December 22, 2010

25 Days of Merry... Day 21

It's the Hap-hapiest time ... of the year!

Well, for some it is. For others--not so much.

Anytime we can add a lil' holiday cheer to a person's day is a good day in my book. That's why I'm hosting the 2nd Annual 25 Days, 25 Songs! Each day I'll post a new {*FREE*} Christmas song. Now that's hap-hap-happy!

22. Auld Lang Syne {Chris Issak}
21. Angels We Have Heard on High {Chanticleer Christmas}
20. I'll Be Home For Christmas {Barlowe Girl}
19. You're Here {Francesca Battestelli}
18. 99 Most Essential Christmas Masterpieces {Yes folks, that's 99 FREE songs!!}
17. The Bell Medley {Classic Christmas Singers}
16. O Holy Night {David Crowder Band}
15. Family Christmas {Sandra McCracken and a few others}
14. Christmas Anthem {Landon Smith and the Real Matt Jones}
13. Winter Night {Little and Ashley}
12. Joseph's Lullaby {MercyMe}
11: Very Merry Christmas {Dave Barnes}
10: Timeless Christmas {mix of artists}
9: Angels We Have Heard on High {Point of Grace}
8: Christmas Songs {Justin McRoberts}
7: Acorn Music Holiday Sampler {mix of artists}
6. Nettwerk Holiday Sampler {Sixpence None the Richer & others}
5. The Christmas Gig {Full songs from Target commercials!}
4. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies {Sugo Music}
3. Toy Packaging {Sara Groves}
2. The Singing Christmas Tree {Veggie Tales}
1. People.com Country Sampler {mix of artists}

p.s. please don't judge me on the selections. Just cause they're up there, doesn't mean I necessarily {love...er, or even like} them :)

p.s.s. if you know if a link with free music that I've missed, give me a shout! Thanks!

December 13, 2010

Content

The good news of the kingdom is not freedom from hardship, suffering, and loss. It is the news of a Redeemer who has come to rescue me. ~Paul Tripp

Won’t you please join me in saying hello to our guest blogger today...my life-long friend Sarah! I asked her to write a post on gratitude after reading her Facebook status...


"I must remember to be thankful today and count all my blessings... after thinking about friends and family I know that are in need of different things... I can count myself lucky and blessed..."

This is my status on facebook this morning...thinking about different things...my friends and everyone I have come in contact with lately. I don't know why, but it occurred to me that as I lay thinking I have the worst problems, I realized each of my friends are struggling somewhere in their lives. Why that was an enlightenment, I don't know, but I do know all of us needs prayer and cheer.

...a bumpy father/daughter relationship
...a resentful husband who discovered his wife was cheating on him
...a friend who attempted to take her own life this past Saturday
...an army wife aching whose husband is in Afghanistan putting his life in danger
...the homeless who have nowhere to go but under the bridge here in town
...the young children my friend served at the soup kitchen
...and then myself, struggling with the ups and downs of depression, confused feelings, happiness, sadness

I sit here trying to figure out who I am and where I stand... but instead of analyzing my situation, I need to BE THANKFUL and count my blessings the Lord has given me.

THANKFUL for another day of life. A life I am blessed to have in all my circumstances. I may be like the lost lamb that has wandered from the flock but I am blessed and comforted to KNOW that God will always take care of me and give me what I need.

I am a child of God and just for that reason alone I am thankful
I am thankful for my all-forgiving husband who stands by me in my mistakes
Thankful for my home... leaky roof and all
Thankful for my reliable car

Thankful for my friends that are true and put up with my moods

TONS of things to be thankful for, the list goes on


There is a reason why God allowed me to see what I saw this morning. I don't know if it is because I have been feeling ungrateful or maybe sorry for myself lately, but regardless... this is not how we are supposed to live... we are supposed to thankful in everything... not comparing to one another. Being content.

One of my favorite verses is, "Don't worry about anything; instead Pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done" Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

So for me, I must remember to not worry about anything, pray about everything, and thank God for EVERYTHING... we are all human and we all struggle... but {even in the midst of hardships} let’s count our blessings and be thankful!

Thanks so much Sarah! Right perspective is elusive, especially when the chips are down; when the chip on our shoulder is large; when troubles are larger than life. Reminders to let go and flow with gratitude are vital...I appreciate you bringing our attention to this truth! Love you girl!

December 7, 2010

A Rolling Stone

I had a pebble in my boot today. How does a pebble get in knee highs, anyhow? Especially mysterious is the fact I didn't feel said pebble until well after lunchtime. Where was it all morning?

Once that pesky rock made itself known, it harassed me all day. Stupid as this may be, I was mad at that rock by the end of the day! {Why didn't you just take your boot off and remove the pebble, genius? you may be thinking} Um, well, knee highs are... well...knee highs. Kind of a pain to take off, especially at work in front of everyone.

That little irritant trudged around with me through work and errands. A rolling stone gathers moss. Annoying pebbles gather sock fuzz. And grow. Jab. Poke. Kind of like...
{accusations} {assumptions} {off-handed comments}
{wounds} {sadness} {grudges} {hurt}
I could have removed that pebble. I could remove the above heart irritants as well. But sometimes I don't. Because...
{pride}
"Everyone will see me back down. I'll look weak."
"If I {forgive}{let go}{never mention it again}...he/she wins."

Truth is, my metaphorical pebble irritates me, not those with whom I'm offended. In the long run, I'm angrier, agitated, and limping through life. That's when I need to hear {obey} the voice of...

{humility}
"Forgiveness is notable, honorable and exudes great strength."
"Big whoop if he/she 'wins.' You're the real Eye of the Tiger if you forgive."

We received the sad news Elizabeth Edwards passed away today. Much can be said for her zeal for the United States, love for her family, and courageous battle against cancer. Yet this simple, profound, act is what I will remember most: John was by her side. I'm going to state the humanness here, okay? In our eyes, she had every right to refuse John the gift of her presence. The gift of saying what needed to be said (for his sake, not hers). The gift of comforting their children. No one would have blamed her. Yet, amazingly, Elizabeth had the courage, dignity, and humble grace to take her knee highs off and remove the pebble.

In light of all she endured

In light of all Christ endured

In light of what matters eternally...

I'm unzipping my knee highs. My pebble(s) has collected quite enough fuzz. How about yours?

