Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday, Andrew :)!!!

Andrew is eight years old today :)! That seems like an "old" number, haha!

Andrew has grown a lot in the past year... he is less than an inch shorter than Bethani and gaining on her steadily, and has made such big leaps in his reading that he can now read a book that Peter brings to him quickly enough to keep even Peter's attention, which is not exactly the easiest thing to do, since Peter still walks out on me every once in a while, heehee :). He loves to build things, and told Mommy a couple of months ago that he wants to build his own house when he gets big :). He has a current obsession with Narnia, much like the one Tori went through at his age, before LotRs became far more appreciated, haha! He loves to get out to the garage and straighten and sweep it, which is a wonderful help! He is currently enjoying a birthday outing with Daddy, and we're busy getting ready for his family party when he gets home :).

I love you, Andrew, and I am so thankful that you are in our family :)!

Happy 8th Birthday, Andrew :)!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit is... SELF-CONTROL (and my 100th post on "Forget not his Benefits :)!)


I moved my blog here just under sixteen months ago, and this post will put me at the 100th post threshold. Such a fun milestone :)! Today is also the last day of our Fruits of the Spirit study... how did that happen we just started! This was so much fun, and I am thrilled to have gotten to share some of the fun with those who read my blog, even if it wasn't always on time ;).

Now, on to the topic of self control! Romans 8:13-14 tells us that "if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." And Proverbs 25:28 points out that "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." Self-control is so important! A lack of control over the desires of the flesh in which we once walked (Ephesians 2), can damage so much... not the least of which is the hearts and relationships of those you love. So many words or actions, said or done without controlling your emotions, go much father than we ever meant, but it hurts the other person just as much as if we had- sometimes more.

"Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified," Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. People will go to great lengths to make sure that they win what they want to win in earthly riches, but so often we all, (myself definitely included!) forget what riches we gain when we use the self-control that comes with faith in our Lord. Hugh Black says "True self control means willingness to resign the small for the sake of the great, the present for the sake of the future, the material for the sake of the spiritual, and that is what faith makes possible".
I love how  C.H. Spurgeon says that self control "is the best medicine -for it is a preventative and a preservative as well as a cure." Not only will those who practice self control in their walk with the Lord be cured of past sins, but it will also help them as they run the race of faith to also keep them from sins that they have not been acquainted with before!

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil", Ephesians 5:15-16 reminds us. There is so much that seems like it is good- and might be in moderation. But there comes a point where we have to evaluate our priorities and decide if what we are doing is really the best use of our time. We are given such a short time on this earth when you think of the thousands of years that it has been in place. What can we do to make the biggest impact for our Lord through our Lord?
Blessings in the Lord King,
Bri :)

The fruit of the Spirit is... FAITHFULNESS and GENTLENESS

I love the way that Psalms 36:5 describes the vastness of our Father's faithfulness to us... "Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds." His love is more immense than we could ever imagine, his faithfulness higher than we could ever reach! Jesus is faithfulness, Revelation 19:11 tells us; "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war." The Lord is so faithful to us, undeserving as we are! 1 John 1:9 reminds us, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." When you are given faithfulness, it should make you want to show faithfulness back, and the disciples understood this. The story told in John 6:66-68 illustrates this when it says "After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”"There is no one who deserves more faithfulness and thankfulness from us than the Lord our God! This hymn is a praise to God's faithfulness in a tone of deep thankfulness...

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been,Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see All I have needed Thy hand hath provided Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

I love the faithfulness of David to his brother in the Lord, Jonathan. They made a covenant to each other, and even after Jonathan died, David stuck to that promise and cared for his family for years. Ruth also showed faithfulness to Naomi when she followed her to the Promised Land even after Naomi tried to discourage her and gave her no thanks.
Faithfulness is not always being the one who will go along with those we know just to prove that "we will do anything with and for that person". True faithfulness is, at times, leading them back from a path of sin, even if this is painful for the person- or for you. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy," says Proverbs 27:6. But even while using faithfulness to correct, you must also use faithfulness to connect. Just because you are correcting others does not mean that you should let all bets off and say or do anything that could damage your relationship. When David's son Absalom tried to take the kingdom and started a war, in faithfulness to his kingdom, King David had to fight back. But that didn't mean that he gave up faithfulness to the bond between him and his son. He wanted to correct the wrong, yes, but he also wanted to restore the relationship. "And the king ordered Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” And all the people heard when the king gave orders to all the commanders about Absalom" (2 Samuel 18:5). He announced both his desire (though Joab did not listen) and his method-gentleness- publicly. Which leads me to a few words on the fruit of gentleness :).

