Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving thanks

It's easy to focus on the negative. On what we DON'T have. On what is lacking in our lives. It's easy to let our circumstances dictate our attitude.
OR we can pick gratitude.
Gratitude is contagious.
It's infectious.
It changes things.
I live a life of abundance. I have SO much. My life is so rich. Sure, there are things in life that I am lacking. Things I desire. Things I wish could change. But I live a life of incredible abundance!
I've been seeing people's posts on Facebook about their 30 days of thanks. I love it, but I wonder, shouldn't we live a LIFE of thanks? Not just a month? The holiday seasons are hard. We are bombarded with bigger, better, newer, shinier, fancier, more expensive things. We start thinking "maybe the 20 pairs of shoes in my closet AREN'T enough. Maybe I DO need a bigger TV, a newer car, a better phone..." It's in these moments that I'm reminded of the hundreds of faces I saw while in Africa. The children begging for as little as an apple. The teeny, tiny little kids who didn't have ANY shoes, who were lucky to eat one meal every other day, who lived with 7 other people in a "house" that we would consider a small closet. I remember hearing my dear, sweet Leah tell me of how, after her mother died and her father abandoned them, she had to do "horrible things" to provide food for her and her two younger siblings. She was 6 at the time. Six years old. She was a child, carrying the burden of an adult.
And it's in those memories, those moments that I am reminded of just how incredibly lucky I am. How much luxury I live in. How much I have to be thankful for.
I was given an INCREDIBLE education. For free.
I got to eat three meals. Every single day.
I never shared a room. Ever
Every year, I got at least one new pair of shoes.
I have lived a life of absolute abundance.
I have SO much to be grateful for.
And trust me, I get it, my life has NOT been perfect. I have had my fair share of heart ache and pain and suffering and brokenness. But that doesn't mean I can't live a life of gratitude. That doesn't mean I can't be grateful.
It's challenging. But I think it's a challenge we absolutely need to approach.
Our lives need a huge dose of gratitude. And not just once a month. But once a month is a beautiful place to start. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gratitude challenge: Dreaming

Gratitude challenge:
Do one thing each week that makes you happy AND do one thing each week that makes someone else happy.

My previous post talks more about this challenge. I've found that it's more difficult for me to do something intentional that brings me joy than it is for me to something for someone else. Am I making any sense?

I LOVE buying someone flowers, or sending them a card, or spending time with them. But when it comes to showing myself love, it can be a bit harder. Anybody with me?

So, this week, I began to dream again. It made me so happy. I started dreaming about going back to Africa. It made me SO, SO happy. I allowed myself to dream and wish and ask for more. I was timid at first, in fear that nothing would come of it. What if I dream these big dreams, and nothing happens? What if I get my hopes up, and I'm terribly disappointed? But I felt God reply with "What if you're NOT disappointed? What if something really amazing happens? What if...?" To which, I immediately broke down crying. God is so much bigger than my fears. He just understands me.

So, this week, I began to dream. And it made me so happy. I feel like my sails have been filled with wind again. Bring on the dreams.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


gratitude |ˈgratəˌt(y)o͞od|nounthe quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
My 4th grade teacher used to say "Gratitude is a RAD-itude!" He was an extremely simple man who loved everyone he met. To this day, I can't hear the word, and not think of him. Gratitude has changed me. It has altered my perspective. It has totally adapted the lens through which I see life. I can CHOOSE thankfulness. I can CHOOSE to celebrate every blessing that comes my way. I can get extremely stoked about the moments of breakthrough and progress that I see in my life. I don't have to be bummed. I don't have to expect failure or sadness or depression or bad things. I can have a thankful heart and mind and life! Gratitude is incredible, and it changes you. When you posture your life to find things to be thankful for, instead of the opposite, you begin to notice all of the wonderful and lovely things in life. 
A friend of mine mentioned a website to me once. It's called the 30 Day Gratitude Challenge.  It talks ALL about gratitude, and its effects on your life. Each month, I get an email that has a different challenge in it. This month's challenge: Do one thing each week (minimum) that makes you happier. The e-mail contains dozens of blogs and videos that have information and ideas about this very topic. There is a blog that has 30+ was to make OTHERS more happy. 
I've decided to take on this challenge. And, to add to it, I will also do one thing a week to make another person happy. So far, this week, I sent out a dozen thank you notes to friends. I addressed them, stuck stamps on them, and sent them through (gasp) "snail-mail" to be delivered to their homes. Maybe I'm the only one, but I LOVE getting mail.... I will keep you all posted on my weekly "happy" thing as the week goes on. Check out the web site! Join the challenge! Get excited about life! Be happy! You're allowed to be! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I believe we are all uniquely broken. Some of us come from broken families or relationships. Maybe our past was broken. Maybe our brokenness is not our fault. Perhaps it was. I also believe that our brokenness, if we allow it, can become our greatest source of passion.

