Always Be Grateful

Always Be Grateful

Psalm 9:1

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds (NIV).

We live in a society where you don’t see gratefulness every day. People seem to be complaining about something constantly. Things have become so fast-paced all around us that it’s challenging to slow down and embrace the beautiful things right in front of us. But that’s exactly what God has called us to do. If we ask for His help in prayer, He will help us take the time to see and appreciate all of the blessings that He has filled our lives with.

We often go through life chasing a big dream, sacrificing so much along the way. When we finally get there, we realize that we have missed all the important things in life. It becomes clear to us that what we considered the small things were actually the big things all along. Everything that we need in life was really there all along. We spend so much time looking towards the future that we can’t see how much God has blessed us today.

Recognize those blessings that God has filled your life with, and share them with others. Help others to see the things they should be grateful for in life. All of these things point back to the Lord and inspire us in our faith. God helps us to reset our priorities and find meaning in the everyday occurrences in our lives.

Living life with a grateful heart opens us up to abundant peace, love, and joy. This life is the kind of reality that God desires for us to experience. When we invite God into our hearts, He begins His transformative work and transforms our perception from the inside out. He wants to show you all of the blessings in your life. Are you ready to walk with Him today?

How to Best Reach Out to Your Congregation During COVID-19

How to Best Reach Out to Your Congregation During COVID-19

The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic has put a strain on every business. It has also prevented people from attending church regularly, which can be hard on people’s mental health. Here are some ways you can reach out to your congregation during these uncertain times.

Increase Your Online Communications

Sending out online forms of communication is essential to maintain your congregation’s satisfaction. Thankfully, it is also easy to reach out using the internet. Start by creating a social media page (probably Facebook or Instagram) for your church. Add members of your congregation if they have an account.

After you do this, make it a point to inform people about outdoor church events and send uplifting, spiritual messages. In doing this, you are building your church up and keeping your members strong. If social media is not your preference, send an email out to your congregation. If your congregation is made up of varying demographics, you might want to try doing both. 

Reassure Them About Precautions

Social distancing in churches is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19. It is also the key to getting your congregation to attend church again. Most churches have a large audience of elderly people who are the most vulnerable and concerned about the coronavirus. To alleviate their concerns you will need to let them know that you’re taking precautions.

You can easily reassure your congregation through your marketing efforts. Make sure that the pews have signs encouraging social distancing. Social media is also a great place to reassure church members that you’re taking precautions. Make posts about any updated restrictions so that people know what to expect when they attend. You can also talk about any measures you are taking in a church newsletter.

Be Persistent and Uplifting

You should be persistent and uplifting when you contact your church members. Create or share a short video message sending your love and encouragement. Alternatively, send scripture verses to comfort and teach during these troubling times. Obviously, you should not be too pushy, but being present in your members’ lives will keep them aware of church and keep them hopeful. In some cases, you may be able to stop by people’s homes and talk to them briefly. Make sure you are wearing masks, but small actions can make a big difference.

Your congregation is looking to you currently for messages of hope and faith. You should be there as often as you can muster. Always look for opportunities to bless their lives with positive gospel messages or excellent counsel. Your church can overcome this pandemic.

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How to Preach the Word in the Information Age

How to Preach the Word in the Information Age

With everyone live streaming and replaying content, is going to church still relevant? It’s not just this generation; older people are online more than ever. Why go to church if you can watch it on your smartphone or laptop or stream it up to your television. The Bible says in Hebrews 10:25, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Christians understand this to mean we should go to a church, but in the information is a physical church required if there is active engagement during live streaming?

The answer will be based more on tradition or the release of tradition and the evolved understanding “…assembling together…” The debate would be if virtual reality an actual reality because we can interact with each other even though we cannot touch each other. In some churches, membership is in the thousands, and people do not touch each other or interact with leadership except at altar call, and then it’s mostly those at the front of the lines. The internet is bringing the earth’s population closer, and the church can reach more people than ever with its use of technology. Many will say that the physical church is the biblical church, and there will be some born who may never know what a physical church was. 

Gather Reviews from Churchgoers

Facebook and other social media platforms are increasingly using reviews and recommendations to help users get good information about local businesses and ministries. These online platforms are also vehicles for live streaming sermons which is helpful if people cannot make it to the building for church service. If congregants are new to an area, just visiting, and want to attend church but don’t have local traveling capabilities, they can search for local churches that have a live streaming option.

How to Preach Online to Social Media Viewers

The most important thing to do when preaching to an online audience is to engage them the same way you would an actual audience. Many ministers treat live streaming like a tv show rather than a real live audience. This behavior makes the live streamer feel left out and unimportant. Preach to your streaming audience the same as if they were in the room with you or on a conference call. Acknowledge your live streaming audience by providing call to actions such as “If you’re watching by Facebook, wave at me” or “Father bless those watching by live stream”, or “Welcome and thanks for joining by Facebook, please put your amen(s) and Hallelujahs in the comment section so we can see them.”