"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere," says James 3:17. Wisdom and gentleness go hand in hand, and I think that is logical, since those who practice gentleness are often the ones who listen the most. I read a poem in my fourth grade English book that said 

"A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?"
That poem has stuck with me ever since. This "wise old owl" was not clamoring to be heard or put in the spotlight, but was quietly listening to others before he drew his conclusions. Often, the reason we do not respond gently is because we deal with an issue before we have all the details that will shed light on the situation, and it causes us to stress and react harshly. 
But look at what David says to the Lord; "You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great" (Psalm 18:35 ESV). Isn't it true? When you deal with a little one as they are learning something, don't they respond better as you deal gently with them rather than rushing them? I don't speak from a lot of experience here... patience, self-control, and gentleness all fall under the same category for me... category "I definitely need God to continue growing my obedience in those areas!". Haha :). But the Lord is faithful to continue to teach me and grow me, and for this I am thankful :)! These verses are a wonderful reminder of the bond of unity that we are to have with others; "And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness." (2 Timothy 2:24)

Blessings to you as you serve our Lord,

Bri :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thankful Thursday, Week 129

This week I am especially thankful for, in no particular order, because it's late and I'm tired... haha...

~The smell of pumpkins cooking.
~Spiced pumpkin seeds and pumpkin muffins.
~Planning our trip to SC in just two weeks :)!
~The way Josiah is always clapping his hands together :). (When not throwing a temper tantrum. Hahaha!)
~Flowers on the table.
~All the little special touches my family put on my birthday celebration after Daddy got home.
~The chipmunk that has been visiting our yard lately. He is so cute!!!
~Josiah's starting to wave.
~Watching a spider take down her web- I know spiders are kind of gross, but it was actually a neat experience. This particular spider has been camping outside of our window for weeks- right in the middle. Until Andrew had knocked down her web half a dozen times, and she got smart and moved to the upper left corner that he can't safely reach. But it was rainy yesterday, and I guess she decided to do fall cleaning while the bugs weren't out, because she was taking it down. She would roll it up like a carpet, and then bite it all at once, or wrap it with thread to keep it out of the way... and she had a safe line the whole time, because whenever she bit (or picked... I'm not sure) a main string it would send her bouncing back. It was really quite interesting!
~Ruffles piling up behind the sewing machine as I work :).
~Abbi and Emmi's friendship with my friend's little sister. I have loved watching them get to know each other through skype :). And interacting with her and her sister and the rest of her siblings myself, of course :).
~The Fruits of the Spirit :).
~The likes that the Pleven Project has gotten. They are still far from their goal, but they are getting there!
~Peter's love for "oatmeal cookies". A.K.A., my chocolate cookie overnight oatmeal. Loves that stuff. He asks for it every morning... the rest of us like variety. Haha!
~My concordance.
~My KBR magazine that got here a few days ago :)! We are too busy right now preparing for our trip for me to do much reading other than bible study, but it will be a wonderful addition to our trip next week :)!
~Josiah's realizing my glasses are NOT part of my face... the baby actually started crying. It was hilarious! And, yes. I am mean.
~The squirrel that ended up in Abbi's frog tank... hahaha!

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice."
                                                     ~Philippians 4:4

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The fruit of the Spirit is... KINDESS and GOODNESS

First off, I can't believe that we are half way done with this study, and two-thirds of the way through the fruits of the spirit! I have really enjoyed this :). I hope that these posts have been a blessing to a few of you, but even if they haven't, I know it has gotten me thinking to write them! That is one of the reasons I love writing, it makes you really ponder things that I would otherwise run past :).

Kindness and goodness. They bring very much the same thought to our minds, somebody who is willing to go out of their way for something. Kindness would be those who are willing to go out of their way for those who need help, even when they don't ask, and might even not appreciate, it, doing, as Luke 6:31 says "unto others as you would have them do unto you". Goodness would be going out of your way to do what is right, even when nobody sees it, just because you know that God wants you to do it.

I found it very interesting to realize, while I was studying today, that the word 'kindness" isn't in my concordance! "Goodness" is also little used. Part of the reason for this is because they are often used instead as "mercy" or "compassion" and "righteousness". But I think it is very fitting, as these two fruits are both very important, but are best shown by those who are humble and never think of what they can get, but what they can give. Following Christ and being a blessing to others when done with a right heart is never done for show. Of course, we shouldn't only be following the commands of our Lord so that others will look at us and say "Oh, they're so impressively godly!". That is pride, and that's not godly! Besides which, we have no goodness without Lord; Psalms 16:2 says, "I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” But some of the fruits of the spirit, such as love, or joy, should be openly shared, while kindness and righteousness are usually best carried out by doing the little things that nobody notices. Helping a little one clean up their mess without letting them know how undesirable it is for you, even when they were told not to make it in the first place, sharing the truths of the Lord with others, and taking a meal to someone are all acts of kindness. Loving those who might hurt us, setting aside time to spend with the Lord, and following God even when it is hard, without any pride in our hearts, are all what would be considered "goodness".

I think a wonderful way to illustrate these fruits is found in Luke 10:25-39, the parable of the good Samaritan...

"And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”"

After this man was beat and left for dead, two men walked by. One was a priest. While claiming to have religion, he had no goodness. The other was a Levite. While being one of the chosen men of Israel by God's kindness, he showed none. But the third man to make it down the road had both. This man needed help, and so he showed him kindness and took care of all his needs. Then he went over and beyond that, following the Lord to also take him somewhere where he could rest and fully heal, free of personal charge. 

