In the Middle of an Ordinary Life

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 1.42.42 PM“Sometimes in the middle of an ordinary life love gives us a fairy tale.”  Those were the words on the invitation to mine and Tommy’s vow renewal ceremony a couple of years ago, and they are just as true today as they were then.  We aren’t anyone special.  By the worlds standards, we don’t amount to much.  Neither of us have degrees or titles.  We don’t have a fancy house or fancy cars.  But we have each other and four beautiful, wonderful children.  For us, that is enough, and in our eyes, we’re the richest folks in the world.

When Tommy and I met, I was not interested in settling down.  I was “state hopping” across the south in an effort to “find myself”.  I had a cynical view of men and marriage and was not going to be tied down to someone who would ultimately cause me misery and grief.  But Tommy was different than the other guys I’d dated.  He treated me like a princess.  More than that, he treated me like I mattered and was adored.  I can never remember feeling more content, stable, or at peace than when I was with him.  When I found him, I finally found myself.

Four months from the day we met, we eloped on my lunch break.  That was twenty years ago today.  In those twenty years, we have experienced “better and worse”, “richer and poorer”, and “sickness and health”.  We have tested the bounds of the “worse, poorer, and sickness” on more occasions than I care to remember.  In those twenty years, everything that has been thrown at us to break us apart, God has used to build us closer together.  Through everything we’ve been, we’ve fallen more in love with one another.

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Our 2013 Vow Renewal

My daughter’s boyfriend recently told her, “They are my goal,” meaning he hopes to have a relationship like we do when he’s at this point in his life.  If he was trying to win brownie points with the parents, it worked; I cannot think of many better compliments.  Tommy and I do not possess any great secrets that have blessed us with such great marital bliss.  We simply follow Paul’s directions laid out in Ephesians 5:22, 25 that read, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  (I know not everyone likes the word “submit”, but y’all, it’s easy to submit to a man that loves you the way Christ loved the church.)Tommy and I feel very blessed to have the relationship that we do.  We both work to keep our love fresh and alive.  On days that Tommy leaves for work before I wake up, I am greeted with a text message that reads, “Good morning, beautiful.  I love you.”  When he pulls up in the drive-way after work, I still run out to greet him and welcome him home.  It is the giving and receiving that makes it work.  Our favorite place to be is together and when we are together, we do the following:  we hold hands (wherever we are); we play (sometimes as simple as thumb war); we talk (about everything and about nothing); we laugh A LOT (it’s the best medicine); we flirt (it’s our favorite method of torturing our children); we support each other’s ideas and interests (no matter how insane they may seem); we dream (we have so much planned for our future); we have each other’s back (he’s my number one and I’m his).  To sum it up – we love.  Love is not a feeling but an action.  Love is putting someone else before yourself and choosing their good over your own.

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So you see, it is true:  “Sometimes in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.”  I have now spent half of my life married to the man of my dreams, and I plan to spend the next half loving him and continuing to live “happily ever after each and every day”.

I love you, Tommy!  Happy Anniversary!!

Have a blessed week y’all!

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Rock Out!

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

23514874_10154725473431511_772587828_oIf you’ve been out and about in recent weeks, chances are you’ve noticed colorful, painted rocks with bright pictures or inspirational messages hidden around local businesses.  “Kindness Rocks” is the latest craze in spreading cheer throughout the country, and Franklin County is proudly representing and participating.  Our local nursing home has gotten in on the fun with residents there finding, hiding, and creating their own rocks.  There is also a Facebook page dedicated to rocks found in Franklin County.  (You can search “Spread The Love FC Rocks” to be directed to the page).  There have been reports of rocks found from Memphis and Florida here in little, ole Meadville.

People near and far are actively painting and hiding rocks, and there others who are spending time hunting for rocks.  At my house, we have spent several hours together over the past few weeks painting rocks that we collected from the river over the summer.  Both the gathering and creating have served as meaningful family time and new precious memories made together.  We hope to spend some time together soon hunting for rocks in different towns.

The point in this movement is to anonymously brighten someone’s day by a simple act of kindness.  The joy that comes from the discovery of such a treasure can be compared to seeing a shooting star, a rainbow, or even a dandelion.  I consider them to be what I call “a God smile” which is a small reminder that we are not alone in this world and that God knows every detail of our lives, loves us, and calls us His own.  Psalm 8:3-4 reads, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”  These simple little rocks, as silly as it may seem, remind me that the creator of the universe is mindful of little, ole me.  23515815_10154725474956511_710145675_n

If you see a rock, pick it up and smile.  Re-hide it somewhere for someone else to be blessed, or keep it to remind yourself that God is your rock and salvation and you, even little, ole you, matter to Him.

