Monday, October 27, 2014

Follow me over to Wordpress! (Blog is Moving)

Hey there, subscribers!

I've moved my blog over to Wordpress and would LOVE for you to join me there!

It's about to get really quiet here at blogger, and I'd love to stay in touch.

Come to the blog warming party and re-subscribe to the new site.  Lots of new features and a nicer look- I'd love to hear what you think!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Holding up Kind Mirrors

The other mamas explained to me the goals for the mother's group they lead.  They invited me to speak with their group about hearing God's voice through scripture- one of my favorite topics in the world.

In the background, my kids were screaming.  Both of them.  We had met at a giant jungle themed play structure so that they could run around while we talked.  Instead, I had to excuse myself from the conversation to climb up foam stairs and through an elephant head so I could extract my kids mid-meltdown.

I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror on the wall, holding my limp spaghetti leg tantrum child.  Ugh.  I thought.  They must think I'm crazy and my kids are wild.  It will be a miracle if they actually want me to speak to their group after this.

I apologized for the chaos.

They replied, "Don't apologize!  We were just talking how patient you are with your kids."  It was a much kinder mirror that they held in front of me in that moment.

Grace.  Like rain.

Sometimes when I fear what "others think" I forget that they are probably not as critical of myself as I am.  I realized I need kind mirrors in my life.  I need to hold them up for others.  I need to look to one for myself.

There is no kinder mirror than the reflection of my soul in the eyes of God.

God delights in me (Psalm 18:19)
He is enthralled by my beauty like a groom with his bride (Psalm 45:11)
I am very precious to him, not for my outer masks or my productivity, simply my heart (1 Peter 3:4)
He is so happy when he thinks of me, he sings over me (Zephaniah 3:17)
I am his very dear friend (John 15:13-15)
There's nothing I can do that he won't forgive or could ever make him love me less (Romans 8:38-39)

There is security and love and empowerment in grace.

Look in the eyes of God today.  Ask him in prayer to show you how he sees you and wait, vigilantly listening and watching for his answer.

Let the overflow of his wild approval, joyful abandonment, and deep love inspire you to hold up a kind mirror for someone else who needs to feel grace.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Living "the Dream"

Watching the sun set from a picnic blanket, faint music floating on the summer night's breeze, us girls laughed and told stories and ate goat cheese with honey.  We were celebrating the birthday of one of my dearest friends.

As we looked at the sky we remembered the year behind us, and dared to dream for the year ahead. 

Two of my girl friends are single and had gone to London and Paris together.  They told hilarious and charming stories of adventures abroad and quaint cafes tucked into hidden alleys. 

I always assumed I'd be a lot more adventurous when it came to exploring with our kiddos, but mothering two toddlers makes travelling difficult.  I know this season isn't forever.  They'll get older, drop naps, walk further, and be able to use an inside voice one of these days.  My soul still lets out a little sigh from time to time, knowing that so many of the things I want to experience in life will need to wait another year or two.

One of the single girls generously redirected conversation from her phenomenal trip over toward me, "Do you have a picture of your kids?" she asked.

I pulled out my phone.  The first picture on hand was of them goofing off in an aisle of the Dollar Store while I picked up some birthday party supplies.  As I told the story of convincing them to leave their huge cardboard hats behind, it sounded really uninteresting in contrast to the Eiffel Tower.  I shyly handed over my phone.

As she took the screen her whole face softened.  Her eyes lit up.

"The are so cute!" she said.  "I can't wait until this is my life."  She handed back my phone.  Sincerely smiling, she added "You are so blessed."  

Yes.  I am.  

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes I want the ones I don't have.  I am living the dream.  It may not feel like my dream all the time, but every day of mine...even all the ones not spent in Paris...are laced with beautiful blessings.

...The sunrise.
...A squirrel on the fence.
...The squishy softness of my son grabbing my fingers.
...The dishes piled in my sink that remind me our family had plenty to eat and that our house is a well lived in home.

Every once in a while I fear that my dreams are on hold.  They feel like distant things, fragile and perishable.  I worry that my dreams are waiting for me under a waterfall, on top of a mountain, or in a publishing house far away.  

Our dreams are never far away.  We carry them in our heart.

God carries our hearts in his hand, and his dreams for us are beyond our imagination.

