Is it Worth It?

If you've ever built a house before you know there are many plans and decisions to be made.  You've got to pick out land, house plans, paint colors, flooring, carpet, doorknobs, light fixtures.....etc.  It can be a daunting task because you want to pick out styles that you won't get tired of quickly.  Before you even get to all those details, though, you must first make a budget adding 10%-20% increase for unexpected expenses that come up along the way.  When we built our last house, we had lots of expenses that were not planned. We weren't planning on building a retaining wall which ended up being an extra $12,000.  YIKES!  We had to make adjustments and cuts in other places.  We did spend more than we originally planned, but it just makes sense to calculate the cost before you even begin the project.

There is a house in my hometown that the owners decided to renovate.  I don't know the details of the project, but it appears they either miscalculated the cost or ran out.  Perhaps they, too, had some major unexpected costs that they just couldn't cover.  It is now sitting unfinished, rotting, abandoned, and an eye sore.

The Bible gives instructions on everything from taxes, mother-in-laws, bullies, sex, to building plans. In Luke 15:28-33, "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'"

Recently I was witnessing to a friend who was not a believer.  She had lots of questions but just couldn't understand what Jesus dying on a cross had to do with her.  We talked about God, the Bible, Jesus for months.  At one point, she said she would read the Bible and make a decision.  She said she wouldn't join a club without knowing what it was about first so she wanted to read the Bible first.  I thought, "GREAT!"  I know the Bible is living and active and sharper than a double-edged sword that pierces as far as the division of soul and spirit and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Reading the Word for myself has literally transformed me from the inside out so I was thrilled that she was going to read it for herself. This was her way of "counting the cost" of being a follower of Christ.  It took her seven months to read the whole Bible.  Did you read that?!?!  Only SEVEN months.  By Psalms she became a believer.  Every time I think about this I literally cry.  

Is there a cost to following Christ?  God gives us the gift of salvation.  We can't earn salvation, but salvation cost Jesus His life.  When we become a follower of Christ, there is a cost for us well.  This isn't the message I hear often in some teaching about becoming a follower of Christ, but what does the Bible actually teach? How do we become Jesus' disciples?  In Luke 14:33, Jesus says, "None of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions."  OUCH.  Do I have to sell my house and everything I own to be a follower of Christ?  No, not necessarily, but maybe!  I have to be willing to give up everything for Jesus.

Some possibilities for followers of Christ:
1.  You may be handed over to the courts.  (Matthew 10:17)  Although we don't face this here in America right now, I feel that it is coming quickly.  I just listened to an amazing broadcast the other day, Trusting God in the Midst of Persecution.  It is an interview with Naghmeh Abedini, wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini who is currently imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian beliefs.  It is an incredible interview that I encourage every believer to hear.  This happens everywhere!  We are so blinded in our country to this possibility.

2.  You may be betrayed by family.  (Matthew 10:21)  "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death."

3.  You may be hated.  (Matthew 10:22)  Because of the name you bear, some will hate you.

3.  You will be persecuted (Matthew 10:23)  If Jesus Christ Himself was persecuted to the point of death, how can we expect anything different?  A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.  All throughout the New Testament we are warned about when not if we will be persecuted for His name's sake.

4.  You may die.  (Matthew 10:38-39)  We are told that in order to be worthy to be a follower we must take up our cross and follow after Jesus.  We must be willing to die for Christ.  He who has found his life will lose it, and he who receives Me, receives Him who sent Me.

Sounds appealing right?!?!  Sign me up!!!  Philippians 1:29 says, "For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake."  Everyone wants the good parts of being a Christian, but we see there are some hard parts to being a Christian too.  In order to be a disciple of Christ, you must be willing to suffer for Him.  This could be anything small such as being unfriended on Facebook because of your beliefs, to something more difficult such as suffering in a job or public ridicule and mockery and more.

There is is a cost to following Jesus, but is the cost worth it?  Even if I am hated, betrayed, or killed my answer is an emphatic YES!  There is a cost but what is the reward?  Too much to write!!  Salvation, forgiveness of sins, peace, inexpressible joy, gift of the Holy Spirit to teach, guide, and convict us, and an eternal inheritance.  If I were to make a pro and con list on whether or not to be a follower of Christ, although there are some cons, the pros completely outweigh the negatives.

I adore this song by Rend Collective that describes this beautifully.  Here is the link to the song...The Cost by Rend Collective

I'm saying yes to You and no to my desires.  
I'll leave myself behind and follow You.

I'll walk the narrow road 'cause it leads me to You
I'll fall but grace will pick me up again.

I've counted up the cost, Oh, I've counted up the cost
Yes, I've counted up the cost and You are worth it.

I do not need safety as much as I need You
You're dangerous but Lord You're beautiful

I'll chase You through the pain, I'll carry my cross
'cause real love is not afraid to bleed.

