5 Important Lessons from Ants

5 lessons to learn from ants!

I love ants.  Weird, right?  They are fascinating creatures!  If you ever get an opportunity to see a Discovery channel show on them check it out.  These little guys can care up to seven times their own body weight!  Not to mention the complex communities they set up where each ant plays a role.  They’re incredible!

Go to the ant...

Proverbs 6:6-8 says, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.”

This is a verse I memorized years ago and is still convicting every time I read it or think about it.  And of course I think about it every time I see an ant.

5 Lessons from an Ant: 

  • – Ants take the shortest path possible.  Don’t wander – be intentional.
  • – Ants communicate with each other to reach a desired goal.  Communicate – don’t assume.
  • – Ants cooperate with one another.  Be friendly and helpful.
  • – Ants aren’t lazy.  Don’t be slothful.
  • – Ants plan ahead.  If ants plan ahead and they only have somewhere near a 60 day lifespan, shouldn’t we?

The ants pictured above were making their way across my porch earlier this week and every time I went outside I was reminded that the Bible calls me a sluggard. Quite accurately I might add.  Sure I could make the defense that I’m always busy – because I am.  Or that my mind never slows down – because it doesn’t.  However, I’m quite lazy.

I avoid doing things that I dislike doing or things that require more effort.  Whether that’s ironing clothes or having an uncomfortable but needed conversation.  I procrastinate and stay busy with other things.  Right now, I need to be planning VBS that is happening way. too. soon!  Could I have done it earlier?  Yes.  Did I over the past few months ever have an uninterrupted two hour block of time during the day where I could sit down and do it?  Of course not.  But I could have done it.  I should have done it but I chose the easy road.

Wanna know a secret?  The easy road always looks easy but once you get on it, it turns into the hard road.  The hard road on the other hand looks hard but once you get on it, it turns out to be easy.  The easy road is deceptive.  It’s a liar.  It’s the way of destruction, poverty, starvation, and desperation.  It’s the way to financial ruin, wasted days, wasted weeks, wasted months, wasted years, and well, wasted lives.  The hard road which seems to be difficult is actually the road to prosperity, blessing, fulfillment, happiness, and personal satisfaction.  The hard road is the bumpy path that leads you to the top while the easy road is a slippery slope that leads you to the bottom.  The only road that goes to the top is the hard road.  It’s tough at first but it’s the only road that will get you to where you want to be.

I’m not saying to be a work-a-holic, to spend yourself till there’s nothing left, or to work 80+ hours a week.  As a mom I know it’s easy to feel defeated at the end of, well, every day.  I feel like with each day that passes I’m a little more behind on laundry, or housework, or corresponding with loved ones, etc.  That’s a whole other post but the point I’m trying to make is don’t waste your life.

Don’t waste your life!

Especially on the things that won’t matter one iota next year.  Get up and do something with the opportunities that God has placed before you.  Whatever you do, do to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31).  Use your intelligence {ha! I have to share that I misspelled this word but spell-check saved me!}.  Where was I?  Okay, use your intelligence, your passions, your gifts, your resources, and do something.  Do it with all your might!  In the words of my third grade teacher, Mrs. Franklin, “Don’t just twiddle your thumbs!”  Dear friend, life is happening, don’t let it pass you by.

What is it that you know you need to do this week that has been left undone in your life? It will probably take you less than five seconds to answer that question. I’ve already answered the question in my own life. Now that you know what it is, name it.  Write it down.  Tell a friend for accountability.  Leave it in the comments below if you want. Plan it out. Schedule it on your planner. Most importantly, do it. This week. No excuses.

Nature Has a Way

Nature has a way

Nature has a way of removing the complexities of life.  That’s so true, isn’t it?

This merry-go-round of life has been whirling ferociously lately and taking a moment to sit in the sun has helped tremendously.  It’s amazing what a little grass between your toes can do!

I hope you have a wonderful relaxing Mother’s Day whether you’re a mom, daughter, or son.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Dressed and Draped

This post is written from my long time friend, Angela.  I hope it will be a blessing to you.

Overwhelmed with Joy

“I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For He has dressed me with the clothing of salvation, and draped me in a robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10 (NLT)

He has dressed me.

My granddaughters are at the age that they enjoy dressing their dolls. In fact, two of the younger ones enjoy dressing up everything…, themselves, stuffed animals, the dog…! And they want everyone to see how BEAUTIFUL their “dirls” look (that’s three year old Lily talk for ‘girls’) with EVERY outfit! Such fun.

I get overwhelmed easily. I write quite a bit about being overwhelmed. But this overwhelmed is a good thing! It’s being overwhelmed with joy in the Lord, my God. Let’s break it down.