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them... ~Mark 11

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ~Matthew 6

December 6, 2010

Cranberry Duff: A Pictorial

Photos are a must for me when I cook. Perhaps because I'm a visual leaner. Perhaps you are too? Either way, I made my Nanny Maureen's Cranberry Duff that I shared with She Cooks. Since the recipe is obscure, I thought I'd share the steps picture by picture!

First things first...Here's my beautiful Nanny with my adorable sister on her third birthday. I'm pretty sure that's not Cranberry Duff cake!

Cake
~2 Cups Bisquick
~4 teaspoons white sugar
~2 Cups fresh cranberries


~Mix Bisquick/sugar with enough milk so it's dough-like consistency (hmmmm....I'd guess that's about a half cup or so? start small...)
~Add the cranberries

~Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes or until a knife you poke in the middle comes out clean

before the fiery furnace

and after! hello beautiful!

Sauce

~2 Cups white sugar
~4 tablespoons flour
~Whisk together. Add 1 Cup hot water

~In a saucepan, mix above ingredients with half stick butter
~When melted, add 3 tablespoons cider vinegar (more or less to taste...I add 4, but my mom adds less)
~Add 1 teaspoon vanilla
~Let simmer on low-medium low heat until thick. Be sure to stir constantly or that bad boy will stick something fierce to the bottom of your pot!

~Slice into scrumptious portions. Drizzle (or ladle!) sauce on top.

~Enjoy! Oh, and make sure Watson and Newman approve!

Cranberry What?

I've had the best of both worlds.

Well, both worlds above and below the Mason Dixon Line that is.

The privileges of being a Yankee Belle are numerous. Perhaps the greatest is local culinary delights.

The Carolinas whip up...
Shrimp boils
Pimento cheese
Pulled pork bbq
Red Velvet cake

New Englanders relish...
Lobstah bakes
Periwinkles
Boiled dinners
Cranberry Duff

What's that you say? Oh, you haven't heard of Cranberry Duff? Don't worry, not many people have! But the secret is out now! I've shared this family recipe passed down through the generations on LeAnn Rice's She Cooks site!

Be prepared for a special treat when you visit She Cooks! You'll find all the warmth of a friend's kitchen mixed with delicious can-do recipes and dashes of inspiration to love others as well as LeAnn does. Today she's featuring my family's Cranberry Duff recipe. If you try it, please let me know!

Its unique blend of sweet and tart are perfect with a piping cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate! My parents have served this scrumptious cake throughout the chilly winter season for as many years as I can remember. Whether born and bred Northerners -or- tried and true Southerners, are gracing our table, it's a hit every time! Especially as a treat to help warm up after playing in the snow!


My cousins, Daniel and Ben, sister Rebecca, me, and sister Shannon
on a blustery, fun-filled winter's day!
Cranberry Duff, here we come!

December 3, 2010

Shine

Shine by David Crowder Band



Send me a sign
A hint, O whisper
Fill me with life
'Cause I am listening

Come break the quiet
Breathe your awakening
Bring me the light
'Cause I am fading

Surround me with the rush of angels' wings

Shine Your light so I can see You
Pull me up, I need to be near You
Hold me, I need to feel loved
Can You overcome this heart that's overcome?

You sent a sign
The hint, O whisper
Human, divine
Everyone is listening

Death laid low
Quiet in the night is stirring

All around the rush of angels

O the wonder of the greatest love has come

Shine Your light so all can see it
Lifted up, 'cause the whole world needs it
Love has come, what joy to hear it
He has overcome, He has overcome

November 23, 2010

Great

Thanksgiving stirs a desire to let hymns glide over me and mellow my soul. I want to soak their wisdom like a dehydrated sponge. My heart longs to overflow with their undiluted praise.

Oh to put golden words like these to music...Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness {Lamentations 3}

Alas, I do not possess that talent. But Thomas Chisholm and William Runyan did and their outpouring of love to the Lord is one of my favorite hymns.

How about you? What's your favorite hymn...how come?

Great is Thy Faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!



*Chris Rice

And here's one by Sara Groves{with a twist} because, well...you know I love me some Sara Groves!

November 22, 2010

Homeless

But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. ~1 Samuel 12:24

Let us remember the loving-kindness of the Lord and rehearse His deeds of grace. Let us open the volume of recollection, which is so richly illuminated with memories of His mercy, and we will soon be happy.
~Alistair Begg

Right off the bat, I want to say this is not a 'woe is me' post. There. Done. Okay, read on...

I'm church-homeless. I've tried to find a new one. With heart-and-soul, I warm First Presodist's pews one week...then Second Baptyterian's the next...then it gets old and weary. Different faces, smells, worship styles: they're not 'home,' ya know?

Since embarking on my search for a new church home, I've felt:
Shy
Alone
Sad
Awkward
Friendless {dramatic, but true}

But today was the first day I felt homeless. Maybe it was walking through the bundles of friends pealing comfortable laughs. Maybe it was adjusting to the preaching styles of yet another unfamiliar pastor. Maybe it the five wrong turns, 15 minute tardiness, and inability to find the front door (Note: following the crowd always leads you to the nursery. Church leaders: pa-lease invest in "Front Door" and "Sanctuary" signage. Please.)

I suppose hopeless holds homeless' hand. Throw in a {hefty} dash of self-pity and voila! God's goodness and grace that I live in a free country & have the right to visit the 10 bagillion churches in the Bible Belt scurried out of memory. I cried.

All the way down the highway. All the way home. All the way through the Wendy's drive-through.

I avoided eye contact with the girl taking my debit card best I could. But bloodshot crimson eyes caught her attention. {I'm not a pretty crier; nothing like Julia Roberts in "Stepmom."} She paused. Leaned out. Looked me right in the eye. And asked: "Are you okay?"

I had gulped my tears enough to place my order. But something about her mercy. Her pause. Her care. Released my floodgates. I mean, I sat in the drive-through and heave-hoed some Big. Ol'. Sobs.

Now, I've cried in some unusual places. Before this go-round, the oddest place was a Pawn Shop {but that's a story for another day}.

Finally I blubbered, "I've ju-ju-just had a har-hard d-d-d-day."

"I hope you feel better."

Simple, small act of grace.

Why share this? Not for the sympathy vote. No. Not to badmouth churches. In fact, the one I visited today was great. {plus my friend Shelley was there...double bonus!} My goal of this blog is to raise my Ebenezer. To rehearse, if you will, the ways God's been good to me. That gesture in a crowded after-church lunch drive-through was a small stone I placed on my altar of remembrance. Until I find a church home, I know He will continue giving me grace, in unexpected, tender ways. Thank you Wendy's cashier. Thank You God.

