Who Says Movies Are Mindless Entertainment?

I love a good, action-packed super-hero movie. A few weeks ago, our family saw the new Batman vs Superman movie, and even though I had critiques on a few fighting scenes that were less than believable, I liked the movie. And the popcorn. With the butter (put your wagging finger back in your pocket; I ate a salad for dinner to make up for it).

Remember the famous line from another super-hero movie, “With great power comes great responsibility”? The Spiderman series of movies is another family favorite for us, and I couldn’t help thinking of that quote when I read Romans chapter 8 recently:

“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Romans 8:17 NLT (emphasis mine)

I think Peter Parker’s uncle must have read Romans. Turns out Christians must walk the line between great power and great responsibility, too. Catch this:

Following Jesus has many rewards: salvation, peace, purpose, protection, eternal life with God, provision, blessings, love, acceptance….the list goes on and on. That’s powerful. 

But following God comes with a price, as well: sacrifice and suffering. All over the world, Christians are still suffering with persecution and death much like the Christians of the bible did. You and I might never face such suffering, but our followship still requires sacrifice: serving others, giving up our rights, resisting temptation, resisting the pressure to become like the world around us….the list goes on and on. Christians must accept the responsibility of submitting our lives to God’s Lordship. 

Yet, scripture is clear time and again that no matter what our circumstance is, we can be assured that:

  • God is our friend
  • The Holy Spirit fights for us
  • God works all situations for the good of those who love Him and are about His business
  • Nothing we can do can take God’s love away
  • We have overwhelming spiritual victory because we identify with Jesus

Friends, our lifetime is simply an opportunity to get to know God before our eternity with Him begins. He has made a way for us to share in all of His treasures – on earth AND in Heaven. But He also expects us to follow Him no matter what it costs us. I heard a great pastor once say that if we weren’t suffering for Christ in some way, we might not be following Him as we should. That’s good food for thought today.

With great power comes great responsibility. With great rewards come great sacrifice. Maybe you needed that reminder. I’m praying that you live and lead well today. 

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Random Observations…..

Random observations today:

When your husband greets you in the morning with, “You and your yoga pants,” it might be time for a new look. 

Air Wick air fresheners make me happy. The Clean Linen fragrance tricks me into thinking my house is clean. 

My dogs think the couches in the basement are their personal beds. 

I don’t care how chilly it is outside. I’m wearing flip flops because Spring has sprung. 

My scale must have a malfunction. I’ve been working out and eating well, but the number on my scale hasn’t budged. Stupid scale.

My secret stash of Easter candy might not have been my brightest idea. 

Sneaking a nap in the sun on a cool April day can make you red as a lobster. 

I’m craving some beach seafood. 

Tanned love handles look better than pale love handles. 

These were the thoughts zipping through my mind as I made school lunches and straightened the house this morning. You probably think I entertain much deeper ideas in my head, but today, you’d be wrong. I’m off to work out with a friend and then tackle my day.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even buy some new yoga pants. 🙂

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Represent

 

My son’s 5th grade class went on a field trip recently, and his teacher sent a note home asking parents to prepare our kids to behave in appropriate ways while traveling. More specifically, she asked that the kids remember that they represented Paine Intermediate School, as well as Trussville, and their behavior should be respectful and kind. She was asking the kids to live up to the reputation of the city and school they belonged to. 

Hold up. I have three kids who have been on countless field trips to places nearby and far. Permission slips and parent releases have been sent home for signatures, but never – NEVER – has a note been sent home asking for students to remember the school and city they represent and to uphold a good reputation.

As I read the teacher’s note, I was inspired. Maybe even a little patriotic. Yes, I said patriotic. I liked the idea of holding our community in high regard and encouraging our kids to do the same.

