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Category: Inspiration

To My Steadfast Son

To My Steadfast Son

Dear Steven,

Thirty years ago, the LORD blessed me with you. You were a beautiful baby with lots of dark hair and I fell in love with you the moment I saw you. As you grew into toddlerhood, you laughed loudly and played hard. I can never recall you being mean to anyone since you were so tenderhearted from a very young age even towards your siblings. Your heart was as big as your personality! You loved to cuddle and were so affectionate. When you were sick all you wanted to do was to sit on my lap and be rocked. I treasure those sweet memories. You were eager to please us and were a delightful little boy.

As you grew, you didn’t seem to care much about fitting in if it meant compromising your values that came from the LORD. You seemed to have an eternal vision from a young age that you clung to even during the “turbulent” teen years. I was so thankful that such a great looking and talented guy could walk so faithfully with the LORD. You were wise beyond your years and I praise the LORD for His goodness to us.

Whatever you were involved with, you gave 100%. Coaches, teachers, and even the headmaster loved you because of this. You recognized the need for authority in your life and never rebelled against it. All those around you respected you because of this and you were an amazing role model to many of a person who was sold out to Jesus. I am sure you have planted many seeds in all the people who have known you throughout your life. The LORD gifted you with many talents and you have used them for good and for His Kingdom. I love how your favorite Bible verse in high school was “He shall increase and I shall decrease.” It showed what kind of a man you wanted to be. Jesus always before and at the center.

When I was so sick, you were the one who seemed to care the most. (I know your siblings cared a lot but they didn’t seem to know how to express it like you did.) The first time I had to go to the ER and found out I had a brain tumor you came to the hospital every night after a full day of school and sports practice to see me . One night, I was too sick for you to come see me and you felt so badly. Even after my second brain surgery, you came all the way up to USC to see me because you cared. When you were home from college, you’d fix my meals and do anything I asked of you. You have such a generous and servant’s heart to help others.

Now as a young adult, married, with a child and a career, you continue to walk with the LORD. You’ve carried a large load of responsibility on your shoulders ever since you were young but seem to do it with ease. “To whom much is given, much is expected” and you have worn this great responsibility well. I know you have been under a lot of stress throughout your life because of this but you are a born leader and a good one. This world is a much better place because you live in it.

I’m sure that when you one day meet your Savior face-to-face, He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.” There really is no greater joy than to have your children walking in truth. You have brought so much joy to my life and I love you deeply.

Your Mom

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.
Proverbs 23:24, 25

Pictures By Brookshiere Creative

My Six Year Blogging Anniversary

My Six Year Blogging Anniversary

About twelve years ago, I led several groups of women through Created to Be His Help Meet. After this, I began mentoring women one-on-one. I became involved in our large church’s mentoring program and they sent me the women in the most difficult marriage situations. Ken and I then began mentoring couples who were engaged or planning on becoming engaged through the same church. I mentored women by phone, email, and in person. I love mentoring women!

One young woman lived with a neighbor friend and began coming to church with us every week. She was rebellious to the ways of the Lord but she loved coming to church with us every week and then coming to our home afterwards where my entire family would gather for Sunday dinner and have fun conversation. She would sit there watching and listening. A week before she left to go back home across the country, she believed in Jesus Christ as her Savior. I didn’t want to lose contact with her because I knew she needed more mentoring in the ways of the Lord.

Right after she left, which was six years ago today, I came downstairs early the next morning and decided I would begin a blog so I could mentor her through this blog. I thought a second for a name and I came up with Always Learning and began writing. This was my first post:

I had a light bulb moment the other day.  I HATE it when Ken “criticizes” me…Other people can do it, but when he does my feathers get ruffled.  I was listening to a program the other day and the man was saying his wife had to realize that when he was correcting her, it was just that…correction, not criticism.  I thought, “WOW! I need to take Ken’s criticism as correction and learn from it!” 

I have such a need to be perfect that I needed to realize I’m far from perfect and listen to his correction and learn…My pride and ego get in the way.  Proverbs says a wise man listens to rebuke.  Iron sharpens iron.  Always learning…

 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Proverbs 9:8

I wrote every day even though I knew writing wasn’t my gift until a writer friend of mine told me to stop writing that I was not a good writer. She informed me that I am a great writer with a strong voice. “When I read your blog, it is like you are sitting across the table from me.” I was so encouraged by her words of praise so I continued on and enjoyed it.

