I think I have eaten more cake in the last two months than I ate throughout the course of the last two years. And honestly, I don't even like cake all that much.
A few weeks ago, my youngest brother turned 13. Time flies...Time is flying. It took me a while to catch on, but now I'm CONVINCED.
To celebrate the house was full of people, we ate pizza AND tacos and ceasar salad, served up Jay juice, and finished things off with chocolate chocolate cake and banana split ice cream. There were LOTS of Legos, candles, balloons, laughs, and a new card game.
After I love people by cleaning for them and feeding them, I add letter writing to the mix. I love writing to people...Really, I just like to write. I woke up knowing that the day would call for a special letter.
I'm not going to share the letter with you, but I do want to share the ideas behind it.
Playing with the helium tank was half the fun.
I think 13 is a monumental moment in the life of a boy. To me, 13 means you're not a little boy anymore. To me, 13 means you are officially on your way to becoming a man. Moms (and in this case, sisters) BLINK and their baby, toddler, little boy is THIRTEEN. Then, everyone (including the boy) BLINKS and their thirteen year old is TWENTY.
I'm speaking from experience here...Last fall my other brother turned 20 and I'm still a little dumbfounded...HOW did that even HAPPEN?
I don't envy guys today at all. The only thing I would enjoy about being a man would be the "don't mess with me" factor that I'm missing as a 20 something female.
My brother has (and is) growing up in a world where he is being challenged by women everywhere he goes. He cannot watch TV, go to the grocery store, or get a job without having to deal with women who don't respect themselves and yet demand respect from him.
My brother has (and is) growing up in a world where women are under dressed, outrageously competitive, and not willing to let him be a gentleman.
Shhh...Christmas decorations are still up!
Still, God has given him life at the time He deemed best...He calls my brother to be a man, a godly gentleman who leads and serves and loves and protects and honors the women around him. There will be men to learn from, men to teach, and men to serve as well.
My brother has a calling and the same Jesus who is making me who I am, is laboring to make my brother who he will be too. The same Jesus who protects and leads me is protecting and leading my brother.
I wrote to my brother to express my love and excitement for him. I wanted him to begin to take life seriously. His foundation has been laid and now it is time to do the work of purposefully becoming a man.
For many years, I have hoped and prayed for both of my brothers to become the men God would have them be. I wanted me brother to know that!
I want my brothers to be able to look back on their lives (however long or short they may be) and KNOW that they lived them well. I want my brothers to be so glad in God that whenever they look back, they can smile as they consider the people they have helped to become glad in God as well.
In short, I want my brothers to know that they didn't waste their lives.
Another beautiful, FREEZING winter day happened around here. Today I hit the road and took some pretty pictures of the scenery. That's what you're getting. :)
Today was Martin Luther King Jr. day. We're all thinking of the man and the cause. At the mall today, there was a kids fair and there were kids EVERYWHERE. I saw several pictures of MLK and that was okay with me...I kind of love him.
Today was the second inauguration of Obama. We're all thinking of the man and the cause. I wasn't home to watch it, but I'm hoping to find some clips online. I watched things last time around and I want to this time around too. I seriously pray for him and the country he has been given to lead.
Today my sister ended up in a cast. It's big and purple. Long story short, "ripsticks" truly are death traps. I am grateful that the fall I witnessed only led to the death of an arm.
Tomorrow I'll be filling in at a coffee shop and I'm looking forward to it. When I was 15, I started working there and I worked there until college...Since then, I have filled in on emergencies when I am in town. I passed the job onto first my brother and now my sister...
I loved the summer that I spent opening the shop every morning. Maybe I'll tell you about that summer sometime!
A few nights ago I was sitting on the couch and just had the urge to get up to do some clutter busting. After things were put away, I ended up vacuuming, getting rid of the dust, and cleaning the glass table.
That burst of energy and motivation came out of absolutely nowhere.
Yesterday, I got a call from my friend Amber. She and her husband were planning on taking a trip this weekend and were hoping to stop by to see me. She was calling to ask if they could stay the night.
Of course, I said they could. This meant I had some serious work to do. Thankfully, the "worst" of it was behind me since I had just cleaned the area they would be staying in the night before.
