April 30, 2009

Prayers for Peru

Less than two months to go before we depart for Peru! There are many thoughts swirling around in my head, and I hope to mold them into a semblance of a post at some time. In the meantime, I'm praying for:

~revival in my own heart (thus, the Seeking Him Together study...and it's not too late to join us!)

~God's provision

~travel safety (we've got a layover in Columbia, which scares me just a little)

~child care for CJ. This one is tough, because of R's work schedule. She'll have to spend most nights away from home. I want her to be someplace where she can feel comfortable and happy. I know my parents and members of our church family will help out. I'm trying to strike a balance of her spending quality time with R, not feeling like she's being shuffled around too much, and not being a burden on anyone.

~preparing a 2-minute testimony of my salvation. I just don't know how I can do that. I may have an opportunity to share at length on some occasions, but I have to be clear and concise (which means no American or "churchy" idioms, and realizing I have to incorporate stops for the translator).

Thanks for your prayers, friends. I feel like I'm taking each one of you with me, and I'm so glad you're along for the ride!

April 28, 2009

What's on My Nightstand: April

What's On Your Nightstand

As usual, my basket of books to be read overfloweth...and I mean SERIOUSLY overfloweth! Keeping last month's disclaimer in mind, here's a look at what's inside:


~The Bare Bones Bible Handbook for Teens by Jim George. I've never read anything by Mr. George, but I adore his wife, Elizabeth. I've already peeked inside, and it looks like a terrific resource. I can't wait to read more.

~Misplacing God: And Finding Him Again by my blogging buddy, Joanne Heim. I love, love, love Joanne.

~The Mission-Minded Family by Ann Dunagan. R and I have both participated in missions trips over the years, but always as singles. One of my heart's desires is for our family to go on mission together.


~Shelter Me by Juliette Fay.

~The Missionary by William Carmichael

~Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills.

~At the Scent of Water by Linda Nichols

You can click on over to 5 Minutes for Books to see what others are reading, and to leave your own list.

April 23, 2009

In the Ongoing Battle

Priorities. I've been giving a lot of thought to mine lately. I think this post of Shannon's was the final nudge I needed to make a commitment to change, but it's been looming large for a while now.

I couldn't agree with Shannon more that we have become too plugged in and too accessible. I joined Facebook to keep in touch with my youth girls during the week. I also found old schoolmates and friends of friends. It soon became overwhelming, the constant barrage of information from everyone. Do I really care to know how someone I haven't seen in 20 years spent her day? Does she need to know how I spent mine?

It's too much.

Not too long ago, I got a friend request from someone I've never had a conversation with (I know who she is from school, but we were not in the same grade or the same social circle.) I saw her the same week she made the request, and she did not even acknowledge me. Granted, I didn't rush right up to talk to her either. But I wasn't the one who made the friend request. I got another similar request from someone else this week. I'm not interested in being a number on someone's FB page. I have made one giant cut to my list, and I'm giving serious thought to making another. I think FB is great for keeping up with friends. But I am tired of being bombarded with the various invitations and quiz results. My brain is on overload.

At first, Twitter seemed like great fun. But it, too, became overwhelming to me. I recently got a flood of email notices that people I've never heard of were following me! Who knew I was so popular? I guess it doesn't matter that I haven't posted anything on Twitter in months. I've decided to delete my account.

And where do I begin with blogging? Those of you who've been around here for a while know that blogging, priorities, and proper perspective have been an ongoing struggle for me. Do I post too often? Not often enough? Does anyone think I'm interesting, funny, or wise? Does anyone care? Oh, the people pleaser in me needs to know these things! Yet I've realized that having a large blog readership/following is not part of God's agenda for me. I have made some true friends through blogging. I've discovered so much about God and myself. I've learned how to be more frugal and keep things simple. I've realized the importance of studying His Word and having accountability partners. It's been wonderful.


I need to make some serious changes. Which means:

~Reading less and commenting even lesser. The blogs I read are written by amazing women. Women of character, wisdom, and warmth. They don't need me to validate their importance in the Kingdom of God. I will comment only when I have something valuable to add to the conversation. No more commenting just to let someone know I was there. I will take the (somewhat) more personal approach of emailing my bloggy friends to keep in contact with them.