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

So dream on sisters, of beauty and oceans and sleeping in.  Only know that on this very ordinary day, if you are blessed to love others and know how fully loved by God you are, sweet girl- you are already living. the. dream.

Friday, October 10, 2014

When Spiritual Discipline becomes Invitation instead of Obligation

I breathed in a rare moment of silence, interrupted only by a scurrying squirrel in the giant oak branches that shaded my patch of bright green grass.  Journal in hand, eyes to the blue sky, I sat very still.

I had been asked to spend 45 minutes talking to God and listening for his voice while considering what work he was actively doing in and around me.  At the end of the time, each of us in our cohort were encouraged to choose a spiritual discipline that we felt would complement God's existing work in our lives and help us be more aware and embracing of his presence.

Our group is led by a wise and gentle older man, he is lean and strong but has the silver hair and purposeful cadence of a grandfather.  His humility is almost startling.  He asked me kindly which discipline I had chosen.  I told him I was struggling to choose between two options.  He asked me a question that completely caught me off guard, a question I know I will ask myself many times again in the future.

"Do you have a sense of what God is inviting you to rather than what your self is feeling obligated by?"

"Come, Follow Me" is not a command wrapped in expectation or obligation, it will forever be a simple invitation.  Somehow when I think of spiritual discipline, I too easily forget the point of eliminating distractions and seeking out truth.  I forget the voice of Jesus and his tone of loving invitation that surrounds the journey of following him.

"Jesus' call was to journey with him.  In addition to his emphasis on the costs of discipleship, he assured his disciples that he would never leave them alone, would share the intimacy he experienced with the father with them, and ultimately would seal his friendship by laying down his life for them."
- David G. Benner, Sacred Companions page 64

Our Christian journey is meant to be a friendship with God that grows in depth and intimacy over the time, he invites us to "follow in his steps"- steps which lead to loving people who aren't like us, through suffering, and occasionally out on the water.

The invitation is to recognize a powerful, wild God in our own real world and follow him wherever he leads, knowing that if he is leading he must be close by.

God comes down from the cosmos once again.  He is no longer a distant power reigning over humans as a master rules over his slaves. Jesus says:

"I shall not call you servants anymore,
because a servant does not know his master's business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father." - John 15:15

Jesus considers you a friend, not just a follower.  "Follow me" is simply a loving invitation to journey with him.  He is offering to walk a few steps ahead of you as you follow the trail of his divine presence through the uncertainty, anticipation, beauty, suffering, joy, and all that life has to offer.

Discipline helps us follow Jesus well and nurture our relationship with him.  While there are many practices that help us maintain our focus, sharpen our character, and nourish our souls, such as:

  • Prayer
  • Silence and Solitude
  • Worship
  • Scripture Reading and Study
  • Fasting 
  • Serving
  • ...and others

None of these things will ever make him love us more.  None of them are designed to make us bored or stressed or guilty or shamed or miserable.

Could it be that the discipline of being mindful of our steps, looking ahead of us to keep our eyes on the one we are following, and spending time with our friend is ultimately a loving invitation?  Not an invitation to prove our worth, faithfulness, or goodness.  Simply an invitation to intimately follow.

What is God doing in your world?

How is he inviting you to engage with him as he creates beauty and goodness and acts in love?  How might he be inviting you to abandon obligation and simply follow him?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Monastery of Motherhood

I struggled through my initial launch into motherhood, unsure of who I was or what it looked like to be an ambitious woman staying at home with young children.  I wondered if I was in a "season of waiting" or a "desert" and just needed to persevere until I somehow became worthy of my real calling. The long days, silence, and isolation of the newborn months with my daughter made me question the decision I made to stay home.

My life changed when I discovered that Brother Lawrence, one of the key influencers of modern Christianity, was a dishwasher.  At a monastery.  During that initial transition out of my career, I felt like little more than a dishwasher in my home.

Suddenly I had a new appreciation for the silences of my day.  I began to pray and walk and fill the white spaces with truth and beauty.  I decided to be purposeful about my time "washing dishes" so now when I wash dishes or fold laundry I am almost always listening to a podcast or recorded sermon.  It has changed me. It has changed the way I view my time, my chores, and my calling.  The silence is less of a desert or waiting, and more of an invitation to slow down and explore and think and pray.  

