25 Nations in 25 Days (Featuring Renee Young)

Friday, December 1, 2017 No comments

Christmas is about Jesus. He is who the entire holiday centers around. And then beyond that, family and giving. But if you could take even a tiny little glance at my heart, it often gets things a bit mixed up regarding the holiday. Instead of focusing on giving, I think about getting. Instead of thinking of how I can bless others, I think about how I can see my loved ones and do as many fun things as possible. And then there's Jesus. "Oh hai, Jesus".

I'm ashamed to admit it. It's sad. And what's even more sad, is that I know I am not in the minority here. So, so many Christians join me in this predicament. We want to honor Christ above all, and yet somehow we always end up putting other, less meaning things ahead of him.

Of course, God gives grace to His people. He forgives and He continues to help us improve and grow. We as Christians are all on this faith journey together and we are here to lift each other up, to encourage one another in righteousness, and to point each other towards God.

And that's why it's so important to recognize and appreciate the areas in which we get it right- where God's people are rightly pointing to Him instead of to themselves. And today's post was inspired by a woman who has been doing just that.

25 Nations in 25 Days: A mission-focused way to celebrate Christmas this year. #christmas #faith #christianity


I met Renee online a few years ago. I was immediately inspired by her heart and passion for the Lord. We become social media and blog friends, and still talk via Instagram and Facebook.


Related: Check out Renee's blog: Mulling Over my Morning Coffee


One thing that has always struck me about Renee, is that when she writes, you can tell that it really is for Jesus. She isn't trying to sound ultra-spiritual, nor is she trying to gain attention. Instead, she is trying to point to God, to truth, and to all that will motivate towards righteousness. I am encouraged by pretty much everything she posts. And of course, that's God working through her and it's all Him, BUT He uses her sweet, fun-loving heart to deliver an eternal message.

So, why do I bring any of this up? Because recently, Renee launched a brilliant idea that is open to whoever would like to join.

Enter 25 Nations in 25 Days

25 Nations in 25 Days is a Facebook group and downloaded PDF that Renee created as a "tool for helping to ignite a heart for the nations. 42% of the world's people groups are still unreached (less than 2% Evangelical Christian). This should be a startling statistic for us to see as believers.How neat to have a tool that educates us on those people groups and encourages prayer within the family FOR those people".

I asked Renee to talk a little bit about why she decided to create this project for all of us, and this is what she said:

"I decided to compile the information on unreached peoples and various nations because I think it's important to know about cultures outside of American society.  I also hope to cultivate a heart in my children that is for missions and for people who don't believe, act, speak, or look like we do.  I believe this is a great starting point. I think we get so focused on how "unfair" and how "hard" life is in the United States that we forget that nearly 1/2 of the entire world has never even heard of Jesus.  And while our hardships are valid in a sense, we need to focus on what is eternally significant.  There are millions of people that still have zero parts of the Bible translated into their language.
Our problems become minuscule when we are concerned with what's going on on a global spectrum (even if your global perspective starts with meeting your next door neighbor and befriending them for the sake of the gospel).
While compiling this information, my heart began to ache as I was forced to face the fact that most of the nations covered are animistic, meaning they worship nature and spirits and ancestors and rocks.  Some of the religious beliefs of these people groups will hopefully wreck you.  My hope is that anyone who walks through this "25 Nations in 25 Days" would have a heart burdened for the spiritual darkness in the world, that they would be moved to action locally, nationally, and globally for the cause of making Christ's name great, and that they would consider giving their physical and financial resources to Bible Translation and Global Missions."

Peculiar friends, I am so excited about going through 25 Nations in 25 Days with Renee and a bunch of other awesome people. Will you join us? You can scroll through the PDF below, you can download the PDF here, and you can join the Facebook group here. I hope to see you there!






5 Books For Women Who Want to Grow in Their Faith

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 No comments

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

When I was a little girl, I remember my mom doing a lot of reading. She would spend time reading with me, but she would also take the time to read her Bible, and read Christian books that helped her grow in her faith. Her bookshelves were full of inspirational, Christian living, and devotional works that aided her in her daily walk with the Lord.

