Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 23: Sofia

Today, I'm thankful for this little girl. Every once in a while, a person comes along who absolutely steals your heart. Sofia is that person. Although she may only be 4 years old, she has stolen my heart. She has more personality and sass than most adults I know. Words don't do my love for her any justice. I'm so thankful I get to see her grow up, and see the woman of God she becomes. I'm so thankful that I get to be part of that process. Her story is already so beautiful... I find myself fighting back tears when I think of my great love and thankfulness for this little one. Just the other night, while I was tucking her in and praying for her, Sof takes my head in her sweet little hands and tells me "Emmy, you my BEST friend..." I've never known such great love.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 21

I knew the day would come where I would stand in front of the Stirring family and share my story. People have heard bits and pieces of it on my blog, and through conversation, but it's quite a different thing to stand before hundreds of people, and share such a vulnerable and personal part of my life. Today, I'm thankful for the strength and courage that God gave me. We're all real people, with real struggles and real hardships. I just happened to have the opportunity to share mine. And to share the way that God restored every part of my broken story. Nate said something at all three of the gatherings after I shared, he said that nobody would every fully understand the battle it took for me to get to this place. I can't tell you how true that is. I struggled to find the perfect words to share with everyone exactly what it is that God's done in my life, but the truth is no one will every totally understand. I just know that our stories need to be shared. Even if we're not sure WHY we're sharing them. There's such power in our stories. They give hope. And they remind people that God WILL show up, he WILL fulfill his promises to us. Words will never satisfy the work of God in our lives. It's something we have to experience. But there's really something to allowing God to USE our words to bring hope to others. Most will probably never fully understand battle and the strength and courage that's gone into the past year and a half for me, but hopefully my words can fuel another person's battle and strength and courage.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 15

I have the greatest job in the world.
It's true. I work with the most fantastic group of people you could ever meet. They are so much more than just co-workers to me. They are my family. My peeps :)
Today, I am thankful for the people I work with. Each person is so incredibly different, but so necessary to our staff. Our family.
The Ladies:
I'm thankful for Meg's sense of humor and her ability to understand me- even when I'm not making sense. I'm thankful for our inside jokes, and our shared brain :)
I'm thankful for Amy's heart, and for her playful personality. I'm thankful for the way she knows how to cheer anybody up at just the right minute. And how she never overlooks one single detail.
I'm thankful for Jenna's passion and wisdom. I feel like I could come to Jenna with any trouble or concern, and she would help me make sense of it.
I'm thankful for Jess's joy and selflessness. She would drop anything she's doing to help someone else out. That's a very rare characteristic!

I am extremely blessed to work with people who I not only LIKE, but who I love. They are my family. They mean more to me than they'll ever know. I wonder how different this world would be if everyone got to work with their best friends....

Don't worry, I'll fill you in on how thankful I am for the guys within the next few days :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gratitude Challenge: Day 14

I fell off the face of the blogging earth. I apologize. Things got REALLY crazy. My car got broken into. My purse was stolen. I got sick. The Rooster Party happened... some great things, some horrible things. All within a week. But I'm still thankful. I'm thankful for the incredibly kind and generous community I am part of. While it's a HUGE bummer that my car got jacked and my stuff got stolen, I'm really thankful that the people I'm around are so encouraging and willing to help in any way possible.

So here's to NOT falling off the face of the blogging earth any more. And to figuring out all of my car issues.... what a process.

What are YOU thankful for?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gratitude Challenge: Day 8

Yes. I'm a bit behind. Life got busy this weekend :)
HOWEVER, I've got a BIG day of thanks today.
Some days are little, baby things I'm thankful for. Like, for the sunshine, or my delicious Dutch Bros., or a smile from a stranger.
Not today.
Today I'm thankful for something big. Real big.
Today I'm thankful for the HOPE my life screams.
There is so much despair that fills our world. Kids dealing with way more than kids should be dealing with. Suicide and self mutilation and depression. It's everywhere.
My life could have looked like that. There was a point when I was at a crossroads. I could have picked the life of self-destruction. The life that would have surly lead to death. It would have been easy to pick that path. But God had different plans for me. Instead of that path full of despair, God placed strategic people in my life who would walk with me on the path of healing and recovery and restoration. So that my life could shout hope to others.
My story is a hard one. But God is using my story. And He has given me a NEW song to sing with my story. I get to tell people that, with God's help and love and redemption, health and freedom are possible. It doesn't matter what you're going through. It doesn't matter what choices you've made. It doesn't matter what path you've decided to walk down. God can restore it. He wants to. He wants to set your feet on a new path. It's true. And that's the hope I get to scream, shout, gently whisper with my own wounded story. And that's what I'm thankful for today. And every day, really.

"He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord."

Friday, November 4, 2011

GC: Day 4

If you're reading my blog for the first time, read more about this Gratitude Challenge here.

Gratitude Challenge: Day 4
Today, I'm thankful for lunch with friends. Who love you. And encourage you. You make you REALLY cute cards that are super funny and make you laugh, even when all you feel like doing is crying.
This season isn't exactly what I had hoped for. It's confusing and frustrating. I've been having a hard time with things. With this season. But then days like today come, where you realize you aren't alone in it. That you have friends who are RIGHT there with you, who love you and understand you. I'm so thankful for those relationships. I understand that I'm right where I need to be, and even though it's not where I'd LIKE to be, I'm so glad I have friends right there with me. Wonderful, funny, witty, amazing friends.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gratitude Challenge: Day 3

Today is Thursday.
I love Thursdays.
On Thursdays, I get to eat dinner with the Lance family, and then watch the kiddies for a few hours.
That is what I'm thankful for on day 3 of the Gratitude Challenge: Spending my Thursdays with the Lances.
It seriously could be the highlight of my entire week.
Those kids fill my heart up, no matter the situation.
I'm so thankful to be part of this family.
They love me just as much as I love them.
And I love them a WHOLE LOT :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gratitude Challenge: Day 2

Is it okay with everyone if I abbreviate? GC? We cool with that? Okay, GC day 2:
I'm so thankful for this season of life. I know, pretty broad, pretty vague, but it's the truth! (I'll be sure to go into more detail as this challenge goes on.) I'm so thankful for the crazy, busy, wild season I'm in right now. Every evening of my week is packed with incredible events. Single Life Workshop, Immerse/Jr. High/Catalyst, Life Group, spending evenings with my Lance family. I wouldn't trade this season for anything. I love what God is doing in and through me in Single Life, and at Life Group. I feel like so many hard areas are being exposed, and God is bringing healing to them in new and powerful ways. I love that I'm finally embracing the season of singleness that I'm in. For so long, I just wanted it to be OVER. I wanted to find a husband, fall in love and get married. But I'm learning to embrace EVERY season, even the ones you want to end so badly. I'm learning new things about myself, and about how to be the best version of me possible. I'm so thankful for where I'm at, and what is happening in my life. It's a busy season, but it's a GOOD season.

What are you thankful for?

Gratitude Challenge: Day 1

The Gratitude Challenge is something I did last year that changed me forever. For the entire month of November, I will blog daily about one or more things I'm thankful for. The idea behind this is to realize there sure is a ton out there to be thankful for, and we can celebrate those things on any day, not just Thanksgiving. This challenge really blew my mind last year. It came at a time when things were really rough. I was in a difficult season, and through my gratitude, and realize how much I have to be thankful for, it gave me perspective. And perspective is good :)
So, I was supposed to write this yesterday, but my day was PACKED, so here you have Day 1 of the Gratitude Challenge 2011:
Today, I am thankful for:
-The sweet words of children. They have a way of reminding you that what you're doing IS making a difference.
-New friends and their stories. I love hearing other people's stories. It gives you a glimpse into their heart.
-My quiet mornings alone in my house. Just me, Jesus, my oatmeal and my French Press. I savor these mornings.