Where has His grace surprised you recently? How can you show His grace to someone, anyone, today?

November 20, 2010

Faith{ful}

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.
~J.R.R. Tolkien

Be strong and courageous
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them
for the LORD your God goes with you
He will never leave you nor forsake you
~Deuteronomy 31:6

He remains faithful
~ 2 Timothy 2:13

November 18, 2010

Embracing Accusation

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” ~Zechariah 3

Satan is a fantastic preacher.

No typo there. I mean it. The only problem is he "forgets" to preach the rest of the sermon.

Listen, how many times have we heard…

*You are a filthy so-and-so.

*That's scriptural. But here's the other half of the sermon...

Zechariah 3:3-5, Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”

*Your life is such a mess.

*Maybe it is. But that's okay because...

Romans 3:22-24, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

*God sees every. one. of. your. sins.

*Thank God He does. He knows where to put them, and it's not in our face every five minutes.

2 Samuel 12:12-14, David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin.”

*Anxiety. Anxiety. Anxiety. Consumes you.

*How convenient to leave off the other half of this verse...

Psalm 94:19, When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure.

*You are unfaithful, scandalous, dirty…

*Sin does stain. But God beckons us and says...

Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

*You’re worthless and you’ll never overcome this.

*He's right...we won't overcome anything. Unless....

John 15:4-6, I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

The enemy is a fantastic preacher. Fantastic. It's so easy to believe accusations he berates us with 24/7 till they run like hamsters in our mind's wheel. That is why it's so vital we read, memorize and mediate on the Word. The Word is powerful. Living. Sharper than anything Satan can preach to us. As we abide in the Word, it will spread and flourish within us (Acts 12). The Word alone {not Satan} {not others} {not even ourselves} has the right to judge our thoughts and attitudes of our heart (Hebrews 4). Next time the enemy preaches you a sermon, preach the Word back, for...

The Word is flawless (Proverbs 3)

The Word is living (Hebrews 4)

The Word is Jesus! (John 1)

Get ready for a treat with Shane & Shane's Embracing Accusation {plus, there's a bit by Piper!}

November 17, 2010

Where are You Going?

Little by little, one travels far. - J.R.R. Tolkien

My very core thrills at the mere thought of traveling. Be it by car, plane or boat {n-o-t train though...ugh! Will.not.do.that.again.if.i .can.help.it.}

Warning: awful cliche coming up.... Ready?

It's about the journey, not the destination. Hey, quit groaning...you were given fair warning!

My college roomie used to say, "they wouldn't be cliche's it they weren't true." Well said oh wise sage. And so, I agree with that cliche because it is true. Not just a grain worth true, but really really true.

Is there anything quite like cruising down the byways, wind do-si-do'ing with your hair as the Allman Brothers serenade the balmy afternoon?

Or how about soaring on an adventure that sweeps your feet 35,000 off the ground at a swift 550 miles an hour.

Ahhh, or my favorite...cascading along a glassy surface, cutting through white capped ridges, rewarded with stingingly refreshing wet bouquets.

This year I have been to the mountains, beach, Central America, a few different states. Oh, but the list goes on...

Spiritually that is. Through peaks and valleys. With myself and others. These kind keep me a tad closer to home...usually on my knees. And I never go on them without my traveling companion...He's attentive and a delightful conversationalist. Here're a few trips we've taken...

I've waded through thick muddy adoption paperwork & rocketed to the moon when sweet one came home to her family.

Crept along the dark recesses of depression with a new mom.

Glided to the heavens on the wings of long-awaited pregnancy news for college sweethearts.

Helped man the helm for a friend threatened to capsize in a tumultuous storm of death.

Ran the ridge of hope with my sister starting a new business.

Speaking as one in the midst of several travels, the journey adds to the exhilaration and thrill of the destination.

Where have you traveled this year?

If the trials of many years were gathered into one, they would overwhelm us; therefore, in pity to our little strength, He sends first one, and then another, then removes both, and lays on a third, heavier, perhaps, than either; but all so wisely measured to our strength that the bruised reed is never broken.

We do not enough look at our trials in this continuous and successive view. Each one is sent to teach us something, and altogether they have a lesson which is beyond the power of any to teach alone. ~
HE Manning

November 11, 2010

Mad Skillz

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. ~2 Corinthians 5:17

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. ~Luke 15:3-6

Here's the dealio. Upon saying, "I'm yours Lord," things change. I mean, inside turns out. Upside turns down. Black turns white. Cold turns hot. Winter turns Spring.

Things change. It's just the crazy, incomprehensible, relieving way God does things.

Old becomes new. Broken becomes restored. Ashes become beauty.

Perhaps that's why I jadore this girl's vision for turning trash into treasure. She roves garage sales, thrift stores and flea markets, scouring for a castaway to give new life. Changes it forever. It's never ever ever the same. It's a brand.new.creation. She then proudly wears it for the world to see. Sound like anyone else we know? Check out her whimsical, clever, neato transformations! This girl's got mad skillz.

www.newdressaday.com

And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. ~Revelation 21:2-6

"I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you," declares the LORD Almighty.
~Haggai 2:23

November 10, 2010

Is That Really Neccesary?

Friendships intrigue me. Mixing demeanors, disdains and delights of two people into one friendship is precarious business! Now throw living together in to boot and things could get dicey.

In roughly 30 years I've lived with roughly 30 people. That's plenty many if you ask me! Over the years I learned it's wise {read: selfish self-preserving} to set some "ground rules" at the start or...well, things could get dicey.

From the start of Elizabeth and I nesting in the little brick ranch on Cornish Place, we laid down throw rugs and boundary lines.

Three laughter & {good} tear filled years later, we swept the kitchen floor for the last time, turned off the porch light, and closed the door of living together {with our dear superfun lovable Lydia!}.

Casting my sights back on that season, I can't help but ponder if the boundaries were necessary. Not once did we argue, fight, bicker. Not once. Dirty dishes, piles of boots in the hall, slews of paperwork on the coffee table didn't faze us. Taking the trash bin out, raking leaves, dusting {just kidding...we collectively agreed that's a waste of time!} were shared duties, not ones we hemmed and hawed over because we had just unloaded the dishwater the last umpteenth times!! Nah, none of that. A natural rhythm simply flowed through our home in every way.

Did laying out boundaries make living together simpler? I can't say for certain. Perhaps they helped, but overall I believe it was the mix of demeanor, disdains and delights (the 3 Ds) that made our trio work.

