Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Olympic Hopeful and the Christian



Well, we did it. We loosened our grip on our beloved Alaska and reached across the continent to embrace a brand new place to call home.

We arrived in North Carolina one week ago, and I'm happy to report we're all in one piece and enjoying the vacation-like setting we're in right now before the realities of life including school, work, and moving into our home set in. I'm documenting over on Instagram (my favorite!) if you'd like to follow along.

Just a day or two after arriving, it was time for the Olympics to start. One thing you have to know about me is that I am what one might call an Olympic Games super-fan.

I love the thrill of the competition, the bright colors, and the excitement surrounding the Games. I love the family and friends in the stands, the years of dreaming and training, and the general buzz the Olympics creates. 

I get into the athletes' stories and highly respect their long years of hard work and dedication. 

The medal ceremonies have the power to choke me up, no matter what country you're from and what event you're competing in. You could be a Ukrainian shot-putter winning a gold medal and I just might shed a happy tear on your behalf. Maybe it's the dreamer in me, but I love seeing big dreams come true. 

All the way across the world, from my home with my family who thinks I'm a wee bit obsessive with my USA warm-up jacket my Dad scored at a thrift store for me, my Go Team USA parties, and my general willingness to veg out in front of the TV for weeks once every two years. It's a fun gig. The Olympics are so. much. fun. 

But before the Games even begin, you have to have the Olympic Trials. 

Can I just tell you I have a whole other set of feelings and love for the Trials? But here's the thing about the Trials:

An Olympic hopeful has a 0% guarantee they will make the team. Their beloved Olympic team, after all those years of pursuing it. 

There is no guarantee they will perform well. Anything could happen. An ankle could roll, a muscle could tear, or a sickness could overtake them. I'm not trying to be all Eyeore about it, but it's true. Depressingly true. 

Because I'm a great big Olympic nerd-fan, prior to the Games I found myself watching interviews with hopefuls who eventually went on to make the team, but were interviewed before actually being selected. I love stuff like that.

Here are some of the words and phrases these athletes were using before they competed to earn their spot. Notice the air of uncertainty.

"I just don't know."

"Anything can happen out there today."

"I can only hope all the years of sacrifice and training will pay off."

"I want to make my family proud and show them it was worth it."

"I am just going to give it my all and hope it's enough."

We've all spoken these sorts of words. Maybe not with a trip to the Olympic Games on the line, but we know how it feels to be so unsure of outcomes.

That exam we've studied an entire semester for.
That illness we're fighting.
That child who gives us an insane amount of grief.
That job interview.
That move across the country.

Yep, we know the feeling. Uncertainty is associated with any worthwhile endeavor. And I don't mean to Jesus Juke you here, but whenever I think of Olympic hopefuls and the inevitable truth that someone who has worked just as hard as the rest will walk away disappointed, I can't help but think of the contrast between these hopefuls and Christians.

An Olympic hopeful has zero assurance their dream will come true.

A believer in Christ has full assurance of eternal outcomes.

Christ-followers find acceptance with God through Christ no matter how hard we work. 

Christ's death and saving work on our behalf gives us confidence of God's welcome no matter how well we perform. 

Because of Jesus:

  • there is no guesswork after years of hard work
  • there are on dashed hopes
  • the dream always comes true

The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us of this truth in chapter 10:19-23:




The only dream we can really place any hope in is our eternal dwelling with Christ. No matter what happens, no matter what disappointment takes hold and stays for what seems like forever, in Jesus there is no guesswork, no dashed hopes, and the dream always comes true.

That's something we can be sure of.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On Moving and Leaping



It's taken me two whole months to actually sit down and write about our family's move 4,000 miles from home here in Alaska. Partly because I've been terribly busy organizing our move, getting our home ready, selling things off, packing, and then just living life as a wife, mom, and friend, and partly because I haven't known what to say or how to explain it.


But it's actually really simple if you get right down to it. 

God told us we needed to move to North Carolina. 
I imagine I'll go into that more later on. It's all so beautifully personal and complex though.

We prayed about it for three whole years, eventually knowing it would happen. 
Then we said yes in May once we had confirmation as a couple the timing was right. 

We then listed our house two weeks later, after prepping all winter just in case we should be selling it come summertime.

One day later it sold. 

One. Day. 

That was six weeks ago.

It's been the fastest six weeks of our lives. 