For a time, I followed suit. I read a lot of good books that were extremely helpful in my faith. But after a while, I stopped reading. I got out of the habit and left it by the wayside. That's something I have talked about here at TPT numerous times. But despite the fact that I've had to start from scratch to form new reading habits the past couple of years, I still think that Christian books and devotionals are incredibly helpful tools for growing near to God and growing strong in the faith.

However, have you ever noticed how many different titles there are in the "spiritual development" section? And trust me- all books are NOT created equal. Some are worth the read, some are worth passing up, and some are just a bunch of junk.

Soooo, to help you navigate through all those choices, and in order to offer a few books that may even make a good gift for a loved one, I decided to take today to make a few suggestions. So if you like good books and you cannot lie, then keep reading! 😉


Using Christian books to grow your faith can be very helpful if you choose the right ones. Today on The Peculiar Treasure, I'm sharing 5 books for women who want to grow their faith. #Christianity #faith #books


Wild and Free

Let's start with Wild and Free. Seriously, this book is so good! Jess and Hayley are both awesome writers with a heart for God and a desire to see women find true freedom in Christ. I really appreciate how they don't skip over our sinfulness, yet still show us that we not only can be forgiven for our sins, but that we can also find true freedom in life.



A Place Prepared

This autobiography was written by my dear friend, Julie Moore, of The Hallway Initiative. I wrote a post about Julie's book a while back, but I definitely wanted to include it in this list too! Julie did a fantastic job illustrating how even in the toughest moments in our lives, God is preparing us for our purpose. If you have been struggling with this concept (or even if you haven't), A Place Prepared is a great read!




One Year Walk With God

I believe I was in middle school when my mom asked for this devotional book for a gift for her birthday. I gave it to her and she read it and reread it for years. I didn't go all the way through the book myself, but I often borrowed it from her and did my own quiet time in the same book. It's short, yet truth-filled- just the way I like a devotional!


40 Days of Faith and Fitness

My sweet friend, Marsha, of Faith and Fitness with Marsha Apsley, launched this devotion book in September and she rocked it! This devotional focuses on drawing near to God and having the right mindset and thoughts when it comes to diet, exercise, and overall health. Each day's reading is short, which is perfect for times when you are on the go but still want to do a devotion! Check it out!


The Bible

Honestly, I think sometimes we get so caught up in reading good books, we forget that the Bible is the ultimate book. It's the way we draw near to God, the way we see truth more clearly, and the ultimate way we grow in our faith. So, it seemed silly not to include the word of God in this list. Of course, I'm the one who came up with this post, so I'm not downplaying the role of awesome books in helping us grow in our faiths, but let us never forget that the Bible is and always will be numero uno.


Note: The Bible I shared above is the same one I have. I love it!


Honestly friends, these are all books that can help you grow in your faith. So whether you are shopping for yourself, for a Christmas present, a birthday present, or a "just because" gift, these are great choices. We all need a little bit (or a lot) of daily encouragement in our walk with God, and I am hopeful and confident that these book suggestions will do just that. Happy reading!

Which one of these books interests you most? Tell me in the comment section below!






Gratitude: Lessons From Joanna Gaines

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 No comments

Hey there, friends! Ya' know how I'm borderline obsessed with Chip and Joanna Gaines? And ya' know how in the past I've talked about what Joanna Gaines taught me about simplicity? Well, then it probably won't shock you that once again, I've found another gem from The Magnolia Journal (TMJ, from here on out) to talk about.

Per usual, TMJ was packed with yummy recipe's, fun recommended items, and sweet articles about homes, families, and local businesses. But I think my favorite part of TMJ is the A Note From Jo section. This is where she shares wisdom about something she has been learning lately.  

For the Fall issue of TMJ, Joanna chose to talk about gratitude.

Joanna approaches this subject in an extremely practical and applicable way. Her main premise?


Everyday tasks are reminders of how blessed we are. -Joanna Gaines. What I've learned about #Gratitude from #JoannaGaines


Such a simple concept, huh? But good grief, we miss this constantly.

If I have to do the dishes when I am tired, I grumble.

When I have to wake up early for work, I complain.

When I have to fold clothes, I avoid it.

When I have to go to a social engagement that I don't want to attend, I try to get out of it.

