Let's Look and Listen

Monday, September 30, 2013

Here we are, coming up on another month. This year has been happening so quickly and we have all made many MEMORIES up to this point. 

In those memories are moments of joy and pain, moments of courage and fear, moments where we thought we had it all under control, and moments where we just knew chaos had won. 

Whatever the MOMENT was, God was there. And where God is, there is GRACE.

My guess is, you probably didn't stop to THINK about that grace specifically. I'll be honest and say that while I am always coming back to what God is up to, I do a lot of coming back.

I love stepping back, going back, and tracing the hand of God. In THOSE moments, I find myself right where I long to be.

I find myself in the presence of God.

You've been in the presence of God. You've seen His glory. It has left you feeling a joy and a peace and a hunger for more of Him.

I'm inviting YOU to JOIN me as I stop to LOOK and LISTEN this month. He has for us many great things and they're all wrapped up in the moments of our everyday lives.

This marks the first day of 31 Days to Look and Listen: that we may declare the praise of God.

This series will explain itself as it unfolds. I'd love to hear from you. Please share what God is helping you to see and hear, what praises you are eager to shout! 

31 Days to Look and Listen

Welcome to 31 Days to Look and Listen: that we may declare the praise of God!

I'm excited to go on this journey of learning to see and hear God in our everyday lives.

What excites me most is that God has created this journey!

He is making the way, even now, for each one of His people to become people who CAN look and listen. 

From this page, you will be able to click on the daily posts as I write them! Get your Bibles and let's GOOOO. :)

Intro:  Let's Look and Listen

Day 1: He is Calling

Day 2: Three Poets

Day 3: That Place

Day 4: A Bigger Picture

Day 5: PAUSE - Good Things

Day 6: Declare and Demonstrate

Day 7: Longing for More

Day 8: A Story to Tell

Day 9: God's Mission

Day 10: Power of His Word

Day 11: No Empty Word

Day 12: PAUSE - 8 Months and A Song

Day 13: What Are You Saying

Day 14: Talk About It

Day 15:

Day 16:

Day 17:

Day 18:

Day 19:

Day 20:

Day 21:

Day 22: A Real Problem

Day 23: Not Far

Day 24: Glad to Know

Day 25:

Day 26:

Day 27:

Day 28:

Day 29:

Day 30:

Day 31:

Hula...Yes, I said hula!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Good morning! Here we are, the last weekend in September!!! Why am I exclaiming about that? Honestly, I don't actually know. 
Anyway, just as summer was ending I read a book and I need to tell you about it. Please don't laugh...It's one of Robin Jones Gunn's Sisterchick novels. It was titled "Sisterchicks: Do the Hula". 

Gunn is a master at looking beyond the moments in order to see the grace of God. 
These books are a very light hearted, easy going attempt to write about the lives of fictitious women in order to help readers see the goodness of God for themselves. Reading this book will feel like sitting around the dinner table hearing first hand about a trip one of your friends just enjoyed.
"Do the Hula" centered on grace. Yes, in fiction grace is often expressed in strange ways and that isn't very helpful...but, in the moments where Gunn wrote about grace in real ways, those were moments that made me reflect on the grace of God in my OWN life.
I happen to know that CBD is selling the book for 2.99 right now. Snag a copy and it can be on your list for next summer! 

You can also pick up a copy by clicking HERE
Come back by on Monday...I've got something I'm pretty excited about to share with you! In the meantime, enjoy your weekend!
I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. All thoughts and comments are my own. 

What 23 Years Look Like

Friday, September 27, 2013

This is a post where I stop and get a little reflective. I am sharing some pictures that I took a few days ago. They have absolutely nothing to do with this post, they're just pretty.

This morning, I'm thinking about the last 23 years. It's my birthday month and for some reason this one feels a little different. I've been thinking about what's happened over the course of my life so far.

In short, 23 years look like a lot of things. 

