Orange County Beautiful Bricklayers is alive and well!

I failed to mention in the last post (and I’m SO sorry if I gave the wrong impression): Bricklayers is not going dormant!

I (Cristina) may be a bit off the radar right now as I focus on my own “bricklaying” but the Beautiful Bricklayers in Orange County are actively meeting and preparing for continued involvement of the Bricklayers community.  Laura Vencill (pictured with her husband, Mike) and Cassie Robertson are leading these events.  They are particularly focused on leading a monthly prayer meeting in Irvine and hope to start up a new Bricklayers class later this year as well.  Keep an eye out for dates and times here on the blog and also on our Facebook page.

Vencills 2Cassie Robertson headshot 2

Baby Grace

_MG_2301

Eleven days ago my baby girl was born!  My husband and I welcomed Grace Elisabeth on May 22nd at 8:05AM and we felt as though heaven rejoiced with us.  This past week and a half has been the beginning of the most beautiful yet challenging thing I have ever done in my life… become a mommy.

I hope to elaborate more on what I am thinking and feeling about this enormous life change, but for now I wanted to share with you, sweet Beautiful Bricklayers, that we have a new, little Bricklayer girl in our community now.  Thanks to all of you who have rejoiced with us and congratulated us and prayed for us.  We would love your prayers as we continue to transition into being parents to this precious  baby.

_MG_2391 Gracie and I are still working on learning to breastfeed and my husband and I are trying to get some sleep whenever possible. Thankfully, my parents have been here to make all our meals, keep the endless laundry going, and encourage us (especially when I have been particularly hormonal with all the postpartum changes).

Ladies, I have entered into yet another season of more substantial “bricklaying” or foundation-building time for my family.  I will do the best I can to post content, but most of my time and attention will be focused on learning the rhythms of parenting while continuing to invest in my relationship with God and my husband.

During your own seasons of “bricklaying” I pray that you would be able to focus on one step at a time, trusting God to guide you, asking the Lord to give you wisdom, and lovingly embrace the people around you.  Always remember: Psalm 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.”

Let God be the builder of your house.

_MG_2428

 

eight twenty eight: a story of unconditional love

Wow. Have you heard the story of Ian and Larissa Murphy? These two demonstrate unconditional love in marriage.  When Ian’s brain was damaged in a life-altering automobile accident, his then-girlfriend, Larissa, didn’t give up. Watch their update here:

If you are interested to read their book or learn more about their story, visit their website here.

to celebrate mommies

_MG_2146Did you know that Congress made Mother’s Day a recognized holiday in the United States in 1914?  This year we celebrate 100 Mother’s Days!!!   I’m happy to announce that this will be my first Mother’s Day as a mommy!

Yes, even though my baby is still growing and developing inside my womb, I’ve been a mommy since this precious little one was conceived.  I remember hearing people say that there is a strange, unfathomable love between parent and child.  Even though I haven’t met this baby face to face yet, it’s amazing how fierce my love is already for this child.

As my husband and I pray over this baby daily, make preparations for the birth, arrange the baby room, and do the best we can to read and learn as we embark on this adventure of parenthood, we know that, ultimately, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Reflecting back to the first week of our dating days, I remember feeling a similar “ache” of dependency on the Lord as I prayed for the potential future of our relationship.

My journal entry after that first date says it best:

Thank you for leading me as my Shepherd.  Papi, you are so kind and I thank you for the lovely lunch date Stefan and I had yesterday.  My heart is glad… and smiling.

Just as you gave me peace to take this step, please give me peace for the next step as you will.  Daddy, I ask you for loads of wisdom for Stefan and me and our families and communities.  Please help us to follow you – not ourselves or what anyone else advises that doesn’t line up with you.  Thank you for what you’re doing and I trust you.

That last paragraph could also specifically pinpoint what my prayer has been for us throughout this pregnancy… especially the last sentence: “Thank you for what you’re doing and I trust you.”  I’d imagine that no matter what stage we enter (big move, new jobs, more kids, challenging circumstances, etc.) the themes here would be a relevant prayer: give us wisdom and peace for each step, help us to follow You not ourselves or others, thank you, and I trust you.

We all move through various season of life and are constantly growing and changing.  Instead of being anxious about the upcoming season of change and unfamiliarity, let us remember that God will never leave us or forget us.  WE are HIS children.  I take comfort in this passage in Isaiah 49:15-16a:

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…

As we approach Mother’s Day in about two weeks, take some time to think about what kind of mother you are preparing to become.  Spend some time in prayer asking God to shape and mold you now to get ready for the potential role of motherhood that you will likely step into someday.  Even if you never become a biological mother, you could become an adoptive mother or spiritual mother to the younger generation as you grow and mature in your relationship with God.

