Sex in the City vs Jesus in the City

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For several years, I idolized the cast of four woman from the very popular, hit TV show, “Sex in the City.” As a writer, I mostly favored Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, because she had an incredibly glamorous newspaper column, with thousands of female followers each week, staying glued to each word she wrote. However, with each one of the ladies, Samantha Jones, Charlotte York and Miranda Hobbs, frenzied a certain style and conviction. They each strutted a certain strength and although their convictions were based around sex, drinking and drugs, at the time, I didn’t mind it; as a matter of fact, I loved when they would get together and gossip about their sex lives, or lack thereof. They appeared so empowered, so strong, so victorious and so committed to each other. Sad to admit, I was a Christian as I watch this series season after season.

Years later, when I came to my senses and stopped watching this show, I realized that I and other women were valued for so much more than our sense of style, our sex lives and even our professions. My life, is valued for who I am in Christ. Even though I still value my sense of style and my strength as an independent woman, I am also aware that my independence depends on God’s will. Being dependent on God doesn’t make me less of an independent woman. It makes me feel stronger in my own skin because when I’m walking by His will or guidance, I can hold my head high knowing I’m walking the right way, the proper and moral way that He has called me to be.

Today while thinking of this sitcom, I began to write a fictitious television script in my head; “Jesus in the City.” I would  have a cast of four beautiful women who also walked the streets of the city with heads held high. With each step they took, they were not walking with sexy legs showing or cleavage hanging about for others to gawk over, but rather, they walked with accountability and proper moral standards. Rather than going to bars and talking about their sex lives, they would go to coffee shops and hover over the latest clean fiction. Oh, I would make sure that they would still share their deep personal secrets, but not to brag or gossip but rather to pray and glean wisdom from each other; just like Mary and Elizabeth did in the Bible. Just as Elizabeth recognized the unique blessedness of Mary because of the child she was bearing, these four fictitious women would consider themselves blessed because of the joyful friendships they shared.

Would my version of “Sex in the City” be in the top ratings? Probably not! It would not be popular in the homes of the average standard families. Unfortunately, it might not even be popular in the homes of Christian families. Why? Because we’ve lost touch with what is important to mimic for our younger gals. We’ve forgotten that our bodies are made for our mates eyes only. We’ve forgotten that we are not valued by our size, our status or even our profession. We are valued for being women of God. That’s the highest standard ever.

We’ve forgotten that being a Christian woman does not mean a dull, boring life; quite the opposite. We can still chat, share a meal, laugh and pray with one another. We can still turn to each other in times of need and our lives don’t have to be flaunted about over a table at the bar.

Okay, my confession though. I’d still love to be that independent female newspaper columnist that other women would desire to follow, but until God directs my footsteps in that direction, my blog will have to do for now.

Ladies, value yourselves for more than your appearance; for more than your accomplishments or even profession. Value yourself because you are a child of God and He loves you so very much so.beth 3

Ugh, What is Your Will Lord?

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We all experience times where we struggle giving up our will. Some of us possess a stronger will than others but none-the-less, we all struggle giving in to someone or something. But, what if it’s God on the other end of the struggle? What if He’s asking you to give up your will for His will? Not as easy, is it? (Hopefully not)

No other sacrifice can compare with a perfect and whole-burnt offering; an offering of our will. Saint Faustia was directed to be a continual sacrifice and to always do the will of the Holy Reverent Father. He also directs us to do the same thing, but what if we just don’t understand what His will is for us? How can we avoid the confusion and know its His will leading us or our own?

  • First of all, we can stay connected by petitioning God for understanding. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.(1 Thessalonians: 5:16-18) Prayer brings everything to fruition. I pray all of the time. I don’t necessarily pray just in the morning or night. I most often will pray when feel the urge from God. It could be idle at a traffic light, waiting on a meal, or walking through my neighborhood. Find your own opportunity to chat with Jesus
  • Secondly, I recite the Lord’s Prayer; not by just mouthing the words, but rather by reciting it with all of my heart and allow His poetic words to soak into my soul. (Matthew 6:9-13)
  • Last thing I do is wait. Ugh, no one likes to wait. I want answers now. I want to know now what to do, but sometimes I have to be still and know that God is on His throne directing my life.   Be still and know that God is God. (Psalm 46:10) We have to know by faith that He has our best interests at heart.  He will never direct us down the wrong path, however, we may have to walk though some murky water first to get to the other side of the problem. God uses many forms of His artistry to work on my stubborn heart; He will do the same for you.

