Preparing for Your Royal Wedding!

Preparing for Your Royal Wedding!

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

You’ve got your royal wedding guest name, tea and biscuits, and are just waiting to enjoy the lavishness of the Royal Wedding as Prince Harry marries commoner Meghan Markle. It is exciting! With so much attention being paid to their glorious day, I can’t help but wonder how prepared we each are for our own Royal Wedding. You do know your Royal Wedding Day is coming, right?  It’s true. So let’s start preparing for your royal wedding!

Here’s the checklist you will definitely need to have in hand to make sure your royal wedding goes off without a hitch!

Preparing for Your Royal Wedding

1. Finding a Royal Groom

In any marriage, finding a groom is of the utmost importance! LOL! Since most of us are commoners, where on earth do we find a royal groom?

Did you know that the Bible speaks of our relationship as God’s people with Jesus in marriage terms? It’s quite interesting and a big reason why the sanctity of marriage is so important.

From the moment God created the first union of Adam and Eve, he planned to explain to us how our irreconcilable differences would never part us. Even when we were extremely unfaithful and caused our sin to separate us from our Creator, our Lord had a plan to reconcile us to Him. Read Hosea sometime. His love in the midst of our unfaithfulness is astounding!

Anyway, the point is, as a church body, when God sends Jesus back one day, he will collect his bride, the church. Are you a follower of Christ Jesus and part of his church body?  If so, then you’ve got your groom. If not, then doing a bit more study is called for on your part.

Preparing a Place for His Bride

Jesus said that he was going to prepare a place for us. This is marriage talk. Did you know that?  In Jewish custom, the groom was charged with preparing a place for his bride before they were married. The groom prepared a place by adding on a room to his father’s house. Yes, the couple would live in the groom’s father’s house after they were married. The groom would work and work until his father said the room was complete and then, he could finally go get his bride.

Now with that Jewish custom in mind, read what Jesus said.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
John 14: 1-3

Wow!  Doesn’t that make so much more sense now?  Our groom is preparing a place for us in Heaven! Our bridgegroom is Jesus! He will come back for us and we need to be prepared for that moment – our royal wedding day!

How does the Bride Prepare for the Royal Wedding?

Now, preparing for Jesus’ return is a little tricky but easy all at the same time. it’s tricky because we have no idea when he is returning. He does not either. Only the Father knows!

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Matthew 24:36

As we read through all Jesus’ parables about being prepared, we see a common thread and start to understand how to be prepared:

  1. We are each responsible for our own preparedness. No one else can do it for us, we each have to believe He is the only way and we have to dedicate ourselves to following Him.
  2. Since we don’t know when Jesus is coming, we must always be ready for his return. This means that we should be doing God’s work in our lives.  We should be putting his desires and will before our own.
  3. We are called to be faithful. This life and it’s difficulties may seem long and neverending at times, but we must glorify God and stay faithful even through the trails. Take heart, Jesus is coming back and all of this hurt will fade away.

Let’s go back to the Jewish custom of preparing for marriage.

The bride never knew when the groom would be coming, so she always had to be prepared. Likewise, her bridesmaids would be ready to help her at any given moment as well. Typically, once the father released his son to go fetch his bride for the wedding, news would spread quickly before his arrival. Almost like trumpets announcing his arrival.

The parable of the 10 bridesmaids expresses the importance of our being prepared while we wait for Jesus’ return.

At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves. 

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
Matthew 25:6-10

Always be prepared! This must of been where that motto game from. The sole job of the bridesmaids was to be ready to help the bride when her bridesgroom came. In this parable, only half of them were ready for the bridegroom to come!

Then what about the bride? Can you imagine what would have happened, if when the groom arrived and found his bride in the arms of another? In essence, that it what it will be like if we are not obediently serving our Lord when Jesus returns!

Can a virgin forget her ornament, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me Days without number.
Jeremiah 2:32

It’s ridiculous to think that if we were planning on marrying a royal prince that we would forget simple things like the dress or allow our excitement to dwindle. Instead as the day of the wedding draws closer, our excitement builds. Let our thrill for faithfully following Jesus so overtake our souls that when He returns, he will find a bride eagerly anticipating his arrival! 

Ready for the Royal Wedding!

One day the trumpets will sound and the glory of Christ will be witnessed, but the absolute best part is we will finally be united with Him forever away from the pain and hurt of this world. As you watch the royal wedding tomorrow, take these verses to heart because one day soon, a wedding whose splendor you cannot even imagine will take place!

