Sisters For Sunshine

Receive God's Warm Love Through Reflection

Pray for your spouse

I receive the Crosswalk Marriage newsletter, and last week it was about praying for your spouse.

As a wife, I always hope that my husband has a good day at work, that he’s healthy and sleeps well, and that he’s happy. But I sometimes fall short with actually praying to God about these things.

“Prayer is always the answer and the best assistance we can give to our husbands.”

How can you pray for your spouse? Janet Thompson writes in Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Manthat you can pray persistently, pray as couple, and pray by reciting scripture. Also, ask them daily how you can pray for them, or journal in a prayer notebook.

Below is a prayer written by Janet Thompson,that I hope will inspire you in your prayers to your husband/wife. This prayer is particularly regarding prayer for your husband who may be struggling.

Lord, you know that my husband is struggling with something that he cannot fix. You are the Lord of our home and the head of my husband and I ask you in the name of Jesus to take control over our home and let your will rule in our lives. Thank you God that I can come before you and take whatever is bothering my husband and put it at your feet, fully trusting that your will is done in his life. 
Father, help my husband not to harbor under the weight of a guilty conscience, but remind him that because of his salvation, the blood of your Son Jesus Christ will make him clean again if he will only confess his troubles to you. If he has done something requiring repentance, Lord humble him to repent and ask for forgiveness so he can once again feel the spiritual cleansing that comes from your grace and mercy. 
Lord help us both to hold tightly without wavering in the hope we affirm, for you God can be trusted to keep your promise to us. Help me to think of ways to motivate and encourage my husband with acts of love and ways to make his life easier. Please don’t let this struggle come between us so that we stop having times of conversation, recreation, and intimacy. Lord, help my husband to feel your love and know that whatever he is struggling with pales with the knowledge that someday we will be with you in Heaven. 
Give me courage and patience, and guide my husband in the way he should go. Amen.

 

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Fear and Relationships

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18
 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
 “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.  He freed me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

God tells us to love above all things. When we love like God, our relationships are full, healthy, and complete.

However, fear is something that can effect our relationships and hinder our love.

Fear in relationships can make us hide, stuff feelings and not open ourselves up to one another. It can be unhealthy. When we’re afraid, we tend to hold back and the relationship doesn’t grow as it should. We tend to step backwards with God when we let our fears get the best of us.

Fear hinders love from fully blossoming, especially our love for God. But Love is the answer, not fear, in our relationships.

In the beginning, with Adam and Eve, after Eve and Adam ate from the forbidden tree, Adam tried to hide and blame Eve for tempting him to sin rather than admit his own fault to God.  He was trying to redirect things and hide. We hide often…we are afraid of disapproval and exposing our true self to others.

Remember that God sees all of you. We have value. Don’t let fear drive your decisions. Don’t let fear make you close off from fully developing your relationships with others. But rather, expose all of yourself to God and to others, and let God and others see the real you, scars and all. God loves us no matter what!

Facing your fears will help you improve your relationships. You are more open with others, more open to work together, and more willing to stay committed.

God holds four principles with each of us, that we should likewise apply toward all people we interact with:

1. I’m completely accepted
2. I’m unconditionally loved.
3. I’m totally forgiven
4. I’m extremely valuable

1. God accepts all of us no matter what! Focus on being accepted and loved by Him in your relationships with others.

2. “Perfect love drives out fear”. God has perfect love for us; He love us unconditionally, even when we sin. His love overcomes anything else.

3. Just as He accepts all of us, He thus forgives us from sin. Be free to admit sin and ask for forgiveness and grace in your relationships.

4. Your life is valuable. God values you. Stand strong and confidently, knowing this truth. Strengthen your relationships in this truth.

God’s second commandment is to love one another like God loves us. If we stick to that principle, to love like God, to love perfectly and unconditionally, then that can transform our relationships for the better. 

Let go of fear and love one another completely and openly. 

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Song: Humble and Kind

I recently heard this cover of Tim McGraw’s song Humble and Kind, and I thought what beautiful lyrics! We should reflect on these words and make more of an effort to be genuinely kind and respectful. 