We're shocked. Sad. Excited. Thrilled to be walking into the unknown knowing the Lord is our stay. And a bazillion other things. This move conjures up so many emotions. 

For three years I've been asking God if He is really wanting us to leave. 

Why would we leave? I don't want to leave. It'd be nuts to leave our parents, our church, these amazing friends, this amazing place. Plus this: THERE ARE 10 OF US TO MOVE. 

But slowly, He changed our hearts to match His on the matter. And now we can't imagine not leaving even though we have no idea what we're stepping into. 

Jeremy was born and raised here, and has never lived anywhere else in his 40 years. 
I moved to Alaska as a kid from Washington state, and have lived here 30 years. 
This is all our kids have ever known. 

This is HOME. 

But as the years have gone by, we've loosened our grip on our earthly home, as hard as that is. And we've begun to embrace our future home, the unshakeable kingdom of our Lord and King, Jesus. 



This verse has impacted us deeply. In fact, this is the very verse that solidified it for both Jeremy and I, completely separate of each other. 

The cities and places we live are temporary. But what isn't fading away is God's kingdom. Our family is being called away from our current place because God has a mission for us, but we don't yet know what that will look like, or what exactly He'll have us doing. 

As Jeremy said right as we made our final decision, "I'm not willing to sit back, comfortable right here, if God has a plan for us there to help lead others into His kingdom." 

People get it when you say, "Hey, guess what? We've moving to Africa as missionaries!" 

No one balks. No one questions. Well, of course they do, but only on the internet, right? Did I just say that? 

We know what this means, and we're familiar with how God calls in this way.

We get squirmy when a calling is more ambiguous.  

We feel a bit (a lot) like Abraham gathering all his people up, and blindly going where God was leading him, not knowing what the future holds. 

We do know one thing amidst the massive amount of unknowns right now, and that is that we serve a trustworthy Savior who will continue to lead and guide and hold us as we walk toward Him all the way to North Carolina and her hot, sticky summers. 

And so we close this twelve year-long chapter in this glorious spot in this beloved home in just two weeks. 

We cry. We shake our heads in disbelief. We rejoice. We pray. And then we go.





Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Meet My Brain {9 Notebooks That Save My Life}


When other women ask how I "do it all" (whatever that means), I usually shrug my shoulders and talk about what a good team Jeremy and I are. Which is completely true. Never once have I stopped to consider there are additional ways I intentionally calm the crazy in my life.

Enter my notebooks.

I'll put myself out there and say that I feel all warm and fuzzy about my notebook collection. I usually take one with me anytime I leave the house. I'm a pen and paper sort of girl, and only use my phone to keep track of shopping lists. I even use a tried and true wall calendar to keep track of the family schedule.

I've tried apps like Evernote to keep it all together, but I just wasn't jiving with it.

I love writing things down.

If keeping track of life in notebooks helps me, someone who believes the brain cells in charge of memory slipped secretly out when I gave birth five times over, then maybe they'll help you too.

You certainly don't have to have as many notebooks as I have, (or any!) but maybe this post will give you an idea or two and help you gain some extra brain space of your own.



1.  Bible Study - This notebook holds whatever notes from whatever book of the Bible I'm currently studying. Right now I'm studying Numbers with the gang over on the First 5 app. (It's free! Go snag it. I love waking up with the First 5 crew.) It also holds the things I'm learning from certain passages or books of Scripture that I'll eventually use to form speaking notes when I have a speaking engagement.

2.  Personal Journal - In this notebook, I ask myself questions and answer them. For instance, "What's making me crazy right now?" or "What am I worried about?" and other honest inquiries. Leanna Tankersley speaks about having this sort of journal in her book Brazen, which was a great read for me in early 2016. We were thankful to be able to chat with her as a guest on The Masterpiece Mom podcast a few months back to discuss her new book. Have a listen right here. 

3.  Project or Ministry Notebook - This one helps me keep track of all things regarding the ministry of The Masterpiece Mom. Blog post ideas, meeting notes, podcast notes, and brainstorms are all kept here.

4.  Bullet Journal - Meet my brain: the bullet journal. It's not a specific type of journal, rather it's a journaling method. Learn about it at www.bulletjournal.com -- You're welcome! I keep track of my daily and monthly to-do's here, along with other sorts of lists like party invites, book lists, packing lists, etc.

