12.26.2011

The Day After Christmas

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/hopeful-post-christmas-melancholy

      This is a short article that has meant a lot to me the last couple years.  No matter how great my Christmas is, it never ceases that I feel a little "blue" the day after.   But this is such a great reminder that it's a GOOD thing that Christmas doesn't fulfill me.  God has put eternity in our hearts so that I cannot be satisfied with simply the birth of Christ. I need the life of Christ... His love, ministry, forgiveness, death, resurrection, banquet table, glory, grace, all of it. 
     So I'm grateful for a beautiful Christmas, time with family, and lots of good giving and receiving, but I'm glad that God has given us Jesus everyday, not just December 25th.

12.18.2011

Tebowing for Tebow

In the last couple months, some things have come to light that Gator fans like myself have known for many years: Tim Tebow is a special football player but more importantly Tim Tebow is a special person.  Because of his winning record despite an unconventional playing style with the Denver Broncos, sportscasters are at a loss how to speak about him in the frame of reference of the “normal NFL”.  And because of his character and testimony as a Christian in the middle of a very worldly situation, people in general are overwhelmed at what to think of this man.  It’s come to be a quite polarizing issue in fact. But this is a call to Tebow supporters only, and a call to Christians, to stand alongside this amazing man in his ministry.  How can we do this? I am asking for your help that we would rise up and be found “Tebowing for Tebow”.


 
Tebowing- to get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different, has swept the nation in that people have been taking pictures of themselves in the posture of “Tebowing”.  I don’t think most of them are actually “praying” however, it seems they are just taking a picture of themselves kneeling like Tebow .  What I’m putting forth is that we start Tebowing for Tebow and by that actually PRAYING for Tebow.  I believe he is one of the most influential Christians in America today, if not THE most influential, simply because he has a voice with the majority of our culture-NOT just Christian circles.  He’s not on the Christian radio station, He’s on ESPN.  He’s not at a Christian mega-church or conference, he’s playing for NFL on national television. For example, his Thursday night game against the Jets had over *7 million* viewers. The Passion conference in 2010 was 21,000 people. His audience is ENORMOUS. His interviews and articles span the entire internet.  He has a voice with non-believers that most Christians, no matter how eloquent or heartfelt they are, will never have. And as a result, there are a lot of people that HATE him, truly HATE him.  (I was at the Vikings vs. Broncos game and they were downright mean in the crowd.) There is a large group of society that is ROOTING for him to fail-on the field and off.  People are looking for ANY thing that they can use to say he is a fake and to tarnish his reputation.  They have recently hired lip-readers to watch/record him at football games and try to catch him saying a curse word.( http://forums.denverbroncos.com/showthread.php?t=201719 ) This is crazy and extreme and it is not surprising that someone who speaks so passionately about the Lord and who so genuinely lives the life brings out such negativity and cynicism in the world. Jesus told us this would be true of His followers (John 15:18), and no one exemplifies this more than Tim Tebow.  He has been thrust into the limelight; he is in a very worldly profession that praises pride not humility, selfishness and not selflessness.  He is no doubt being overwhelmed by money and the trappings of this world-fame and fortune- that most people would not be able to handle wisely or in a God-glorifying way. But he has, and he continues to be a leader and a good, kind, generous man and a voice praising Jesus Christ over the jeers of the crowd. In the middle of our crooked and depraved generation he is shining like the stars in the universe (Philippians 2:14-16).

So will you pray with me? To pray against the temptations and the people trying to take him down. To pray for his protection physically and spiritually. I’ve compiled some prayer excerpts here from Stormie Omartian to get you started.  If he wins or loses on the field, I will be praying for this man and his ministry that God would continue to use him mightily.  I hope that you will too as I believe the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective (James 5:16) and I look forward to seeing what God will continue to do through Tim Tebow. 