You see, I am completely broken. Broken for a nation, for a population of people, for a generation of children who are growing up in poverty, without food, without water, without many of their basic needs being met. I saw a glimpse into the world of an innocent child who was born with a death sentence simply because she cannot afford basic medication. I witnessed the joy of a young girl who's entire life belongings fit into a box smaller than a chapter book, yet her love was genuine and her joy was overwhelming. Her smile invited you into something greater than your circumstances. I can still hear her laughter. Sometimes I wake up and swear she is in the room with me. My heart leaps at the idea. She captivated me with her presence, her love for God, her faith, her courage, her bravery, her boldness, her love, her kindness, her faithfulness. At the young age of 13 she has faced death over and over again. She has experienced things I will never have to. She has overcome more than most. I am completely broken for this girl, and the million others like her. My heart longs to go, to do, something for her, for all of them. To change it. To make it better. I am uniquely broken. But I am positive of this: God is using my brokenness. It is not a brokenness that needs fixing. It is a brokenness that needs to remain. A brokenness that needs to fuel my passion to see and be change for my sweet Leah.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Coming Home

I woke up this morning, 3 sleeps post Africa, from a dream that I was living at the Fiwagoh Mission Orphanage. When I finally realized that I was in my bed in Redding, CA I must admit I was a little heart broken. When I boarded the plane in Nakuru, part of my heart stayed in Kenya. It's hard to come "home" to a place that no longer feels completely like home. I've been back for 4 days and still can't shake the feeling that something's missing. After my dream, I realized what it was I've been missing: the constant, joyful chatter of children. I miss their voices and faces and smiles and hand shakes and hugs and kisses. I miss them. All of them. Over the course of our trip, we saw over 2,000 orphans. There are so many memories I want to share, but one in particular stands out vividly in my mind:
On the last night of our stay in the Fiwagoh orphanage in Nakuru, Kenya, our team of 30 had the privilege of reading bedtime stories to the children of the orphanage. I snuggled up on the twin-sized bunk bed that my Leah slept on, and began reading to her. As I read story after story to her, not wanting the moment to end, two things happened: The first thing was swarms and swarms of children began to gather around, hanging on every word I read. The second thing that happened was that tears began to cascade down my sweet Leah's face. I could tell she didn't want me to see, but her tears turned into sobs, and she melted into my lap. After finishing about 15 Bible stories, the children headed for their own twin-sized bunk, and I had a moment with Leah. I hugged her and hugged her and she cried and cried. I fought back tears as she told me how thankful she was for me. For my love. For the time we spent together. I hugged her again, not wanting another moment to pass. I whispered the word "Nacupenda" in her ear, which is Swahili for "I love you" and she replied with "I will always love you." The walk back to my room was a tearful one. When was the last time these beautiful children were read a bedtime story? When would be the next time someone tucked them in? That was the moment God gripped my heart for His children like never before. My heart is in Kenya. My heart is with Leah. My heart longs for those children. To see them again. To hug them again. To read to them again. I sat on my bed and cried so many tears. Tears for Leah. Tears for the rest of the orphans. Tears for the children with no parents. No beds. No home. So many tears. That was the moment when God beautifully and irreversibly broke my heart for a nation and for His children. I long for the day when I can walk back into the gates of Fiwagoh orphanage again, and see my sweet Leah. I think of her every day. All the time. I will never be the same. My heart now lives in two places at the same time.

