Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Encouragement Tidbits

I haven't been posting in a while because it's been a pretty busy season of my life where I feel I'm struggling to find my footing & even know how to process things myself, let alone attempt to bring others in the chaos.

But one of the positive things that has been happening is that I've been meeting with these two fabulous women on Monday nights. One of them has a heart for mentoring women, and has hand-picked me & another new mom in order to invest in us and offer some of the wisdom she's gleaned from her life experiences.

I love it when others are willing to share what God has given them, especially when it comes in the form of investing time. Those are precious things to share, treasures from God and time.

The other woman is a new, but dear friend of mine that I've recently gotten to know better through our mutual new season of life, motherhood. Our kids are actually only 1 day apart.

(Have I mentioned yet that I love God's timing? If not, I'm sure it will be the mantra for this post.)

So, we are studying a book called "The Great Lie" by Martha Kilpatrick. I knew nothing of this book, or should I say, booklet, before we ordered it online - other than two people had highly recommended it in the span of a two-week period, and so it caught my attention. But don't let the size of the booklet fool you. It's jam-packed full of thought-provoking statements and challenges. We've just barely waded in and feel pretty over our heads already. But in a good way.

The main emphasis of the book is about how Satan is bombarding us with a lie, a two part lie: God is not good and God is withholding good from us. Can you relate to that? Struggle with discontentment? Worry? Distrust? Want to control most of everything? Oh sorry....that's just me.

Maybe you can relate, too.

I would share more, but in my excitement, I have a tendency of trying to spit out what I'm just barely internalizing personally and not giving myself enough time to really, truly let it soak in. I had a friend tell me in college that I needed to "chew my cud" a little bit longer. I tried not to take the cow reference personally. :)

Anyways, so I'll spare you of any more commentary on the study. I do recommend you check it out, though!

So, onto the reason I did get on to share tonight.

Tonight the Lord led me to a couple of blog posts that were very timely and I believe contain some morsels that I need to chew on this evening. I don't know how the Lord speaks to you, but often, for me, it's about bringing multiple resources and references to my attention to really fill in the picture. Our God loves variety and I dig it as well.

Plus, it never hurts for God to continually re-emphasize what He's saying to me - I guess I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes.

So, in order to not get distracted and try to share about something that I've really just begun processing myself, I just wanted to pass along the encouragement I received!


What are you waiting for?

Faith in Difficult Times

No Good Thing Does He Withhold (Part 2 of Faith in Difficult Times)

Nothing is More Important (an excerpt from a 31 day series on Parenting)

Friday, July 29, 2011

An Invitation To Fall Apart

I ran across this video tonight in the search to find a new worship CD, and this was yet another confirmation of God's faithfulness to meet me where I am. It's been a rough season the past 6-8 weeks, with a lot going on and honestly just not having the time (or taking the time) to sort through all of it mentally or emotionally. Needless to say, I've been kind of a wreck (and God has extended grace to and through my husband to help me in the midst of it)!

Tonight, I felt as though this was an invitation for me to fall apart.
To let go and trust that God is big enough to handle my brokenness.
To cease striving to hold myself together.
To be reminded that He is with me in the midst of my brokenness, and that that is when I'm the most sensitive to His voice.

I guess when I stop telling myself that I'm fine, that I can pull myself together and quiet my inner pep talks, it's then that I can hear Him speaking to me, reminding me that I need Him.

When I let go of my perfectionism, I can exchange my poor attempts for His strength.

"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." - 2 Corinthians 12:9

The video really spoke to me and I'm praying that this season can be redeemed and changed into a season of intimate revival in my relationship with Jesus. What Satan has meant for harm, God has always transformed for His purposes because I belong to Him. I do pray for the courage to hold on to Him when my life seems to be falling apart and to trust His heart when I don't understand His ways.

I encourage you to take a minute to listen to the song first, and then watch the video of the story behind it. I couldn't find it to add to my playlist, or I would have put that on the top of my list. I'm sure I'll be listening to it a lot over the next few weeks.

Fall Apart by Josh Wilson

The Story Behind Fall Apart

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A New Discipline Idea

I'm thoroughly enjoying the blog, "The Word of God and a Cup of Joe" and as a new parent, will take any wisdom I can get on parenting.

We've just started disciplining Natalie, now that she's reached the age of knowing what "No" means and needing boundaries, and we definitely don't have it figured So, if you're like me, or have a friend with a kid or ten that could use some pointers, enjoy today's post on A New Discipline Idea!

It even includes a cute little project for those of use that like things tidy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Boundaries and Balance

This post by Lisa Whittle really spoke to me today, especially as I'm learning about boundaries. My husband and I have recently joined a small group that is doing the study, "Boundaries in Marriage" and we're really, really enjoying it. But I have to admit it's kind of kicking my butt, too! I had no idea how boundaries (and the lack of them) affect the relationships and decisions that we make each day!

It's heartbreaking to me to see families that are serving in ministry, giving so much for other people, whose own families are falling apart themselves. I can see how easily that could become my life, too, should I not learn how to set proper boundaries and learn to protect the gifts God has given me.