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, 
and his bride has made herself ready. 
Fine linen, bright and clean, 
was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

Revelation 19:6-8

 

Hearts of Good Soil

Hearts of Good Soil

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

God’s word is powerful.

It has the power to stir our hearts and change our lives.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:10-11 (emphasis mine)

 

Yes, God has purpose for His words, and His purpose will indeed be met.

I think it no coincidence for the words that follow this declaration….

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you, all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown…”  Isaiah 55:12-13

Might that be part of His purpose? Yes, my friends, I think so. In the year 2016, we know even more of God’s word than the people of Isaiah’s time–we’ve seen the Christ! We know the rest of the story. As Christians, we know that God’s word should lead us to joy, peace, and worship. We do not always receive it that way though. Jesus knew this and he gave us a great lesson in Matthew 13 to help us understand the role we play in receiving God’s word.

Hearts of Good Soil Plus Other Types

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, the seed fell among several different situations:

  1. Seed fell on the path, and was eaten up by birds.
  2. Seed fell on rocky places without much soil. These seeds sprouted but had no room to take root with such shallow soil, and s0 were scorched and withered by the sun.
  3. Seed fell among thorns, which choked the plants as they grew.
  4. Seed fell on good soil, and produced a crop even greater than what was sown.

Jesus ended this with the moral of the story being, “He who has ears, let him hear.”

 

Of course, the disciples wanted more explanation. (I’m glad they did because I appreciate the further details Jesus gave them in response!)

  1. Seed on the path — When anyone hears God’s word but does not understand it. The evil one comes and snatches what was sown in his heart.
  2. Seed on the rocky places — The man who hears the word and at first receives it in joy but doesn’t have any root. Then when persecution and hard times come, he quickly falls away.
  3. Seed among the thorns — The man who hears God’s word, but the worries of his life and deceitfulness of wealth choke him and he is unfruitful.
  4. Seed on good soil — The man who hears AND understands God’s word. He is fruitful and produces a crop yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.

 

A Mixture of Soils

As a I look at these different spots for the seed to go, I know there have been times in my life where I’ve been in all of those places. Times when my lack of understanding drew me further away from truth, or caused my devotion to give way when temptation came upon me. There have also been times when I didn’t understand the greater picture of God’s word, and the troubles of life spoke louder than the peaceful and joyful truth. All of that comes from not truly understanding God’s word.

I can not help but think of Isaiah 52:12-13 (above) as I reflect on the seed sown on good soil. When we open our mind and heart to hearing and understanding God’s word we will be full of purpose, joy, and peace. Our lives will be productive in glorifying God, unlike the seed on the rocky places or the seed among the thorns.

The farmer sowed seed for a purpose: to produce a plentiful crop. Only the good soil was able to fulfill that purpose. In the same way, God has an intended purpose for us, but unless our hearts are like the good soil we won’t be able to fulfill it.

 

matt 13

 

What type of soil are you in right now?

Are you prepared to hear and understand all God’s word has to offer you?

Hearing and understanding God’s Word will help us find joy and peace, and when our heart is in the right place, it will also compel us to be fruitful believers.

His Word gives us purpose. 

Oh, how I long to be good soil. I want my life to echo Paul’s cry in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “His grace to me was not without effect.” I want to not just hear God’s word but understand it and live it out.

Father God,

You are so wonderful to us. Thank you for giving us your Word! Help us to have hearts of good soil–to truly hear and understand your Word so that we might fulfill your purpose for us. Help us to find joy and peace in your Word, and may that stir us to worship and to live fruitful lives for your glory!

It’s in the name of Jesus Christ we pray, 

Amen

His word gives us purpose.

Words Matter: The Storeroom of Our Hearts

Words Matter: The Storeroom of Our Hearts

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

Do you ever find yourself speaking before you think? I’m quite guilty of this habit, and it’s gotten me into trouble many times.

“I tell you that on that day of judgement people will have to account for every careless word they speak.”

 

Matthew 12:36

Our words matter. 

Just before this verse we read: “For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Matthew 12:34b).

Our words are meant to be a reflection of our hearts. How often are we careful to make sure that our words reflect who we are in Christ Jesus? Jesus offers us much wisdom in this message as he lets us in on the secret to speaking what is good. He tells us that a good person produces good from his storeroom of good while an evil person produces evil from his storeroom of evil (verse 35).

What’s in your storeroom? 

If I’m honest, my storeroom can easily be filled with Netflix binges and social media. I’ve noticed that when I’m engrossed in these things I’m usually moody and not as pleasant for my family. I become distracted from my priorities and ineffective for kingdom work. The truth is, though, that God lives in me! Am I allowing my life to show Him to others?