5.  Sermon Notes - I retain more when I'm taking notes during a sermon. The end.

6.  Moving Notebook - More specifically, I call this my North Carolina book. But if there's anything that requires tons of attention and numerous details, consider dedicating an entire notebook to it. Eek. There I go again, mentioning that we're moving without talking about it. I promise, that's coming soon.

7.  Healthy Living - This one is dedicated to keeping track of healthy eating habits and exercise. It helps me stay accountable to myself and my goals, even though I often forget to write in it. As an almost 40 year-old woman, the importance of staying active and eating well for my health is at the forefront of my mind. If I don't feel well, it's usually because I'm not taking care of myself.

8.  Writing Ideas and Quotes - This little notebook holds all the writing ideas that pass through my mind when I'm going about my day. No matter how much I convince myself I'll remember them, I just can't. I also collect quotes I may want to use in my future writing as well.

9.  Prayer - Usually, I post prayer requests on my bedroom wall using white post-its and pretty washi tape, but since we've been in home-selling mode around here the last couple of months, I've had to clear the wall. So I turned to a prayer notebook. Again, I just can't remember all that I'd like to be lifting to the Lord in prayer. This helps me be more intentional.



How do you keep track of your life? 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

We Need You and Want You {Mentor Us, Please}

About a year and a half ago I stood in my bathroom and cried hot tears I didn't know were lying dormant inside of me. I was grieving. 

I realized my life had a gaping hole in it and I'd only just figured out what it was. 

I was mentor-less. 



Thirteen years ago, I moved back to the community I grew up in with my husband of three years, and two teeny little boys. I'd had mentors before. Not formal ones, really, but friendships with women a stage or two ahead of me. I treasured them, but after moving, these friendships slipped into the background without the everyday closeness we'd once shared. 

So here I was in the town of my youth, attending the church of my youth after being away eight years, starting over with my sister (who had also recently moved back) as my only friend. 

I made friends my own age quickly, and began to get involved in ministry to moms through Mothers of Preschoolers mostly because I needed it so badly myself. 

After years of involvement there, and holding leadership roles among women my own age, still I remained mentor-less. 

When I figured out what I'd been missing that day in my bathroom, I chalked it up to two things: 

1) I wasn't placing myself in circles with women in my church or community who were older and wiser than myself. How were they supposed to know I had a need if they didn't know me?

2) A large portion of the women older and wiser than myself might be assuming my generation of women and mothers don't need them or want them in our lives, therefore are afraid to reach out for fear of rejection.

When I was six months pregnant with my fourth child, I sat on a stage in Kansas City, Missouri on a panel in front of a large room of female ministry leaders who were a generation or so ahead of me pleading with them to mentor us. 

I watched their eyes widen with tears in the corners and heads shake in disbelief as I told them we needed them. We wanted them. We ached for their presence in our lives. 

And that we were sorry, we just don't know how to communicate it. Because sometimes we don't know what we're missing. 

The internet has distracted us. We think Google is a fine replacement for another woman who's been there. 

We think social media and online Facebook groups are suitable trade-outs for sitting together on a blanket at a park catching up while our kids play and hers are getting married and having babies of their own. 

We're prideful. We think we shouldn't need help. We should be able to do this on our own. 

We think she won't understand our lives. Our complicated, messy lives. But we don't always accept that she has her own messy and complicated, and gets us more than we know. 

I haven't written about it publicly here in this space, and will soon, but we're moving all the way across the continent later this summer, and I've just now started a relationship here at my church, here in this town, that I believe would have and could have turned into this sort of mentoring relationship. 

All it took was me reaching out and saying HELP. I need you. Can we talk? It's been a precious thing. 

I believe God has placed and will place mentors ahead of me in our new town, in our new life. But it's going to take some work on my part too. I'll need to reach out and make myself vulnerable. And do you know what? I'm so excited.  

There's much more to say on the topic, more of which I hope to talk further on. I'm just a mom trying to tap this out before my kids come barrelling up the stairs for breakfast. The struggle is very real. 

Before we step away and move on with our day, how about we take inventory of how we're truly doing in this regard?

How are we doing at reaching out to women ahead of us and behind us? 
How are we at accepting help and vulnerable friendship?
How are we at giving help and being a safe place? 

Have you been missing these kinds of relationships too? 


Thursday, May 5, 2016

3 Questions to Ask Ourselves About Friendship


Friendships with other women can be absolutely beautiful. But as we all know, they can be tricky little specimens too.