At times God will allow me to walk through the valley of the shadow of death(Psalm 23:4) for His namesake. I don’t consider them trials or spiritual tests. I consider those times to be times of Jesus beaconing me to crawl closer.   It’s really about the heart more than it is about the mind. I can be determined to do what God asks of me but if my heart is not into it, my actions are void. My desires will speak louder than His will.

How about you? Experiencing a battle of the will?

Pray and ask God to give you a more-willing-heart… to be a whole-burnt offering which is the offering of your will.

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My Loss of Luster

Beth, I want you to detach..Jesus recently whispered those words into my heart.Bible_paper

Have you needed a break from life but didn’t quite know how to detach?

I’ve had a tarnished heart over the last month or so and I finally had to just get-out-of-town to detox and allow myself to become clean.

When you think of the word tarnished what do you think of? I think of “flawed” or “blemished.”

It was not by chance that I read one of the daily reflections from the Diary of St. Faustina where God spoke to her about detaching herself from all creatures but more importantly, detaching from herself!

It made me ask myself, “Beth how can you delight in the love of God with a pure love when you are so full of yourself and so concerned about what other’s think?”

What exactly is the definition of tarnished? According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, it means: Lose or cause to lose luster, especially as a result of exposure to air and moisture. Discolor, rust, oxidize, corrode, stain, dull and blacken. I tend to lose my luster especially when I am exposed to others that are rusted as well.

That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling in my heart.
▪ loss of luster
▪ discolored ▪ rusted
▪ oxidized ▪ corroded
▪ stained ▪ dull
▪ blackened

Once I finally identified with these feelings, what did I do with them? I began to detached from each feeling…I began writing and soul-searching. I began to allow God to speak to me through meditation, quiet and writing.

I then found the urge to honor the glory of God. I began to cry out with enthusiasm and fidelity to my wonderful Lord. I began to seek the blessed Prince of Heaven with holy joy and finally regained my zeal for His grace.

How about you? Are you feeling oxidized, rusted or corroded with guilt or sin? Do you lack luster for the Lord?ID-10083723

Oh Lord, How beautiful you are. O Lord in heaven, cover me with your protective armor so that I might not become dulled or blackened in heart again.

Conversational Pieces

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What if God were your conversational piece? You know, the kind of precious ornament or piece of furniture that’s been handed down to you and you just couldn’t help but show it off and brag about it?

An acquaintance of mine mentioned that he owned a statue that had been passed down from generation to generation. Without mentioning what it was, he went on to ask me if I’d like to come and see it sometime? I thought it sounded like a fairly normal invitation so I took him up on it.

Do you have a conversational piece in your home?

I have all sorts of family heirlooms lurking around my place and I love to show them off. But not only do I love to show them off and share their history, I also feel accomplished when I can repurpose them. I have my grandmothers old shoe buckles in the bottom of a glass planter. I use them instead of shiny rocks. They are so colorful and unique. I have jars of buttons, rocks and shells from various trips I’ve taken and a pair of old beat up, toe-torn baby cowboy boots that all of my children wore while living on a farm. They are now penny holders. Heirlooms are full of fabulous stories.

While walking into my new friends home, there it was; his ornament, his conversational piece. My mouth dropped open as I looked at his old, rusted, ornamental statue of Buda. It was adorned in faded jade green jewels with a torn purple robe around the shoulders. The eyes were closed and his hands were rested in his lap.

I wasn’t quite sure of what to say. I needed to choose my words carefully and be kind but I also knew that having a Buda in the home would be against my Christian faith.  I looked at my friend and said, “Well, um, I think the statue is beautiful so tell me a little bit about it.” He went on to tell me how his mother had acquired the Buda from India when she was just a child. It had been handed down from generation to generation and always sat on the shelf in her “shelter-room” which was the living room where they felt protected. He also reminisced how his grandmother used to sit in front of it and pray and feel the “healing gods” move on her behalf.

