Womanhood

Ultimate guide to Travel with My Pets?

Look, this question is not necessary or it becomes weird for those who do not raise pets. However, pet owners often wonder this when they want to travel. They often take their pets with them when traveling. But how could you travel with your pets safely?

Know your destination

Whether you own a dog or a cat, please remember that some weather conditions are not comfortable for them. For instance, the Siberian Husky does not like go around the summer season in Dubai.

Or some sorts of cats do not bear the cold climate and they totally are sick when you bring them along with you. Thus, when making your travel plan, do not forget to find out the weather and consider you pets can or cannot.

Prepare gears for your pets

It sounds a bit weird but it is true for every pet when you travel with them. It means that you need to bring their foods and clothes. You enable to put some necessary equipment for them in case you cannot find the replacement such as jackets, boots, nail clippers, warm coats, shoes, pads, a collar, ID, etc.

Decide the type of transportation mode and know the play regulations

There are 4 basic transportation modes for pets – by train, by car, by airplane, and by boat. They will have the similar modes like humans.

No matter what kinds of transportation you will choose. You should ask the ticket agent about your pets. Do they allow pets in their cabins? How many regulations they have in the pet traveling? You should take time to read all laws before booking tickets. Do not rush at this point because you likely have to leave your pets at home without getting the plan B!

Use a case

It is important to put your pets in a case when traveling. This will help pets are safe and take a rest easier. Apart from this point, you will have time to bring your suitcases and do other checking tasks.

It is also useful not to make others scared. For example, you take a travel dog case and bring it with you. It is great for both of us when other passengers are comfortable and you easily can carry.

Nonetheless, please draw attention to the size because some airlines or travel service companies have the limited space to put your carry-on and suitcases. This is the reason why I told you that you should inform the crew.

Draw attention to the medicines

You can bring medicines along with you on the trip, but do not take too much. This is also vital for your pets. The best ways to deal with this problem is consulting a vet (for your pet) and practitioner (for you) to have some medical test and prescriptions as well. They may recommend some injections.

Do not forget to buy a ticket for your pets

It sounds too basic to us when hearing this point. However, some airlines or other transportation companies do not allow you use your ticket and bring pets freely only. In other words, they will ask the pet ticket. This is because they see your pet as a person, not an object or goods. Sometimes, you should get the passport or pet papers for them if the airline or a country requires.

Make pet tags

Why should you do that? This is another safe task for your pet; especially when they get lost in a large area or in a chaotic environment. You have to keep your eyes on your pet all the time, but you cannot estimate every situation. When they get lost, someone will see the pet tag and know who they should contact to return pets.

Bring the health certificates from veterinarian office

If you travel to another nation, it will be vital to check their health and have the health certificates along with you. This is because the local custom will ask it and they probably requiring you leave your pets if you do not have.

Do not miss out some pet aid kit

I am pretty sure that pet owners will know other things to add on the suitcase for their pets. I just make a short list for you to check again. They could be…

  • Dry foods (choose the favorite tastes)
  • A small bowl
  • Some medications and first-aid terms (these should be recommended by veterinarians)
  • Some soft toys, blankets, and pillows for them
  • Dental chews and treats
  • The contact information from the veterinarian office

Consider your pet’s diet

In every journey, your pets could have stomach upsets because they do not give healthy foods. Also, you may not have enough time to prepare their diets. However, you can change it by choosing some foods like these

Fresh foods or canned foods

With fresh foods, it is quite hard to bring because of the local regulations. To ensure it is available, you should check the laws and policies carefully in advance.

If it is still too difficult, then you could change canned foods. This choice is easier than taking fresh foods. However, do not forget to check the expiration in the hypermarket before making a hole in your wallet.

Dry foods

This option is better than fresh foods and likely canned foods. Nevertheless, it is also important to follow the regulations from the transportation company when you can bring foods or not.

Or you ought to buy dry foods for dogs in the local destination. Some hotels also give pet’s foods, so you can view from these first.

Seeds

Seeds are more ideal for bird sorts than dogs and cats. Be sure to check the laws in advance.

Take into account the traveling time

The time to travel is also crucial because you need to know the local weather apart from your schedule and your business.

It means that you should think of this point carefully when making a plan. Never traveling with them when they are pregnant or they are during the breastfeeding period.

In a nutshell, you completely can travel with your pets when you have scrupulous preparation at all!

Womanhood

How to Create a Raw Dog Food Recipe

A raw dog food recipe is considered highly as a great choice to keep your dog healthy, happy, and in peak condition. If you intend to feed your dog a raw diet, you need to choose the right ingredients, know how to prepare them, as well as determine the amount to use. Most importantly, you have to know the basics of your dog’s nutrient needs. Also, consider if the food is safe for him or not. Keep reading this post to get all the tips you need for the raw dog food.