I think that if we could all be prayerful and intentional to follow the steps Lisa puts out in the blog, we'd do more to reinforce and strengthen our families, and our overall effectiveness in ministry as a result.

Choosing the Better Over the Good

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nat's Birthday and trying to do things differently

So, my 'baby's' first birthday is coming up in 6 days. June 24th.

6 days?! I can't believe it.

With that in mind, please bare with me as this is a solely personal blog post regarding the party planning and thoughts behind why we do what we do.

We are in the midst of planning her birthday bash, and wondering how in the world we're going to fit 30 family members in our um, humble home. :) It will be interesting! But we're really looking forward to celebrating her big day with those that love her almost as much as her daddy and I do. :)

One thing that we really want to do, and we're not quite sure how to pull it off just yet, is to make her birthday each year a day of thanksgiving - intentionally turning the focus off of solely Natalie and gifts and all the other stuff that is thrown into that day by tradition, and making it about thanking God for her life, for one more year, and recognizing all (well, to the best of our ability) that He has done in the past year up until that point. The same goes for Christmas -we really want to try to get the focus off of gifts and 'me' and turn it into a season of giving for our entire family. We're definitely open to suggestions!

We're trying to keep things meaningful and fun, without going off the deep end and spending money that we really don't have on things that really don't matter. This isn't meant to come across as judgmental to those that do like the 'big' stuff. It's definitely fun. It's just not where we are, and really where we feel the Lord leading us regarding how we spend the money that He's provided for us.

I so often fall into the trap of tradition and what others may be expecting, and do things that mean nothing to me. And I don't even realize it I'm doing it. And I spend money in ways that are careless and not meaningful, and I'm becoming convinced that God has called me to be a better manager of what He's provided than I've been in the past. So, we're trying to be meaningful, personal, and prayerful about the traditions we start as a family.

Anyways, I mainly wanted to share this super cute graphic that Jordan edited for her invites. It is really nice to have a graphic designer in the household. Natalie adores this new show on Nickelodeon called "Bubble Guppies" and so that's the theme. We're gonna have the shows running on our TIVO throughout the party, with some other fun, fishy crafts, snacks (goldfish, of course), and water fun in the backyard. She's getting a little swimming pool for her birthday (shh...don't tell her and spoil the surprise!) and we're borrowing 3-4 other little pools for the other cousins that will be there. I sure hope it doesn't rain!

So, here's the graphic:

Cute, right? :) Anyways, we're looking forward to it! I'll be sure to post pictures following the big event on July 2nd.

Thanks for sharing in my joy for a minute! :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Clear Message

My husband and I were listening to a church's podcast we've recently discovered.

In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret. One of our new favorite ways to wind down in the evening is to put on a podcast and do jigsaw puzzles online together.

Yes, I know. It sounds super geeky. :I What can I say - I enjoy it. And with an 11-month old, it's a bit more realistic than trying to do a real puzzle and keep it out of her little grabby hands. :)

Anyways, so now that my guilty pleasure is out, I'll continue...

Last night we listened to a message entitled "What we are and what we are not." Without going into too much detail, it touched on how we, as believers, can still see ourselves as 'sinners.' At first, that sounds correct, right? He goes on to say how it's not true anymore - not insinuating that we don't still sin. But that we're no longer categorized by our sin. We're now a part of the family of God, we're now what Paul, and some of the other disciples that were powerfully chosen to pen the Word of God, called "saints." And that should be our new identity.

It seems like a small thing, but that subtle difference really does lead us to two very different results. One that identifies with the new life I've received through Christ, and strives to live in that victory, and another that still claims the old ways, and lives under defeat.

The message goes on to talk about what he refers to as "cool Christians." These are people that live on the edge and justify the gray areas in their lives as their 'freedom in grace' and their 'right' as believers.

He was personally not a big fan of this concept, and I felt like his take on it related to the internal conflict I've been having regarding this issue for quite some time.

It reminded me of another quote from "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, where she says,

"God does not give rights but imparts responsibilities-"

I felt that this hit on what I've been struggling with. We as believers are under grace (and praise the Lord for that!) and we don't have to try to achieve the perfect standard that only Christ can be for us, our Righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). However, that grace does not afford us rights, but rather a hefty responsibility to now live lives that are clear messages of the gospel we've received.

I have to repeat that because that was a huge revelation for me last night.

I have been called to live a life that is a clear message of the gospel that I've received.

And I guess to put my stake down finally and make a stance, I don't believe that if my life resembles what it was before I was following Christ- by the shows I watch, the words I speak, the clothes I wear - that my life is sending a clear message at all.

How will people ever find life and light if I continue on in darkness?

And I'm not talking about self-imposed new standards of what I think a Christian should look and act like. That's legalism and trading old bondage for new chains.

I'm talking about the process of giving up my old way of living and putting on Christ (Ephesians 4:22-31).

Maybe all I do know is that when people look at me, I don't want them to question where I stand.

As Joshua said, "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

I want that to be evident in the way I live my life - the words I speak, the shows I watch, the way I treat my family and others. And to me, that is a HUGE responsibility, one that I'm thankful God offers the grace to pursue, a way that leads to life.