As his story rounded to an end, I asked him if he believed in Buda? He looked at me with confused eyes and said, “I believe in God. Buda is a remembrance of my heritage; where my family has come from.” “Why display it then?” I asked. He replied, “Some people display the cross, the very representation of their salvation and never even talk about it. Buda is my heritage but God is my salvation. Buda is my conversational piece, my roadway to sharing Christ with those who walk through my home.”jar of rocks

When I left his house, I thought about our conversation for a long time. I looked over at my Bible on the table that had not been opened for days but there it sat; a representation of who I am. I looked over at the Christian art hanging on my wall with it’s perfectly scripted scriptures and thought about how many times I’ve walked by those pictures and never took the time to read them aloud. These were part of my conversational pieces and yet I had not used any of them to share Christ within my walls.

My grandmothers buckles didn’t tell me a thing about her faith or if she had any. The jars of buttons, rocks and shells have hidden-faith-traveled stories that I’ve never shared. What I took away from this experience was that I need to share Christ through all things; through all of my belongings even the hidden treasures I might find behind my couch. 20150723_084756

Making an Oath

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While camping out in chapter 5 of the Book of Matthew, a couple of things came to my mind while pondering verses 33-37…What does it mean to not break an oath or fulfill a vow to the Lord?

As a caretaker of those with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, you come to realize that during the progression of this plaguing disease, you become more and more their navigator in life; they count on you and trust you. I have taken care of many clients with this mind crippling disease and have never broken my vow to give them the best of care. I have always been honest with the client and their family. I do my best to fulfill my vow.

What does it mean to fulfill a vow to the Lord and how do we do this?

In Matthew 5:33-37 Jesus was referring to the ceremonies of which Jews took oaths. He even went on to say that it was considered an undesirable procedure because it was all about trying to pull the wool over other people’s eyes. They were making oaths that were designed to impress; indicating that the person swearing on the oath had power over the things that the oath mentioned. They were keeping promises or commitments that they were apparently not going to keep by taking a silly oath. Jesus said,  Do not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. vs36…He didn’t want any of this foolery to touch us.

I am in no way a perfect person. I tend to make mistakes every day. I consciously  set out to do things starting on the right foot but sometimes land on the wrong foot. My intentions are good though. I do my best to not break my commitments. I have been taking care of the most wonderful man with Alzheimer’s. He is no longer in my care but now in a memory support facility. Although I will be moving on, I will keep my oath to him to see him almost daily. I will read him the poems we used to say. I will sing with him like I used to and I will allow him to read the obituaries like he used. I will do all of this because I took a vow to help him in his disease. This also is my oath to the Lord!

Jesus took an oath for each one of us as he hung on that old rugged cross. He promised us eternal life with Him in heaven if we believe. He did not attempt to ever pull the wool over our eyes.

This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. 1John 2:25 NASB

Have you broken a vow? livingbygracepic.jp

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Matthew 5:31-32 Whoever divorces his wife must give her a legal document. But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.

These two verses of Matthew 5 are always hard for me to read. I’ve read them over and over through my Divorced-Christian walk with God. I’ve heard several different preachers and Bible scholars preach and speak on the topic; but what does my own heart, mind and soul say on the subject of divorce? Remember, these are my thoughts. You need to go to God with your own failing marriage to God. I’m simply sharing from my own experience.

Divorced people want to feel justified and purified

NOT

criticized and chastised for their failed marriages.

There’s such a stigma about divorced people in the church and Christian community, even to this day when the divorce rate is running rampant. I don’t support divorce, but I don’t chastise it either.

I’ve been divorced twice and to this day I can say that neither marriage was a mistake. Were the divorces a mistake? I really don’t have an answer to that yet. My first divorce left me feeling abandoned and broken, empty and confused, angry and scared. I flew right from that marriage into the arms of another man. I didn’t skip or lightly tiptoe into another relationship-I RAN!!!