In my younger adult years, I used to slather myself across a wide expanse of friendships. It's in my extroverted nature to go deep and fast with new friends I believe can be trusted, so this habit has helped me make lots of friends through the years.

It's a great trait until you've overshared just after the first hello and things turn awkward. Or you've got too many people to keep up with, and you just want to make it stop.

As I creep closer to 40, I'm having to learn how to do friendship smarter. Maybe you want to do friendship smarter too.

I've begun asking myself some important questions to help gauge where I'm at and where my friend or potential friend is at, so we can all do this thing like grownups.


Is she interested in pursuing me? 

I'm allergic to pursuing friends who just aren't into it. I don't want to be annoying, but I also don't like not trying. Sometimes it's hard to tell: Is she not engaging much or at all because she does friendship differently than I would, needs me to reach out to her, or is she wishing I would go away and leave her alone?

I'm learning to watch and see, and not push myself onto someone I'm unsure about. Trying a little communication here and there, and see if she bites. Though often I wonder if I'm too much. Too chatty. Too willing to share. Too eager about them or even my own life.

The thing is, if the other person is interested in being in your life, they will find ways to put themselves in your life. They will call. They will text. They will engage on purpose, and if they live close by, they will seek out ways to be with you.

Sometimes that truth hurts. Because truly, the proof is in the reaching out and reciprocating. Does she? Will she? Can she? Am I speaking a solely extroverted language here? I dunno. Introverts help me out.

Are the rules the same regardless of our personalities?


What are my motives? 

Another cringe-worthy question. Why am I pursuing this friendship? Are my motives pure?

Do I simply enjoy her company and her ways with a desire to know and see more? Or am I motivated out of a selfish place?

What will friendship with her do for me? How will it make me appear to others? How can I get her to see how great and exciting I am?

If there's an angle behind our motives, we'd be wise to set this one aside for a time until we can pursue her with right intentions.


Am I being a good conversationalist? 

In any friendship new or seasoned, conversation is a key ingredient. To be a good conversationalist and to keep friendships growing, there has to be a balance of listening, acknowledging, and sharing.

We can't just be a good listener and acknowledger and grow a closer friendship.

We can't just share our stories and tell our news and grow a closer friendship.

To grow a closer friendship, both parties have to be willing to go both places. Listening and sharing. Sharing and listening.

There are times I have hung up the phone and nearly burst because the person on the other end of the line didn't ask a single thing about me or my life. I asked all the questions, and they were happy to answer with all their things. This has to go both ways.

Unless of course, you or your friend is in crisis, or it's just a quick informational phone call. But we should at least check-in, ask how our friend is doing, and listen like we mean it.

Friendship isn't just about us. We're to serve and build others up too. But in order for a relationship to go anywhere but the friendship graveyard, it cannot remain focused on just one person.

Point blank: if the person you're pursuing friendship with doesn't ever ask you questions, generally speaking, they aren't interested in furthering the relationship.

Or maybe they want to, but don't know how.

You can never grow closer to another human being if you are only telling your stories, relaying your news, and flinging all the things you've been dying to say at the other person. 

That's a one-sided relationship and your friend happens to like hearing themselves talk. 

I would know. I've been that friend.



Let's talk friendship. What challenges do you face in making new friends? In keeping friends? What kinds of questions do you ask yourself when it comes to friendship?


Thursday, April 21, 2016

So You're Mad at Your Real Life


Let's just say Monday was not my favorite day ever.

It got so bad, that we packed a quick lunch and bolted out the door to who knows where, skipping naps and everything. I could not stay home amidst the frustrating attitudes and actions displayed by a couple of the kids. I was also upset at myself for not handling it better. 

We did absolutely nothing except drive around, take in some scenery we've seen a thousand times, and stop at church to go to the bathroom and play on the lawn. Free therapy, I tell you. It was just enough time for me to truly think about why I was so disillusioned with it all, and to talk to God about it.

What exactly was my problem? Yeah, 8 kids is a lot. Yeah, some of the kids have "unique" needs with repetitive issues that test me to the core. But where was my long-suffering, love, joy, and patience (among other things)?

I pinned down the truth of it. I was mad. Mad that this is my life. Mad that tension headaches are a daily occurrence. Mad that what God called us to as a family is so darn hard. 