There are more wonderful, godly blogs out there than I could ever read in a lifetime. The blogosphere is deceptively small at times. I think I'm going for just a little jaunt, only to discover I've been sucked into its vastness and wasted a huge amount of time I didn't have in the first place. I might be missing out on some great reading, but I'll be reclaiming an even greater part of my life.

~Not caving to pressure to post something for the sake of posting. More than anything else, I want you to leave my blog feeling like your time here mattered, you learned something and were blessed. More changes may come, but for now I will most likely limit my posting to three areas: (1) Seeking Him Together Bible Study (for growth, accountability, and just plain fun!); (2) my upcoming trip to Peru (because I'm learning a lot, and I covet your prayers); and (3) reading (because everyone loves a good book, right?). Honestly, I'd rather live my life than write about it.

So, you'll be hearing less from me. But, as Shannon wrote, the best words are the ones that are punctuated with enough silence between them.

April 22, 2009

There's Still Time

To stop by 5 Minutes for Books and check out the great Mother's Day Giveaways. Click on the button for more info.

April 19, 2009

Let's Seek Him Together

His Girl and I have been accountability partners for a little while now. (Kinda' neat when you consider that we live completely across the country from each other. You gotta' love the internet sometimes.) Last week, I told her that I've been a little weary lately and I need a change. I had decided to pull out a Bible study I'd bought several years ago, but never done. I asked her to join me. I was looking forward to yet another excuse to chat with her during the week, when I had a great idea...why not invite the world wide web to join us?

If, like me, you're in need of revival, please pray about joining us for Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. We'll begin with an intro post during the first week of May (probably Monday, May 4th). That will be the first week of study. Amber (His Girl) and I will alternate hosting each week, which means we'll post our thoughts about the week's study and give you a place to link up to your own post. Each week of study has a section for group use entitled "Seeking Him Together", which should be the springboard for your post that week.

We'll be taking care of the details soon (which I hope will include a cute little button!), but we did want to give you time to order your book. You might be able to find it at your local Christian bookstore, but you can also order through through the Revive Our Hearts website or you can click on the title above to order it from Amazon.

What do you say...are you ready to seek Him this summer?

April 17, 2009

Around the House: April

Reading The Piano Teacher. I'm halfway through and still undecided about this book, but I'm too curious about the ending to put it down now.

Enjoying the last of the cool nights, with hot tea and flannel pjs.

Watching Alias - The Complete First Season. Sydney Bristow is my hero.

Avoiding the great clothes swap. Although getting to the attic to do it is much easier now, I still dread this semi-annual chore.

Patting myself on the back because, except for a few minor details (translation, R's tools & hardware that I'm not touching), the attic purge is done! I want to organize it a little better before I post pictures. But I will. I promise.

Amazed at how much stuff junk I have unloaded from the attic. Most recently, the three large shopping bags of old bank statements, etc. that I hauled to the shredding bins.

Anticipating a trip out of town next weekend to visit dear friends.

Counting the days til I leave for Peru. (65, in case you're wondering)

Contemplating how to serve the Lord in the upcoming church year.

Looking forward to the start of CJ's softball season tomorrow.

Needing to clean my house this weekend.

Searching for motivation in so many areas of my life.


Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. -Matthew 7:7-9 (ESV)

Asking for increased faith.
Seeking those He wants me to partner with in prayer for the Peru mission.
Knocking in hopes of unleashing His blessings that are waiting just behind Heaven's door.

April 15, 2009

A Friend Indeed

Back to God's Agenda. This season is all about the women in my life.

A friend grappling daily to put her marriage back together.
Another grieving over the loss of her mother.
Another in the midst of an ugly divorce.
Yet another dealing with an unusually heavy barrage of life's ups and downs.

Women who have confided in me. They have bared their souls, trusted me with their hearts.

