are already part of the program then they can choose to use their gift card on pieces they select that fit their bodies and style well. Give the gift of a personal stylist this season for all of the people in your life whom you love. Stitch Fix now provides clothing for women (regular, maternity, petite) and men.

All throughout the year (every day to be exact) my husband and I give each other constant reminders of our love. We will go out to dinner on Valentine’s Day and maybe even spend a little bit on a gift, but it’s important to remember these things should be regular parts of our interactions. It isn’t about assorted chocolates, giant teddy bears, fancy dinners, or jewelry.

Love is about going into the trenches of this life ready to defend one another to the death. It’s about fighting side-by-side for what is good and lovely. It’s about choosing each other every day, not just on February 14th.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

**This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation as a result of this post.

 

 

A Prayer For Me and My Nation

IMG_3092

I’ve only been back in America for a few days and already my heart is burdened by its condition. So much pain caused by hate is having devastating effects on people. Like so many of you, I have found it hard to listen to reports about what is happening across the country. Senseless acts of violence plague the news, and social media is exploding with people pointing fingers in an attempt to deal with their fears and anger. As I’ve approached these issues personally I’ve come to realize that this sort of violence is reactionary. It’s a product of the condition of the hearts of people on all sides of the present arguments. And the only way our nation is going to see healing is if that condition of heart of the country changes. It isn’t guns or weapons doing all the killing. Hate is killing these people.

This Sunday my church pushed pause on the intended sermon message and we spent the service in prayer for our nation. During this time the Pastor led us through several passages then we were directed to pray and reflect on the state of our country.

This was such a moving time for me. It was in this intentional time of prayer that I realized that an issue I felt didn’t apply as much to me as others was really an issue that applies to everyone-especially me. The type of hate that has bred violence in our society didn’t come about because of race, gender, sexuality, etc. Rather this type of hate came about when we stopped loving everyone the way that the Lord commanded us to. I’m not sure about you, but that strikes pretty close to home. I’m guilty of not always giving grace and mercy to those who have wronged me. And more than a few times I’ve passed judgement on someone based on my own set of criteria and not based on anything Biblical. (Mostly because the Bible condemns a judgmental attitude)

It was in that moment that I realized that I was no longer just praying for other people fighting a battle that didn’t apply to me, but I was praying also for myself. When love leaves our hearts we allow so much of the world’s ugliness to penetrate it. My prayer is that we begin to realize this as a nation. But first as individuals of the nation.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

(2 Chronicles 7:14)

 

I believe that God’s Word applies as much to us today as it did when it was originally penned. I believe the Word was inspired by God. It was even breathed by God. And because I hold so strongly to the truth of the Word I can’t help but be convicted by the words above.

If we want to see healing in our land, God has already provided us a framework for seeing that happen. It starts with those who are called by his names. It starts with Christians. And what are we to do?

-Humble ourselves

-Pray

-Seek God

-Turn from our wicked ways

And if we follow this truth God will forgive our sins and heal our land.

In the days to come I’ve committed to making this my prayer. Daily I must put on the armor of God and daily I must remind myself that I can’t just sit back and blame other people for the evils of this world. The battle to love others is personal battle. It starts in each of our hearts. And our nation will not see healing until the people who make up that nation humble themselves, pray to God for love to fill every part of their hearts and minds, seek God’s wisdom and truth, and turn from the wicked things that keep them from loving others and loving God.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Book Review: For the Love

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, and outside influences.

Title: For the Love

Author: Jen Hatmaker

Publisher: Nelson Books

Copyright Date: 2015

IMG_2183

I am a member of a small ladies’ book club at my church which I co-founded. We call ourselves Women of the Word and we meet once a month at a local coffee shop. Every few months we like to find empowering books to read together and throughout our last term we chose For the Love by Jen Hatmaker. This book is taking bible studies and book stores by storm. I’ve seen it referenced on reviews, mentioned by famous female speakers, and sitting atop some best seller lists. I was really excited when we chose to read this book as a group because I was intrigued by all of its publicity. And it did not disappoint.

Let’s be clear from the start: Jen Hatmaker is hilarious!

When I began to read this book I immediately fell in love with Jen’s raw honesty. She isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, and she doesn’t ever fear stepping on others’ toes. Through her testimony and short essays Jen paints a picture of a life of the typical mom in western culture doing her very best to represent Christ in every avenue of her life. But, she isn’t afraid to show her mess-ups. There are no cover-ups in this book. Sometimes when I read books by women and for women I feel like the authors dress up their lives and paint their lives full of flowers and sunshine. Not Jen. She isn’t afraid to own her mistakes and use them to encourage other women.

I think what I found so empowering about this book is that Jen was a success story of Christ using her talents to reach others. I was encouraged that I don’t have to have myself together 24/7. It’s okay to slow down. It’s not a sin to take a little time for you.

This book covers a wide range of topics. Jen opens the book with a section entitled “Your Very Own Self” where she discusses the unrealistic expectations most women put on themselves, positive attitudes, and aging. All of her personal anecdotes are relatable and comical.

