The Piano

A story, a symbol, a masterpiece…
Brad, my husband, saw a piano free on Facebook. It was left in a shed where it received water damage and the fluctuating temperatures ruined its insides. He decided to take this on as his biggest woodworking project to date. He completely refurbished it. He changed out all the inside pieces, rebuilt and stained some parts, sanded it, varnished it, and gave it to me as a gift. I was and still am completely in awe. When I opened up the inside and he explained to me how he replaced the parts, I just stared at him with my mouth open. The amount of time and patience that was placed into this beautiful work of art cannot be numbered. I didn’t even know I wanted a piano until he gave me this one. I have a keyboard that I bought for myself while I was in high school with money I made from selling watermelons. It only got the job done through the years, but I will admit a keyboard is nothing like playing this piano!
I’m not writing this to brag about how good Brad is to me (although, I don’t deserve him at all because he’s entirely too good for me). We’ve been married for a year and a half and the big secret to it is letting God be in the middle. This piano reminds me that marriage is simple and shouldn’t be complicated. Marriage is like playing a piano…you go through highs and lows, you hit the black keys every now and then that take you by surprise but turn out being all part of the song, and when a key sticks or you hit a wrong note, you work through it and keep playing anyway. ❤️

Where Confidence is Found

I went through a major fashion phase right after I got married. If it was on sale, cheap to me, and cute, I would ask Brad and buy it. Now that I look back on it, I have understood why. Fashion + clothes + shoes are tons of fun to me, and I ❤️ being creative with outfits. I have been that kind of girl before I could talk (just ask my mom), but it increased so much more after marriage…
I have slacked up buying clothes the past 6 months and haven’t bought much of anything except books (Brad and I are book nerds now🤓) and groceries.
It just dawned on me WHY I would buy clothes other than just liking them and being on sale. It isn’t because I had more closet space. I did have more room which was a bonus, but that wasn’t the reason. It also isn’t because I needed to give clothes away and make a wardrobe update. I did that too, but again, this isn’t the reason.
It’s clear to me now: clothes became my way of finding confidence. Being newly married, I felt a crazy amount of pressure to be a perfect wife and everything good I’ve read about. It was my way of gaining stability when my circumstances changed. I was seeing girls at church with the latest fashion trend on or fashion bloggers on my IG feed stating the must-haves for the season. I was looking to prove myself to people and finding confidence in clothes…🤦🏻‍♀️
You guys, it took me until NOW to figure this out. The message I need to get to you is this: look deep into your heart. Satan plants pressure there, little lies that don’t seem to be a big deal until they grow into a monster that tears your life away piece by piece. Harsh, I know. Confidence & stability when life is changing can only be found in Christ. Carefully monitor what you are allowing yourself to believe. You control whether you believe LIES or TRUTH, friends!

Are You Like a Fake Pharisee?

The beignets (pronounced ben-yay) + coffee are as real as it gets at Cafe Du Monde, and it’s hard for anyone outside of this restaurant to mimic their iconic food. The Pharisees remind me of a good lookin’ beignet or cup of coffee but a bad tasting one….
The Pharisees were classified as Jesus’ enemies even though most of the people were deceived into thinking they were “for” Jesus. The Pharisees prayed loudly in the streets and synagogues and wore exquisite and beautiful clothes. They constantly tested Jesus, and they made stupid, impossible laws for people to follow. They waited for someone to mess up to call them out on their sin. This particular group was about bringing glory to themselves and basically, wanted people to worship them. Jesus warned His people to be careful around the Pharisees and not to listen to them. He was quick to tell them when they were wrong and found them to be hypocrites!
The Pharisees were FAKE to the core. Looking at them, they seemed to have it altogether on the outside but their insides were nasty.
The Pharisees also made things public. They always wanted attention. But how much time did they spend with the Lord in private? What did they do that went unseen to the people but not to God?
Everything we do in private will be reflected in public….
praying and handing our burdens to God=peacefulness + rest
asking for forgiveness=released from guilt + shame
reading our Bibles=gained knowledge and wisdom to share
tithing=more blessings
And the list goes on.
It’s not about you. It’s not about us. It’s about God, our Father. Your heart needs that time away from the world and to share private moments with God to live authentically and in a way He wants you to live. Don’t be a Pharisee.