Elizabeth lavished sweet balmy words about me on her blog today. My heart couldn't hold each one, and as I type even now, I am overflowing with gratitude for her and our friendship. Now that I can finally see through the tears, I want to splash some of her {and Lydia's...'cause we love us some Lydia!} refreshing beauty on you!

Both of these girls....

Demeanors are {easy going} {fun loving} {aimed upward} {hard working} {peace filled} {joyous} {caring} {intentional} {minded toward others} {generous in spirit} {lovely} {safe} {merciful}

Disdains are {waxy chocolate} {blase music} {bad wine} {cheap potshots} {gossip} {not loving well} {closed hands towards God} {injustice} {too few Christmas tree lights} {not enough laughter}

Delights are {sunny days} {beauty unseen by others} {live concerts} {runs that induce j-e-l-l-o legs} {listening well} {living well} {loving well} {adventures by land, sea or sky} {friendships like deep wells} {cozy fireplaces} {quality time} {Pride&Prejudice 100 times over} {worship spilling from their very pores} {soaking in the Word} {Jesus} {abundant Christmas tree lights}

So I ask again...did the boundary lines set up to separate us indeed hold us together? A quick review of E and L's 3 Ds tell me otherwise; I believe it was Elizabeth and Lydia themselves, not any far flung rules, that created an atmosphere of peace, camaraderie, and togetherness. I love these girls. I love the years that melded us together under the same roof. I love the pruning God gave me through them simply being them. I love that our memories are soft places to land when the world is hard. And I love how our friendship has spread its wings, soared to vast and higher heights. Far above the boundary lines. That, in hind sight, probably were unnecessary in the first place.

Elizabeth captured my home in such a beautiful way recently. My sister is an interior designer and needed photographs of my home for her website. Seriously, I can't believe I live here...It's like seeing it for the first time all over again!!! If you need a brilliant, life-inspiring photographer, run, don't walk, to Almond Leaf Studios!! If you need an interior designer who brings life, cheer and charm to everything she touches, look no further than Grace Interiors Design!!

November 9, 2010

Tie a Ribbon 'round Your Little Finger

Remember me with favor, my God. ~Nehemiah 5:19

Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. ~Psalm 25:6

When the waters rise and you've waited long for rescue & you feel God's forgotten, remember... Genesis 8:1: But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

When dust and debris threaten to replace passions, dreams and callings & you feel God's forgotten, rememer... Genesis 9:15: I will remember my covenant between me and you.

When the pitter-patter of little feet is silent & you feel God's forgotten, remember... Genesis 30:22: Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.

When fearworrydoubtfaithlessnessanxiety enslave & you feel God's forgotten, remember... Exodus 2:23-25: During that long period...The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help...went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant...and was concerned about them.

When guilt consumes & you fear God will never forget, remember... Isaiah 43:25: I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Jeremiah 31:34: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.

When all hope is lost, remember... Luke 24:6-8: He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you...‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’

When God answers, pulls through, rescues, & redeems, remember... Deuteronomy 8:2: Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness.

When dreams come true and you're thriving in your calling, remember... 1 Chronicles 16:12, 15: Remember the wonders he has done and that He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations.

In all things, remember God is their Rock, that God Most High is our Redeemer. ~Psalm 78:35

p.s. you can download Sara Grove's Christmas album for f.r.e.e. at !

November 8, 2010

Ante What?

Antediluvian, "before the deluge" – the period referred to in the Bible between the Creation of the earth and the flood. In popular culture, the term is used to refer to any ancient and murky period. {Thanks Wikipedia!}

Truth? Did you know what antediluvian meant before you clicked on this post? As a self-proclaimed word-nerd, I racked my brain before I bowed out and Wikipedia'ed it (so adore verbing a noun!)

This six syllable wonder scattered into my thoughts. I bumped into it all day. But why? I didn't even know what it meant or where I heard it. Why today has it been tripping me up?

Here's what I think. Sometimes we keep a tight grip on things which we need to let go. Much like the people in Noah's day, holding on to their sin and doubt, we're invited to walk away from {fill in the blanks} and leave it all behind. There comes a time when we know the Creator just gave us a nod of encouragement and blueprints for an ark.

I felt that nudge today with my increasingly repetitious word antediluvian. Time to pick up my hammer and nails and build in faith. Time to build a float of hope. With one eye on the sky for the elusive cloud. I know He'll send the healing rains to accumulate and flood into the ancient, murky past. They will wash away my {fill in the blanks} and when I step out of my ark, I'll be stepping on a clean slate. A fresh start.

How about you?

Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments. ~Deut. 7

November 5, 2010

Where We Live

"It is in the shelter of each other that the people live."~Irish Proverb

Everyone needs shelter. If I recall correctly, it's up there with food, water, air and love. Sounds pretty major, huh? If we correlate shelter to people, we must be vulnerable and authentic in order to give others something to 'shelter' us from. Self-imposed isolation is a no-no.

Unfortunately, isolation comes a little too natural to me. Think: armadillo. I curl up inside my hard shell and roll into the sunset, right outta Dodge. But real life requires real conversations and real emotions. Keeping these out of the shelter equation leaves our lil' armadillo selves in a bleak desert, alone sans the howls of the ki-oats {Insert shiver}. I headed back to Dodge this week and found shelter in some sweet tweets, convos, emails and messages...

Hi Sam , called but no answer. Leaving at 6am tomorrow morning. Have a good week and I will fb when possible. Love ya ~Mom

He begins to guide them by day in cloud and fire at night. God did all these things to show them who HE WAS and that HE could be trusted. He cared for them. I pray that today God will show more of Himself to you and know He is trustworthy; He is more trustworthy than we are to ourselves. love you ~Joni

My heart is hurting for you. I have prayed for you this morning. I love you and I'm here if you need me. ~Melissa

Call if u need anything. I know what its like. Ur never alone girl. Never.
~Carol

What can I be praying for you? Let me know if there is anything, okay! ~Donna

How are you? ~Jenn

Hey girl, praying for you. ~Stephanie

Sometimes we have to choose to accept shelter. We can't always make a go of it solo. As I unrolled my tightly balled-up shell, I recognized once more the safe warmth of resting in the shelter of others. Thank you Jesus for these amazing gifts!

Leaving this post with two thoughts:
First, are you heading out of Dodge this very moment, cutting yourself off from others for whatever reason? Stop, drop and roll back to the shelters in your life. Take it from a ridiculously independent girl. You need them. Really; you do.

