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FAITH: You're Dirt and That's Okay

Dirt doesn't do much, nor is it appealing. It doesn't taste good. It isn't much to look at. Most people can't wash it off their hands and clothes fast enough. Dirt totally lacks potential to be anything. Because. It's. Dirt. However, dirt has the opportunity to play a part in something great. Under the right conditions, when roots take hold, dirt can play a part in providing encouragement, nourishment, comfort, shelter, and beauty. You're just like me - dirt.

First of all, we should feel right at home being in dirt because quite literally, we're made out of it. In Genesis 2:7, the Bible teaches us that "...the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Remember, dirt is dirt: don't think you're better than any person, we're all made of dust and dust is where we'll return when we die (Genesis 3:19). Another thing, just like dirt, we can't do anything on our own. The very breath in our lungs and our heart beat is managed by the Lord. If you are able to read this, drink water, move your leg, or think, then thank God for such. Without the Lord, dirt doesn't do anything and neither do we.

It's interesting that even though dirt lacks potential, it's able to glorify God. I live in the mountains and this season is yielding incredible panoramic views of flaming red, soft yellow, and cool green leaves. On a family stroll, we see majestic Maple and Sequoia, astonishingly large squirrels diving in their holes, and deer strolling in the shade of the brush. In reference to the second Adam, Psalm 96:12 says, "Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy." The Lord uses dirt to host these crops, forests, Maples, fat squirrels, and deer. The dirt is just dirt, but it gets to be a part of some incredible things. Like dirt, we're unremarkable on our own, but when the Lord uses us, there's no limit to the glory we can bring Him. A young shepard defeated a giant warrior with a stone, a preacher ignited an international revival, a wild desert man baptized Jesus Christ. It's easy to say I'm no one and can't do anything, but when we feed the homeless, share the gospel with children, check in on the widowed, serve those who can offer us no benefit, our puny dirt selves are glorifying the King of Kings (Matthew 25:34-36).

But what about dirt incapable of yield? If you're in California, with its years-long drought, I'm sure you regularly see patches of dry, cracked, and barren earth.  When my kids and I first started playing in the side yard, the dirt was hard and parched. You could literally dribble a basketball off it. The dirt was so compacted, it gave us bruises when we fell on it. I remember looking at that dirt and thinking it would be impossible for anything to grow here. It's just too compacted. It's just too rocky. It's just too dry. It's just too hostile. Too often, we give up on people for these same reasons. We write others off when they seem too difficult, broken, uninteresting, annoying, etc. I've been all these things, and I can't imagine how differently I would have handled life if every person who came across me decided I was a plot of useless dirt and just walked on by.

I breast fed for over three and a half years with no more than one two month break. That means I haven't slept more than three hours straight for almost four years. Needless to say, I was very much out of it. My sanity, my health, my looks were unrecognizable. I didn't have the energy to do things like write, shower, work out, smile, hold a conversation, or retain information. When it comes to dirt, I was what you would consider to be "barren." In those past few years, I saw some family and friends become uninterested, disenchanted with me. My fruit, my shade, my yield, my ministry shriveled up and I had nothing to offer because I was just trying to make it without hurting my husband and kids. Some of my relationships got worse when I stopped going to church for two years. Once, I happily approached a friend I at one time served alongside with in ministry. She interrupted my hello with asking where I'm currently going to church. I told her no where right now. Without bothering to ask if I'm in fellowship (Hebrews 10:25), she told me I need to go to [a] church [building] before literally turning her back and initiating a conversation with someone else. I saw some other Christians turn their back on me as well but in a figurative way like ignoring my happy birthday texts, suddenly ceasing their once ubiquitous invites as soon as I went on church - but not God - hiatus, ignoring me in person, etc.

On the other side, some people stubbornly stuck with me. They watered, aerated, and mixed good soil right in. They prayed for me and attempted to continue the same relationship we shared before I shriveled up. They came with love, patience, and understanding. Some were Christians but most were not. I remember telling Aaron back then that I feel safer with more unbelievers than believers. Gandhi said all of India would be Christian if every one of Christ's followers actually acted like Him. I don't doubt it. I want to ask you a question; is it Christ-like when the hopeful give up on the hopeless?