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nothing is lost

Sunday was a great day.
Loads of little feet running up and down the Stirring Kids hallway.
Hundreds of spunky kids ready for their morning. All full of energy and hope and potential.
I love Sundays.
I love saying hello to every one of those faces. Most of them return my hello with a wave or a shout or a high-five or a toothy grin.
These kids are what I live for. To show them the love the God has for them. To show them who they are in His eyes. To pour passion and love and dreams into their sweet, dear little minds.
Dan spoke on Sunday.
He always wrecks me. God pierces my heart through his words. Every time.
Something that Dan said this past Sunday truly challenged me. He said that not a single part of our story is wasted. Even the toughest times. Nothing is lost. God uses it all.
My first thought after hearing these words: Do I really believe this? Do I truly believe that EVERY part of my story, even the most painful, heartbreaking, agonizing parts, are used by God?
And as I looked back at my journey and the things I've overcome through the years, I would have to say yes. I believe that God was with me in EVERY part. That He will use everything. That my life shouts hope to those who are unsure. That the freedom I've found also comes with authority to speak that freedom over others. God never wanted me to suffer. He never wanted me to endure the hardships I have, BUT He will redeem it and use it and restore it. I want my life, my story, my journey to shout hope to others. I know that there is a reason for every season I've gone through. I know that God uses everything. That nothing is lost.

"You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." Psalm 139:16

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I got a new tattoo.
It's a beautiful anchor with waves
There's a banner at the bottom that reads Deuteronomy 31:8
The colors are vibrant
The artwork is breathtaking
The meaning behind it is even better
The last year of my life has been a crazy-hard season
So much pain, so much refinement, so much breakthrough
During this year, the Lord would faithfully speak Deuteronomy 31:8 to me. I would cry out to him, and he would answer me with this verse... "Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged. The Lord himself goes before you. He will never leave you nor forsake you."
Without fail, God would respond to my cries with these words. And not as a reminder. Not telling me, REMEMBER Emily, I haven't left you. I won't forsake you.
But instead, as a promise. A promise for the days to come. Because He knew I needed to push forward, not look behind me. He was telling me that I could make it, that he wouldn't ever leave me. He was making a promise to me, just as Moses was making a promise to Joshua.
The meaning behind the anchor is simple; anchors symbolize hope. This verse was my source of hope in the darkest days. My hope that God was still with me, that I didn't need to be afraid.
Also, a wise man tells me often that I am an anchor to those around me. And his words carry a lot of weight in my life.
My tattoo is beautiful, yes. It is an AMAZING work of art. But it has so much meaning to me. I look at it, and my eyes fill with tears. God brought me through those painful, dark days just as he promised. And he never once left my side.
I am every so thankful for my great God who fulfills his promises.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I'm bringing back Thankful Thursday.
One day during the busy week to pause, reflect, and give thanks. Sounds like perfection to me.
Today, I know exactly what I'm thankful for.
Today is an easy one.
I was uploading pictures to my computer from my phone. I hadn't done this in a WHILE, so there were a lot. As I began to scroll through them, I found myself in tears. In this collection of random pictures (many, okay MOSTLY of children) I kept running across pictures of the Stirring building in various stages of the process. A picture of the Kids hallway before the ceiling was up and the counter top was installed. A shot of one of my Stirring Kids girls painting the girl's bathroom. Another one of a crew putting together a bazillion IKEA cabinets. A picture of our move-out day from the Eureka Way campus where Sean is sprawled out in the Storage Room (who knew there was actually carpet in that room?! I sure didn't!). A picture of each classroom on our last Sunday at that campus. A great shot of the classrooms prior to opening Sunday in the new building. Then there is picture after picture of the kids flooding the hallway of the Kids wing.
I am so thankful for the process. For the road. For the journey.
I remember the hard work of setting up and tearing down Sunday after Sunday at the Eureka Way campus. I remember transforming ordinary classrooms into extraordinary places for kids to encounter God. I remember how difficult it was trying to prepare and organize the new space and make sense of ACTUALLY having our "own house." It was hard to go from living out of a suitcase (so to speak) to actually having a closet... The endless hours of cleaning and sorting and organizing and building and answering questions and building teams. It was a tireless couple of weeks.
But then I also remember the look of awe and excitement in the eyes of the kids as they came busting into the Stirring Kids hallway. I remember overhearing parents telling each other of how their kids were up HOURS early, getting ready to come to the NEW Church. I remember the wonder on the faces of those kids as they saw their classrooms for the very first time.
I wouldn't change the process for anything. Without the sacrifice and the hard work, the reward wouldn't be nearly as beautiful.
Don't forget to be thankful for the process. Even if it's hard and difficult and tiresome. Don't forget to be thankful for the process.  (Here are all of the pictures... well, not ALL of them, but some of my FAVES.... enjoy!!!)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When I don't understand...

I've been listening to the new album lately. It's a couple that were signed to the Jesus Culture label, and let me tell you, their music is incredible. One song in particular really speaks to me. At one point in this song, the lyrics are so simple but extremely profound to me: "When I don't understand, I will choose you..."
That's it.
That's all she says.
Over and over.
And each time I hear this song, I am in tears.
When I don't understand, do I choose to believe? Or do I choose to control?
That's been my prayer, to choose God, even when I don't understand.
Because there are SO many things in my life that I don't understand.
Why am I still single? At the age of 26. Why haven't I fallen in love, and started a family? It's one of the greatest desires of my heart. So why hasn't it happened yet?
Why is my past peppered with such pain and heart break and destruction and trauma and tragedy?
Why do I still struggle with things God has given me freedom from?
Will I ALWAYS struggle?
And the list goes on... there are so many things I don't understand. But I want to be known as a woman who trusts God, and chooses him when I don't understand. I want to be known for celebrating in the times when I don't understand. I want to choose God and choose celebration, even when things don't make a ton of sense to me.
So, instead of trying to control the things in my life that don't make sense or that I don't understand, I am choosing God. Trusting that his way is better than mine. That his plan is greater than mine. That he is good, ALL of the time. That there isn't one single detail he has overlooked. Psalm 139 is one of my very favorites. It always remind me and center me. Verse 16 is one that I love, and that makes a lot of sense to me right now... "You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." Not just the easy moments. Every moment. And so, even in the moments that I don't totally get it, and I don't totally understand, I will choose God.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My "Yes"

For me it was easy; choose a life with God that may be uncomfortable and scary and unpredictable and incredibly painful at times OR choose the life I was living. One of destruction and abuse and addiction.
For me it was easy. I said yes to God in a moment. In a room full of women, women who I didn't know, I said yes to God, a God I didn't know either. I began to confess the sin I had been living in for years, that NO ONE knew about. I wasn't exactly sure why I was telling these strangers my deepest, darkest, most protected and guarded secrets, but I knew I could trust them.

When I look back on this moment, I recognize that it was my first TRUE encounter with God. He was there in that living room, pushing me toward His heart, urging me to be vulnerable and honest and real with these women who He wanted to use in my life.
From that moment, when I said yes to God, I haven't looked back. Sure, there have been moments when I have wondered if life would be "easier" living in the shadows and the darkness again. But then I remember all of the celebration-worthy things in my life. And those thoughts vanish.
My "yes" to God was an easy one, but it hasn't always pretty and tidy and perfect. In fact, it's been just the opposite. It's been messy and incredibly hard. God doesn't just want part of us, he wants all of us. He wants the most secret, protected, scary parts of us. In the past year I've walked through some insane stuff. And it's been agonizing and heartbreaking, but in the midst of the pain God has brought healing and freedom and redemption. These are the celebration-worth things I cling to. I know that, as I continue to say yes to God, he will continue to refine me and make me more like Him. It's probably the hardest thing I'll ever go through, but it's an easy yes for me. And I say yes everyday to him. I'm reading this book, and found this quote. It spoke so perfectly to my life and my season. I wanted to share it:
"As Christians we know, in theory at least, that in the life of a child of God there are no second causes, that even the most unjust and cruel things, as well as all seemingly pointless and undeserving sufferings, have been permitted by God as a glorious opportunity for us to react to them in such a way that our Lord and Savior is able to produce in us, little by little, his own lovely character."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My secret...

I have this jar on my desk.
It's my Celebration jar.
It holds about 40 strips of paper.
On those strips of paper are my favorite verses, quotes, words of encouragement... things that help me. Things that remind me to Celebrate.
When I'm having a hard day, I reach my had in that jar and pull out a strip of paper.
When things are kind of sucky, I pull out a strip of paper.
When I need a good laugh (there MAY be a Chuck Norris joke or two in there), I grab a strip of that paper.
Pretty much, every day my hand is in that jar.
Usually, the words that I read are exactly what I needed to hear. So I tend to share them with the world (via Twitter/Facebook... guilty).
In the past few days, people have responded to my posts, telling me the words I've been sharing are EXACTLY the words they needed. My big secret is this- those words are exactly the words I needed, too. God has a great way of giving me exactly the words I need to hear.
I'm convinced EVERYONE needs a Celebration Jar on their desk/counter-top/bed-side table. It's easy: Find a jar, fill it with your favorite verses (and a joke or two), reach your hand in when you need to celebrate.
That's my secret :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kids: My love.