They have looked like LEARNING. I have always been a person who watches, asks a million questions, and then acts. Sometimes it takes me a while before I ever do something right. Sometimes I don't even try and sometimes I fail. 

They have looked like LOVING. I have done life with a lot of people. Some have died, some have just gone down a different road, and some are here to stay for a while. Wherever they are, however long they've been away, they are on my heart and mind. I have them in my memories and those memories mean a lot to me.

They have looked like SIN. I have done wayyyy too many stupid, foolish, wrong things. It's great to have it all together - I never have. Never. 

They have looked like being SAVED. My Mom saved me first. She was young, unmarried, and very uncertain. She chose to give me life whatever it would end up costing her. She chose to keep me in her life whatever it would end up costing her. Then just nine years later, God saved me again. I was young, unhappy, and very uncertain. He chose to give me life knowing what it had already cost Him. He keeps giving me life knowing what it has already cost Him. I was born and I was born again. When those days roll around, I am actually pretty grateful.

They have looked like being LED. I am a follower. Wherever I go, I look to God for wisdom and security. I am not afraid to look to the people around me for extra doses of advice. The scariest thing to me is ending up without someone to be there to lead me.

They have looked like being being HURT. I sin and so do other people. When we sin against each other it hurts. Words and actions are some of the most powerful things that exist. Tears and pain have been very familiar.

They have looked like FIGHTING FOR JOY. I am really not very good at this. Still, it is something that I am very grateful for. God has for me a perfect, lasting, satisfying joy in Him. Fighting for it and sharing it with those around me is actually really awesome.

They have looked like HELPING. In as much as I am a follower, I am also a helper. God has made me with a tendency to see life in black and white. I am constantly summarizing situations and words in order to get to the bottom of it. I love being able to see a need and help. My goal is that as I help, I can somehow point people back to God and help them to know Him.

They have looked like DREAMING. I have always been a dreamer. I knew where I wanted to live, where I wanted to go to college, and what I hoped to do. All of that changed about three times as I began to see more of God. I'll admit, the last few years have found me a little less likely to dream and a lot more likely to just settle. I'll be honest, I have zero dreams for life after 23. In my head, this is as far as I have ever thought. Here I am. The book is BLANK. God has a plan and I'm ready for Him to turn the pages...

23 years have looked like a lot of things. They have looked like being born, being born again, and moving along towards being made into someone that lives to make Him known.  The rest of it has been the filler necessary to bring me to these places. "And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us..." Acts 17:26-28

There is a bigger picture behind these 23 years. The picture is God Himself. These 23 years will turn into whatever number God has decided to give me and they will blend in with the years before and after me. 

God has good news in the fact that He created the world and rules over the world and is on a mission to share Himself with the world. These years of mine are just a piece of the declaring and demonstrating of that good news. 

It's About Time

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This month has been FLYING by. This very cold morning, I just want to take a minute to leave a little trail of what's been happening. I'll share pictures and then explain them after each set. :) Just an FYI, this is a LONG post.


I spent the first Saturday of the month touring the countryside with my Mom and our friend Jay. It was fun to drive around looking at things and hearing what was what from a guy that grew up in this area. He actually knows things. He has an old Jeep so we loaded it with snacks, blankets, and everything necessary for a nice Saturday out. We finished the day off with dinner at my FAVORITE Mexican Restaurant.  Oh and ice cream. From a truck that we came across.



We also checked out a circus recently. It was fun to see the animals and really just watch my brother and sister experience a circus for the first time. I have seen a couple of different ones and while this one didn't "wow" me, it was just nice to enjoy them enjoying things. It was also the first time we realized that my brother has officially grown taller than my Mom. At barely 5'2", it was only a matter of time before all of her children passed her up. As of September 2013, it happened. 