Because if I say that the the Word of God is true and all that it claims, then what else makes sense?

"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:9-13

The Shelf Life of Words

I was reminded recently of a conversation that I had with a friend in first grade.

Yes, first grade.

Probably now 22 years ago.

I don't remember what we were doing at the time that inspired this comment,but my friend turned to me in frustration and told me something along the lines of,

"You should never be a teacher. You would not be good at it."

She said it so emphatically that I remember it hurt. And I think somewhere deep down, it still stings a little bit.

The funny thing is that I don't remember ever really aspiring to be a teacher. I was not one of those kids that knew by the age of 7 what I wanted (or thought I wanted) to be when I grew up. In fact, I think I've always been a rather indecisive person.

That's one reason I love that the Word of God offers so many promises and reassurances that God will direct our paths, and why my life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (or ability to make decisions); in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."

Anyways - back to the story. Even though it wasn't that this friend of mine was directly attacking this dream I had, it still hurt.

I could analyze it and maybe come to some conclusion that that is why I never pursued being a teacher. Who knows the truth of it. But regardless, I still trust in the fact that God began to direct my paths when I gave my life to Him at age 8, and as I've imperfectly followed after Him since, I believe He has had control over the direction of my life.

The point I'm getting at is that it stuck with me. These few words of discouragement. Words spoken in ignorance from someone that had no idea of the impact they would have, or the calling that God has on my life. I mean, we were just kids. 7 year olds.

But when do we grow up? When do we start to recognize the potency of words -the ability they can possess to empower and build up, or tear down and destroy?

One thing I did discover later is that I do love to 'teach'.

Not in the traditional, classroom setting kind of way, which may be why I don't even really connect it with that word very often.

What I love to do is share what I'm learning with others. In fact, that is what I feel God has told me to do - "Share with them what I've showing you. Encourage others the ways that you've been encouraged by Me."

I may not be very good at it. But that's not the point.

The point is that I believe it's all about doing what God has put before you to do - what He has given you a passion to do. And then He does it VERY WELL through you.

It may not look like the way you'd picture it.

The most powerful lessons God has taught me were not in the confines of a classroom, and that's not usually where I tend to pass them along to others either.

I've found that it usually looks like a conversation over coffee with a friend, an impromptu meeting in passing, etc.

So, regardless of the accuracy of another's assessments of your abilities and potential, the Truth is that as we seek after the Lord and allow Him to be Lord of our lives, He gives us the desires of our hearts (Proverbs 37:4). And those desires become our biggest strengths because they are indications of what He wants to do in and through your life.

And that is powerful. That is something that knocks down walls of criticism that have been erected in ignorance.

Have you had any similar experiences?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I'm currently reading and participating in an online study on "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. As I was posting this week's discussion questions, I had a thought that I wanted to share, and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

The thought was spurred off the following quote from Chapter 9 of OTG:

"Instead of filling with expectations, the joy-filled expect nothing."

I was thinking about this concept in conjunction with what I've heard taught before about 'waiting in expectation' on the Lord. And how again, it's these subtle things that trip us up.

It's like a little bit of unlevel ground beneath our feet that is so slight that as we're walking, not really intentional about our footing, can throw us flat on our faces.

The difference is that we don't wait in expectation of 'how' God is going to move - we wait in expectation for Him, period.

We wait in expectation that He will move on our behalf, that He is working in our situation, that He does hear our prayers.

But how often do I pray, and then 'wait in expectation' that He's going to answer my prayer in the way that I want it or think it should be done. I fill myself with all these thoughts and scenarios, and like Ann states, there's not room for joy because I'm distracted by my sense of control, like I'm dictating to God how it should be.

(Of course, that is rarely if ever my intent or conscious thought. But's the unlevel ground that we step on when we're not intentional to make sure our foundation is on the Truth of God's Word and His Promises.)

I would love to hear your thoughts on what you feel "waiting in expectation" on the Lord means, and how that plays out in your life.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Blessing of Brokenness

I don't know about you, but I've had a rough time here lately emotionally. I've had some relational conflict stuff going on & I don't think anything gets to me more than having unresolved conflict in my life. However, one thing that I've been reminded of lately is

the blessing of brokenness.

What I'm referring to is the sensitivity that comes when you're hurting and choose not to be consumed any longer with self-pity. I'm not saying that it's not valid sometimes, when offenses are made against you, to be hurt and maybe even have the 'right' to be upset. I just think, as believers, that we're called to release those offenses, and by doing so, we give God access to minister to those broken places.

And it's there that He can turn our self-pity into compassion for others - because we can relate to their hurting. Our eyes start to open to others around us that are struggling with the same hurts, and like anyone that has been touched by Jesus, our disease begins to heal, one of mine being blindness. We recognize today what we missed yesterday in our comfortable seclusion, that this world is filled with broken, hurting, lonely people.

I can only speak for myself, but maybe you can relate to my tendency towards oblivion. It's so easy to get caught up in my own little world, even in ministry, and forget that there are people around me that need someone to ask how they are doing - and really mean it. Someone that will ask the question and stand there long enough to get the real response out of them.

