I ♥ fall!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Seasons…oh how I love the smell in the air when a new season is approaching.  I love the feeling you get when you know that your wardrobe is going to change, even if it’s only slightly.  I love thinking about the holidays that are to come in the next season.  Each time we face a change in the season, I’m overjoyed.

Fall is perhaps my favorite of the 4 seasons we get to enjoy.  Could the weather be anymore perfect than the 60’s and 70’s those of us here in North Carolina enjoy in the fall?  Could the Blue Ridge Mountains be anymore beautiful than the wide range of oranges, reds and yellows we see in late October?

For me, fall is refreshing.  The kids are settled back into a school routine and my schedule, though busier, seems more manageable.  In September, our middle son has a birthday and just 2 months later, in November, both myself and our daughter have birthdays, along with several other family members.  We are blessed with Thanksgiving and Christmas is just around the corner.

I long for sitting out by a campfire, going for evening walks, watching my children play outside after they’ve spent the better part of summer inside, beating the sweltering heat.  Most of the bugs are gone with the exception of the mosquitoes which seem to run rampant on my legs.

Fall is freeing.  Fall is a time when my emotions change.  My mental abilities seem to be at their peak in the fall.  I was born in the fall…maybe that’s why :)  Fall is a season and seasons change.

I think for many of us, seasons play a huge part in the way we function.  I haven’t done any research or studies but I bet there’s one out there that says Winter is the gloomiest, most depressing, highest suicide rated season there is.  Think about it…for example, this year the first day of Winter is December 22.  So, Winter starts off with a bang…you have family gatherings, Christmas rush from this house to that house, see this person and that person .. many whom you haven’t seen in at least a year and some who you’d rather not see for the rest of your life.  Granted, you may enjoy much of that time but I think most of us are slap worn out by the time we’re done visiting everyone, hugging a bazillion (yes, I love that word) people, saying how much we’ve missed each other, over and over and smiling for endless photos that we’ll stuff in a box and look at years later saying, “Oh my, I can’t believe I looked like that!”.  Sound familiar?  Come on, admit it…I’m right?!

So, what does winter bring after Christmas?  It brings a New Year, a time to change…new opportunities, new goals, new dreams, hope.  And in a few weeks, what do most of us realize?  Nothings changed, right?  That weight we were gonna lose…we’ve gained!  Those friends we were gonna call or visit …we haven’t had time?  That new job we were gonna look for…hasn’t presented the opportunity?  The gym we were gonna grace with our presence daily…hasn’t seen us for weeks?  Not only that, our days are shorter, everything around us is dead, we’re cold, our bones ache and we have months before we feel like we can crawl out from under this rock.

Why is winter so gloomy?  I think many of us start it off wrong.  Like I said earlier, December 22, 2011 is the beginning of winter this year.  That’s 3 days before what we celebrate as the birth of Christ.  Do you start off winter thinking about that?  Do you drown yourself is His love, His grace, His forgiveness, His dedication, His word?  Do you soak in every ounce of His glory that you possibly can?  Or do you fret over what meal to cook, what wrapping paper to buy, which kid to give this and that too, how much money you spent on this person, how much they spent on you last year, how much you hate family gatherings and yet you have 5 of them, how tired you are, can you skip church this week, did I order pictures for all the grandparents, what dress will you wear?  I could keep going and going…it feels endless and overwhelming.

So with fall approaching, I want to encourage you to enjoy every minute of the perfect weather, the beautiful colors, the candy, the turkey, but most of all, make it your goal to soak in every minute you can with God.  Read His words and let Him prepare you for winter.  Let Him teach you how to handle the stress that we put on ourselves with our holiday rush.  Let Him grace you with the real reason we celebrate.  Let Him imprint His blessings upon your heart so that when winter comes, you’ll be ready to enjoy it just as you have enjoyed His blessings in the fall.  Listen for Him to guide you and pray for His strength to protect you from the craziness and hustle and bustle.  Pray for Him to be near you in all that you do.  Let your mind not wander from why we celebrate Him and for what He has done in your life, and mine!

© The Imperfect Princess at theimperfectprincess.com

God has a great sense of humor!