Tebowing for Tebow:
Lord I pray you would bless the work of Tim’s hands. Open up the doors of opportunity for him that no man can close.  Develop his skills so that they grow more valuable with each passing year.  Let him be like a tree planted by the stream of Your living water, which brings forth fruit in due season. May he never wither under pressure but grow strong and prosper (Psalm 1:3). I pray that Tim would be a good steward of all you have given him financially.  Give him wisdom to handle the money wisely.  I pray that he will not be anxious about finances but will seek Your kingdom first, knowing that as he does he will have all that he needs. (Luke 12:31).  Lord I pray that You would strengthen Tim to resist any temptation that comes his way. Make him strong where he is weak.  I pray that he will not be broken down by the power of evil, but raised up by the power of God. Establish a wall of protection around him and fill him with your Spirit. I pray that you would hide him from violence and the plans of evil people.  Keep him safe, especially on the playing field.   Build him up so that no matter what happens to him he will be able to stand strong through it.  Give him endurance to run the race and not give up.  Enable him to stand for what he knows is right and not waver under pressure from the world.  Make him a man who lives by truth.  I pray that Tim will have a reputation that is untarnished.  I pray that he will be respected and that there would never be any reason for bad things to be said of him. Fight against those who fight against him (Psalm 35:1).  Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion who seek to destroy his life; let them be driven backward and brought to dishonor who wish him evil (Psalm 40:14). I pray that he will be active in service for You all the days of his life.  May his light so shine before men that they see his good works and glorify You Lord. (Matthew 5:16).

11.24.2011

Thanksgiving Feast For the Soul

These are some things I am thankful for but I wanted to think deeper with you as to WHY they are so special and maybe deepen our sense of thankfulness for GRACE today. So think with me for a minute…

-The sun could rise and set from blue to black but God gives us the awe-inspiring gift of sunrises and sunsets with colors to often take our breath away


-Speaking of which, nothing says we have to see in color, but God gave us the ability to see the spectrum of the rainbow and I enjoy color so much in every aspect of my life

-We could be nourished out of routine, from a vitamin or a syringe or something, but God gave us an unending palette of foods and the sense of taste and smell to enjoy food and drink.  Lord let me not abuse this gift in gluttony but savor it for the privilege it is. (Ecclesiastes 5:18)

-God could have left Adam alone in the garden. He could have created humans to reproduce asexually, like plants or something, but instead he gave us the joy of intimacy and the blessing of creating a family unit.  (Ecclesiastes 9:9) Not only am I thankful for my sweet husband and awesome parents and siblings, but thankful that they are in my life period.  It is not overlooked that some do not have these people in their life and their presence is truly a blessing I fully appreciate and thank God for.

-The earth could sit still and the sun could rotate equidistantly and we would never have seasons. I am so thankful to experience the warmth of a summer day, the changing of leaves in autumn, the pure majestic snow of winter and the new life that is spring.  I see these seasons metaphorically in life and the display in nature resonates deep within. Thankful today for the circle of life we experience every year.

I think I could go on for a long time but I will simplify to just a few more things in list form that I thank God for the joy of…

-getting lost in a good book. We could have communicated by verbal language only, but God gave us the ability to read and write

- hot showers that could have been cold

- the ability to have our thirst quenched by  a cool clean glass of water thus to know what it is to thirst, physically as well as spiritually, and to have that thirst satisfied (John 7:37)

-laughter, which never even had to exist

-the purring of cats and the companionship of pets… think animals could have stayed in the wild, right?

-the beauty of science and math to help our brains understand all of God’s wonders and know that He is a God of order and not disorder (1Corinthians 14:33)


-best friends, when again, God could have created us to be independent and alone but he gave us friends to share our joys and lessen our sorrows (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

-candlelight, instead of a world of darkness

-the ocean, instead of an earth made only of land (photo from Tiffany Weaver Photography)


-the stars, instead of a sky that could have easily just been black

-the details of our bodies! Contemplate hands and fingers and all the functions they perform, eyebrows to keep sweat out of our eyes, strong legs to run and walk and dance, kidneys and livers to keep our bodies clean of toxins… this could be quite a long list! What a gift God has given us. (1Cor. 6:19)

-And yet in all that, we have a body but we ARE a soul (CS Lewis). Thankful that God has created us for eternity, to enjoy Him forever in a new Heaven and a new Earth (Revelations 21) that I cannot yet concept how amazing that will be, but the thought of it brings me joyful excitement.