As I continue to process my trip, I hope to share what God is teaching me and more of my many stories from the trip.

Here's a picture of me with Leah and Evyline during our last few minutes together. This was by far the hardest goodbye I had to say.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


In life, it's ineveitable that you will encounter storms.
My life has faced many storms.
Storms that sneaked up.
Storms that raged on for years.
Storms that passed quickly.
Storms that were gradual, building up and up and up...
Storms that hurt a lot.
Storms that I fought.
Storms that I hated. 
They are a sure fact of life.
And my life has faced many.
More than most, probably.
The ONLY reason I am still standing is because of the foundation I've found. The foundation that I've rooted my life in. The foundation that, at times, I've clung to with every ounce of strength I had left.
I lived 22 years of my life without God.
22 dark, painful, dysfunctional, distorted, confusing years.
The second I met him, my life changed. Drastically. And from that moment on, I've been building on and anchoring myself to that solid foundation.
When storms come, they can't knock you over, blow you away, tear you down, destroy your hard work IF you are built on, connected to, rooted in a solid foundation.
And even though the foundation I started on was itty-bitty, I held on tight through the storms, while God was building a greater foundation for me, and while I was allowing my roots to go deep into him.
And even though the storms were rough and took a toll on me, I was able to hold on only because of that foundation. I even found that the more storms I weathered, the more beautiful and strong and powerful my foundation became.
I'm thankful for the foundations, but even more thankful for the storms.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Remember and Celebrate.

Remember and Celebrate. It's something we do with the Stirring Kids. It's infused in our curriculum. It's an intentional day we pause, to remember and celebrate who God is. What he has done. What we have learned from him. How he has changed us.
I LOVE this discipline that we're teaching our kids.
Some of you know how much the word "celebrate" has shaped me.
It started a few years back, when I was in a really dark, painful season of healing.
I felt like the pain and heart ache and wilderness would never end. I felt hopeless and defeated and discouraged. I couldn't see the end, the light, the thing I was fighting so desperately for. All I could see was the consuming darkness and suffering I was in the midst of.
That's when a friend, a mentor really, stepped spoke some of the most powerful words to me. He reminded me to celebrate every thing God had done. Every small victory, every HUGE victory, every step forward, every ounce of freedom and victory I have already gained. To stop and celebrate these things. I might not be where I wanted to be quite yet, but I was no longer where I was. Does that make sense? Yes, I still had work to do. Yes, the journey wasn't over yet. Yes, it was still hard and painful and agonizing at times. But I'm not who I was. I'm not where I once was. I've taken steps forward. Maybe baby steps, but steps none the less. And when I celebrate, I am filled with gratitude. With desperate thanks for how faithful God has been to me.
This has been SUCH a powerful word for my life. I occasionally find myself once again in a familiar place of pain and hopelessness, and I remember to celebrate. To find gratitude and thankfulness for ALL that God has done in my life. I'm a changed person. And I have an abundance of things to celebrate and give thanks for.
So it excites me that we're teaching our kids this.
That we take time to celebrate what God has done.
To remember all we have to be thankful for.

A good-bye letter

Dear Control,
I'm not so sorry to say, but we must part ways. I'm done with you. I'm done with the way you run my life. I'm done with the way you manipulate my thoughts. I'm done with the way you high-jack my joy. I'm tired of you. I'm tired of the constant games you play with my mind. I'm tired of the way you choke out the truth and leave me with worry and fear. I'm tired of buying into your tactics. You've cost me a lot, and I'm so ready for you to leave. So, today I say goodbye. I say goodbye to every ounce of you that is, has been or could be in my life. I wipe my hands completely clean of you, and open them up to the new, wonderful, beautiful, life-giving things that God has for me. I'm moving on, and leaving you behind. Because I want my freedom back. I want my joy back. I want my strength back. I want my life back.
Your time in my life has come to an end, and I couldn't be more ready.

Your old friend who won't miss you at all

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ready to know their names.