When my car needs repairs, I get stressed because it costs money.

When my spouse doesn't agree with me, I get angry.

Surely most of us know that these aren't the right responses. But figuring out how to have a good and godly response is a lot harder to do than simply identifying the wrong way of doing things. But tackling this issue is what Joanna Gaines does in TMJ, and it's what I want to discuss with you today.

Gratitude: What I learned about it from Joanna Gaines and The Magnolia Journal. #JoannaGaines #Magnolia


What Joanna Learned About Gratitude

Joanna talks about how she used to dread meal planning and grocery shopping. She used to feel that gardening was a burden. She felt like a cab driver when she had to drive her kids everywhere. And she felt overwhelmed by the constant mountain of laundry that seemed to always be waiting for her.

But then something changed. Joanna decided to choose gratitude for the everyday things in life, and her attitude was transformed. When she realized that cooking for her family was a privilege, and that she was able to serve them and help nourish them through this act, she stopped dreading it.

When she accepted that the garden work was not going away anytime soon, she decided to use that time outdoors to breath and think. It become her own little therapy session.

The same was true of driving. Joanna realized that her time in the car with her kids was the best time to catch up with them and hear how they were doing. They had time to talk without the distraction of TV, homework, etc. At that realization, it was no longer a chore, but a joy.

And as for laundry? Despite the fact that Joanna says this one will always be tough for her, she has found gratitude by realizing the abundance they have. They have been blessed with even more than they need, and taking care of this chore is a reminder of that.

"I bet you have your own internal list of little daily grievances... Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to let gratitude run free in every area of our lives. Once that happens, nothing ever looks the same again: Everything starts looking like a thank-you." 
                                                    - Joanna Gaines


What Joanna Taught Me About Gratitude

So what does that mean for me- for us?

It means that we should be thankful when the alarm goes off in the early morning, because it means we are blessed with a job and an income.

It means that we should be grateful for the social engagements, since it's another opportunity to make friends, form community, and be a witness for Christ.

It means that I should cultivate gratitude for the dishes that need to be washed- because dirty dishes mean that I've had food to eat and plates to eat it on.

It means that I should try not to get angry about car repairs- I should be grateful that I have a car to drive in the first place.

It means that when Taylor and I disagree, I should be thankful that he and I are often able to grow, challenge, and sharpen each other.

Responsibilities & Blessings

The fact that we have things that require our attention, means that we have things that are worth taking care of. Having responsibilities means that we are in charge of things that are worthwhile. And coming to this realization is a practical way to cultivate gratitude year-round. And while I technically knew that, Joanna just has such a great way of wording things. She is very skilled in taking simple concepts and bringing them to life.

So once again, a big thank you to "Jo Jo". She rocks, and she has so many wise things to say. I hope this struck as much of a cord with you as it did with me.




Why The Reformation Matters

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 No comments

Did you know that Halloween isn't the only holiday that falls on October 31st? No, it's not National Donut Day, or National Goat Yoga day. It's Reformation Day. When I say "Reformation Day", I am referring to the anniversary of Martin Luther challenging the Catholic church on some of their views and nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the church. This theses included Martin Luther's rebuttal against works-based salvation, indulgences (the idea that people could pay the priests for forgiveness), and the false belief that only the church leaders had the ability to interpret the bible- not the everyday people.

Reformation Day has never been something I've thought about, honestly. I mean, I knew it was a good thing for Christians that the Reformation happened, but I never thought to celebrate the anniversary or really pay attention to it. But this year, there has been a lot more talk about the Reformation because it is the 500 year anniversary, which is actually really cool.

And this past weekend, a local church in Charlotte hosted a Reformation Conference to celebrate the upcoming anniversary. Taylor and I signed up, along with his parents, and I am very glad we did. The speakers were awesome, I learned valuable truths, and the Keith and Kristyn Getty concert to finish up the weekend was amazing. I only knew a couple of their songs going in, but I will definitely be making a Spotify playlist!

And since today is Reformation Day, I figured it would be the perfect time to share a bit of what I learned/was reminded of from the conference. Keep reading to find out!

October 31st, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. For years I thought it was just another date in history, but I've come to realize that it matters a lot. Read the post to find out why.