Backslider

Backsliding is what I call this. I’m a teacher maybe grading papers on a messy desk which only stays clean for one hour tops btw. But you can’t see my heart or where I stand with God and that’s where the backsliding is happening. I am annoyed with myself + feel guilty + am convicted.
I have my reasons for it and excuses but nothing can justify why I haven’t read my Bible in five days. Yeah, five days.
The pattern is very apparent to me. When I don’t stay in the Word like I should, I become easily exhausted and not filled. I run out of fuel, and today, I was running on empty. I am not surprised when I wear out quickly on a week like this week and don’t pick up the Bible once. I should’ve prepared myself for each day and what was to come, but I didn’t do it. I prepared lessons-not myself.
Don’t do what I did this week. It’s so much easier to not set aside time to spend with God because everything else seems to be looming over your head and you want to get it all done. If you can barely function from being exhausted, don’t expect good results. Running around like crazy trying to get everything in order in a chaotic setting was totally me all week & I don’t see how that’s a good example. The truth of the matter is that it wasn’t. It’s really hard to spot Christ in someone’s life if they aren’t spending necessary time with Him. To pour out, we must always be filled up.

Tough Stuff Series

It’s time for the tough stuff. The topics that I will be sharing have been laid on my heart over the past few weeks. These are topics that aren’t necessarily brought up in churches. Before commenting or messaging me if you find something offensive, please find the truth for yourself, and don’t run from conviction. When you are convicted, there aren’t fuzzy feelings, and it’s hard to face the truth. I am not here to offend but to be your friend in Christ! I actually pray that what I write really speaks to your heart. 💕 God disciplines us because He loves us. He is our Father. Keep this in mind.

Tough Stuff #1:

You can’t please everyone, and there will be people who dislike you. It could be because you are saved, they are jealous, they could be holding a grudge from the past, or you looked at them “weird” one time. You have to remember that you are called to lead people to Christ and help gather more disciples. You cannot worry what others think about you. Jesus told his disciples to “shake the dust off their feet” when a city wouldn’t accept Him meaning for them to move on to the next city because they did what they were called to do! (Matt. 10:14) You can’t wallow in negativity and let others’ thoughts weigh you down. When God gives us an assignment, the most we can do is complete it. God will do the rest & give you rest!
So, now…I have a question for ya: are you a people pleaser or a God pleaser? Are you doing what God wants or what people want?
Are you hiding truth from someone b/c you are scared of losing them as a friend? Are you going for the job only b/c someone encourages you but you know it isn’t what God wants for your life? Are you not starting that business or blog b/c “so and so” says you can’t make it work when God is telling you otherwise? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you are a people pleaser. Choosing a person over God is not okay. Christ is the only One Who can fill the empty places in your life and the One Who is directing you. Be a God pleaser! Those people don’t know what’s happening tomorrow, but God does!

Tough Stuff #2:

I’m sure you have said at one point in your life, “Where are you, Lord? Are you listening to me? I don’t feel you here with me.” You aren’t the only one who has felt this way….I’m right there with ya. As David was running from Saul, he experienced this same feeling and wrote it down in song form. We read his songs today in the Book of Psalms. We see him praising God and yet, in others, crying out to God wanting Him to listen or longing for His presence. Why is it that we “feel” closer to God or more distant from God? Faith & trust in Him, y’all.
I’m clicking the rewind button in my brain for a second to make a point. When I experienced the deaths of two important people in my life, I prayed more, read my Bible more, and trusted for God to get me through the rough patches. After healing, burdens and pains were relieved and I was comforted. A traumatic experience seems to push me closer to Christ, and I’ve seen this happen with many people. It is definitely not a bad thing! But then, the praying becomes less, reading the Bible turns to one verse in two minutes a day from a phone screen, and all is well in life because the deep hurt has scabbed over. We then wonder, “Why can’t I feel God like I did before?” I’ve also seen the opposite when people become angry at God for allowing a tragedy to happen, and they ask, “Where is God at a time such as this?” These are both examples of a wavering faith and not completely trusting God.
God doesn’t move away from you. You move away from Him. We are so sinful and being the imperfect humans we are, our fleshly nature keeps us swaying back and forth in our relationship with God. We choose the lies & the sin over the truth. Satan fuels the lie that the tragedy was “God’s fault” or on the opposite side of the spectrum, that “You’re good and don’t need God again until the next major life-changing event.” Be aware that Satan is going to strike you the hardest at your lowest. Consider your relationship with Jesus right now. Is there a difference b/w when you got saved and now? WHY is there a difference?
I bet you moved forward, stayed lukewarm, or fell backwards!