(That would be flour on my Mom's face...She's hilarious!)
I turned 23 on the 12th. We celebrated with a s'mores cake on Sunday the 15th. I'm still kind of wondering WHERE 23 even came from. The celebration was perfect. I arranged to pick up my friend Alice so that she could be here. Ron and Julie and Jay also joined in. We ate cake, visited, and Jay ended up hanging around until we all headed to church that evening. 
The pictures here would look like a lot of food, washing windows, etc.. etc...
I won't give you those. :)
Then Monday came and it was time to kick preparing for the huge get together we had at our house this last weekend into HIGH GEAR. Twelve extra people kind of got added at what I consider the last minute. No big deal...HA! 
Friday the company started rolling in. We've had this end of summer (won't see you until after winter is over) get together for three years now. Most of the people that come for it live quite a ways away and once snow starts flying, we don't see much of each other. 
This year, was a little different. Saturday night and Sunday were my favorite. 
Saturday night a bunch of people headed to the back yard to watch a movie and the rest of us stayed inside for an Apples to Apples marathon. We must have played for three hours. The house was quiet, the littlest of the children were sleeping, and we just enjoyed visiting and competing. 
Sunday it got cold and even rained a little. The family of twelve left and the rest of us just laid around the living room talking or not. I love it when people can be together and just relax.
 Eventually, it was four o'clock and no one was even hinting at leaving. My friends Heidi, Tessa, and I headed out to pick up pizzas for dinner. 
After dinner, everyone started loading up. I got to go outside with Turner (the baby I spent much of this year with) who was very grumpy when he woke up from his nap. We said our goodbyes and then invited Ron and Julie over for a late dinner since we still had some pizza left. 
Monday was all about cleaning up, doing laundry, and then I sat for several hours and finished reading "Persuasion". Now I know why people love it so much. Once I was used to her language, I was hooked. It was soooo hard not to read it during all the chaos of the last few weeks!  

Yesterday, as I was getting ready to head out for violin lessons (my brother and sister are taking them, not me) I got hit by the geocaching bug. I'm trying desperately to get them to love it as much as I do....Yesterday we ended up 4 for 4! I think that really helped. 

Last night we ate leftovers and then I sat down to WATCH "Persuasion" for the millionth time. 

Fall is here. Summer and the Indian Summer that followed seem to be over. 
It's time to pull out the extra blankets, the sweaters, the leggings, and the hot drinks. 
23 is happening in real time. I'm clearly surrounded by some truly special people and God has been giving me lots of wisdom to DRINK. Bible passages, sermons, radio programs, conversations, rap songs, and devotional blog posts seem to be the means...
If you've made it this far, thanks for reading! That's what's been happening in my life, the things I want to remember.  
Is Fall happening where you are? What's it full of? 

He Holds the Future

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Last Thursday I wrote about how uncertainty and anxiety are connected. Even though I was writing about things that I am SURE of, I couldn't give an answer that satisfied me. 

I see the problem. I see the root. And yet, I can't fully grasp the solution. I still don't have an answer, but this week, God has shown me at least two PIECES of the solution. 

One came by way of a John Piper quote that someone shared...The quote came out of a book of his that I read several years ago called "Future Grace". The quote is this:

"We fight anxieties by fighting against unbelief and fighting for faith in future grace. And the way you fight this 'good fight' is by meditating on God's assurances of future grace and by asking for the help of His Spirit."

The other came from this blog post written by Emily Freeman about the movement that makes a difference. 

So the point is this - anxiety is real and, as best I can tell, it is caused by uncertainty. As a Christian, the fact is, uncertainty does not come from faith. Simply put, what doesn't come from faith is sin. I am a sinner. Saved by grace, yes...but still a sinner. I NEED that grace CONSTANTLY. I will be uncertain, I will be anxious. I will sin. I need grace and an unlimited supply of it is mine. 
When I am uncertain, I need to go to the presence of God. That is the ONLY place where I can be certain...My certainty in that place tells me that WHATEVER it is about the future that I'm struggling with will be accompanied by grace from God

I can't be sure about the future, but I can be sure of the grace God will supply me with when that future comes.

He HOLDS the future. He HOLDS me. And He isn't about having His people wander about without His grace.