God Uses "Nobodys"

Martin Luther was just some random monk. That's all. A monk who beat himself up over his sin constantly. And God chose to use him to bring about the entire history of the Protestant church. He used him so that we could see that we could read the bible for ourselves, that we could come to God in prayer and ask forgiveness of our sins without the help of a priest or a confessional.
God used a "nobody" to bring about something huge. That's not the first time he's done it that way, and it's not the last.
We have a great privilege and calling to serve God with our lives, and he often uses "the little people" to do big things.

God Calls Us to Himself

The fact that we are allowed to come to God on our own- that we can talk to him, read his words, learn about him, and be led by him- is a deep truth that the Reformation displays. Before that, people weren't living as if that were true at all. They were paying priests for their salvation, confessing their sins to a priest instead of directly to God, going to church and listening to scripture readings that were solely in Latin, which meant that they had no idea what was going on, and they just had to trust whatever the priest told them was true about the Bible. But the truth of the matter is that God calls us to himself. We don't have to go through all those other means. It was never necessary, and thanks to the Reformation, we can now live that out.


We Should Not Reject What the Reformation Allowed

One thing I've been thinking about for the past few days, is how much we take our Bibles for granted. I mean, I already knew that, and I have heard plenty of sermons on the matter. But when I think about what the Reformers went through just so we could have the opportunity to sit in our PJs while we read whatever passage of scripture we feel like- that's when I realize how ridiculous it is that I don't take the time to read God's word each day.

Sure, there are probably better reasons to be convicted about not taking the time to dive into God's word- like, ya know, the whole Jesus dying on the cross thing- but the reformation provides just another reason to take advantage of the freedom we have to know God through his word.



Friends, we have a great privileged to know God more, and there's no reason not to actively live in that gift. God used the Reformation to free many from the lie that we can't come to him on our own. He reminded us that our sins are forgiven through Christ alone, by faith, not by works, and not because we sought out a priest for help. God also used the Reformation to remind us that we can read scripture for ourselves, in our own language, so that we can get to know God without having to have someone reading to us from the Latin version.

Our protestant heritage shouldn't be taken for granted. Our salvation shouldn't be treated as mundane, and the accessibility of scripture should be deeply appreciated. As one of the speakers from the weekend said,

"If your sermon, message, or ministry is lacking a focus on the scriptures, then it is lacking God himself!"
Let us not take our faith or the sacrifices of those before us for granted, and let us live with thankfulness for the freedom we have.


Dear Taylor: A Mushy-Gushy Letter to my Hubby for His Birthday

Friday, October 27, 2017 No comments

Dear Taylor,

Happy birthday, handsome! I hope today is amazing for you.

As your wife, I am particularly glad you were born. Our marriage would be a little tougher to maintain if you hadn't been. 😉

From God delivering you from a doctor who assumed your mom would want to abort you because of her age, to his leading us both to Montreat College, I'm so glad that God protected us, directed our paths, and caused them to cross.

You are the most patient person I have ever met. You are the quickest to forgive. The quickest to let things go.

You are hilarious. You make me laugh even when I really just want to be grumpy with you. Your dry, sarcastic sense of humor has resulted in more deep "belly laughs" than I can count.

When we first met, I thought theology was for people who wanted to think about God, but didn't really want a personal relationship with him. But in you I have seen how untrue that is. I've watched you change, grow, and deepen your relationship with God through theology, and that has been so fun to see.

You treat me with respect and love. You look at me like you love me. And you don't "vent" to other people about me when I am being obnoxious.

You let me know you are attracted to me, and you don't let my weight bother you.

You support my dreams even when they seem far-fetched.

Basically, you're amazing. I love you so much! I wish I showed it more, but I am thankful that you look past my flaws and love me anyway.

Thank you for your hard work. Working nearly full-time and going to seminary full-time for two years straight is no easy task. But you've done it with minimal complaining and a good attitude. I'm proud of you, thankful for you, and I appreciate you.

Happy 27th birthday, handsome! Thank you for choosing me and wanting a life with me. I look forward to spending a life's worth of birthdays with you!