You know there’s a light that glows by the front door
Don’t forget the key’s under the mat
Childhood stars shine, always stay humble and kind
Go to church ’cause your momma says to
Visit grandpa every chance that you can
It won’t be wasted time
Always stay humble and kind

Chorus:
Hold the door, say please, say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind

Don’t expect a free ride from no one
Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why
Bitterness keeps you from flyin’
Always stay humble and kind
Know the difference between sleeping with someone
And sleeping with someone you love
“I love you” ain’t no pick up line so
Always stay humble and kind

Chorus

When it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle
Shut off the AC and roll the windows down
Let that summer sun shine
Always stay humble and kind
Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re goin
Don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

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Focus on Yourself

Focus on yourself – that is focus on ways you can love yourself. It’s always good to continually focus on self-improvement and self-respect. Here is a post from March 2013:

A nice read on ways to better love and take care of yourself:
http://www.abundancetapestry.com/how-to-love-yourself-in-17-ways/

1. Fall in love with yourself. Think about what makes you You.

2. Eliminate self-criticism.

3. Be kind and positive.

4. Acknowledge your effort. It’s the effort that counts, not winning.

5. Let go of worry.

6. Trust yourself.

7. Forgive yourself.

8. Be truthful to yourself.

9. Grow spiritually.

10. Make positive affirmations everyday.

11. Express gratitude.

12. Nurture your dreams.

13. Boost your self-confidence.

14. Relax.

15. Have fun.

16. Look after your body.

17. Learn to see beauty.

*Go tell yourself “I’m alive and well!” and “I love and accept myself completely and unconditionally!” May you be filled with confidence and love for yourself. Pray for wellness in body, mind, and soul.

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Bible Journaling

Are you familiar with Bible journaling? This year my goal is to read the Bible frequently (I try to read every day) and to not just read, but to study scripture. I bought some colored markers, created a color method of highlighting themes and topics when I’m reading, and I started my adventure in Bible journaling!

There are many talented Bible journaling artists with blogs or instagram accounts that create beautiful images on their Bible pages (see Bible Art Journaling). I’m not an artist, and you don’t have to be as well! Just using a Bible study color method – underlining or drawing simple symbols as you read your Bible – is good enough. Whatever makes you reflect more on scripture!

Since Bible journaling, I’ve enjoyed reading and studying the words of the Bible and reflecting on what it means to me. I’ve grown closer to God as I engage more in His word, and as I learn more about my faith.

So get started! It’s simple and yet so powerful.

I searched on Pinterest for Bible study color coding methods, and ultimately created my own, using the colors that I had. Here’s what mine looks like:

biblestudycolormethod (1)

biblestudycolormethod (2)

A page in my Bible as an example of my Bible journaling:

biblestudycolorpage.jpg

Some other color coding methods:
http://womenlivingwell.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Bible-Coloring-Chart-Bookmark-21.jpg
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/8c/ff/a1/8cffa1437fd2bef8982bcb0669ba4e8c.jpg
http://www.radicallychristian.com/marking-in-your-bible
http://nathanielclaiborne.com/bible-study/

Some Bible art journalists that I follow on Instagram:
@designsbyamybruce – Blog: http://seedsofcreativegrace.com/
@kaylas_painted_faith
@stephmiddaugh
@ps348girl
@thesaltybiscuit – Bible journaling supplies: www.etsy.com/shop/thesaltybiscuit

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Change Your Hearts and Lives

“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” – Luke 13:1-9

In the Common English Bible version, verse 3 and 5 read: No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did.”

In the parable that Jesus told, the gardener changed his way of tending to the fig tree to see if it would bear good fruit. Likewise, we need to look at ourselves and change the way we act and feel, to be better people and more holy and acceptable to God.

Where is God calling you to change? What are ways that you can change your heart and your life?

How about speaking more words of truth and compassion? How about finding more peace in your life and in the community around you? How about reaching out more to those in need?

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Stand Firm In The Lord

“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” – Philippians 3:17-4:1

God calls us to follow His direction in every moment of life and to stand firm in His ways. He will “transform” us into a holy people. What does it mean to stand firm in the Lord? 