Let us remember, like dirt, people can appear to be hopeless with no chance of yield, but as long as we're on earth, there is still hope.
This is not a Christian vs. Christian or believer vs. unbeliever thing, it's a people vs. hell thing. If you're a Christian and you're unsure of your calling, you've been searching for your vocation, and/or trying to figure out your ministry, I'll tell you right now what it is...OUR MINISTRY IS PEOPLE. Every. Single. Person. No matter how dry and hostile and hopeless that plot of dirt appears, we need to keep right on digging, watering, aerating, mixing good compost right in. Never give up on anyone. We must love everyone. Paul writes that "If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important." Galatians 6:3 (NLT)

When my boys were gifted with toy shovels, I grabbed a trowel and began digging in the dry and empty plot of dirt with them. A routine was birthed and we dug in the earth every time we played outside. I mixed ash from the fireplace and natural compost from the layers of dead leaves right in. Our regular digging aerated the dirt and we tossed large rocks off to the side. The dirt became easier to dig in everyday and soon, we started discovering worms along with nuts and pine cones (brought in by squirrels). The dirt now gives off a rich, earthy scent and is dusted with tiny green sprouts. A little bit of TLC was all it took for this once dry and barren plot to become ready to help support life.

Just like ministry, readying dirt is tough, filthy, exhausting, yet also fun and productive. I no longer look at this patch of dirt as hostile and hopeless. You can clearly see the life that's blossoming in this once empty plot. Soon, fruit trees will give food, shade, shelter, and clean air right here. We must never look at any person and decide they're a lost case. Remember, God alone, puts life in the seeds. Dirt doesn't give life, but like us, dirt can be a part of the Lord's process in giving life.

Thank you for reading!  Jesus loves YOU

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FAITH: When I Chose Modesty

When I was in my teens and early 20s, I was extremely immodest. While I was getting ready to go out, my goal was to look as hot as possible and collect as much attention as possible. 

I thought that if I could be the hottest woman in the room, I would be able to capture attention and it would be mine for as long as I wanted. It didn't occur to me that the kind of attention I was seeking is a fleeting kind. In other words, it didn't matter if I was the most beautiful woman that guy had ever seen. The kind of guy who appreciated my immodesty had zero standards whatsoever. He'd hang on my every word until someone else's skin flashed by. He'd flirt with me and then turn around and flirt with every other girl as well. This guy didn't care about whose makeup was better, who was witty, who had better legs, who was nicest, etc. The kind of guy who is attracted to immodesty is only interested in one thing and that's not your heart. This dude has no other standards an…

FAITH: Are You Willing to Give God Anything He Wants?

Push Up popsicles are interesting.  In order to eat more ice cream, you need to literally push up the stick that's connected to the platform in which the ice cream sits.

My toddlers both lack the strength and dexterity to push up their Push Ups, so I have to make myself available to help them out.  One of my boys understands this.  As his ice cream dips below the cardboard container, he'll eagerly hand his treat over so I can push the stick upwards and he can continue eating.  My other boy doesn't yet understand why he needs my help.  He'd rather chew at the cardboard than willingly hand over his treat for two seconds.  Whenever it's time to push up his ice cream, he grips it tight and puts up a fight against me even though my motive is completely for his benefit.  I never take the ice cream for myself, I only obtain the Push Up in order to make it possible for my boys to have more ice cream.  So they don't have to resort to gnawing on soggy cardboard.

This remin…

FAITH: A Biblical Perspective on Why I Quit Fashion Blogging

Back in 2007-ish, when I religiously followed StyleBytes, Weardrobe, Flickr's Wardrobe Remix, and Style Bubble, I started my first blog.  At first, it was silly ruminations and random writing, but soon enough, I began sharing my daily outfits.
The term we now know as "fashion blogging" was called "style sharing" back then.  For the most part, it was a small community of teens and early 20-somethings without money who shared their creativity in making the most of their wardrobes.  We did this by thrifting, fast fashion (Forever 21 and the likes), DIY-ing, and trading closets with one another.  We taught each other to wear dresses backwards, cut up tights to create makeshift sleeves, and how to borrow from men's (and sometimes children's) departments in order to have more (inexpensive) options.
The style sharing community encouraged individuality, money saving, and how to have fun with what one already has in their wardrobe.  I learned that my personal…

FAITH: Deuteronomy 24:5

“A newly married man must not be drafted into the army or be given any other official responsibilities. He must be free to spend one year at home, bringing happiness to the wife he has married.” Deuteronomy 24:5 (NLT)
Prior to marrying in 2011, Aaron and I received lots of confirmation from the Lord that we were created to walk this earth together. So when we got married, we were arrogant in thinking that marriage would naturally be easy for us.
We were under the impression that the”honeymoon phase” would be the easiest, most magical time of our marriage. It turns out, that first year was the most difficult.  The both of us had quirks and emotional scars that went unnoticed until marriage.  Also, you don't begin to really get to know someone's ins and outs until you live with them and are forced to work together on day-to-day issues.
I wish we had studied Deuteronomy 24:5 because this verse imparts great advice. Moving into the same home with your husband is a huge eye opener and …

CLEAN BEAUTY: What's in My Medicine Cabinet?