Have a blessed week y’all!

How Much Must You Hate Someone?

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

hate-dictionarySeveral years ago a You Tube video circulated through the online Christian community of famed magician Penn Jillette talking about a touching experience he’d had with a “good” man during one of his shows. Jillette is a known atheist and seems to be just as devout an atheist as I am a Christian. However, during this show this “good man”, as Jillette often referred to him, offered Jillette a Gideon Bible.

Instead of being offended by the gesture, Jillette was touched. Though still passionately denying the existence of God, he said, “If you believe there is a heaven and a hell and that people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward,” he continued, “how much must you hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Those words have pierced my heart. “How much must I hate someone not to tell them about Jesus and how He has changed my life and what He wants to do in theirs?” While I am a believer and I strive to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God, I do not often stop and preach the gospel to the unbelieving while going about my daily duties.

Jesus will return for His bride, and each day we grow closer to that moment. The rapture could take place today or a million years from now. We don’t know.  What is important is that we keep our lives in right standing, that we wait and watch for Christ’s return, and that we take as many people with us as we can.

We as Christians need to be busy about our master’s business. It’s not enough living a good life. We need to be actively proclaiming Jesus as Lord everywhere we go. I’m not talking about getting in people faces and screaming, “repent, the kingdom of God is at hand!”, but rather as the Holy Spirit nudges to share in love with someone the gospel of Christ. Instead of shying away from what could be a “socially awkward moment,” we need to be caring about other people enough to share eternal life with them in a kind and loving way. I would rather spend five minutes of my life on earth feeling rejected for sharing the gospel with a stranger than an eternity knowing I could have been the difference between heaven and hell to just one person but was too embarrassed to do so.large

In Acts 5 an angel of the Lord freed Peter and John from jail and spoke to them saying, “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people the full message of this new life.” As the chapter continues the men are brought before the Sanhedrin and flogged because of their testimony. Yet the chapter ends saying, “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” Even in the face of persecution and opposition Peter and John were not deterred from doing that to which Christ had called them. Neither should we be.

Have a blessed week y’all!

Confessions of a Serial Sinner

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 9.23.01 AMI have a confession to make.  This is new for me and a bit difficult, but here goes… My name is Samantha Sivils, and I am a serial sinner.  You read that right.  I am.  Me.  The one who tries her best each week to hear from God and share an encouraging message with you, the reader.  I sin.

Oh don’t worry.. it’s nothing huge.  Just “little sins”.  I don’t lie, murder, commit adultery, or steal.  Heck, I don’t even cuss (unless you consider my slang to be cussing).  By most standards, I’m doing quite well.

Of course, most standards do not compare to God’s standards.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Sin doesn’t start with the action.  It starts with the thought.  And man, can my thought life get me in trouble!  If I’m being honest and I am (remember, I don’t lie), earlier in the week I was convicted that I was harboring bitterness and resentment in my heart towards people who have hurt me.  Not dealt with or confessed, these feelings which began in my thoughts, are sin.

Galations 5:19-21 from the NLT says, “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”  As I look at that list, I’m aware that the feelings I just admitted that I had are sources of hostility, quarreling, possibly jealousy, an occasional outburst of anger, selfish ambition, and division.  I just racked up half the list.  The Apostle Paul clearly related, as he stated in Romans 7:19, “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.”

In case there are any others of you who are serial sinners like me, there is good news.  1 Timothy 1:15 reads, “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.”  I’d love to hug Paul’s neck and assure him that he couldn’t possibly be the worst sinner.  I mean he wrote half of the New Testament.  His sins can’t compare to mine… but then again they were never meant to.  Sin is sin.  Whether it exists in your thoughts or actions, no sin is bigger than another.

As someone who is a Christian and hopes to show the world Jesus in our lives and through our actions, we need to daily seek His face and commit to live our lives as proof of a loving God.  When the world sees us living in sin while preaching against it, is it any wonder they run the other way?  2014-07-19

While Christ came to give us hope and a future, He also was well aware that on this side of Heaven, perfection could only be achieved by Him.  My Momma believed this verse for me during the years I wasn’t living for Jesus.  I share it with my children often now.  It is Philippians 1:6 that says, “ And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”  Oh how I long for that day.

Have a blessed week, y’all!