Ken gave me the goal of trying to reach one hundred women who read my blog on a consistent basis but I thought that was impossible. The first time I was blasted by critical and mean comments, it frightened me but now I know this happens to all who speak the truth because they hate the Truth (God). I also get a lot of encouragement and praise. I love what Dennis Prager said about this: “I won’t let the compliments go to my head and I won’t let the criticisms go to my heart.” I know the compliments are only because I teach the Word of God and what He has to say to women so I give Him the glory. Not allowing the criticisms to go to my heart is more difficult at times but most of it is so mean and nasty that I understand clearly who the real Enemy (Satan) is behind it. This keeps it all in perspective!

God has blessed my small seeds planted and today I have a new blog, make YouTubes, published a book (which we have lowered to $9.95 for good), and am in the process of maybe writing another one. I have never been interested in doing all of this as a way to make money. Thankfully, Ken works very hard and is a good provider. I didn’t want to be beholden to advertisers. I want to speak Truth plainly and not be afraid of losing those who I advertise.

I continue to mentor women daily on my blog, in the chat room, by email, text, or however they find me. I always want to be available to any women who seek out my advice. I had seen these small blogs become enormous and if you tried to get a hold of the author of the blog, you’d receive a short note back saying she’s too busy to respond. I never wanted to be like that. How could I be a true mentor if I wasn’t willing to interact with the women I mentor?

God is good. I thank Him frequently for the ministry He has given me. My pituitary is in fact dying. I am starting on replacement hormones now but my tumor hasn’t begun to grow again so that’s great news. In spite of my fragile health, God has given me a way to continue mentoring women, which I love. Thank you for many of your emails, letters, and texts encouraging me, supporting me, sharing your stories of your transformed marriages that always cause me to tear up and will never get old, and especially praying for me. It continually amazes me to see how great the Lord’s ways are and how transforming they are on all who believe and are renewed by studying His truth.

O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 107:1

From Lesbian Feminist to Godly Femininity

From Lesbian Feminist to Godly Femininity

Written By Emily Thomes

Recently I came across the photo on the left and did a double take. The girl in that photo, with her hollow eyes and hopeless heart, no longer bears any resemblance to me. She was dead in her sin (Eph. 2:1). (To be clear, I am not saying everyone who looks like the girl on the left is dead in sin, or that everyone who looks like the girl on the right is not. Spiritual reality runs far deeper.)

I was always the type to push boundaries. Even as a child, I never really had a moderate pace. I tried everything once but most things at least twice for my own curiosity. Growing up in a small town, there wasn’t much to do, and I acted out often. In high school, I met my need for attention by constantly “going against the grain,” but in a way that maintained my popularity. I partied, slept around, and by 15 I came out as a lesbian to some friends.

By the time I was a young adult, I fully embraced the LGBT label. I cut my hair short, wore boy clothes, and used men’s bathrooms and dressing rooms. I enjoyed the thrill of doing and being what was outside the norm—trying harder drugs, exploring even more taboo sexual acts, and getting a couple of regrettable tattoos.

By 22, I had settled down a little. Shock value, though still something I enjoyed, was a lower priority. While still smoking weed and having sex with women, I maintained an outward appearance of morality. I considered myself a good person; I worked full-time, loved my friends, and usually balanced my budget. Family relationships were improving, and I was finally attempting to lead a relatively respectable life.

Surprised by Attributes

In March 2014, a group of coworkers started a Bible study and invited me to join. Because my aunt was part of the group, I agreed to participate. I actually considered myself a Christian at that point, though I had no desire to read God’s Word, let alone conform my life to his will. I told myself that at the first mention of my “lifestyle” I’d quit the study, and I felt pretty confident that moment would come.

The book we studied was on the attributes of God. For the first time I was confronted by the justice, holiness, and sovereignty of God. The more I read and understood, the bigger God became and the smaller I felt. I knew what the Bible said about homosexuality and other things, but I hadn’t cared before. I had little understanding of the God I was sinning against.

This study was slowly shifting my perspective. I would catch myself, just before falling asleep, questioning who I was and why I made these choices. I asked myself, Am I sure that gay behavior is as much of my identity as my gender or my race? But I’d wake up and laugh and say, Of course you can embrace your homosexuality—that’s who you are! It felt like I was almost convincing myself it was okay to continue on that way.