If you know me, you know I love children. I love the way their minds work, and the way they love with their WHOLE hearts, and the way they say what they're thinking, and the way they hug your legs like it's the last time they'll see you, and they way they write you love notes.
I love kids.
They capture my heart.
I feel the most alive when I'm around kids.
God has been really bringing this passion to life in my heart lately. My constant prayer is for this generation of children to truly and completely know their identity in Christ. That they would be so deeply rooted in HIS love, that they would never question their place in this family. Wouldn't that change everything? If an entire generation grew up knowing that their Father's love is never-ending, never-failing and all-consuming. If they knew that they belonged with God, and that nothing ever can or will take that away from them. I have such faith for this. I just know that I will get to see this in my day. I will get to see these boys and girls grow up into men and women and I will get to see them step into their callings, knowing that their identity is completely rooted in who God says they are.
I love the fact that, as I pray, I get to pray for the faces of these little ones. As I ask God to capture their hearts, I see their amazing smiles. I get to pray for them by name. I get to ask God to change their lives. What a treat. I am constantly moved to tears thinking about what an honor it is to join with God and the families at the Stirring in the shaping of their children.
I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, God has given me the story he has to keep my heart extra sensitive to these little ones. I grew up with my identity rooted in many things, none of which were God. I never truly felt like I belonged. Anywhere. It drastically changed the way I lived my life, and not in a good way. Thankfully, God rescued me. He gave me a new identity and a new song to sing. One full of joy and love and belonging. What if ever child we see at the Stirring never has to experience that? What if they knew in their heart and their mind that they are a child of God, and that who He says they are is all that matters? Wouldn't that just be the most beautiful thing ever?

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I have my own office.
I thought I'd LOVE having my own office. When we were back at the Shervan Square office, there were 15 desks jammed into one room. I shared desk space with 4 other people. No privacy, lots of noise. It was crazy. Always something happening. I was counting down the days until I had an office of my very own. I remember thinking "I can ACTUALLY get work done when I have my own office. I can't wait."
Now the day is here. I'm typing this very blog from the comfort and privacy of my own office. It's quiet, it's distraction free, and it's kind of lonely! Don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful! But it's so different. It's an adjustment that I wasn't expecting to make. I wasn't expecting to actually MISS the chaos and noise of Shervan Square. Isn't it funny how things like that work? I know that, with time, I will love my office. With a little help from Jessica, I know it will be transformed into a room that I love. But I'm just being honest, it's difficult. It's an adjustment. It's taking me time. I fight change. I don't always do so well. And right now, we are in a HUGE season of change. Part of me can't wait, and part of me wants to move back to Shervan Square... it's funny how things work. More than anything, I'm learning to appreciate the seasons. This season of change won't be forever. I want to learn to embrace it and LOVE it.... I'm still learning :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Second Chances

Second chances are so beautiful.
We've all screwed up. We've all failed. We've all done something we're less than proud of. And we all deserve a second chance.
A few years back I was introduced to this organization called People of a Second Chance. It's a beautiful organization that is all about radical grace and forgiveness in ministry and leadership. This is a quote from their website that gets me teary eyed every time I read it:

"We are not ashamed of our scars, wounds, or failures and leverage them as a source of strength and character development."

Second chances are so beautiful. They are so powerful. In my life, God has given me the greatest second chance of all. And so has the community I've surrounded myself with. I've made my fair share of mistakes. Some pretty big ones. I've messed up. I've fallen pretty far down a path of destruction and chaos. But when I reached an all-time low, I found that I was given a second chance to become the woman God wanted me to be all along. I wasn't looked down upon, I wasn't judged for my past. I was loved in a deep, true, authentic way. And that's what made all the difference. Now, my passion and burning desire is to become that second chance for others. To be that voice of hope and love to someone who has fallen just as far as I had. Just as I freely received that love, I want to freely give it.

Second chances are so beautiful. They bring life to the lifeless. They bring hope to the hopeless. They remind people that they ARE worthy of love and something better than what they're living now.

I was deeply moved by this blog today. You should go, right now, and read it. It's incredible. God wants to heal MORE than our bodies. He wants to heal our hearts. What's a better way to heal a heart than by offering a second chance? By offering forgiveness and love instead of bitterness and anger? I can't think of one. I'm so thankful for the grace that has been shown to me.

Second chances are just so beautiful.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A bit about me: Passion.

As I was driving to the Sacramento Airport today, I realized something about myself; I'm a passionate person. I'm passionate about everything that is of importance to me. I either passionately LOVE something or passionately DESPISE something. There's really no middle ground for me. More often than not, I am moved to tears by both the things I passionately love and passionately detest. So, to go along with passionate, I am also a bit sensitive (okay, a LOT sensitive). But these are things I'm learning to love about myself. I love that stealing a sweet moment with one of the children that I love usually leaves me with tears running down my cheeks, and that listening to a story of a life changed gets me all weepy. God has created me with a sensitive heart and a fierce passion to defend the things that so deeply touch that heart. I know some people will never understand, and that's okay. All I know is that I am who I am for a reason, and I hope and pray that God will continue to use and shape my overly-sensitive, overly-passionate, loving heart to touch the lives of others.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I've been struggling with this feeling lately. It's like when you come home from vacation, and you have a GIANT stack of mail waiting for you.
Some good mail, some bad mail.
All you REALLY want to do is toss every single piece of it in the garbage, and walk away.
It would be so much easier.
It would take so much less time.
It wouldn't be frustrating or hard to just throw the mail away. But you know you'd be missing out on some good stuff if you tossed it all out. Because with the bad comes good.
It's true.
I know it's true.
But the place where I get stuck is just feeling so overwhelmed by all of it.
Where do I start?
How do I know which piece to look at first?
Do I pull from the middle of the pile, or the top?
There's just so much... and even though I know the good stuff is in there, all I can see is the bad and hard and messy mail.
And it's discouraging.
That's been the struggle lately... facing my mail. One piece at a time.
Some pieces are harder than others, but I know that with the bad comes good. With the pain comes healing.

Photo source

Monday, June 27, 2011


Viewing God as my father has always been a struggle for me. The lens I view a father through is a dysfunctional, painful one. A lens with a lot of hurt and a lot of confusion. So when I cry out to God as his daughter, there is an immediate distortion, followed by an immediate hesitation. I begin to pile on to God all of the attributes of my biological father. His short temper and impatience with me. His lack of compassion and love and tenderness. His indifference. His passivity. His lack of interest.
These are the things I unfairly associate with a father, and therefore, with God.
Last night, there was a call for prayer at the end of our 6:00 gathering at the Stirring. Derrick called forward people who felt they had a skewed view of the Father, and who needed to hear they were the Beloved Child of God. The longer I stood there, the clearer it was that I needed to have a specific leader pray for me. Stubbornly, I took my time but did eventually make it over to Sean. I gave him a brief summary of what was going on with me, and his response was simple. "Emily, you wouldn't be the person you are today if your dad was your only Father. You are who you are today because God is your Father first."
Such a simple truth, but something I'd never given much thought to.
Without God, I would not be where I am. I would not have the job that I have, the passions that I have, the family that I have... I would be a completely different person. It is clear that I am the Beloved daughter of the King because of the way he has transformed my life. And while I'm sure it will be an ongoing struggle for me to see clearly through the "God-Is-My-Father" lens, I know that I am deeply loved by my Father. And that's a start, right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

30 Days of Celebration

A few things I love:
-Grape flavored bubble gum
-Sticky notes
-Valentine's Day
-Fresh flowers
-Coffee. Always coffee.
-Mistletoe :)
-Love notes
-Love letters
-Love stories
-Bright colors
-Giving gifts
-Kisses from kids I love the most
-Learning something new

Today I'm celebrating some of the little things in my life that make me the most happy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

30 Days of Celebration

Last Sunday, Aaron brought an incredible word about how we SHOUT with our stories. Our stories shout where we've been, who we're becoming, what we stand for, how we've been hurt and how we've been healed. Our stories should shout the loudest. God has given me a story to shout. He's still adding to it. Sometimes it's hard. And it hurts. But I know that I get to choose to hide my story or shout my story. I choose to shout it every time. Sure it's a long story, sure it's messy and parts of it are hard to hear, but it's a story about a life changed. About God rescuing one of his children. It's a story full of hope. And people need to hear stories full of hope and God's mighty love. That's why I shout my story. And that's what I'm celebrating today. My shout.