Second, do you see someone you love boogying away from you, receding into themselves, isolating from others? Run after them! Whether they know it or not, they'll be grateful.

Take It

Take the first step in faith.

You don't have to see the

whole staircase,

just take the first step.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

November 2, 2010

C&E No More!

My friend Javier's words, "The King of all kings would send His only Son to die for ME and forgive all my sins. I still love thinking about that," made me realize oft times I'm a C&E christian. But no more. Uh-uh. Enough.

From here on out, I am going to reflect, marvel, remember, awe on Jesus' life and death and life again. How?

Mediate on His Word.
Clean out my heart.
Sit in silence and listen, really listen.
Pray, pray, pray.
Open my mouth in praise.

Nichole Nordeman's song Why {see below} is one such song of praise. The passion in her lyrics narrows my spastic attention span and broadens my view of God's wide love. Oh, and it gives me a swift kick in the badunkadunk right out of C&Eville. This is just the beginning of my journey out...stay tuned for more in the upcoming weeks, months, years...

November 1, 2010

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

I had a hard day today. The gentlest breeze could've knocked me over. I wrote a post about it. But before hitting 'Publish,' I caught up on some blog reading.

Much to my heart's delight my friend Stephanie's words capture my day and aims it right back to the hands of God. She fashions my feelings with hope and honest words.

...so, instead of publishing my post, I'm linking to Stephanie's post The Other Side. Because, I couldn't have said it better myself! I don't doubt her words will touch you too, as her writing {hence, her love of the Lord} reflects this passage...

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. ~Isaiah 50:4

October 31, 2010

Godspeed

Sometimes the rubber meets the road. We screech to a halt. Where we face our frailty, ineptness, fears.

We're forced to lay down our arms. Lay down our opinions. Lay down at the foot of the cross.

And hold on to His truths. His security. His hand. We have to choose to hold our grip on peace and know that it will bypass our dim wittedness, shroud our doubts, and face
down our fears.

Yes, when the rubber meets the road, fear meets Faith.
doubt meets Hope.
anxiety meets Truth.
depression meets Joy.
stubborn independence meets Rest.
you, and i, meet our Savior, Jesus.

When your rubber meets your road, may your journey be peace-filled... Godspeed.



*Here I Am, Shawn McDonald
I lay myself at Your feet
Asking You won't You meet
Won't You meet me
I cannot do it on my own
I cannot do it all alone
Here I am, oh, tonight
With my arms open wide
Won't You come inside
Won't You come inside, God
Come and fill this heart of mine
I'm in need of You
Of Your touch, of Your life, of Your love
I need You
I need You

October 29, 2010

C&E

Talking about Javier's salvation this week got me thinking about my own. Something he said in the Q&A dug up some dirt in my soul. Particularly this answer he gave--

This was earth shattering to me: that the King of all kings would send His only Son to die for ME and forgive all my sins. I still love thinking about that.

Here's the ugly truth: I don't "still love thinking about that." Not like Jav does. I mulled this over with my friend Wendy.

I said, "Wendy, I rarely contemplate and joy in Jesus' gift of His death and life. Except...except at Christmas. And...well, of course at Easter. {cue light bulb} Wendy! I think I'm a C&E christian!"

You know...the peeps that show up at church only on Christmas & Easter. Realization: I lose the wonder of it all until I celebrate Advent, read the Christmas story, set out my nativity set. Or until I step into Ash Wednesday/Maundy Thursday/Good Friday/Easter Sunday week.

I'm not saying this to be all wowzie-wowzie-woo-woo. That's just the blatant truth that saddens me. It's the homesick kind of sadness that rears this ugly head: I've taken all the goodness of home for granted.

I'm not comfortable with being so comfortable with Jesus. I'm not pleased that I take for granted all He has done/does/will do. It's not fair to Him, me, or others that may be watching my relationship with Him. You see, I grew up in a christian home. I am l-o-a-d-e-d with church, Sunday school, VBS, youth group, Bible studies, prayer groups, conferences. You could say I'm weathered, old hat, been-there/done-that/bought the t-shirt {that's right, I said it!}

When your mom cooks your fav meal for you each time you visit, it's easy to not notice how delicious it is or the hard work it takes. When your dad fills your car up with gas time and again, it's easy to not notice as you cruise out of town. When you curl up safe in the same bed year after year, it's easy to not appreciate the soft warmth. Yes, it's easy to forget the love Christ showed us when He died and resurrected. We {I} need that appreciation and wonder to be restored.

That all came to me in the morning. Later in the day I checked my friend Eileen's blog post. Boy.oh.boy.

The title? "Restore Me."

Her beautiful, simple words of truth beckon my homesick heart. And the song she posted {see below} resonates. I don't want to wait for Christmas to roll around to pray this prayer, Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. ~Psalm 51. I'm going home with a restored perspective, restored appreciation and restored heart.

How about you?

But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. ~Psalm 13:5


October 28, 2010

Beginnings

If you're joining from Proverbs 31 Ministries Daily Devotion, welcome! I asked Javier some questions and am blown away by his answers. I'm inspired to continue planting seeds...hope you are too!!

Journeys cannot always be measured in physical distance. ~Shawn McDonald

Faith is not merely a journey for the feet, but it is a journey for the heart. ~AW Tozer
{Javier and his beautiful wife, Nicole}

Q. Growing up, did you hear about the Lord in your home?
A. I grew up in Costa Rica, where near 100% of the population is Catholic. So, yes, I grew up hearing about the Lord. The difference was that I learned more about traditions and rituals about the church than about God's love for me.

Q. How many people had an impact on you coming to know Christ?
A. Hard to tell, but I am sure there were several. Like I wrote to you in that email, I truly felt God was planting seeds in my life. There were key people that were placed there for a reason. That reason was to learn about our loving God who has known me by name since before I was born.

Q.
What things happened along the way that turned your heart to the Lord?
A. I feel that my story is one of a long courtship. God loved me so much and never gave up on me. I knew about Him since I was little, but I didn't know He loved ME this much until my late 20s. He has been there with me along some hard parts of my life when I really doubted Him.

Q.Would you mind sharing about your moment of salvation?
A. I knew about God, but going to church meant standing when everyone else stood, kneeling when everyone else did, and trying to make it through the sermon. I really did not enjoy going. That continued and worsened when I was older and had the choice to attend. College life was hard as I felt so separated from God; I deeply felt sad and empty. I joined a fraternity and that just made me feel worse as we spent a lot of time partying.