Have you ever been downright mad that your current circumstances are your actual real life? Like not just for a week or two, but your honest-to-goodness, somebody-please-send-a-nanny-or-three season of life? Perhaps years of life? 

Mad. 

But at the very same time, the very same people who are contributing to our "mad at my real life" state of mind also make us gloriously thankful. It's this interesting mix. At times I want to run far, far away, but I never do because I love them so, so much. Plus, they're watching me. I want them to see how a struggling believer hangs in there for the long-haul.

When giving thanks in all circumstances is the bar set in Scripture, one can get to feeling pretty guilty about being mad at anything placed in our life by the Lord. Especially our kids. 

At the end of the day, a drive-thru vanilla latte helped, as did blasting the Tony Bennett station during and after dinner. Watching the young ones sway to the crooners helped too. But what really helped is my husband. 

We help each other see. 

That night he helped me see that it's normal to be mad at your right now life at times. 

Even Jesus asked the Father if there was any other way their goal of saving humanity could be accomplished. Does it have to be this? This cross? This pain?



In most cases, the Father says, "Yes. It does." Just like he did with Jesus. 

Our right now life might be the way through this season or this frustration. Much to our chagrin, we have to go through to get to the other side. 

And we can't forget that a whole lotta character is produced through these trials. (Romans 5:3-4) That's the good part we're after.

So is there any other way, God?
Maybe. But the answer might be that we need to keep going.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

Let Someone Else Praise You


One recent afternoon, as I was putting a huge pot of water to boil on the stove to start dinner, two tiny little boys I’d never seen in my life came wandering aimlessly up our driveway.

There was no mama in sight, and no car waiting like before whenever a child came to the door selling raffle tickets or magazine subscriptions. There was nobody except two mousy brown-haired boys wearing backpacks.

The older one was around six or seven, the younger didn’t look a day over five.

They came cautiously, yet confidently. At least the older brother seemed to know what he was doing.

I greeted them on the porch to save them the agony of deciding whether or not to knock on a stranger's door.

“Hi guys. What’s going on?” 

The older tiny guy proceeded to tell me their bus driver dropped them off at the wrong stop, and they didn’t know where home was. What brave little guys! I know they had walked quite a ways just to get our house because I never saw any bus.

After asking a few questions and calling their mom because oldest little dude knew his mom’s number (winning!), I figured out they were a couple miles from home. What. How this can happen is beyond me. 

After reassuring the panicked mom I was a safe person (hello, mom of eight kids), she agreed that it would be helpful if I brought them home to her instead of her coming to collect them.

I loaded them up in our 15-passenger with three of my own kids to make them feel comfortable, and headed off toward their house.

As I drove, my mom-dar was working overtime. What if they had chosen the home of a person who wouldn’t have taken good care of them? Why did the ever-lovin’ bus driver drop them off miles from home? Why did they come to our house, out of all the houses on their walk to nowhere? 

In the middle of all of these questions was also this embarrassingly telling one: What would these little boys have done without ME? 

Oops. There I go again making myself the hero.

Yeah, I called their mom to inform and reassure her and drove them home. I did the right things and thought fast on my feet. I hope any person with a heart would have done the same.

It's easy to slip into hero mode because it's tempting to want our work to be noticed and praised.

I'm not proud of it, but I'm an internal eye-roller when other people peg themselves as the hero and tell big stories touting their heroic help or good deeds in a situation.

"I did _______. And then I __________ and ______. They were so appreciative of my help. I'm just so glad I was there when I was." 

I guess it bothers me when other people praise themselves because I'm prone to do the same and dislike it so much in myself.

It's inviting, yet repulsive all at the same time. It's inviting because recognition for a job well done feels good. It's repulsive because it's pride.

We are supposed to step in. It's the way of God's people.

We do heroic things. Some of us do extremely difficult, inconvenient, and costly things in our everyday lives for the good of others.

But even then, should be we drawing attention to ourselves for it?

God's Word speaks about it in this way:


Let someone else praise you.

Such simple words. When we try to convince others of our praiseworthiness by recounting all the ways we've been plain awesome, it's awkward.

What if no one saw us and there is no chance for another person to praise us? How will they know how great we are? (You know it's true.)

If nobody hears about it, did it ever really happen? Will anyone ever know what we went through or how hard we've worked unless we tell them all about it?

Maybe not.

But is that really so bad?

The good deeds we do in secret will be rewarded by God (Matthew 6:1-4), and the good deeds someone happens to notice might be recognized here in this life.