Raw Food Diets For Dogs

You need a recipe for a raw food diet for your dog. It’s important to ensure to give your dog all the nutrients he needs. In fact, the raw food isn’t related to cooking. But, this food still research and preparation. Also, you need to have creativity, effort, as well as patience. The food you feed your dog has to provide him with the proper balance of nutrients for his age, size, and activity level. Like with humans, it’s best to feed your dog a diet made with high-quality ingredients. It’s important to alternate raw dog food recipes so that he can receive a wide variety of vegetables, meat, as well as fruits weekly.

Ingredients For Raw Dog Food Recipes

Despite a lot of variations, don’t forget to use the same basic ingredients in the right balance every time. Of course, you will have to tailor the recipes in order to suit your dog’s taste. Now, let’s take a look at the following basic structure for a raw meal designed:

  • 1/2 cup vegetables or fruits
  • 1/2 cups of raw chopped meat
  • Vitamin supplement as directed on product
  • 2tsp of fish oil
  • Plenty of fresh water for him to drink

Here are some specific figures:

  • If your dog is an adult dog, you need to provide him with over 2% of his body weight in food per day. So, it’s essential to feed a 10lb dog with under 1/4lb of food. That’s why you need to determine the amount of food your dog needs.
  • Ratio can be 75% – 95% organs/ bones/ meat as well as 5% -25% vegetables.
  • It’s important to give your dog an equal amount of meat as well as bones in any raw dog food recipe.
  • You can feed him approx 1:3 of bone to meat ratio.

Type of meat to use in a raw dog food recipe

For any dog food diet, you need a good source of protein. It’s best to come from quality meat. In addition, it’s also important to add meaty bones to your dog’s raw food recipes. Also, you can choose organ meat, chopped meat, the bones, or organ meat or fish. Remember always to use human-grade meat whenever possible. There are a variety of selections you can try. They include:

  • Chicken- chicken thighs, wings, necks, and feet
  • Duck
  • Turkey- turkey wings, thighs, feet, and necks are good choices
  • Lamb
  • Venison
  • Wild game birds
  • Beef
  • Rabbit
  • Whole fish
  • Offal as kidneys, liver.

Raw Chicken for Dogs

Dogs and Chicken Bones

In fact, cooked chicken bones may be able to splinter as well as cause injuries to your dog. On the contrary, it’s safe to feed him raw chicken bones because they are soft. It’s important to consider your dog’s ability to hunt, eat, and kill an entire bird. Your dog may eat things such as cleaning agents and chemicals.

Starting a Raw Diet

If you change your dog’s diet too quickly, your dog may suffer from pancreatic problems. So, you need to adjust period to diet changes. Sure, you should start this period slowly. It’s best to incorporate a couple of small raw chicken wings in his diet. Do this until you can switch completely to raw foods gradually.

Bacteria on Chicken

Many people are afraid of the bacteria found in raw chicken. But, your dog has an incredible immune system, so he can be able to eat raw food. You should still rinse the chicken before feeding your dog. This way purposes to remove undesirable chemicals sprayed on the chicken.

Grains, Veggies, and Fruit

Some people choose to feed their dogs a specific amount of grains as well as vegetables. But, your dog doesn’t need them because he is a carnivore. These grains, vegetables, and fruits may even harm to your dog. Instead, feed your dog raw chicken, pork, lamb, fish, or small cuts of beef. Also, you should give your dog some nice raw organs and innards. A good dog diet normally includes protein and pure meat.

Vets Opinions on Raw Diets

Many vets think that kibble is better for many reasons. In fact, your vet actually sells a specific brand of dog food because of a kickback from that company. So, it’s important to choose a close diet to the food your dog eats in the wild.

It’s hard to determine the amount of food to feed when switching him to raw foods. In fact, this depends on your dog’s size and exercise level. A sedentary dog needn’t eat as much as a high energy dog. If you get a toy poodle, just feed him a few chicken wings per day. More importantly, you should maintain your dog a healthy weight by feeding him the right amount of dog foods.

Bible Study, Womanhood

Preparing For Travel: Mommy Goes and Family Stays- Tips and Tricks

It doesn’t happen very often. Those few times that Mommy goes away, and the whole family stays behind. However, sometimes, it is needed -and first off – Mommy, that is okay! I am of the belief that we are better wives and mommies if we take some time for ourselves occasionally. Now, usually, for me, that just means a grocery store run by myself, Target and a Starbucks, or maybe a haircut while the kids are at school. However, there are times, especially if you are a working Mommy or if there are ladies events at church – where Mommy might go off for a day or so, and leave the family at home.