-And in fact, I have never deserved to be in the presence of God. I have never deserved for Him to hear my prayers, or love me, or protect me. But Christ became my righteousness and I have been justified freely by His grace.  (Romans 3:24) He could have left me on my own in my misery and ignorance and selfish but now I belong to God forever. This grace is a true Thanksgiving feast for my soul.

Hoping you will be mindful of the little things today, that you can thank God for all the beautiful undeserved gifts of grace He has given us to enjoy. Happy Thanksgiving friends!

11.08.2011

Partly Cloudy

If you haven't seen this short film by Pixar you must watch it.  Five minutes...here's the link.
Partly Cloudy Pixar on You Tube

WARNING: Do not read the following unless you've watched the movie! It won't make sense and it will ruin how cute the film is.


So now that you've watched it, SO adorable right?!  I love how much the cloud and the stork love each other!! And I love that the stork was so faithful. He could have given up or gotten angry at the cloud for "bad" gifts. He could have gone to serve another cloud or asked his cloud to change but he didn't.  He changed *himself* and their relationship got better because of it. I thought this was just such a sweet picture of love and commitment.  And a creative "win-win solution" right? I dunno, maybe I'm taking too much out of a cartoon but it just really warmed my heart. Hope you enjoyed it too!

10.30.2011

Autumn Autopsy


Autumn leaves are shocking.  Trees that are RED or YELLOW or BOTH? This is crazy.  The sky is blue and trees are green…at least they have been my whole life. Now here I am in my first year as a northerner and I can tell you I have been completely and utterly in awe of all of the beautiful fall colors.  

 
I have spent lots of time taking “nature walks” and taking as many photos as I can to try and capture these unbelievably vivid leaves.  And I started thinking about WHY leaves change colors ( I’m sure I knew this at some point in elementary school but I did not really remember). The science of this is a whole other very cool story in and of itself but the summary is that the trees KNOW winter is coming and they KNOW it is time for the leaves to die.  So they start storing up their nutrients which in turn means the leaves change color without those nutrients. And I kept looking at all these trees saying
  “How can something that is dying be so beautiful?”
And then this occurred to me:


Is that an incredible parallel or what?! Oh that we would see the death of Christ as beautiful as we see the autumn leaves. 

So then this whole stream of thoughts came to my mind...All the leaves have begun to fall off the trees.  I look around now and see empty trees and bare branches and find myself kinda sad about it.


Empty trees....like the empty cross.
"who Himself bore our sins in his body on the tree" -1Peter 2:24 
This makes the empty trees not so sad! In fact, what a great reminder of the cross right?

  So then the barren trees usher in winter, a season of cold hibernation with no signs of life. Winter that is gray and dreary and in a snapshot view some might very well say “hopeless”. I imagine this is somewhat how the disciples felt to see their Lord “dead” and “buried” in a tomb.

 



But after winter comes spring…and new life!  "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”-1Cor 15:20 























I don't know about you but I find this correlation to be incredible.  What an amazing and beautiful picture God has given us of the story of grace and how sweet that we have reminders all around us! I've always associated Spring with the resurrection...but connecting autumn and winter to his death just really makes the picture complete for me.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven...He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Eccl. 3:1,11)

Happy Fall!

10.10.2011

Faith Training: Blessing Bag Challenge

The metaphor of running a race is often used in Scripture (Heb 12:1, 1Cor 9:24) and I think the comparison makes a lot of sense.  Being healthy and in shape takes effort and commitment. Building muscles requires working out to strengthen those muscles.  I’d like to push myself, and any of you that are interested, to make efforts to work out our “faith muscles” that in doing so our faith might be strengthened.  How often in our comfy American lives do we really find ourselves in a situation that NEEDS God? In the midst of the everyday, seemingly we work to bring home our OWN money to buy WHATEVER we want, cook our OWN food and “independently” take care of ourselves.  If we have a problem, we Google it. If we’re sick, we take medicine. If we want something, we can pretty much find a way to get it. Of our own actions, we leave very little room to experience God.  Behind the scenes of course EVERYthing comes from God, but we very rarely have moments where we live by faith. Faith says it is hoping in things we cannot see. (Heb 11:1) But where does faith come in if everything we want is right in front of us?