Yesterday I pulled out my recipe book and set out to make chicken burritos for dinner (repurposing the left over "chicken tortilla soup" I had made the night before) along with blueberry muffins and a sausage egg casserole for breakfast today.
It turns out, they got on the road way later than they had hoped and they didn't get here until nearly 11 last night.
None of that really matters....What matters is, I love it when spontaneous things happen and WORK OUT in spite of the total lack of planning.
Even though I had no idea they would be coming, I got a head start on preparing for their visit. Then, because of their delays, I was given LOTS of extra time to get everything ready.
They are gone now...The house is quiet, I'm sitting down to read and eat a leftover chicken burrito.
One word is on my mind, THANKFUL.
Today I am thankful for friends, being able to sit and visit in person, roads that make traveling possible, a place to offer to people who "need" it, and the bond that we have in Christ.
If we weren't Christians, I don't know how I would have met Amber. If we weren't Christians, I don't know what we would have in common. Because of Christ, Amber and I met and became fast friends. Because of Christ, Amber and I have maintained that friendship even though we rarely get to see each other and sometimes go MONTHS without even being able to catch up on the phone.
Maybe you have a friend you need to visit...Maybe you have a room to pick up just because...Maybe you have a book to read and left overs to eat.
Amber won't read this, but I'm thankful for the opportunity she gave me to SEE her and host GUESTS all at the same time.
Saturday mornings spent quietly visiting with my Mom and waiting for the house to wake up while I putter around getting a buffet ready are some of my favorite days.
You may or may not have much to offer, but open up and let people in. You'll be glad you did!
It's grey outside. The sun is barely shining through the clouds and fog that have set in. There is still a remnant of snow on the ground. It's so cold that it hasn't turned to slush or been mixed with mud to be brown. The snow has been plowed out of the way and it is full of marks.
Frankly, looking outside today shows a pretty good picture of what life in January can be. And yet, the snow that is frozen solid and no longer beautiful, but not ugly either, is speaking to my soul today.
How often does my soul get frozen solid....How often does it go from being beautiful to just a step up from ugly?
You know...The days when you just haven't felt quite right. Maybe you feel a little more SAD than usual. Maybe you feel a little LOST. Nobody likes feeling that way. We fight it, but we fight it the wrong way. We end up FROZEN there. Frozen right where we do NOT even want to be.
The snow and weather have zero control over themselves.
We do. We have everything we need in Jesus and we are called to work out that salvation that has been given to us.
Stop and read 2 Peter 1...Reread verses 3 through 10.
Whether we are in a "beautiful" season, on our way to be frozen in a time of "not quite ugly", or totally frozen solid, there is a place we MUST go.
We must continually GO to God and ask Him to GIVE us the grace we NEED for each day.
GRACE is what gets us through. GRACE is something that you and I need DAILY.
At the risk of sounding a little mystical, I'll say this....Spiritual warfare is REAL. I think that I thought it was seasonal. You know, like sometimes the battle rages and sometimes we only know victory and peace. Yeah, that's not the way it is.
EVERY single day is a day when Satan is laboring to bring destruction and ruin in SOULS.
EVERY single day is a day that God is laboring for His glory and the joy of His people in Him - to bring life and growth in SOULS.
You are not alone. There is GRACE for today, seek the Lord and don't be content without it.
Ephesians 6 walks us through the GRACE God gives His people to get through each day....And I have been coming back to one specific piece of that grace for months now.
Ephesians 6:16 says this,
"In all circumstances take up the shield of FAITH,
with which you can extinguishall of the flaming darts of the evil one;"
By God's grace, faith is mine. Faith is a beautiful thing...It brings life and right living. It is hope and feeds hope. It is an anchor to the soul. Now, I see that it will ALWAYS EXTINGUISH (totally put out) ALL of the things satan throws my way.
To be honest, I don't even need satan's help...I throw a lot of darts at my own soul. I'm realizing that the FAITH that come from God will totally put those out too!
Take up that shield of faith, it's yours and it does what God made it for. Always. Everytime.
Today happens to be Jan. 16. My guess is that unless it's your birthday, anniversary, or the birthday of someone you love, there is nothing that makes today's date different than any other day.