I was accepted to Physician Assistant school at a small christian university in 2000 and it was there were I was surrounded even more by God. Our class would pray every day and [I thought] that it was so weird.

Things didn't change much after grad school. [Though] I made some good friends that helped me along my path to becoming a christian.

I started going to a small church with a friend. I could not believe the things Pastor Craig said. It was so apparent then that it wasn't about how good I had been or will be. It wasn't about good deeds or how much money I gave. God loves me for who I am and doesn't care about my past. ALL my sins were forgiven when He sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay for my sins--when what I really deserved was definitely not salvation.

This was earth shattering to me. I'd never heard of these things; that the King of all kings would send His only Son to die for ME and forgive all my sins. I still love thinking about that.

A few weeks later Pastor Craig told me how to accept Christ; I didn't know how. There was no application to fill out. He said to ask God to restore my heart, so that is exactly what I did. I did not have a moment where I spoke to God. My [salvation] was at that sincere moment when I told God I knew I was broken and needed Him to restore my heart. If it was left up to me, I knew I couldn't change.

I almost feel as if God was with me all those years, courting me, but didn't make me His bride until I was ready to accept Him.

Q. Any advice/wisdom for those praying for someone to come to know Christ?
A. When people approached me about God I automatically wanted to run the opposite way. I probably learned more about God by watching how He changed friends' lives. Just being around them and them being casual about it worked for me. I found myself asking questions when I was ready. They waited patiently to share the Good News with me rather than being aggressive. My advice would be to love on your friends that don't know Christ and be patient to share the Gospel. They will eventually want to learn all about His love for us.

Thank you Javier! I really appreciate you sharing your testimony!
Especially the part of how God courted you with His love.

Leave a comment to be entered in the Louie Giglio's How Great is Our God DVD series give-away.

October 27, 2010

Best Email Ever!

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. ~1 Corinthians 3:6

Every story has a beginning, middle and end. The same is true for the story of our life. Our education starts in kindergarten, goes through elementary and middle schools and ends in high school or college. A romantic relationship begins with friendship, passes into dating and culminates in marriage. Meals start with appetizers, lead to a main entrée and finish with dessert.

How about our salvation story? The middle of every believer’s salvation story is a relationship with God, and the end is eternity with Him. What about the beginning? That’s different for everyone. Maybe a salvation-seed is planted while attending church with a neighbor. Perhaps a grandma's prayers are rays of sunshine on a cold heart. Hard, bitter soil may soften through the kindness of a women making room on the pew. Or roots sprout when a stranger in the front of the line buys lunch for those behind her.

Yes, every salvation story has a beginning. Have you considered the possibility that you could be part of someone’s beginning? Unbeknownst to me, I was part of my friend Javier’s!

Javier and I were neighbors in college a decade ago. Our roommates dated, so we hung out often. We cooked dinner. Spent lazy afternoons watching movies. Cheered next to each other at football games. When I took guitar lessons, Javier taught me chords. Despite all this time together, I'm sorry to say I rarely brought the Lord up in conversation. Over the years we’ve kept in touch sporadically. So when Javier sent me this email, I was humbled and amazed.

Just wanted to thank you for being in my life in college. I came to Christ about four years or so ago and when looking back in my life, I think of people that were examples I wanted to follow. Even though we hardly talked about God, I knew you were a Christian and really admired that about you. Talk about planting a seed that didn't bear fruit right away. 10 years in the making. I am glad I am able to tell people who helped me find Christ how important they were.


The day I received Javier’s email was one of the best days of my life! To know I had planted a seed in his salvation-story is an honor. Our key verse teaches we each can play an important role in bringing salvation to others. We may not always be fortunate enough to know the outcome of the seeds we plant, or water, but we can have confidence the Lord will cause growth.

Javier’s story inspires me to plant more seeds by being intentional with my words, deeds and actions. I want to be the neighbor, grandma, woman or stranger... the friend or family member ... church member or coworker ... who plays a role in the salvation stories of others. How about you?

Join Javier and me tomorrow for a Q&A! I learned a lot from his answers on reaching out to those who don't know the Lord! Plus, I'm giving away Louie Giglio's How Great is Our God DVD!!

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:16

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~John 13:35

October 26, 2010

Never, Never, Never Give In

Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. ~Winston Churchill, Commencement address at Harrow School, 1941.

In 1913 Jean Giono, a French author, was climbing in the French Alps. Deforestation had striped the mountains, leaving them bare of trees and people. Villages, streams, and forests were devoid of life.

One night, Giono was offered the hospitality of a shepherd. He sat in wonderment as the shepherd sorted through countless acorns. He shared with Giono that for three years he had faithfully planted 100,000 acorns.

Roughly 20,000 had taken root and were growing.

Time went by and after more than 30 years, Giono re-visited the shepherd. New life surrounded him!

A vast forest filled the barren land and bubbling streams curved through the once-again populated village. All thanks to the efforts of one man planting one acorn at a time after time after time. Talk about perseverance and grit! I haven't planted an acorn. But I have gardened. Hot days, bent over, knees digging in the ground...it's hard work people!

How about you? Have you been "planting" for years? Praying for a friend to come to know the Lord? Keep planting those prayers and moments you get to just "be" with them. Maybe you've waited for a job. I know it's discouraging, but send another resume, make that one extra call. Or perhaps you're longing to be married. It may be time to try a new single's group at church or ask a friend if they know anyone. Not every seed we plant will sprout. But some will...yes, some will.

Check out Churchill's address again and imagine he's speaking those words to you: Never, Never, Never Give In!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11

My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises. ~Psalm 119:148

October 25, 2010

Who Do You Love?

"Give me a place to stand, a lever long enough, and I will move the world." ~Archimedes

Read this today and loved it. You know I'm all about changing the world.

But
I
Don't
Want
To
Change
The
World
until I change the world of the one in front of me. By my love. My time. My peace. My Jesus.

I just don't. It's not fair to them, and I have a feeling I'll be cheating myself too.

This reality smacked me upside my heart today. With an ache for someone I love to my core. She's hurting. Bad. Real bad.

And I know...I coulda/shoulda/woulda loved her more, deeper, better.

How desperately I want to. I sit here and grieve. Grieve the hours glued to the boob tube; or stuffing my face in a fiction; or clicking on photos ofafriendofafriendofafriend on Facebook. Wasted hours when I coulda/shoulda been loving her.