I've had a few people ask about my favorite things I've listened to, and though this is not an exhaustive list, it's my "Greatest Hits" of 2014 so far (many of them are much older than this year but I only recently discovered them).  Some of them are pretty meaty, but I've loved challenging my brain and inviting it to keep turning even in the midst of mindless tasks.

So grab a set of headphones and spice up your housework!  I hope you enjoy these talks as much as I have.  They are truly the only real motivation I have to do chores.  If you have any of your own favorite podcasts, leave them in the comments!  I'm always excited to discover new people.

Best Podcasts/Sermons of 2014

Tim Keller
Brene Brown 
Christine Caine 
Francis Chan
John Ortberg
NT Wright (heavier stuff, but really thought engaging)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

All God's Children say "I Love You"

My son is the embodiment of joy.  His laugh explodes like a million blue birds flying up from the rain forest into the sun. He just turned two and my heart is wrapped around his.  My daughter is three and she is somehow a woman and a child and a sage wrapped in a tiny, porcelain body. She and I will argue and laugh and drink tea for the rest of my life, and it is beautiful and terrifying how all of those moments with her feel wrapped in the present.

As I dropped my sweet girl of at her class this morning, I said "Bye honey, I love you." She looked over her shoulder and smiling, said "I love you too!" That brief second seemed to freeze and last just a little longer than usual. She looked like such a big girl.  I felt sincerely loved by her and proud of her and so aware of how precious every word that we speak to each other is.

Carrying my son on my hip as I walked away, I wanted to be sure he didn't feel left out so I wiggled my nose into his cheek and said "I love you too, buddy." He pulled his head back with a huge dimpled smile, and burrowed his blonde little head into the soft space between my clavicle and shoulder. His silent snuggle could not have shouted "I LOVE YOU TOO" any louder with all the words in the world.

My eyes started to moisten as happy tears were held at bay, such an ordinary concrete sidewalk beneath my feet on the most ordinary of days.

I felt so loved.  I felt so much in love.  

For a moment I realized how special each of God's children are to him.  How he sees our maturity and brokenness and goodness and heart and soul.  It's not a ladder or a race.  As much as I cherish the growing depth of my relationship with my oldest daughter, I don't love her any more or less than my silly son who doesn't say much other than "mama" and "choo choo".  I don't love her any more or less than when she was a newborn in my arms.  I just love.  And they just love me back.  

So push on to spiritual maturity, and seek new depth of understanding.  Only understand that reading your Bible or learning greek may enable you to have a new kind of relationship with God- but it will never make him love you more.  Nothing can make him love you more or less.  His love is infinite, unconditional and inseparable from our very being.  

Moments like these make me pause and breathe deeply, in wonder of the infinite God who would bind up sacred secrets such as these in a mother's heart.

Romans 8:31-39

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Getting Out There

I was really honored when my prayer buddy and good friend invited me to come speak to the mamas at her church.  Even though there were 50 women gathered around, it felt intimate and welcoming.  It was a special morning and one of the women took really good notes and even wrote a gorgeous blog about it- what a gift!

It's been really special for me to be invited to speak my heart at 3 churches so far this Fall.  It's been a long time since I felt like my gifts and passions were honored and invited.  After listening to an audio recording of myself I realize I have a ton of room to grow- but I'm thankful for the chance to try and learn.  The true gift is the way that my heart just explodes when I walk into these gatherings- a sense of God's love for the women there and myself is always so present.  I love mornings with grace and coffee and girls.  Does it get any better?

If you want a taste of my heart for imperfection, friendship, and community in motherhood- here it is.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Prayer for the Victims of Isis

My heart has broken in sheer pain and empathy for my brothers and sisters and their

I cannot even type the word "children" without my eyes welling with tears and stomach tightening. The terror and brutality of Isis right now, this moment, against Christians is overwhelming.  The beheading of children. Unmitigated evil, unconscionable violence.  Crimes against humanity.  Crimes against God.  My heart doesn't know how to hold these stories.

I know I will wake my own beautiful blonde headed children up in a few moments from a sleep that was guarded and safe and sweet.  They'll have matted hair and sleepy eyes and nothing but hope for the day to come.

I know we will go to church and worship God in truth and love and freedom this morning. And I will raise my hands and say God is good and mean it with my whole heart even though I have invisibly dried tears staining my face.