When those times come, I don’t think it is our job to let go of our responsibilities. Quiet the opposite – I feel like it is my job to try to see the needs of my family in advance, and help plan and prepare for them. So, I try to follow a few basic steps for when I am gone and they are here.

1) I plan a menu- I think through things that are going to work for my husband or my thirteen year old (who loves to be in the kitchen – and it is good for her!) can do. I pick some of the meals that are my least favorite, but are quick, easy and fun for the kids. Sometimes, I do the prep work – sometimes I don’t. However, I leave the ideas on the counter. I go to the store and stock up on everything they will need. I know how hard it is to go shopping with all of us- and so I try not to give that to my husband. Also – it works better for our budget (can I get an Amen!).

2) I do laundry in advance. I normally am a one load a day (to completion) kinda gal, but in the days leading up to a trip, I try to do two or so. This way, they are not spending time doing my laundry while they are gone.

3) I plan outfits- for the children who are not yet matching clothes by themselves. I lay it out and make sure it is all together. Nothing worse then a Sunday morning “I spy” game to find a dress shoe.

4) I try to find a few, easy and fun things for the family to do. My husband does a great job of this on his own, but I like to find some things to help keep everyone busy so that they make good memories while I am gone.

5) I write each one a note – reminding them how much I love them, and giving any special instructions. Mostly though, to tell them I love them.

6) Make some special time for each one- I try to take some good snuggle time with each person in my house hold before I go  – including hubby. Especially hubby. Be intimate. There… now let’s move on

I don’t leave a honey do list of things I expect to be done when I get home. If the house is standing, the kids are alive, and everyone is happy- then so am I.

I don’t have an expectation about what I will find at home when I get there (happy kids, well rested, and clean house) – I have found when I let my expectations wander- well, I am more often upset because SOMETHING doesn’t fit. Also, I would rather be pleasantly surprised then severely disappointed.

Lastly, I pray. Be sure to cover your home in prayer – even when you are not there. Then, go get refreshed- if only for two hours- and come home and jump back in! Thank God for the time He gives you to rest, and then do what God has given you to do with the right attitude!

Worshiping With My Life,

Womanhood

The Gossip Game (Inside the Church)

Recently, my heart, and stomach, were sick for the church. Gut wrenching, throw up kind of sick. I fear that there is a disease going on – and it’s root is strong and poisonous. We are busy playing

Recently, I had traveled with my oldest daughter to a christian convention for teenagers. While she was off participating in her different activities, I had the opportunity to sit in a coffee shop like area. I thought it would be a great time to work on some writing – I have a couple books I am hoping to release as well as blog post that are always needing to be written! So, I grabbed a cup of coffee, my laptop, found a seat with a view and settled in. A writers dream right? Wrong. Sadly, I was so wrong.

Within minutes, a couple joined me. They were not a married couple, but two chaperones, from another church. At first, their chatter didn’t bother me much, but then, the topic of conversation changed. It was obvious from their conversation that they were in leadership in their church – and that was the direction that their conversation quickly steered.

I got up, in hopes of finding a new spot to write. To read. To get away from overhearing a conversation that wasn’t meant for my ears. However, I quickly found I was out of options. There were no other seats available – except the one I had just vacated. Oh why had I left me headphones at home!

I returned to my seat, and tried to quickly engage myself in something  – anything to keep my mind busy. However, no matter what I did, I could not turn off the chatter beside me. It kept getting louder. The lady announced that she knew she was a busy body. Well, great. Thanks for sharing! She then went on to share all of their churches inner drama. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know there are no perfect churches. They are filled with imperfect people- and I am chief! However, I soon was able to learn about this congregations every fault. It went from family drama, to the way the church was run, to the Pastoral Staff.

I wanted to speak up. I wanted to ask them to change their conversation. However, right about the time I went to do so, I felt the Lord leading me to keep my mouth shut- for the time. You see, I knew I was only going to start a scene.  I could share scripture with them, I could ask them to stop. Yet, it wasn’t going to stop the destruction happening beside me. It would only change the tone of the conversation to hushed secrets, or the location – where someone else might have to hear it. Yes, the Lord told me to be silent.

I have sat in silence over this matter for almost 6 months. Yet, the venom of that conversation has come up time and time again. I have kept the scene to myself – because I did not want to be the source of more gossip. Yet, last week, after a time of sharing with my teenager about the effects of gossip, I felt like it was time to share the story, in hopes that someone will openly read and be receptive to the words I have to share.

That day, my heart was broken for the congregation that those people had come from. Again, I know that there is no perfect church. However, there is danger in conversations like the one I heard.