So here I am...asking humbly, Give me a place to stand again in her life Lord. Help me take hold of the lever. Cause now...now I see the vitalness of moving her world. With love. With time. With peace...With Jesus.

Maybe there's a knock on your heart's door about someone. Maybe that means turning off the tv. Putting down the Kindle. Picking up a ball. And opening your heart to loving, eyes to seeing, arms to hugging, ears to listening and mouth to speaking kind, gentle words.

Remember, conviction to act is different than acting out of guilt. Sit with the Lord and ask...how can I move her/his world today? I bet it'll be sweet and amazing. I'd love to hear about it...

October 24, 2010

Memory Jar

I want to catch certain memories like fireflies in a mason jar. And set them on my night stand, gazing at their flickering joy throughout the dark night. I would poke holes in the tin cap, and let their sweet scent of warmth radiate throughout the room.

Yes, there are certain memories I wish I could capture. But that possibility would negate those bright fleeting times from becoming memories.

So I create more memories to fill my precious jar.

I sing songs.

Pour over photo albums.

Bake sweet treats. Especially in the fall and winter seasons.

My family lived 5 hours from my grandparents. Trekking there after my dad got off work guaranteed an arrival close to midnight. No matter the hour, my Nanny always had a pot of spaghetti, New England clam chowder, baked beans, brown bread, and cookies waiting for us. Walking into my Nanny and Grampy's was walking into a hug. Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and even strangers were welcome to sidle up to the table and partake in the bounty all throughout the day.

My mom has carried on the extravagant feasts for the multitudes. We used to set an extra plate at the dinner table for the not officially invited, but always welcome, anticipated guest who would "just happen to show up" at dinner time! (usually a local college student). In autumn, our guests were treated to my mom's scrumptious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert! My memory bank is full of these delicious goodies! Soft and sweet, these babies are dee-vine!

Part of creating new memories to fill our jar is inviting others into our stories; sharing our history and what makes us who we are. Cooking and sharing family recipes is part of my story. So I shared my mom's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe with LeAnn Rice at She Cooks! LeAnn's heart is also to share her story, her life, and her Jesus with others. She does so with the warmth and grace of a true servant and she whips up love and memories to share not only in her kitchen, but every where she goes. Visit her blog, She Cooks, for the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and bake a batch for yourself tonight! While you're there, make sure to check out LeAnn's other recipes.

I'd love to light up my memory jar a bit more with a memory with you! Please leave a comment with your favorite family recipe! It just might make it to my table one night!

October 22, 2010

I Won!



I won! I won! I won a "Lovely Blog Award" from the sweet Stephanie at Journey of Healing! Thanks girl! Reading her blog is like pulling a page out of my own journal. She's real, honest and God is taking her through some similar things as me!

This award comes with some fun 'rules'

1. Accept the award and acknowledge the person who bestowed it. {see above}
2. Pay it forward to 15 blogs you enjoy.

Easy! Here goes...in no particular order:
1. My dearest sweetest bestest sister/friend Joni's blog. A steady, rich relationship with the Lord weaves its way into her words which challenge and encourage me constantly. Plus, she's more fun than the state fair!! Love this girl!

2. You might have heard her on 106.9 FM...if not, 12-3...tune in! Carol can give you a side stitch from laughing till you can't breathe and give you a good cry from pondering the depth of God's mercy all in one conversation.

3. Whether you are a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend...Melissa is your gal to hang with! She's real, honest, relatable, & funny! Say whatever you want...you'll be loved and accepted.

4. Dreamers, Believers and Faith Filled Girls...you won't want to miss Nicki's blog! She knows God is big and able and spurs you on to remember the same!!

5. Okay, I'm not a wife or mom yet, but Sharon is already mentoring me in those areas through her thoughtful, humble, soulful words. I want to be like her when I grow up!

6. When looking for a shot in the arm of Truth (hard as it might be to hear) I look no further than Lisa's blog. She's just keepin' it real and I'm better for it.

7. I'm sorry to say I don't know the name of the writer behind the words on this blog. What I do know is she's a real gal, living real life, with a real God and sees Him in the every day. I appreciate that. Think you will too.

8. This guy's a poet. His words fluid, compelling, picturesque. Though his posts are far and few between, Jacob's writing is worth waiting for.

9. An escape for your spirit & mind, Elizabeth blends heart-changing/wrenching/reviving photos with eye-opening words that mix in a lovelycan'tlookaway collage.

10. Her art tells stories of the soul. Her words do the same. Her heart comes through in both. And it's a thing of beauty. Just like Laura.

11. Tuck your feet up under you, wrap your hands around a hot mug, and chill with Shannon. You're invited into her life...with herself, her hubby, her friends and her God. Her words are comfortable and real.

12. Simply sweet. Simply giving. Simply kind. Simply generous. Simply abundant in love. Lisa at Simply His blog is simply wonderful and elaborately loved by everyone who meets her! Read her blog...you'll see why!

13. LeeBird shares life's journey with grace, wisdom, humbleness and humor. You'll instantly feel at home with her!

14. I just started following Eileen's blog and look forward to her wisdom and funny quips already!

{And because I can't resist promoting these folks who are making a HUGE difference in the world...}


15. This is hard. Gut wrenching. Fall on your knees. Weep till you're spent hard. But we can't turn our backs on the reality that this is reality. LOVE146's blog. Get involved.

15. Do you want a new perspective on the poor? Here you go! Compassion International spreads it's arms across the world and gives you and me the chance to hug kids 1000's of miles away.

15. What if you could round-table it with C.S. Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, and Tozer? Well, that's not possible, but Desiring God's blog comes pretty close!

There's your sneak peek into the lovely blogs whose writer's words challenge, comfort, inspire and entertain me! Hope they speak to you similarly! Adios!

October 21, 2010

Now ... Then

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. ~Genesis 50:20

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~Jeremiah 29:11

The whole time Joseph was a slave and prisoner...God saw him as second in command over Egypt.

When Ruth was a homeless, barren widow...God saw her settled, a wife, and grandmother to His Son.

When Lazarus was wrapped in grave clothes...God saw him breathing new life.

When David was running for his life...God saw him running Israel.

When Paul crucified Christians...God saw him preaching the crucified Christ.

When Sarai beat Hagar...God saw her beating her jealousy, pride and doubt with the birth of Isaac.

When Esther was an orphaned girl shaking in fear for her life...God saw His daughter shaking the kindgom and saving the lives of His people.

When Rahab welcomed men into the shelter of her bed...God saw her sheltering the spies on her roof.