When I fill my mind with scripture, prayer, and uplifting Christian music and books, I feel so much better. When God’s goodness saturates my heart, it spills over into my life. In difficult situations, I have better reactions. I am much more secure in who I am as a child of the Living God. I’m able to see the the people around me and more ready to serve.

If we fill our hearts with God’s goodness, it will spill over into our words and deeds. It’s important to remember that our actions do not hold. saving power. Only the grace of God saves us. How shall we respond to God’s grace? Through our words and deeds, we will show the light of Christ to others.

Our words matter. 

I want to pay better attention to the things I say, making sure that my words are not careless but full of grace and love. I want to make sure they reflect who dwells in me! This means that I need to make sure I’m staying in touch with God. This passage in Matthew has encouraged me to spend time more wisely, to take in less of the bad and more of God’s goodness.

So I ask you again, “What’s in your storeroom?” Is it full of the junk of this world, or the richness God has to offer? Do your words reflect the one who dwells in you?

Prayer over our Hearts

Father God,

You are the maker of our earth and the giver of all that is good. Oh, that we might know you! May we fill our minds and our hearts with your goodness. May we embrace your spirit in us and be fruitful. Help us to shine the light of Christ near and far so that your kingdom might grow for your glory. 

In the name of Jesus, Amen 

 

 

 

 

The Quiet Bag “How To”

The Quiet Bag “How To”

Tracy Watts

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

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A few weeks ago, a post of mine about “The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag” was reposted. It really sparked my thinking.

I have been immensely blessed in my life with several older moms who have shared their wisdom, experience, and humor with me. They have done so with grace, with understanding, and with much love. They help keep me grounded and they help keep me going, even when it seems I will be swallowed by dishes, dirty laundry, and discipline!

I asked several of them the practical “how-to” of putting together a quiet bag for little ones. The following is a compilation of their wisdom and one or two ideas of mine:

The Quiet Bag

  • Do only put quiet items in there. (The noise-making trucks and dolls that cry are mesmerizing to kids, but are like your cell phone ringing–they only ever make noise during the quietest point of worship!)
  • Do switch it out monthly. (Everyone gets bored with the same stuff.)
  • Do store it in a place where your child can’t play with it during the week. (That way, by Sunday, those items are “new” and therefore more exciting.)
  • Do try to wait to open it till the sermon (or perhaps the Lord’s Supper. When my little guy was younger, I would have a special book and fun jewelry for him to look at during the Lord’s Supper and then would open his special quiet bag during the sermon). Don’t waste your bag of tricks until you really need it!
  • If your child has a snack mid-morning, do include a snack in your quiet bag! Just make sure that it is easy to clean up. There WILL be spills. Often on yourself.
  • Try to include things that are church- or God-oriented if you can. (This doesn’t always work, but if you have some Bible board books, it is great to get your little one thinking about Godly things and associating God with worship time!)
  • Do have everything prepared BEFORE Sunday morning. That saves your sanity as well as your time. Somehow, Sunday mornings don’t seem to have as much time in them as other days of the week!
  • Don’t feel bad if your kid doesn’t like what you put in there! He/she is a person too, with their own likes and dislikes. Just switch out the items for something they enjoy more.

Items you could include in your quiet bag

  • Coloring book and crayons
  • Stickers and notepad
  • Fake wallet (It may be unwise to hand them your actual driver’s license and debit card!)
  • Books
  • Soft toys/stuffed animals
  • Lacing cards
  • Mirrors
  • Jewelry
  • Snacks
  • Aquadoodle
  • EtchaSketch
  • Puzzles
  • Items that button, zip, or snap (an old wallet, old Bible cover, etc.)

 

What would you add? God bless you and your littles as you train them to know and worship God!

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

Latest posts by Kristin J (see all)

With my little baby bundled up in the back seat, we started the drive to the allergy clinic downtown. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Our little one hadn’t been doing so well, and we’d been working with a GI doctor and her pediatrician to figure out what it was her body didn’t like. I was scared and uncomfortable with the process. Uncomfortable with what we might find out. Uncomfortable with what we wouldn’t find out. And frustrated. So, so frustrated that my baby girl was having to go through this.

I was trying to pray, but I wasn’t sure what to pray for. I’d been praying so much for our sweet girl and her troubles. What could I possibly say right now, as we were nearing this critical appointment? About as soon as I had these thoughts I heard this song playing on the radio:

“And I know any second You could take my pain away, but even if you don’t, I pray

Help me want the healer more than the healing.