1) It is Gossip – That is the flat out truth. When you are sharing something that isn’t yours to share, or that puts someone else in a negative light- that is called gossip, or slander. There are tons of verses in the Bible that talk about not being a slander or a back bitter. Yet ,we still feel the need to use our words in that way. If you struggle with saying things that are not edifying- I encourage you to read the book of Proverbs, with a red pencil. Circle every verse that talks about gossip or the tongue. Memorize 7 – one for each day of the week. We have all struggled in this area if we are honest (especially as women) – yet it is an area that we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, control.

2) It shows a lack of Trust – When we speak negative about our church or the leadership in a church, we are showing that we don’t trust God. Either we don’t trust Him to move us to a church where we can be in agreement with the leadership – or we don’t trust Him to use the leadership at our current church the right way. We need to trust God in the midst of where He has us planted. This is especially true if we are part of that leadership. Others are watching our words and our attitudes.

3) We are the Bride of Christ- We are all part of the the Church- the Bride of Christ. When we speak negatively against one another, it is like speaking ugly about one of our own body parts. We need to strive to be beautiful for Christ – and that means, loving our whole body!

4) God doesn’t get Glory- When we speak against GOD’S CHURCH (because here is a reality check – it is HIS church) we are ROBBING HIM OF THE GLORY HE DESERVES! That makes me sick. Instead of bringing God glory, we are taking away from it.

5) It isn’t welcoming- We are to be a friendly place to invite the lost. If our church is negative and full of gossip – it isn’t the place we need to bring the lost. They can find that kind of care in the world. Sadly, they might even be treated better.

Church, we need to rise up. We need to guard our mouths, our ears, our minds and our hearts. When we hear gossip, we are allowing it to plant seeds of doubt, dissatisfaction, and ugliness in our lives and in our minds and hearts. We need to protect and guard our church -and our Pastor (and their wives)! I know they are sinners- and they will fail. I have been there, and seen some hard falls. Yet, it is not our place to judge. If you feel like there is something wrong in your body – take it to the right people, in the right way. This way, you can keep yourself blameless in the situation, and you will bring glory to God for the way you handled it!

Worshiping With My Life,

Bible Study, Womanhood

For Such a Time (with Link Up)

This week, I have been doing some reading in Esther. I was reading along and came to my all time favorite verse, both in the book and probably a top 10 in scripture.

For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another palace, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this. Esther 4:14

I know my Friday post are usually deep – and really, I feel like this verse speaks for itself. I feel like it could be one of my life verses. There have been so many times that I have felt God use these words to tug at my heart strings, confirming in me things He has planned for me, that I am scared to do. Like…

– Going to a foreign mission field, and letting my heart get so tied in there that even today, I yearn to go back. It is a distant home to me, and I have been there 5 times. My heart and my soul yearns to be with the people I have invested in, and been invested by, there.

– When I started 4 years of “in house” seminary training at my church. Not sure what God was going to do with  – only knowing that I was to be obedient.

-As I mentored and discipled teenage girls to walk in truth.

-When God called me to be the wife, and mama, to a husband and children who had lost theirs. Oh, the times are not always easy as we deal with grief, loss, and hard things. However, oh how we have grown, and oh the testimony of love that God has given us.

-When God moved me from Florida to South Carolina, away from all my family and friends.

-As I walked through the doors of becoming a mother of a child with Special Needs.

-As I began to help with the leadership of Good Morning Girls…. and then God called me to start blogging… and then to Marriage,Motherhood and Missions, and A Look At the Book.

-As I began to fight the battle of infertility.

-As God has placed on our family the desire to adopt – and as we watch Him bring in every…single…dollar. As He connects us with families that are adopting, and gives us ministry because of it.

-As God moved us churches  – stretching us beyond what we could image.

– As God continues to do great things in my ministry (and for that you will have to wait – but know – BIG things are coming soon!)

God has moved me and stretched me so many times. In each season, in each change, and in each growing experiance, He has reminded me that He has prepared me for the things He is asking me to do.

Oh friend, is God asking you to do something for HIS kingdom? Does it seem bigger then you? Well, your right, it probably is. I have watched God give me “God-Size” dreams – and prepare me, and then use me, in each and every one. Trust Him today to do things only HE can do, so that HE can get the glory. He has prepared you, for such a time as this.

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Bible Study, Marriage, Parenting, Womanhood

Mercy To The Least of These

Who is our neighbor? When this answer was asked of Jesus, the response was – anyone who  is around us. The story of the Great Samaritian showed that to be true. It wasn’t the person who should have helped- who should have shown himself to be a neighbor to the hurt man. No, it was the last person you would expect.

