Colorado Diaries – 2021 {Part One}

Colorado Diaries – 2021 {Part One}

We just got back from a fall-licious vacation in Colorado and of course I had to document our time so I can look back – this is more of a “diary” with photos so I can remember where we went and what we did.

If you are planning a vacation to Colorado, I hope this series helps you as well! We drove ALL day Thursday, September 23rd – left our home in Texas around 4:45am and got to Silverthorne, Colorado (with the time change) around 5:30/6pm. We did stop at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo to stretch our legs for a bit, then got back in and drove it out! 😉

Friday, September 24, 2021

Breckenridge

Today we went to Breckenridge after a nice leisurely morning of coffee and breakfast in our VRBO in Silverthorne. Once in town, we luckily found an available parking spot (there were only three spots available, and we got the last one) and started on our hike on Sawmill Trail at the Snowflake trailhead. The hike was a nice, easy hike that helped us to get acclimated to the elevation. We then took the reservoir turn off and had a snack at the water’s edge. 

There were two brothers on the dock fishing, and I was watching them fish. Then I heard one of them yell, “what the?” and then saw the big brother looking at the younger brothers face and heard some crying. I had a sinking feeling and just knew that a hook got the boy in the face…I yelled out, “Are y’all ok?” and the oldest brother yelled back that he needed help. I could hear the panic in his voice, and I grabbed our stuff and we all rushed to them. Once there, I saw it – the younger boy had a treble fishing hook in his cheek. The oldest went to cast and hooked his brother instead.

If you are squeamish to things like these…scroll down…otherwise this is what happened:

Thankfully Stephen had some pliers in the car so he ran back to the car to get them. While he was gone, I helped the boy back to a bench and he laid down. I tried my best to keep them calm and prayed over them. Then I asked the oldest boy (they were 15 and 12 years) if he had called his mom yet, to which he said no. I grabbed my phone and called her, left a message, and then the oldest son called her office. She immediately came and was so grateful that we were there to help. Fortunately, Stephen came back just before she arrived and clipped the barb and slid the hook out and put some antibiotic cream on it. She was so sweet and so gracious, and the boys were just so shaken up. Thankfully both boys are ok! I am just so glad that God placed us there at that time so we could help them out because I don’t know what they would’ve done.

After that adventure, we headed back to the car and drove to check out the Trollstigen Trail – a very short trail that takes you to a big wooden troll sitting in the forest.

We snapped a few pictures then decided to walk the Illinois Creek Trail.

I just love the fall trees!!

We checked out the little train playground that was close by and then headed to Cool River Coffee House for lunch and coffee. Since we had a bit of time left on our parking spot, we decided to walk around downtown Breck for a bit and stopped at Mountain Top Ice Cream where the boys got a sweet treat.

We noticed a few people in lederhosen’s so we followed them to the Blue River Lawn for the annual Breckenridge Oktoberfest. We walked around for a bit and then headed back to the car.

Our next stop was also eventful! I mean, the hook wasn’t enough…

After sitting in the car for a bit trying to decide what to do next, we decided to drive to the local gold mining attraction and see if we could just walk up and be able to pan…and thankfully no one was there and we were able to pan all by ourselves! After learning a bit from the guide, we all had our chance at panning for gold. And I can happily report that ALL boys, including Stephen, found some gold! We walked over to a little creek where we could pan some more, and after about 10 minutes, Clark was standing on the small little bridge, took a step back and fell right in the freezing cold water! Thank goodness he was ok and didn’t hit his head on a rock and was just scared and cold. We pulled off his shirt and I gave him my sweater then we took him to the car and used a blanket that we had to dry him off and wrap him up in the car seat and I had packed an additional shirt that he put on. 

Well, all that adventure in just one day!

After the dip at the Lomax Gulch, we headed back to our VRBO, showered, grilled burgers and relaxed.  All in all, it was an adventurous day in Breck…one that we won’t soon forget! 

Our VRBO was in the best location and the owners were so sweet! They gave our boys a stuffed animal to remember their stay and the house was clean and nice!
The aspens around our house were just stunning!! By the time we left, this front right yellow tree was almost completely orange!

See you back here tomorrow for my conversation with Jenn Smith! This is a podcast episode you don’t want to miss! And Part Two of our Colorado adventures will post later this week so make sure you are subscribed to the blog so you don’t miss it!

Have a blessed and beautiful Monday friends!

100!

100!