  • “Rejoice in the Lord, always” (Philippians 4:4) even through difficult times, knowing He knows what’s best and He is there for us.
  • Be determined, keeping a joy-filled positive attitude
  • Engage in the people around you, showing His love 
  • Be willing to relent and let go of your frustrations and fears – “Do not be anxious about anything… present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
  • Remember God’s words and promises
  • Hold fast to the wisdom that you have His strength. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13)

 

“No storm can shake my innermost calm, while to the Rock I’m clinging” – lyrics from Hymn My Life Flows On

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40 Things to Give Up During Lent

This article has 40 great things to “give up” during Lent – things that will impact your life more and have you focus more on Christ-like ways.

40 Things to Give up for Lent: The List

by Phil Ressler

Week of Ash Wednesday

  • Fear of Failure – You don’t succeed without experiencing failure. Just make sure you fail forward.
  • Your Comfort Zone – It’s outside our comfort zones where new discoveries are made.
  • Feelings of Unworthiness – You are fearfully and wonderfully made by your creator. (Psalm 139:14)
  • Impatience – God’s timing is the perfect timing.

Week 1

  • Retirement – As long as you are still breathing, you are here for a reason. You have a purpose to influence others for Christ. Our work is not always tied to a paycheck.
  • People Pleasing – I can’t please everyone anyways. There is only one I need to strive to please.
  • Comparison – I have my own unique contribution to make and there is no one else like me.
  • Blame – I am not going to pass the buck. I will take responsibility for my actions.
  • Guilt – I am loved by Jesus and he has forgiven my sins. Today is a new day and the past is behind.
  • Overcommitment – Do less better and accomplish more.

Week 2

  • Lack of Counsel – Wise decisions are rarely made in a vacuum.
  • Impurity – Live lives pure and without blemish.
  • Entitlement – The world does not owe me anything. God does not owe me anything. I live in humility and grace.
  • Apathy – Life is too short not to care.
  • Hatred – Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21)
  • Negativity – I will put the best construction on everything when it comes to other people. I will also minimize my contact with people who are negative and toxic.

Week 3

  • The Spirit of Poverty – Believe that with God there is always more than enough and never a lack.
  • Going Through the Motions – The more you invest yourself, the more you will get back.
  • Complaint – Instead of contributing to the problem, be the solution.
  • The Pursuit of Happiness – God wants something greater and more lasting than happiness. It is called joy.
  • Bitterness – The only person I am hurting by holding on to this is myself.
  • Distraction – Life is filled with distractions that will take our eyes off the prize.

Week 4

  • Giving up – God never gives up on us.
  • Mediocrity – If you are going to do something, then give it all you got.
  • Destructive Speech – Encourage one another and all the more as you see the day approaching (Hebrew 10:25)
  • Busyness – It is a badge of honor to be busy. But that does not always translate to abundance.
  • Loneliness – With Jesus I am never alone. He is with me wherever I go.
  • Disunity – If two of you agree on earth about anything, it will be done for them by the Heavenly Father (Matthew 18:19)

Week 5

  • The Quick Fix – Rarely does true transformation happen overnight.
  • Worry – God is in control and worrying will not help.
  • Idolizing – Don’t assign anyone a standard they cannot live up to.
  • Resistance to Change – Change is certain. It is not if we will change, but how we will change.
  • Pride – Blessed are the humble.
  • Small View of God – Don’t tell God how big your problem is, tell your problem how big your God is.

Holy Week

  • Envy – I am blessed. My value is not found in my possessions, but in my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
  • Ungratefulness – You have been blessed in a way greater than you realize.
  • Selfish Ambition – God has a mission for me that is bigger than me.
  • Self-Sufficiency – Jesus is my strength. I can do all things through him (Philippians 4:13)
  • Sorrow – Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5b)
  • My Life – Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:25)
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Recycled Post: Advice Regarding Self-Confidence

This post comes from July 2014, and I thought I’d share it again because my husband is having some difficulty with feeling confident in his new role at work. In addition to this advice, know that God is there for you cheering you on and pushing you to go beyond your comfort and to grow in confidence and ability.

It takes effort and focus to build up personal courage and confidence. But it’s necessary!