Ask for Reviews from Online Viewers

Invite online guests to review your sermons before they log off. Let them know how much you appreciate them taking the time to watch through live stream. Ask them to share their experience and what your church can do to better their experience next time. Invite them to partner with your ministry online and to connect in person if they get that opportunity. Let your online audience know that they can bring their tithes and give offerings through your website or text messaging. Include a form that they can opt-in for email contact or by phone.

The Bible preaches the same no matter which space it’s in, so there is no need to preach differently. The Word of God stands firm on its own. Viewers watch more closely on live stream than in person to feel more connected. Viewers will look for body language as indicators of truthfulness. Continue to teach biblical principles and a manner that is relatable and understandable, and your message will transcend any sphere.

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Sweet and Sour Nuggets: My Kids and Not the Take-out Kind

Sweet and Sour Nuggets: My Kids and Not the Take-out Kind

My kids LOVE candy. 

And not the good chocolate stuff that their Momma hides in various places throughout the kitchen; but the artificially colored, artificially sweetened, stick in your teeth, and jack you up like meth, kind of candy.  My daughter’s current favorite are “jebby beans” aka jelly beans. 

She becomes highly motivated whenever promised the reward of said “jebby bean”.  And considering the fact that she refuses to do even the most basic of functions to keep her alive (drinking water, eating, pooping, etc – no big deal), you better believe I am using those artificially manufactured treats to my advantage.

Drink your smoothie – get a “jebby bean”. Go poop – get a “jebby bean”.  Eat your lunch – get a “jebby bean”.  The way I see it, at least she’s going for the metaphorical carrot – ha!  Now my son has graduated to the harder stuff.  You know the kind – it’s the candy that is no longer even attempting to market itself as a “healthier” choice, but rather just owning the fact that it’s straight SUGAR on top of more SUGAR. 

One of his all time favorites is Warheads.  If you’re not familiar with Warheads, they’re a type of hard candy that is lip puckering-eye watering-salivary glands igniting, SOUR! Buuuuuuttttttt if you can hang with the sour long enough, eventually it gives way to something sweet. In a lot of ways I feel the daily grind of parenting can be very similar to the Warhead experience.  Aside from the name itself (which come on- that’s just a gimme) many of the moments which make up a 24 hour day could be perceived as sour.

Missed naps resulting in cranky kids – sour.  Making meals that kids will inevitably complain about – sour. Mountains of laundry that never end – sour.  Refereeing yet another dispute over whose toys is whose, who’s looking where, and what’s touching whom – S.O.U.RBuuuuuuttttttt if we canjust hang with the sour long enough, eventually these moments may give way to something sweet. 

Now I’m not talking about the moment when all your kids are asleep for the night; although let’s be honest, that is pretty Freaking SWEET – like chocolate and wine for Momma kind of SWEET.  But I’m talking about the little moments hidden throughout the day that are occurring all the time if we would only take the time to notice. The other night was one of those warhead experiences. It was 7:00pm and I was exhausted.  I had been “on the clock” since 5:00am, and my three little supervisors hadn’t so much as offered me a break (the nerve!).  One of the supervisors was already down for the night and another was on her way.  It was the final push. 

Brush teeth, go potty, and oh yeah….EYE DROPS.  Thanks Pink Eye.  Anywho, the only thing I hate more than putting drops in my own eyes is putting drops in my kid’s eyes.  Now miraculously, when my son (aka patient 0)  had pink eye the week prior, the drop regiment wasn’t nearly as horrible as I had anxiously envisioned it.  He was such a champ and didn’t even bat an eye (literally).  But when my daughter’s eyes fell victim to the pink…no bueno.  Imagine if you will, a tiny two year old writhing around, screaming at the top of her lungs, while squeezing her eyes shut with an impressive amount of eyelid strength, all the while frantically trying to hold your hand which is wrestling to open said hulk eyelids. 

HOT MESS three times a day. THREE TIMES! So as I said…it was the last round of drops for the day.  Grace and I were fully engaged in our hand to hand combat as I attempted to land at least one drop in her actual eye, as opposed to the countless number of drops that were accumulating on her cheeks.  Porter had long since slinked out of the room.  He absolutely HATES crying (well the crying of others.  He apparently doesn’t seem to mind his own so much – go figure!) I assumed he had quickly assessed the situation and didn’t want to become collateral damage.  

Smart move. 