I have found the same to be true lately. The people who are closest to me are not always to people in closest proximity. Yet, we are called- called to minister. Not just to those who are near us. Not just to those who it is easy to love. We are called to show

The people that automatically come to mind as neighbors are those I live with. My family. These are the people I live with. How generous with my time and resources am I with those who are closest to me? It would seem that we are the most generous to them- but they are often the first we take from. We need to remember that our family is our first ministry. Behind God, they are our first priority. Yet, they are often the ones we are quickest to give our least to – the end of our resources. We need to give them the best of us.

The next people are those who are truly our neighbors. The ones who live in front, behind, and beside you. We live in a culture that doesn’t know their neighbors anymore. You give the casual wave as you drive out the driveway – but yet, we give no care to their deepest need – the way they might be poor – in their relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to take back hospitality and get to know our neighbors.

What about the homeless? The less fortunate. You may even know their faces in your community. Are you blessing these people – or just scared of them. I do think we need to use caution – but I believe God places them in our lives for a reason.

Lastly, I want to take a step out even further. To the widows and orphans. The book of James tells us that true religion is in how we care for these important people. If you have spent any time here at all, you know my heart for adoption. It goes beyond the baby I am going to one day hold- to all the orphans- the 101,666 orphans world wide – that don’t have a home. That are poor. They live in less then great conditions – or are born to parents that can’t take care of them, but don’t feel like they have an option either. The wonderful women who choose life for their babies  – even at the cost of their own. Then, the widows. The ones we have left behind. They feel uncared for by the world. They need encouragement. A meal. Cards at the holidays. A visit. Simple moments of our time, that show that they are still cared about – after the one human in the world who loved them with all their being is gone. These two groups of people will pull at your heart strings, stretch you – and push you beyond yourself. We need to extend the mercy of God to these.

Womanhood

The Power of YOUR Testimony

Have you ever considered the power of your testimony? Each and every one of us have a story, and that is what a testimony is. It is the proof of the existence of something in your life – and as a Christian, you are showing the existence of God and His Authorship in your life. This month, we are going to be sharing the power of a Testimony, and throughout the month, we are going to look at the testimonies of some of the people in scripture, and some of the wonderful women I get to minister with her at Women of Worship. Let’s start today with talking about the POWER in a testimony – including yours.

Often times, when churches or small groups ask you to share your testimony, many people don’t know what to share. Your testimony is simple – it is how you came to Christ, and what He has done in your life since. A testimony doesn’t have to mean that you have gone through some dark space in your life – many people have a testimony of being raised in a Christian home, with Godly parents, and coming to Christ at a young age. Often, people refer to this as a “boring testimony” – however, this is the testimony I pray my children have. I want them to walk in Truth from an early age. However, no testimony is boring. Testimonies are not about who has the biggest and best story, or the one that brings the most tears- but the one that brings God glory. When we had over the pen of our life, and put it back in our Creator’s – we allow Him to write the in’s and outs of our story. Often, it won’t look like we thought it would – but always, it will point others back to Christ.

One of the main reasons for our testimony is to point others to Christ. No matter what we have, or have not, gone through, there is someone out there who needs to read the gospel through your life. If you are living a life where God is in control, your are going to allow God to move and control the things in your life to bring Him glory. That will be your life goal. The desires of your heart will change, and they will match the desires of His.

Satan tries to throw us curve balls in life. However, one of my favorite verses (and songs) is that of Overcome by Jeremy Camp. The premise of this song is that we are conquers in Christ. When the song goes on to tell how we Overcome it is by two things that are found in Revelation 12:11

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11 ESV)

We are more than conquers in Christ- by His perfect blood, but also by the Word of our Testimony. That is how others come to know Him. They come to know Him when we are bold enough to share our stories – the ones that are boring, or full of twist and turns. The ones that are simple and sweet, and those that cause tears.  When we share our testimony, we are sharing what Christ has done in our lives- and what He continues to do. His power is written all over us. Then people are able to by faith trust in Christ and what His blood did on the cross, and they too can move from death to life everlasting.

Have you ever shared your testimony? What feelings are evoked in you when you think about sharing your testimony? Would you even know where to start? Well, this month, we are going to talk about HOW to share your testimony, and give you some great written and verbal examples of some. I hope you will not only connect with our writer team in a more personal way, but that you would pray for boldness and opportunity to share YOUR story with someone else. It could change eternity.

Womanhood

Daily in Need of Grace

Grace is something that I am in need of daily. If you knew my family and how I was raised, you wouldn’t expect the life I’ve lived. I was the good girl, in church with the whole family every single time the door was open, I sang in the choir, served in the nursery… I did all the things a Christian girl was supposed to do. Yet, it didn’t get me anywhere. I was lost, in need of a Savior.