Christ was "wounded for our transgressions, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5), "so that in the coming ages God might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:7). He showed kindness in saving us from a life in hell, but he also went above and beyond that to give us a place of rest in our father's house, free of personal charge. Not because we deserved it, but because, out of his mercy and love, his kindness and goodness, his compassion and grace, he wanted to extend to us riches of grace to us in measures we could never imagine or hope for. 
 I think this is a good verse to sum this up... "Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing." 1 Peter 3:8-9. A mind that is ready to embrace others suggestions as long as they don't compromise God's commands, a heart ready to do all you can for those who are hurting, sharing love for others even when they are unkind to you. May God grant that through him we would be able to do all of these things!

What are some acts of kindness and goodness in following the Lord that you could do this week?

~Bri :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirt is... PEACE and PATIENCE

I love that these two fruits of the spirit ended up together, because I feel that they go right hand-in-hand! Having peace with God's plan for you is going to give you patience with how those plans play out, and striving to deal with the issues of life with patience is going to lead to an atmosphere of peace.

What is peace? In a sermon several years ago, I heard a story of how several painters were given the challenge of painting what peace looked like. Several people drew quiet country scenes, or maybe a family gathered around the dinner table, or a sleepy snowy town. And those things can be "peaceful". But then the judges saw the next picture, and they all exclaimed,  "That is true peace."

The painting was of a great rushing waterfall, in front of which, very close to falls, there was a tree. But what made the judges realize that this displayed peace, was a little nest on the branch of the tree. And a mama bird, completely without fear of the crashing water, sat patiently waiting for her little birds to hatch. She had peace that, though the waters were full of turmoil, God would keep the waters running their course, and she would be safe in his hand, even so close to danger.

Peace is trusting God, even when around us is chaos. Even when things appear bad, knowing that God is in control. He has planned every one of our days, and we can rest in him, knowing that he is doing all for our refinement for his glory.

I love these verses from "How Firm a Foundation".  The whole hymn is a beautiful reminder to me that we are to trust and rest in God's plan and have peace with his direction, but these verses have always been my favorite...

"Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."

Christ says, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world". We do not have peace because we are secure in the world. We have peace because the world is secure in the hand of our Lord, the "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace", Isaiah 9:6. Dwelling on the Lord will give us peace in him, as Isaiah 26: 3 reminds us; "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Charles Spurgeon tells us that "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of it's sorrows, but only empties today of it's strength."

2 Timothy 2:22 says to "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart". Peace is a virtue that is a mark of those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Obviously, it starts with following Christ and his righteousness, but then it spills out into every aspect of our live. We are told to live in fellowship with all those God brings into our live, "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace", Ephesians 2:14-15.

As for patience... I am not a patient person by nature. I am rather a perfectionistic over-achiver, a quality that comes with a high level of un-quality impatience. I speak on no authority on this. I am constantly battling impatience myself. But my desire is that God would cultivate a spirit of  patience in me for "to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life" (Romans 2:7).

In my friend Katie's post today, I loved how she mentioned that God doesn't just give us patience when we ask him to help us be patient- he gives us situations that will help us grow patience! St. Francis of Assisi (no clue who he is, found this quote as a quote in a book, haha!) says that "No one will ever know the full depth of his capacity for patience and humility as long as nothing bothers him. It is only when times are troubled and difficult that he can see how much of either is in him." It's easy to be carefree when things happen as we like, but when put in a situation that is undesirable, that is when patience is needed... the definition of patience is literally "a state of endurance under difficult circumstances"! But we can "rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces patience." But if we didn't have suffering, we wouldn't need patience, right? Well, Luke 8:15 says "As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." Those who cultivate patience will glean fruit in other areas! Isn't it amazing how every fruit of the spirit grows when one grows?! It's like planting certain vegetables in the same area of the garden together, as they will help each other grow, making each one stronger, while still each being a different, vibrant, maturing fruit :)!

When might we need patience? In any area of life! When you are babysitting and not being obeyed, you definitely need patience! Your little sibling's relationship with you is of so much more importance than that they put towels in the hamper. Of course, they need to take care of the towels, too, if they were told; but it's not life or death. You need to back down, pray for patience, and *then* talk to the sibling. I have found that speaking patiently gets just as good results, and far less tears- on everyones part. That doesn't mean that I'm never impatient. I am... *so* much. But it is so worth it to make the effort to respond in the way the Lord is leading, rather than to follow our sinful flesh. God's way is always best, isn't it :)? While I was studying patience today, I found this verse, that I think is one that I will be memorizing, because it is something I need constant reminder of: "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient", 2 Timothy 2:24. Must not strive; must deal patiently with others, *even* if they are the ones in the wrong. Must be gentle to all men; even when they are being difficult and you don't want to. Able to teach; even when the pupil is a slow learner and you can bake the meal quicker and cleaner when doing it yourself. Patient; in all things.

"We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all." (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

"May the God of peace be with you all" (Romans 15:33) :).


The Fruit of the Spirit is... JOY

"Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; 
make known his deeds among the peoples! 
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all 
his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; 
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his 
presence continually!"