There are a growing number of people who are coming to see the significance of the numbers 116...I've talked about the guys that got this started a lot on this blog. They have become some "big" names in Christian Hip Hop. Inspired by the men behind Cross Movement Records, men like FLAME, Lecrae, Tedashii, Sho Baraka, and Trip Lee along with DJ Official, Ben Washer, BJ Thompson, and so many others got together to produce music that communicated the gospel that had saved them.
They valued quality beats just as much as they were passionate about delivering quality lyrics.
They have influenced others in the industry as well as those on the other side of the booth. They have gone their own ways, created new record labels, signed new artists, and committed to ministering life-on-life in their own churches.
The backbone behind what they men have come to love is the God that loved them first. By His mercy and grace, God brought them to SEE the truth of His Word and the meaning of the good news.
Each man has his own story and yet each man has one thing in common and that is that the Word of God that brought Him from death to life.
Romans 1:16 is the tie that binds them first to God and then to each other. The words of Romans 1:16 gives them purpose while they here on this earth.
Today, we can all come together to celebrate the work that our God has done and is doing! Today, we can exhort one another to remember the mission.
And with that, here's a little video of what very well may be my favorite song of 2013...
If you like this song, get the whole album FREE by CLICKING HERE!
He's given us something to say. His Word is there for us to DRINK. Having tasted living water,
we OVERFLOW what we now know. Overflowing, the Word brings LIFE to those who hear.
Last week feels like it was a month long. Looking back on things that have happened lately, I'm realizing that some of it was only a week ago....For once, some things DON'T feel like they happened yesterday.
We celebrated Epiphany and a birthday. There was grocery shopping and visiting grandparents. It snowed a lot and yet there was lots of sunshine too. I baked a new cookie (peanut butter with toffee bits) and fixed a bunch of pretty popular dinners.
I cannot tell you what this much sun shining into the rooms of the house does to my heart. I never get tired of such beautiful days!
It is nice when the sun on my face is matched with the sun on my soul...Thanks to time in God's Word and listening to the truth He has shared with others, I've been having plenty of that too.
Look around you. There is so much beauty to behold even on a normal, regular, ho-hum type of day. Look around you and be thankful, be amazed, and enjoy the beauty.
I say this a lot, and I'll say it again...God makes things to appeal to our senses and gave us the senses to experience them so that these things may point us to the One who made us and the things around us.
To live a life set on Him changes things...We can truly see things for what the really are.
With the Golden Globes happening, a lot of people were tuning in and picking out their favorite (or not so favorite) dresses. I don't think I've ever watched them...It seems kind of strange to me. In my mind, it's their party and I don't really need to pry. But, whatever...
Thanks to a group called "Shepherd's Press" I did hear about Jodie Foster's speech. There was so much about her that I didn't know. I should have guessed what her closing lines told everyone, but it never crossed my mind. She ended her speech saying,
“Jodie Foster was here, I still am, and I want to be seen,
to be understood deeply and to be not so very lonely.”
Can you imagine looking back on your life having only that to say? It sounds so sad to me. I'm sure she said it smiling and maybe even laughing.
I want to live so that if I make it to 50 I have more to think and know and say about my life up to that point.
The people at Shepherd's press put it this way,
"All that she longs for is found only in Christ. Learn from these words. They provide an opportunity to speak of Christ. Tell your children that these words of Jodie Foster demonstrate the cruel delusion of the world’s promises. No matter how grand and glorious the promises are, life lived without submitting to the Lordship of Christ is sadly, hopelessly empty. It is a foretaste of hell."
I know those are strong words, but the loneliness and emptiness is strong too. It only makes sense that such overwhelming sorrow can only be overcome by something even stronger.
Whether you are as happy as you have ever been or so sad that you are sure you will never be happy until you're dead...Those longings were given to you to show you the Christ.
May the hope that is in Him be in you and overflowing onto the people around you!
I'm sitting here in my bed...It's 11:25pm. An hour ago, a friend left after a birthday celebration that happened here earlier this evening. There was food and cake and laughs and a little bit of game playing.
