We would love to share the foundation of our faith with you! We hope you find something on this page that helps you begin a journey, continue a quest, or reinforce your spiritual lifestyle.
Songs to the Soundtrack to Your Life
Hopefully the songs to your soundtrack are the kind that make you laugh, cry, dance and smile! One of the best ways to get your day started is to have a song that sets the mood, before a something has a chance to ruin it. Hey, Christian music doesn't have to be boring and slow. It shouldn't be depressing and operatic either. Rock, alternative, heartfelt stuff you can belt some lyrics to. Early on my journey I had a lot of misconceptions about what praise and worship music sounded like. Was it campy and tacky? Perhaps it was music that was trying to be the "real" thing, whatever that is. I had Pandora on my phone and typed in "Christian Rock" and "Alternative Christian music". The bands that came out were pretty cool. It was good music and wasn't hard to get into. I would peek at my phone to see the name of the song and the group, occasionally. Then a funny thing started to happen on my drives. I noticed that I was becoming more optimistic than before. That's not to say that my WHOLE life changed or that I became blissfully unaware of problems and that life was all sunny and perfect. Things were just a little lighter. Arriving at work and starting my day became a little easier. Getting home was a little nicer. The music was setting the mood for my day. That's when I made a conscience choice to keep it positive and edifying. When I was ready to step it up a bit I found many satellite and music apps that carried a variety of genera. Give it a chance. With apps like Spotify, Pandora, and K-Love, you're bound to find something that fits your personality and taste!
Grocery Lists, Prayerful Requests, and Giving Thanks
My mother has a habit of having a magnetic paper pad on the fridge door so that as items are used up, they are jotted down for the next trip to market. I also use this idea and it saves me from buying doubles and forgetting important things. One morning I went to pick up the kids and my mom showed me what my oldest had added to their weekend grocery list. He was attempting to sneak his requests in as though we wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Grandpa's penmanship and his. Two years later his spelling has drastically improved and now he knows that Cheetos is with a "t" and double "e". As you can tell my dad loves healthy food too. -wink- Regardless it got me thinking about the way we ask God for blessings and help. Are we just repeating prayers that we memorized and then attaching extra requests at the end or do our prayers have carefully thought out words that we allow our spirit to weave together as we speak to our Father? Just like the list, some of my boy's requests were acknowledged and others weren't. Grandma got milk and of course Doritos but we didn't accommodate the Cheetos part. I think our God also carefully chooses from our prayers which blessings he will bestow upon us based on timing and needs. Observing the list also makes me think about how we don't need intercession on our behalves to get our requests answered we can go straight to God himself. For instance my 7 year old wouldn't have given this list to his brother or me, but following Grandpas lead he went straight to the fridge so that Grandma could purchase these items. He went straight to the source itself through example. We should follow the lead of strong Christians as well, especially the most famous who wasn't Christian at all, Jesus! He always went straight to his father, revered his mother, respected his elders, but gave glory and praise to his father alone. All this from a simple list by a 7 year old? Yeah, it's at moments such as these that I feel our Father tries to open my eyes to beauty of his grace. We don't deserve anything on the list but he answers the requests anyway. Grace is being given something without deserving it. My mother was gracious enough to get my boy what he desired. So when our Father arrives with our grocery list of blessings what happens? Well we usually say thanks and get all excited and bask in the blessings. Are we as careful to word our thank you list as we did our requests or is it just, thanks for everything? I'm going to try to be more careful with my "Thank You's". I'm going to attempt to carefully word every "Thank You" as I do my requests. In fact I'm going to continue to start every prayer with a "thank you for..." before asking for anything else despite how desperate I am for a blessing. This may not seem like a challenge when everything's rosy but when it gets thick that's when I'm going to remember the grocery list. Every grocery list I made to God and every item he blessed me with!