If a school teacher can ask students to live up to a good reputation, how much more should we as Christians live a life worthy of our calling? Check out Paul’s challenge to Christians in the book of Ephesians:

“Therefore I, as a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” Eph 4:1 NLT

We are God’s representatives here on earth, and we belong to Him. We bear His name. My friends, we have a grand reputation to protect! And look at how Paul says we are to “live a life worthy of our calling”:

“Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind yourselves together with peace.” Eph 4:2-3

As people watch us, as we represent God, are we humble and gentle? Are we patient and understanding? Are we peaceful? Are we peacemakers?

Moment by moment, decision by decision, we either uphold or diminish God’s reputation. Don’t be intimidated by that….be motivated! 

God chose us to be Christ’s representatives, so let’s live lives worthy of that calling. It’s not about getting our tasks done today. It’s about representing Jesus while we are doing our tasks!

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The One Thing I Refuse To Change

Moving to a new state to start a new ministry means tons of things in my life have changed. 

New home.

New routine.

New church.

New role.

New friends.

New hair stylist.

WAIT. 

That last one isn’t exactly true. Oh, I tried to find a new hair cutting and highlighting expert, but he only managed to effectively make me hate my hair….which, by the way, I had to live with for 7 weeks till it was time for another cut. So, I did what any self-respecting, forward-thinking, hair-loving person would do: I drove 3 hours back to Georgia for a hair cut.

Yes I did.

Not once. Not twice. Today makes my 3rd trip. I drive over, get pampered by one of the best in the business (Berni, Inc for my local Cumming, Ga friends), grab lunch with a few friends, and drive back to Bama before nightfall. Berni has cut my hair for 11 years. Why stop now? Seems perfectly logical to me since I can’t trust these tresses to just anyone, but my hubby sure wishes my hair cuts didn’t cost me a 6 hour round trip.

Men. They just don’t get it sometimes.

By the time you read this post, I’ll likely be sitting in a comfy chair, covered by a black cape, and looking like a freak with tons of little foils all over my head. Then I’ll look glorious while I do lunch with some of my besties.

Eventually I’ll have to find someone local to cut my hair, but for now I’m enjoying my little day-trips for beauty. Unless, of course, I can convince Berni to move to Birmingham.

And don’t think I won’t try!

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It’s 23 days away….

easterIt seems like we just counted down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, and Easter is already upon us! Geez, times really flies. But, I don’t want Easter to fly by; I want to savor the meaning of the holiday and build memories with my family. So I turned to my best ally: Pinterest.

The other evening I surfed and pinned all kinds of Easter frivolity: inspirational quotes for the handy-dandy chalkboard that sits outside my front door, table center pieces that welcome spring, and recipes that will fill us up.

I’ll be honest. I surfed way too long. I got sucked into the Pinterest vortex and hours – literal hours – passed by. Don’t tell my husband. He probably thinks I was being super productive, but alas, I was mesmerized by the insane creativity of other pinners.

I scored several ideas, and I’ve already been to the store to purchase some fun decor. A teal wooden cross now hangs on my front door, a huge dough bowl of these oversized eggs in multiple colors now adds some Easter fun to my dining room table, and a wire basket of theses speckled, foam eggs  sits in my foyer.

Better still, I discovered Bunny Bait which I will surely make, and I wrote out my Easter menu. Our extended family will be with us, we’ll have an egg hunt for the littles, and we’ll enjoy the afternoon together…..on Saturday the 26th.

I know you’re probably wondering if some weird thing happened in this Leap Year causing Easter to fall on a Saturday. Nope. Our family is simply celebrating a day early so that we can all attend church on Sunday without have to rush home to prepare a meal. Less stress = happy people.

So those are my plans. What about you? Do you have a favorite go-to Easter recipe or decorating tip? Don’t let life fly by and miss celebrating this incredible holiday! Hop to it! (See what I did there? Some of you will get that one later.)

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Happy Birthday, Shawn!

