Category: Purpose

bath time!

To end this month on health, why don’t you draw yourself a well-deserved warm bath. Go ahead and light some

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candles, get our your bath salts,

Be generous with yourself.

 

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Beautiful Bricklayers 101 Class – 4 week Fall Series

Laura's group

Have you reserved your spot yet for the Beautiful Bricklayers 101 Class starting this Sunday night?!

If you are a unmarried woman (either totally single, dating, or engaged) this is a class for you!  We’ll be talking about the principles of becoming “hot and holy” women.  First, we’ll hit on purpose and what it means to know the “why” in your life.  We all have to grapple with this question before we can truly build a foundation for anything meaningful moving forward.

Next, we’ll dig into the concept of prayer and what it means to be a woman who has it going on in this department.  Do you want to get equipped to draw near to Jesus in an intimate relationship?  Do you want to know how you can be praying for your future marriage and that most important man in your life? Our second class will target these areas very specifically.

You can’t do any of this on your own! In the third class, we’ll be covering partnership and what it means to link arms with your community of family and friends to set you up for a successful season of preparation.

Last, you’ll love the challenge to get an action plan together in order to take strategic steps of preparation during your singleness.  In the fourth class, we’ll talk about ways you can get geared up to implement what you’ve learned to live out a “hot and holy” life both now and in the future.

So, are you coming or what?! Get your Bible, journal, and a few girlfriends together for this catalyst experience that will empower you to be even more intentional with this important season in your life!

Sign up on the Facebook event page or send an email to Laura Vencill, and be sure to invite your friends!!!

Class Dates: Sunday evenings: Oct. 19, 26, Nov. 3, 10)

Location: Woodbridge Community Church: 5000 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, CA 92604

Cost: $25 (includes materials) (partial scholarships available)

happy mother’s day to current and future mommies

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Here’s a message

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to meditate on as you celebrate motherhood:

Some lessons I’ve learned from my mommy:

  • above all, love God and love people.
  • when in doubt, give a hug and smile
  • make sure you have a quick, easy morning routine

:: Insert Pregnancy photo at 36+ weeks ::

Please pray for my birth, pray for your mom, pray for your future children (biological, adoptive, and/or spiritual), and pray for yourself to grow into a godly mother to the children God entrusts to your care and discipleship.

I leave you with a song (Generations by Sara Groves) that reminds us that “generations will reap what I sow… to my great, great, great granddaughter

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live in peace”

Baby Grace

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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

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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.

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

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

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you’ll hear an audio message Cristina Alexandroni shared recently at a Ladies Luncheon in Arkansas.

 

 

Embracing your season

As you probably know, I’m pregnant. (Woohoo! Praise God! Very exciting indeed!) Right now I feel very pregnant… I’m bigger, way bigger, than I’ve ever been in my whole life. But it’s a joy and delight to be in this season I’ve always longed to experience.

The crazy thing is that I have been fighting this season or living in denial for some time now. What I mean is that I tend to want to do more and think that I have more energy than I really do. I have the same expectations of myself during this season even though my sleep isn’t as sound, my body is changing tremendously as it participates in the beauty and mystery of the creation of a little human, and my husband and I have plunged headlong into the steep learning curve of preparing to enter parenthood._MG_9212

All my life, ever since my earliest memories, I’ve yearned to be a wife and mother. When I became a wife, I felt like I had received one of the greatest gifts in the love and joy of being one in life with my husband. I didn’t know I could choose to love another human being so much. And NOW my heart is already exploding with love for this precious one forming inside me and I haven’t even met him or her yet! Anyway, what I am getting to is the fact that this is such a beautiful, unique season and yet there are a gazillion things pulling at my heart, time, energy, attention and all I want to do is focus on what’s most important.

None of us have to be victims to all that contend for space in our lives. Today, I caved. I broke down in tears over the phone with my parents because I was overwhelmed. I didn’t realize that I was letting all the distractions win. I was giving space to all the little things that don’t really matter that much!

What season are you in? Are you embracing that season or are you fighting it? Are you celebrating the beauty that God’s knitting together in this unique time in your life?

Maybe you feel like your life is only ho-hum right now with nothing super exciting going on right now. You are in the valley that makes up the majority of life. What you do with the mundane consists of the bulk and substance of what it means to worship God in the ordinary. How are you living worshipfully today?

Maybe you are dating someone special and you’re on a journey of discovering if this will develop into engagement and marriage. You are cultivating a vulnerable plant that needs nurturing, time, and attention. Even if you don’t move forward with this person, there are important things to learn through this time of discovery. Don’t let those lessons pass you by!

Are you engaged and getting ready to enter into a marital covenant with the man you love? Engagement is one of the most intense times when details and potential distractions fly at your face from all directions. Make sure you remember what this time

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is mostly about: preparing for marriage, not just the wedding day. Enjoy the giddy delight of celebrating the commitment you are about to make! Marriage is a ridiculously delicious and amazing gift from God… especially when we treat it the way He wants us to.