Are we okay with that? Can we stop seeking to attract admirers? Can we recognize it as pride, and work to eradicate it from our lives as we're instructed in scripture?

It's what God is asking of us.

Do the right and noble and heroic thing.
Don't boast about it.
Do seek the reward that comes straight from God.

Let someone else praise you. One day of being plain awesome at a time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

When Staying is Harder Than Quitting

Ever so often, I have the overwhelming urge to quit.

I want to quit mothering when I'm mega-overwhelmed with all the ages, stages and issues under my roof. Bolting out the door seems to be the only answer.

I wish the exhaustion would cease and the fruit of the effort would magically settle in.


I want to quit speaking into anybody else's life. I want to be done working toward a life of ministry writing and speaking. And I want to be done having people know more about me than I'd prefer.

I want to be quiet. Obscure. Under the radar.

But then again I don't.

Because even if I chose to figuratively stop doing the hard and draining work of mothering all these people and literally stop speaking into the lives of others, I couldn't.
It's in my nature to do so.

I'm drawn to be intentional with my kids and be with my kids, even when it's mind-numbingly mundane.
I'm beckoned to sit and tap on the keys and fill notebooks, even on the days when I see no purpose in it.

Even if I chose to stop formulating messages, I couldn't.
Because they involuntarily run through my head each day, and are frantically written down lest I forget them.

But most importantly, I couldn't stop because I'm wired to do these things. Quitting would be like attempting to unravel my DNA and manipulate it into some balloon animal creation that slightly resembles a wiener dog. It just wouldn't work.

I'm wired to mother and to minister to other women. Even when it all feels like it's going nowhere in the fast lane most of the time.

When I remember God wired me to do these things, my heart is hushed. My resolve is strengthened and my eagle-eyes reset their sights on the far-off finish line God has set before me. I'm in this for the long-haul because He is asking me to be.

Plus, all of the hard stuff can also be gloriously fun and rewarding in the very same day. Like, crazy good.


What do we do about those days when we want to quit doing the things we're called to? Those days where our lives aren't gloriously fun or rewarding, but instead are downright hard and depressing? Staying feels harder than quitting on those days.

Working at that marriage. Parenting that child with needs so far above your ability to deal. Showing love to that friend whose life has taken her down a different path than our own. Taking those college classes. Running that business. Taking care of that aging parent.

Stay is a powerful force.

It's tempting to look around and notice how easy life seems to be playing out for everyone else. It can be so deceiving.

When things appear to be stable, good, and thriving in the lives of those around us, it's definitely not because it's been easy for them. Truly healthy individuals, truly strong relationships, and truly successful ventures are only such because someone spent a good portion of their time and effort working at it.

Thriving doesn't come easily. Healthy relationships don't come without an investment.


We've all heard triumphant stories of people who didn't give up. Like the Cliff Youngs of this world and household names who have persevered against crazy odds.

These verses in James 1:2-4 have been encouraging to me when persevering has felt impossible:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

The hardship we experience as we keep at it isn't where the joy is found. I've often been confused by this, or felt like I'm some lousy Christ-follower. The joy comes through the persevering. It's in the reward that's found as we keep at it. Faith results in perseverance. Perseverance produces maturity and completeness. I can thank God for trials because of what they produce in me.

Faith. Perseverance. Maturity. Completeness. 

Staying may be harder than quitting, but the results speak for themselves.


** A wee disclaimer: I am not advocating for staying in abusive situations. Please get help. Speaking to someone from your church or a trusted friend or family member is a good place to begin. xo



Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Twinkle is Back


I've started and restarted this blog post too many times. 

How does one start blogging again after two months away? I can't just start talking about my favorite music or how we should all learn to love without the limits we so often put in place. I can't start there, so I'll just say hello.

Hello, there. I'm still here. 

I'm active on my Facebook page, popping in every day or so. So if you're on Facebook, won't you join me over there? 

I'm also busy writing and podcasting over at The Masterpiece Mom. Our podcast is also available on iTunes, which is so fun. But it was in this place I began writing almost 10 years ago, and it is this place that holds such a special place in my heart. 

Well, this wasn't the first place I began writing. There was the book I wrote in 5th grade. Do you remember Sweet Valley Twins? Ahem. I read every single one of those books, paying my hard-earned allowance for them. After reading a crazy number of stories about Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, naturally I wrote a story called Triplets of Long Beach. Yes, I did. That was the last time I wrote fiction. You can all thank me for that. 