Some days I can (and should) only offer a listening ear. Then there are days when encouragement and wisdom are expected, needed. If I am steeped in the world, I will give worldy advice. As a believer I'm called to give more, and I can't give what I don't have. My relationship with Jesus is critical not only for my own spiritual well-being, but also for those with whom I come in contact.
With trouble and pain and dysfunction all around us, we have within our words the capacity to heal, encourage, reconcile and restore. We, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through our prayers and our words, can help others discern that which brings life from that which diminishes it.
-Susie Larson, The Uncommon Woman
According to God, being a friend is a tremendous responsibility. How dare I think it isn't an "important" ministry! It is a privilege I shouldn't take so lightly, of more consequence than any other aspirations for ministry I could ever have.

Oil and perfume make the heart glad,
and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
~Proverbs 27:9 (ESV)

Oh, Lord! Forgive me for throwing away your riches to pursue rubbish. Help me to be the friend that my friends need, to encourage them, and to love them as You do.

5 Minutes for Books Mother's Day Giveaway

Over at 5 Minutes for Books, we're having our first Mother's Day Giveaway...it's practically an extravaganza! We're giving away a book a day from April 15th - 25th, 17 books in all. There's also a GRAND PRIZE of all 17 books! Click on the button to find out more. Good luck, and good reading!

April 14, 2009

The Hard Road - Part III

I could add much more about this road we've traveled, but I don't want to overshare. I wouldn't dare risk hurting CJ. I don't want to end without offering some helps for parents who may find themselves in a similar situation (and for those who want to avoid this path altogether). With that in mind, I'm linking to reviews and websites of several resources that you may want to check out.

Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality. I can't say enough good things about this book. Jim Burns' ministry, HomeWord is also worth a look.

Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty. There's also a series of fiction books & Bible studies for tween girls and an amazing website for girls and moms (and even a mom blog). Great, great resource.

5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter. Vicky Courtney has been on the front lines of the virtue battle for a while. You can find her website here.

What He Must Be if He Wants to Marry My Daughter. I'm just discovering Voddie Baucham, and am looking forward to learning more about him. This book is a must-have.

April 13, 2009

The Hard Road - Part II

Why have I shared our journey on this hard road? (Please read Part I if you haven't already.)

For one thing, I realize that I may unintentionally paint a portrait that everything's always peachy keen in our home. I've told R several times lately that I feel like we are in the midst of an especially sweet season of life. If you could peek into our home, you'd hear yelling some days (mostly me) and frustrated sighs (again, mostly me). You'd see unfinished projects and unpaid bills. But you'd also see a family that, at its heart, loves Jesus and each other.

We are not perfect. I am not perfect. As I commented to Meredith on her post (which, along with the comments, is a great read) I try to be real...to share some struggles, while being careful to honor my husband and our family.

I did open up about this particular event because I hope it will encourage others. God can take a horrible sin and use it for His glory. Would I have chosen for CJ to see pornography? Of course not. Do I wish I had been able to have "the talk" with her on my terms and in my time? Surely, I do. Am I angry that Satan robbed me of that right? You better believe it.

But God...

I have seen Him use this for our good. CJ & I have had many talks after that first day. Everything from choosing friends (remember her tug-of-war analogy? That conversation was a response to this event) to following God's plan for your life. It's an ongoing dialogue. I never know when she'll be prompted to ask a question, so I'm rarely prepared. She keeps me on my toes, this precious girl of mine.

One of my first prayers was for God to protect CJ's mind, and for her to realize that what she saw had absolutely nothing to do with love or God's plan for marriage. Given our current culture, that's a daily battle. Take, for example, the "family" tv show CJ tuned into last week:

We'll go out. He'll get into my bed. Then, all of a sudden, it will be a relationship.

The world has so cheapened God's gift to husbands and wives that we don't value it as the priceless treasure it is. And if we don't, how will our children?

This experience has stressed to me the great importance of being vigilant in my watch over my daughter. Not to imprison her, but to free her. To teach her to stand for God's Word. To guide her to be a woman who, above all else, honors Him. To help her seek Him and find the Promised Land and blessings He has in store.