I leave for Africa in 25 days.
In 25 days, I will be boarding a plane headed to a completely foreign country.
People's first question for me is "are you excited?" quickly followed by "are you ready!?"
My answer to both is I have no idea.
I have no idea if what I'm feeling is excitement, fear, terror, anxiety, joy, happiness, stress, or just pure love.
I have no idea if I'm ready for a completely and totally brand new experience.
How do you prepare for something totally unknown?
Beats me.
All I know is I can not wait to hug and kiss and love and embrace the children that God has so prepared my heart for.
I haven't met these children, but I already have so much love for them. I feel like my heart used to be a brand new balloon. Never been used, still fresh and new. But from the time I said yes to God about going to Africa (actually, it was probably before that moment if I'm really honest) God has been filling that new balloon with love and passion and His heart for the children in Kenya and Uganda. He has been giving me this crazy amount of love for them. Something that words can NOT express. I sit here, trying to put into words how much my heart longs and breaks and beats for these kids. And words fail me. Nothing can conceptualize the feeling I have when I think of them, all of them. These children who's names I do not know, but who's hearts I long for. I want to embrace them, and shower them with the passion that fills my heart. I want to look into their eyes, and tell them how much I've been anticipating meeting them. I want them to know how desperately their Father loves them. How much he fights for them. How much his heart breaks for them.
I have NO idea if I'm excited to go to Africa, but I DO know I am so anxious to meet the children who's faces I dream about, and who's smiles keep me up at night. I feel like I already know them, and I'm so incredibly ready to kiss them, and tell them all about I've been waiting for our moment together.

My prayer this morning

As I climbed out of bed this morning, this was my desperate prayer to the Lord:
Father, I give you all of me. Yes, ALL of me. Even the messy parts. Even the ugly parts. Even the parts that I wish weren't there. Even the parts that I thank you for. Even the parts I so desperately want to change. Even the parts that are longing and searching for a husband. Even the parts that want to belong SO badly. Even the parts that don't make sense. Even the parts that you are changing. Even the parts that I WISH were changing. Even the parts that are full of joy and laughter and life. Even the parts that give me so much heart ache and pain. Even the parts that I want to control. Even the parts that I hide (ESPECIALLY the parts that I hide). Even the parts that don't make sense. (Did I say that already? A lot of parts don't make sense). Even the parts that aren't sure who I am, who YOU are, what you're doing or where we're going together. Even the parts you've so beautifully changed. Even the parts that I celebrate. Even the parts that reflect what a good Dad you are. Even the parts that are afraid. Even the parts that you've set free. Even the parts that are sad and lonely. Even the parts that are bitter and jealous and angry. Even the parts that are addicted. Even the parts that help me remember I'm not who I used to be. I give you EVERYTHING this morning. I want it to be true when I say "there's nothing I hold on to." I want to leave all of this, all of ME in a crumpled mess at your feet. Because I know there's no place I'd rather be, and there's no place all of these parts of me are safer. This is my greatest desire. My cry of hope to you. My song of letting go. My surrender. My prayer this morning.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

emotional tsunami

I have this bad habit.
I stuff my emotions.
I "reason" them away.
I force myself to NOT feel them.
I brush over them.
I shove them down.
And then, on nights like tonight, ALL of those shoved, stuffed, reasoned-away emotions come rushing out.
Along with tears.
A lot of tears.
More tears than humanly possible.
This is a cycle.
My "crazy" cycle.
And I know exactly why I do it.
To make a very complex explanation short, it's because of fear.
A lot of fear of many things.
Mainly fear of: rejection, abandonment, pain, loneliness, lack of control (to name a few).
Tonight was a night where the flood gates came down, and the emotion hit me like a title wave.
So here I sit, in the aftermath of the emotional tsunami, processing through the pain. Sorting through the emotion. Working on the areas that God is so clearly exposing.
It's not easy.
It's messy.
It's hard.
But, I know it's worth it.
And the truth that I cling to on nights like tonight is that it's because of God's great, huge, never-ending, never-failing love for me that he calls me to walk through all of this.
And I know that he will NEVER leave me. That he will NEVER forsake me.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chosen, adopted, forever.