Overwhelmed —with JOY!
Overwhelmed with joy —-IN THE LORD!
Overwhelmed with joy in the Lord MY GOD!

Why?? What has me overwhelmed?
He has dressed me.
HE…THE LORD MY GOD…has dressed me.
He has dressed me with THE CLOTHING OF SALVATION!
He has draped me in a ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Thinking of my God delighting in dressing me the way my granddaughters delight in dressing their dolls just gave me a whole new perspective on this truth. I know salvation is of the Lord. It is definitely more about Him than it is about me, I just enjoy the benefits of His great salvation. But thinking of how it delights the Father to dress me in His clothing of salvation, to imagine Him draping me with His robe of righteousness, well, it does something to me.

I remember the way my Dad looked at me on my wedding day, seeing me standing there in Mama and Daddy’s bedroom in my gown. He teared up and couldn’t say much, just that I was beautiful, that he loved me, and that I would always be his little girl. Then, “It’s time to go.” He may not even remember it. It was 35 years ago, but I remember it still. It brings a smile to my face, and when he is gone it will likely bring a tear to my eye, and overwhelm me with joy.

That’s sort of what I felt when I read this verse and really gave it some thought, picturing a loving Father embracing me with His love this way. I am overwhelmed with joy. The Lord my God has personally clothed me with His salvation and draped me in His robe of righteousness. Maybe you don’t have that kind of relationship with an earthly father; you can’t picture this kind of tender moment. I’m sorry. But I want you to know that God loves you that way. He aches to have you experience the depth of that kind of love, one that would get personally involved in your life, and give you of Himself all He has to offer. Believe me, once you grasp it, it with overwhelm you with joy too.

To read more from Angela visit her at her blog AngieGrams.  If you enjoyed this post leave Angela a comment to say so or pin this post on Pinterest to share with others!

Overwhelmed with Joy!

Faith – No Thicker Than a Spider’s Web

It's the strength of the anchor

“If your faith is fixed on Christ, though it seems to be in itself a line no thicker than a spider’s web, it will hold your soul throughout time and eternity.  For remember it is not the thickness of this cable of faith, it is the strength of the anchor which imparts strength to the cable, and so shall hold your ship in the midst of the most fearful storm.” – Charles Spurgeon

I absolutely love this quote!  It’s from the book called The Spurgeon Series 1859 & 1860 written by Charles Spurgeon, Larry Pierce, & Marion Pierce.  You can buy the Kindle edition on Amazon for $5.99.

This saving faith is more than just an acknowledgment of facts, it consists of mental, emotional, and volitional elements.  Charles Stanley says, “Believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, a living person, for the forgiveness of sin and trusting Him because He provides eternal life with God. It isn’t enough to simply believe in the actions of Jesus Christ or the abilities of God. True saving faith is more than that; it is a personal relationship with the Savior.”  John MacArthur has said, “True faith hears, believes, and actively responds.”

Dear friend, I hope you can have the joy of rejoicing in your salvation today.  If you’ve never put your trust in Christ to save you, take a few minutes to read over these truths about man and God:

  • – God designed and created the universe and all that is within it, and it is by His power that everything holds together. Colossians 1:16-17
  • – God is perfect in all areas and completely without sin. Psalm 96:9
  • – God designed mankind in His own image to reflect His glory. Genesis 1:27
  • – Mankind chose to disobey their Creator and by doing so brought sin’s curse upon the earth and eternally separated them from the One who created them. Genesis 3,Romans 5:12-13
  • – Because of sin’s curse, and my sin, I am born separated from God and deserving of His everlasting punishment. Romans 2:12Romans 3:10-12Romans 6:23
  • – God’s Son Jesus Christ came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on the cross to pay sin’s penalty, and rose again on the third day defeating sin and death. Romans 5:6-10I Corinthians 15:3-4
  • – By turning to Christ from our sin and trusting in His work on the cross alone to save us from our sin, God imparts Christ’s righteousness on our behalf and we are freely given eternal life with Him. He gives us the power to enjoy fellowship with Him and live a life that is pleasing to Him. Romans 5:1-2Romans 3:23-24John 3:16-17

If you have questions about God or salvation, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me at MrsAshleyWalkup @ gmail.com.  I would love to discuss this life changing truth with you!

30 Days of Giving Challenge

Do you have a giving heart or would you like to cultivate one?  Then join me in the 30 Day Giving Challenge!

30 Days of Giving Challenge

I’ve participated in this challenge for the past four years and each year it blesses me in unspeakable ways!

Here’s the deal:

The challenge is to give something to someone everyday in November.  The gifts can be anything given to anyone…money, food, old clothes, crafts, your time, or even kind words.  I would love to have my readers join me in this challenge.  The way I see it, even if I don’t give something every single day it will probably would still be more than I normally would have given any other month…and that’s worth it, right?