Bible Book Basics
If you're like me a good book can be hard to find. I'm not a marathon reader, in fact my favorite books growing up were "Choose your own adventure" books because they were quick and to the point. On the topic of faith based books, there are many that claim to be for the body and soul. I'm sorry but a general can of chicken soup for everybody's soul is not the cure. I prefer prescribed spiritual medication to take care of my aching soul. Over the years I have stumbled upon some great reading and have been given some outstanding books. I enjoy the ones that could be picked up without a heavy needed commitment to stay glued for 2+ hours in order to get some results. I need a light literary snack of information and if it's good then I'll binge read my way through it. Basically if it doesn't grab me within 10 pages I'm outta there. First let me start out by saying you NEED a bible. Before you purchase any book that you feel might be the answer to all your problems you must start with the best one, the Holy Bible. I prefer the NIV version myself. If your asking "What the heck is that?" and "I thought there was only one kind of bible?", I'll answers that right now. NIV stands for New International Version, and No there isn't just ONE kind. Over the centuries scholars have had to interpret the written languages that these books were written in. For instance Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Peter are a few popular names that most people recognize from the bible. However, they lived anywhere from decades, centuries, to millennia apart from each other. The bible is a composite of many books that contain the entire history of Christians from the creation of everything to their roots in Judaism and our modern day foundation in Jesus Christ. There are instructions to help you with personal struggles, health, family, love, relationships, marriage, children, money... you get the picture. Pretty much every self-help shelf a the book store has a chapter that can be found in the Holy Bible, it has it ALL. It's possible to read it from cover to cover. In fact you'll find programs that help people read the bible in a year. I can't do that. I like using it as a reference tool. I strongly feel that it was meant for this purpose. If you read the bible as though it were a novel you're gonna miss out, get bored, and mess up. It's like a very expensive chocolate, it should be taken a bite at a time and savored not devoured! So how should one take on the task of breaking down the bible into bite size bits. You can start with buying a bible! Next learn the basics. It has two main chunks, The Old Testament (Before Jesus' birth) and the New Testament (Jesus birth and beyond). Within the two are a composite of books written by various peoples' accounts of historical events, family lineage of important people and witnesses, and instructions that have been given to us by God himself. Here is where many begin to doubt the authenticity and character of the book. How can a compilation of books written over several millennia in various languages from various tribes hold any validity through the ages? Well as a Christian we hold faith in the fact that though man may have penned the page, it was God who divinely inspired the word. Regardless of the language, tribe, and age, the bible in all its books NEVER negates itself. Literary scholars such as C. S. Lewis have studied it at great length and have found it to be an incredible library of divine beauty that is flawless in it's instruction over the thousands of years it was being compiled. So step one, buy a bible or the popular thing to do today, download the FREE software & app Olive Tree, comaptible for windows, Mac, Android, and iPhone. It can accompany you wherever you go. It offers so much, you can make notes, highlight, and even have two different pages open at the same time. It's great!! It even offers you the different versions such as the King James as well as the NIV. You can find the direct link below. With that being said we can move on to books that complement the bible.
It's ok to ask questions.
Many times when one begins a journey dispite being given as much information as possible, one still has questions. That is not only normal but a very healthy habit! When comfronted with questions by others and even my own regarding Christianity I have found one website that answers them completely and biblicaly. It's important that any questions you have about Christianity have answers that are backed up by the bible and NOT just man's opinion, GotQuestions.org does just that. It answers many of the questions we all have regarding our faith. No matter how difficult you think the questions might be the answers are always simple and straight forward with bible scripture to back it up. It's a must on your favorites. YOu can even sign up for their weekly email. Anything that helps with your spiritual walk with Christ is a plus! For more indepth answers some like to turn to books. There's notghing quite like curling up with a good book. So what are some books consider? Well, Beth Moore is an author you want to have on your list. She has written books that focus on faith and heart. Thanks to my siste in law Sarah, she introduced me to some of her books. I was able to purchase several from the internet, such as "Breaking Free, day by day". At some churches they even offer bible studies based on her wookbooks . See if your church offers any. She has books that range from specific areas in the bible such as David, Jesus and Esther, to needs such as forgivness, redeption, and praise. You won;t be disappointed with your choice. On books that address the roles of men and women, this can be a little tricky. One needs to acknowledge that there ARE differences between men and women and not just the obvious. Today's mentality is like the song. "Anything you can do I can do better...", this is simply NOT true. Women will ALWAYS have some things that they can do