I know I will stop crying in a moment, and later today I will giggle or laugh and this heavy, sacred empathy will be far from me.  I may even go to Costco.  That makes me feel guilty.

I know that even with all the theological explanation, I don't fully understand how God could see his children and his children's children in this kind of pain and not rain down fire and vengeance from heaven.  That makes me question him as a good father and that question makes me feel guilty.

I know God is a good father, not just to his children who are being persecuted but also to me.  That truth is too large and weighty for my small hands to grasp well.  The inability to hold weight that I know God is holding makes me feel loved and free and safe and want to pray.

If, like me, you don't know how to hold the pain of our brothers and sisters who are being brutalized and persecuted and killed, I'm inviting you to pray these words and promises of God with me.

Stop "reading" for a moment.  Reorient your heart.  Welcome God to this space, the pain, the confusion, the questions.  Open your heart to him. Allow a moment of silence.

Psalm 34:15-18

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.

God I believe that you see and hear your children around the world.  All of us.  You are unprotected from the horrific images and cries of pain. You delight in the beauty of uninhibited worship and expressions of love and freedom.  You hold them all.

16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

I trust you to be judge.  I am so thankful that you are a righteous judge who hates evil.  So many fear your judgement, but crimes like these remind us of our desperate need for a judge to bring justice to our world where politicians and brilliant minds and big hearts have all failed.  This is beyond us.  Please, God, in your righteousness, cut off this evil and even the bitter root of memory of this evil completely from our earth.  Quickly, please.

17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.

18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

God you are mighty to save.  I trust that your spirit is close to my brothers and sisters in a way that I don't understand.  Their boldness and resolution in the face of great danger and terror speak not only to their faith but also to your presence.  I trust you to love them and hold them and strengthen them, and in some cases hold their spirits tightly as they enter into eternity.  I trust you to be good in ways I don't understand.  I trust that you are close and that you see the pain, that you can deliver and save and redeem.  Please God, even if I cannot feel the love you have for them, fill them, cover them, flood them with your love.


*Luke 21:10-19 Can also be prayed back to God as a prayer in a similar way.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Why Perfection is Poison

There is a great deal of danger in becoming a perfect mom.

Did you just choke on your coffee?  Ya I know, being too perfect is not high on my list of concerns either- but here's why it shouldn't even be on our list of goals.  Imperfection is a gift, it's where we meet grace AND each other.

For all you moms who aspire to the perfect body, home, parenting style or whatever, relax. You are closer to happiness than you think.  For the elite who have reached mommy nirvana- open your eyes.  You may be missing your perfect life by being a perfect mom. 

Perfection poisons Empathy

When something works for you, you may be tempted to assume that you are somehow skilled, gifted, smarter, or just plain better than other mom's who can't quite get it together.  If only they could do it your way.  

When nothing works for you, you learn the frustration, humility, and pain of motherhood.  If you look around and feel like you are having a harder time than most, keep looking.  I guarantee there are other mamas having a hard time too.  As a broken woman you have unique eyes to see hurt, loneliness, and shame. If you can step out of your own shadows, you will realize you have developed a unique voice to relate to a sisterhood who desperately needs to hear they are seen, understood, and loved.  

Perfect mamas, please remember that all of our situations, support systems and kids are different.  At the end of the day, we don't need advice the same way we need love.  Perfection doesn't have to succumb to pride.  Look around and see community instead of competition or incompetence.  True perfection is always marked by love, just ask God himself.

Perfection poisons Desire

There is something beautiful about need, desperation, and longing.  It's where we meet God.  It's where our hearts are softened and transformed by grace.  Jesus taught that those who feel deep need are blessed.  David proclaimed that God is near to the brokenhearted.  To feel true satisfaction we must sink into God and be surrounded by his grace.  

Counterfeit joy and peace are easy to come by in a "perfect life" when what you do, what you have, and what people think about you create a false sense of self that feels worth clinging on to.  Just.  let.  go.  Perfect mamas have to work hard to dive to the depths of grace.  Perfect or imperfect, we should all examine what we are using to define our identity and how we are satisfying our need for purpose and love.