Have you ever told God, “No!”?  Maybe in a more subtle way like, “I will never be friends with that person!” or “there’s no way I’m going to do that!”.

I have most certainly been there, done that.

A few years ago, I met a lady.  At first, she drove me crazy.  She was full of giddy, happiness that could just about make you sick.  In my mind, I couldn’t understand how someone could bounce right into my world and be so bubbly.  She had 2 beautiful little girls that mirrored perfection .. at least what I saw of them.  They both were extremely well behaved, well mannered, much different from my loud, obnoxious little boys.  I spent months, okay years, telling myself, my husband and God that there’s no way I could ever be friends with her.  Little did I know, God was laughing that whole time.

Here we are now a few years later and I adore her and her fantastic self!  What I see in her now is a Godly woman who loves everyone, judges no one and worships her God, fully!  She’s a loving, committed mother, wife and Christian.  She knows her faults and admits them.  She is an amazing person.

So why was I so hesitant to like her in the beginning?  I think she scared me, lol!  She came into “my” church with a voice, not afraid to make suggestions and question things.  She walked right in, shared her thoughts, her ideas and made herself at home.  Maybe I felt intimidated?  I’ve been known to speak my mind before but not in the best ways.  This gal came in and spoke and even though she probably faced criticism by some folks (like me!) she was accepted and heard by many.  She came in and made a difference .. a positive difference.  She added to our church .. oh, here it is .. like I hadn’t!

I have spent years in my church, hiding away in a little place called the nursery.  It’s the fun place where we get to love on babies, change diapers, play in the floor and make all kinds of silly faces and noises with all these sweet, cuddly little people!  It was my safe zone, my comfort zone.  I could “go to church” and hide out in the nursery.  I mean, afterall, I was going to church .. wasn’t that my duty? 

Well, yes, sort of.

The thing is, I avoided Bible studies and classes and barely paid attention in church.  I was busy watching everyone around me rather than focusing on the message that day.  I was turning off my listening ears and had walls up all around me.  I was in church but I wasn’t living with God as my purpose.

So back to my fantastic friend…maybe seeing in her that she was living with God by her side was what scared me.  Perhaps instead of me never accepting her as a friend, I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to accept me as one because of all my walls and insecurities.  Thankfully, I have learned that when folks are living with God by their side, they aren’t anywhere near as hard on me as I am myself and they aren’t judgmental like I have been. 

So with all that said, I leave behind my walls in the nursery and though I still love all those cuddly babies dearly, my time has come to step out of my comfort zone and say, “YES!” to God.  I’m opening my heart to those around me.  I am learning to walk with Him by my side!  He is calling me to break free from my chains, use my voice to tell others how glorious he is and what amazing things he has done in my life and to enter a whole new chapter.  I will be teaching a Bible study this fall to other women as well as teaching 2nd grade Sunday School.  I believe I’ll be doing the learning and God will be doing the teaching :)

© The Imperfect Princess at theimperfectprincess.com

Faith…Is just believing enough?

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times that little word crossed my path this summer…in a BIG way!  Over and over I was smacked in the face with “Faith!” or “Have Faith” or “Your Faith”.  Did I have faith?  What was this thing that kept popping up everywhere I turned?
First it was in Vacation Bible School (VSB) at our church.  The Bible verse the kids had to memorize was…
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”  Romans 10:17
So all week long, we sang songs about faith, talked about faith and learned the Bible verse about faith.
Around that same time, I was in the early weeks of an online Bible study and one of the verses mentioned in the chapter was, Romans 10:17.
At the same time, I was just beginning a new journey with Life Builders and going through the first chapter, I was yet again faced with the verse from Romans.
What was God telling me?  It was clear to me He wasn’t telling me quietly…He was shouting…something about Faith!
So, what is faith and did I have it?
For many years, I believed in God.  For as long as I can remember, I sang the songs and knew there was some guy in Heaven that loved me.  He was always there and I always believed but did I really have faith?  Did I need faith to really make it all work?  
1.  confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
2.  belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3.  belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4.  belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5.  a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

So, there you have it…that sums it up.  Is it clear now?  If you’re like me, you’re probably saying, huh?  What’s that mean?  

