Your Home For Hope

I’m delighted to tell you about my new home. I don’t have to pack boxes, hire movers, or figure out if I’m going to keep that lamp Aunt Trudy gave me as a wedding gift. It’s a mobile home that doesn’t require gas. It’s comfy, cozy, and my best friend lives with me.

My friend is Jesus and my new home is Set Apart Church.

Set Apart Church defines itself as a “church without walls” because it’s church online. Its hope is that every person, everywhere, can hear the Good News and feel God’s love. No longer are there limitations to receiving God’s word.

I don’t have the best track record when it comes to attending Sunday services. With my husband’s work schedule, my inability to drive, and my two small children, just finding a church has been a struggle— let alone showing up on a regular basis. After weeks of empty Sundays, I realize it has been months since I have heard a compelling and convicting sermon which taught about the God who gives me life.

Perhaps you’re in a similar position. You travel a lot which makes having a church home difficult.  There’s something which renders you homebound. Maybe the nearest church is miles away. Whatever your situation, Set Apart Church is a church home for you.

Are you saying to yourself, “But, Toni, can’t I listen to sermons online?” You can, and thank God we live in an age where you’re able to do that. Set Apart Church is much more than a sermon though. It’s a new community of believers who earnestly desire to bring everyone from everywhere into a stronger relationship with their Lord and Savior. In addition to their weekly Sunday sermons, they post devotionals Monday through Friday that teach from Scripture how we can become more like Christ. Soon they will even have a praise and worship band to allow you to worship the Lord in song from wherever you are.

“Okay,” you say skeptically, “but it’s online. There’s no way to engage. What do you mean by community/” I’m glad you asked because, in fact, there is interaction!  Set Apart Church has the most wonderful way to feel connected to other Christians: their prayer request page. Not only can you ask for prayer, but they have an amazing feature I am overjoyed to explain. Let’s say you’re enduring a financial hardship and you fill out the prayer request form on the web site. That prayer is posted and other church members can view it. The best part? Once someone prays for you, they click a button that tells you they’ve lifted your needs up to the Father. Isn’t that an incredible blessing? My heart is elated to know that I can view tangible evidence of my brothers and sisters—people I may never meet until Heaven—petitioning for my needs to the God who hears.

It is my hope and prayer that you check them out and visit my new home. This is the real deal. Sermons, devotionals, worship music, prayer. God is here at Set Apart Church—the church without walls.

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Building Up Yourself in Christ (A Devotional)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 NIV

I’ve heard this verse used to condemn cursing, yelling, gossiping, and speaking ill of someone when you’re angry with them. It fits perfectly into all those scenarios.

But what if we attributed it to talking about ourselves? How many times have you said you weren’t good enough, smart enough, or were a bad partner or parent? The verse is very clear that we should only say what will encourage someone on a personal level. What areas in your personal life do you need to be built up in?

Do you need endurance during a time of financial hardship? Instead of saying “I’m never going to get out of this,” say “With Jesus, I will get through this.” Wouldn’t that build you up?

Are you feeling like a failure in your job or marriage? Don’t say, “I can’t do this. I’m not good enough.” That’s Evil talking. Say “I can do this with Him who lives in me.” Wouldn’t that encourage you?

Think of how you could inspire “those who listen” by making this change. Think of non-believers in difficult circumstances who want and need that peace you’d be talking about. Think of the waves of love and grace that could wash over our homes, churches, and neighborhoods if we stopped beating ourselves up and instead built ourselves up in Christ.

Speak graciously of yourselves, dear brothers and sisters. You are God’s child, and He doesn’t like anyone picking on His kids.

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The Reluctant Mom

I’m a stay at home Mom who never wanted kids.

My sister had a daughter. My friends started having children. I liked them and all, but was it for me? No. I have a temper so I wouldn’t be good with discipline. I’m independent so having to give up everything I want for someone who can’t even walk didn’t sound like fun. My husband and I had dreams of travelling the States in a motorhome and you can’t do that when you have toddlers in tow. I was too selfish to have children and smart enough to know that.

Then I got pregnant. Three months after giving birth to my daughter, I got pregnant again with my son. It’s funny how God works.

While my life has changed dramatically—my plans converting to His plans—I couldn’t ask for more. Being a stay at home Mom is an honest blessing. I mean that.