Next, Jen moves on to talk about family in a chapter entitled, “All These People Who Live in Your House.” This section is about motherhood from all different stages. It also touches on marriage in one of my favorite chapters “Marriage: Have Fun and Stuff.”

The third section of the book is entitled, “Friends, Neighbors, Strangers, and Enemies.” This portion is about interacting with other people in positive and negative situations.

The final section of the book is entitled, “Church, Church People, Not-Church People, and God.” This is one of the hardest sections to swallow for most. In this portion of the book Jen talks about relationships within the body of Christ. She touches on theology and the things of the world which can suck a once-godly relationship dry.

Throughout the book Jen inserts Thank You Notes which serve as a comic relief. I loved the timing of each Thank You Note chapter. They all seemed to fall right after a pretty heavy chapter which challenged me to think or act differently.

This is a fantastic book about how we as women hold the rest of the people in our lives together. And with that power comes the responsibility to be honest and forthcoming in our interactions. This book is anti-competition, anti-facade, anti-works based faith and is pro-loving each other as we all try our best at this balance beam act of life.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Today At Covenant…No Longer Slaves

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last updated you on the preaching of Pastor Travis Davenport at Covenant Church in Grove City. So many things have been happening in our congregation. Last week I had the privilege to pray for others during our first altar call (due to the fact that we meet in a movie theater…altar calls are quite the challenge.) Today we moved from Romans Chapter 5 into Romans Chapter 6 as we began a new series entitled No Longer Slaves.

download (6)

Romans 6:1-4

 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

No Longer Slaves

Let’s be clear right off the bat: There is a difference between RECEIVED righteousness and EARNED righteousness. Received righteousness requires nothing but our openness to receive in order for us to gain salvation or grace. Earned righteousness requires one to complete a task list or to at least balance their good and bad deeds using a process similar to weights and scales. Of all the major world religions Christianity is the only one which claims that salvation a received righteousness. We believe it is not a product of our behavior or lack of sin, but rather a product of God’s love given freely to those who receive. In the same way we know that messing up doesn’t cost us that gift. Sin does not define who we are in God because His grace is great enough to cover our screw ups.

In case you didn’t get that: You don’t have to EARN God’s love!

There is something inherent in all of us that makes that a difficult bite to swallow. We sometimes struggle with feeling like we have to be cleaned up and fixed up before we can be righteous, when in reality we became righteous the moment we accepted the grace of God. So in other words: you who believe are now free from sin and are righteous.

You have died to sin!

But the age old question which Paul addresses here at the beginning of the chapter is then if we have been made righteous already then is it okay to continue sinning? God gave us grace and if he is continually forgetting our mess ups then what’s so wrong about going back to some of our old addictions, struggles, or sins? Isn’t it okay with Him? Can’t he just forgive us afterwards?

Again, Paul answers correctly in verse 2: BY NO MEANS!

Once you accept the gift of righteousness you are free to serve a God of love instead of the sin to which you were formerly enslaved. Why would you experience the life and fullness of God only to return to the death and destruction from which he saved you? It doesn’t make sense. And this mentality that “God will just forgive me if I ______ if I ask for forgiveness later” is harmful because it is essentially taking advantage of God. And although he is a God of love and forgiveness no one wants to provoke God like that. It never ends well.

Now just because you died to sin doesn’t mean you won’t sin it just means that sin is no longer your master. You now have the power to tell sin to leave you alone. With God in your corner that power is available. But, we are all human and every day we will still struggle with sin.

We will still have desires to sin. But sin does not reign in us. We are new creations who are no longer subject to sin as a master.

So live a life of righteousness. With the help of the Holy Spirit you have the power to silence your addictions, struggles, and sins. In Jesus’ Name you have healing from a past of following the wrong master and you are forgiven to move forward in truth.

I hope that message was as empowering to you as it was to me on this beautiful Sunday.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Five Minute Friday: Alive

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Alive. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

alive-600x600

 

When I Feel Alive

Lauren Sisley

Spring is upon us. Morning showers have become the compliment to each day’s commute. Dew rests temporarily on petals and on earth. The luminescence of the sun paints the horizon in golds, reds, and yellows. This is when I feel alive.

He takes my hand in his lacing finger between finger. In love he strengthens me. His confidence gives wings to my dreams. He holds me in my weakness and showers me with kindness. This is when I feel alive.

In the light of day a small bundle jumps into my lap. Her small arms wrap around me and her gentle words recount her love for her mother. The girl with her soft curls beckons me with her desire to be talked to, to be read to, and to be played with. This is when I feel alive.

A bell tolls in the distance. Thirty pairs of ears obey my instruction. They belong to pupils awaiting knowledge with hearts panting to matter and to feel loved. They hear my words and follow my my commands, but what they are most attentive to are my actions. My character is perceived and learned by those entrusted to my care. This is when I feel alive.

A new page is turned an a pen is uncapped. Emotion pours forth from my heart to words upon the paper. Writing gives life to each sentence. The Lord writes my story through words; he builds and deconstructs syllables. To tell of His story I toil in peace. This is when I feel alive.