You are Holy.
You are blessed.
You are loved.
You are CHOSEN.
You are without fault.
You are ADOPTED.
You are wanted.
You are pleasing.
Your freedom is purchased.
You are forgiven.
You have an inheritance.

As I read Ephesians 1 on Monday morning, tears fell uncontrollably down my face. The more I read, the more the tears came. As I glanced down at my soaking wet journal, I realized something: I had been believing lies about who I was. Old, sneaky, familiar lies. And these words, these beautiful, promising words, woke me up. They reminded me of WHO I truly am, of my incredible identity. They breathed fresh life into me. I am adopted. I am chosen. Forever. Those things don't change with circumstance. Those things are not conditional. Those things are forever. How easily I forget. Sometimes, I lose sight of who I am, and I forget to remind myself. But aren't reminders SO important? (As a lover of sticky notes, I know how necessary reminders are). So, on Monday morning, with a face full of tears, I decided I couldn't afford to forget any longer. I couldn't allow myself to neglect the reminder. As far as I'm concerned, knowing the TRUTH about who I am, and what I have is the most important thing. Living, leading and loving from a place of knowing my true identity has to be the priority.
It just has to be.
SO, here goes nothing... an entire summer dedicated to reading the book of Ephesians over and over and over again, until the pages are worn and my heart knows the truth. I hope you will join me. There are 6 chapters, so one chapter a day, with one day off. Pick your day. I want to be reminded until the reminder is so deep in my heart and my soul that it becomes as familiar as taking a breath.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

a little emotional and a LOT thankful

Do you ever feel like you're EXTRA sensitive?
EXTRA emotional?
EXTRA passionate about something?
That's been me this past month or so.
It could be the up-coming trip to Africa to visit orphans for  14 days.
Or maybe it's the fact that God is pushing me in an uncomfortable and painful and wonderful direction.
Or perhaps it's both.
Whatever the reason, I find myself incredibly thankful.
Thankful for the loyal friends who stand beside me in the thick of it. Loving me. Encouraging me. Pushing me forward. Letting me figure things out. Allowing me to be real and honest with them through this whole process.
Thankful for a loving God, who is patient with me. Who embraces me all the time. Even when I'm a mess. Even when I make mistakes. Even when I lose my temper. Even when I have a bad attitude. Even when I don't trust him all the way.
Thankful for the way my heart breaks and beats for a generation to know the love of their Father.
Thankful for the love I have for the children I haven't even met yet.
Thankful for incredibly generous people who fully and completely believe in me. Even when I don't believe in myself.
Thankful for tears. Sounds crazy, I know, but I know God is up to something big when the tears come. Sometimes they're tears of joy, but mostly they're tears of pain. It hurts to grow. It's hard, and uncomfortable and a struggle. But I face the obstacles every day, tethered to the truth that God is with me. He won't leave me. He won't forsake me. He is a trustworthy, loving, faithful God.

As frustrating and painful and stretching and scary as this season is, I'm incredibly thankful for it and for all that will come out of it.

"When doubt fills my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dreams, passions, and Africa.

I love children.
I love the beautiful way they see the world.
I love the way they grasp God's love.
My heart beats for children, to see them grow up fully knowing their identity in God, for an entire generation to grow up being deeply rooted in God's love for them. Wouldn't that change everything?! Wouldn't that change their struggles? Wouldn't that change the world around them? God had given me faith to see this happen. I know that these children are going to change the world in incredible ways.
Sometimes, I feel like my heart is going to burst.
On Sunday mornings, I watch dozens and dozens of children of all ages flood the Stirring Kids hallway, and I am overwhelmed by God's love for these little people. I am overwhelmed by the incredible opportunity I have to help shape them. I am overwhelmed by how perfect and beautiful and powerful and wonderful they all are.
For a long time, I felt called to the children in my "backyard" as I like to say. The kids who are overlooked here in Shasta County. I felt called to pour out all of my love on the little ones I see each Sunday. It wasn't until about a month ago, when I heard of a team heading to Africa to serve in orphanages, that I felt God begin to tug on my heart to go. To leave, and serve His children in other nations. To experience his heart and his love for these kids, too! Once the idea invaded my mind, I couldn't stop thinking about it. About Africa, about the children there. About the kids with no moms and no dads, who needed this love that God has infused in my heart. So, that's exactly what I'm doing. For 12 days, I will be going to Africa to experience God's incredible love for the children there. Words don't do my excitement justice. I truly feel like God has been preparing me and my passion and my heart for this moment. Everyone keeps telling me that I will come back changed, and all I can say is I sure hope so. I can only hope and pray that God changes me in the greatest way possible.