Having self-confidence “is an attitude which allows individuals to have positive yet realistic views of themselves and their situations. Self-confident people trust their own abilities, have a general sense of control in their lives, and believe that, within reason, they will be able to do what they wish, plan, and expect. Having self-confidence does not mean that individuals will be able to do everything. Self-confident people have expectations that are realistic. Even when some of their expectations are not met, they continue to be positive and to accept themselves. ” (Counceling Center at Univ. of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

I found a resourceful article on self-confidence. Below are some tips for developing confidence.

  • Emphasize Strengths. Give yourself credit for everything you try. By focusing on what you can do, you applaud yourself for efforts rather than emphasizing end products. Starting from a base of what you should do helps you live within the bounds of your inevitable limitations.
  • Take Risks. Approach new experiences as opportunities to learn rather than occasions to win or lose. Doing so opens you up to new possibilities and can increase your sense of self-acceptance. Not doing so turns every possibility into an opportunity for failure, and inhibits personal growth.
  • Use Self-Talk. Use self-talk as an opportunity to counter harmful assumptions. Then, tell yourself to “stop” and substitute more reasonable assumptions. For example, when you catch yourself expecting perfection, remind yourself that you can’t do everything perfectly, that it’s only possible to try to do things and to try to do them well. This allows you to accept yourself while still striving to improve.
  • Self-Evaluate. Learn to evaluate yourself independently. Doing so allows you to avoid the constant sense of turmoil that comes from relying exclusively on the opinions of others. Focusing internally on how you feel about your own behavior, work, etc. will give you a stronger sense of self and will prevent you from giving your personal power away to others.
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Recycled Post: Be Active and Achieve

This post comes from January 2013, but I think it’s something important to always focus on. Lent is coming soon, and why not reflect on how you can go above and beyond your comfort zone to achieve your goals and desires?

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action” – Benjamin Disraeli

Get up and get moving! Be active, achieve things, experience things. Follow your dreams and desires, speak up, engage in conversation, engage yourself. Be active in your life. You may bump into some difficult moments, but like Benjamin states, happiness is achieved if you go and act.

Example – you want to gain friendship, so instead of wondering when it will come to you, go out, engage in small talk, find similar interests, and be bold to start a friendship and to hang out sometime.

Example 2 – you wish you had more vacation time from work, but nothing has come up. Finally you find the courage to ask your supervisor, and as easy as 1, 2, 3 you get an increase in vacation on your next paycheck.

Example 3 – you have a dream to make some homemade gifts and sell them at your local market, but are afraid no one will like them or afraid the business aspects are just to scary. But you go ahead, work hard at your work, and show it to some friends. Soon enough you are selling your gifts and excited for more things to come.

So go do what you love, be courageous in your decisions and soon enough happiness will follow.

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Zechariah and Doubt

In Luke 1: 5-25, and angel appeared to Zechariah and told him that his wife Elizabeth would have a son, John the Baptist. Both of them were past bearing age, and Zechariah doubted this, asking “How can I be sure of this?”. Because of his doubt, he was made mute until the baby was born.

If God punished us each time we were doubtful of his ways, would we all be mute?

God is Truth and Right, and we should believe and trust in him, even if it’s beyond our understanding. 

So today, this Christmas season, and everyday of the year, when you feel unsure about something, remember the story of Zechariah, and that no matter what, we should trust in God. God will bless us and he knows what is right and good.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spiriteven before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

 

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Turn your complaints into thoughts of gratitude

I saw this reflection and really liked how they turned around complaints into things to be grateful for.

It takes effort to constantly turn things around from a negative point of view to a positive. 

As I gear toward labor and giving birth to my first child, I am feeling the aches and pains of pregnancy coupled with the worry about handling a newborn and being a good mom. I have to stop this negative thinking! Today, I’m telling myself that I’m thankful for the chance to bring a life into the world. I’m grateful for every kick from baby, because I know she’s alive and well. I’m thankful for the time she has spent in the womb growing. I’m grateful that God has blessed me with the chance to learn how to be a good mom, how to teach, how to nurture, how to love more.

We make sacrifices every day that turn into blessings. Remember everything, every situation is a blessing. God has a purpose for it all.

Choose to see your blessings in the midst of burdens.

May we see the good in everything and turn our complaints into thoughts of joy and gratitude!

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