Jesus take my all, take my everything
I've counted up the cost and You're worth everything

I'd like to ask if you're a true follower, a true disciple.  Are you willing to give up everything and follow Him, because that is the requirement.  If you're not willing, then perhaps you're not a true follower.  I've had to ask myself the same question.  He is so worth it.  There is nothing in this world that can satisfy.


Downton Abbey Party

A few days before Christmas I was browsing Pinterest, and I saw a few pins about a Downton Abbey party.  I love the show and I know that several of my friends watch it so I thought it would be fun to dress up and have a party.  We have lots of parties for our kids, but it would be nice to have one for moms occasionally:) I mentioned the idea to Landon and he looked at me like, "Are you serious?"  He wasn't thrilled about it, but I'm thankful he will go along with my madness most of the time.

I wasn't sure exactly who all watched it so I sent random text messages that said, "Do you watch Downton Abbey?"  It was an odd question for most and completely out of the blue, but I wanted people who had seen the show to come.  It wouldn't be as fun if they were clueless about the show.

I found lots of treasures at Goodwill for the party.  I got the mugs for .50 each and the saucers for .25 each.
I painted their names with an oil based paint pen so it would be dishwasher safe.  (Yes, I know that proper nouns are supposed to be capitalized.  I read a comment about that from some pictures that were posted.  haha)
Lots of tea choices.  I know nothing about tea.  I had to ask for help. 

Everyone pitched in with some English food choices.  
Jamie's beautiful serving dishes from her grandmother made it look fancy.

I adore how these turned out!!  The idea was found here.
Ashley Brandes made the scones.  That was a little intimidating.  She has made them before and has also been to England, so she was the most qualified:)

I loved everyone's attire!

I found all the candelabras from Goodwill as well.  I spray painted them all to coordinate.  It was a cheap decoration.

Since I was having a party on a Sunday night, I felt guilty.   So we read some Scripture together and had a devotional.  

There is a great deal of fascination about the classes from this show.  It makes it appear so wonderful and elite.  The truth is that very few people actually belonged to the upper class.  In all likelihood if I were there and living in this era, I'd be a maid instead.  But according to what Christ has done for us all on the cross, as a believer in Him,  I am royalty.  

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nationa people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."  1 Peter 2:9-10

I also read another scripture from James about not showing favoritism.  This show is filled with this.  Even though she is a beloved character, the Dowager Countess of Grantham often looks down on people because they are middle class.  She doesn't want herself or her family to be associated with some people because of their class. 

I have often laughed at her attitude, but can we not have this same kind as well?  I see it happen regularly, and I have been guilty myself.  I was reminded of a very convicting passage from James...

"My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude ofpersonal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this worldto be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?
If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors."  James 2:1-9

We played a trivia game.  Lori and Christina tied.  They were good!!

Tea Time!
Gretchen loves tea!

I feel certain Julie was saying, "SHUT UP!"  haha.  It's a common thing to hear her say and that's what it looks like anyway:)

Rebecca came over early and fixed my hair.

Rebecca also made these amazing raspberry thumbprint cookies.  I ate a ridiculous amount of them.  They were so GOOD!  Leanne fixed my tea for me because I didn't know how.  Who knew?  I love tea!!!!  I've never had hot tea that I liked.  This was Earl Gray with sugar, honey, and a little milk.  Delish.

These were made with tiles with Downton artwork decoupaged on them.  The girls got to pick them out in order of the amount of questions they got correct from the trivia questions.  Julie didn't do so well and was moaning that she was going to get stuck with the O'Brien one.  haha.  


Logan's 11th Birthday

For Logan's birthday this year we took him and a group of friends to Jump Jam, a trampoline park, in Knoxville, TN.  His birthday is in the middle of December which is a really busy time of the year to plan a party.  So, we decided to have his party after Christmas.  He didn't want to wait, but it ended up working out the best and it gave him something to look forward to after Christmas.  None of the boys had been here before so it made it even more exciting!

It's a little challenging to get a group picture on a trampoline.  I'm glad I snapped quickly because it turned to this in just a few seconds...

The boys love the basketball goal on their trampoline.  I knew they would love this one!

Jumping into the foam pit!
Lucas blends in!

Obstacle Course:
I love Riley's face in this one!

They camped out in this spot for a while.  They wanted to try and touch the ball hanging from the ceiling.  Cameron didn't have trouble with it because he is so tall!  Logan and Bray were determined to touch it.  They tried and tried until they both did it!  It was funny to watch their persistence and dedication.  
Look at Colby.  haha

Dodge Ball!!
I think Landon got a little too much enjoyment in pegging kids with the dodge ball.  :)
Two hours of jumping made for a group of sweaty and hungry boys!