The struggle isn't over. I can't seem to fully understand the answer. 

I have Christ and I can go into His presence. There I will find the pieces that I need. Pieces of truth that will feed my soul and keep me moving along through this thing called life. 

Any "change" I "make" isn't really good for much and will only stay "changed" so long as that's what my sinful self deems "best"....

What is very good and does stay is the presence of God. That's where I need to go. Care to join me there? 

Real Life

Friday, September 06, 2013

Whenever something strange happens or I see something that is ridiculous I have a few things that I tend to blurt out. My friends and family find it hilarious to imitate these sayings of mine because they KNOW what's coming. 

One thing I tend to think and say in those situations is "this is real life". When I say this, it is part question and part conclusion.

The world is a CRAZY place to live...And yet, however strange, ridiculous, and crazy things are, every one of them is REAL.

This is real life...

We deal with other people. They hurt us, we hurt them. They take advantage of us, we take advantage of them. They love us, we love them. 
You get the picture...The point is, we need other people and other people need us. 
There are people in our life that come and go. Some we get to know and care about, others are just part of the crowd that surrounds us. 
All of these people have their own STORIES. The struggles, the hopes, the dreams, the disappointment, and the passions that make them who they are. 
In my real life - I have two dads [clarification: one bio and one step married to my mom], one mom, two brothers, and a sister. I've had seven grandparents and three great grandparents. I have over 20 cousins and nearly just as many aunts and uncles. I have friends who I care so much about, they might as well be family. And I've had friends that I thought would be around FOREVER who are completely out of my life now. 

Each of these people have their own "entourage". That's A LOT of people....And it's people that make this world a crazy place to live. I contribute. People look at me and think, "Woah! This is real life?!?!"

How about if we cut down on the crazy?
 Be who you are, but THINK about the people around you. 
Did you commit to do something? Do it. Is someone you know having a hard time? Listen. Have you been using someone? Apologize and stop that. Do you know someone who is excited about something? Celebrate that with them! 

Slow down and step back. The fact is, this life is real and crazy - but it's also SHORT. What really matters is what's coming NEXT and THAT will be here before we know it. 

I'm so ready! God has us here, so while we're waiting let's work together to be people that MAKE LIFE REAL by sharing the truth and joy of what is coming.


It's In A Book

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Yesterday I mentioned that I started a book club. I'll tell you more about it after our first meeting! For now, I'd like to tell you about the book that I've been reading - it's "Persuasion" by Jane Austen.

Cliche? Maybe...But, I picked up a copy of the book earlier this summer and I had it on my "to read this fall list". Naturally, it was the first book I suggested. We talked about several books and even though most everyone else in the club had already read it, they consider it to be their favorite  by Austen, so it was chosen as the first book.

Confession - it usually takes me FOREVER to get through a book written by her. It's definitely not her, it's me. I'm way more likely to watch a movie based on her books than ever even attempt to read them. Still, I do have high hopes for myself. This commitment to read the book is clearly the push I needed. 

I've been reading it with a few pieces of paper and a pen close by. Anytime I find an interesting quote or notice something that I think we should discuss at book club, I make a note of it on my papers. 

Tuesday evening while I was waiting on my brother to finish mowing a lawn, I sat in the van reading and these words really taught me something. 

"She could not, however, reach such a degree of certainty as not to be anxious..."

I can't say that I've ever realized that behind every ounce of anxiety is a simple bit (or heap) of uncertainty. 

Is it just me, or is this HUGE?

Obviously, as Christians we have no room or REASON for uncertainty. We have a God that cares for us and makes it very clear in His Word that we have only too much to be COMPLETELY certain about! 

In Him, we have total security.

But, in my sinfulness I look at LIFE and my heart (the wicked thing) says, "Okay, God is good and in Him, I'm set....But, what about LIFE, you know, in this big world, there is so much to be completely uncertain about, what am I to do with THAT?" 

And I don't have an answer. I know what I tell myself - be more certain in God and that will take care of your "horizontal" issues. Surely that is the answer! It's just the applying it that is so tough sometimes. 