 All that to say, I thought I would share different things God uses to stretch my faith and perhaps you will join me in these experiences.  So for today, I give you the “Blessing Bag Challenge”. (I got this idea from Kids With A Vision kwav.blogspot.com) Fill a large ziplock bag with non-perishable food items, toiletries, etc. and perhaps an encouraging note. I put some crackers, a protein bar, a comb, band-Aids, etc. Then as KWAV said it “store in your car for a moment of providence.” So easy. So awesome.

I will share that there are homeless people pretty much every day out in Minneapolis and I always feel so helpless and overwhelmed driving by. So I loved the blessing bag idea and got to work on it right away.  Putting the bag together was truly a joyful act of love, for a stranger, and I really prayed that God would make clear who to give the bag to. 

A couple days ago I drove by a man that had a sign that said “Homeless for 15 years” and my initial thoughts were “Gosh, how has he not been able to get his life together for 15 years?! He must not really be trying” Quick to judge. Dismissive. I am not proud of it.

Then the next day I saw the same man, with the same sign, and I read the second part of his sign “Homeless for 15 years. I NEED food” and my heart was pierced by this thought…
 “When have I EVER been in a situation where I NEEDED food that I could not get?”

Sure, there have been times where I didn’t have money with me or was driving in the middle of nowhere and hungry but I’ve always known food would be there-if not now but soon. This man has no food, and does not know if it will come. He NEEDS food. I was so ashamed of my judgment and assured that this was the man for my blessing bag.  I felt so bad that he was so hungry I actually picked him up some lunch in addition to the blessing bag.  It was a very humble joy. God taught me a lot through this experience.  It was probably about $10 worth of items in the bag (mostly from my pantry) and about 10 minutes of my time to assemble and write a note. I hope you will make a blessing bag of your own.  I know you will learn much through the experience and it will bring hope and practical blessings to someone who needs it.  May your grace and faith abound always. Go make a Blessing Bag!!

9.25.2011

My New Friend Victor



This video was the most beautiful showing of grace I experienced this week. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvP_SPw7Mwo It is 12 minutes that I think you will find more than worth your time. Victor went to my church. I never had the privilege to meet Victor in person but I look forward to getting to know him in heaven.  I think we will be fast friends.  I love his calm, strong presence in the face of adversity. I love the freckles on his nose and his big grin.  I love his heart for his friends and family.  What a beautiful soul he has. Thank you God for showing us a glimpse of the beauty of Christ and all that it means to Hope in the Lord in the young life of Victor. I hope Victor and I get to be friends someday.  I hope you will get to meet him someday too. Love and prayers to the Watters family.

9.18.2011

Statistically Speaking


A friend and I were recently chatting and something came up in the conversation about a statistic or the highly unlikely percentage that an event would happen and my response to her was “and that may be true, but remember if God intends for it to happen it will happen.” Which got me pondering, and I then came up with the conclusion that I would like to put forth that on the whole, statistics don’t really mean much if you are a Christian. In fact, I think statistics tend to take God out of the picture almost completely and this is quite an injustice to the character of God.

First of all, I’m wary of most statistics/polls anyway because I feel you could take any statistic and find 100 people to prove it true or 100 people to prove it false. How accurate is that “random” sample really?? But for the sake of this argument, we’re going to go ahead and say ok, even if most statistics are true…such as the following…

The chances of winning a lottery in which six numbers are drawn from 49 is 1 in 13,983,816. In a lottery in which seven numbers are drawn from 49, the odds of winning are 1 in 85,900,584

100 people a year choke to death on ball-point pens.

35,000 people in the U.S. will die from the flu annually.

9 out of 10 lightning strike victims survive!

A chance of a woman having twins is increased after the age of 35. About 1 in 27 women will give birth to twins after this age. After 50 the chances of having twins is 1 in 9.

A recent study at Harvard has shown that eating chocolate can actually help you live longer

A toothpick is the object most often choked on by Americans

Car accidents rise 10% during the first week of daylight savings time.

Every 45 seconds, a house catches on fire in the United States

More people are killed by donkeys annually than are killed in plane crashes

In any given month, your chances of getting pregnant at age 30 are about 20%. At age 40, your chance of getting pregnant in any given month is just 5%.