It's the desire of my heart for my girl, and I won't accept anything less.
Memorize these laws and think about them. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and your foreheads to help you obey them. Teach them to your children. Talk about them all the time--whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. Write them on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates. Then you and your descendants will live a long time in the land that the LORD promised your ancestors. Your families will live there as long as the sky is above the earth.
Deut. 11:18-21 (CEV)

April 10, 2009

Because of the Cross

Angela at Becoming Me is hosting a blog carnival, Because of the Cross (click on the image to learn more). I'm re-posting an observation that really struck me last year.

The LORD said to Moses, "Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: 'See that you present to me at the appointed time the food for my offerings made by fire, as an aroma pleasing to me.' Say to them: 'This is the offering made by fire that you are to present to the LORD: two lambs a year old without defect, as a regular burnt offering each day...On the first day of every month, present to the Lord a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect.
--Numbers 28:1-3, 11

Two lambs a day seems like a meager sacrifice for sin. Even the monthly sacrifice of 10 animals is a small price to pay.

I gossiped, but it's okay because my husband took our lamb to the priest this morning.

I cheated my fellow countryman, but I was the first one at the Tabernacle this morning, so I'm covered.

I coveted my brother's wife. Sure am glad I paid my sacrifice today!

Pretty convenient, isn't it?

And yet, there were 601,730 Israelite men over 20 years old (see Numbers 26:51).

1,203,460 lambs sacrificed every day.

6,017,300 animals slaughtered on the first day of each month to pay for the sins of their masters.

And it wasn't enough.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
--John 1:29

Experiencing the Spirit

Don't you just love how when God starts talking to you about something, He keeps giving you the message over and over until it finally starts to sink in? Or is it just me? He started talking to me about my agenda. But He hasn't stopped there.

When it comes to serving God, we tend to look at what we're good at and what we like to do, then serve according to our ability. The result: we don't need the Holy Spirit because we think we have everything under control...So here's a question: will God ever ask you to do something you're not able to do? The answer is yes - all the time! It must be that way, for God's glory and kingdom. If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory; if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory. He wants to reveal Himself to a watching world.

This excerpt is taken from Henry Blackby's new book, Experiencing the Spirit: The Power of Pentecost Every Day.

From the publisher:

God’s Holy Spirit is ready to answer that for us in an awesome way, as Henry Blackaby and his son Mel Blackaby make clear in Experiencing the Spirit. You’ll see how the proof of the Spirit’s presence is our awareness of God’s personal assignments for us, plus our supernatural enablement to carry out those assignments. You’ll find essential clarification on the difference between natural talents and spiritual gifts. You’ll explore the dynamics of being filled with the Spirit through intimate relationship with Him, committed obedience, and radical departure from sin.

The first Bible study I participated in was Blackaby's Experiencing God. It taught me how to look for God in every day life and to join Him in His work. Obviously, I've needed a refresher course. I haven't gotten very far in this new book yet, but it's been eye-opening and convicting so far.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of living for myself and in my limited power. I'm ready for more.

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and
they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31, ESV)

April 9, 2009

The Hard Road: Part I

We need to talk.

Four words. Twelve little letters. One enormous impact.

CJ had spent the night with a friend. When the girl's mother approached me that morning, I had no idea what had happened the night before. I didn't know my little girl's innocence had been destroyed.

It was as easy as 1-2-3.

One computer. Two young girls. Three pornographic videos.

Even now, months later, I'm battling with how to share this. I could cast blame (and I did). I could cry (believe me, I have). I could share the sordid details, but that would serve no purpose.

R was not with me. At first, I was stunned. Slowly the realization crept in, and I was devastated. I thought I would fall apart. I prayed, alone and with someone I respect and trust. Others were praying over me, although they didn't know what was going on. When CJ and I were alone, I carefully broached the subject with her. I didn't want to go into any more detail than necessary, because at the time I wasn't sure what she saw. When she told me, I nearly got sick.

But God...

Those prayers immediately started working. The Holy Spirit grabbed control of my mouth, and led me in a beautiful discussion about a horrid event. God did an amazing work in that time. I don't think I fully understood until I recently read Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. As John Piper so eloquently states

[The Bible] has shown us over and over that sin and sickness and disaster never escape the good governance of the infinitely wise God...the great divine dictum holds: "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good" (Genesis 50:20).