It's really not until I need that done for me that I am aware that I can offer that to others. And that it's SO needed.

So, that's what I mean by the blessing of brokenness. When I'm broken, I tend to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit in ways that I'm not when things are 'good' in my little world. I know that Jesus hurts when I hurt, and I think in the same way, He allows me to hurt with Him for others around me as well - in a very small, minute way, sharing in His suffering (Philippians 3:10).

In times like this, I think about how often I crave comfort and avoid pain, a master at self-protection at times. But I don't realize that the more I avoid some things, the more I desensitize myself to what God would have me open my eyes and heart to, things He's always had His heart and eyes on. What if the very things that I go out of my way to avoid are the same things God intends to use in my life for His purposes, His glory, His renown?

What if the pain has purpose?

What if the brokenness is always a blessing?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

In Honor of Mother's Day

I received this in an email this morning, and loved it. What a message for the many mom's out there, seeking after the Lord on how to raise their kids, yet discouraged and unsure if they are making a difference. Enjoy!


It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible - The Invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more.

"Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?"

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?"

I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?"

I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.

It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

"To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."

And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot see if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.


I have just recently started an online small group that is reading through Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.

(For more information on it, check out her website here.)

It's amazing (& I don't use that word lightly, at least not here). It is a very timely read for me - although with the quality of the book, I think it will speak to anyone at any point in their life.

So - I wanted to share a little something that God has been speaking to me about through the book. Without going into too much detail, for those of you that haven't read it, the context to which I'm referring in the excerpt below is that she's talking about making a list of 1,000 things that she is grateful for - that she appreciates and is choosing to thank God for. She refers to this as receiving God's gifts, when we choose to write them down and acknowledge them as from God.

Anyways, at this point in the book, she is just getting started and is realizing that it seems trivial, to write down little things like appreciating the way that the sun reflects off a blade of grass in light of suffering and tragedies in the world, and she starts to question whether or not this will produce in her a thankful heart that can 'give thanks in all things' as we are commanded to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Anyways, she goes on to realize that it's a starting place, & like all things, we have to practice it until it becomes a way of life, until it develops into a lifestyle of gratitude and genuine thankfulness.

This is what I shared with the group today:

I really liked the quote from page 49, "the moving the ink across the page opens the eyes." Have you eyes been opened to things in your life already that you so often miss?

God gave me a neat analogy first thing Tuesday morning to help this hit home with me personally. I'll admit - I was running behind in my reading, due to company being in town & just allowing myself to totally get out of any type of schedule I try to keep - & so I was just finishing up Chapter 3. What Ann talked about regarding practice was really speaking to me.

Because I hadn't started my list yet, I couldn't relate yet to her comment about feeling that it was becoming a little trivial after a while, and her thoughts about whether or not appreciating the little things would ever lead to a life where she could be thankful in the harder tragedies of life. But I will admit that I could relate to her getting to that point. I could totally see myself questioning the effectiveness of all of this after a while...especially because I am inconsistent & I would start to see my old habits of ingratitude coming through.

Anyways, so I really appreciated that she shared that and that she dug deeper to get past it, instead of just giving up like I think I so often do, before I get to the real heart of the lesson God is trying to teach me.

So - I must practice because this isn't something I'm used to and I don't have the muscle strength yet to hold back the criticisms and tendency towards the negative. And God directed my thoughts towards Natalie, my 10 month old daughter, and how in just the past few days, she's starting walking while holding on to a toy push stroller. I thought about how excited she was, so proud of herself - the joy just flowed out of her. And we were standing around her, cheering her on.

And then God brought to mind Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,-"

And how we have a great crowd of witnesses, cheering us as we learn to walk - to stop crawling through our spiritual walk, weighed down by so many things - and learn to stand up and work the muscles required for us to experience the walk, the abundant life, that God intended for us to have through Christ's sacrifice and resurrection! How often do I settle for just crawling through life instead of doing what is required in order to learn to walk - not to mention even run!

And yet God has placed within Natalie, and all of us, this innate desire and knowledge to develop. Jordan and I didn't tell her to start walking - we haven't even really been showing her how. She just knew that there was more than what she was currently experiencing. And spiritually, God has placed in us an innate knowledge that there is more - even if that is now just a whisper because it's been drowned out by this world & deception.

And so Natalie perseveres, even though it's hard for her to stand up and walk, using muscles she's never used before. And she doesn't have the stamina to walk for long - but she gets back up and she tries again later.

Man - what a picture. God sure knows how to get my attention and to speak my language.

And sure enough - I had this great time with God that morning and started my list and was even feeling the joy and excitement that Ann was referring to as she started hers. And then 5 minutes later, I got caught back up in my hurriedness of the morning, & was making negative comments towards my husband about a frustrating situation that was happening. BUT, God in His faithfulness, immediately brought all of this to mind again, and it was like He was saying - 'See - it's going to take practice. That lasted for 5 minutes. We've got to practice to build more stamina.' He knows my tendency to get discouraged and want to give up when I don't see things working. So, I think I will have to cling to Hebrews 12:1 & be reminded that I have my own cheering section in Heaven, & a Savior that daily pleads my case before the throne, to keep me going!