Perfection poisons Friendship

Perfect moms make disingenuous friends. You may not realize, this, perfect mom, but that mama who came over for a play date this morning thought extra hard about what she and each of her kids were going to wear.  She chose the snack she was going to bring and the container she'd put it in carefully.  She didn't tell you what was truly on her heart or even her mind- she learned her lesson last time when you made her feel patronized and ashamed by your well meaning advice or story of how you have it all figured out.

Friendship is hospitality of the soul.  Being able to think aloud with another person.  Being able to truly be and become your true and best self.

Perfect mama, you may be accidentally achieving a sense of perfection that is closer to a J.Crew catalog than your own god given design.  You may unknowingly be distancing connection as you minimize or silence the messiness of humanity, failure, and motherhood.  Imperfect mama, you are not off the hook.  Ceaselessly striving for perfection in a way that your failures produce bitterness instead of humility is just as dangerous.

No matter where you fall on the perfection spectrum, we all have to choose to meet each other as each other, our true selves, and love one another in that grounded, messy reality.  It's the only way we can do life together, and motherhood is meant to be done together.

You have been warned.  The "perfect" home, body, parenting skills, or hobbies are more likely to poison your soul than satisfy you.  Accept humility.  Strive for love.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How to Pray for the McCarthy Family

Jean McCarthy was admitted to the hospital on Saturday, July 26th.  She has advanced stage liver cancer that has spread throughout her body.  It is very uncertain how long she has left.  Her husband Jim and daughters Elizabeth, Faith, and Grace are all caring for her at home now in her final days. 

Jean’s clear blue eyes radiate a peace that cannot be understood, and she is calm and happy as she prepares to see God.

Please pray for Jean, Jim, Elizabeth, Faith and Grace.  If words seem hard to come by in times like these, consider claiming these promises of scripture for their family.

God we thank you for Jean’s beautiful heart.  We pray that your presence would be close to her as she finishes her life the same way she lived it, with grace and peace.

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
  • Jean is eager to see, love and encourage as many people as she can. She longs for her friends and extended family to understand the peace that she has and to experience the love of God themselves.
  • Pray that Jean would live to see someone she loves decide to explore faith. 
  • Pray that Jim, Elizabeth, Faith and Grace would be able to support their mom’s wishes to serve others while maintaining balance with her needs, her energy level, and their own family time.
Father, the family is torn between being present with Jean and taking care of chores, taking care of themselves, or getting rest.  Provide them with peaceful Sabbaths. Give them sweet, sustaining sleep that is rejuvenating.  Guard their dreams and speak peace over them as they sleep. 

Psalm 4:8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Proverbs 3:24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Psalm 116:7 Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

Lord, we lift up Jean, Jim, Elizabeth, Faith and Grace.  We pray for strength and comfort during this time of heavy burden. 

Isaiah 40:31 But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Psalms 46:1-2  God is our refuge and our strength, and ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way….

Psalms 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Matthew 11:28-30  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is
made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly
about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is
why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in
hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then
I am strong.

Father God, We pray for your power to touch the McCarthy’s today and in the days ahead.  When they feels struck down, they are not destroyed.  Carry them during this difficult time.  Help them to not lose heart; to be renewed by your love and remember eternal glories and promises.

2 Cor 4:7-9  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Isaiah 43:1-2
…“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

Heavenly Father, we pray for peace for Jean’s family.  And we pray for physical peace for her.  Lift any pain or struggle from her, Lord. We pray for Jim, Elizabeth, Faith and Grace to feel your presence now, and to be able to find stillness and strength to be the nurturing caretakers Jean needs.  Give them strength to meet her needs, Lord, and to make these precious moments an anointed time together.

Isaiah 32:17 The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.

Psalms 29:11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

Psalm 112: 7-8   He will have no fear of bad news;
  his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
8 His heart is secure, he will have no fear;

Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Lord, we are thankful for all of the visitors and friends who have written or encouraged Jean.  Give her loved ones pleasant words full of love to speak over her. 

Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Thank you, God for who you are and that you are good.  This goodbye has come very suddenly for us and feels too soon.  We know that from the time you created her gentle spirit, you have seen and planned exactly when you would bring your beautiful daughter Jean back home.

Psalm 139:16
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Thank you, Lord, for the amazing love this family has shared with each other over the years.  Thank you for the sweet goodbyes they have been able to say.  May their last days together not only be covered in peace, but also sprinkled with hope and joy.