Tough Stuff #3:

The fire alarm went off at a hotel I was staying in at Indy this summer, and we had to evacuate the building. A mall was right next door, so I chose this time to meander to Sephora and “test” their dry shampoos in the store. (Tbh, I just didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of dry shampoo only to throw it away before a flight.😂) The very next day, a chemical spill occurred in the washroom by the lobby of the hotel, and we were evacuated yet again. I was with a group of young women who I quickly became acquainted to, and we decided to go to Starbucks and Old Navy together as fire trucks and police cars barricaded the entrance to the hotel. We decided to embrace the moment and use our time wisely (maybe not our money though, lol).
There are always going to be situations out of our control. We can, however, choose how we react to these situations. We can see it as an inconvenience or an opportunity for growth, change, and/or exploration. People are watching you, and sometimes, they wait for you to mess up. Have you ever noticed that?! Christians are ridiculed and persecuted for everything. People are curious at the joy in our lives, so they keep us on their radar. They want to see if what we have is authentic and something they can hold onto. No, don’t care about what others think of you because we do all make mistakes, but be mindful of the way you are displaying Christ’s love to them, your behavior, your actions, your reactions, and your decisions. Your life could be what leads someone to Christ. I could’ve sat on the curb of the entrance of the hotel, gotten impatient with the hotel management and been rude to them, or ran around to everyone staying in the hotel talking negatively about the experience. I saw it as an opportunity to make friends and use the time for developing relationships with people. Imagine looking at yourself through a lost person’s eyes. What needs to change? How could you have reacted differently and in a more Christ-like manner in some situations?

Been There, Girl

I have written this post a number of times and never posted it because it’s so personal, but God keeps wanting me to share this and I can’t run from it anymore. There is a girl out there somewhere that needs this, so here goes nothing.

I fell in love with a guy when I was 15. I really did even though some may argue that it wasn’t love but “infatuation.” I know the difference between the two, and I knew it then as well. He was my best friend for a long time, and I caught all the feelings after awhile. I truly got to know him first through our friendship. I remember praying to God to allow us to date and for him to like me.

He told me he liked me (finally) and we dated my entire high school career except my freshmen year when we were building a friendship. We were alike in so many ways, and I thought that we would get married one day like most couples who date for a long time in high school. I had plans with him.
But God is cool and way bigger than the plans I made for myself. When that guy broke up with me, I was so heartbroken. It was an all-time low in my life. I didn’t eat, sleep, and I basically just cried for a couple weeks wondering why and how could this happen? (Haha, don’t pity this experience because a lot of girls go through it! You may be one of them!) I mean, it was so stinkin’ hard y’all! It took me the longest time to get over the broken relationship. God is gracious though and amazing. Over time, I realized that we wouldn’t have worked out because of how much we changed.

Going through that experience made me aware that placing a person and my own plans above God is dangerous. It is allowing that person to have reign over your heart and emotions more than God which ends in destruction. Guarding your heart (Proverbs 4:23) prevents that destruction in the first place. Just because God places a person in your life, doesn’t mean they are always meant to stay there. Maybe the reasoning was to lead that person to Christ or to have an influence on their decisions in the future. I always wondered when I would start seeing “the reasons” unfold, and they eventually did!
Trust God because He knows what He’s doing even when you can’t see it!

The Flowers and Thorns

If you were to choose between a flower, a thorn, and a flower+thorn combo, what would you choose? Duh. The flower, right? 💐 It is an easy choice because flowers are so much prettier, make you happy when you look at them, smell good, and won’t hurt you. The thorns are the complete opposite…they have no smell, no attractiveness, dull color, and are painful when you pick them up. And why would you even consider a flower+thorn combo when you can just have the flower with no thorn? Hmmmm…

I am seeing too many Christians go through the Bible and follow the things that THEY want to get out of it while ignoring the rest. They are choosing the flowers and ignoring the thorns (aka: the convicting parts/the stuff we don’t want to give up/fleshly desires). If you are a saved Christian, the entire Bible needs to be applied to your life! You can’t read all Ten Commandments, for example, and choose one to follow. You’ll be convicted by the Holy Spirit for not following His Word and will have to deal with the consequences too. You don’t need to live a worldly life if YOU ARE NOT OF THIS WORLD. When you are saved, you are made new and a totally different person. We are fighting against our fleshly desires to live for Christ instead of the world.
Choose the flower+thorns combo (the feel good parts of the Bible and the convicting hard-to-swallow parts of the Bible) because if you are follower of Christ, choosing just the flowers will damage your witness, others, and ultimately, the body of Christ.