The sun shined today. This time of year I feel like I just have to document that and REJOICE each time it happens. It's been happening every now and then, more often than I would expect, over the last few weeks.
I've spent the last hour reading Scriptures and blogs.
I need to thank, AMY for what she has done for me in hosting Frankly Friday. I seriously look forward to Friday and getting frank and serious about SOMETHING that's been on my mind.
Fridays are a chance to write. To write and not care how long the post is or how many pictures I'm not including.
When I started blogging...Back in 06 (and I guess I deleted those posts or had a different page that I forgot all about), I WROTE. They were long and they were mainly for me.
Then, I came back to it at the end of 08. It was a way for me to record short snippets of what I had been learning. I wanted my words to be a SUMMARY of what was going on inside my head.
I wanted people (strangers, of the non creepy sort) to read and be encouraged. Outside of my Mom and a few friends who happen to live on the other side of the country, no one that I actually KNEW even knew about my blog. I liked it that way.
Then, I gave it up and came back again sometime last year. I came back wanting to use it to document what was happening in my soul as well as what was happening in my life.
I wanted to take more pictures and so share more pictures. I wanted to continue to write words that were simply an overflow of what was already happening inside of me.
Just about anyone can cook, organize, create, get dressed, decorate, or even take pictures. Sometimes, I convince myself that anyone can write.
Over the past few months, I've come to see this...It is true that there is nothing special about me.
There are many others who love the Lord and desire to pour their life out on mission with Him.
They study the Bible, they read books, they love people. They can and do write.
But, all of the books haven't been written. Others may be learning the exact same things that I am....But, God has given me a story tell tell and truth to share.
I need to keep writing. Leaving a trail of memories behind is just fine....But, sharing TRUTH, that's what will count.
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
Tuesday marked the 57th anniversary of the murder of Jim Elliot, Ed McCulley, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, and Nate Saint. If these names are unfamiliar to you, GOOGLE!
Basically, they were men who gathered together, moved their families, and sought to minister to a tribe of Auca Indians who were in great need of the gospel. In a very unexpected turn of events, these five men were murdered by a group of the indians.
Their families did not give up! Eventually, the Gospel was embraced by these people and the wives and children of these men were very glad to finish the work they were originally brought to do.
Since then, books have been written and movies have been made....One famous quote which was found in Jim Elliot's journals goes like this:
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."
Elliot was 28 when he was killed....28 and he already GOT what it meant to really live.
57 years ago, these men finished giving what the could never keep. The day is coming when all of God's people will enjoy the gain they have in Him, forever.
I've been thinking a lot this week. Looking back on this, reading Packer's "A Passion for Faithfulness", and continuing to study God's Word has been holding my focus.
I've come to see a little more clearly that so many of the struggles in life (at least my life) come about when I'm straining to keep a firm grasp on things that I cannot keep.
I struggle to maintain a reputation. I struggle to maintain certain relationships. I struggle to make my life pleasant and comfortable. I struggle to make good decisions.
None of that is bad in and of itself...But in all of it, my aim is just that, ME.
There is a verse that I've had on my mind. It comes from 2 Peter 1:3
"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence..."
All things have been granted to me when it comes to living and becoming like Christ. I don't have to struggle. They are MINE.
The eternal life that is mine in Christ, has been mine all along. I'm living that life, the good life, right now.
In Christ is everything that is mine, everything that is worth having, and everything I can't lose.
On earth, there are things grasping to make me theirs. These things are not worth having or serving and they are everything I can't keep.
If you're like me, you struggle to make your life a good one. You struggle to make your influence a blessing.
If you're like me, you need to be reminded that Christ has struggled so that you could focus on something else.
"...God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this He called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14
You were saved and you are still here on earth so that you can proclaim the Christ! Christian, you'll feel empty and anxious until you are pouring your life out for the mission that belongs to you.
The first week of January looked a lot like this. There was one day that involved SUNSHINE and BLUE SKIES. The temperatures have been COLD and the wind very biting.
Still, there has been good food, good company, and a pretty good life.
I visited with my friend Alice last week. We got to share stories from our Christmas celebrations. We got to look back on life...Especially her life. Remembering the good things in the days gone by.