I do love how God speaks to us in ways that He knows are close to our hearts - like the joy I experience for & with my daughter as she's learning new things.

Thank you, Abba Father, for being so personal!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


My daughter crawled over to me this afternoon, while I was sitting in front of my computer, and reached up for me to pull her into my lap. She was hungry, and then fell asleep shortly after eating. As I was rocking her, I had one of those moments that's almost painful - just holding her tightly and thinking about how


she is. And I thought of how many mothers have had those same moments, the same thoughts. He/she is so


I remember when she was small enough to just lay there on my chest while I rocked. Now her long, thin legs curl around my waist and her lanky arms drap around mine. And we rock. And she breathes on my cheek. And I try my best to take it in. To find a place in my heart where I can store it & pull it back out later, when she's even more grown up.

But I leak. My heart is forgetful and those moments seem to slip away, not available for me to quickly retrieve. How much more important that I choose to live in the present with her now, then trying to hold on to those ever allusive moments?

Will she ever know how much I adore her?

My mind then shifts to the fact that I'm made in the image of my Creator, my Father in Heaven. And I get my capacity to love her, however imperfectly on this side of heaven, from Him. Because He loves. I love because He loves.

And He thinks I'm beautiful. He takes in my moments, as I hold tightly to hers, and I bet He thinks, "Why doesn't she accept the fact that I adore her?"

Why is it so hard for me/us to accept that we could be loved and adored the same way that we feel that towards those closest to us? Our hearts are broken with sin. We leak. Yet we feel these things, however imperfectly. How much more does He who is whole, One, love and feel these things towards us?

It may be a little backwards, but maybe as I learn to love her and show her how much I do, I'll learn a little bit more of how much I'm loved as well.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

God Chose Tragedy

Two Thousand plus years ago, God chose to save the world through Tragedy.

The tragedy - Jesus' Crucifixion. His Son dying, brutally beaten and savagely nailed to a cross.

There was no last minute substitute given, no ram in a bush that God revealed at the eleventh hour.

Because He was the Ram - better yet, the Precious Lamb of God.

Pure. Spotless. Perfect. Sufficient.

We were supposed to be on that cross. We were the ones that were given a substitute at the eleventh hour.

We have been saved from tragedy. Through the tragic death of Jesus, the payment for our sin.

BUT that's not the end of the story!

Jesus rose from the grave on the 3rd day, shaming the attempts of this world to hold back the Almighty plans of Heaven that were put into action the day that Eve took that first bite.

God planned this from the beginning, because He knew the end.

He knew we'd need a Savior. He knew that He's have to give up the One that He most dearly loved in order to save those that He dearly loves.

He chose tragedy to save us.

God choosing to save the world through tragedy brings purpose & HOPE to how He can use our own personal tragedies today.

There is always more to the story than we can see. More going on even as Eve and Adam were being escorted out of the garden. Even as Jesus was being escorted down the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Suffering).

There is more to the story of what you're facing today.

There is Hope.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."-Jeremiah 29:11

Have I loved like this lately?

My husband & I have started discussing Andrew Murray's Daily Devotional at night, and it's been a good time of connecting on a spiritual level & discussing how we receive these little snippets of truth. We have different learning styles and so often God speaks to us in different ways that this is a simple way we can connect over some of God's truths together.

The other night, we read one on laying down our will for God's will. And it made me realize that I haven't heard that message in a while. Yes, it's a common theme sewn into many devotionals and blog posts, but honestly, sometimes I think I miss it. I tend to like the nice, soft, encouraging statements that maybe confirm that I'm on the right path, or at least don't seem to be really stifling what I am currently doing or wanting to do.

Isn't that just like the flesh, to even go after the truth of God's Word in a way that doesn't hurt, or harm, or even come close to the conclusion that that very same flesh needs to be crucified?

Crucified. Put to death. In a painful way.

The devotional went on to focus on the importance of approaching situations in humility, even recognizing relational conflicts as opportunities for God's grace to become apparent. Choosing to not default into defending my own ground or feel I need to stand firmly on my own plot of perspective. Real Humility allows us to listen and truly hear what the other person is saying (not just to come up with our rebuttal, but really to take into consideration what they're saying and where they're coming from). Humility reminds us that we're no better than anyone else because we're aware of our need for Him. For grace. For the forgiveness & patience & love that He's calling us to offer to that person in front of us.

Have I loved like that lately?

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." -1 John 3:16-18

Have I loved in a way that required something of me?

Because maybe it's not really love unless it does require something of us? Something that isn't naturally inspired and easy to give.

I don't know - I'm not a philosopher or theologian and don't pretend to be one. But I just know that from the passage above - I take that kind of love to be hard. To be something that is born out of prayer and a close walk with Jesus. A fruit that can only be produced if we are connected to the One True Vine.

Actions & in Truth. No hollow words. No poignant phrases. No going-through-the-motion moves.

Lord, please open my eyes to a greater revelation of what Your love looks like. I am so comfortable in my flesh, in myself, & Your love is not comfortable - it's not pretty and all wrapped up in a nice little box. It's messy and hard. It's a blood-stained cross and scars.