My mom told me growing up that I had accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was around 5 years old. The problem was, I didn’t remember it. At all. Being from a Christian family as a youth we were required to have daily devotions, at 12 years old I was fascinated with the book of Revelation (still am in fact, I LOVE the Left Behind series). It was during my personal devotion time that I came across these verses…

Revelation 20:14-15, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

That night it hit me that I was one of those “whosoevers” that it was talking about. I knew that my name was not written in the book it was speaking of. I knew that I was lost. I was blessed to have my mom by my side that night as I knelt and ask Jesus into my heart. It is a memory that I will never forget and I’m thankful that I listened to the Lord pressing onto my heart my need for Him that night.

I can’t tell you that from here on out that my life was lived for the Lord and that I honored Him more than I didn’t. It just isn’t so. Even after becoming a princess of The King, I didn’t always live for Him. My teen years and young adult years were times that I was often need of an extra dose of grace.

The hormones that hit you as a youth and young adult are brutal, they come on with a ton of bricks and if you aren’t prepared for them, then you’ll end up in quite a mess. Before I was 16 I had lost my virginity and then had my heart broken by him and his family.

The best summer of my life followed that heart aching time in my life. My grandparents allowed me to accompany them to Mexico to spend the summer there working with mission teams coming from Texas to work with the local churches. It was exactly what I needed, a time away from life back home and a focus on the Lord and His work. I was geared for heart break again because as my grandfather told me, “You wear your heart on your sleeve”. I ended up leaving Mexico despising all men and swearing to never get married.

Never getting married didn’t last long. I said, “I do”, just shy of 2 months after I turned 18. While this marriage ended in divorce less than two years later, I was given a precious blessing during that short time. I became a single, divorced mom, but I walked away from physical, and emotional relational abuse that forever left it’s mark on me. Grace was a word I didn’t feel I deserved, but was something that I so desperately needed.

I am stubborn and tend to think I can take on the world and don’t need anyone’s help. At times I’ve even thought I didn’t need God’s. This was a downfall several times throughout my life, but through it all God’s grace prevailed. At 21, I became an unwed mom, living at home with my parents and my two little blessings. Before my next birthday, I said “I do” again and we became a family, a blended family with yours, mine and ours.

Over the last 9 years we’ve been hit with many blows to our marriage, but through it all God’s grace has been there. Just as it always has been throughout my life. Without God’s grace I never could have found my way through separation, adultery and resolution in my 2nd marriage. If I chosen my own way as I’d done throughout the rest of my life I would have been divorced a second time. Yet, I finally saw that going my own way had never gotten me anywhere. I knew God’s grace is what would see me through, through to His plan, His will for my life. I took a leap of faith and decided to trust and follow Him this time.

It’s amazing to look back over all the bad choices, see the signs I missed, the things I should have done but didn’t, and see God’s grace throughout all of it. He never let me down, His grace is what saw me through it all…it prevailed through everything. His grace is enough for me. For all the things I’ve done, the things I never did, the life I have now and whatever the future holds for me.

Womanhood

Being “Good” Doesn’t Mean You’re Saved – A Testimony

My Life as a Good Christian

I asked Jesus into my heart at the age of 6. At that same age, I was baptized. I was relieved I wouldn’t go to hell if I died. That used to be my testimony.

But here is the rest of it.

I continued to grow up with a love for church and Jesus, and a desire to be “good.” But it didn’t mean that I was truly saved.

I went to church my whole life. I appeared to be a “good” girl, and grew into a “good” teenager. I was active in children’s ministries as a child, sang solos in worship services and children’s musicals, and attended youth groups and camps as a teen (was even nominated as president of the youth group and preached a sermon in church one year). By all outward appearances, I was really “good.”

My senior year of high school, I went to a Christian music band’s concert (anybody remember Geoff Moore and The Distance?), and felt guilty for being mean to my younger sister, and being disrespectful to my parents (yeah, that’s about the worst thing I ever did growing up). So I cried, and went up front at the end of the concert and “rededicated” my life. Shortly after, I spent the night at a friend’s house and saw her having nightly devotions, and although I had grown up in church, I had never heard of the idea before, nor had I ever seen anyone doing that. So I started having nightly devotions too.

In college, I was still a “good” person. I participated in lots of Christian groups on campus, went on mission trips, and consistently attended church. I still hadn’t drunk any alcohol or tried drugs, had sex, or done anything “bad.” Someone had given me a devotion book for college students as a high school graduation gift. I began reading that. When I finished it, I bought more devotion books, and read them. I still hadn’t read my own Bible yet.