Monday, June 13, 2011

30 Days of Celebration

I've been keeping a little list in my notebook of the things I want to include in my blog everyday. Things that I find myself celebrating throughout the day. Here are a few of them:
-Music. I love music. I love the way a song can bring back such vivid memories, it's almost like you're reliving a moment. And the way the lyrics of a song seem to connect with a piece of your heart in a way nothing else can. Music is powerful and important and changes everything.
-Compliments. Have you ever watched a person receive a compliment from a stranger? There's something so wonderful about the way a few kind words can bring someone to life. I always try to be generous with my compliments.
-Encouragement. It's along the same lines as compliments, but encouragement is different. It speaks to the soul of a person. It speaks courage into the deepest parts of a person. I love to encourage others. I love to see what they're good at, or the ways God has gifted them and remind them of it as frequently as possible. Life is too short to be bashful. If I see something special in a person, chances are I'm going to tell them about it. Remind them about it as often as I can. I've found that nine times out of ten, it's exactly what that person needed to hear. An encouraging word goes a long way. And I've noticed that the more I encourage, the more encouraged and alive I feel. It's really a fantastic feeling!
-Passion. There's something so contagious about a person who is passionate. I recently went to this show where a band was playing. They're style of music was far from anything I'd choose to listen to, but the strangest thing happened: As they continued to play, I began to fall in love with them. Not because I loved their music, buy because of the passion they possessed and the way they poured every ounce of that passion into their music. Isn't it so inspiring to meet someone who is absolutely enthralled and passionate about their job or their hobby or their children or their loved one? You can't help but want to be part of what they're part of.

That's all I've got for today. I can't wait to see what celebrations tomorrow brings!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

30 Days of Celebration

So I've fallen behind a little bit. Don't judge me. :) If you're just reading my blog for the first time in a while, check out this blog to see what I'm up to.
Here are the things I'm celebrating today:
1. Dancing: I can't really dance to save my life. I love it. It makes me laugh and smile and have a great time but I look like a goof doing it... which is the best part :)
2. Girlfriends: I love piling into the car, blasting some Taylor Swift, driving around town and laughing uncontrollably. We have fun.
3. Good books: I love reading. I love finding a good book that I can't put down. I love FINISHING a good book and moving on to the next one. I love that I have time to read!

4. Seasons: The great thing about the winter is that it's followed by the spring, when flowers bloom and beauty sweeps over the earth. We all go through our winter seasons, but the most beautiful times ALWAYS follow the winter.
5. Mondays: They are my sabbath. I get to sleep in, sip coffee, read books, and altogether relax on Mondays. They are my day to recharge, recenter, and rest. Hooray for Mondays.

(Image source)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 6

Today, I have a lot to celebrate. Yesterday was one of those days. Where you can't see around the junk. Where you can't remember why you're celebrating in the first place. I had a bad day yesterday. But today, today is a different story. My heart is full of joy. My step is full of bounce, my eyes are full of excitement. Today is a good day. Here's what I'm celebrating today:
1. The hard days. Sometimes, you have to take a moment and cheer, shout, clap, remember, honor and embrace the hard days. Yesterday was a hard day but today I celebrate it because today is a lovely day. And I want to remember the celebration more than the hardness of the day.
2. Simple pleasures. I'm a pretty simple girl. It doesn't take much to get me super jazzed about life. I love the simple things in life. Like eating lunch in the park with your friends. And driving around with the sunroof open and the windows down singing Taylor Swift at the top of your lungs. And making a new friend. And doing something for the very first time. And surprising a friend with a sweet little gift. I love the simple things in life.
3. Over coming fears. I hate trains. Hate them. And feet. Yuck. But there's something so wonderful about overcoming fears, no matter how small. Like when I see a train and don't immediately want to throw up and scream and cry all at the same time. Or like when someone accidentally brushes me with their feet and I don't noticeably shutter. These are things to celebrate!
4. Jokes. I love jokes. People don't tell jokes enough. Do people EVER tell jokes? I love jokes and I celebrate them. ALL the time. At one point, we had a HUGE bowl of Laffy Taffys in the office, and I took the time to daily read at least 4 of the Laffy Taffy jokes. So good. I think I like cheesy jokes the best. I also like Chuck Norris jokes. It's true. Whenever I hear a good joke, I like to celebrate it. Anybody have a good joke for me?
5. New goals. I like to set goals for myself. I love it when I find a new goal to set. I've found one. Maybe one day I'll share it with you. :) :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Days 4 and 5

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday, so here are my 5 celebrations from the past two days:

1. I'm celebrating my singleness. This one deserves all 5 of my celebrations for the day! I have so many conversations with people about this topic. Yes, I'm 26. Yes, I'm single. Yes, I run the Stirring Kids and am not married nor do I have children of my own. It's a constant tension in my life. Of course I long to fall in love. Of course I long to stand in front of my friends and family and vow to love and cherish an amazing man of God... but I choose to find joy and celebration in the season I'm in now- as a single 26 year old girl who God is constantly refining and shaping and drawing nearer to Him. I'm not content, no. I don't have a total peaceful happiness about my singleness, but I choose to celebrate it. I choose to find joy in it. I choose to continue living my life and allowing God to do the hard work in me that He is while I'm in this season.

2. I'm celebrating family. It's a hard topic for me. For a number of reasons. But I'm celebrating the family I grew up in AND the family God has given me here in Redding. Both are worthy of celebration. Both have shaped me into the person I am today.

3. I'm celebrating trials. Romans 5:3-4 says it so well... "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation."
Our trials remind us of the Hope we have in Jesus. Do we really need more of a reason to celebrate them? Didn't think so.

4. I'm celebrating flaws. We all have them. There isn't a single person who is perfect. I find there's something so unique about a person who's real and honest about their flaws. I know that I'm a sensitive and emotional person. It's the way God made me. Sure, it's not the best characteristic. Sure, sometimes I cry for just about no reason. Sure, I get my feelings hurt more in one day than most people do in an entire lifetime. But that's what makes me, me. I've embraced it. You should too :)

5. I'm celebrating my scars. The best thing about scars is they mean you've healed. They tell a story of your past, and give you strength for the present and future. They remind you of the things you've survived, and of the ways God has showed up in powerful ways in your life. When I share my story, I share it scars and all. There's really no other way to share it.

I'd love to hear the things YOU are celebrating today :) Don't be shy, go ahead and leave a comment!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 3

The 30 Days of Celebration continues. Today's been a weird day. I don't feel much like celebrating, but that's the point of this challenge: To find things to celebrate even when I don't want to. So, here we go:
I'm celebrating...
1. Psalm 139- it's my favorite and has gotten me through some pretty rough times. One day, I'll have it tattooed on ever-growing full sleeve in one form or another.
2. My tattoo. It has a lot of meaning. You should ask me about it someday. I'd love to tell you.
3. The nearness of God. Psalm 34 says he is near to the brokenhearted. I'm always so thankful for that. His nearness should ALWAYS be celebrated.
4. The joy that comes each morning. Regardless of the sorrow or pain or struggles or trials that come through the day and each night, there is joy and refreshing in the morning. That's good news.
5. Vulnerability. I've had a friend of mine tell me over and over again that God calls some to be more vulnerable than others... and that clearly he's called me to share some of the hard parts of my story because he wants to use that vulnerability to reach others.

This was a hard day of celebration for me. Here's to hoping tomorrow is better!

Friday, June 3, 2011

30 Days of Celebration: Day 2

30 days of Celebration: Day 2
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read my post from yesterday- it explains it all. I had someone ask me yesterday "What's the difference between your 30 days of Thanks and your 30 days of Celebration? Isn't thankfulness and celebration kind of the same thing?" To which, I reply a big, huge, giant NO. Thankfulness is a thought. An emotion. A feeling. Celebration is an action. It's an outward expression. The two are not the same. And I'm taking the time, over the next month, to outwardly celebrate things in my life. 5 things a day, to be exact. Here are my 5 celebrations for today:
1. I'm celebrating laughter. How easy it is to laugh and rejoice and be happy. There were times where it wasn't always easy. I'm celebrating that today.
2. I'm celebrating the fact that I am pain free. 3 years ago, I had back surgery. The surgeon told me I would never be able to run again. He was wrong. I run at least 3 times a week. I'm celebrating that today.
3. I'm celebrating new friendships that feel like they've been around a lifetime. God seems to give you exactly the right friends in the difficult seasons. I'm extremely thankful for a few new friends who have been extra great to me lately. I'd be lost without them. It's true.
4. I'm celebrating food. (Remind me to explain this one another time).
5. I'm celebrating blogging. It's become a way for me to cope and express myself. A way for me to put on "paper" all of the thoughts and worries and struggles that are rolling around in my head. It's been a way for me to relate with people and share bits and pieces of my story. It's become a huge part of who I am.