If you know someone who is older or alone, give them some of your time. Listen to whatever is on their heart. It's nice for them, but it's even better for you.
Ask questions to keep them talking. And listen to their answers, listen in a way that leads you to learn from your time with them.
Last week I also decided it was time to pull out some more comfort food. There was fried chicken, mashed potatoes, egg sandwiches, cooked apples, green beans, sweet tea, bacon, and I'm still dreaming up other things to make.
My mind is turning towards the soups that I haven't made for a while.
There was also plenty of time spent cleaning and organizing after so many days just laying around. I love pulling my hair back, turning on some music, and getting down to the business of turning things back to the way they are supposed to be.
And of course, I got to start working on some of my goals for 2013. I took more pictures, gathered a few addresses to write letters, spent time DRINKING, and continued to think about my life and where what I do with "today" is leading me.
Always winter....I'll admit, I struggle with it a little bit. All of the holidays have come and gone. The cold has set in and the fight for joy becomes a little more real to me. God makes beautiful things, I just have to SEE them that way.
May your winter be a time to see these beautiful things and savor the God who has put them in your life.
Back in June I decided to do some 365 posts...I did two of them. Pt. 1//Pt. 2
I continued to take more pictures, but I failed to put together the posts.
Now that December is over, I'm wanting to remember 2012. That's a bit overwhelming so I thought I'd start with December.
Taken Dec. 2// Continuing to put together an Advent study using John Piper's "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ".....Loved the planning phase, hiding the bag each morning, building scavenger hunts, and being REMINDED to hide the bag if I forgot. I let life get in the way and we didn't end up reading all of the book or going through all of the stuff I had prepared.
Taken Dec. 3// One of the activities I planned was making Date Balls. It was fun and they were good...We made more later in the month!
Taken Dec. 3// I also learned that taking self portraits is getting a little harder now that everyone is growing.
Taken Dec. 3// I can't remember if I took this or if he did...Either way, I thought it belonged in the recap. That's a face I'd like to remember. Everybody's crazy.
Taken Dec. 4// I drank A LOT of tea this month. Plenty of moments were spent drinking and thinking or reading.
Taken Dec. 5// The bag has been FOUND! I hid it in the china cabinet that day. The "rule" was that at least part of the bag would be in plain sight. If I broke the rule, I'd give a clue. Even though it was in plain sight, I had a guilty conscience. So, the clue for the day was "It's in plain sight, but you will have to look through something to see it." They were very happy when they finally found it.
Between the 5th and the next picture there was lots of baking (I accomplished my goal of putting together at least some of a Christmas cookie "tradition"), a cookie swap, shopping, SNOW, auditions for a play (my brother and sister, not me), and a birthday party for our friend Julie.
Taken Dec. 14//It was JUST after midnight...We attended our first midnight movie premiere. The Hobbit was soo good and the excitement sooo high that I left that theatre knowing I MUST read the book. I hope Tolkien proves are wise as that movie made him sound.
Over the next few days I finished up my Christmas shopping and then recovered from the CRAZINESS of our little trip.
Taken Dec. 16// Grandma and Grandpa came to visit. It snowed...There were snow people and bears to be built. I made a big batch of spaghetti complete with salad and garlic bread. Maybe even sweet tea? I know I broke down and made tea at least once this month. Sometimes, well ALL of the time, life calls for sweet tea. Just sayin.
Taken Dec. 16
Taken Dec. 16
Taken Dec. 16
Taken Dec. 18// slowly but surely, things started to melt. The SUN came out. I danced around, okay, maybe not. And the sky was BLUE. The snowman appeared to be calling for help or doing calisthenics.
Taken Dec. 18
Taken Dec. 18// Look at that SKY! As usual, these are straight from my camera. What you see is what I saw. It's been gray ever since.
Taken Dec. 18// Presents were wrapped and set out to be admired. I LOVED the colors of this year's Christmas. I was reminded how much I love pretty packages and how terrible I am at creating pretty *anything* packages.
Taken Dec. 19// There was a little wrapping party in my room...What I learned on the 18th, was confirmed on the 19th. My brother and sister whipped out some good looking packages. There is something wrong with me. Or they're geniuses. We'll go with that.