Head Shots 047Another Lovejoy celebration ensues today: Shawn Lovejoy turns 45! Birthday’s are big deals around here, and a vegan feast will kick off the party. I know the word “vegan” just killed it for most of you, but it floats Shawn’s boat, so we are in full support!

Although Shawn enjoys gifts, he’d rather just buy what he likes himself. What speaks to him….what makes him feel valued and significant….what puts a smile on his face? Knowing he has helped someone. Knowing he’s impacted their life for the good.

I could shout from the rooftops all that Shawn has done for me. He has been my confidant and encourager. He has believed in me like no other person ever has. He has loved me with a love I’m sure I don’t deserve. He has disciplined himself to be a co-laborer in the home and in our ministry. He has led our family spiritually. He has sought forgiveness, and he has forgiven. He fights fairly and with respect. He protects my heart. He meets my needs at the expense of his own. He takes care of our family financially. And he has the cutest legs ever! I love Shawn Lovejoy!

Many of you know Shawn personally and have been impacted by him, too. Would you take a moment to celebrate him today? @ShawnLovejoy on Twitter. You can always send a direct message if you’d rather keep it personal.

Happy birthday, Shawn! You are the best man I’ve ever known.

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Toes In the Sand and other daydreams today…

beachI’m staring at light snow flurries outside my bedroom window, but nothing fun will come of it. No accumulation. No sledding. No school snow day. No excuse to cancel my calendar events and drink hot chocolate. Nope. Just a few light flurries with gray skies and cold temperatures, but then this weather system will pass. Seems like kind of a letdown.

Let me be clear: I enjoy all four seasons. I like the new birth of spring. I welcome the cooler temps and beautiful colors of fall. I enjoy bundling up in cute scarves and boots in the winter. But, for me, there ain’t nothin’ like summer.

Hot temps. Long days. Poolside afternoons. Grilling out. Vacations. Bike rides. The smell of freshly cut grass. Car rides with the sun roof open. Flip flops. 

Oh, yes, I’m a summer girl.

Even now as I stare at the snow swirling outside, I’m daydreaming about a rented chair on the beach with Jimmy Buffet playing in my earbuds.

So I’m planning my summer vacay now, and I’d like some suggestions. Which is your favorite beach for a summer vacation? Destin? Orange Beach? Something further south? 

If you have a recommendation for a resort/condo/beach, I’m all ears! Let’s do a little daydreaming about warmer weather!

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Don’t Fall For A Lie

My friend is walking through a heartbreaking time. Her child is making disappointing decisions which have been shocking, and my friend and her husband have been left reeling. They have taught their children to love and honor God, and now they are watching in great disappointment as one runs the other way. To know you have shown someone the best path and then watch as they choose a road that leads to destruction is painful. For parents, it’s heartbreaking.

When I read this verse, I couldn’t help but remember the pain my friend is feeling.

“I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in His love and mercy called you to share the eternal life He gives through Christ. You are already following a different way” (Gal 1:6 NLT)

Paul was a parent in some sense of the word to the churches in Galatia. He had taught these early Christians about Jesus. He had spent time loving them, investing into them, encouraging them, correcting them, and guiding them. He was their spiritual father. I can only imagine his great disappointment when he learned that false teaching was running amuck in Galatia. I’m sure his disappointment turned to heartbreak when he learned the Galatian people were falling for the falsehoods.

In this world it’s far too easy to “follow a different way.” 

Paul experienced it in Galatia, and my friend is experiencing it right now. We all have, as a matter of fact. Often the choices before us seem good, and we dive headlong into trouble only to realize our mistakes when consequences bring pain. We are easily fooled, it seems.

The only way to stay on the right path is to know Scripture and stay connected to Jesus. He is the One who said, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NLT) We live in a culture that makes lies seem like truth. Without God’s Word and guidance, we’ll be tempted to believe those lies.

Thank God for these truths and hold them close to your heart:

  • God loves me.
  • God defines me.
  • God forgives me.
  • God’s grace is sufficient for me.
  • God never gives up on me.
  • God has a purpose for me.
  • God made me in His image.