So that's it for day two. 5 more things I'm celebrating today. Cheers.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

30 Days of Celebration

I want my life to be marked by celebration. I want to be known for celebrating in the hardest of times as well as in the most wonderful of times. I want to face every obstacle and struggle with a posture and attitude of celebration. There's a song that says " the sun and rain my life celebrates..." and I want that to be what my life looks like. Sun shine or rain, I want to celebrate. I've talked about this before... but I've recently been inspired. Back in November, I joined with a friend to take on what I named the "Gratitude Challenge" where we wrote a blog every day for the entire month of November stating one or more thing that we were thankful for. I've decided to take up this challenge again, but this time I'm going to blog daily about the things I'm celebrating, about the victories in my life.
I told a friend of mine about this, and he challenged me to blog about at least 5 things everyday that I'm celebrating. At first I was kind of bugged. This was my idea, after all. I didn't ask for input... but I soon realized he was right. One thing is easy, but 5 things.... that's really challenging myself to search for the hidden victories I'm celebrating. And I never say no to a challenge... So, although I'm starting a day late, today marks the first day of my 30 days of Celebration.
Today, I'm celebrating:
1. The fact that I have a new life. "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!" 2 Cor 5:17. I'm celebrating that my old life, my old choices, my old thoughts and actions do NOT define me anymore. That I am a new creation because I belong to Christ.
2. That I have a story worth telling. It may be difficult at parts, but I'm celebrating my story- scars and all.
3. The fact that the extremely difficult thoughts and fears that used to occupy my mind daily are now nothing but a distant memory. They have no power over me anymore. Sure, there are days where I struggle, but I'm celebrating that I've come such a long way and that the progress will only continue.
4. That I'm not in this alone.
5. That it's okay to celebrate even in the hard times. It may not always feel right, but something happens when we choose to celebrate in the face of pain and heartbreak and sadness. God uses a willing heart.

It's so easy, especially in the difficult seasons of life, to dwell on the negative. To think only about the difficulties in life. To focus only on how unfair life is... but I love what Philippians 4:8 says "...Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
Shouldn't this be our posture instead? Thinking of only things that are worthy of praise? That's my goal with this challenge.
So, what are the things you're celebrating today? What are the victories you're praising God for in this season?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Loss knows no limits.

Loss knows no limits.
Whether you've lost a child, a parent, a spouse, a part of yourself, a season in your life... there is a certain understanding that unites all people who have experienced true, heartbreaking, seemingly impossible loss. I hear stories about people who have lost their 3 month old babies in car accidents, or people who have lost their husband of 30+ years to cancer, or of women who have had bits and pieces of their identity ripped from their grasp and my heart immediately feels united with theirs. Their loss is my loss. I understand it. I feel it. I grieve and mourn with them. While our stories are so different, we have both experienced loss in such a real and life-changing way. Loss knows no limits. It is universal. The pain and grief that come with loss, whatever the form, is the same. I find so much hope in this, knowing that I am not alone. Knowing that others understand, to some extent, the heartbreak I feel. Knowing that, before ANY of our suffering, Jesus felt the same loss. I love how JJ Heller says it in her song Control "...there were scars before my scars. Love written on the hands that hung the stars. Hope living in the blood that was spilled for me...."
I find hope knowing that there were scars before my scars.
And I get to choose, everyday, how I respond to the hurt and pain I feel. I can let it control my life. I can let it debilitate me. I can give in to the hopelessness.
I can believe in God's great plan for my life. I can believe that every obstacle and unjust thing and seemingly impossible struggle that occurs in my life "has been permitted by God as a glorious opportunity for us to react to them in such a way that our Lord and Savior is able to produce in us, little by little, his own lovely character." -Hannah Hurnard

I can't say that I understand the reasons behind why these things happen. Loss isn't fair. It doesn't make sense. It hurts and is horribly impossible. But I choose to believe. To have faith. To live a life of surrender to my God, knowing that He wants me to be more like him. Knowing that He will use every impossible situation to make me more like him. Knowing that he is a good God, always.
Loss knows no limits, but neither does God's great love. That's the truth.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Some days, life gets the best of me. I find myself tightly wound with stress, frustration, an ever-growing to-do list... you get the idea. This morning was one of those days. As I was getting ready for work, I found my mind racing with all of this week's meetings and agenda and shopping lists. Now, different people respond differently to these types of scenarios. Some people would make a list of EVERYTHING they need to get done. Some people would ignore the nagging reminders in their head, and just stroll through their day unaffected by many things they need to get done. Some people would call a friend and begin to verbally process through all of the items on their plate. But me, I have a special way to deal with situations like these: When the stress comes, I vacuum. I'm not even kidding. About 10 minutes into blow-drying my hair today, I got up from my vanity, plugged in my Dyson, and proceeded to vacuum my bedroom. Twice. Okay, maybe three times. When I was done, I somehow felt lighter, happier, more care-free. I'm convinced everybody needs to vacuum when they're stressed. Or at least figure out what it is that melts their stress away like vacuuming does for me.
Vacuuming is officially my de-stress-afier.
Try it out sometime, you might be pleasantly surprised by the outcome :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011


A simple word
Written on the door frame
Of my soon-to-be office
In Sharpie
Spoke to my heart.
This past year has been a really hard one.
I've come through so many dark places.
God has done so much in my life.
And I want to be known for, to be MARKED by, my celebration.
I want to celebrate in the face of discouragement and pain and loss and suffering and heartbreak and trials and hardship.
I want to choose celebration. Someone wise once told me that this is a season of celebration for me. And I'm convinced the season is not over. That the season may last a lifetime.

I believe that something powerful happens when you take a posture of celebration.
The power shifts from the hands of the one inflicting the pain to the hands of the one healing it.
It would be so easy to look back on my year, and ahead at the year to come, and think of nothing but the hard parts. The trials to come. The pain. But I choose to celebrate.
I want to celebrate ALL of the victories in my life.
Big and small.
Easy and hard.
All of them.
Because there are a lot.
I'm blessed. My life is blessed. I have an incredible family who reminds me to celebrate. Who reminds me I have many reasons to celebrate.
So, as the drywall goes up around that exposed door frame, and the sharpie-marked 2x4 gets covered, I fix my eyes on God, knowing that He is celebrating with me.

I choose celebration.
I want my life to be marked by it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Good News.

"Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy."

Sometimes I have to read this Psalm over and over and over.
Just to remember that the tears are part of the planting, but the JOY will be part of the harvesting. The process doesn't end with the tears, but with the joy.
That's good news.
Because some days are harder than other days.
Some days, the tears just seem to be a little more real. A little more accessible. A little more abundant.
But the good news is that it doesn't end with the tears. It ends with the joy. And the joy is worth waiting for. Worth crying for. Worth fighting through the tears for.
So, when the tears come, I just remember that on the other side, there is joy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's on your list?

Things that can bring a smile to my face guaranteed:

-sweet words from my sweet friends
-bear hugs from my sweet Zeke
-weddings (they bring a smile and usually tears)
-fresh flowers. any kind, but ESPECIALLY ranunculus.
-toothless grins from grade-school kids
-sticky notes, note cards, sharpies... pretty much office supplies of any kind
-bows and ribbons in my hair
-listening to After the Storm. Over and over again
-witty text messages
-my cat when he snores
-listening to little ones pray
-hugs. always hugs
-notes on my windshield

Some days, you just need to remember what makes you smile.

(here's a picture of ranunculus)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just a thought for today...