This morning as I was getting ready for church (which I have to head out to shortly) I kept hearing again, Faith!  At the same time, I was contemplating what to write about today on the blog.  Over and over I heard faith and finally I started singing (just be glad you didn’t have to hear me sing!)  “Yes Lord, Yes Lord, YES, YES Lord!”  And shabam…here I am :)

So the Bible tells us that faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word about Christ.  Romans 10:17  

So, to have faith, I need to hear the message and to hear the message, I need to be in the word of Christ…right?

In those years way back when, I believed but did I really have faith?  Nope!  I needed to meet her…she probably would have been a good friend :)

Now, I am learning verses, studying the Bible and listening to what others have to say about their journeys, their studies, what God has said through them.  I’m listening with an open ear to what God is saying to me.  

Do I have faith now?  I think I do!

What’s the difference?  Between just believing and having faith?  

I think when I believed, I knew He was there, I knew the stories, I knew the way to live…but what I lacked was the ability to believe He would really fix me, take care of me, be there for me…little old me?  I constantly asked the questions, Why me?  Why would God want to take care of me?  Why would He waste His time on me?  What have I done worthy of His love?  There were many more questions just like those and because they filled my head, they left no room for me to really hear His word and have faith in what His word says.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Matthew 10:17

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1
Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.  1 Peter 1:21
A faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.  Titus 1:2
We live by faith, not by sight.  2 Corinthians 5:7
Oh, there are so many more!  
I didn’t realize any of this over night.  It has taken me years to get to the point where I even cared to hear His message much less actually learn it and soak it in.  Through prayers from others, my own praying and my surrender to Him, God has brought me to a place where I not only want to learn but it’s a desire, a passion, a feeling like I’ve never had before.  Our faith can be tested and shaken but through His word and through prayer, we can move mountains!  (I don’t know how literal you should take that one .. I haven’t tried to move an actual mountain!)
*Challenge* Take the time to look up verses about faith in your own Bible.  See what God has to say to you about your faith.  Do you really have it or do you just believe?  
© The Imperfect Princess at theimperfectprincess.com

Seek and you will find!

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8

I’ve been doing a lot of asking and seeking lately.  In my journey to grow closer to God, I find myself questioning more things, more people, their intentions, their motives.  I don’t really recommend this to anyone because I think I could eventually go insane asking.  The one thing I failed to do along the way was to ask God first.  I tell my kids all the time, “Put God first, in everything you do and everything you say.  As long as you put God first, everything will work out.”  I should tell myself that!

A few weeks ago, I attended a rather large conference.  There was a band and a well known speaker.  During the conference, I found myself distracted by the sheer amount of people who came, the amount of money spent on tickets and the intentions/motives of the speaker.  Unfortunately, Satan prevailed and I missed out on most of the lesson.  Maybe I didn’t really miss out…maybe I was there to learn my own lesson aside from what the conference was about.

After returning home from the conference, I emailed the speaker with my concerns.  Much to my surprise, I received a letter in the mail today.  One of the staff members had written me a very nice, personal letter expressing their appreciation for my writing them and reassuring me that the speaker had all the best intentions.  It was a rather lengthy letter and was everything I needed to hear in order to be able to put my doubts to rest!

I think in the end, it wasn’t so much about the money or the overwhelming amount of people that attended, I think it was God’s way of teaching me to trust, in baby steps and to recognize how easily Satan can distract us.  Every little encounter I have like this reaffirms that I am heading in the right direction, that I am following God’s lead and most importantly that I am listening!

My point is, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  If you have doubts, you have to fill those doubts with reassurance.  Asking questions is not bad…but remember to ask God first.  He may have all the answers you need without you missing out on the good things.

© The Imperfect Princess at theimperfectprincess.com

The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me…

I stand alone on the Word of God
The B-I-B-L-E.

Did you learn that catchy little tune as a kid?  Or maybe you’ve taught it to your own little people?