that men can't and vice a versa. It's NOT I repeat NOT a bad thing to embrace your strength and weakness of your gender! THe perfect book that allows a wife to grasp the concept that being submissive does not mean being a door mat is ," The Strong-Willed Wife: Using Your Personality to Honor God and Your Husband". It's great especially if you have a strong personality like mine. Before you dismiss this book in a huff, give it a gander. You'll be surprised at how it builds us up as women! It focuses on how strong willed women are an asset to their husbands as well as their families when they submit some actions and decisions to their husbands. When your husband feels cherished because you have built him up amazing things start to happen, the house becomes harmonious and all because of YOU! It's a book that teaches us to lighten our loads by placing some of the burdens on our husbands, and rightfully so. Husbands are in charge of making sure certain things get done, we can't do it all alone and we were never meant to Another book that helps women understand our partners more clearly is not written by Beth but has a forward by her. It's entitled "For Women Only" by Shaunti Feldman. It's a fantastic insight into the world of our men. I read this when I was dating my husband. I still refer to now and then. It approaches some of the most misunderstood ideas we have of men and why they act the way they do. It's done in nice bite size pieces so that it doesn't feel like your studying for an exam. It uses real statistics, anecdotes form couples, and great advice to quench some of our most frustrating questions about our loved ones. It really opened my eyes. Since it's a small book you can take it with you anywhere for a quick fun read. Another MUST for the intellectual that struggles with faith based questions such as, There can't be just one true religion?, How can a loving God send people to Hell?, The Church is responsible for so much injustice!, and so forth, "The Reason for God" by Timothy Keller is an excellent book. It tackles those sticky hard to conceive questions with fact not opinion. For the person who has been searching for answers to the not-so-pretty side of religion, this book delivers. It's real, candid, and doesn't mince words. It is a modern Christian's handbook. Written by Timothy Keller who is the pastor of a church in New York City, he has seen and heard it all from believers to nonbelievers and those in-between. Like the title reads, it's belief in an age of skepticism, Keller defends it well. So what of the classic C.S. Lewis that everybody was raving about not too long ago? This author has an interesting story all his own. As the site exploring faith writes: In a time of growing secularism, Lewis was a persuasive defender of Christianity.Some of his best-known books began as broadcast talks in which he explained the essentials of the Christian faith to a broad listening audience. To do this, he spoke in simple terms, using homely comparisons. These talks were collected and published as Mere Christianity, one of the most popular books about Christian belief in recent history. Mere Christianity has brought many people to the Christian faith and contributed to ecumenical dialogue, moving easily across Christian denominations by focusing on the basic teachings that most Christians believe. http://www.explorefaith.org/lewis/bio.html
His books like "The Joyful Christian" and "The Screwtape Letters" are wonderful. As I've stated earlier, I don't have a large attention span so these books are great for someone like me. Quick, entertaining and to the point he does a great job of appealing to our human side while strengthening our spiritual one. On the topic of guiding a family spiritually in a secular world, how do you know where to start? Three sites immediately come to mind: "Clubhouse for Kids" is not only a great website but a monthly magazine you can subscribe to for your older children. It's faith based and relevant. My son has a subscription and he enjoys reading it every month right when it arrives. "Plugged-in" is a site and an app that is so valuable to families. It allows parents to review, new and old movies, music, video games and more. It gives you a very detailed synopsis of each and rates it based on family wholesomeness. No more surprises at the movies or in the car!! No more having to hear, "Trust me", and fear the worst while hoping for the best. You will be completely informed. Last but not least is the website "Focus on the Family". It has very common topics on issues that every family and marriage face. Coming from a home that is blended, my husband and I have encountered some tough questions from the kiddos and "Focus on the Family" had some really good advice on step families. I'm confident it has topics that your family or marriage may have encountered. Once in a while it's good to know there's a site that can possibly give some great positive advice on these matters.
Below you will find links to all the sites mentioned above and the books that I talked about. Hopefully they will be great additions to your library and computer favorites!
When you're ready to take the next step and find a church to call your own...
Grace Bible Church is a Christian Church here in Laredo that offers worship services in English and Spanish. It is a community of men, women, and children with open hearts that love to share their faith in Christ here in Laredo. There are many opportunities for every age to participate at Grace. They offer outstanding daycare, children's ministry, and worship services for all ages every Sunday. (Hours and availability vary) Grace also has many ways to make connections through fellowship during the week, month , and year, through small groups, youth trips, and more! To learn more about Grace visit their website! You can also download their new App!! Worshiping has never been easier, more fun, and connected to Christ than our experience at Grace Bible Church!