The Secret to “Self”-Reflection

We have all looked into the mirror one time or another and absolutely hated seeing the pimple, large pores, bags under our eyes, or dry skin. In the same way, when we choose to reflect on our inner selves, we (and the Holy Spirit) sometimes uncover pieces about us that we don’t necessarily like. Even when we don’t sit down and think about ways that we can be better husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, Christians, (enter job title here), mothers, and fathers, it seems that the character flaws about us jump out of the dark, take us by surprise, and corner us. It may take someone such as a good friend or our significant other putting us into our place when we’ve done wrong or letting us know that we need to listen more, tell them more, be more encouraging, yada-yada-yada. We want to cover up our flaws like girls cover up blemishes on their faces with makeup. It is downright uncomfortable to have to deal with the nasty stuff, so a lot of us choose to avoid it or run from it. If someone close to us reveals a character flaw to us that we may need to change, we might become defensive, block them out of our lives, or pretend that we are right. The sad part about this is that God could be using these special people in our lives to bring something to our attention so we can reflect Him more.

Choosing to reflect on certain areas in your life and how you can become better in your endeavors and titles that you hold is difficult. Satan doesn’t want you to have a stronger marriage/relationship. He doesn’t want you to be closer to your children. He doesn’t want you to be a positive influence in your work environment. Satan is out to destroy the goodness and wholesomeness in your life. He’s going to make all the sinful things look glamorous. If you’re not careful and don’t stay on guard, you will fall into his fictitious lies and more into your fleshly desires of being prideful and putting yourself as #1.

Self-reflection causes you to place your pride down for the Holy Spirit to look within. As weird as this may sound, self-reflection is not yourself looking into yourself; this is you allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal areas of your life that you need to work on more whether that is being more gentle with your words, having patience with others, or handing over your worries and concerns to God to let Him take care of you. If you are not a saved Christian, the Holy Spirit can still convict you and work with you. He is not living in you if you are unsaved, but He is still working on your heart to become saved.

We all have flaws, but these can be corrected in time and with help from God!

First off, let’s look into why self-reflection is important and how it can help change your life. As we grow older and gain experience and wisdom, we change. Our faith in God may increase or decrease depending on our response to a situation. Our jobs or careers may not be what we expected in positive or negative ways. The people we dated or the friends we used to have may have completely changed our perspective about relationships and friendships. Additionally, we might add onto our roles and responsibilities or do just the opposite by eliminating responsibilities.

Self-reflection obviously needs to happen often as we seek to develop a godly character. It helps us to pinpoint what is bothering us, how we are feeling throughout specific seasons in our lives, and what needs to be done to make progress. When we set aside time to place our eyes on God, we can see how far we have come or rather, how much harder we need to try. What I’m trying to get at here is that ultimately, the more time we spend with God, the more that is revealed to us and what we need to change about ourselves. The Holy Spirit shows us what we need to do to be more like Christ because He is Who we are trying to reflect!

I have not come across Jesus straight forwardly saying “self-reflection” in the Bible, but there are several places in the Bible that are referring to it and instances where Jesus challenged others to think about their lives many times. One story, for example, is when Jesus went to Martha’s house. While Mary, her sister, was listening to Jesus’ words and sitting at His feet, Martha distracted herself by getting ready to serve a meal. Jesus told her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) Jesus was trying to bring it to Martha’s attention that she needed to place her priorities in order and spend time with Him instead of worrying about the food that was going to be served.

When Jesus preached sermons and parables, He intentionally used them to cause His disciples and those listening to think about how they were living their lives and giving them instructions and guidance on how they should be living out their faith in Him.

Now, let’s talk more about the Holy Spirit, Who is the key player in “self”-reflection.

Verse 1: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto thee.” -John 14:26

The Holy Spirit is the One Who helps us remember scriptures we have memorized and sermons we have listened to. He is also the One Who teaches us while we are reading Bible passages. I love how the Holy Spirit will lead me to an exact passage or Bible verse that stirs my heart and is exactly what I need. It happens very often even as I write this blog post. The Holy Spirit is referred to here as the Comforter as well meaning that He gives us peace when our world seems shaken which leads us to our next verse…

Verse 2: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” -Phil 4:7

Without the peace of God in our hearts, we would falter and waver in our faith. The peace that He gives us calms, comforts, and stabilizes us. It helps to keep us grounded in our faith.