Today, I choose to be glad. To rejoice. To give thanks. To have hope.
Today, I choose to fix my sights on what is lovely and good and joyous and pleasant.
I find that many are drawn to only see the negative. The ugly. The imperfections in their life.
My only question for them is why? Why waste your time looking at the bad and ugly? Why not make a choice to be positive; I'm convinced it's contagious. And sure, some call me naive, but I'm okay with that. I just happen to believe that life is too short to waste a day angry and bitter. We often become comfortable in our bitterness, and can't find our way out.
So, I make a choice. Every day. To be glad. To rejoice. To give thanks. Because my God has rescued me. He has set me free. He has given me hope. He has given me a glorious, beautiful, wonderful, blessed life. How can I NOT be thankful for that?
Now hear me out, I'm not saying it's easy, or that I ALWAYS succeed. There are definitely days where I'm grouchy and upset. But it's something that I'm constantly remembering. Constantly reminding myself of. Constantly asking myself.
What am I choosing today? What am I fixing my thoughts on today? Who's voice am I pressing into today?

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8-9

I believe we all have a choice. Every day. What do we choose to fix our thoughts on?

Friday, April 15, 2011

It is April. There is hope.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

I keep seeing banners and tweets and updates about it. It seems to be in my face everywhere I turn.
When I was 16, I was a victim of sexual assault.
It's taken me years to talk about. 10 years, to be exact. I've lived with this big, painful, paralyzing, dark secret for 10 years. Nobody knew. And that's how I wanted it. I carried so much shame. So much guilt. I thought people would judge me if they knew. I thought they would leave me, betray me, reject me if they knew the truth. So, I kept the secret. Until almost exactly a year ago. That's when I had possibly the hardest conversation of my life. Unveiling the truth that I'd been hiding for 10 years. There were a lot of tears. And there was a lot of fear. But, once the truth was out there, out in the light, out of the darkness it had been living in for 10 years, everything changed.
The shame and
fear and
pain and
guilt began to disappear.
And were replaced with truth and
joy and
victory and
God began to speak truth and life back into the most broken and wounded places in me. He began to restore and redeem and heal. It was a long, hard road. One that I'm still journeying down. But one that I choose to take every day. I choose to believe the things God says about me. I choose to celebrate and press into God's words for my life. I choose to see the progress I've made. I choose the hope I have in God. Part of healing is a choice. You have to choose to tell your story. Even if you've been keeping it a secret for 10 years. You have to choose to be vulnerable and real. And to trust God.

I'm choosing to tell this part of my story, not because it's fun (it's actually still kind of terrifying to tell... especially in such a public way), but because awareness needs to be raised. One in four women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime.
One in four.
The numbers are shocking, but what's even MORE shocking is that many of those women won't report or even talk about the assault.
I'm telling this part of my story so that people know they aren't alone. And so they know that there is hope.
Deuteronomy 31:6 is my constant reminder that there is hope, that God doesn't leave us, that we don't have to be afraid or terrified or fearful... "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
That is his promise to us. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. There is hope.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. That's why I'm choosing to tell this part of my story.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm allergic to Redding.

It's allergy season. For me this means:
-mouth breathing
-itchy throat
-itchy eyes
-itchy nose
-absolutely NO breathing out of my nose
-tearing through a box of Puffs Plus Aloe in less than a day
-constant runny nostril (just one. just the left nostril. strangest thing ever.)
-blood-shot eyes (from the itching/coughing/itching)
-using my inhaler every night (yep, allergies triggers asthma. Amazing.)
-washing my bedding every week (they say the pollen gets in your hair and then in your sheets... I'll do just about anything for relief!)
-not really enjoying food (can't breath while I'm eating, and can't taste anything.)
-sounding sick 24/7. Don't worry folks, it's allergies. Not the Bubonic plague.

Pretty much, I'm miserable from April - August. I should probably just go see a Doctor to get REAL allergy meds, but instead I just pump myself full of Zyrtec D and try my best to not mouth breath all over my friends.
And I remind myself, it's only seasonal. It's only seasonal. It's only seasonal. Some people live with this stuff their entire LIVES! Now that's a bummer. I can get through a few months. Also, it makes me thankful for the days when I can actually breathe through my nose and taste food and make my "m's" sound like "m's" and my "n's" sound like "n's".

SO there you have it. I'm not even sure what exactly I'm allergic to... so I like to say I'm allergic to Redding.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rear-view mirrors

Sometimes the past fogs my vision.
I try to live life through the rear-view mirror.
I hold onto the past.
To the pain from the past.
I become comfortable with that pain.
It becomes a little companion that I carry with me everywhere I go.
Reminding me of the things I've done wrong.
Of what a mess I am.
Of what a mess my life looks like most days.
Of all the ways I've made mistakes.
And of all the ways those mistakes will forever go with me.
This companion, it has a name.
This companion is called shame.
It's sneaky and tricky and comes camouflaged in all shapes and sizes.
It settles into the places in your inner-most being, the most tucked away places, the most hidden and repressed. The most insecure.
And it sits there.
And sits there.
And sits there.
Reminding you of why you aren't worthy.
And why you aren't deserving of good things.
And all of the things you've done wrong.
And so, you listen.
You believe.
You accept these as the truth.
Because it's what you hear and feel. So it becomes reality.
But, there's some good news.
Really, really, exceptionally, extraordinarily, astonishingly, stupendously good news.
When Jesus climbed the mountain
And hung on the Cross
And laid down his life for us
It meant no more sacrificing, no more striving, no more living in a place of pain, of sin, of shame.
When Jesus uttered the words "It is finished" it meant we could stop climbing that mountain of shame.
Shame is gone. That constant companion is forever vanished from our lives.
And in it's place is joy
and love
and peace
and excitement
and hope
and redemption
and healing
and freedom
and strength.
Shame is gone. Because of Jesus, shame will never have a place in our lives ever again.

My favorite Psalm says it best, "Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces." Psalm 34:5

So when the truth is hard to see, and I'm living from my rear-view mirror, I have to remember that I don't have to climb that mountain any more. It is finished. Jesus took the last trip up that mountain.
And because of that, I get to live from a place of such beauty. Such gratitude. Such love. Such joy.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A little bit about my thankfulness

Back in November, I got wind of a great idea from a friend of mine... 30 days of thanks. Instead of just being thankful on Thanksgiving, the idea was to be thankful for the entire month of November. What started off as a "challenge" has turned into a new way to see the world. A change in posture, if you will. Another friend of mine wrote a blog yesterday along these same lines, and it sparked my passion all over again. Life is too short to be negative all of the time. Of course there are going to be bummer days. Bummer weeks. Bummer season. Sure, that's part of life. But if the ONLY thing you can ever see is the down side, the negative, the cruddy part of your day, what kind of life is that? I want to be full of thanks and gratitude. I live an incredible life. Sure, I've been through my fair share of trials. I've had some pretty low lows. There are been some pretty dark seasons of my life. But I refuse to believe that's all there is to life.

I'm thankful to have an incredible family that loves me and speaks life and courage into me.
I'm thankful to live in one of the most diversely beautiful places in the world (argue with me if you'd like, but you're wasting your breath).
I'm thankful to have a God who is jealous for me, who loves me with an unfailing, never ending love.
I'm thankful to have a job that I absolutely love.
I'm thankful.
For a whole lot.
My life is incredible. And that's what I choose to see. I choose to see the good, the beautiful, the positive parts of my life. Call me naive or simple. I don't care. My life is good. I'm lucky. I choose to thank God every day for the wonderful things he's given me. Sure, some of them may have come in pretty crappy packages, but they turned out to be incredible nonetheless.

So, like I said, this whole thing started out as a 30 day challenge and has turned out to be one of the most life-changing challenges I've ever taken. It changed everything. The posture I have, the lens I see life through... It's powerful!
My hope is that my thanks and joy and gratitude could be contagious to those around me.
Because life is just too short.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Somedays you just need to remember the things that really matter. I had the pleasure of taking a very sweet 7 (almost 8) year old out on a date tonight. Zeke has a special place my heart. His unique view on the world around him, and his extremely sensitive and passionate heart... I'm convinced this little boy will one day change the world. We went to Target (his favorite) and then to Sweet Spot for some ice cream. I love hearing his thoughts and getting to laugh with him. My highlight of our date was hearing the play-by-play of his day. "And then I played outside and then I ate lunch and then...." He just cracks me up. So today, I'm thankful for "date nights" and for Ezekiel Lance.