Thank you for praying, and encouraging, and loving. Your outpouring of support is dearly felt and deeply appreciated by Jim and the girls.  If would like to pray any other scripture or words of love over their family please email them or feel free to leave brief notes in the comments section below.

If you want more ideas on how to best love the McCarthy's (particularly Jim and the girls), Christianity Today has some excellent advice about secondhand grief.

*Many thanks to my friend Tasha who structured the majority of these verses for another hurting family during their time of grief.

90 Days to Awaken Joy

We belonged to each other but lived in a friendly, stale silence. Our paths had parted at some unknown crossroads and I found myself physically present but emotionally distant. Our conversations focused on logistics with a polite formality to them. I began lowering my expectations dangerously, assuming that what we had could simply be as good as it gets. No one but us may have ever noticed the fire was gone.

I could have gone on like this for quite some time, keeping up appearances in my stale relationship with God, but it just was not enough anymore. I needed the power and passion back.

Real life was happening.

I'm guest blogging over at my friend Bronwyn's corner. Head on over to her page to read the rest. While you're there, explore a bit! Bronwyn is a beautiful, down to earth writer and her blog is a favorite in my inbox. I think you'll love her :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Read the Bible in 90 Days

Between New Years and Easter a couple of friends and I went on an AMAZING life changing, spirit altering journey. We read the Bible in 90 Days with some guidance from our friends at B90 and now I can't shut up about it.


You can hear why it's worth doing over at my friend Bronwyn's blog where I risk getting a little too raw for the sake of compelling others to give God the chance to transform them through His voice. (link coming soon) My friend Lisa also shared her experiences powerfully here.


When you read the Bible in 90 Days you will get to know God as He is, as he shows himself. You will make connections, see themes and repetitions that you never imagined because everything is fresh in your mind. You are seeing the airplane window, big picture view. Your daily reading will become less about forcing application and more about recognizing and listening to God. Get set for the spiritual journey of your life.


Here's some practical tips to help you succeed.

  • Join (or start!) a group.
     Small is best. There were 3 of us and it was a great size to hold one another accountable but small enough that there was not a lot of additional administration or overhead to keep the group on the same page. 
  • Consider taking 103 Days.
    We found it best to do our 90 Days of reading over a 103 day period. We had 6 days of reading each week and on the 7th we came together as a group, shared what we were learning, and prayed. That way our time commitment held steady at 60 minutes per day and we also allowed ourselves some time to process what we were reading. 
  • Grab a reading plan.
     The official plan we used is here. I made my own so that I could add in our meeting days and line it up to specific dates (see below). Feel free to copy/paste it into excel and customize it for yourself! 
  • Get a new Bible.
    This is the Bible that Zondervan recommends and is broken up into the sections for the daily plan. Us girls all used and loved our journaling Bibles instead. It was really nice to quickly take notes, write observations, or scribble a "WOW!" or "???" as we went along. 
  • Plan your schedule.
    It works best to pick an hour a day that is non-negotiably committed to the journey. Even though I am not a morning person, the only hour I knew I would have was early in the morning before my kids woke up. I would highly suggest morning time. It has become my favorite way to start my day- 100 days will form a habit! 
  • Read the whole Bible.
    There is an amazing sense of connection and fluidity to the story of the Bible even when read simply cover to cover. There is a lot of reading and real life is going to happen and you will almost certainly fall behind on a day or two. Here's what to do and not do do when that happens. 

You CAN do it. I was an exhausted mother of a one year old and a two year old the first time I read B90. That hour of reading in the morning that I didn't think I had became the time that energized and fueled the rest of my day. I was shocked and amazed to discover I actually enjoyed reading the Old Testament. God's voice will surprise you!

I can't wait to hear how God's Word speaks to your soul. Will you email me and tell me? Pretty please?!

Joy to your journey, my friend! May Grace and Peace overwhelm you.