Only in You can I even have a desire for that. Infuse my heart with courage to desire the life that You want to live through me. And help me to surrender my will to that. To choose sacrifice, knowing that in that sacrifice, I'm the one that truly gains.

Thank You, Jesus, for the price you paid years ago that we celebrate this coming Easter weekend. Thank You for the road you walked so that we could walk with You, in eternity, forever, on those streets paved in gold!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I've been reminded lately of the unique opportunity we have in those moments when we're experiencing


to turn our gaze on Jesus.

To turn the focus of our heart and mind to Him, to be reminded that it's in those moments that we can be the


we've ever been, because His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

It's the truth. We can bet our life on it & build our life out of it.

When my knees are knocking, what better time to bow them and allow Jesus to fortify my foundation.

Take that, Satan! Just when you think you've got me...when I'm anxious and trembling and looking to the left or the right, I can be reminded that it's in those moments that I can experience the truth of God's Word in my life, practically and applicably.

So - how do you turn your gaze, when you're tempted to be looking around - at others' reactions of you, at yourself & your own failures?

Prayer. Even a one-word prayer.


It sets our minds on the One that can set us back on our feet. Reminds our hearts that we have a Father in Heaven the loves us, and a Savior that daily pleads our case. Replaces the whispers of doubt with bold assurance that we're not abandoned, left helpless to do things on our own.

Weakness can be redefined in God's Kingdom. And so can we!

Kari Jobe "You Are For Me" from Nathan Corrona on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Faith Decay (Persevere - Part 2)

I read a blog post recently that gave words to a thought I've had for a while now -

the thought that when we 'know' God's Word, His Truth - and by know, I mean intellectually - but we don't ever put it into practice - we don't experience the truth of it - that we open ourselves up to doubt.

Doubt -faith decay

We allow room for our broken, fallen nature & the enemy to come in and question whether or not what we know to be real is really real.

Does it really mean something?

Does it really transform lives?

Because it's not transforming's not changing my life. It's not making others thirsty around me for what I have.

I think this happens a lot when we don't persevere in what God has put before us. We don't experience the power and the blessing and the Presence of God like we would if we were obedient to put our hands to the tasks He sets before us.

Now, please don't misunderstand me. I'm a grace girl. It's by grace that I have been saved, through faith, not of anything that I have done, but by a gift from God Almighty, not by works - so I can never boast that I have done it. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

I absolutely believe that God has made a way for me to be reunited with Him & my life is to be lived in response to that, as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2).

What I'm referring to today is the truth of Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

We were created to do good things - things that allow us to experience God's Truth, His Power, His Presence, all around us.

"Things" that show others that don't know God around us that He is real. That He is love.

And I think that sometimes we, I, forfeit those experiences - those faith-building, God-confirming experienced when I don't follow through on the "good works" that He has set before me to do.

And maybe worst yet - others don't experience Him in ways that they could if I were.

Can you relate?

But there is Hope! Today is a new day! A new day to experience God's Truth by persevering in what He has put before me to do!

"My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in Him." - Lamentations 3:20-24

Persevere - Part 1

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." -Galatians 6:9

Persevere in doing good - don't give up! Press in and take hold of God's promises.

Sometimes - most of the time - I don't follow through with my own, personal goals.

Sometimes -most of the time - I think that I forfeit what God offers on the other end because I don't finish.

I start out, zealous and motivated. And then slowly, gradually, I start to lose sight of where I'm headed. I allow other things, maybe even 'good' things, to enter my schedule, my time, my attention - and I stop. I don't experience God in ways I could have if I had



Can you relate? Are there promises in God's word that you don't feel you've ever taken hold of?

Benefits that He has to offer that you've never felt were bestowed on you?

Can you look back and see where maybe you got distracted from pursuing them, pursuing Him?

"You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD" - Jeremiah 29:13-14a

We have a God that can be found! He doesn't hide from us, but beckons us to Himself and even draws us to Himself.

"Draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you." James 4:8

Galatians 6 states that we will reap what we sow. If we persevere in doing good, in seeking God's way, we will reap God's way - His benefits, His blessings, Himself.

The Prince of Peace becomes our Peace.

Jehovah Rapha, the Healer, becomes our health.

The great Comforter becomes our comfort.

"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings (Lord, help me to desire this), becoming like Him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:7-14

Monday, April 11, 2011


I got the opportunity to meet up with a group of women that, about 2-3 years ago, were a frequent source of encouragement & support to me. These women from my old Wednesday night small group helped me through a lot of 'stuff' back then, and I'm very grateful for these women. But as I said, it's been a while since we've had the pleasure of meeting together weekly, and thankfully, God provided an evening that we could carve out a few hours to reconnect with each other.

It was a sweet, precious time of fellowship. One my heart needed badly.

Anyways, one of the women had their little girl with her. She's newly married, but has been a single mom for some years now.

Strength, that's all I can say, especially now having my own. I can't imagine doing it without my husband.