Love,
Kristin






Hosting a Pumpkin Party (Coffee Sips + Lovely Links)

Friday, October 20, 2017 No comments

This weekend, a friend and I are co-hosting a pumpkin party together. If you've seen my Fall bucket list, then you know that this will be fulfilling one of those goals. Last year, I had a pumpkin party at my house, and we had a lot of fun. I cooked soup and some pumpkin-y baked goods, which we enjoyed while we all sat around and talked.

This year my friend and I get to coordinate with each other, which means twice the yummy baked goods and hearty soups. I'm already drooling over the thought of it all, so it's a good thing I don't have to wait very long.

That being said, in honor of Fall, pumpkins, and the upcoming pumpkin party, I am sharing some lovely links and resources that will help you get started with throwing your own pumpkin party. Or you can skip the party and make all the yummy food for yourself (and your family if they insist you share 😉). Either way, you're going to love these ideas!


Today on The Peculiar Treasure, I'm sharing some links/resources that will help you get inspired to throw your own pumpkin party. #pumpkin #fall

Food

Soup

When it comes to the main course at a pumpkin party, soup is my go-to. It's warm, hearty, and just tastes like Fall, ya' know? I'm sharing a link for this pumpkin soup (because it sounds delish), but in all honesty, I'm going to be making my old favorite: white chicken chili soup. It may not be pumpkin-y, but it sho' is good!


Pumpkin Apple Bread

I think this is the third time that I have mentioned this apple-pumpkin bread, but guys, seriously, it needs to be in your life. I am going to be taking this delicious goodness to the party, but if I didn't love these ladies so much, I'd have very little desire to share 😉


Pumpkin Apple Cider

A few days ago, I decided to scroll through Pinterest to see if there was anything I wanted to add to the menu for our party at the last minute. I discovered this Harry Potter-inspired pumpkin cider. I've never tried it before, but I am going to make it for the party, so I figured I'd share it with you, too!

Activities

Charlie Brown

Despite the fact that I have never really celebrated Halloween before, one thing I have always enjoyed doing is watching Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin. If you want your party to be low-key but would like to have an activity planned, why not play the DVD while everyone is chowing down on soup?

Fall Scavenger Hunt

If you'd like a more active event, a Fall scavenger hunt would be an awesome choice! Whether there are kids at the party or not, a scavenger hunt will be fun for everyone. And honestly, there's something about a group of adults doing a scavenger hunt that is just so great! It makes me feel like a very happy kid!



Party Favors

Baby Pumpkins

Last year at our pumpkin party, I gave each guest a mini-pumpkin as a favor. I loved doing that and I hope to have time to pick up a few before the party so that i can do it again. They were the perfect favor, in my opinion!

Candy Corn Chex Mix

Another great party favor for a pumpkin party is to make Candy Corn Chex Mix and bag it up for each guest.

Fall Printables

There are a ton of beautiful, free, Fall printables floating around Pinterest right now. Printing and handing them out would be such a sweet pumpkin party favor!


Whether you are having a party for Fall, Halloween, or just because you love #allthepumpkinstuff (that'd be me), these activities, treats, and party favors will most likely be a hit. Use some of the ideas or all of them, and enjoy your pumpkin party!









Hosting a pumpkin party is a lot of fun and gives you a great excuse to eat all of the #pumpkin desserts, hang out with friends, and celebrate Fall. Today on The Peculiar Treasure, I'm sharing some links/resources that will help you get inspired to throw your own pumpkin party.



Who Is Jesus? A Deeper Look at His Character

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 No comments


Over the last month, I have been attending a women's Bible study on the book of Hebrews. It's taught by an amazing professor at Taylor's seminary and it is an extremely in-depth study. So much so that it will most likely take us a year and a half to finish the book (which only has 13 chapters)! When I first heard that it was going to take us more than a year to finish, I wondered if I might get bored. But I discovered very quickly that I wouldn't need to worry about that.

One of the themes we've discussed so far is Jesus' character and whether he is more like a lion or a lamb (a reference found in Revelation 5:5-6, but was brought up during our study of Hebrews). Growing up in a Christian home, I knew that the right answer was that Jesus is both lion and lamb. I've known that since I was young. But the downside to always "knowing it", is that sometimes you don't really stop and contemplate what that really means.