It's been a hard road, but God has been faithful. We will not let this one moment in time redefine our lives, though it has certainly caused us to be more careful. The toughest part is knowing that I can't always be there to protect CJ. Yet I am so grateful her Heavenly Father is there. He is watching over her, and I am called to trust Him even in this.

More to come...

So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages].
~Isaiah 26:4 (AMP)

April 7, 2009

The Agenda

I'm a planner. I plan. I like to know where I'm going and what I'm doing. It's been that way for as long as I can remember.

I had an ongoing (but relatively minor) health issue when I was a preschooler. My mom learned early on the importance of telling me what would happen during a doctor's visit or hospital stay. If I was prepared, I could handle it. One time, she didn't realize they were going to draw blood. She hadn't warned me, and I went into a full-blown panic.

In 8th grade, I started requesting applications and catalogs from colleges. I wanted to make certain I knew what was required to be accepted to an institution I might choose, and what it would take to graduate with a degree in a major I might consider.

I like to have a full understanding of the current situation, and rehearse the possible scenarios in my mind before making a commitment.


Which, I'm learning, is not a personality trait that God finds favorable. In all my needing to know, my planning of my life, I forgot something.

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9, ESV)

For many years now, I've been telling God how I want to serve Him in hopes that He'd hop on board with my plans. Are you surprised to know it hasn't quite panned out? He's been nudging me in the right direction ever so gently, but my hard heart hasn't listened. He recently grabbed my attention through two sources with the same message: Don't push your agenda with God!


Stop pushing your agenda with God!

I've been so busy telling God what I wanted to do for Him, that I haven't noticed what He's been putting right in front of me. I've been wrapped up in being sullen, whining that I wasn't getting my way, rather than accepting His agenda for my life.

It's time for a new theme song:

This is a giant leap of faith
Trusting and trying to embrace
The fear of the unknown
Beyond my comfort zone
I’m letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams

I'm Letting Go, lyrics by Francesca Battistelli, Ian Eskelin & Tony Wood

Not a summer vacation, but a trip to Peru. Not a big women's ministry, but a small number of women who truly need love and prayers right now. Not a huge Sunday School class, but a group of teenage girls. Not the other worldly things my heart's been seeking after, but glimpses of the Heavenly treasures that are waiting. Not where I want to go, but where He does.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:21, ESV)

April 6, 2009

As if I Needed a Reason

to read. Still, it's nice to say

Yes, honey, reading this book really is a matter of life and death.

Click here to find out more.

April 3, 2009

Coffee, Anyone?

Alana & Jill both wanted to know about my Starbucks fave. I'm a creature of habit who's not very adventurous with my coffee. Particularly at Starbucks, because who wants to pay $5 for a cup of coffee you might not like? I pretty much stick with a white chocolate mocha. During the holidays, I get a little wild and order the peppermint white chocolate mocha. Every once in a while I go crazy and get a pumpkin latte. And when it's warm out, nothing hits the spot like a frozen vanilla frap.

Alana wanted to know what I order at the Starbucks drive-thru. Apparently she's forgotten that I'm a small-town girl, and such a luxury is unheard of in these parts. HOWEVER...

A couple of years ago, as we traveled through the City to a holiday gathering, a Starbucks drive-through caught my eye. I made R promise we would stop on the way home. He didn't want me to throw a fit loves me, so he assured me we would. I was giddy with anticipation from the moment we got back in the car. Neither of us could remember exactly where it was. I had my eyes peeled, but still missed it. After the u-turn and finding the not so obvious entry, we made it. I happily ordered my drink and we pulled to the cashier. And you know what I saw through the window? Bright red stickers! S.A.L.E. on the Christmas coffee! I hopped out of the car and ran inside, where I met a barista who was desperately trying to close her register and get home for the evening. She looked at me like I'd lost my mind. The explanation I offered didn't help her mood one bit.

I'm sorry. I'm from a small town and I don't get Starbucks very often.

You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl.

What about you...what's your favorite Starbucks drink?