Two weeks later, a friend (also a lesbian) waited for me at my apartment after work to smoke marijuana and hang out as usual. After we smoked, I asked her, “What if they’re right?” She knew I was doing the study and understood immediately what I meant and said, “I don’t want to talk about it.” I pushed further. “We have to. If this is true, we need to talk now and not later.” She left soon after, so I picked up my book and read.

That evening, I read a chapter describing a “salad bar religion,” where you pick and choose parts of different religions, combine them into one, and call that your belief system. The book made clear that such an approach isn’t following Jesus at all; that’s following yourself and calling it some other name. I realized I was doing just that. I believed the parts of the Bible that suited me but rejected the parts that didn’t. His Word wasn’t my guide or a light to my path; I merely claimed Christianity because I had grown up in the South and prayed occasionally.

‘Such Were Some of You’

This realization was like being struck by lightning. I searched for verses on homosexuality and found 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. I’d read these and other verses like them before. I’d argued against them to those who opposed me, but suddenly I could no longer argue. It was clear. I was in the “will not enter the kingdom of God” lineup. I was lost, wretched, and blatantly opposed to him. But the next verse said, “And such were some of you” (1 Cor. 6:11). Clearly, the Lord could save me. He’d extended his hand to me, the worst of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). I grasped his hand by faith, and I felt overwhelmingly awful and grateful. Although I’d ignored him and lived foolishly, he showed me mercy when I deserved nothing but justice.

My whole life changed that day. Homosexual practice and drug use were my most obvious sins, but there are many others he revealed and—continues to reveal—to me. I still battle same-sex attraction, pride, anger, and a slew of sins, but I trust he’ll complete the work he’s begun (Phil. 1:6). He’s also allowed me to be a wife, and one day, Lord willing, a mother. Two months ago—on the two-year anniversary of my conversion—I married the most Christlike man I’ve ever known.

The Lord has been so gracious to me. I’m grateful that he opened my eyes and saved me from the temporal and eternal consequences of my sins. He takes the worst of the worst and redeems them for his glory.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

The King and the Maiden

The King and the Maiden

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard told a parable about why God did what He did to show us His love.

Imagine there was a King who loved a humble maiden. She had no royal pedigree, no education, no standing in the royal court. She dressed in rags. She lived in a hovel; she lived the ragged life of a peasant. But for reasons no one could quite figure out, the King fell in love with this girl in the way the kings sometimes do. Why he should love her was beyond explaining, but love her he did, and he could not stop loving her.

One day there awoke in the heart of the King an anxious thought: “How in the world is he going to reveal his love to this girl? How could he bridge the chasm that separated the two of them?” His advisers, of course, told him that all he had to do was command her to become his queen, and it would be done. For he was a man of immense power, every statesman feared his wrath, every foreign power trembled before him, and every courtier groveled in the dust at the King’s voice.

This poor peasant girl would have no power to resist; she would have to become the queen!

But power, even unlimited power, cannot command love. The King could force her body to be present in the palace, but he could not force love to be present in her heart. He might be able to gain her obedience this way but coerced submission is not what he wanted. He longed for intimacy of heart and oneness of spirit, and all the power in the world cannot unlock the human heart—it must be opened from within.

So he met with his advisers once again and they suggested he try to bridge the chasm by elevating her to his position. He could shower her with gifts, dress her in purple and silk, and have her crowned the queen. But if he brought her to his palace, if he radiated the sun of his magnificence over her, if she saw all the wealth, pomp, and power of his greatness, then she would be overwhelmed. How would he ever know if she loved him for himself, or for all that he had given her? And how could she know that he loved her, and would love her still if she had remained only a humble peasant? Would she be able to summon confidence enough never to remember what the king only wished to forget—that he was the king and she had been a humble maiden?

Every alternative he came up with came to nothing. There was only one way. So one day the king arose, took off his crown, relinquished his scepter, laid aside his royal robes, and he took upon himself the life of a peasant. He dressed in rags, scratched out a living in the dirt, groveled for food, and dwelt in hovel.

He did not just take on the outward appearance of a servant, he became a servant–it was his actual life, his actual nature, his actual burden. He became as ragged as the one he loved so that she could be his forever. It was the only way. His raggedness became the very signature of his presence.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth.

John 1:14