A Savior on a hill. Cursed, bruised, and despised he looks his last at those he came to save. His purpose in death was fulfilled. But his promise in life was still to come. Jesus died to give us life so fill your life with things that make you feel alive. Each life-giving moment is a testament to a Savior who gave his so that we might live ours. This is when I feel alive.

Today at Covenant…Suffering

This week Pastor Travis Davenport of Covenant Church in Grove City continued leading us through Romans 5. Today’s message was part of the sermon series Friends With Benefits. This portion of scripture is rough especially for those currently going through a tough circumstance, but that makes it even more important to be aware of the benefits of a friendship with Jesus. It’s when those tough times strike that we need him most in our lives.

Snapchat-7015087895533981999

Suffering

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 5:1-4

Suffering is a part of every journey with Christ. Sometimes suffering marks the beginning of our journey. Sometimes suffering occurs frequently on our road maps. But one thing is for sure: we will all face suffering of some kind in our lives. It’s easiest for us to thank God for His many blessings than to be grateful for the tough places he makes us wade through, however this passage highlights the necessity of those troubling moments in our faith. We love it when God chooses to listen to the prayers and answer them according to our will, but we need to remember that God is more concerned about our eternal state than our benefits here on Earth. Sometimes his answers don’t align with what we think they should, but that usually means that he’s allowing this testing to happen for a greater purpose. And those greater purposes are outlined here in the passage above.

In the pit of suffering the last thing we want to do is throw any type of party (except maybe a pity party.) So there is a struggle in comprehending verse four when Paul says to, “(rejoice or) glory in our sufferings.” The one practical piece this verse gives to us is a look at the importance of perspective when it comes to suffering. When we can stand up to the testing of our faith in the face of struggles we set off a chain reaction which reaps eternal benefits. (Oftentimes this is the purpose of the suffering we face.)

The Chain Reaction-

  1. Suffering leads to endurance
  • the Greek term for endurance means single-mindedness/focus
  • the act of suffering eliminates distractions in our lives
  • our time and money accumulate distractions, but the circumstance of suffering takes value away from things which formerly distracted us from God.

2. Endurance leads to character

  • character is proven through testing
  • once character has been tested the result is proven and genuine
  • you can take control of your suffering by controlling how you allow it to affect you

3. Character leads to hope

  • Hope is a conviction or confidence in an end result
  • our hope is rest and peace with God
  • our suffering removes any competition for our hope
  • suffering shows us that the only thing that will truly fix our situation is Jesus and proves that our hope is in eternal life with Jesus not in anything of this world.
  • there is no rest in any other outlet

So know that if you find yourself in a dark place struggling to keep your head above water that God has in mind your eternal benefits over your Earthly ones. It is not an easy message to digest especially in the midst of a large struggle, but if you endure, prove your character and place your hope in God then the benefits of those choices will far outweigh any other option.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Paid in Full

IMG_2352

Today I need this reminder from my adult coloring book, Live Loved.

No matter what kind of day you have had. Whether you have been dragged down by the damp weather or find yourself happy as a lark, remember that God loves you. When you feel alone or like you’ve messed up so badly that no one could forgive you or love you remember that the price for you has already been paid. Your life was paid-in-full long before you ever messed up and when you fall short of who you think you should be know that you were forgiven long before the folly.

If God loves you that much you deserve to love yourself as well.

 

Love and Grace

IMG_2312

This Sunday morning my husband is on the road with a basketball show and I am nursing my daughter back to health after an ear infection. This winter has brought sickness after sickness for my little girl, but on Friday we received some potential answers as to why. It looks like our little girl has allergies and all of these upper respiratory issues lately are rooted in that condition.

For the third time in the past month I’m missing church again today so I won’t be posting a Covenant message. However, I do look forward to catching up via podcast later in the week.

Today, my message was brought to me from my biblical coloring book, Live Loved.

Jeremiah 31:3- I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

Because God loves us with an everlasting love it means that He always has and always will continue to love us. No matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done His love for each of us is eternal. His unfailing kindness refers to the fact that while we may not deserve it He has chosen to love us anyway.

When God looks at us He chooses not to see our sins and mistakes. Out of His unfailing kindness He chose GRACE. And His grace covers all of our weaknesses.

I’m so thankful for a God who loves, forgives, and covers us with grace!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Much Love

  
Friends, it’s been an eventful week. Between family events, birthday parties, working, taking care of my baby girl who can’t seem to shake her cold, and an overload of meetings I haven’t been able to catch a break. My mind has been going a mile a minute trying to keep up with life. 

Over the weekend I embraced an opening in my schedule. I did so by sitting on the couch, armed with a mug of butter toffee coffee and my biblical coloring book. Through the act of coloring I was able to give wings to my creative mind which had been stifled due to constantly being on the move.

In the peacefulness of the moment I was reminded of God’s love for me.

This is a busy time of the year for teachers. State tests are right around the corner, administrators are looking at logistics for the next year, and snow days put us way off course when it comes to curriculum. 

During the past week I have not had much time to myself. So it was a welcome reminder to read this passage and soak it in. God loves me. He sent his son for me. Even though he knew I would mess up he saw me as someone worth saving. And he has done the same for you! 

What a great reminder today amidst the chaos of life. 

The Ameri Brit Mom