I’ve had the pleasure of that tune popping into my head occasionally since I was a wee little person.  I must have been around 4 or 5 when I learned that along with a few other tunes like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Obedience” from back in my days at Maranantha Christian Academy.  I was in school there for Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd grade, then the school closed down and I was sent crashing into the great world of public school!  Nothing wrong with it…my kids are in public school but for me, it was like losing an arm – or losing my religion.

Anyway, back to the B-I-B-L-E.  Does it really matter what kind of Bible you have?  No, not really .. I think they are all God’s word and they all share the same meaning.  Now, let me first explain, I’m no Bible Scholar and I certainly can’t translate anything to you from Hebrew or even from King James but I can tell you that as a normal gal, in a small town, who’s only been really studying for a couple years, the kind of Bible you have can matter.

I remember growing up and my grandma always had her Good News Bible laying around, in mint condition, mind you.  It was always placed perfectly on the table next to her chair (yes, she had her own chair and so did my grandpa .. we should have monogrammed their names on them, lol).  Heaven forbid anyone else sit in her chair!

I remember having one of those little Gideon Bibles…you know the ones?!  The tiny little things that could fit in your pocket, came in a variety of colors and had words so small an ant would need a magnifying glass to read them…yep, that’s the one.  I think I may still have it floating around here somewhere. 

Somewhere around 18, 19 or 20, I decided I was going to read my Bible, only thing is, I don’t think I really had one.  If I did, I certainly had no clue what box it was stuffed into.  I made a trip to a local Bible store and picked out the coolest aka cheapest Bible I could find.  It was a white, leather (maybe pleather) bound King James Version.  Have you ever talked to King James?  I don’t think I could carry on a conversation with him for more than about two seconds.  Have you ever tried to read the KJV Bible?  Okay, so maybe I’m the only not so literate person around but I stumbled over nearly every word I read.  Needless to say, my goal of becoming the next Bible Scholar at age 20 quickly vanished and I stuffed that little white pleather bound Bible into some unknown box.

My oldest son, Noah, is 11 and heading to 6th grade. A year or so ago, we bought him a new Bible.  He’d outgrown the baby blue Precious Moments Bible he’d had for way too long and we had failed to buy him a new one in between.  Finally, I searched around for a good, but affordable Bible for him and we settled on the NIV 2:52 Backpack Bible.  He loves it and we think it will grow with him for years to come.

Our middle child, Caleb, will turn 7 in September.  He’s also heading into 1st grade which is a big deal in Sunday School.  At our church, when kids enter first grade, they start going to “big church” with their parents.  Until then, they stay in the preschool wing and have Bible lessons and play time.  Since he’s graduating to “big church” we felt it was time to get him his very own real Bible.  Up until now, he has had the God’s Mighty Warrior Devotional Bible which he has loved (and I highly recommend for little boys up to his age) but it’s really more like a story book than a real Bible.  We went to a local Bible store a few weeks ago and he looked around to see what he might like.  He finally settled on the NIrV Super Heroes Backpack Bible.  I think he will do very well with this one.  It’s small enough for him to carry around, easy for him to read but is in fact a real Bible and it looks cool.  Even though it’s geared toward new readers, I think he will be able to use this Bible for many years to come.

My husband has a cool little Bible that we found for him a couple years ago.  It’s called The Firefighters Bible and the version is Holman Christian Standard Bible.  He likes it.  It also has some prayers and devotions in the back geared towards Firefighters and other emergency workers…a neat little addition.  I really have no idea how this version compares to others.  In case you’re wondering, yep, he’s a firefigther.  He has been with our local city fire department going on 13 years.  We have our very own hero in the house :) 

Last, we have my Bible.  I ♥ my Bible!  I have the NIV Life Application Study Bible in black leather (this time I think I got the real stuff).  I’ve had this Bible for a few years now and am slowly finding my way through it.  In the past 6 months or so, God has really opened my eyes with how to use my Bible and how to apply what I read to my own daily life.  It’s an amazing journey and I just don’t know what I would do without my Bible.  I am not really a reader but this Bible has awesome study notes in the pages.  Nearly every verse is explained on terms that I’m able to understand.  I’ve learned so much with this Bible and definitely recommend it to anyone who feels they are struggling to understand what they are reading.