When talking about Jesus' character, it's important to learn as much as we can, which means taking a deeper look at both his lion-like and lamb-like qualities. And that's what I would like to explore with you today.

Today at The Peculiar Treasure, we are taking a closer look at the character of Jesus and gain a deeper understanding of who he is.


He Gives Mercy 

In Mark 6:34, Jesus sees a crowd from far away and sees that they are wandering aimlessly. It would have been easy for him to decide that he was too tired to deal with them, or maybe that he would rather have a bubble bath for a self-care night. But Jesus didn't retreat and he didn't opt for "me time". He went to the people, seeing they needed some help, and he "had compassion on them".

Jesus is the forgiver of sins. He gives us grace when we don't deserve it, and covers for us even when we fail over and over again. He sees how lost we are. He sees how confused we get. He sees how often we stumble. He understands our weakness and loves us anyway.

He Judges 

2 Corinthians 5:10 says that all of us will one day stand before the judgement seat of Jesus to give an account of our lives. Jesus is merciful, yes, but he also hates sin. He cannot coexist with sin. And he understands the entirety of how bad sin actually is, when we only understand pieces of it.

Jesus always loves us- so much so that he will not just shrug his shoulders and leave us the way we are, because he knows that sin is not a good place to call home. He offers his gift of salvation in mercy, but those who do not receive it will be judged by the same Jesus who loves them fiercely.

He is Fierce (He is Not Safe)

There is a quote from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis) where Susan asks whether or not Aslan the Lion is safe. And Mr. Beaver's response is as follows:

Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.

This quote really strikes me every time I hear it because it is so true of God. Though we are safe in God's arms, God himself is not safe (read: "tame"). God is the King of the universe. He isn't timid. He doesn't "wait his turn". He isn't politically correct. And he doesn't wait for permission to work in the world. Following him means that there is always a grand adventure ahead of us, and that things may get topsy-turvy while we are alive on this earth, but he is always, always good!

For more on Jesus' fierce side, see Matthew 21 and pay particular attention to verses 12-13.

He is Gentle

Despite the fact that Jesus is fierce, he doesn't use it against us. Instead, he is gentle with us when we need it most, just as he is a disciplinarian when we need it most.

The bible says that Jesus' calling on our lives is not a heavy burden, but rather that he is gentle and that his burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). This doesn't mean that it's easy to follow God, but rather following God isn't harsh, burdensome, or heavy.

Jesus is gentle in that he puts other's first (1 Corinthians 13:4-7), is humble (John 13:12-15), and does what is necessary to help us (Matthew 14:13-21).

He is Blunt 

John 4:4-26 recounts Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. In those days, a typical Jew and a typical Samaritan would not speak to each other. In fact, Jews would go out of their way (and on a much longer journey than necessary) just to avoid speaking with Samaritans. But Jesus didn't do what your typical person would do. Instead, he went straight to the well and not only talked to a Samaritan, but talked to a Samaritan woman who had been married five times, which made her a complete outcast in her community.

Jesus, however, showed her great kindness by speaking to her with gentleness, humility, and with genuine interest in what she had to say. And then, Jesus also called out her sin in looking for fulfillment in the husbands she had had over the years. He wasn't rude or crude. He didn't call her names or tell her she was horrible. But he did truthfully and bluntly call out her sin.

We don't like being called out. People who are blunt rub us the wrong way. And sometimes that's because of they way they do it, but if we are honest, it's often just because we don't like being confronted with our own sins. But friends, Jesus is the ultimate sin-confronter. He is that way because 1.) he is holy, and 2.) because he loves us. And if we truly want to experience the character of Jesus, we cannot leave that part out.

So Much More

There are so many other character traits that we can attribute to Jesus, but honestly, if I were to try to capture all of them in one blog post (or 20), we would be here for daysssss. So for now, this is my list. It is not all-encompassing, and it is a humble, feeble attempt on my part, but hopefully you will find it helpful nonetheless.

My hope is to grow in my understanding of Jesus' character and share that with you. We are on this journey together. Let's grow in God together!









Though we will never fully understand everything about the character of Jesus while we are on earth, there is a lot that we can learn from the Bible. So today, we are diving in and learning more about the Character of Jesus. and deepening our knowledge of him.



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