So, if you're anxious, don't let it CONTROL you. Recognize that the remedy lies in certainty. If you can't be certain about anything else, at least be certain about this:

 When I thought, “My foot slips,”
Your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
Your consolations cheer my soul.
Psalm 94:18-19

Like the Leaves

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

It's just time for a list...A list of the things that I am looking forward to this fall. 

* Putting my new library card to some serious use.

* My birthday is next Thursday...Only, I didn't realize that it wasn't next Wednesday until I sat down to write this post. Strange! 23, WHERE did you come from? 

* The final cook out weekend happening at my house in a few weeks.

* Football.

* I started a book club!!! We're reading "Persuasion" and we'll have our first meeting at the end of this month.

* Hitting up another living history event at a local museum. 

* The SCHEDULE that comes with fall. I thrive on routine, predictability, and goal setting.

* A trip to the corn maze/pumpkin patch - maybe?

* Warm drinks, candles, sweaters, leaves, the CRISP air, movie nights, game playing on Sunday afternoon...My list could go on here!

* Thanksgiving. 

What did I leave out? What are you looking forward to this fall? 


You've Got MAIL

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Can someone explain to me why it continues to be so exciting to KNOW that you're getting mail and then to GET the mail you've been waiting on? 

I cannot explain it, but I get giddy just thinking about packages coming in the mail. There have been times when a package comes and I know it's not even mine, but I get excited and can't wait to find out what SOMEBODY got. 

That was me while I was waiting on my mug. It was great! In fact, I'm giddy all over again just thinking about it! :) 

I sent my mug to Elizabeth, who turns out to have an Etsy shop full of mugs and things. She was a trooper, I didn't send out her package until the day AFTER the deadline...I tracked that package like a crazy lady though, and I was happy to know that it only took two days to get to her. 

 I received my mug from Bethany. She did soooo good. I absolutely LOVE my mug. It's the PERFECT mug for fall and winter. Who am I kidding? I'll be using it all year round! The tea she included is really good. Give it a try if you're looking for something new in the tea department...It doesn't even need sugar, it is just the right balance of sweet and strong.

She wrote the sweetest note too. Bethany, I'm excited about all the conversations and memories that are going to happen while I use my mug! And, can I just point out that the card and the mug match? Yeah, Bethany? You did a good job!!!

Thanks to Kim for hosting this great swap! This is my first swap with you and it could not have gone smoother. 

Mug Swap!


Monday, September 02, 2013

If you've ever been to my "about me" tab and if you've ever read to the end of what I wrote there, you came across one of my favorite verses. The verse is Philippians 3:10. 
"For my determined purpose is that I may know God. 
That I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, 
perceiving,recognizing, and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly. 
That I may be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness..."

Years ago that verse was part of the "old school" header I had. When I redesigned my blog, there wasn't a place for it there, but I knew I didn't want it to go away. It may be buried in a tab, but it's a verse that's central to my life. 

I just want to KNOW GOD...And I want my life to be continually TRANSFORMED by that knowing. I want people who know me, to feel like they are closer to be God because they've been near someone who has been close to Him. 

Friday I listened to a sermon by John Piper back from 1984. The sermon was on Philippians 3. As I watered my begonias, I was ecstatic at this thought -

Christian, there is more of Christ to know than you now know.

Really think about that. HOWEVER long you've been a Christian. HOWEVER much you think you know. There is STILL MORE of Christ to know. 

The sermon was about so much more than even that...But that thought really stuck with me.

As we know God, there is ALWAYS more to know. As we keep pursuing Him, He is stirring up that desire in us. As we see and savor and share what we find in Him, there is such JOY. 

We won't pursue perfectly. We won't know perfectly. The joy will sometimes seem completely gone. 

Yet, He is there. 

With that, there's one final thought I'm going to leave with you. I saw this quote and then I took this picture during my Friday morning outside. I decided to put the two together...