When Peter lost faith and denied Christ...God saw him bringing many to faith in Christ.

When Moses killed with his own hands...God saw him chiseling the Ten Commandments with those same hands.

When Mary Magdalene saw Jesus die...God saw Him resurrected and seated on His heavenly throne!

Oh what God can't reverse, redeem, restore, revive, renew! Trust Him that He can take any circumstance and use it for your good and His glory.

October 20, 2010

ONE - ME, YOU

The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' ~Matthew 25

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one. ~Mother Teresa

This week the thought of ONE is still pinging around my insides. Insides of my mind...what can I do? Insides of my heart...who can I serve? love? cherish?

How can I be the ONE to love the one in front of me?

My friend Elizabeth has had moving convictions on this...

Anything pinging around your mind/heart too?

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little. ~Edmund Burke

Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him.
~Albert Schweitzer

October 18, 2010

Sam in Real Life

If you're visiting from Rachel Olsen's Blog Carnival, welcome!! If you'd like to know more about linking up on this fun ride, visit Rachel's blog.

Instead, it is you - my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed… ~Psalm 55:13-14

Friendship is a diminishing of distance between people. ~Keith Richards

Text messages, Facebook updates, Twitter tweets, blog posts... they sure can fool you into thinking you know a person. Truth is, anyone is allowed to be, well, anyone on social networking sites! Slap on a few pictures of the kids smiling, add a funny quip, stir, and zippitty-do-da! out comes the illusion of a fairy tale perfect life.

Now, I appreciate social networking. Hours of clicking photo after photo of my best-friend-from-third-grade-but-we-haven’t-talked-in-20-years proves it! If a picture speaks a thousand words, then I’d say a thousand times over she’s happyhappyhappyhappy….

Facebook and Twitter made me believe another friend I grew up with had a life full of sunshine and butterflies too. After reconnecting and talking over email, we got our old gang back together to do a Bible study.

And there is where the walls tumbled down. All the pretty pictures of her kids on the first day of kindergarten didn’t show the ten meltdowns they had that morning. Quips of the romantic get-away with the hubster didn’t tell of the months of marital counseling to save their marriage. And all the status updates could never relay the depth of depression or insignificance she felt.

If not for our Bible study, I would not have known the real story behind the story. I would have missed the opportunity to encourage and cheer her on; to live the daily ups and downs with her.

Now hear me on this. Keep posting your cute pics and funny sayings. I enjoy them as much as the next gal. But please do not start spilling your innermost secrets on Facebook or reveal every emotion you ever felt on Twitter. You want to protect yourself and your family. Living room couches, coffee shop tables, and park benches, not social networking sites, are the places to share!

We were made to do life with others. We need friends who know us and can look us in the eye and read our expressions. Our souls crave to take off the mask, let our guard down, and pour out the depths of who we are to a safe, confidential few. Relationships sustained by status updates and retweets can only go to certain depths. Real life is lived in real conversations had in real time.

It’s been two years since that Bible study. My friend and I continue to live life—real life—together. I hope you have someone(s) you can do that with too. If not, can I encourage you to find a few friends who you can just "be" with? Here are some thoughts to get started:
~ Reconnect with old friends or ask newer friends that you talk with often over Facebook or Twitter who live near you
~Start a group through church, neighborhood, etc. You could do a Bible study {all P31 resources are 31% off this week!!}, dinner club, weekly park outings, coffee over conversation…
~Commit to confidentiality and be willing to open up and trust. My Bible study group has a confidentially agreement, which includes not sharing with husbands, parents or best friends, even if they don’t know us.

If you already have a group of friends you share with, please leave a comment! We’d love to hear about how you became friends and what you do together! Oh, and don't forget to visit Rachel's blog!



Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. ~Ecclesiastes 4

October 15, 2010

ONE - LUCAS, BLOOD WATER MISSION

I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ~William Penn

We've focused on folks this week who have made a difference. I especially love that ONE person can change the world for hundreds, thousands, even millions.

Today's ONE is very special to me. His name is Lucas Kovasckitz and I have the distinct privilege of not only being one of his youth group leaders, but also his friend. He's like a deep creek, flowing steadily, nourishing those he streams by. He inspires me to do more, love deeper, and linger longer in God's presence. You can get a glimpse of his heart through his music (some of my fav!!) https://noisetrade.com/johnlucas. And should you ever get to worship with him in person, you will leave a different person.

Last year Lucas changed a community of folks by daring to challenge our youth group to something BIG. I asked him a few questions...hope you're inspired by him like I was!!



*Lucas is the 7th guy from the left

1. Why did you want to raise money for Blood:Water?
Blood:Water is my favorite non-profit organization...their heart and vision for those who have almost nothing of earthly value, specifically in Africa, is pretty amazing. I heard about their goal to dig 1,000 wells in African communities, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of it. One of their fundraising ideas was to drink nothing but water for 40 days, and to give away what you would have spent on coffee or soda. It’s a really simple idea, but it can also have a lasting impact on both the giver as well as the people the well serves. Instead of just writing a check and forgetting about it, you’re daily making a conscious choice to give up a small piece of American comfort. In a way, you’re identifying with those that the final result of your efforts is blessing…a beautiful community of people around the world that you’ll most likely never meet. The main goal, at least for me, wasn't the dollar figure at the end of the fast, but hopefully a small but tangible heart transformation. Too often I’m convicted of my consumerism, and my pursuit of things that will never last. I don’t want to forget about the people that the world has forgotten.


2. What steps did you take to go about raising money?
I really felt like the fast was something that I was supposed to do, but I also wanted to get others involved. I ran it by my homeboy/youth pastor, and soon the youth got behind the fast. This then spread until much of our church community was also participating. The response was a huge blessing, and also extremely humbling.

3. How much $ was raised over what period of time? How many wells does that equate to? We raised about $2500, which is about half of the amount it takes to dig and build a well. It wasn’t a million dollars on a ten-foot check, but it’s pretty amazing what can happen when a group of people makes sacrifices to change the world around them.


4. Would you do it again? or something else like that?
I would definitely do it again, and I want to learn how to better serve those in my own community and around the world that are struggling in poverty. I’m in the process of getting my degree in economics, to hopefully use it in an organization like Blood:Water – one that meets practical needs but also shines the love of Christ.

Click here for more about Blood:Water!

Blood:Water Mission (An Overview) from Blood:Water Mission on Vimeo.



But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,miracles that cannot be counted. He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside. The lowly he sets on high,and those who mourn are lifted to safety. ~Job 5