We were created with a nurturing, maternal instinct that needs an outlet and there are many people you could bless with your God-given feminine nature.

This Mother’s Day, I invite you to not only celebrate the current biological and adoptive moms, but would you join me in celebrating also all you “future mom-to-be’s” who will love and nurture children of God (whether they were formed in your womb or in another woman’s womb!) whom He created so intricately and purposefully.

Lastly, I wanted to provide you a few websites you might consider browsing for gifts to celebrate your mom during this special time:

31 Bits

Amazima

Hand and Cloth

International Princess Project

International Sanctuary

Krochet Kids

Gospel for Asia

Taking a “Heart Shower”

What is the first thing you do to get ready for your shower? Well, you need to take off all your clothes.  Ok, before you think I’m a crazy Californian wanting to talk about getting naked during a short devotional message, just bear with me.  We’re actually going to talk about taking a spiritual shower.  I felt so grateful to be asked to share this message a couple of months ago at a Ladies Luncheon at my church.  The community here in Arkansas has welcomed my husband and me with such warmth and we’re glad to be here.

Regardless of where you are and at what life stage you are in right now, I hope this brief devotional refreshes and challenges you.  Every time you take a shower, you can be reminded that our heart needs a good wash too!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljAa9e_WYi8&w=560&h=315

Key Points to Remember:

  • Open yourself to God. (Get naked)

Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

  •  Be cleansed. (Take a shower)

Psalm 51:10-12

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

  •  Train your heart. (Get dressed)

Proverbs 3:3-6

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.“

At home:

  • Read the whole chapter to soak in the full context of the verses above.  Savor the words by reading them out loud, memorizing a verse or passage that caught your attention, or writing them out in your journal.
  •  Take a spiritual shower. For those of you who have put your trust in Christ, go through these steps in prayer, letting the Holy Spirit highlight areas that aren’t right and need cleansing.  Let Him teach you ways that you can train your heart to willingly submit to Him.
  • For those of you haven’t taken that first step of faith in Jesus: taking a spiritual “heart shower” is a great place to start.

Week Five Prayer Prompts

Hopefully, you have enjoyed your 31 Day Husband Prayer Journey!  Please contact us to let us know how it went and if you have any ideas for ways to encourage other women who will do this in the future.  Although the 31 days will be over on Sunday (Easter!) if you started with us on March 21st with Week One, we encourage you to carry on this wonderful gift of lifting up your future (or current) husband in prayer on a daily basis.DSC_9194

Let’s dive in to praying over the Social areas of Mr. Husband’s life!

  1. To be involved in a healthy community of believers inside and out of his church.
  2. For the Lord to develop in him the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26).
  3. Mr. Husband to be “…hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.  He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:8-9).
  4. To be accountable to godly leaders and to be a loving, respectable leader among his peers and those he disciples (Hebrews 13:16-18).
  5. For him to be transparent, humble, teachable, and willing to grow in his character through the experiences of others, his own mistakes, and, mostly, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
  6. Pray Proverbs 4 over him.
  7. For Mr. Husband to love the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love his neighbor as himself (Matthew 22:35-40).

Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;

in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
    their righteousness endures forever;
    their horn will be lifted high in honor.

The wicked will see and be vexed,
    they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
    the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

Psalm 112:8-10, NIV

 

Six Options for Singles Video Clip

“…those of you who are single, particularly single women, have six options: sin, surrender, settle, suffer, strive, or solace. If you’re single and struggling with your singleness, know that the Jesus that you’re talking to is a Jesus who understands.”

Pastor Mark Driscoll addresses the reality of the paths before you as a single adult.  As Beautiful Bricklayers, we hope you would be proactive in your preparation for marriage without idolizing the idea of marriage.

Watch the full sermon: http://jesus.to/1fzL4zR
Find out more about the Malachi sermon series:http://marshill.com/malachi

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPX_VkCFDD4&w=560&h=315

Check in tomorrow for more prayer prompts to close out the 31 Day Husband Prayer Journey (although, we hope you continue praying beyond these 31 days!).  Also, get ready for Monday’s post when you’ll hear an audio message Cristina Alexandroni shared recently at a Ladies Luncheon in Arkansas.

 

 

Week Four Prayer Prompts

Instead of giving you several ideas for ways to pray this week, we’re offering just one.  We’ll keep it simple.  Most importantly, we hope you connect with the Lord in an intimate way!
_MG_1269

  • We encourage you to write out your prayers every day this week.  At the end of the week you might enjoy reading over the ways the Holy Spirit spoke to you and led you in prayer.