Verse 3: “But God hath revealed them [the things which God hath prepared for them that love him] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” -1 Corinthians 2:10

Here, it is made crystal clear to us that the Holy Spirit searches all the deep things of God. So, as we spend time with the Lord, the Holy Spirit will reveal His character to us and convict us about ours!

We have seen why self-reflection is important, referenced scripture, and discussed the ways the Holy Spirit is a key player so far. Hopefully, you are starting to see that self-reflection goes beyond yourself.

We are going to camp out at this next verse for awhile to bring it all together!

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” -John 15:4

We are the branches, and Jesus is the vine. He is saying that if we don’t abide in Him, we cannot produce fruit which is good works. Let this sink in: we cannot produce any good works without Jesus. When we are not abiding in Jesus and trying to do things on our own, we are producing selfish works and doing nothing to build the kingdom of God. This directly relates to “self”-reflection, y’all. As Christians, our goal is to reflect Christ in everything that we do and bring glory to God. To become a better reflection of Christ instead of ourselves, we need to abide in Him and let the Holy Spirit guide, convict, and bring to light our more prevalent parts of our sinful human nature. He can lead us to the verses that we need to read and apply to our lives.

We shouldn’t aim to reflect a sinful human nature but God’s character. The Holy Spirit helps us reveal our character flaws and how they don’t line up with God’s character. Self-reflection really happens when we choose to read the Bible, go to church, pray, and so on. You know, the typical Sunday School type answers.

It’s not about us. It’s about God. And this is where true “self”-reflection begins.

Love,

Emily

Why Sunday Will Be Your New Fave Day

When was the last time you RELAXED? Like completely, totally RESTED? If you answered that question and said “I’m not sure the last time I rested” it’s time that you do just that!
When I first married Brad, it took me a long time to understand how to honor the Sabbath Day. I still slip up and do laundry sometimes, but I had to put resting on Sunday into action. He was taught not work on Sunday, and because of that, I chose to start enjoying Sundays with him too. I had to wean myself away from doing lesson plans, vacuuming, and cleaning the house on Sundays. After I started observing the Sabbath Day the right way, it has become my favorite day of the week. I look forward to doing most of my chores on Saturday and cleaning floors on Monday instead. I highly recommend that you begin resting and relaxing on Sundays as well. It has changed my life for the better by allowing me to fill up my cup spiritually, physically, and mentally. Just that one day during the week makes a lot of difference in my work week especially being a school teacher. If God rested during the Creation, shouldn’t we follow His example and rest? Most of us use the excuse of being too busy! It does take some time to shift into honoring the Sabbath Day by resting, but the sooner you start this habit, the more blessed you will be by it because God commands us to honor the Sabbath Day! Before tomorrow gets here, you should plan to spend it resting, going to church to fill up your spiritual cup, and reflecting!

Don’t Swallow

I used to hate Dr. Pepper. Either you just thought I was crazy for never liking it in the first place or you don’t know why I like it now. Over the course of these last 5 years, either I was forced to drink it because there was nothing else or I would try it randomly because one of my roommates absolutely loved it. Even though it wasn’t my favorite drink back in the day, it has slowly turned into my first grab because I was exposed to it & tried it for awhile! The reason I am bringing this up is because I’ve noticed a trend with people in my generation in particular…
Things that we shouldn’t agree with are being thrown at us at all different directions….things that we don’t want to swallow but feel forced to swallow. After so much exposure from being on social media, watching the news, and what have you, I have seen people throwing in the towel on fighting for what’s righteous and Godly. It is disheartening to me, so I wanted to offer a bit of encouragement to y’all who are standing for what’s right and what follows the Bible.
Y’all, we cannot give up on standing up for Jesus and His truth. He lives in us. We need to stop falling into the sinful junk and start making our first grab the Bible instead of our phone. There’s pressure to agree with all the things of this world, but you see, that’s the problem: THEY ARE THINGS OF THIS WORLD. We are supposed to be different from the world. We are supposed to shine Jesus’ light in the darkness and sinfulness of this world NOT FALL CAPTIVE INTO AGREEING WITH WHAT IT HAS TO SAY.
Ground yourself in the truth. Continue to love people. Be kind to others. Express joy. IT’S TIME TO SHINE. And don’t let people or the Devil try to dim it because that’s the goal. ‘nuff said.