I moved on to loving writing reports and term papers in high school and college. And technically, I started writing online two blog addresses ago, but I think you get what I'm saying. I guess I've been a writer for a long time. 

Hello, again. 

I hereby pledge to post at least every other week (on the weeks I'm not writing for my other site) for the next two months to get back in the habit. Will you hold me to that? Come knock on my virtual "door" in the comments or on the Facebook page if I'm not holding up my end. You have my permission. 



Life has been tough. So tough this last year. The kind where you cry through nearly every worship service. That's the main reason for my absence. I just haven't known what to say. When writing for The Masterpiece Mom, I can compartmentalize and write about mom stuff, and it keeps things neutral. But over here, I write about some different things, and sometimes they hit a little too close to home. 

I wrote Into the Presence of God {A Prayer for the Hard Times} during one of the hardest weeks, and The Girl in the Next Seat a few weeks after. I needed to keep writing. But it wasn't easy. There was nothing new to say. 

But things have turned a corner. Nothing's changed, really. The circumstance is still just as difficult. But when God plants peace in your heart, things do change. 

I'm doing well. For the first time in almost a year, I can actually say that with a familiar twinkle in my eye. That twinkle's been away. 

Have you been in that place of unexplainable peace when the storm is still raging? Isn't it just so welcomed? 

Our standards change and we become content with things not quite looking the way we'd hoped or imagined. I'm guessing that's the state of mind we're intended to have all along.

So hello, again. It's nice to be back. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Right Thing at the Right Time (Why Your Gifts Matter)

I have a friend who is incredibly gifted in an area I plain stink at. 

My friend Amber has the gift of food. Yes, food. 



She has gifted the women in our community with more meals delivered to their doorstep than I can count. After my last baby was born, she delivered twenty-four meals to our home in a span of six months. What? Twenty-four. 

Each time she pulled into our driveway, I stood near tears (and sometimes tears), with so much gratitude for her selflessness, her time, and her sacrifice. 

Our home was filled with its own special brand of crazy as we followed the Lord into the births of five biological kids and three adoptions. I would be misleading you if I let on that it merely was crazy, because it just IS crazy — like all of the time. On some days during this season, the enormity of my role as a mom of a big adoptive family threatened to eat me alive. 

Enter Amber. Without knowing the current status of my sanity, she would call to see if she and her kids could stop by for a little bit the next day and bring lunch for us all to eat, dinner for the family that evening, and three meals for the freezer. She would never say she’s gifted or special in any way. She just does what comes naturally to her. She goes about it quietly, never touting her kindness for the world to see. She loves deeply in the best way she knows how. With food.

Any woman recovering from surgery, sickness, or the birth of a child, knows how hard it is to prepare food for ourselves. I have never been so touched by the selfless kindness of a friend as I have with this friend’s offering to our family. She was Jesus with a casserole and a bag of rolls. 

God used Amber to teach me to love even when it looks small, because we never know when our obedience in serving will be just the right thing at just the right time for a person in need. 

This challenges me to give and serve with my whole heart in the area of my gifting. 

Why do we always view our offerings as “nothing much,” when they most certainly are not? What seemed to Amber like a big bag of nothingness delivered to my doorstep, was actually a rescue line dropped right into the pit of my despair at the exact moment of my need. 

To this day, the kids still rave about Miss Amber’s enchiladas. And sometimes she drops off a panful just because she knows it. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

When You Feel Like a Weirdo, But Hope It's Not True



Some days it feels like I was gifted with the jackpot at the end of the rainbow of quirky traits. I can recall a phone number I've seen written out, even if I've never dialed it. I have the ability to care deeply and quickly about someone I don't know all that well. I cry when moments hold the slightest meaning even when I've promised myself I wouldn't. I'm genuinely enthusiastic about other peoples' lives and interests. And then there's this little gem: Even years later, I'll remember more than is socially normal about a person I've only met once.

It's taken some time, but I can appreciate these qualities now. Though sometimes I get fearful that potential friends or new connections won't be so comfortable with the real me and it will be awkward, so I try to tone it down. I wouldn't want to scare anyone away by my enthusiasm. I wouldn't want to turn anyone off by being the truest version of me. Wait... what? 