I got married a few months after college graduation, to my college sweetheart of all four years. We rented a tiny one-bedroom apartment, and found a little church we joined and attended together, and enjoyed married life as a “godly” couple, participating in church activities. I volunteered in the church nursery, because that’s what everyone else did who was married and wanted children but didn’t have them yet. I began work as a public school teacher, because I loved kids and I wanted to “help” others, and teaching gave me the perfect opportunity to do that. But I still hadn’t read my own Bible.

My whole life, I had talked the talk. I was “godly,” “good,” a “people-pleaser” and an outspoken “Christian.” I knew I was saved and would go to heaven when I died. I didn’t doubt that. After all, I had “made a decision” and I had been baptized. That was all there was to it.

The Dark Side of Me

But, there was a dark side to me, one that I didn’t realize had anything to do with my salvation, or had anything to do with my life as a Christian kid. You see, I struggled with severe depression from middle school through high school. I was a loner. I hated myself, and I hated other people who made me feel like an outcast and invisible. I thought more than once about suicide, and I would purposefully hurt myself, hoping someone would notice the bruises and show love to me, but no one noticed. I was miserable inside.

As I began to read devotion books (and in effect, my Bible too) in college, my attitude about myself changed. I began to see that I was loved by God, and I began to meet a few authentic Christian peers (not fake ones I had known my whole life) who loved me and accepted me in a Christ-like friendship based on acceptance and grace. My boyfriend (my future husband) and I grew together in faith and I experienced his friendship and love for me was based on who I really was, the good and the bad. Having a few true Christian friendships, experiencing true God-honoring love (a relationship with a boy who didn’t just want sex – yep, we were still virgins when we got married), and beginning to pray and spend time with God daily, helped me to grow out of my depression and self-hate.

After marriage, I continued to read devotion books, listened to Christian music, read Christian fiction and nonfiction, and could spew out all the normal Christian cliches and responses to any issue. I served at church, attended fairly regularly, and lived a “Christian” life. I witnessed and shared (what I thought was) the gospel with others, acting all godly and “happy.” I was a pro at hypocrisy, but didn’t even realize it. I just thought that was how Christians were supposed to act, so I copied the act. And I was very good at it, so good that I even fooled myself.

But inside I was a wreck. After working as a teacher in the public school system for several years (at a highly “Christian” school community), the high stakes testing, general stress, low pay, micromanagement, and disgruntled parents (at my inability to accept their children’s misbehavior and disrespect) began to get to me. No matter how hard I worked, or how many long hours I put in, or how many parent-teacher conferences to try to people-please, I failed. And my heart failed. I just wasn’t “good” enough. I began to have self-doubts again. I began seeing a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive disorder. He claimed I’d had OCD my entire life and was misdiagnosed as a teen. I was put on a high level of psychiatric medication, and began to see some relief, but not completely. The fact was that my heart was still wretched, and no medication or psychotherapy would heal it.

The Change in My Heart

I just wasn’t happy inside. I went to church, smiled, talked the talk. But I didn’t believe it. Everyone at church began to seem fake again. I began to doubt anyone really believed what was preached – who out there was smiling, talking the talk, …pretending, just like me? Did everyone feel this way, and just no one talked about it? Maybe being a Christian just meant that you could be around “happy” people who made you feel like you were a “good” person. Maybe God wasn’t even really real, just something that people made up so they could “fit in” and “feel good.” Maybe I was just doomed to be one of the few enlightened people who saw the fakes and just had to pretend that I didn’t notice (since I knew I was also one of them).

But then I met two people who were real. Two people who I saw through their life that they truly loved God. These two women had a profound impact on me. One of them struggled with a very sad and tragic event, and still praised God in thankfulness and expressed peace that surpasses all understanding. It was a peace that I couldn’t understand if I were in her shoes, and it left me feeling like I was missing something in my relationship with God. The other woman was a sweet older lady, who loved God so much, and had such an intense desire to glorify him through her life that she spent over two years counseling me, guiding me, and helping me to sort through my issues, showing me my own sin (gasp! me!? a sinner?) and spent time in God’s Word with me, without pay, week after week, never giving up on me and my questions and doubts. She taught me how to be a true child of God. She taught me about true salvation. She guided me in how to be a good wife and mother. Her Bible was so marked up on each and every page, and I would just stare in astonishment at her, that someone could love God and His Word so much. I had never seen that before.