But…

It is also an all-consuming job. There’s no leaving work at the office. My home is my office. My kitchen is my office. My bed is my office. My work is everywhere all the time.

This can be overwhelming and intimidating for anyone, let alone someone who never intended on this being their vocation. Up until a few months ago it was all I thought about. What’s for dinner? What needs to be cleaned? Whose laundry needs to be done? Day and night the daily and weekly tasks of my never-ending job were all I thought about.

An afternoon conversation with my mother changed all that. I was telling her of my joys and woes and she said, “You need something else to think about. You need something that’s yours.” She was right; I needed something to look forward to that was solely for me. It couldn’t have any correlation to my kids, my home, my husband. Something that was all mine. Mine mine mine.

It was a brilliant suggestion, but what was that thing going to be? Sewing, dancing, crafting, curling?

Then I found FaithWriters.

If you’re a Christian writer, as I have now become, I highly encourage you to check out FaithWriters. They have a weekly writing challenge with cash prizes, an amazing community in their forums, writing courses, publisher information and the list goes on. As fabulous as all that is, they are currently having a couple contests. Don’t you want to honor the Lord with the gift He’s given you and win something?

Their big ticket item is a Xulon Best Seller package which includes such awesome amenities as a professional marketing specialist, review of your manuscript, and a custom designed book cover.

Do you have story that’s been rolling around in the back of your head but you need some motivation to get working on it? They’re giving this publishing package to the best work of fiction submitted before November 30, 2014. Even better, you don’t need to have the whole manuscript complete—just the first chapter and a synopsis of the story. That should make any procrastinator happy.

Perhaps you’re not the novel writing type, but you still want to glorify the Lord with the gift He’s blessed you with. They’re also having a Christian testimony publishing contest. If you have a compelling story of how you came to know the Lord, or how you endured difficult circumstances and came through it with a stronger relationship with Jesus, please check it out. If your story encourages even just one person, doesn’t that make it worth writing?

If the contests aren’t for you, or if you enter and don’t win, please still consider joining FaithWriters. Members get amazing discounts on Xulon packages as well as many other services and, hey, you already started writing—may as well see it through to the end, right?

I truly cannot stress enough how much of a blessing FaithWriters has been to me. In the short time I’ve been a member, my writing has improved, I’ve been encouraged in my walk with the Lord, and I see some budding friendships looming on the horizon. Writing for the Lord is my thing. I finally have a thing.

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Family Bonding Time

I just wanted to take my daughter out to play in the snow.

Where I live we don’t get much snow. Every other year or so we get a light dusting. Just enough for all of us to get excited and complain about how people here don’t know how to drive in this weather. This past week we’ve had several inches fall. I’m from the California coast originally so I still view snow as a spectator only event. I like to look at it from the warmth of my couch with a cup of coffee in my hand.

But this time around I have children. My daughter walks and talks and I decided I would brave the element, get us both bundled up, and head outside for her and I to have fun together and enjoy the snow.

That was my plan anyway. It fell apart when my daughter decided to be disobedient and not come to me when I asked her to. I was merely going to put her shoes on so we could go outside. That’s it. Her gloves were on, her hat, her coat. She just needed shoes. We were so close to being able to have a fun mother daughter bonding experience.

Instead she chose to not listen, to run away, and it made me so sad when I finally said, “Okay. we’re not going out now.” It broke my heart. I wanted this for her. For us. I wanted to take some cute pictures to have forever. I wanted to help her make a snowball. But no–she chose to not do the simple thing I asked of her: to come over to me, sit down, and allow me to put her shoes on. So simple.

It made me wonder, as I do a lot these days, what one simple task the Lord asks of us to complete before He bestows on us such fun and awesome blessings. For my daughter it was listening to me, doing as I asked, and putting on shoes. For me, it might be calling someone, or spending time in the Word, or confessing something to my husband. For others, it may be offering to help another or go to church when they’re not feeling up to it. Who knows how wonderful and rich our lives could be if we just listened, obeyed, and followed through. Perhaps the Lord wants to take us out on a Father son or Father daughter bonding time. We just need to listen and obey.

 

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And the winner is…

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Congratulations to Kelly! who won the Clenbutrol giveaway! I’ll be in touch with you ASAP to get your address and get the Clenbutrol in the mail.

Thank you to everyone who entered! If you would like to buy Clenbutrol for yourself please use this link as it helps support CMM: clenfatburner.com

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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