Here's my medicine cabinet.  As you can see, I'm a big advocate of clean beauty care.  Not pictured is my beloved apple cider vinegar which I use for facial toner and hair conditioner.  I keep a jar of Bragg's out on the bathroom counter so I forgot to include.  You can get read my blog post on ACV here.

Check out what's in my medicine cabinet below...
1.  Rachel's Plan Bee Facial Oil - My favorite skin care expert, Rachel, from Rachel's Plan Bee, sent over some of her delicious minis. Read the blog post here.
2. MSC Lavender & Spearmint Nourishing Lip Cream - I received this chapstick in my Petit Vourbox.  It does the job and perhaps one day I'd repurchase...after I use up all my other chapsticks.
3. We Love Eyes Tea Tree Eyelid & Eyelash Makeup Remover Oil - I use this to remove eye makeup.  Check out my detailed review here.
4. MooGoo Deodorant - I haven't worn the dangerous, aluminum stuff in almost five years.  Review is definitely coming…

FAITH: Joshua 11:15

"Just as the Lord had commanded Moses His servant, so Moses had commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses." Joshua 11:15 (AMP)

Obeying the Lord in total is the only way that we should get things done.  Just obeying a portion of God's instruction is sinful.  We must do exactly what the Lord wants us to do when He call us to do something.

Our household is constantly being forced to purge items that could lead to sin because the enemy is always trying to get in.  For example, going through our DVD collection, we find ourselves continually tossing movies that have that one inappropriate word or that one inappropriate two second scene.  We've thrown out our favorite films or awesome movies that are otherwise innocent save for that one thing about them. But we have to because at what point will we say "no" to sin?  The enemy deserves NO foothold in our house and yours.

Joshua won't compromise with …

FAITH: Video - Five Things Women Need to do Before Marriage

Below, is the script from today's video...

Today, we are talking about five things women need to do before they get married.

1. Enjoy the single season.  This is your opportunity to learn independence.  In my opinion, I believe that women and men need to learn how to be comfortable with just themselves.  Because if you don't like being alone with you, why would you expect someone else to enjoy being alone with you?  You might marry someone who needs some quiet time or needs to take a walk alone in order to think or meditate on the Lord and if you're not okay with just being still, being silent by yourself, there's a good chance you're going to drive him nuts.  Learn some independence right now.  It'll help.  It'll pay off.

2. Make a list.  Make a list of things you want to do before you get married.  Like a bucket list before you tie the knot - so, like a "knot list."  Make a list of new things you want to learn and experience before you get married…

FAITH: Joshua 12

I'm going through the First5 online study and we're currently in Joshua.  In coming upon the twelfth chapter of Joshua, we find it reads a long list of king's names who were defeated by Israel.  It's easy for our eyes to skim over this chapter but we must consider that it's here for a reason.

It's good for us to take detailed lists of praise reports and victories in Christ.  Reason being, when we're in a valley and unable to see past our enemies, we can remember the great things the Lord has already done.  We can be encouraged that He's going to keep us moving forward and that the troubles we're currently facing are puny to Him. Remembering our past victories with the Lord can give us hope for the future.

Thank you for reading!  Jesus loves You!

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Five Photos - 12/02/16

Christmas is approaching and I hope you will remember those who are lonely or distressed during this time.  We have a lot to be thankful for in that Jesus offers us all eternal salvation.  We just have to take Him up on His offer. We may not have time nor money to give, but we can always deliver the greatest message of all… Romans 10:9 "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Throwback to one year ago, yesterday, to the sunset we watched in Carmel.  Nature sings praises to the Lord.

I baked these cookies again.  They're full of healthy ingredients and zero processed sugar so it's pretty much manna, right?

Aaron changed Miles' diaper right there on the floor and when they were done, Miles decided to just stay there and relax a bit.  This kid cracks me up!

Enjoying my honey lemon water with the latest Domino magazine.
I hope you have a great weekend!  Jesus loves YOU.


Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil

I was recently sent a two week sample of Pai's Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil.  Normally, I don't mention samples because they run out before I've been able to give them a long enough test run.  But oh. my. goodness!  I saw significant results within just 24 hours of using this oil. I wasn't expecting too much, because like I just said, I'm used to products taking longer periods of time to show me results.  Without a doubt, I saw and felt a noticeable difference almost immediately.  Good quality rosehip oil is known for its anti aging properties and Pai's version is the best I've come across so far.  Unlike most of my oils, the smell is not awesome, but I know that rosehip oil is not known to smell pleasant to most people.

After the slightly smelly scent, the next thing I noticed was that this oil is not oily.  It soaked in pretty well.  It left me moisturized, but without the oily, greasy feeling I normally expect from facial oils.  The instructions say to on…