Whatever your season, identify where you are and lean into it, embrace it, roll up your sleeves and do the work required to excel through it. Take your deep breath as you sit back to enjoy the ride. Life is a series of seasons. If we run the race of life the best we can in each season, we will get to the end with greater satisfaction. Being that I just truly woke up to the fact that I am in such a beautiful season that requires a new focus, I outlined some steps that led me to this revelation. Maybe it’ll help you recognize and embrace your own season.

Remember the BIG picture

Our lives are a fleeting vapor. We are like the flowers of the fields that are here one day and pretty soon are gone (Psalm 103). Who do we think we are? God is the only sovereign, almighty One! He’s the One that holds everything together (Colossians 1). We are invited into His big plan of knowing Him, making Him known, and advancing His Kingdom. We have the joy and privilege of being His kids. Let’s not freak ourselves out over all the small things. Instead, we get to do our best and bring those things to the Lord!

Humble your heart

So many times, it’s pride that tires us out! We run and run and run thinking that in our own strength we can accomplish all that we think we need to do. Granted, we all need to be diligent and disciplined, however, we need to live life with the sober understanding that apart from Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:1-8). Again, who do we think we are? My mom would often remind me: “Cristina, you aren’t the messiah, Jesus is. You are a servant.” What a difference! Let’s humble ourselves and remember that we are only ordinary by ourselves. It is Christ in us the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)… He’s the one (not us) that makes us extraordinary!

Let God’s grace cover you

We mess up. We stumble. We learn through scraped knees and embarrassing moments. God’s grace is big enough to cover each of us. Thankfully, we can laugh at some of those memories now that we are on the other side. Sometimes, though, we still wince when we think of the foolishness we’ve committed. God’s in the business of making all things new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Let Him pick you up from your shame. Let Him dust you off, and affectionately slap your little rear end signaling you to get back in the game. He calls you more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37).

Stop. Rest.

Sometimes we need a breather. Sometimes we’re straight up tired. We need a time out. Take it! There’s nothing wrong with sitting the bench for a chance to refuel, regroup, and get ready to jump back in at the right time.

Listen and Prioritize

One of the best ways I improved as a soccer player was when I asked my coach during breaks “What could I be doing better?” Thankfully, my coach was good at affirming me, but I truly wanted to know what I could improve. We need to do this with our Heavenly Coach. God sees the whole game. He sees things we don’t see and knows our strengths and weaknesses. Listen to Him. Especially in those time outs, those Sabbaths, take advantage of the opportunity to listen well to the One who knows best. Let His priorities be your priorities. If you get back in the game with your own agenda, you are hindering your team, but if you humbly cooperate with the Coach’s agenda, everyone on your team wins!

Now get out there and give it your best. Be in the season you are in.

Guest Post: Enough Without

Last night my husband and I were talking about the Winter Olympics and remembering how much we liked the movie, Cool Runnings,  as kids.  Earlier in the evening we were having a more serious conversation about how we needed to remember that what God thinks of us is most important… and that that is enough. It was a tearful conversation because it was a reality we needed to embrace.  This morning, my friend, Loren Thornburg, sent out a devotional message that drives this message home!  Loren gave me permission to share this beautiful reminder with you all. – Cristina
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“A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without the medal, you’ll never be enough with it.” ~Irv Blizter from Cool Runnings
I love the stories of the Olympics and all that many overcame to achieve their dreams.  I am also struck by all of the disappointments of those who felt they came up short.  Whether or not we are contending for a gold medal we all face the same battle: to be enough without.  There is nothing wrong with dreams and desires, unless you are waiting for your arrival at them to become enough.  If we don’t have security inside we won’t find it outside.  It’s an inside out thing.  Some people chase after it for years, jumping from one success to the next on an endless cycle that leaves them with the same emptiness.  It’s a mirage of thinking that the next thing will bring us to the place of security.  Yet, the truth is you are already enough.  It’s not in the next thing or even the last thing but it is now, because you are already enough.  What freedom to chase after your dreams knowing you don’t need them to be enough.  Whether it’s gold, or promotion, or marriage, or title, or money, or fame…you are enough without it.
“How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ.”
Ephesians 1:3 NLT
You are enough, because God says so.  You belong to Him not because of anything that you have done, but simply because you are His.  He has blessed you with every spiritual blessing, not because you are super great, had lots of successes or served really well, but simply because He chose to.  He chose you and that makes you enough for the God of the universe.  Can you hear Him speaking it to you, “You, my child, are enough for me, Your Heavenly Father.”  It’s true, but it’s not something easily comprehended.  We have to sit with it, away from the messages of the world telling us all the things we need to have or do to be enough.  Yet, that’s the miracle of God: He loves you because you are His.  He doesn’t need you to be more, He just needs you.
Enjoy the Ride,
Loren Thornburg
Check out her blog: http://lorenquinelle.blogspot.com/
If you would like to receive Loren’s devotional emails you can email her at: lorenquinelle@gmail.com.

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