                                   (Psalm 105:1-4 ESV)

Joy... What a wonderful topic :)!

A Christian's joy is something so much more than just happiness. Anybody can be happy. When things are going our way, we're getting everything we want, and nobody is annoying us, we are in a state where everything is working with our fleshly desires. There is nothing there that makes our flesh put up a fuss against our Savior's commands or the circumstances that he has given. This state has been given the term "happy". But joy goes *so* much deeper than simply enjoying momentary pleasure. Our joy is not stemmed from circumstances, but from our fellowship with God. We "rejoice in the Lord; (We) will take joy in the God of (our) salvation", Habakkuk 3:18. In the Lord, we always have something to joy about! We are claimed by him! He is ours, and we are his! Everything we do, he is walking with us all the way, sometimes carrying us, sometimes disciplining us, stretching us, comforting us. If all we had to joy in was our salvation, it would be enough to keep us singing his praises for a life time!

But what about during trials? How are we to joy then? Joy is a choice. God commands it, yes. Just like he commands love, and obedience to our parents, he has commanded joy. And just with love and obedience, joy doesn't come naturally. But through God's grace we have his help to make the right choice -to choose joy even in trials. James 1:2 tells us, "Count it all joy, brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." Even our trials are being used for his glory! He is making us "steadfast", growing us closer to him, causing us to realize more and more that he is the reason we rejoice, and we will praise him still, "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2). We can choose to look past the spilled milk... or broken figurine, lost shirt, or wreaked plans... and choose to to say "Thy will be done, Lord. I trust you still. Show me what you want me to learn from this situation, and help me to praise you still", and then look for things that you do have to be thankful for that tie directly into the situation that you want to get discouraged in or frustrated about

Paul tells us that we are to "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15) and "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"  (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Even when we are weeping, he reminds us, we have something to be joyful- not just happy, but joyful- about. "Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning" (Psalms 30:5). There are so many things to rejoice in, to be thankful for. One of the ways that I try to make thankfulness and joy a part of my life is to try to set aside some time each week to write down the little things that I am thankful for that week. That was how Thankful Thursdays were born and this blog got it's title... and they are some of my favorite posts to write! Sometimes it's just a fun little thing to do, but other times, it is a time to sit and think of all that I have to thank God for even when things seem hard. William Vander Hoven tells us that "Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ."

I wrote some more thoughts on rejoicing a couple years ago, which you can find here, and Katie's post on joy is here :). What are some of your thoughts on the commandment to rejoice?

Blessings to you all,


"What I need is a more grateful heart to the giver of every good and perfect gift" ~"Stonewall" Thomas Jackson

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit is... LOVE

One of the many blessings that the Lord has given me in my life has been a godly young lady who has joined me and inspired me in my study of God's word for almost three years now. She encouraged me to join her in a one week study of the fruits of the spirit, writing our findings either on our blogs or in a journal entry. I am so excited to be doing this, so eager to see what the Lord brings to light, and pretty sure already that this will be a great reality check this week on how much growth I need in these Fruits of the Spirit. Praise God that his mercies are new every morning, and that he will finish the work that he has started in me!

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against these there is no law."

The fruits of the spirit rightly begins by listing love. Out of all the fruits listed, is is the one through which all others must flow. Love without works is shallow; but works without love are simply done to make us feel good about ourselves, righteous, or proud that we are better than so-and-so. I love how Amy Carmichael puts it; "You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving."

There are two words for "love" in the original manuscripts of the bible, "Agapao" and "Phileo". Agapao means to love dearly, while Phileo is a less intense "fondness or friendship". I found it interesting earlier to discover that when Jesus ask Peter "do you love me?", he used the word "Agapao", and the first two times when Peter replied, he answered "Lord, you know that I love (Phileo) you." It was the third time, when Peter was deeply grieved at the repeated question, that he answered in passion that he Agapao loved him, and Jesus gave him his finally instructions. I have heard that the question repeated three times was a reminder of Peter's denial of Christ three times, but after reading that, I think it was also a reminder that only our deepest love will do for Christ. Does he have our whole heart? Do we delight in his word, love to talk to him, and sing his praises at every opportunity? God says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued to extend faithful love to you." (Jeremiah 31:3).

God's love is everlasting! Nothing can separate us from him! And Christ calls us to imitate him in spreading the love of our heavenly father, through the love that will overspill from the gift he gives to us at conversion, as Paul writes in Ephesians 5:2; "Walk in love as the Messiah also loved us". This love of the Messiah was shown when "God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, while we were yet dead in our trespasses made us alive together in Christ" (Ephesians 2:4-5). Christ has so much love for us. How can we not share that love with others?! It may be through helping your little brother up after he falls. It may be by sharing encouragement with a friend who is going through a difficult time. It may be by sharing the gospel with someone who does not know about the love that our Lord had for them- the same love that he has shown me.