As I was editing a recent podcast and creating the blog post for the episode, it dawned on me that over the past year + of blogging, I have over 100 posts! It is so fun to see the change in my writing style and even the spiritual change that has occurred in this past year. My “lifestyle” blog posts are becoming fewer as my focus has shifted more towards sharing the Lord and people’s testimonies. When I post, I want it to be more about God than about Friday Favorites. 😉 It is still fun to read those lifestyle blog posts and I will still occasionally post them (like today!), but the majority of my posts in recent months have dramatically changed.

So I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the TOP TEN posts that YOU have liked the most (based on the number of visitors/readers via WordPress) AND the TOP FIVE podcast episodes via Anchor).

Thank you for being here for over 100 blog posts and for always supporting, sharing, and commenting. I so appreciate you!

Don’t forget to tune in next week for another podcast that will air on Tuesday! Make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts:

Anchor Spotify | Breaker | Google Podcasts | Apple Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RadioPublic

TOP TEN BLOG POSTS OF 2020/2021

I Am Not Alone

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My Top 4 Favorite Cookbooks

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Who Is Your Daddy and What Does He Do?

PSA: My husband is an Arnold fan, thus I am an Arnold fan, so I had to throw that GIF in there…and the fiting title for this blog. Love ya, dear! My sweet husband, Stephen, gifted me an Ancestry DNA kit for my birthday a few years ago. To most, this is just a cool…

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Why We Turned Down HGTV

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What is Candida?

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I Quit…

Over the last couple of months, I have been deep in prayer asking the Lord to guide me and help me (and ultimately my husband) make a tough decision – if I should walk away from my job at Frisco STYLE Magazine. I was in the Word and praying for God to guide Stephen, as…

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Target Homeschool Haul!

I haven’t been inside of Target since March (so I think I got carried away!) Haha! I needed to make a return so decided to go and get a few snack items for our boat outing on Saturday…then walked away with a ton of homeschool items as well! As soon as I walked in, the…

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TOP FIVE PODCAST EPISODES

There is a three-way tie for 5th place!! How fun is that?!? Here are the 3 that made the 5th spot of the most played episodes:

Lifestyle with Lauren Podcast: Episode 9 with Kimberly Partain

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Lifestyle with Lauren Podcast: Episode 2 with Kortnee VanCleave

My guest for Lifestyle with Lauren Podcast Episode #2 is Kortnee VanCleave. Kortnee VanCleave is a mom, entrepreneur and hairstylist featured in Voyage Dallas, RAW Artistry Showcase and Shoots Model Magazine, with a passion to help others and build relationships with everyone who sits in her chair. I am so thankful Kortnee took time out…

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Lifestyle with Lauren Podcast: Episode 4 with Janell Marsh

My guest for Lifestyle with Lauren Podcast Episode #4 is Janell Marsh. She and I go WAY back! We knew each other in high school and have stayed connected through good ol’ social media. Janell recently posted about her journey with IVF and how God has worked in her life through the years. Her story…

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Go & Tell Podcast with Lauren Greci: Episode 16 with Alisa Hauser

My guest for the Go & Tell Podcast with Lauren Greci: Episode 16 is Alisa Hauser. I found Alisa through a mom’s blog where she shared a very eye-opening article with four tips about finances from a widows perspective. Alisa’s husband tragically passed away when her babies were little and through her own experiences, she encourages other women to know where and how the finances are kept.

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THANK YOU, again, so much for all the love you have shown me through this fun little blogging and podcasting world. I have so much more coming your way and I cannot wait to share what is on the horizon that the Holy Spirit is doing in my life.

Have a blessed week friends and I’ll see you here next week!

Vanilla Protein Latte

Vanilla Protein Latte

It’s summer and when I am wanting a cool, refreshing, energy-boosting drink, I opt for my super easy and delicious Vanilla Protein Latte! Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Ingredients:

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend away until smooth and frothy! Drink up and get that caffeinated protein boost you need on a hot day!

Did you make this recipe?

Tag #lifestylewithlauren on Instagram!

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I Quit…

I Quit…

Over the last couple of months, I have been deep in prayer asking the Lord to guide me and help me (and ultimately my husband) make a tough decision – if I should walk away from my job at Frisco STYLE Magazine.

I was in the Word and praying for God to guide Stephen, as he is the head of the household and ultimately if he says yay or nay, I will follow his guidance.

I was reading a few verses that kept standing out to me (and these are just a couple of the MANY, like Romans 8, Hebrews 11, etc.)…

Ecclesiastes 1:1-8 states:

These are the words of the Teacher, King David’s son, who ruled in Jerusalem.

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

What King Solomon (remember he is super-wealthy) is saying is that only the pursuit of God brings real satisfaction and that we should honor God in what we say, think and do. Near the end of King Solomon’s life, looking back on everything he had done, he saw the most of it seemed meaningless. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes after he had tried everything and achieved much, only to find that nothing apart from God made him happy.