( info from infertility.about.com, allfunandgames.com and einvestigator.com. I spot checked some of these but don’t sue me if some of these are inaccurate. See my previous paragraph)

But in the face of all of this information, I would like to say God is Sovereign.

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever.

But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the people of no effect. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.

He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries.

The lot is cast into the lap but its every decision is from the Lord.

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.

If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.


(Scripture references: Rom. 11:36, Psalm 115:3, Psalm 33:10, Psalm 135:7, Prov. 16:33, Matthew 10:29, Matthew 17:20)

God is Sovereign….over the weather, the animals, the lottery, the presidents, and every single thing and person you can think of. If His will ordains you do or don’t get a disease or get pregnant or win the lottery, you can claim the most favorable statistic in the world and it won’t matter because God doesn’t care about statistics, He cares about His glory. And what better way to show how big our God is than to have the “50 point favorite” football team LOSE to the “underdog”. Or the 45 year old woman of faith have a healthy baby. Or the man dying of “terminal” cancer to have a full recovery. These displays of God’s hand happen EVERYday. So I just wanted to write an encouragement that wherever you are in life, if statistics or majorities or "realities" are staring you in the face and have you down, you have access to a God who is bigger than any and all of that. The effective, fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much (James 5:16). In a world where supposedly 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce, let’s be a generation that refuses to succumb to that statistic. Let’s fight for better marriages and better families. Let’s live by FAITH and see what God will do… instead of giving up the battle because the “facts” or the “stats” are against us. If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. That’s God’s promise to us, 2 Chronicles 7:14. And if you end up on the other end of that statistic, one of the rare cases of disease or disaster or death by ball-point pen…know that it has been filtered by God’s holy hands. God gives and takes away. This is a whole other topic for another day but for now, I hope it helps to be reminded that God is in control, He never sleeps, He never forgets and He will never forsake you.

So all this to say, I would argue that the majority of statistics might be interesting and/or something to consider, but on the whole not by any means an indicator of fate if you are a Christian (or even if you’re not). However, during my research for this topic I did come across some rather funny and amazing “statistics” and I thought I would throw in a couple here for your reading enjoyment J Have a great week!

A survey reported that 12% of Americans think that Joan of Arc was Noah's wife

Americans eat nearly 100 acres of pizza every day - that's approximately 350 slices per second

First-cousin marriages are legal in Utah, so long as both parties are 65 or older!

Forty percent of Americans have never visited a dentist

'The 7-Eleven Extreme Gulp is 50% bigger than the volume of the human stomach

9.10.2011

Old Faithful


A couple days ago I found a kitten in a parking lot and brought him home. We are NOT keeping him. Seriously. He is just here temporarily so we can find him a home. (I know you think we’re going to cave and keep him but for real, we’re not keeping him.) BUT…He is ADORABLE.  Just cute and friendly and happy and so itty bitty! For those of you who haven’t gotten to enjoy a kitten in awhile, here’s a sweet little home video...
o video
Could you die? He is just too cute right? Now we already have a cat, who is no longer a kitten, but almost 6 years old now.  His name is Thomas.  Thomas sleeps a lot, just kinda hangs out most of the time, and has gotten really good at the whole Garfield-style of living. (eat, sleep, get fat, repeat) But yet there is something so sweet about this cat, who has been a part of our family for so many years now, that just can’t compare to the cuteness of a kitten.  Sure he’s not as playful and spry as the parking lot Kitten (although he used to be) but there is nothing like laying down at night and having him curl up in that perfect spot in the crook behind my knees. Or sometimes he comes and puts his head on my pillow next to my face and I kid you not puts his paw on my hand and falls asleep. Then in the mornings while my husband drinks his coffee, Thomas comes and sits in my husband’s arms, the way you would cradle a baby, and just wags his tail and smiles (for real). 