But no matter what you do to show that love, remember this: "Greater love hath no man than this, that he laid down his life for his friends." Christ loved. Not to get anything... he was killed while showing his love. Not when it was easy... he was separated from the Father. Not when he felt like it... he plead for God to find another way. Not because we loved him... but because he loved us. Christ's love asks for nothing in return. Likewise, we should never ask for anything in return... and EVERYthing we do should be filled with love. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things", 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

This is very convicting to me, as I know that there are so many ways that I still need Christ's work in my life to bring me to a place where I even partially copy his love as he asks. But that's another aspect of God's love... he gives grace to us sinners and continues to grow us!

You'll want to go to my friend Katie's blog post about love, and see what she felt lead to share today as well :)! What is you favorite verse about Christ's love for us or his commands for showing it to others?

In the words of Jude 2, "May mercy, peace, and *love* be multiplied to you" :)!!!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Really Quick Request...

We're about to head out to go clean the church, but I wanted to share this really quick. The organization that has been raising awareness and funds for the orphanage that we have helped with fundraisers for is asking that those who are interested in learning more, helping out, or just want to show support for their work would head over to their Facebook page, The Pleven Project, and like (and maybe share) it really quick :). Their website for the Project is at http://www.plevenproject.org/.

Thank you so much :)!

Blessings to each of you,

Bri :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thankful Thursday, Week 128

This week I can be especially grateful for...

~Daddy's safe trip.
~The conference we were able to attend.
~Getting to meet Penny there :)...
~Lots and lots of sewing.
~Cinnamon rolls.. and coffee.. together. Yum!
~Chocolate... and coffee... together... hahaha ;)! And yet I'm not a coffee addict? Ya, I'm pretty sure I'm a bit more than the quiz I took assumed... haha!
~All the ways my family made my birthday special :).
~A book on Ephesians. This is from the same series that the "Esther and Ruth" commentary came from, I can not wait to read it :)!
~Josiah's sweet babbling.
~Peter's "Ribbit" and "Meow". Ribbit is a toy frog. Meow is a toy snake. No clue. I find it hilarious that the boy is now carrying reptiles with him where ever he goes, though. Haha!
~A Proverbs study guide that I've been using as we go through Proverbs :).
~The wonderfully pleasant almost fall feeling day the other day... I love fall!!!
~Late summer butterflies.
~Watching leaves fall and birds playing outside our window.
~The hilarious phrase "Mommy, can we finish "Up"?. They mean the movie, but Mommy invariably asks "Finish up what?...". Haha!
~Squishy baby snuggles :).
~Josiah's starting to reach for us when we go to take him from someone or pick him up. Looove it :)!
~Peter and Josiah playing together on the floor. I love to watch them together!
~A colorful pile of yarn waiting for me.
~Emmi's chatter beside m in bed
~Tables turned... watching an unusually calm Abbi listen to an uncommonly goofy Tori last night... that was hilarious!

What blessings has the Lord given to you lately :)?

Happenings of the Week...

We have had a busy week, haha :)! Daddy got back on Monday -Yay!!!- and just about as soon as he did so we ran out the door to the Maxwell conference that was being held just six miles from our house. We drove four hours to their Savannah conference several years ago, we couldn't help but laugh when we found out how close they were going to be this time :). One of my friends met up with us while we were there, and Abbi may or may not have told her absolutely everything new under then sun that she could fit into thirty minutes of talking, haha! It was a blessing for us to make it, though. The sessions were wonderful, and, y'all! I met Penny!!!!

If you've been reading here for at least a year, I know you've heard about Penny... she's the little one from the orphanage we help with the auctions for who I fell in love with two years ago :). The family who adopted her, just in time for her to be the 1,000 child brought home through Reece's Rainbow, lives in VA... and when we pulled into the parking lot of the church, Daddy *just happened* to park next to their car, and I looked over and saw Penny! I was beyond excited, haha! Mommy introduced herself, and we got to talk to them a bit :). 

We went to the church on Tuesday to talk to the pastor, we're going to try to help with some of the projects that need done around the church. After we got back home, we ran over to Miss Mary's, and then I may have gone a bit sewing crazy... and one of us proficient sewers may have been using the wrong sewing foot to sew with and wondered why themachine wouldn't run. But after that it went fairly well. Haha! I sewed up a nightgown and six towel dress tops within twenty four hours, although I didn't have the towels washed to finish the dresses up, so I'll probably do that this afternoon. 

And currently the little ones are quite obsessed with Dolphins after watching "DolphinTale", which has some really odd theology, but other than that is a sweet movie... haha :). For proof:

Peter, holding a dolphin, sitting on a dolphin, 
reading about dolphins. Heehee!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thankful Thursday, Week 127

This past week a few of the things I've had to be thankful for are...

~Books :)!
~Daddy's safe trip to California. The pics he's sent of all that they've accomplished have looked great :). We're really looking forward to him getting back next week, though!
~Our Grandparents :)!
~My friend Kaitlyn's help creating the blog button on my sidebar :). 
~A new coffee drink recipe... yes, this one is iced, too, Gramma... and I still love them that way. Haha!
~Team work! We got up in the attic this week and cleaned up... it looks so much better now!
~That I am told that most of the math I am doing now I will never use again after I'm through with school. That might sound discouraging... but I will be very glad to leave it behind. Hahaha!
~That "God never makes mistakes. Though, as far as I'm concerned, the jury's still out on spiders". *Shudder*. Haha! We have the nastiest spider camping out on our window... we have removed it three times, and she keeps. coming. back.
~A heart-to-heart talk with a friend this past week... I am so thankful for this young lady's friendship :). 
~Big boy Josiah... he's started sitting up :)!...