If we try to find meaning in our accomplishments rather than God, we will never be satisfied.

Matthew 6:20 states:

“Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.”

And Matthew 6:33 states:

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

To “seek the Kingdom of God above all else” means to put God first in your life, to fill your thoughts with his desires, to take his character for your pattern, and to serve and obey him in everything. I have to actively choose to give God first place in every area of my life.

While praying and reading the Bible, I just felt like it was time. It IS time. It is time to give my children my ALL again – in homeschooling, in parenting, in time, in energy.

It is time for me to grow my faith walk.

It is time for me to volunteer and be active in my church again.

It is time for me to minister to teens and young moms.

It is time for me to be the light for others and to point others to God.

It is time to STEP UP, get out of ‘Kiddie Pool Christianity,’ swim to the deep and anchor my trust in the Lord.

Ultimately, I want my work to be completely and only for the Lord – through my work at church, through my children, through the podcast and blog and through my neighborhood. I want to clear my head of things that are not pure and lovely and things that do not keep me in line with working for the Lord.

It was time and Stephen agreed.

After ten months as editor and then director of digital content, I put in my two-week notice a couple of weeks ago and my official last day at FSM was Thursday, May 13, 2021.

My time at FSM was short but sweet. I meet some incredible people, learned a lot, and God used that time to refine me as well. I will forever be grateful for the time I had and the relationships that were built through FSM and the Frisco community.

So here we are! On to the next chapter! I am excited to see what the Lord has planned for me and I will try my hardest to do His will and to really LISTEN to what He has to say.

<3


One Final Word . . . 

This past week I fought the flu, and my body wasn’t pleased. While lying in bed, one has much time to think and reflect. And a thought kept occurring to me as I lay listening to my boys play.  I…

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A Note on Mother’s Day

A Note on Mother’s Day

Today is a day we celebrate the mothers in our lives. For some, this day is filled with joy and laughter and love, and for others, its full of mixed emotions, sadness, grief, loss, and sorrow.

Today, I feel both.

I lost my mother when I was 13 years old. She stuggled with a lot of emotional scars and substance abuse. Ultimately it took her life and took her from me.

For years I struggled with her loss. It took ten years to finally release a lot of sorrow and emotions that were wrapped up in the loss of my mother. Now, I am able to think of her without crying and filled with pleasant memories, instead of the last moment I had with her, which was seeing her on life-support.

Losing my mother was incredibly difficult and no one can ever replace your mom. However, God has blessed me with so many amazing, caring, loving moms in my life since.

These two mommas have been instrumental in my life.

My grandmother has been there for me for so many difficult and challenging events and relationships throughout my life. She always points me to God. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or down, she is quick to give me scripture and guide me through life’s challenging times. She planted a seed in me when I was a teen that started to bloom, and later as an adult, I accepted Christ. She never gave up on me. She just continued to love me and pour the love of Christ over me. What a blessing she has been!

My mother-in-love is so incredible. She loves us so well and showers love on our boys so much! She goes out of her way to visit, send cards, gifts, and selflessley cares for others. My husband was so lucky to have such a marvelous Christian women to raise him. I am so blessed to have a mom in my life that loves me like her own and welcomed me with open arms. She is a mother-in-law that many could only wish for. Thank you, Mom, for being a remarkable mom and grandmother!

In addition to these two amazing women, my great-grandmother was also someone I admired and loved dearly. When my mom lost our apartment, my great-grandmother opened her doors to us and cared for me like I was her own daughter. Even when I got older, I would drive to her apartment and stay the weekend with her. She was so much fun and I loved her dearly.

Now as a mother, I think back to when my children were born and the immense never-ending love you immediately have for your child. I love my boys with everything I have and I am so grateful that God blessed us with these two crazy boys. They are full of life, love, and curiosity. I am blessed to be their mom.

This day bring a lot of joy. But again, a lot of sorrow. My heart aches for the women who desperately want to be a mother. For those that have lost children. To those who have miscarried. To those who have lost their own mothers.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (ESV)

Wherever you are today, however you are feeling, be it happiness or sorrow, joy or grief, remember that you are loved. You are a daughter to the Most High. He loves you so much!

May this day be a blessing to you, may you notice the remarkable gift that the Lord has given us this day. Be inspired. Be grateful. Find the joy in the day. The sun, the warmth, flowers, all the little moments. Feel blessed and loved, because God made this day for you. May we rejoice and be glad in it!

Love you all! Happy Mother’s Day!