One thing I have thought a lot about is how important it is to recognize the sweetness of relationship.  I once saw a quote that “love is spelled T-I-M-E” and at the time didn’t really agree or understand.  The older I get the more I understand and actually do agree. (Funny how that happens). I encourage you to think about appreciating the animals and people in our life that may not be as “new” or “cute” or “exciting” as others but yet there is something stronger, deeper, sweeter there instead.  It makes me think of a quote from Lord Lyttleton “How much the wife is dearer than the bride”.  What a wise, beautiful saying. So take this however the Spirit leads you…maybe take a moment to seek out a widow or widower and love on them. Call a grandparent or write a letter to an old friend you haven’t talked to in a while.  Maybe it’s just to spend some uninterrupted quality time with the dog or cat that has gotten kind of “boring” and perhaps neglected. Kittens and babies are cute and easy to love and trust me, I am so grateful for the privilege to hang out with a kitten this week. But the “Garfields” and Grandmas are the ones who have been there through everything right? Doesn’t it seem that we ought to celebrate them even MORE? An engagement or wedding status on facebook  gets a million billion comments with exclamation points and celebratory gushes, while a 40 year anniversary status gets 6 “likes”.  Can you think of any other examples that come to mind? Would love your thoughts in the comments!


I have a note in my Bible from a great study I did on Ecclesiastes that says “the end is better than the beginning because there is certainty and value. You can step back and see God’s hand in the matter.” Let’s pray God would grant us the time and wisdom and excitement to step back and appreciate the things and people in life that are under-appreciated. I pray we can see His hand in all of it. May these pictures inspire you to a different perspective of beauty today!






9.01.2011

Rain Appreciation Day

When I think of rain, this is how I picture it: gray, dreary, gloomy, not so fun unless you are curled up under the covers sleeping in.  




But then I see these pictures 


And I find myself struck with the contrast that these artists were looking at rain too.  And in the middle of the same dreary, gloomy, rain, a photographer discovered beauty and a painter created it. Aren’t these pictures amazing?

And really, isn’t rain amazing in and of itself? The rain comes down and the snow from heaven and waters the earth and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater.  (Isaiah 55) How often am I too selfish to think of God’s purposes for the rain and simply see it for how it affects my day? When in actuality, rain is a good thing! In some places in some seasons they beg and plead for God to send rain. I think we often take for granted that rain makes the plants green, gives us food, and washes my car ;-) .  So this is a reminder to see beauty and purpose next time it’s gray and rainy out. When's the last time you had a day that you stopped to appreciate or even admire the rain? Let's remember to give thanks in all circumstances to a God who is kind enough to give us rain. And here are a couple more cool rain pictures for you! Be sure to ponder the one with the umbrella J





Photo credits: rain on window from weheartit.com by Veronica G.  Rain Reflections, Barcelona spain by Jordi Meneses. Painting of couple in the rain by Leonid Afremov. Diamond rain from Sunsurfer.com, girl in the rain from dannystaechs.wordpress.com, umbrella photo via The Beautiful Mess on tumbler

8.28.2011

The Women I Know



As I emailed and facebooked a large number of people (mostly women) to invite to check out this blog, I was overwhelmed to consider the incredible women I know. I am so blessed by these women who have inspired me, encouraged me, loved me, helped me at some point or another in my life. The span of what they do is amazing and I want to give you an idea here. I actually know….

An engineer
A professional athlete
A woman in government
Multiple doctors
Multiple nurses
Photographers 

Women who are or have been in the service
Women married to men in the service
A woman who manages a multi-million dollar store
A woman who manages a large medical facility
Multiple women who manage all kinds of other businesses and people
Multiple women who have started their own business
Teachers
Musicians
Missionaries
Women in ministry
Writers
Women brave enough to go back to school and reinvent themselves
A model
A chef
A hair stylist
Dancers
Students
CEO’s of large household operations who are incredible enough to take on the jobs of multiple employees, all as non-profit work known as being a stay-at-home MOM.
Administrative Assistants
Therapists
Pastor’s wives
Women who have made it their greatest honor to love their husbands well, more well known as being a WIFE
A journalist
A scientist
And more…