I flew with my bags filed with unresolved harsh-divorced feelings. It was wrong and unfair to both of us. His sins and failures trickled and then lingered into the relationship as well as mine. The second divorce left me once again, sad, confused, abandoned, scared and angry. One marriage lasted 23 years and the other lasted only two. Both divorces were awful.

So why does Matthew 5:31-32 convict me? Did immorality take place in one of the marriages?  Yes! What about adultery? Yes. Were they on my part? No! But for many years, I still wore the guilt of DIVORCE on my forehead. Why? Because people simply didn’t understand.

How can we remove the guilt and shame that we feel from divorce?

Does God want us to live in that shame?

Remember, these are my thoughts from pondering with God…I believe that we remove the guilt and shame from divorce when we truly repent. There are always two sides to every story; two sides to every feeling and fight. I had to spend many hours day-in-and-day-out on my knees asking God for His favor. I had to admit my faults and give them over for purifications. I had to cry out and saturate my pillow with my sinful tears in order to feel my shame being lifted.

The second part of having my shame removed was walking in forgiveness. No one is perfect and I had to climb down off of my own moral high horse and finally forgive. It doesn’t mean that I forgot the pain, but, I finally reached a point that I didn’t allow the anger and unforgiving spirit rule my day. Only through the help of the Holy Spirit, was I able to resist the evil thoughts that wanted to rear their ugly head every day.

God does not want us to live in shame but He will allow us to camp out there until our hearts are straight with Him. He tells us in Matthew 5:43, You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ and 5:44 tells us that Jesus said, ‘But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.’ That’s hard. I don’t want to love the men that absolutely broke my heart; but I had to allow God to put that love back into my heart. It’s not the love you have for a spouse but rather a love you have for a person. It’s a love instructed by God.

There can not be finger-pointing when it comes to divorce. We all can forgive somebody, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences for actions.  It’s hard to think about standing in front of Jesus on judgment day and say, “I expect forgiveness, even though I didn’t  forgive so-n-so.” We all must forgive, and it’s not easy.

Mark 11:25 ESV

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

I wish I could give more solid advise to those who are thinking of divorce or are going through a divorce. All I know is that I had to come to my own conclusions on my own and do what I felt God was guiding me to do. Again, I’m not saying He is okay with divorce…But He is in the business of grace and mercy. He is loving and forgiving. Beth Oct 1 2015

Hitting the Unlike Button…Beth Farley

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What makes us the object of God’s Favor?

Mocked someone lately? Unjustly judged someone lately? Forgot to forgive lately? Have you caught yourself forgetting to humble yourself before the Lord so that you can be the object of His favor?

Consider the proud Pharisee who thanked God he was unlike the sinning tax collector; now consider yourself, puffed up, thanking God you are not like THAT sinning woman! Yet, that tax collector, deeply became aware of his own insufficient righteousness and cried out, “Lord, have mercy!” Have you cried out for mercy lately?

The tax collector found himself humbled and in need of God’s grace and mercy. He became the object of God’s favor. (Luke 18:13-14 NIV).

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

In order to be the object of Gods favor, we must depend on being rightly related to God, despite our external circumstances. How do we serve when we are riddled with our own sins? Ouch! That one hit home for me. How do you help serve communion when you despise the poor or judge the unwed pregnant woman?

Why do we think it doesn’t matter? Because most often we fail to see our own deep sins and our need to call out to the only one who can ultimately help us; Jesus. When we begin to think like Jesus, we begin to be the object of His favor. When we don’t cast stones or judgement, we begin to bridge over into God’s favor. This is so unlike what the world is telling us. On a side note, what do you think of the unlike button controversy on Facebook? Are we going to cast more judgement? Are we going to cast more un-forgiveness or blatantly mock others?

I ask myself and you to make a commitment to God…Do not partake in anything judgmental, or hit the unlike button without talking to God first.

His message of not blurting-out our dislikes would never fly on Facebook, but it can soar within your heart.

Join us today at livingbygrace as we talk about being the object of God’s favor.