Day Date Reading Day Date Reading
1 3-Jan MeetUp 58 1-Mar Isa 1:1 Isa 13:22
2 4-Jan Gen 1:1 Gen 16:16 59 2-Mar Isa 14:1 Isa 28:29
3 5-Jan Gen 17:1 Gen 28:19 60 3-Mar Isa 29:1 Isa 41:18
4 6-Jan Gen 28:20 Gen 40:11 61 4-Mar Isa 41:19 Isa 52:12
5 7-Jan Gen 40:12 Gen 50:26 62 5-Mar Isa 52:13 Isa 66:18
6 8-Jan Ex 1:1 Ex 15:18 63 6-Mar Isa 66:19 Jer 10:13
7 9-Jan Ex 15:19 Ex 28:43 64 7-Mar MeetUp
8 10-Jan MeetUp 65 8-Mar Jer 10:14 Jer 23:8
9 11-Jan Ex 29:1 Ex 40:38 66 9-Mar Jer 23:9 Jer 33:22
10 12-Jan Le 1:1 Le 14:32 67 10-Mar Jer 33:23 Jer 47:7
11 13-Jan Le 14:33 Le 26:26 68 11-Mar Jer 48:1 La 1:22
12 14-Jan Le 26:27 Nu 8:14 69 12-Mar La 2:1 Eze 12:20
13 15-Jan Nu 8:15 Nu 21:7 70 13-Mar Eze 12:21 Ez 23:39
14 16-Jan Nu 21:8 Nu 32:19 71 14-Mar MeetUp
15 17-Jan MeetUp 72 15-Mar Eze 23:40 Eze 35:15
16 18-Jan Nu 32:20 Dt 7:26 73 16-Mar Eze 36:1 Eze 47:12
17 19-Jan Dt 8:1 Dt 23:11 74 17-Mar Eze 47:13 Da 8:27
18 20-Jan Dt 23:12 Dt 34:12 75 18-Mar Da 9:1 Hos 13:6
19 21-Jan Jos 1:1 Jos 14:15 76 19-Mar Hos 13:7 Am 9:10
20 22-Jan Jos 15:1 Jdg 3:27 77 20-Mar Am 9:11 Nah 3:19
21 23-Jan Jdg 3:28 Jdg 15:12 78 21-Mar MeetUp
22 24-Jan MeetUp 79 22-Mar Hab 1:1 Zec 10:12
23 25-Jan Jdg 15:13 1Sa 2:29 80 23-Mar Zec 11:1 Mt 4:25
24 26-Jan 1Sa 2:30 1Sa 15:35 81 24-Mar Mt 5:1 Mt 15:39
25 27-Jan 1Sa 16:1 1Sa 28:19 82 25-Mar Mt 16:1 Mt 26:56
26 28-Jan 1Sa 28:20 2Sa 12:10 83 26-Mar Mt 26:57 Mk 9:13
27 29-Jan 2Sa 12:11 2Sa 22:18 84 27-Mar Mk 9:14 Lk 1:80
28 30-Jan 2Sa 22:19 1Ki 7:37 85 28-Mar MeetUp
29 31-Jan MeetUp 86 29-Mar Lk 2:1 Lk 9:62
30 1-Feb 1Ki 7:38 1Ki 16:20 87 30-Mar Lk 10:1 Lk 20:19
31 2-Feb 1Ki 16:21 2Ki 4:37 88 31-Mar Lk 20:20 Jn 5:47
32 3-Feb 2Ki 4:38 2Ki 15:26 89 1-Apr Jn 6:1 Jn 15:17
33 4-Feb 2Ki 15:27 2Ki 25:30 90 2-Apr Jn 15:18 Ac 6:7
34 5-Feb 1Ch 1:1 1Ch 9:44 91 3-Apr Ac 6:8 Ac 16:37
35 6-Feb 1Ch 10:1 1Ch 23:32 92 4-Apr MeetUp
36 7-Feb MeetUp 93 5-Apr Ac 16:38 Ac 28:16
37 8-Feb 1Ch 24:1 2Ch 7:10 94 6-Apr Ac 28:17 Ro 14:23
38 9-Feb 2Ch 7:11 2Ch 23:15 95 7-Apr Ro 15:1 1Co 14:40
39 10-Feb 2Ch 23:16 2Ch 35:15 96 8-Apr 1Co 15:1 Gal 3:25
40 11-Feb 2Ch 35:16 Ez 10:44 97 9-Apr Gal 3:26 Col 4:18
41 12-Feb Ne 1:1 Ne 13:14 98 10-Apr 1Th 1:1 Phm 25
42 13-Feb Ne 13:15 Job 7:21 99 11-Apr MeetUp
43 14-Feb MeetUp 100 12-Apr Heb 1:1 Jam 3:12
44 15-Feb Job 8:1 Job 24:25 101 13-Apr Jam 3:13 3Jn 14
45 16-Feb Job 25:1 Job 41:34 102 14-Apr Jude 1 Rev 17:18
46 17-Feb Job 42:1 Ps 24:10 103 15-Apr Rev 18:1 Rev 22:21
47 18-Feb Ps 25:1 Ps 45:14 104 16-Apr
48 19-Feb Ps 45:15 Ps 69:21 105 17-Apr
49 20-Feb Ps 69:22 Ps 89:13 106 18-Apr MeetUp
50 21-Feb MeetUp 107 19-Apr
51 22-Feb Ps 89:14 Ps 108:13 108 20-Apr Easter Sunday
52 23-Feb Ps 109:1 Ps 134:3
53 24-Feb Ps 135:1 Pr 6:35
54 25-Feb Pr 7:1 Pr 20:21
55 26-Feb Pr 20:22 Ecc 2:26
56 27-Feb Ecc 3:1 SoS 8:14
57 28-Feb MeetUp