*This is an original post from May 2020:

A Note on Mother’s Day

Today is a day we celebrate the mothers in our lives. For some, this day is filled with joy and laughter and love, and for others, its full of mixed emotions, sadness, grief, loss, and sorrow. Today, I feel both. I lost…

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Protein Power Pancakes

Protein Power Pancakes

These pancakes are an adaptation from Mix & Match Mama’s recipe and I absolutely LOVE it! It is gluten-free, full of flavor and super easy to make! I hope you enjoy!

Protein Power Pancakes

Ingredients:

Directions:

In a bowl, smash up the banana and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Add a splash of oat milk to thin the batter out slightly (you still want it to be somewhat thick but slightly pourable – I added about 2 TB).

Preheat your skillet over medium heat and cook like you would any other pancake. I topped mine with a drizzle of honey and ate them with fresh sliced strawberries. You should get about 3 pancakes with this batter, which you could freeze some or just eat them all in one sitting, like I do 😉

Did you make this recipe?

Tag #lifestylewithlauren on Instagram!

Homemade Oat Milk

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Iced Matcha Latte

Iced Matcha Latte

It is warm here in North Texas and as summer looms, I am cooling down with this lovely iced matcha. It has a hint of sweetness and it is perfect for that afternoon pick-me-up!

Iced Matcha Latte

Ingredients:

1/4 cup boiling water

1 tsp organic matcha powder

1/2 tsp vanilla powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of Himilyian salt (optional)

Raw local honey (use local to you for added allergy-fighting benefits)

Fresh homemade oat milk and coconut milk (or use whatever milk you prefer, but I like mixing oat and coconut)

Directions:

Boil 1/4 cup water. Add the 1 tsp of organic matcha powder to the boiling water and mix well. Into the matcha mixture, add the vanilla powder, cinnamon and pinch of salt (if desired). Mix it well and let it cool for a moment.

In a tall glass, fill it with desired amount of ice (I fill mine up halfway), add fresh oat milk and a large tablespoon of coconut milk and mix. Make sure to not fill it up all the way to the top as you need space to pour over your matcha mixture.

To the iced milk glass, pour over the matcha mixture and enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

Tag #lifestylewithlauren on Instagram!

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Homemade Oat Milk

Homemade Oat Milk

I started making my own homemade oat milk after indulging in one too many matcha horchatas from True Food Kitchen. I realized that it was time to make my own oat milk for my iced matcha concoction, as well as for other recipes.

Making your own dairy-free milk is really very easy and quite cheap! All you need is a nut-milk bag and a good blender and you are set! I use these bags and my Vitamix that we invested in from Costco.

So without further ado – here is my homemade oat milk recipe!

Ingredients:

4 cups water

1 cup gluten-free oats

1 organic pitted date (optional but so good!)

Large pinch of Himalayan salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Add all ingredients to a high powder blender and blend for about 30 seconds (don’t over-blend as it makes the mixture slimy). Pour the blended oat mixture into a nut milk bag or a thin dish towel and squeeze out all the yummy “milk.” Pour the oat milk into a storage container with a lid and keep in the fridge for about 5 days.

*Note: Do not heat as it will thicken and become slimy.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

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We Are Done with 1st Grade!

We Are Done with 1st Grade!

I say “we” because it was a group effort! 😉

I homeschooled our oldest son using Sonlight curriculum and thought I would share my honest review now that we have successfully completed it.

What I Loved:

Open-and-go

Christian curriculum

Great book selection

4-day or 5-day option

For my first full year of homeschool, I liked Sonlight because it was easy to use and it was a Christian curriculum. It was an open-and-go kind of curriculum that basically held my hand the entire way. There were a lot of books and I liked teaching out of “regular” books. I think Sonlight is great for new-to-homeschool parents as it really gave me a confidence boost that I could do it.

What I Didn’t Love:

Teacher-centered

Reading aloud constantly

History

Science was lack-luster

Although I was a reading teacher and really LOVE reading aloud, with Sonlight I was reading aloud constantly. My son would sit and listen well but it just felt like I was the Peanut’s teacher.

When I say a lot of reading, I mean a LOT – starting with a Christian book, Bible story, then the large history book plus chapter books and poetry book – that was all just for the ‘Intro to World History’ curriculum. Thankfully the Language Arts curriculum didn’t include a lot of reading aloud (it was all in the history and chapter books listed there). Language Arts was more of just writing and spelling. For science, it was a lot of really great Usborne books, which I liked, but again just didn’t ever feel like we really dug-in deep with the topics. Which leads to my next point…

Sonlight’s curriculum does not have a lot of built-in extensions and as a working homeschooling mom, I just don’t have the time to scour Pintrest looking for extensions for certain topics.