Location:Coffee Berry Ln,Redding,United States

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tales of a 6 am runner

For about a year now, I've been waking up at 5:45 am on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to run with a few of my lady friends. It's been interesting. Here are a few things we've experienced:
-Dog attacks (true story, ask Alyssa.)
-Forgetting shoes (another true story, ask Alyssa again.)
-Bloody noses (that one's all Rebecca... serious nose-bleedage.)
-Pouring rain (Like REALLY pouring. Like, soaking-wet-within-minutes kind of pouring rain.)
-Insane wind (I'm pretty sure we were running in place for over 3 minutes... true story.)
-Flooded trails (I'm talking ankle-deep water all across the trail.)
-Frozen trails (Both of us almost slipped and feel to our death.)
-Pitch black trails (When the sun doesn't show it's pretty little head until after 7:00 am, and there's no moon, and the clouds are covering ANY kind of natural light that may exist, the trail is pretty stinking dark. Even with TWO headlamps. We sufficiently freaked ourselves out... to the point of seeing a homeless man who wasn't really there... at that point, we turned around.)
-23* weather (No joke. We froze.)
-The 5:47 text message... it usually goes something like this "Do you REALLY want to run this morning?" to which a reply can go one of two ways. Either "I'm in. We're doing this" or "NO! There's NO WAY!" Thankfully, the latter response is almost never used.
-Crazy bikers who freak us out.
-Rude fellow runners who yell at us to move our car. (Yep, ask Alyssa.)

We've seen it all. Rain, wind, snow, floods.... crazy dogs, invisible homeless men, psycho cyclists... It's been so much fun, and I'm so thankful for my running buddies. Without which, I'm sure I'd NEVER drag myself out of bed.
So, here's to great times on the trail at 6 am! And to some wonderful, faithful, dedicated running pals!!

Monday, March 28, 2011


Nate wrapped up our "Deep Shift" series this past Sunday with a great word about what being on mission really looks like, and how Jesus models that for us. He landed on a verse out of Luke 24 that really got me thinking... "As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him." Luke 24:30, 31
He took the bread
He blessed the bread
He broke the bread
He gave the bread away.

Jesus took it
He blessed it
He broke it
He gave it away.

Isn't that exactly what he does with us?
He takes us- maybe it's from a broken home or an awful situation or an apathetic attitude.
He blesses us- our lives change in a moment. We are no longer in that old place, but in a blessed place
He breaks us- he begins to work within our hearts, he places his finger on the things in our lives that need to break and allow HIS healing to become fixed, we become broken for the things that move us.
He gives us- he places us in the lives of others who need to see his goodness, who need be reminded of his unfailing, never-ending, all consuming love.

I love this parallel, and I think that many of us really get the first three steps of this. We allow Jesus to take us, to rescue us from the mess and trouble and pain that we're in. We allow him to bless us, to make us new, to fix our mess and trouble and pain. But then we get stuck. We get stuck in the brokenness. We get stuck in our OWN brokenness. Our lives are too broken. There's too much that needs to be fixed. God can't use US. No way. Nope. We are too broken.
We get stuck in the way that God breaks our hearts.
We can't reach EVERY woman who is affected by sex trafficking, so we just don't try.
We can't help EVERY abused child, so we give up.
Our passions and burning hearts seem impossible to fulfill, so we just get stuck.
We seem to get stuck in our brokenness.
But, you see, there's a final step to this process.
Jesus TAKES the bread
He BREAKS it... and then... wait for it...
He gives it.
He gives it away.
Sometimes, we have to push through our brokenness to see that Jesus wants us to give our life, our stories, our victories, our passions, our desires, our dreams AWAY. He wants us to pour our lives out on others around us. When we get stuck in our brokenness, we can't reach others. We can't share our stories with others. We can't pour out our love and our passion on the ones around us who need it.
For a long time, I felt like my life was marked by brokenness.
And I couldn't figure out how in the world Jesus could use my broken life, my mess, my pain and suffering to help anybody else.
But, as I continued to push through my brokenness, I began to realize he was continuously bringing people into my life who needed to hear a little bit of my story. A little bit about the ways God showed up for me. A little bit about the freedom I'd found. And as I continued to share my life and my story and my brokenness with others, God began to heal me.
I love Psalm 34:18.
It says "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed."
He is close to us. Especially when our hearts are broken. Especially when we feel crushed. That's why we need to share out of a place of brokenness. Because he is especially close in those times of our lives.
Don't get stuck in your brokenness. Push through your brokenness. Allow God to take you, bless you, break you AND give you away.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just take a minute...

The rain is falling. Bon Iver is playing. Cookies are baking. It's a good evening.
Today was one of those days where I am just overwhelmed by the goodness in my life.
I have an incredible job
I have wonderful, loving, genuine friends
I'm healthy
I have Jesus
I just feel lucky today.
Blessed really.
Days like these are rare for me.
Usually, I'm in "get-it-done" mode.
Email this person, call that person, print this, copy that, plan this, fix that, organize that other thing, call another person, send out 314 more emails, think about this, meet with him and then her and then that other person.
Go, go, go.
That's the usual mode I'm in.
But not today. For some reason, today I took a minute to reflect. To pause and enjoy this day.
All too often I'm bombarded with impatience.
I mean, honestly, red-lights and boiling water drive me crazy. Anything that requires me to wait just isn't welcomed into my life. But I'm learning that by being so darn impatient, I'm missing out. I'm missing out on the things and opportunities all around me.
If I'm only ever go, go, going, and moving onto that next meeting or email or to-do list, I don't give myself a chance to see the things and people and stuff in my life that I'm truly thankful for. I don't give myself any margin to take part in what God is doing all around me.
So today I'm stopping.
I'm pausing.
I'm reflecting.
I'm enjoying the moment.
I'm finding contentment with what I have.
I'm NOT focusing on my next thing.
I'm looking around me and realizing that I'm one incredibly lucky person.
I live a blessed life.
I have an amazing family.
Today, I'm enjoying today.
And I've gotta tell you, it's a pretty fantastic day.

Monday, March 21, 2011

We Love: The story of the Jar.

Caitlin is 10 years old.
She greets me with a huge hug and a matching smile every Sunday morning.
She has the biggest, brightest, kindest, most compassionate heart.
Over the past few months, she's been working hard.
Washing cars, lemonade stands, collecting recycling, raking leaves, doing the dishes, and I can only imagine what else.
She's been working hard and saving her pennies.
Putting them in this jar.
On Sunday, she came running up to me (as usual) and handed me this glitter-covered jar. At first, I looked at it, thinking it was something her teachers had prompted her to bring to Sunday School. But after closer examination, I realized she was bringing her hard-earned money to contribute to our church-wide "We Love" offering that was happening that day at all three gatherings to help us raise money for our new space.
My heart melted.
Tears began to run down my cheeks. I was overwhelmed by the amount of sacrifice and generosity I was seeing from this 10 year old.
Nate said a number of times that it's not how much you bring, but how much it costs you.
This jar of change was everything to Caitlin.
It was all she had.
Do you remember being 10? A quarter was a big deal!
This jar was full of quarters.
This jar was a big deal.
I know that because of her ability to give up everything for God's glory, this little girl will live an incredibly blessed life. God will overwhelm her. I'm sure of it.
I realize to some, this jar doesn't look like much. Maybe $20 work of coins. But to this 10 year old, it was months and months of hard work and sacrifice.
What an example.
And the joy she had when she was giving it... We have a lot we can learn from 10 year olds like Caitlin.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What's your "lunch"?

This post has been in the works for a long time. I've been sitting with these thoughts for a while. So here goes nothing...
On Sunday, Nate spoke about giving our lives to the things we're passionate about. He talked about how if you're willing to give your life to reach a generation, you WILL see that in your day. At the end of the evening, Nate talked about when Jesus fed the 5,000 people. It all started with a boy's lunch. Just a lunch. A simple lunch. A few loaves of bread. A few fish. That's all they had. But they gave EVERYTHING they had to Jesus, and saw thousands fed.
What's your "lunch"? What's the thing that you look at and say "But, it's ONLY a few loaves..."? For me, I really feel like the story of where I've been and what I've come through is my "lunch." I find myself constantly saying "But it's such a mess! It's still not all figured out. There's still pain and hurt and brokenness...." But the point that Nate made with this story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 was that if you offer up the things you have, great or small, to Jesus, he can use them to save lives.
He can use them to reach others who are
broken and
hurting and
He can use them to change a generation.

I promised myself that I would ALWAYS offer up my story to Jesus. For him to use. For him to display his goodness through my life. I would try to never say no. Because I just can't imagine leaving a conversation and wondering what my story could have done for someone else. Maybe they needed to hear that there really IS hope. That God really DOES rescue us. My story is a messy, painful, heartbreaking story. But it also is one of redemption and restoration. And THOSE are the things that I want to share. That's my "lunch". It's all I have. But I'll offer it up. Every time.