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Super Fun Pretend-to-be-an-Artist Project

A friend of mine has gorgeous art on every wall of her home, painted by herself or family or friends.  One of the pieces caught my eye and she was kind enough to show me how to make it on my own.  I was SHOCKED at how easy it was!  I've gotten commissioned twice since then and it's been a lot of fun to have a creative outlet and be able to make meaningful gifts for friends.  In the spirit of generosity with which I was taught, I wanted to share the process for anyone else who may want to try.

Here are a few ideas of what a finished product looks like:

Here's what you'll need:
  • A canvas (deep edges look best)
  • Paper for the background (pages from a Bible, book, or handwritten messages all work.  It's nice when this ties into the message/meaning)
  • Spray adhesive
  • Modge Podge (I prefer matte finish)
  • Acrylic paint*
  • Adhesive letters (Vinyl poster letters or you can cut your own from contact paper)
  • 1-3 inch foam brushes (width depending on canvas size and detail level of streak colors)
  • For a 12x12 canvas, you will probably spend roughly $35 and 4 hours on the piece.

*A note on Acrylic paints- I've tried most of the brands that are available at Michael's.  In general I'd say that Martha Stewart paint is the best quality, but colors can be limited.  Folk Art and Americana work just fine.  There is a lot of acrylic paint that is much more expensive, but that's really overkill for this project.

Step 1: Prep

Rip your paper into strips.  The torn edges give a lot of texture, so be sure you have lots of smaller pieces with no straight edges.

Spray your canvas with spray adhesive.  This is best done outside or a very well ventilated area.  Be sure that the side edges of the canvas are also sprayed.  Keep the spray moving quickly to have a even covering with minimal bubbles.

Step 2: Base Layer

Arrange the paper strips on the canvas.  Keep in mind the paper that you place in the bottom left hand corner will be the words that show through your letters.  The papers will all overlap each other (there should be no canvas showing through).  Arrange some papers originating from the top and others the bottom.  Wrap the paper around the canvas so that it is all flat on the sides.  You can be as Type A or not about the paper lining up on the sides as you would like to be.  I'm not too worried about it as long as it stays flat.

Use a foam brush and cover the paper layer with a layer of modge podge.  Allow to dry completely.

Step 3: Lettering

Lay out your letters and apply them to the dry base layer starting with the last letter of the last word and working your way back and up.  Push the letters very firmly against the layer, consider rubbing them in firmly with a popsicle stick or finger nail.  You don't want paint to get underneath them.

Step 4: Painting

Paint your base layer with smooth, even strokes that go from the top to the bottom of the canvas. The darker your base layer the more the words you have chosen will pop out.  If you actually want to have the paint be more translucent and see the pages behind the paint more clearly, simply wet your brush and dilute the paint with water.  Cover the entire painting with your base color.

Once that has dried completely, gently brush over some streaks of an accent color.  Try to let the foam brush graze the top of the texture from the pages.  Have a dry foam brush on hand for working in streaks.

Step 5: Finishing touches

Remove the letters carefully.  If any paint has seeped beneath them, simply us a wet qtip to rub it away.  Paint a final coat of modge podge over the entire thing.  Let it dry completely and you're done!