Let’s link arms in uplifting these men in prayer for the Emotional area this week:

  1. Healthy emotional boundaries with women so as to interact with them in a God-honoring manner not in a misleading or manipulative way.
  2. For the Lord to fill him with joy regardless of his circumstances (James 1:2-4).
  3. Mr. Husband to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19-21).
  4. To faithfully trust that God is able to do more than he can hope for or imagine, and to be at peace.  Pray that Mr. Husband would not be anxious in circumstances but bring them to God instead (Philippians 4:6-7).
  5. For him to be secure in his identity in Christ and not try to prove his worth or legitimacy.
  6. Pray Psalm 91 over him.
  7. For Mr. Husband to, in a healthy and honoring way, “leave” his father and mother so that he would be prepared to “cleave” to his future bride (Ephesians 5:31, Genesis 2:24).

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord..
.”

Psalm 112:6-7, NIV

Week Three Prayer Prompts

Keep persevering in prayer!   Hopefully, you are finding ways to dig into prayer, but here are some more ideas for you to try:_MG_1382

  1. Go on a prayer walk.  Now that it’s springtime, take your prayers outside!
  2. Make a prayer collage or draw a picture.  Allow yourself to express your prayers creatively.
  3. Learn to listen to the Holy Spirit.  Ask Him to open your spiritual ears and your heart to follow His leading.
  4. Use helpful prayer guidelines to help you intercede for Mr. Husband.

This week’s focus is on the Mental.  Consider praying for these areas this week:

  1. Worshiping God with his mind whether at work or play (Psalm 111:2).
  2. For him to be “transformed by the renewing of his mind” and to discern God’s “good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12:1).
  3. Mr. Husband to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:7-9).
  4. To “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
  5. That he would be wise in the media choices that would influence his thinking and worldview (Colossians 2:6-8).
  6. Pray Ephesians 3:14-21 over him.
  7. For Mr. Husband to set his mind on “things above” and to have an eternal perspective (Colossians 3:1-3).

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
    for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
    who conduct their affairs with justice.
.”

Psalm 112:4-5, NIV

Guest Post: Purity and Sexual Temptation

Laura Vencill, a dear friend, spurs you on in her challenge to pray intentionally for Mr. Husband in the area of sexuality. Laura is leading up the Monthly Prayer Nights in Orange County starting in April!

Pray for his purity and protection from sexual temptation.

As you pray for Mr. Husband, a powerful subject for prayer is his mind, heart, and body in the area of sexuality.  By the time you meet him, your future husband may have saved himself for you faithfully, or he may have given in to temptation and acquired some battle wounds along his journey.  You may be in either of those camps, too. We can’t know what kind of story our future spouse will show up with, but we can pray for him early and often.   Let’s do everything in our power to support our future lover toward a victorious, God-honoring and joyful sexuality.

Pray that God will guard and keep him from sexual sin. Start praying even now that your husband would be “self-controlled and alert,” that he would seek help if he is in bondage to an addiction.

We live in a day and age where it’s hard to find any guy who hasn’t been exposed at all to pornography. It’s less a question of, “will he encounter it?” and more of “when he encounters it, how old will he be and will he be ensnared by it or able to refuse its sway?” Ask that God will keep him from pornography, that his mind might be protected from storing up a playbook of sexual images and expectations. But, pray hard, Beautiful Bricklayer, that if he does encounter it, God will have the victory and he will quickly make wise choices about how to safeguard his mind from it.

Pray that the Lord will speak truth into Mr. Husband’s mind that speak louder than the devil’s lies that are disseminated by pornography and many movies and even magazines; lies that tell us that sex is all about performance; that it is about “getting” rather than “sharing” or loving; that you have to look or sound or behave in a certain way or else your spouse won’t think you’re sexy. Prayers like this can truly make a powerful impact.

Beautiful Bricklayers, whoever God says is clean is clean indeed.

If he has stumbled and fallen sexually in the past, that can cause a lot of pain and sorrow, but it does not have to be a red flag.  The Lord has cleansed him of all unrighteousness if he has received the Lord’s forgiveness and turned from those old ways.  So, if his life evidences change, and he does not pressure you physically but respects your boundaries, and if He has confessed and been freed from the hold it had on him, then I urge you to believe and trust that he is truly a new creation.  Above all you are looking for a Godly man, so pray that if your Mr.Husband will pursue Godliness and passionate purity by the time you walk into his life.

1 2 3 5