So, there you have it.  Each of us had our own needs for a Bible.  My kids needed one suitable for their ages and my husband and I just have our own preferences.  I don’t think the version matters as much as your ability to understand the version you choose.  Unfortunately, I have heard of some churches who are all KJV and frown upon anyone who chooses to use something different.  I think that’s sad.  It’s all about you and what fits your needs or suits you best.  Being open to what God is saying to you through His Word seems most important, in my opinion.

Next on the topic of the B-I-B-L-E…this is a biggie *drumroll*

Do you write in your Bible? 

Have you ever dog tagged one of the pages?

Have you highlighted or underlined things in your Bible?

If not, what are you waiting for????!!

I spent years putting my Bible up on a shelf, all nice and neat.  I knew there it would be safe.  When I thought to take it down, I carried it in a nice leather case that zipped closed.  I hardly opened it because what a pain it was to have to unzip it to read anything and especially in a quiet class where you didn’t want anyone to notice you didn’t already have the pages turned to the right place.  The sheer thought of writing anything in my Bible other than when I got it (on that front page specifically for that purpose) made my skin crawl.  What would God do to me if I defaced His Words?  Wasn’t underlining them or writing in the margins defacing my Bible?  Surely I’d be cursed or so I thought!

Now, I read my Bible more than ever and I have learned so much from underlining the verses I’ve read, from writing in the margins the dates I read something and what I was doing at the time (ie. Bible study, worship service, Sunday school, etc.).  I can’t believe it took me this long to get to that point.  I am able to look back in my Bible now and remember what I was doing at the time, what I have studied, where I have been!  What a blessing to see my growth through the ratty pages and colorful verses.  I always have colored pencils (I use these for underlining) and a pen nearby when I’m reading.  I jot notes in the margin with my pen and underline what stands out with my colored pencils.  If you haven’t tried this already, just do it.  I promise, I have not been struck down by lightening or ran over by any Mack trucks (not to say that it couldn’t still happen, but just saying).  I think it has definitely helped me through my journey, my studies and my learning.  Oh and that nifty black leather case I carried it in for so long…well, the strap broke and I felt a total relief when it did.  I trashed it and never looked back.  Now my Bible sits out, wherever I am, showing it’s own Black leather cover and easy to reach over and flip to wherever I need to go without having to fiddle with zippers or flaps or handles.  Don’t get me wrong, if you like a nice little cover, by all means, use it but do just that, use it!  Don’t leave it zipped closed like I did!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1

So my Morning Glory today (and most days) is my B-I-B-L-E … what’s yours?

© The Imperfect Princess at theimperfectprincess.com

What’s in a name?

Do you know how many names are already taken in the world of blogs and web addresses?  It’s got to be a bazillion more than the hairs on my head!  Only God knows how many but I know I sure tried just about every combination I could think of.

So, that brings us to my little blog address and name.  If you type in the whole fancy http:// thing, you see it reads http://morningglories3.blogspot.com/ .  If you haven’t guessed yet, morningglory was already taken along with hisglory, hisgrace, blessed, bygrace, 4grace, darkness2light, darknesstolight, dark2light, glorified and yes, I even tried glorifried thinking maybe I’d throw in a little bit of my southern fried roots to the mix, HA!  So here we are sitting with morning glories times 3 .. those 3 are those little people I mentioned in my last post … you know, the ones that walk around the house calling me, “Mommy!” at all hours of the day.  I guess they are in fact my morning glories even when most mornings it doesn’t seem so :) 

I’ll be the first to admit, I really am not a morning person.  So, why pick the name Morning Glory?!  I’m so glad you asked ;)  I need a little glory in my mornings and am striving to get that.  I’m finding that when I get my time with God, early in the morning, my mornings seem a little more glorious!  On another note, about a month ago, I started waking up every morning with another beautiful song in my head.  Once it was “Oh Glorious Day” by Casting Crowns, another morning it was “Blessings” by Laura Story.  There have been so many wonderful tunes greeting me in the mornings that I can’t help but have a little bit of Morning Glory!

© The Imperfect Princess at theimperfectprincess.com