Her little girl had just gotten back from a visit with her dad, who has custody of her older sister. At one point in the evening, as we all sat outside enjoying the beautiful spring evening, she came and crawled up in her mother's lap, obviously sad about something. And they whispered together as she held her, swinging back and forth in the porch swing. As they whispered , I couldn't help but sit back and observe.

Since Nat was born, I find myself intrigued at watching other parents and their interactions with their kids.

Then the little girl started to cry, and my friend told her, "Honey, it's okay to be sad. I know you miss your sister." As tears rolled down her cheeks, her mom reached over and softly wiped them away.

It was a beautiful, heart-wrenching moment. Motherly comfort. Reassurance that what she was feeling was okay, but that she was also there to help her through it - to not stay there.

It made me think about Natalie. It made me realize that it will tear my heart in two when she cries, and I can't fix it. When I can't make the feelings go away. But it also made me realize that I have been blessed. I get to be the one to pull her into my lap, to hold her and wipe away her tears.

WOW. Really? Why me? Why do I get the honor of care-giving for this priceless, precious little girl?

Humbled, I prayed a prayer of gratitude, thanking God for all that He has given me.

When life is so busy, it's easy to lose sight of all the unique, amazing moments we've been given, opportunities to step into the roles that God has placed us in & to fulfill a little bit of the purpose He has for us. Being a part of His story -wiping one tear away at a time.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

You pay for convenience

This thought came to mind the other morning as I was getting ready for work - just a seemingly random thought at the time. However, as I contemplated it more, this phrase I've heard before - that you pay for convenience, it hit me in a new way. We do pay for convenience....we pay more money for the newest gadgets that offer the promise that they'll save us time or effort, will help us accomplish what we need to do in a faster, more efficient way.

And believe me, I like faster and efficient. I don't like to waste my time doing something if it can be done in a 'better' way.

But I just wonder if I've ever really counted the cost of convenience - not just financially - but what I'm giving up when I'm doing things 'the easier way.' What experiences am I now able to avoid that God may have used to build my character, to grow my discipline, to produce perseverance in me? What depths in relationships do I miss by sending quick text messages and emails, instead of taking the time to even make a phone call or sit down over coffee? What am I now exempt from because the easy way is available, more accessible than ever?

"Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it." - Matthew 7:13

And I think about my daughter - all the conveniences this world will offer her - and what she may miss out on because of this.

Lord, please grant us (me) wisdom and discernment to choose what is best over what is available and permissible, to choose Your way over the world's and even my way. Give us Kingdom eyes to know what is of real value.

In Jesus' Name I pray and place my trust,

Lord, please

Monday, January 31, 2011


I'm unplugging from
the things that keep me from You,
that draw away my attention, my heart.

I'm unplugging from
the sources that tell me to compare,
to rate myself against someone I was never meant to be,
and to forget that I find my identity in You.

I'm choosing to
not go to those places anymore
that produce anxiety and fear
because they speak lies about Who you've created me to be.

I'm unplugging from
the world
I'm choosing to plug into Truth.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Blogger's Prayer

My best friend sent me this link today, and I wholeheartedly agree with it. I did not start this blog to do anything more than to create a medium for me to 'journal' in a new way, one that would hopefully encourage those that run across it and challenge me to be more open, honest, & willing to be humbled by admiting my struggles and faults, in the hopes that it would bless someone else that reads it. (I also LOVE spiritual growth discussions, so that is just a side benefit if others choose to engage in the topic.)

A Blogger's Prayer (Upside Down Blogging)

I can't vouch for anything else on this person's blog, although I would expect that it would be nothing but uplifting, and I hope to discover more of it soon!

Praying your day is encouraging,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Webcast study

So- I have every intention of sharing about this new web cast that I've started watching with a few close friends soon! I'm very excited about it, and hope that you will check it out! It's not just about dieting or eating healthy, but about approaching life in a healthy way and keeping things in their proper place - and allowing God to be our first priority and greatest desire.

So, that's coming soon! But please check out the MadeToCrave Website for more information if you're interested!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Made to Crave Webcast

I just started this new study called "Made to Crave" that has a free web cast on Monday evenings at 8:00PM EST on I'm especially excited because I have a few friends that will also be logging on to watch, and then being able to discuss it together! This is my new women's 'small group' right now since Natalie still young, and I don't want to commit to being out of the house one night a week right now.

So, please check this out if you're in the need of some extra encouragement or interested in the topic of learning how to approach food and dieting in a healthy way, and ultimately craving God above all else.

More thoughts on this later - just wanted to get this out there in case anyone wants to join in!

If you want to see tonight's web cast, they will re-air it again on the website tomorrow, Tuesday, January 11th at noon and 3:00PM.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this if you want to share!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Practicing Stillness

My sweet husband got me a New Mom's Devotional Bible for Christmas. He surprised me by adding it to my stocking - the one 'gift' we get each other that we don't know what it will be. It's usually candy & some other goodies - like one year he surprised me with a deck of cards, but instead of the playing cards, he had replaced them with gift cards to my favorite restaurants and coffee places, bookstores, etc. He's actually really good at gift-giving and thinking of good, creative, fitting gifts for folks.