Help me want the Savior more than the saving.

Help me want the giver more than the giving.

Oh, help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

I burst into tears as I felt God’s arms around me in that moment.

The song went on to talk about the weakness we face on our own and the feeling of overwhelm we can feel from our burdens. It helped me realize that God has already done everything that we need, no matter the circumstance we face.

He sent Jesus. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 

Isn’t that all that really matters? Of course, in our humanness we forget. We become consumed by our circumstances and it’s not enough. This is nothing new for our generation.

God’s Presence is Enough

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the first few books of the Bible lately. Oh, the Israelites–how easy it is for us to judge them! This group of Hebrew slaves has been known through the ages for their complaints. God delivered them, but again and again their struggles consumed them and they started to question God. Their struggles were very real, by the way. Can you even imagine being in their place? Wandering about for years, facing the harsh realities of the desert, and going through foreign lands? Their complaints and questioning frustrated God. God wanted them to understand that his presence with them was enough. He would sustain their needs. He wanted them to trust him.

Why is this so hard? Why do we act like God is never enough? 

Trusting God is Enough

Thankfully, our God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows our weakness. In our faith, we can cast our burden on him (Psalm 55). He hears us and cares for us. We must remember, though, that our true battle is already won. Our hope is not in answered prayers, but in God. So through our struggles, may we want to be drawn closer and closer to the Lord. May we remember the love he has bestowed on us and find peace.

That day, I met my fears head on as I faced the situation I’d been dreading: peanut allergy, among other things. Our family entered a new reality that day, one I still don’t like. I pray boldly, asking God to take this burden away from us, to protect and heal our daughter. While I pray, though, I understand that even more than this, I want God to stay close with us. I want to remember what He’s already done for me. I want to praise Him still, knowing that come what may, He is God, the blood of Christ saved me, and victory is mine. 

Remember God is With You

Whatever struggles you are facing, I encourage you to take hold of the big picture. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) I will end this post with Natalie Grant’s song “More Than Anything.” I hope this beautiful song comforts you and reminds you of God’s presence and redeeming love.

 

 

The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag

The Secret to a Successful Quiet Bag

Tracy Watts

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

Latest posts by Tracy Watts (see all)

You’re in the middle of worship. The entire church has their heads bowed in fervent, quiet prayer when suddenly your kid erupts like a verbal volcano and discovers that your previously vetted out and carefully chosen toy can be:


  • whacked noisily against the pew in front of you,
  • launched like a Cuban missile onto the other side of the auditorium,or
  • just in general be likened to an explosion of sound and excitement.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt that mixture of panic, frustration, and embarrassment. These things never seem to happen in the middle of a great, noisy, swelling song, only during Communion or a prayer! So what’s the secret to making your quiet bag a success? I’m here with the answers. Maybe…

Grace

Pack in grace for yourself. Grace for your kid. Grace knowing that no matter how hard you try or how well you prepare, you can’t always be perfect or utterly quiet or completely still. And that’s OK.

I’m not saying to let your kid run loose on Sunday morning while throwing him goldfish in the middle of the sermon. But I am saying that it’s OK if neither you or your kid are perfect. Give yourself the grace that you would extend to other moms. And find peace in the fact that God sees your efforts and will reward them.

Patience

I know. This is like a dirty word with Christians. The problem with praying for patience is that you get it, right?

But you’ll need it. You need lots and lots and lots of patience to quiet your kids, to miss yet another chunk of the worship service, to smile instead of strangle.

Patience is knowing that you’re doing this for the end game. Nobody in their right mind says, “Boy, that mother of two toddlers and a baby is coming to church and just filling her spiritual cup to overflowing.”

patience

What she’s doing is showing her kids that even when it’s hard for her, even when it’s not ideal for her, even when she may only get five minutes out of the worship service–it is still the most important thing to do. There is nothing more important than going to worship the Creator of the Universe. To give Him the praise and adoration He deserves. And to teach our kids to do the very same.

A Sense of Humor

This is, perhaps, the key to surviving not just a worship service, but motherhood in general! Laughing at the crazy, the ludicrous, and the full moon coming out in your kid (and perhaps you!) is the best way to relieve your stress.

It’s OK to find it funny when your son has a poopsplosion in the middle of opening prayer. And It’s OK to giggle when he happily shares his now-slimy cheerios with the little widow you chose to sit next to this morning. Finding joy in these moments is perfectly OK!

Without joy, you’ll turn into a little ball of stress–and that’s no fun for anyone.

So this Sunday, good luck! And good mothering!

proverbs-22_6

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