Although I was baptized at age 6, and rededicated my life at age 17, I was 33 years old when I was truly saved. Saved from my sin, my selfish, wretched, hateful heart – recognizing my need for the Savior. I actually heard the true gospel for the first time, after so many years in church. I began reading my actual Bible, and put down the devotional books, self-help books, and Christian fiction to focus primarily on reading God’s Word for myself. I finally understood my need and my weakness, my inability to keep pretending and being a “Christian” it on my own. I actually got down on my knees, and prayed specifically for God to lead me, asking Him to take my whole life into His hands, and committed to follow His will, and stop trying to control things myself. I gave everything to God, and asked Him to forgive my hypocrisy and my sin. I finally saw myself as a sinner – I saw my sin of selfishness, and a cold, dead, and hateful heart. I asked God to take those things away and make me new. And I asked Him to grant me that so very strange thing to me – the peace that transcends all understanding, so I could finally experience true joy as a child of God.

And it was truly amazing to me, and instant… He granted my requests! I no longer felt depressed or anxious. I no longer needed psychotherapy or medication for “OCD,” I no longer had a hate in my heart for circumstances of life, myself, or others. Yes, it was instant. I mean, that very minute! I can honestly say now that God lives within my heart. He helps me when my sinfulness rears its ugly head again, and I have a joy and a peace that I never knew before. I have a love for others that can only be of God. I no longer live in fear of man (a people-pleaser), but I live in awe of my Father, and in reverence for His grace and His power in my life, and in deep, tearful gratitude for what He did, for ME – even knowing all I did (and still do) in sin against Him. It’s a peace and joy I can’t express in words.

I’m still able to be hurt, I’m still weak, I’m still sinful, and I’m still depressed and anxious sometimes. The hardest part is knowing that I’ve hurt so many friends and family, and led them astray with my hypocrisy, and knowing that they can’t forgive me until God grants them that ability. But God gives me strength that I need to overcome all that. And he gives me the ability to keep trying, to love and serve Him, and the desire to glorify Him in all that I do.

I pray that God would grant that understanding for everyone. I hope my testimony stirs up a desire, in those who read it, to seek God. Ask Him to be your Savior, and seek to learn more from His Word about what it means to be a real Christian. I hope that it also stirs other Christian women to honor God’s pull on your heart to mentor younger ones, who are struggling in their faith. Show them your marked up Bible, share with them your testimony. It may be you that he is calling to lead them to Him, and to experience true salvation.

“May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you His favor and give you His peace.” ~Numbers 6:24–26

Womanhood

My Potter’s Hand

As I reflect on my life, I can’t help but glorify God for the journey He has mapped out for me. Each moment and lesson has had it’s purpose in moulding, stretching, crushing and humbling me. This route I travel prepares me for my calling and ultimately, my final destination. My fingers have been pried open from expectation’s I’ve clung to, being replaced with the hand of God who plans my voyage.

The road I’ve walked passed through the Valley of Death, where I watched three of my sons grasp at this fleeting life to gain eternity. I’d have preferred to bypass this valley to the sunny plains of life where I could nurture them with the milk that saturated my flesh, my arms empty. I’ve realised I’d have passed by the broken pilgrims along this pass, missing the opportunity to share in my Saviours comfort.

My journey included a flight over the ocean to a foreign land where nothing and no one was familiar. I’d have preferred to stay in my home land, growing in wisdom with my parents by my side. Instead, God drew me closer to Him in my loneliness. All distractions removed, I searched His Word gaining understanding and the desire to worship Him with my life.

This traipse included inadequate funds to provide for a growing family. I’d have preferred a satisfactory income, enough to see us by. If I had my way, I would have missed seen God work in miraculous ways to provide all our needs. I learnt to show compassion and give to those in need, knowing it was done for me.

I broke down and lost my way when my eyes were taken off His plan. I searched to fill my time with a meaningful task, one that will leave a monument on the path I walk. I found dissatisfaction and frustration instead. The garden God planted me in grew weeds as my focus shifted to fulfil my selfish ambitions. Through the grace of God, I was re-directed towards my calling where I embraced the realities and responsibility of motherhood. Now I desire to encourage wives and mothers, who might have lost their way, to cling to their supreme vocation of raising eternal souls for the glorification of God. Our time and effort will not be acknowledged in this world, but it will impact infinity.

If the pathway I travelled, had been mapped out differently, I would not be who I am today. Every trail He used has not been in vain. Everyone of them shaped me for His pleasure. I can’t think of a more superior place to be than in my Potter’s hand. Where He’ll continue to fashion me into the wife and mother he designed me to be.

Our voyage’s are unlike each other. The gardens we’ve been planted in are unique. God will use our trials and afflictions to purify and utilize us. He doesn’t waste anything. He gives us beauty for ashes. He makes all things work to the good of those who love Him. He is sovereign, and nothing can separate us from His unfailing love.

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; And perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5