~A new phone that won't be turning off on me all the time! I can only imagine what my friends on the other end think when I'm laughing and then all is silent on their end... I usually don't notice and just keep talking... haha! But that issue is gone :)!
~All the fresh tomatoes we've been getting from Mr. Jim at church! He said that these are probably the last, but it was such a blessing :)! And Tori had to take a picture of this one to show Daddy, since he loves tomato faces... haha.

~"Exploring" Dollar Tree with Andrew and Emmi whilest the rest of the family shopped elsewhere in the store. Emmi's take on everything was absolutely hilarious, haha :).
~The fast approaching autumn!... that can't come soon enough for gingersnap loving Tori. In fact, she's baking some tonight. She was also playing Christmas music earlier... ?!?!?!?!?
~Lots of creative ideas that others have thought of for me so that I can copy without so much brain power ;). Haha! Really, though. I love looking at crafty stuff to get ideas :). 

"Sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!"
                      ~Proverbs 66:2

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Books for Young Girls

After my post last night, I was asked for book suggestions for a younger aged girl that would be more on their level, while still stretching the mind and character :). These are some of the books that I have enjoyed, and think would be especially wonderful for girls ages 7-10, although older and younger girls would enjoy them as well, and boys would enjoy at least half of them too :)!  

Geoff and Janet Benge's Heroes of History books, "Chirstian Heroes: Then and Now". These are awesome history books, thorough enough that Mommy and I always learn something from them, but written in such a way that they really hold children's attention well. They are never too graphic for young readers, but always give an accurate description of the life of those they share about, and never hiding their faith in God, which is a big plus :)! 

"Making Bothers and Sisters Best Friends", by Sarah, Steven and Grace Mally. This is such a good book! Written by three siblings, who share stories from their life about their own relationships with their siblings, it gives biblical thoughts on why and how we should pursue relationships with our brothers and sisters :).  

"Little Susi's Stories", by Elizabeth Prentiss. Elizabeth Prentiss made it on the list again ;). She wrote three short stories, that have been compiled in one book: Little Susi's Six birthdays, Little Susi's Six Teachers, and Little Susi's Six Servants. Little Susi's Six Servants was probably my favorite when I read it several years ago, all about her "servants" (hands, feet, mouth, etc.), and how she could use them for good for others :). 

"Mary Jones and Her Bible", by Mary E. Rope. The story of a real girl, this is such an eye opening story!!! Mary Jones is a young Welsh girl who desperately wants to own her own bible, but as they are expensive when she is growing up, it seems impossible. She saves up for years, and eventually, through twists and turns, receives her bible with great joy! We take our bibles for granted, but for some people, that is not the case!
"Raising Daughters of Virtue", by Stacy McDonald. This is a wonderful study book that my Mom worked through with Tori and I when we were really little. I would suggest doing it with your daughter, not only to help their understanding as you go through it, but also to build memories that they will hold for many years to come (speaking from experience, here :)...). As the chapters are fairly short, this should be easy to do, especially if you already have a time set aside for read-alouds :). 
"The Bishop's Shadow" and it's sequel, "Theo, the Big Brother", by Ida Treadwell Thurston. I've heard that there is another third title in the series, but have not actually seen it to comfirm if it is a third book, or if the second book's title was changed later. These are just some of the most precious books!!! Boys would definitely enjoy these as much as girls, but it had to make it on this list because I value it so much! I wrote a review on the first one here, and my review on the second book can be found here.

"The Little Girl's Treasury", by Annie Brooks. A collection of short stories for girls, covering a quite large array of topics considering it's small size :). From stories of the influence a sister has on her younger brother, to how prayer kept a baby safe from a tiger, to using your time wisely, it includes a lesson in each story.
"Before You Meet Prince Charming", by Sarah Maxwell. My Mom would probably have read this book before giving it to me (or at least read it with me) when I was younger, because of the topic, but after reading the book, I don't think that there is any issue with giving this to younger age girls! It centers around the story of a young princess keeping herself pure for the man God will have her marry, and after each section of the story, gives practical insights on how the same principals apply to the lives of modern day princesses :).

"Basket of Flowers", by Christoph Von Schmid. Ohhh, this book. I don't know how it didn't make it in yesterday's list! (Because I was only writing ten... truthfully, I think I came up with another ten right after posting it, haha!). This book is such a sweet story about a gardener and his daughter who is falsely accused of stealing from the countess. The gardener teaches so many stories while he and his daughter work with the flowers that he uses as his illistrations. This book is kind of old, so the language structure might be a bit difficult for new readers, but I don't think it's that big a deal :). I wrote a review on this book a couple years ago, that you can read here

"Amy and Her Brothers", by Sarah S. Baker. A story of four orphaned siblings, this story is one of true diligence and forgiveness as Amy and her brother Will provide for and pray for their wayward siblings, Harriet and Pick. With a happy ending, and many lessons, it was a wonderful book :).