As you can imagine, I was feeling so overwhelmed... and still kind of am, but I've begun to get some of the practical stuff taken care of. I got all of my paperwork submitted to the organization we (there are 6 others from the Stirring going on this trip!) are going through, Visiting Orphans. I have an appointment to get my passport all squared away. I am going in next week to begin chipping away at the long list of vaccinations I need to get in order to go, and return, healthy. I got my support letters out a few weeks ago, and am still trying to get them all delivered. If you're at all interested in supporting me through prayer or finances, I would love to get you more information! I still have about $2,500 to raise. $2,00 needs to be turned in by the end of May in order to book our plane tickets. Having faith with finances is a whole new world for me. I've always been able to provide for myself and the things I need, so depending on God and on the generosity of others is difficult, to say the least! But I can't even begin to tell you how INCREDIBLY generous people have been. I'm so thankful to be surrounded by people who not only love me, but love and support the dreams and passions God has given me.

I hope to use this blog to keep people up to date on my trip status, so keep checking in!

OH, I forgot to mention that my trip leader has selected me to be one of the group leader at the orphanages when we go. We are still figuring out what, exactly, this will look like but I'm so excited to have a bigger role to play with the children.

Wow, I can't believe I'm going to Africa...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Today is autism awareness day

I knew this little girl. I worked with her in her first grade class room. She was wild and passionate and kind and generous and sweet and sensitive and loud and playful and silly and wonderful. And she had autism. I will forever be changed by that little girl. She would greet me with the greatest hug each and every day. Some days were harder for her. She would struggle and stumble and cry and disobey and make poor choices. But my love for her never stopped growing. The way she fought. The way she never gave up. She was only 6 years old, but she taught me what it meant to persevere.

Did you know that around 1 in 88 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder? Did you know that more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes & cancer combined? Did you know that autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S? Autism has gripped my heart. This little girl, along with other boys and girls with autism, have captured my heart. And I will not stop praying, stop crying out to God, stop fighting, until I see autism gone. Each week at church, we read the Lord's Prayer. When we get to the part in it that says "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" the faces of these little ones come to my mind. I beg God, I plead and cry to him to let HIS will be done in their minds. To let Heaven come in their lives. I have faith that I will see it happen. I have faith that I will see autism-free schools and playgrounds and classrooms. I have faith that Heaven will come, and it will mean no more autism. Until that day, I will spread awareness. I will talk about the kind, goofy, lovely first grader who captured my heart. I will talk about the handsome, funny, darling little boy who I see every Sunday, full of life and hope. I will keep praying.

Today is autism awareness day.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Sometimes, God has funny timing. It was just about a year ago today that I was sitting at the Risen King conference, questioning God and his goodness and his love and his desire for my me and my life. Things in my life were painful and confusing and I was coming out of an extremely difficult season. I was so overwhelmed by the battles I was fighting. I remember sitting at that conference, when I was given a note. A note that spoke God's truth. That reminded me to celebrate all that has happened in my life. All of the obstacles I had overcome. All of the ways God had picked up the pieces of my crazy, shattered life, and begun to put me back together. I tucked this note safely away, and would go back time and time again to read it. It would redirect my thoughts and would encourage the deepest places of my heart. I must have read this note over 100 times. It's words became etched on my heart. "Celebrate! This is a season of celebration for you!"
This morning, I was standing in the same building where this note was given to me. Suddenly, I began to see just how much has changed in my life. Just how much God has brought me through. Just how much I've overcome. Just how much victory I have. Just how much freedom I have. God's faithfulness literally brought me to tears this morning. Where there was once pain, there is now joy. Where there was once discouragement, there is now hope. Where there was once fear, there is now confidence. I was reminded again today to celebrate God's goodness and faithfulness to us. I'm so thankful for this note, and the way it acts as a reminder in my life. I can go back and remember where I was, and look at how far I've come. Remembering what we've come through is so important, as is celebrating our victories.