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Investing Time

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Do you own something that is old, possibly an heirloom or antique? There are just some things that are incredibly rare and never go out of style. We headed to the ocean when he yelled back to me, “Wait. I want to bring the camera.” I thought he was talking about either a digital camera or his phone. No; it was a Fuji Film 27 exposure 35mm One-Time-Use Camera. I can not tell you the last time I used a disposable camera.  I have to admit, it was fun snapping a few picture and using the old crank winder.  Now, I’ll have to send it in to be developed. Oh the waiting!

As I played around with the old camera I thought about old relationships. I have had the privilege of taking part of rare relationships. I’ve also lost relationships that I thought were priceless but found out differently. I have also been blessed to have long-lasting, precious relationships that I’m very thankful for.

When I  filled up the whole roll with 27 pictures taken, I knew I would have to take the camera to a developing center and get them printed. Unlike the modern digital camera that show the results right then and there, I will have to wait for the results with the Fuji 33mm camera. This is also true about long-lasting valuable relationships. We have to allow the proper amount of time to gain trust. We have to wait for the relationship to almost age in order to become priceless and precious.

I’ve relocated to a new state and am making new relationships. I’m investing time into them because I want them to last. I want them to be healthy precious relationships because we were not created to do life on our own.

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

                                                                         Genesis 2:18 ESV

How much value do you place in your relationships? Do you take the time necessary to invest in them?

Join us today and we discuss the value of relationships on Livingbygracelivingbygracepic.jp

Canning or Writing

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I’ve had a wonderful day watching some tomato-canning being done. When it comes to being domestic, I prefer to buy a jar of sauce and use a hot glue gun instead of a sewing machine. I don’t know why either because my mom taught me better than that. She has always been domestic, making her own bread and sewing all of my clothes.

No matter how many times I’ve attempted to bake bread, it has always come out lumpy and dense. I’ve made more meals that have been suited for the trash than the plate. It took me many years to realize that I’m just not that domestic. As I age I find that it doesn’t matter because there are things that I can do and do them well.             tomato jars

“What am I then if I’m not domestic?” I would ask myself. Why did it take me so long to realize that I’m not good at some domestic things? Because I was too busy trying to covet other women’s gifts and not seeing my own.

I am loving and giving. I am a writer and organizer. My green thumb is with inside plants not an outside garden. I can entertain with the best of them because I can color coordinate my plates to the napkins. But, don’t ask me to fill the plates with anything too difficult to make. This weekend I couldn’t figure out all of the equations involved in canning tomatoes but I could wash the dishes; it worked!

Do we feel that others owe us validation to make us comfortable with our own talents? If so, we are way wrong. We don’t need anyone to tell us we’re good at anything. If we know that we are living out our lives the way that God intended, then we will be successful in creating our own happy memories.writing while waiting

Take the time to celebrate in who you are. Go do some canning; if that’s your thing. While you do what you’re good at, I’ll write about it.

Beth

Being Nourishing to Others

Food Saver Food Processor…How to Preserve Our Lives

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I’ve recently met someone who has taught me about what’s involved in vacuum packing food with a food saver. It’s very interesting stuff. He preserves all of his vegetables and fruits and even meats to keep them fresh and void of freezer burn.  He grazes off of these foods all winter long when fresh veggies and fruits are not available.

Of course, you know me; I can’t learn something new without it having some sort of impact on my heart, so I asked myself, how can I be nourishing towards others.

The first thing I do for others, is try not to judge them. I try to see people and things for what they truly are. God tells us that outward appearance is not what really matters.
Matthew 5:8…Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Another way I try to be nourishing towards others is taking a prayer request seriously. I never shoulder a prayer request and turn it into an opportunity to gossip or create drama. When someone confides in me, I keep it that way. I protect the request and continue to pray in my own time with God.

Leviticus 19:16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

I am nourishing to others by being there for them. Because all things are inherently connected, no-one-being can exist on its own, isolated and apart from the rest of creation.

Colossians 2: 6-7 … So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught.and overflowing with thankfulness.

Nourishment is central  wellbeing of others and to our wellbeing. When we are able to nourish someones heart and soul, we too receive nourishment.

WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN NEED OF SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT, IT IS IN THE OPPORTUNITIES TO SERVE OTHERS THAT YOU WILL FIND THE ABUNDANCE YOU SEEK. (Steve Maraboli)

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