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 Break-down of How I Study My Bible

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Studying your Bible can seem daunting at times. It could be a season we are walking through where we are completely unmotivated to pick up and read the Bible or it could be fear of not understanding it. But let’s be real here…I think we have all read a passage and asked ourselves, “What in the world did that just say?” Haha.

In this post, I am hoping to answer the questions that y’all have asked me and encourage y’all to study your Bible. I will go ahead and warn you that I write in my Bible and use an array of colors! I don’t do the artsy Bible journaling, but I focus more on note-taking and understanding a passage. As you read, keep in mind that you should do what works for you. Some people hate the thought of jotting notes in their Bible. If you don’t like the idea of writing in it, you can still study the Bible but write in a notebook instead. 😊

Tools I Use

-BIC highlighters-These don’t bleed through the thinner Bible pages like Sharpie highlighters and provide bright color. I tried Crayola Twistables before and found that they work well! If you enjoy lighter colors, these are a great choice.

-Black ball-point pen-I don’t use a gel pen because gel pens are more susceptible to smearing and bleeding through the pages; even though ball-point pens leave harder impressions on the pages, these types of pens are mostly worry-free!

-Post-it notes (and only the name brand)-I use these to write additional notes in case I run out of room or to bring more attention to a revelation during my quiet time. The post-it note brand is brighter and bolder with greater sticking power! Any off-brands either fall off after a little while or have lighter colors. I personally prefer the name brand.

-Journaling Bible-My Bible is a King James Version Journaling Bible from Barbour Publisher. I love the large, lined margins on each page. However, the print is very small, so if you need large print, I don’t recommend purchasing this Bible! Click here for link.

-Notebook-I always keep a cute notebook next to me in case any topics come to mind that I would like to research more or maybe, there isn’t enough room in my Bible.

How I Study My Bible

The first and most important step to studying my Bible is praying before I begin. I find that if I don’t pray before I start reading that I will go to what I want to read and what I feel is good for me at the time. When I pray before I start reading, I am allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me to where He wants me to read…not necessarily what I want to read or what I want to get out of a passage/verse. If I am going through a certain book of the Bible, I believe that praying prior to studying a chapter, verse, or passage is a necessity to understanding it and applying it to my life. One of my favorite things is when I can read the same passage and see a detail or truth that I missed the first couple of times reading it. The Holy Spirit tends to bring out certain parts of scripture that I can apply to my life during different seasons.

Secondly, I find a place with little distractions and where I can be comfortable. Lately, I have been sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee and breakfast. I only do this on slower, Saturday mornings. During the week, I usually lay on my living room floor in a blanket. I’m not the type of person who can listen to music at the same time as reading my Bible because I can’t focus; my mind wanders to the notes playing and I try to figure out the music. If I could focus with music, I would play it non-stop! I also leave my phone on airplane mode, and I pick it up at the very end of my Bible study or reading that day to keep myself from getting distracted. The only time I use it during my study is to look up the meaning of words as soon as I’m done reading the passage. If I do use my phone as a resource, I set it aside immediately.

Now, that I’ve prepped to study the Bible, I begin reading where God has led me or continue reading a book I’ve chosen to study. I have noticed that when I read a smaller amount of text each time, I break it apart more and have a clearer understanding of what it means. Of course, some passages urge me to read the whole chapter or other verses beyond the passage I am focusing on to get a background story or to see what happens next. I read the passage at least two times.

The first time I read the passage, I try to comprehend the storyline or what is being said. I usually repeat the story to myself out loud if no one is around (including my husband, haha), and I’m telling y’all, hearing the story aloud is more powerful! I can’t explain why I have revelations when I summarize what I read aloud, but I do! It’s like the Holy Spirit reveals so much more to me.

Then, I go back to the passage specifically to find words that I don’t fully understand for God’s Word to really sink in! Words like “compassion,” “zeal,” and “humility” are examples of words I would look up. Even though I have a gist of the definition of these words, I like to write the exact definitions of them in my Bible because the passage truly comes alive when I can see what the words mean. I highlight the words that I looked up in different colors. Next, I draw an arrow from the word to my Bible margins to write the definition of the word in pen. I go back with the same color I highlighted the word in and highlight the corresponding arrow and definition.

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No highlighter color means anything in particular. I just grab whatever color I can find. I typically use green, pink, purple, blue, yellow, and orange.

Everything that happens after this is what God reveals to me as I read the passage a second time. If I want to take notes in the margins, I use a similar method to when I write a definition to one of the words I may not know. I highlight verses that are carrying a similar message in the same color. I use different colors for different verses if I want to write a totally separate note about them. When I write a note about the Bible verses, I use the same color highlighter as the note in the margin and drag an arrow across to the note. To me, this is a creative yet slightly chaotic way of organizing the notes. I love it because I can follow where everything goes, and I am a very visual person!

I enjoy using numbered and bulleted lists underneath a topic that becomes apparent to me as I read. It could be a list of qualities that I see in a Bible character or a practical list of how to be a good friend.

I like to look up other verses that may go along with the passage I’m studying as well. I will write the scripture reference next to the verse that it relates to, and highlight it in the same color of that verse if that verse is highlighted.

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Running out of room isn’t a bad thing, but it happens to me often. I take notes during sermons in my Bible sometimes. I may have already studied the passage in-depth, but if I have post-it notes, I can write down a special word from the preacher about the passage that I didn’t get and place them somewhere around it. An added bonus is that they add brightness to the pages, and it instantly pulls me in!

I have noticed that several people use the post-it flags or stick post-its on the outside of their Bibles. I used to do this, but I don’t anymore! I found them a hassle to deal with while flipping through my Bible and that they would pick up the dirt and oil from my fingers (ewwww). I’m not suggesting that you don’t do this…do what works for you! I stay away from the tabs!

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Another thing I do is circle, box off, and underline words with my pen that are either repeated to show significance in the passage or are just plain important. And if God reveals a clear, overall message to me from the passage, I write it BIG AND BOLD where I can see it easily for a quick reminder and for a bit of encouragement.

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There are many methods you can use to study your Bible. Once you find what works for you, go with it! Studying your Bible doesn’t have to be boring!

Love,

Emily

*Disclaimer: Nothing is sponsored in this post!