"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 hope in the Lord."

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I have a fancy iPhone.
One of the many perks of said phone is that I can set ANY picture I so desire as my background. So, every time I check the time, the phone rings, I get a text message, someone comments on something on one of my many Social Networking pages, I see this picture. It's safe to say that I see this picture rather frequently. I would say, on average, over 100 times a day. Now, you may be wondering why I'm sharing this seemingly unimportant information with you... the reason is this: Every time I see this picture, it reminds me to pray. You see, the picture I have as my background is frequently different, but always has one thing in common: children. It's not always the same children, but there is always a child of some shape or size in that picture. It reminds me to pray. To pray for the children in my life. The ones I know well, the ones I know not so well, the ones I see on Sundays, the ones I see on other days of the week. It reminds me to pray for their identity, to pray for their hearts, to pray for their innocence, to pray for their futures, to pray for their relationships with God. It reminds me that I have an incredible opportunity to shape a generation for a life with God. It reminds me that my time with them is precious, and that I should pray often for them.

Sof's face is the current face on my background. She's my reminder. I see her sweet face, and I'm reminded to pray.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2011 love

I'm really excited about this post.
My first post in 2012.
I love new beginnings.
Birthdays, New Years, the start of seasons.
There's something so beautiful about new beginnings.
A few days before January 1, 2012, I found a fresh, clean piece of paper, and settled into a table at Starbucks with a steaming cup of coffee, and began to make my "list".
I'm a list-making fool.
I love a good list.
This list was special to me. It wasn't a "to-do" list, it wasn't a work list, it wasn't a grocery list... it was my list for 2012.
All of the things I plan on doing in this new, special, lovely year.
The day before, we had our weekly staff meeting, and Dan shared some great insight. He talked about reflecting on the past year. Writing down some of our accomplishments, some of the things we'd watched God do in our lives, some of the significant moments of 2011. Then he talked about making NEW goals for this next year. And about being thoughtful with our lists. Really searching our hearts for the things we wanted to do with this next year. Immediately my mind started racing.
"What do I want to do? What do I want to see God do? What are some goals? Some resolutions?" I couldn't wait to get a quiet moment, and begin making my list.

So, when I sat down, I fully intended on making a wonderful, long, thoughtful list. Instead, I began looking back at the past year. The things God had done. The ways I had changed. The challenges I had overcome. The many accomplishments of the past year.

Last year I:
-Turned 27
-Ran my second 1/2 marathon
-Helped move an entire church into a brand new building (kind of a big deal)
-Helped outfit and equip 5 brand new classrooms in our brand new building (kind of another big deal)
-Figured out a brand new check-in system and trained people on this system
-Walked through an incredibly difficult, painful and healing season
-Lead two life groups
-Saw 4 amazing bands in concert
-Celebrated the birth of DOZENS of new, wonderful, amazing babies

The list could continue. But here's my point: Before we get so wrapped up in the promise of the new year, we should take a minute and celebrate. This is a HUGE theme in my life: Celebrate. Take a minute, thank God for where we are, for what we've come through, for the ways he's changed our lives, the lives of our family, the lives of the ones we love. Take a minute and remember and reflect on the past year. So many times I hear people say "I just can't believe it's 2012 already! Where did 2011 go??" My answer? I know EXACTLY where 2011 went! I lead a full, busy, excellent year. It was a challenging, stretching, amazing year of growth. I'm so thankful for past year. I'm in an amazing place, with an amazing job, living an amazing life, serving an amazing God, with so much love and joy. That's something to celebrate.
Where did your year go? What are the things you're celebrating and reflecting on?

Maybe the next post will be my goals for 2012, but this one is dedicated to 2011 :) Happy New Year.
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