You can follow my giving progress here on Embracing Grace but I’m interested in ways that you’re giving.  Feel free to comment on this post with posts you’ve written on your own blog about the challenge, links to tweets, or Facebook messages showing your giving.  If you’re sharing on social media feel free to use the hashtag #30Days2Give so myself and others can follow you, share your posts, and gather new ideas for ways to give.

Here are some of the gift ideas I’ve came up with so far:

  • donate can goods to a local food pantry
  • donate new toys in your gift drawer or closet to Toys for Tots
  • make and deliver a meal to a grieving family or a family with a sick loved one
  • donate a couple of hours of free babysitting for new parents
  • rake up the leaves in an elderly friend’s house
  • clean out your closets to donate to GoodWill or the Salvation Army
  • give few more dollars in the plate at church
  • prepare a gift for those new to the neighborhood
  • send a letter and a box of non-perishable goodies to a soldier
  • have the kids make and mail cards to missionaries
  • put together a shoe box (or a couple) for Operation Christmas Child
Plus, check out my Gift Ideas & Gift Wrapping Pinterest board for cute and clever gift ideas and ways to wrap them.

So what do you say, are you up for the challenge?  I do hope you’ll join me!!

In the depth of human suffering…

In the depth of human suffering
In the depth of human suffering we discover the reality of God.  It’s here we learn to cry Abba Father.  It’s the cry we make when we can make no other cry.  I’ve felt a little like this lately, okay, a lot like this.  Not so long ago I struggled with things.  Things that are hard to put into words.  Day in and day out I try to meld my internal struggles, eternal truth, and hopefully the product of that will be a life that is honoring to God.  Recently my thoughts became overwhelming.  Crushing.  They stole my happiness.

My to-do list became more than I could bear.  My morning sickness didn’t let up no matter what I tried.  I was tired.  Emotionally and physically exhausted.  The emails and calls of people who were counting on me for this or that slowly drowned in the background of a huge white static.  I don’t know where this static came from but it overpowered my thoughts and replaced them with a feeling that I can only describe as a numb feeling.  I distanced myself from my blogs, from email, and from most phone calls.  I lost a ridiculous amount of money because I didn’t follow through on several campaigns I had said that I would complete.  I wasn’t myself.  I wasn’t faithfully serving God.  I was barely providing food for my family.

I prayed, and prayed, and prayed.  I didn’t even cry because I was numb.  I think professionals might say that I was experiencing “burnout.”  I’ve been stressed out before but I’ve never been burntout at all.  Before experiencing it I thought burnout was just something someone said when they were over committed and decided to quit several things at once.

I went to the She Speaks conference just as I had planned to go even though my heart wasn’t in it.  My husband’s high school reunion was the same weekend so I tried to get out of it the conference and give my ticket to my pastor’s wife but my husband insisted that I go.  I packed my bags to meet a roommate I didn’t know, mentally prepared myself to kindly force myself in dozens of conversations because I didn’t know another lady there (except a few hosting the event which I thought were surely too busy for me this weekend), and braced myself to walk much more than my pregnant body wanted to.

The conference was lovely, well decorated, ran smoother than any conference I’ve ever been to, and had incredibly friendly staff to help out at every turn.  Before the conference was over God broke my heart and gave me my happiness back.  I don’t know what it was that changed my heart.  It was probably a combination of things that God perfectly orchestrated to bring me back to Him.  I’m thankful for God’s love and that He lifted the fog from around me.  I don’t know why God allowed me to go through that and maybe I’ll never know on this side of eternity.

Truthfully, I feel pretty foolish sharing this with you and pouring my heart out as tears stream down my face.  I’m not even sure this makes sense really but I was challenged at the conference to share with my readers the “real” side of me.  I don’t exactly put up a facade on any of my blogs, at least I try not too but I do avoid sharing the embarrassing, not so fabulous moments of my life.  I’ve always thought that if I could share happy things things then I would be uplifting you and encouraging you.  Almost as if I could protect you from the bad things in life.  Saying that now I can see how foolish that way of thinking was.  I don’t want to follow someone who is perfect or pretends to have it all together.  I would much rather follow someone who goes through tragedies and comes out on the other side more in love with their God than before.

I’ve thought a lot about sharing this post with you since the conference and the other day it dawned on me…How can I identify with those who are suffering when I want to put my best face on and pretend that I’m not suffering?  To do so is to violate what we find in the NT.  Multiple times Paul talked about how we can have joy in our trials.  Joy can exist contemporaneously with tears and with sadness.  It’s not a joy that says I’m so joyful that I don’t cry but  it’s the strange paradox that says even though tears are streaming down my face I know there is a joy that transcends what I’m experiencing.