The "Moody Family" series (total of eight books), by Sarah Maxwell. These books are such a great book on family unity and ministry :)! This fictional homeschool family is a great example of a family following the Lord in many different settings, as they witness to neighbors and family, work together, and experience normal life. Everybody loves these from Emmi to us older girls :)!

There are so many books out there that young children can read, but not learn from, but these are some of the books that our parents have carefully picked to train, and not just entertain, us we are younger. There are many others that I could mention... of course there is "Little Women", and the "Little House on the Prairie" series that I have fond memories of reading often when I was little, and so many others... but these should be some fun, lesser-known ones to get you started off with :)!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Top Ten Books for Young Ladies

My friend Katie tagged me on Facebook to share my top ten books that come to mind when I think of good books. While I was writing it out, I thought that I'd share it here, for those of you who may want to take a peek and aren't on facebook :). The Bible is, and will always be, the most important book in my life, especially the book of Romans, which I have special connections with after studying it with a friend (the one who tagged me, actually :)!), and the book of Ruth, which was the first study that I did with Mommy. I don't know why it took me so long to ask her to join us... I think that the conversations we had and the insights that we got to share back and forth, even when I didn't have time to talk to any of my friends who were studying it with us, will always be a very special memory that I will cherish :). But, after the bible, the ten that first came to mind while I was writing this list were...

"It's (Not That) Complicated", by Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin. This was a wonderful book on keeping your heart pure for man that the Lord has for your husband, for being content if God's plan is not that you marry, and for preparing for life no matter where the Lord places you!

"Flower of the Family", by Elizabeth Prentiss. A fiction book, but so good! I greatly enjoyed this book about a young girl in a large family who, through the trials of this life, chooses to learn from them rather than despair. Think "Five Little Peppers" for older girls, how could it not be good ;)?

"The Hiding Place", or pretty much anything by Corrie ten Boom :)! Corrie is such an inspiration, she followed God through such unbearably hard situations, and yet still continued to hold on to her faith, to forgive others, and to share her Savior's love, even when it was all she had to share!

"Will Our Generation speak", by Grace Mally. This book was so convicting. There are so many people who have never heard the gospel, never known that God loves them. Can we sit by and watch as they continue in a life without God? Grace shares stories on how and why she witnesses, and gives practical tips on starting to share God's love yourself.

"Esther and Ruth", by Iain M. Duguid. I mentioned this book in my Thankful Thursday last week. You know I have a very high opinion of it ;)! I have never heard anyone write a commentary in quite the same way that Mr. Duguid does so on these books, but all of his thoughts are very well written and biblically based!

"Joseph and the Gospel of Many Colors", by Voddie Baucham. this was another eye opening commentary on another often-told bible story! It tells how Joseph fits into the plan of salvation, and not simply how you can use him to teach children not to brag to their siblings ;).

"One Thing I Desire", by Sarah Bryant. I read this book about four months ago. It was *such* an encouragement! A book on why we should thirsty for the word of God, practical ideas on how to study it, and the blessings that can be seen when we fill our minds with God's plan and abide by it!

"Stepping Heavenward", another book by Elizabeth Prentiss :). I love her books, haha :). Written in journal-style, it follows the life of a woman through her life from her teenage years through her adulthood as she learns the ways of our God.

"No More Wasted Years", by Olivia Brodock. This was a really good book, and, being shorter and written in a easy-to-follow manner, I think it makes a great "beginners course" for those who may be curious at what fruitful stay-at-home daughter-ing is all about, or a wonderful refresher course for those who know what they believe, but feel the desire to have their resolve strengthened in times of second-guessing.

"Joyfully at Home", by Jasmine Baucham. This was a great book about many aspects of the christian young lady's role... in church, in family, at home, out of the home, while talking to young men or older ladies, relaxing or cleaning house :)!

There are sooooo many others that I could list, but maybe this list will spark your interest with at least one of the titles :). What are your favorite books?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thankful Thursday, Week 122, 123, 124, 125, and 126

These past several weeks I have been thankful for...

~Ephesians 2:4-5
~And Ephesians in general.
~Our study on Esther.
~That Daddy had a safe trip last month... and that he's back! (He leaves again in a few days, though...)
~This strong little baby...

 So he didn't pull up, but he stayed up!

~Miss Mary's taking me to "volunteer" at the special needs program at her church so that we could talk with those who were there. It was a really neat experience, and a very special one :).
~Microwave Brownies.
~And microwave cookies. But I don't think I'm up to trying microwave cinnamon rolls. Sorry, Tori. Haha!
~Peter's telling Mommy, "Jofiah my beeeeest friend."... love it!
~And he loves everybody "49!"... perfection squared... awwwww :)....
~Our clean bedroom. Despite how long it took. (And that it's stayed that way more or less of almost a month.) I don't remember the last time that happened. All I have to say is thank you to Mommy!
~Getting to skype with a SC friend. I've kept up with her since we moved, but it was great to see her face to face after ten months!
~To find that the key to getting my overnight oatmeal recipe right would be glucomannan! Now it's just about perfect!
~The several "Prying Menaces", I mean, Praying mantises, that we have had around our house lately.

