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?

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Last week was a hard week. I had a few days where I was really struggling. I got super down. Super bummed. I couldn't see past my struggles. I got so frustrated because I really thought I was on the other side of all of this. I really thought I had overcome this junk. I was starting to feel like there was no hope....
But then a friend (a few friends actually) reminded me of something: this is a season of celebration.
I get to celebrate because the struggles are few and far between, not every day like they used to be.
I get to celebrate because what was once something that occupied my EVERY THOUGHT, is now easily tossed aside and overcome.
I get to celebrate because Jesus has set me free.
And yes, there might be moments that are harder than others, but I get to celebrate because I have new life.
I get to celebrate because I've worked hard to get to where I am.
I get to celebrate because I've made a TON of progress.

Sometimes we need a little perspective.
Sometimes we need friends to remind us that we've come really far, and that there might be hard days, but those hard days are the exception now. Not the norm.
Sometimes we need to CHOOSE to celebrate in the face of discouragement and frustration.

So, my question for you is this: Are you choosing to celebrate today? Even though you may feel frustrated and overwhelmed by how impossible your situation is? You've got to be able to see the things in life that are worthy of celebration.

I'm thankful that this is a season of celebration.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Conference take away:

Yesterday wrapped up Risen King's Kingdom Healing conference. What an incredible time with incredible leaders. Not only did I learn oodles of information, I also experienced God in a whole new way... more on that later :)
A few of my MAIN take-aways from the conference:
-Wanda Walborn asked this question, "Where do you go when you're desperate?" It wrecked me. I turn to a number of things in my desperation.
A number of unhealthy, destructive, painful things...
Why is it that I don't turn to Jesus first?
In the most desperate, awful times, I want the FIRST place I turn to be the face of my Father.
-Ron Walborn asked this question, "What flows out of your wounds?" Ron framed this talk around the fact that healing flows out of Jesus' wounds. I took a long, hard look at my wounds. What does flow out of them? Is it pain?
or fear?
or bitterness?
or sadness?
I want healing to flow from my wounds.
I want to show others the healing that Jesus has done in my life through my wounds.
I want to use my wounds to bring others to Jesus... to show them that even in the WORST pain, He heals us.
I want to be honest about my wounds. Jesus REFUSED to hide his wounds. Why, as followers of Jesus, do we so often hide ours? We cover them up in whatever way we can, and pretend they don't exist. Ron said this, and I've heard it countless times from Dan... "It's okay to not be okay!"
If we don't choose into honesty with our wounds, we choose into denial, which leads to bitterness and anger... is that what we want flowing out of our wounds?
-Bill Randall brought a word on forgiveness that ROCKED me. Like really, really, REALLY rocked me. God did some incredible stuff in me through this message... I've got a whole entire separate blog in the works for this particular message. Keep an eye out :)

I walked away from this conference viewing healing in a brand new way. God truly increased my faith through the things that I learned and over the past few days.
Images by Freepik