All of that said, I think Sonlight was a great curriculum for our first year and helped me to get a good handle on how to manage homeschooling for our home. The book selection was great, I loved the ‘Leading Little Ones to God’ book and the opportunities to read straight from the Bible.

Again, this is just my honest opinion and what I noticed with my child and what we needed.

Now for 2nd grade!

(and preschool!)

We are switching curriculums completely to the Good and the Beautiful and I am thrilled! I already sorted the science units and I think my son is going to LOVE it! I let him select the units that he was interested in and have already started planning some field trips that go along with what we are learning. Here is what we are going to do for second grade:

I already planned out the day and put it in the front of my planning binder so I know what we are doing and when.

Then on each page inside, I wrote out what unit/lesson we are doing that week.

Here are the units and items I will be using for preschool for my 4-year old and for 2nd grade for my oldest:

Bible:

We are going to work through these books for Bible this year. It is all the same reading on the same days, just on different levels for each age. I am also thinking of using our Write the Word Journals to start our day as well.

History:

For history, we are going to use the Good and the Beautiful History Year 2. We will be alternating days of history and science, so we will complete two lessons a week for history; two lessons a week for science.

Science:

Alternating days with history – for science we are going to do these units (which I have already hole-punched and put in binders), as well as Mammals and Botany (not pictured). If all goes as planned, we should be done with all of these lessons and units (starting July 5, 2021) on April 28, 2022 (which also includes review weeks, holidays, etc.)

English, Reading, Language Arts:

I haven’t purchased it yet, but we are going to do a little mix of the Good and the Beautiful Language Arts Year 2 and some other reading and writing stuff from another curriculum. I also scheduled independent reading time in the day because if I don’t, it won’t happen! 😉

Math:

For math, I will be using the Good and the Beautiful Math 2. What I LOVE about this is that there are fun games intertwined in the learning, which my son will love! Even though we didn’t have any issues with Math-U-See, he verbally has expressed to me that he “hates math because it is so boring.” So I think switching to TGTB math curriculum will really make a difference for him.

Preschool:

For my little one, I am going to use the Good and the Beautiful Level K Primer. I will also read aloud books, work on counting and doing a lot of other little games with him to make learning fun for him.

We are also moving all of the school stuff to the playroom and making that room the designated school room. TGTB curriculum provides a lot of little posters for word walls and I need a designated space to hang those up, vs our nook where we are currently doing school. I need a space where I can feel more at ease to hang things on the wall and be more of a “school room.” Stay tuned for those pictures!

Well, that’s it!

We finished our first year of homeschool and I am thrilled!

We made it!

He made it!

I made it! 😉

We all made it and I am thankful to have the opportunity to continue homeschooling him. The memories made and the time spent together is something I will never regret – even though some days are hard and challenging, I really love it! We are taking it year by year and reassessing after each year. So for now, we will continue homeschooling 🙂

Lauren’s Recent Posts…

Go & Tell Podcast with Lauren Greci: Episode 25 | Contentment

Happy 2022, friends! This month we are diving into the topic of contentment. This quick listen is just a glimpse of what we will be discussing this month regarding this topic. It’s a new season and I am excited to bring you content-specific topics this season, special guests and so much more! 

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Even If

Even If

After facing much opposition for His teaching, Jesus was betrayed by Judas, deserted by His disciples, crucified and died. Three days later He rose from the grave and appeared to the disciples, which confirmed that He is indeed the King of Kings.

Let us back up a moment and look at what happened in His last days and how He treated those around Him. Let us remember that He KNEW full well that Judas was going to betray him, yet He washed Judas’ feet:

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”

English Standard Version, 2016, John 13:1-5

Washing guests’ feet was a job for the household servant to carry out when guests arrived. Let’s put into context what it was like then as well … people’s feet were covered in dirt, feces and very unclean. Yet Jesus, the King of Kings, lowered himself and washed and dried each of His disciple’s feet … even Judas’ feet.

God in flesh completed a job the lowliest servant would do. Are you willing to follow Christ’s example of serving? Even if it is hard? Even if you know they are talking about you behind your back, disparaging your name? Even if you know you will be betrayed? 

I know I haven’t always done this and it is definitely not easy.

“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

English Standard Version, 2016, John 12:12-16

Jesus’ display of servitude is one of humility, kindness and love. Let us be reminded this Easter season, not only of the Father’s extraordinary love for us by sending His Son to die on the cross for us sinners who don’t deserve it but let us be reminded to show servitude to others like Jesus did for Judas, who that very same evening betrayed Him. Even if it is hard. Even if you feel the other person “doesn’t deserve it.” Even if it is done in quiet and not seen by others.

Even if.

EVEN IF….

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