Anyways, I cracked it open this morning for like the 3rd time since I got it...praying that God will help me be more consistent with my time in the Word & prayer this year. I find myself defaulting to reading devotional emails and blog posts as my 'personal devotion time' during the day - which isn't bad in and of itself, but I definitely want to actually have His Word in the palm of my hands more often. There's something to be said about that tangible act and being intentional to get into a quiet environment to meet with the Creator of the Universe (wow!) instead of trying to squeeze in some edification and encouragement at my office at work for 5 minutes. I think God meets us wherever we seek Him, but whether or not I'm really able to 'meet with Him' in those environments is another story...

Anyways, this nifty little Bible has some extras added to it - like pages with topical little devotions with 1 minute, 5-minute, and 10-minute versions, depending on what kind of 'mommy' day you are having and the time you have at the moment. The one I opened up to this morning is based on Psalm 46 - and was entitled "Stillness." I immediately knew that this was not a coincidence. Especially with working from home 3 days a week now, I find myself rarely sitting down and being still - even in the quietness of my own home. There is always something to be done and something in sight that is beckoning for my attention. I find myself starting one task and getting sidetracked by another in the middle of the 1st...and such goes my life with my new 'mommy ADD' that I've succumbed to. Rarely can I finish a thought, let along a task, without getting caught up in the next thought or task.

And a perfect example is this blog post! HA! Okay, focus, Jenny, focus...

Psalm 46 - this Psalm screams of God's sovereignty despite the busyness and chaos we may be experiencing. It exclaims in verse 1 that "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble." I've read this more than few times, but this morning the truth of the statement that He is ever-present, ever available for us just when we need Him- that hit home with me in such a sweet, confirming way.

I had just finished writing an email to a sweet, close friend who I have not been able to see or talk to much lately, and was just telling her how I desire to be more available in 2011 - to God, to my family, and especially to my friends when they need to talk, vent, or just need to get out of the house and have coffee with someone. And it's awesome to know that we have a God who IS AVAILABLE. He is there and willing to meet with me, despite the fact that I fail so often to even seek Him or get into His Word. He IS AVAILABLE to hear my worries, my complaints, my ventings - and then my subsequent "I'm sorry for my attitude" prayers. He doesn't get tied up with other things and start to listen to me and get distracted by the next task that is calling. He IS THERE, always.

Selah. Let's take a minute to let that sink in.

Then, moving into verse 2 - as if verse 1 isn't enough to meditate on for the rest of the year and then goes on to say that because HE IS AVAILABLE, FAITHFUL, THERE -"therefore we will not fear" - (meaning, we choose to claim the truth of verse 1 and trust Him, and therefore choose to not give into fear) - "though the earth gives way..." Even when the very foundation under you seems to be shaking and falling away - when the job you've had for the past 10+ years is no longer there, when the relationship that you've relied on for so long isn't there to lean on anymore - when the thing in your life and your heart that you so often place your trust in for stability and comfort isn't offering that stability and comfort anymore. He IS THERE.

"and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea..." What mountains in your life - those huge, seemingly permanent structures - have changed? Disappeared? Proven to not be so study?

The message that I'm receiving loud and clear this morning is that God is there despite the chaos and craziness and hectic-ness of my own life, schedule, mind, and heart. He is there for me to lean back on, unchanging, unshaken, not disturbed by the latest 'new' change in my life. He is my mountain and my rock and the foundation under my feet. He is the ONLY one that can offer this promise and follow through with it. He is FAITHFUL.

Sometimes , I just have to claim these truths over my competing thoughts & emotions. I have to just write (or type) out what I know in my heart to be true - get these truths back in front of eyes so they can once again transform and renew my mind.

And in the same way, I have to choose to be still - to step back and gain perspective on what is a priority and what isn't, to allow God to start ordering my day and the to-do list, showing me what ranks higher on that list and what, even though it may scream the loudest, doesn't really matter that much. Even though clutter can be pretty loud for a girl with OCD tendencies, I know that in the long run it doesn't make a difference whether it's picked up today or tomorrow, but there is a huge difference in my life on whether or not I choose to pick up the Word tomorrow instead of today.

"Be still & know that I am God; I WILL be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." v.10

I pray that today you can find a little 'stillness' and take some time to take in the fact that God is there, waiting to meet with you!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Family Pictures

So, I'm not surprised that I have not been back on to post anything in a while. Ah well, the best of intentions...December was a full month for our little family. Natalie had her first trip to the ER with a pretty vicious stomach bug, but thankfully that is all behind us now. Christmas time is also a pretty busy time at the church, so that adds to the craziness of the season as well - but a good crazy. I'm very thankful to be on staff there!
We did get our pictures taken together as a family for the first time, besides random shots around the house, and I'm very excited with how they turned out! Two co-workers (& very talented photographers) took them for free as extra practice for them, and we were glad to be on the receiving end of their learning experience! Here's a few below, and then you can see more on my facebook page.

At this rate, this isn't ending up to be a very exciting post - but I mainly just wanted to share the pictures. :)

I hope y'all had a great Christmas! I'm personally looking forward to all that God has in store for us in this new year - and pray that "the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" in 2011. (Romans 15:13)