If you are reading this, you are probably on this list. I hope that seeing all these roles in one place inspires you like it inspires me. Not in a “girl-power” way by any means but in a LOOK HOW BEAUTIFUL, UNIQUE, AND WONDERFULLY MADE YOU ARE. Each one of these occupations is truly an art form. I hope we have eyes to see and appreciate those around us. I sometimes struggle in my own life to find the artfulness and greater purpose of being in sales. Account executive, representative, whatever you want to call me, I sometimes wish I was more directly changing lives like a teacher or nurse or a stay at home mom. But I do realize I help make things more beautiful through the painting process (even if it is a plain white wall) and my helping people helps businesses, so I can rest in that. But today, I am VERY excited to think I just might have the opportunity to now help YOU, do what YOU do. I will never be an engineer (thank you Lord) but maybe I can encourage and pray for an engineer. I will never be a chef or a scientist, but maybe I can remind a chef or a scientist the joy it is to work with God’s creation that others may see it and glorify God for a breathtaking pastry or a life-saving vaccine. If that is possible, and I pray God will pour blessings over this web site, through your computer screen and into your heart and make it possible, it would be one of my greatest honors and privileges.


So to all of you incredible women…I do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified US to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. (Colossians 1:9-12, emphasis mine)


Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey!


Introductions

So what’s with “Grace Gallery”? What does that mean? Well, Grace can be a couple things: elegance and beauty of movement, form, expression, or proportion, as well as, the free and unmerited favour of God shown towards man. A gallery, generally,  is an art display.


I wanted to create a place to display the abundant grace I see in my life-both the day to day beauty of the art that is life as well as the spiritual grace God gives (which is pretty much the same thing in my book anyway).

I love quotes, as you will quickly discover. Here is a compilation of the thoughts and quotes that came together to create “The Grace Gallery”.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain”-Paul, in a letter to the Corinthians

God is most satisfied in us when we are most satisfied in Him.-John Piper, (my pastor!)

Let’s live on purpose.-John, my husband

People see God everyday, they just don’t recognize Him.-Pearl Bailey


Add some sugar and spice and everything nice, mix well, let it sit overnight and ta-da! The Grace Gallery.



8.27.2011

Foundations and Inspirations


For the record, I really don’t like the word Blog. It sounds so much like “blah” and the “og” is just not flattering. I prefer to think of it as “public correspondence” or “streams of consciousness”. But whatever you want to call it, I’ve been inspired to put some of my thoughts out into cyberspace for friends, family and perhaps new friends I’ve not yet met. I’ve always wanted to write and/or speak, mostly because I’ve always had a passion to encourage and inspire others-spiritually and emotionally. I felt inspired to write, new and afresh, very specifically last week. I would argue that God spoke to me very clearly, I heard Him loud and clear, and now I’m going to listen and act accordingly. Or at least attempt it at my best.

I know a lot of people struggle to hear God, despite the desire being there. I feel that God has always spoken to me, in one way or another, my whole life.  I think it must be a gift of grace and I very much accept it as so. But that being said, I thought I would share the practical steps of how I hear God and perhaps it will help some of you in your own quest to hear from Him.

So, in my completely personal experience with no fancy theological training but yet wisdom that God says defies scholars, this is how I hear God speak:

#1- I am a Christian. I am a child of God, I am a sheep and He is my shepherd. John 10 says the sheep hear His voice and they know it, they recognize it. I would not recognize His voice if I wasn’t His sheep, His child. Because I am, I have the Holy Spirit, and so when God speaks I have the *ability* to hear.

#2- I *asked* God to speak to me. I had been feeling somewhat distant, of my own fault, and thus one weekend morning I woke up, went to my usual reading chair, and prayed very simply, something along the lines of… “Lord I long to hear from you today. I don’t have a ton of time and I know it seems selfish to put You on my schedule, but if there is something for me to hear today, please open my heart and my ears and know I really do long to hear it. Forgive me for not having been in your Word and for having found my strength and joy elsewhere lately, but know that I come now to meet with you and I am listening.”