~Bethi's wonderful tea party she hosted last month!

~She made all the food by herself from scratch, and it was very yummy!
~And she even tied in a bible study with it :)! I was so proud of her :).
~Tori was very happy....

~Abbi's seriously asking Andrew a while back, "So, when you build a house, are you going to use straw, bricks, or sticks?..."
~Goofy Tori and this project she took upon herself...

...giving Andrew's math book a new look... haha!
~Mornings full of my siblings gathered around me while I enjoy coffee, in one form or another, and my bible study... yes, I know I take up way too much of the table...

~How much these boys love each other...

~That I like water. Because I'm told that that shouldn't be taken for granted, as I used to think. Haha!
~The laughter my siblings got at my washing my hair in the sink... like Mommy does to all of them when she cuts their hair. Gooses!
~Kitty cats.
~Little froggies.
~Walks to the park.
~Josiah's taking that "big boy" step of being introduced to the exersaucer :)...

~Doing the ice bucket challenge with my siblings to benefit a special little boy and his family. (You can read about his family at http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-andrew-/180744)
~My wonderful Mommy and Daddy, who celebrated their birthday last week.
~Precious, now six year old, Abbi!
~Pretty Bethi-boo, and fun giving her a photo-shoot :).

~Fellowship with several older couples from church.
~A new sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount.
~Being able to study God's word.
~Lots of writing supplies.
~Starting a study on Proverbs this month :)!
~That I'm getting a little better at working out the glitches that come about in blog-dom. If you saw my blog completely ugly and picture-less a couple weeks ago, know that that was not intentional. And was, thankfully, easy to fix. And yes, I know that my blog button is currently nothing but code. That's next on my list after posting this post and a post of pictures from the park. Promise!
~The way Peter asks me to "read just one story?!" Looove it!
~Iain M. Duguid's commentary on Esther and Ruth. It was really good, y'all, if you want a eye-opening book on those books of the bible, I would suggest that one :)!
~Also, my Gramma, who also had a birthday this week :)!
~How nice our yard looks after all the work Mommy. Daddy, and Tori put into it this week.
~This comment by Abbi, as she gave me a rock while we were outside: "Here, Bri! I found you a hot rock! I know it's hot outside, but that's okay, the rock is still good. Because even though it's hot out here, you need something to warm up your hands!". Thoughtful girl ;). Funny coming from her... I used to freeze her so bad when she was a baby! Josiah has an even worse time with it... at times I pick him up and he goes stiff and gives a howl from the shock... I don't know what is wrong with my hands, haha!
~The leaves that are already changing color.
~The fact that Tori let me do her hair yesterday :). I had to do it three times... but I did the same thing today, and haven't had to start from scratch once, so I think I've figured out how to do it right, too ;)!
~That Mommy was able to give Peter a hair cut yesterday without destroying his gorgeous hair. Haha! See...
Handsome boy :)...

~And she very kindly gave me a trim as well...
~...and we can see Abbi and Tori's eyeballs again! Haha! They've been buried in bangs for a while ;).
~Getting to make tortillas with Bethi. Though I'm not that good at it, it was something she had never really done, and we had fun working together, anyway :).
~Peter's love to make "Chocolate chips" with his fingers, haha :). He curls all but his thumb and forefinger up, then touches his left thumb to his right thumb, and his left forefinger to his right forefinger, and says : "I make, chocolate chip!!!"
~Finishing a project that I have been promising Tori I would do for.. um.. nine months now... this morning. Yay! Now... next thing on my list... haha! Which would actually be this post, so I'm not just saying that... I'm really ready to be caught up and stay caught up with posting, I miss blogging and I never do it because I am always thinking of old blog posts that are still in draft stage that I should do first! Haha!
~Peter's desire for a "Christmas tree"... he meant rice crispy treat ;).
~That this is finally typed up in it's entirety! Yay! I have been trying to get this posted... but every time I finish a week, it's time to start a new week, and I figure I might as well include that... and so on and so forth...

And I think that brings me up-to-date! I'm going to go eat supper now, and hopefully I'll get some Ephesians memorizing in tonight :)! I'll try to be back this week with some park pictures :)...

"He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord."
 ~Psalm 40:3

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

This morning...

Tori ASKED me do her hair, which is something I have loved to do since she was six, but has been very rare for me to accomplish, due to her hating to have her hair touched, and  she even let me get a pic of the finished product (which could have been done a bit better, but since it was the first time I'd done the style, I'm hoping I'll get it right next time, haha!)! I love messing with her hair... so thick and pretty and fun to work with :).

I'm pretty sure the only way I got by with that was because it was a "Lord of the Rings" hairstyle (Eowyn's funeral up-do), but hey, that's okay ;).