I think one of the challenges we face, as those who profess to be followers of Jesus, is the challenge to show the world how to be sad.  At least I know I struggle with this.  I’ve never given this much thought until this until my recent circumstances and conversations with godly women who shared their struggles with me at the conference.  Christians seem to have it backwards when we think the way to be spiritual is to say that “Everything is okay, I’m not sad.”  If someone’s mom just died and they said that they weren’t sad but joyful because of where she is I would think they were either crazy or lying.  While joy may still be present, sadness is there too.  Sorrowing in the reality of joy isn’t a marginalized suffering.  Grief is grief.  Sadness is sadness.  Nicholas Wolterstorff once said, “Grief is existential testimony to the worth of the one loved.  That worth abides.”  Grief, sorrow, and tears are all things that we have to experience on this earth but I find it very comforting to know that The Comforter has experienced them too.  He loves me and can give me indescribable peace.  He loves you too!

Every Knee Shall Bow

He left His throne in paradise to meet man’s greatest need,
Yet the Savior was rejected and led to Calvary,
With their eyes they saw, with their ears they heard,
But their hearts could not believe,
That a simple man, a carpenter, could be the King of kings.
By a sinful race full of unbelief He was nailed upon a tree,
Yet the day will come when the clouds will part,
And every doubt will flee.

Still today the world rejects Him and mocks His precious name,
But the day is quickly coming when evil will not reign,
All our tears will be forgotten,
All our wrong at last made right,
When He comes to call His chosen ones to everlasting light.

The trump will sound, the dead be raised,
The truth will be made known
Every eye will see, every ear will hear,
When we kneel before His throne.

And every eye shall see Him in His awesome majesty,
Every nation shall worship at His feet,
And every tongue at last confess Him,
When He comes to claim His own,
And every knee shall bow before His throne.

Bridget Shevvy

Walk in Kindness

Walk in Kindness

As our Wednesday AWANA ministry was coming to a close a few ladies and I gathered talking.  While the kids were scurrying to their buses one lady, let’s call her June, was graciously handing out her famous homemade cookies to every child and adult.  She must have made hundreds.  As June moved out of earshot one of the ladies sneered, “She’s too nice.”

Since that evening, I’ve spent hours thinking about those words, “She’s too nice.”  What June was doing for everyone, including an ungrateful woman, was living out the fruit of the Spirit, kindness.  In my opinion, one of the highest compliments a woman can receive is to be described as “too nice.”  If someone ever says that of you, you can know that you are truly exhibiting the Spirit’s fruit!

Just as God is kind, Christians are to be kind, too.  The apostle Paul warns Christians in Eph. 4:25-32 to avoid conduct that grieves the Holy Spirit and hurts the heart of God.  This includes several forms of meanness, specifically bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking.  As we banish these from out lives we are to “be kind one to another” (verse 32).  God tells us in Col. 3:2 to “put on a heart of kindness.”  As we remove meanness, we should put on kindness in each of our relationships.

Imagine if your home, church, or office removed bickering and instead overflowed with kindness.  In 2 Tim. 2:24, Paul exhorts Christians to not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all.  When we argue or quarrel we’re not living according to the new nature but instead the old man.  In Gal. 5:20 God lists strife, disputing, and dissension as evil deeds of the flesh.

There is a lady in the Bible, named Dorkus, who God described as a woman “abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did” (Acts 9:36).  She had sewn garments for the widows (verse 39).  She saw a need and she filled it.

Jesus, our perfect example was “the kindness of God” in flesh (Titus 3:4).  The Gospels tell us that Jesus was moved with compassion as He looked upon the hungry multitude of people.  The disciples weren’t concerned with the needs (Luke 9:12-13) but the God of all creation was.  Isn’t that humbling?  Oh, for the grace to be more like Jesus!

As we spiritually prepare ourselves for battle each morning we need to ask God to work in our hearts.  We should pray for God to help us notice, care, and encourage the people He brings into our lives.

This week:

  • -Pray for greater love and compassion for others.
  • -Look for opportunities to ease someone’s burden and then go out of your way to be “too nice.”  What would make your spouse’s life easier?  Your children’s?  Or your coworkers’? What could you do to make their day brighter?
  • -Study the life of Jesus for more examples of kindness.  Journal the instances you find and take note of the circumstances surrounding His kindness.
  • -Pray for your enemies (Luke 6:28).  You can’t genuinely be kind to a person you hate and you can’t hate a person you’re praying for.

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Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine!

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight!
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission–all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watchng and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915