Then, refuse to believe the lies that the enemy tells in order to twist God’s Word:

  • I refuse to believe the lie that God loves me only if I’m behaving well.
  • I refuse to believe the lie that my past or my actions define me.
  • I refuse to believe the lie that God holds grudges against me in order to punish me.
  • I refuse to believe the lie that I must earn God’s love.
  • I refuse to believe the lie that God will give up on me.
  • I refuse to believe the lie that I have no real purpose.
  • I refuse to believe the lie that I’m not beautiful just the way God made me.

Don’t fall for a lie when the Truth is so much better, friends. Arm yourself today!

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Cleaning Up and Clearing Out

I’m a list person. I make lists.

Grocery lists. Reminders lists. To-do lists (my list). Honey-do lists (my hubby’s list). Errand lists. Gift lists.

You name it, I probably have a list for it.

What I like most is seeing items scratched off the list! I find something so satisfying about seeing the progress of my activities, and drawing a line through item on my agenda puts a literal smile on my face.

One of those items is sticks. My backyard is somewhat wooded, and the underbrush and fallen limbs small trees have taken over. So, I added it to my New House To-Do List which hangs prominently on the garage wall on a large post-it pad of sticky paper. (Yes, I really go that far.) 

This month, my whole family is tackling that (overwhelming) project. It would be far too much to try to accomplish in a day or a weekend, so we simply take 30 minutes to an hour a few times each week to lace up some boots and drag some limbs to a debris pile that will be hauled off this Spring (thanks to our builder!).

As I look out of my bedroom windows I can see the progress we are making. Little by little we are clearing the land and turning what was once a mess into a thing of peaceful beauty. It’s not unlike other areas of life in need of cleaning up and clearing out. Whether it’s a messy yard or a messy heart, progress comes one step at a time.

I hope you drag a few of your own limbs to a debris pile today. Clean up and clear out your heart, your activities, or your relationships. It feels good. 

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Follow Me

follow meA few friends and I are reading through each of Paul’s letters in the New Testament of the Bible. We read a chapter each day and then share our thoughts in a group email since we all live in different states. In the quiet moments of my mornings, I read, journal, and share with my friends.

The other day, one particular verse grabbed our attention.

“And you should follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s.” (I Cor 11:1 NLT)

Wow. Sometimes I THINK this thought to myself, but I would probably never write it in a letter to a group of people! Paul was BOLD! And, apparently he was confident that his behavior was worthy of following.

I have to say, I find it much easier to model the Christian life when I’m “at work” (away from home, doing ministry, accomplishing a task, etc). When I’m teaching or coaching or engaging other people, I often feel confident to make the same bold claim as Paul. Yet, in my own home with those closest to me, my weaknesses bubble to the top. Maybe Paul could speak so boldly because he had no spouse or children to push his buttons! Maybe he was able to live “on point” because he traveled from place to place and was often alone after the crowds went home.

At least that was his explanation when he wrote in a previous chapter that following Jesus’ example was harder when we have the added demands of family, which he didn’t have.

Nevertheless, having a family has taught me vast amounts about love, sacrifice, forgiveness, selflessness, and compassion – all qualities of our Father in Heaven. When I stumble with my family, I ask forgiveness. When they stumble, I forgive. I am loyal and committed to them. Most importantly, I can see a steady track of spiritual growth since I met Jesus, and I’m using that to help train my family. As long as I’m doing those things, I can not only tell strangers to follow my example, I can tell my family to, as well!

What about you? Are there areas of your life that you can boldly proclaim “follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s?” Celebrate them! Becoming more and more mature as a Christian is something to which we should all aspire. If you are having trouble pinpointing some successes in this area, don’t fret. Just get started! Pick one area of your life and take a few steps of improvement by following Jesus’ example more closely. Remember, the goal is steady growth, not overnight perfection.

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