Taken around Dec. 19// Scissors, paper, glitter, glue, some thread, and tape...Loving these pieces of Christmas cheer.
Taken Dec. 20// I bought a new purse. That's the problem with Christmas shopping, there are so many GOOD deals. I got this for half price and then saved another $10 bucks. And it's pretty much exactly what I've been looking for.
Side note...Last year (2012), I needed to come up with a solution for a problem I kept having. I have a few different purses that I use depending on what I'm wearing or where I'm going and I usually end up with a few other things in my purse too...Somehow I would be out and realize I didn't have a charger, or chapstick, or my other key ring, or whatever...So I picked up that basket at WalMart, set it on a table that was stashed away and put all of the things I ever want in a my purse in it. Now, I keep things in the purse that I'm using OR if I know I'll be switching them out, put everything away in the basket and then load the purse accordingly. I don't always need everything in the basket, but it keeps it contained and organized and ready to be grabbed.
Taken Dec. 22// More dateballs were made. I'm thinking the sugared dates on the right got a LITTLE more sugar than they should have. What do you think?
This says Dec. 22...I thought we did this Christmas eve. Maybe I got mixed up?!?! Anyway//We made sugar cookies. This was my favorite. I made it. Yes, I'm bragging. I took my time and that's what became of it. See, I'm not crafty. It was made to look like the snowman made earlier in the month.
Taken Dec. 23// I'm a sucker for those Christmas sales...$8 candles at Bath and Body Works got me. I finished off the old one and was more than happy to start using the old one.
Taken Dec. 24// Merry Christmas EVE!!! Trying out Trader Joe's Salted Caramel Chai Tea. I'll be back for more!
Taken Dec. 25// A different kind of Christmas. I slept in and then moved out to the couch to just sit and be still for a little while before going upstairs.
Taken Dec. 25// The calm before the storm. This was a very low key Christmas morning. Minus the skype session with my brother, that pretty much made my day!
Taken Dec. 25// The chaos after the storm.
Taken Dec. 25//The "storm" going on outside.
Taken Dec. 25// Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Taken Dec. 25// All is calm...
Taken Dec. 25// Somebody got the last two Harry Potter dvds in their stocking (my brother)! Here I was getting ready to watch the last one for the first time. I REALLY liked it. Number one was always my favorite just because of the sheer excitement I had to see it. Then somewhere along they way, they got even BETTER. After watching this one I thought, "Yep! That one is my favorite!". Maybe they're all my favorite?
Taken Dec. 26// I love the day after Christmas. The fun continues. The pictures will speak for themselves:
I...We...Ate a lot of food like this. When my Mom was growing up, Christmas dinner was a buffet of cold cuts. We have done that off and on over the years. It's what I prefer. This year, my Mom wanted to cook. So, we had a cold cut tray for lunches during my Great Uncle's visit. I ate a lot of sandwiches. And that water bottle has been my companion too. I drink a lot of water, right now I'm drinking even more.
Some friends (the same ones who got me hooked on those date balls we've been eating all month) sent us this game for Christmas. I have turned my nose up at this game for years. I am HOOKED. I've won some, I've lost some. It's strategy and makes you work a little bit. Pride comes before a fall and humility before honor.
I looked like this....Tired and crazy haired...And WHITE. Hello, January. Christmas games (khet and apples to apples over and over again), visiting, and late night *early morning* movie watching can be blamed.
They looked like this. Perfectly cute, as usual!
Taken Dec. 27// Jesus, Mary, and Joseph have made it to the manger. The townspeople continue to go about their business. Meanwhile, the wise men are making their way to see the savior. In other words, we're still looking forward to Epiphany!!! Christmas isn't over yet. The house still looks like Christmas and the days still feel like Christmas is coming.
Taken Dec. 27// This showed up in the living room sometime after Christmas. I think somebody is hooked.
Taken Dec. 27// One of my favorite pictures from the whole month. I love these three windows and the cheer the bring.
Taken Dec. 29// Starting to think about 2013...Realizing that the theme ought to be DRINK. Spent the last few days organizing and rearranging my room. It feels good to start the new year with a clean desk, some new things on the walls, and a little plan for my soul this year.