Lord knows my tentacles of frustration have been known to lash out at anything moving, speaking, or even breathing in the vicinity – guilty or not.  Well the floor combat raged on when all of a sudden Porter re-appeared…wearing EAR MUFFS!  And without saying a word to me, he knelt down right beside his sister, grabbed her hand, and told her “bro bro” was there and she could be brave. PAUSE That was it – birthed from the sour, pink eyed mess, a moment of sweetness to savor.

Now did this moment miraculously fix everything? Did Grace instantly regain her sanity and insist upon opening her eye wide? Um not quite.  Most of the bottle’s contents are still crusted on our carpet.  But what did happen was that her big brother, equipped with ear muffs, willingly chose to step in to the screaming sour of that moment to offer his love and encouragement.  A moment I could have very easily overlooked on account of frustration and WWF induced muscle fatigue.  How grateful I was to have witnessed that simple sweet exchange…but oh what a reality check it was for this Momma’s heart. 

How many other sweet moments had I missed that day, that week, because I was consumed with frustration, ungratefulness, annoyance, tiredness, or all of the above? I needed to start taking NOTICE I needed to begin to embrace the sweet WITH THE sour. These moments are often  dependent on one another, and I believe are by divine design.  You see it is in those sour moments we realize we don’t have all it all together, we can’t do it on our own strength, and we need some HELP!

The moments designed to bring us to our knees and at the feet of the one who promises to renew our strength, to provide rest, peace, wisdom, and FORGIVENESS (Because let’s be honest, I usually need to do some kind of repenting by 9:00am EV-ER-Y-DAYYYYYYY) And it is then, when we are on our knees looking up at HIM, no longer inward at ourselves, that we are able to witness and savor the sweet moments hidden throughout our days. So take heart my friends…it’s not all sour.  We just gotta hold on for the sweet!

What is in a Shirt?

What is in a Shirt?

100% Cotton, Ringspun, & Combed Ringspun?

With nearly thousands of styles of T-shirts to choose from, you’ve got to have some guidelines. Understanding the difference in cotton fabrics used for all-cotton tees is a good starting point.

First, look at the description of the cotton content, as most t-shirts are described simply as “100% cotton” and are made from a less expensive, less refined open-end cotton, offering good value for a basic tee. Ringspun cottons are smoother and stronger. They’ve been through a spinning process that softens and straightens each fiber. Another step up in quality is combed ringspun cotton, which is even more refined. After the cotton fibers have been spun, they’re combed to remove any impurities or imperfect strands.

T-shirt weight?

The garment’s end-use can help determine which weight is best. T-shirt weights range from the very light (3.0 oz.) to standard (4.5 oz. to 5.3 oz.) to heavy (over 6 oz.). A heavier weight is likely a better choice for a building contractor who is wearing the shirt frequently and washing regularly. A lighter weight is typically preferred by women as a more fashionable choice. It will have a cleaner fit. Climate might influence which weight will be more comfortable; the warmer the region or season, the lighter the garment’s weight should be.

18-single, 30-single and 40-single?

You’ll see 18-single, 30-single and 40-single yarns. The more cotton threads per yarn, the tighter the weave. A 40-single, 100% combed ringspun cotton tee is therefore extremely soft with a tighter, smoother weave than a T-shirt made of an 18-single, open-end cotton. Most 100% cotton tees on the market will be, but confirming this feature avoids any disappointment in how the garment holds its size in the wash.

Pre-shrunk?

Today, most cotton t-shirts are pre-shrunk VS traditional 100% cotton t-shirts that will inevitably shrink when washed and dried. Luckily, among many technological advancements made recently, t-shirt manufacturers have the ability to “pre-shrink” the material used to make their t-shirts, thus avoiding unwanted shrinkage.

The term pre-shrunk mostly speaks for itself, but it’s important to be aware a couple important factors. Pre-shrunk doesn’t necessarily mean that t-shirt manufacturers wash every single garment. Instead, it refers to the garment having been put through a machine that pushes, or compacts, the fibers tightly together. This process condenses the fabric by removing the space between the stitches as a way of replicating the shrinking process. In doing this, the garment now has been “pre-shrunk” and will shrink less when put through the traditional washing and drying process.

Having a pre-shrunk shirt doesn’t mean the shirt won’t shrink further. This means that even though pre-shrunk garments have been manufactured in a way to prevent shrinkage, you’ll still likely experience some shrinkage. Mind you, most fabric will shrink on average 3-7 percent so you won’t typically notice, but there will almost always be some additional (minimal) shrinkage to be aware of.

Bottom line… Pre-shrunk implies that most of the shrinkage has been removed from the garment, but do not be misled and assume that no additional shrinking will occur. On top of that, always wash in cold and hang dry if you want to eliminate unwanted shrinkage- minimal or not!