#3- I read my Bible. I believe I started in Hebrews that morning, of which I was in the middle of reading previously, but then felt drawn to Psalms. I read through some Psalms and Psalm 90:12, which I have read and heard many times, was very compelling this morning. "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."  I thought upon this for a little while. Then I remembered a reference to Revelations 5 from our church service the night before, and I love that chapter, so I turned to Revelation and read there for a while. I read of the throne room in Heaven, the judgments of the Earth, the tribulation…and it was rather upsetting I must say. Revelations is a book mostly avoided and I had not read these chapters in years and the end of times as the Bible describes it is very …I struggle with the right word to put here. Unsettling is not strong enough, scary is not wise enough…whatever the word is, it was unpleasant. And then at the end of Revelation it describes Heaven…very real and incredibly breathtaking. Not fluffy clouds and baby angels but the most brilliant, GORGEOUS, indescribable, ACTUAL place, in the presence of God, and it is wonderful. Again, not Scripture I had read in a while and it made my heart soar with longing to experience God and His glory in full.


#4- Feeling full in that moment with all I had just read, I prayed and went out for a morning run. I have some Christian music in my workout music and a song called “Blink” came on which starts “Teach us to number our days, and count every moment, before it slips away”. The same Scripture I had just read in the Psalms! Now I really had something coming together.

#5- Now I was meditating, while I was running, and it all connected so beautifully. The Scripture to number my days to have a heart of Wisdom, the picture in Revelation of the impending second coming of Christ, an end to all that we know here and how this urges me to seize every moment for Christ WILL come and Heaven WILL be here and what will I have to show for my life on Earth? What have I done and what am I doing that matters? Do I number my days? Do I live with a heavenly perspective? Do I have a heart of wisdom?


#6- I was running outside, and I ran by a crab apple tree (I think!). I very much see God in the everyday nature that many people attribute to atoms, of which I would argue are Holy fingerprints. And it occurred to me that a couple months ago this tree had been cloaked in beautiful flowers, and today it now had the cutest little multi-colored apples. They were so majestically painted in streaks of red and green and I hadn’t noticed until now. The beauty of the fruit, the cycle of the seasons, it all echoed to me to number my days, before they slip away unnoticed and empty.
                                                
#7- I let all this simmer together and it became the unmistakable voice of God. A sweet encouragement and admonishment to be longing for a heart of wisdom and to be living every day with eternal perspective in an effort to gain that wisdom.


  • A heart that belongs to God 
  • Prayer 
  • Reading God’s Word 
  • Believing God’s Word 
  • Listening to Worship music 
  • Spending time in God’s creation 
  • Meditating 
  • God spoke

This isn’t meant to be a “formula” or “magic”. It may not mean anything to you, it’s just an example of something that God made meaningful to me. I trust His message to you would be personal and applicable to your life. It’s just the way I heard God and I think it makes a lot of sense. God is not a God of chaos. He gave us His Word and His Creation and Minds to Think because He WANTS us to know Him. So maybe this will help give you some ideas the next time you are longing to hear from Him. It wasn’t a specific answer to any of the questions on my heart, but it was a Truth and a Principal that I can apply to ALL of my questions, which really makes it better than just one answer to one question.

And now here I am and these words are the result of that morning. I don’t think my thoughts on life will change the world, but I do think they might help or encourage or bless a couple people. I hope you are one of them. The internet is such an amazing technology and yet very much a double-edged sword. How much time do we actually use it for things that are good and purposeful versus things that are inconsequential and empty and even wicked?

Mission statement: To share some of my personal thoughts on life with the aim of edifying and encouraging my audience while glorifying and delighting in my God.

Caveat: My grammar and punctuation will not always be perfect. I will do my best, but it has slipped in these years since school and I ask that you politely overlook it or please advise me whatever needs correction-this is a standing invitation!

I am not a studied professional Theologian, just simply a girl who loves the Lord and is seeking to know Him more and have Him be known. Religious debate can often get heavy, but this is good. If you have questions about anything I write, I will do my best to answer them or else refer you to sources/people more learned than I for further information.

Finally, I’m not going to hold myself to any rules just yet. I figure I will just start and see where it goes. Maybe I’ll share pictures, maybe I’ll talk about my day, maybe I’ll share jokes and quotes, once a day or once a month. Believe it or not, my type A self is going to let this be a very unstructured creation for now and hopefully it will become a beautiful mosaic where all the pieces in and of themselves are jagged and awkwardly shaped but the big picture is quite meaningful.

Quote for today:God gives people direction more often than directions.-Claude Hickman