What's your "lunch"?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

33 days to go.

I really miss music in my car.
On Sunday, I got to listen to music all day long while I was driving around (lent can be broken on the Sabbath... it's the rules). It was magical. I really miss my music. Sometimes, I hate being left alone with my own thoughts. Ugh, only 33 days to go.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Stylish Blog Award

So, last week I received the Stylish Blog Award (thanks again, Alicia!). Now, it's my turn to pass it on! *drum-roll-please* And the winner is AMY CULP! I've known Amy for some time. Amy, her husband John, and her kiddies have been part of our church, the Stirring, for as long as I've been part of it. She is one of the most encouraging and REAL people I've ever met. Her honesty and kindness are two of the many things that I love about her. She also writes a fantastic, witty, lovely blog that I am hooked on. She posts adorable pictures of her two amazing kids, as well as so many fun, easy, AMAZING crafts and creative pieces. I love the natural cleaning tips she has. I actually JUST made some natural carpet powder. I can't wait to use it!!! Amy, you're great, and I love your blog (and your family!!) You've inspired me and helped me along the way with design and layout. Thanks!!! Keep up the great work.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's Saturday

All the rules go out the window on Saturday.
It's my day to sleep in
To drink a LOT of coffee and eat delicious food that's NOT on my diet
To stay in my pajamas all morning and afternoon
To drink an entire French Press and then go to Dutch Bros. for round 2
To clean (if I want) or NOT clean (which is usually the case)
To spend time with friends and family
To make to-do lists, and promptly ignore everything on them
To stare at the ever-growing pile of laundry taking up residence in my room.... and do NOTHING about it
To fall in and out of a state of napping all day
All the rules go out the window on Saturday.
6 other days of the week, I get up early and get things done and work hard and go to meeting after meeting and act like a responsible adult. But not on Saturdays.
I love Saturdays.
What do YOU do on YOUR Saturdays?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I currently have an excruciating headache.
Like knives driving through my forehead.
Like boulders falling between my eyes.
Like insane pressure squeezing my eyeballs out of their sockets.
Like... well, you get the picture. My head hurts. A lot.
So here I sit, in a dark room, blogging because I can't sleep.

So today is Thursday, and I believe a Thankful Thursday is in order!
Today, I'm thankful for:
-Pushing through my running "wall" at 3 miles, and finishing out that last, torturous mile.
-Dark, gloomy, puffy, saturated clouds looming over the mountains just waiting to dump on our little valley town.
-Mint Cookie ice cream. Delicious.
-Chuck Norris. Today is his birthday. Maybe the headache is from him mentally round-house kicking me... who knows.
-God's perfect timing and incredible provision.

As I was driving in the car today (with no music on... day 2 was a success) I had this epiphany: I've truly been rescued. I know, it sounds dramatic, but it's true. God rescued me. He chose me, picked me, saw the path I was on and quite literally turned me around. I have no words to express my thanks. I just hope I can live the rest of my life trying to better and further his Kingdom because of the gratitude in my heart.

ANYWAY, the last thing I'm thankful for today on this Thankful Thursday is this:
My dear friend Alicia passed this lovely, sparkly, shiny, beautiful little award along to me. Isn't she the greatest?! I've known Alicia since I worked in her classroom as a special needs aide a few years back. She's an INCREDIBLE teacher. I learned so much just from being in her room a few hours each day. She's truly a gift. I admire her ability to reach the little ones in her room. So, I guess the rules are I have to tell y'all a few things about myself that y'all don't already know. Then I pass this along to a few other deserving bloggers (which will happen tomorrow...). So here goes nothing...

-When I was 10 or so, I played the violin. Well, I attempted to play it anyway. I mastered two songs; hot crossed buns and something else that sounded a lot like hot crossed buns. I'm convinced earplug should come with the rental of violins. My parents are brave, brave soles.
-In second grade I tested as a non-native English speaker on my reading/writing tests. Yep.
-I hate trains.
-I equally hate other peoples feet.
-I've played soccer since I was four years old.
-I'm allergic to walnuts.
-I once got sick after eating a breakfast burrito, and to this day can't eat them.
-I've never traveled out of the country (it's on my 2011 resolution list!)
-When I was a little girl, I used to watch myself cry in the mirror. I guess I wanted to be convincing!
-When I set an alarm clock, I usually set it for one minute before I actually want to wake up. It always has to be an odd number.

Now that you know all of my most quirky quirks, be sure to check my blog tomorrow for my recipients for this lovely award.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Today is Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday and begins the season of Lent. I'm stoked. Lent can be a bit confusing to some... my friend Amy said to so well, I thought I'd steal it from her :)

"Christians are asked to "fast" something; to give it up for the season of Lent. The purpose of this is to deprive yourself of something that you eat/do daily so that when you think about eating/doing that thing you will be reminded and will pray instead. It is a season of Spiritual growth."

I've decided to "fast" from some of the noise in my life to create space to hear God speak. One way I thought I'd do this is to go without any music in my car. I hope to keep y'all updated on the incredibly enlightening things that surface through my music-free car rides (note the sarcastic tone there).

DAY 1:
Here are a few things I realized on my silent drive home from work today:
-My car is really loud (lots of rattling and squeaking and more rattling)
-People BLAST their music. And it's usually pretty awful music.
-The town I live in is beautiful.

God put a few peeps on my heart today during my drive, and I was able to spend my time praying for them... I'm really looking forward to these next 40 days. I can't wait to see what else God does through my tunes-free commutes!

What are the 'musts' in your life

On Sunday, Jim Botts brought a great word about being on mission. One thing he said really stuck with me. He came out of the passage in Luke 2 where Jesus' parents lose him at the temple. When they tell him they were worried, he replies with "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?"
Being in his Father's house was a priority to him. It was a MUST to him.
Jim asked the question "What are the 'musts' in your life?"
What are the things you're giving your life away for?
What are the things that keep you up at night?
That you can't stop thinking about?
What are the things that are a priority to you?
What are the 'musts' in your life?

Immediately, the faces of hundreds of children came to my mind.
They are my 'musts.'
I will give my life away for them as long as I walk this earth.
No questions asked.
My heart beats for these children.
They are my priority.
To see them know God, and know his love for them.
To see them walk in that love.
To watch them learn and grow in God's never-failing, never-ending, all-consuming love.
That is what I'm giving my life away for.

Being about his Father's business was a must to Jesus. It was a priority to him.
What are the priorities in your life?
What are the 'musts' in your life?

Monday, March 7, 2011


What happens in your stomach when you hear the word 'Vulnerability'? Do you cringe? Cry? Look for the nearest exit? Withdraw? Hide behind the walls you've put up?
I just watched an incredible video by a woman named Brene Brown on Ted Talks titled "The power of vulnerability." Mind blowing. This woman, a Research-Storyteller (as she calls herself) was doing some research on shame, and stumbled upon a few things... to get the whole story, check out the video here.
A few things REALLY struck me, and I thought I'd share...
-You deconstruct shame with vulnerability.
Brown found that people who had a deep sense of love and belonging were those who believed they were WORTHY of love and belonging. These people had the courage to be imperfect, compassion to be kind to themselves first, and vulnerability. They fully embraced who they were and knew that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful.
-Brown found that while vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and worthiness, it is also the birth place of joy and belonging and love.
She had SO many other amazing points, but these two... they really rocked me.

As I reflected on my own struggles and my own story, I realized just how true this is. When I fully embraced vulnerability, shame and fear and rejection were replaced by joy and love and belonging. There is immense freedom in vulnerability. And yes it's scary, but when you begin to fully embrace who you are, and when you are real about it, the shame is deconstructed. It sort of just vanishes.
I used to be paralyzed by shame. It dictated everything I said and did. I lived behind walls and walls and walls of shame. But as I began to be honest and real with my life and my story, the walls came down. I'm a changed person. I've found freedom, and I truly believe that without being real and vulnerable with my story, I would still be living behind the walls of shame.

I believe vulnerability looks different for every person. It's not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Maybe it's being real with the people in your life for the first time. Maybe it's confessing to a friend. Maybe it's opening up to your husband or wife. But I know for me, I don't want to waste another moment. When God calls me to be vulnerable (which happens a LOT), I want to act in obedience.
Is there an are in your life that God is calling you to be vulnerable with? How will you respond?
Images by Freepik