I think I can safely say I'm not alone in this. Some of us change the way we speak, act, react, hold ourselves, dress, and even the way we think about things, all for the sake of appearing normal. A little more like the rest. Blending with the look and feel of the masses.

There've been countless times I've allowed myself to believe I was made with faulty parts. Tears were not supposed to flow unless I told them to. Therefore I must be too emotional. And I certainly wasn't supposed to embarrass myself by remembering every single detail about a person I've talked to for thirty seconds once in my life. Obviously I must be a weirdo. These people have no recollection of me. While, I naturally remember the four freckles under their right eye, where they grew up, along with their first and last name. Embarrassing. Though helpful at times too. But still, embarrassing and unintentionally stalker-ish.

In Psalm 139:14, the Psalmist spoke words of praise to God about the way he was made: "Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Do our souls know and believe the truth about ourselves? Do we believe God's work in making us is wonderful? It's difficult to praise God for something we think is weird.

So when we believe the way Jesus created us is strange, cringe-worthy, or accidental, there's something wrong with our way of thinking. We must remember how intentional God is and set our minds there instead. We must remember we're set apart. Our quirks are no accident.

All this talk of weirdos and interesting traits makes me think of John the Baptist. I'm sorry, but it does. We generally think of John as this bold, insect munching, scratchy camel fur-wearing guy. He was these things, but more importantly, this cousin of Jesus was entrusted with preparing Israel to meet the Messiah in the flesh. John was to serve as the emcee for the main event -- to introduce the main person: Jesus.

To us John might have seemed a bit strange. To them he was considered a fanatic. But to Jesus he was considered the "greatest of all men" (Matthew 11:11) because of his obedience and all out commitment to carry out the task he was given.

I just love that he didn't seem at all concerned about fitting in, but he did make it a point to concern himself with making sure his life fit inside God's story. He wasn't out to be the most unique or most outlandish person. His goal was obedience. He accomplished this by walking forward in the middle of God's will for him, fully himself no matter how crazy it looked.

Nothing is wasted with God. The traits he gave you, the traits he gave me, the traits he gave John the Baptist were on purpose. Hold your head high, walk in His ways for you, and make obedience your target. Your quirky traits will serve to make the journey more interesting, and they certainly won't be holding you back.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

5 Things I'd Tell You About Marriage





This month, Jeremy and I celebrate the 20th anniversary of our very first date.

Back in 1995, he had hair, I had braces. He looked ready for his debut in a toothpaste commercial, I looked ready for the first day of seventh grade.  

We met at the weekly meeting of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on campus at the University of Alaska Anchorage, a few weeks into my freshman year. A new friend of mine brought his oldest friend along to InterVarsity to meet me. He was convinced we'd hit it off. I was clueless about their plan, but was quite happy to see Jeremy, whom I'd recognized from my years living in the same area of the state as his family growing up. 

A couple weeks after meeting, Jeremy invited me to the movies to see the original Toy Story. We were adults, but just barely. We had the nervous tingles throughout night, the kind where your palms sweat and your heart pounds in your chest. When the date was over, he walked me up the steps to my apartment and presented me with my very own VHS copy of Little Women (the Winona Ryder version, of course.) He knew what I liked. Swoon. 

We were married three and a half years later in July 1999, after we grew up a bit (a lot.) Our marriage is a joy, but we're human, so not every moment is fun. But you know that already because you're human too. When you've got two people committed to the Lord and each other who are also on the strong-willed side? You've got us. But the good thing is that being strong-willed helps us fight fiercely for our marriage. Being strong-willed makes us stronger in our convictions about the covenant relationship we're in. Plus, we're in love. We appreciate each other. We complement each other. Jeremy is so good to me.

Last summer, as we celebrated our 16th anniversary, I wrote down what made our relationship thrive, even with a houseful of kids. Because let's face it, having children does not make this any easier. After thinking back over our life together thus far, I came up with this list.

If you were to ask me what has helped us arrive at place where we're stronger than ever, through trials and fire, I'd tell you these 5 things:


1.  Ask Jesus who He wants you to be as a spouse, listen well, and then be that person.


2.  Be willing to forgive, then gracefully give it with no bitter strings attached.


3.  Have a team mentality. You're in this together helping and serving each other and your family toward a common goal. Decide together what that goal is.


4.  Decide selfishness has no place. It will only divide, no matter how justified it feels and no matter how badly you want what you want.


5.  Love unconditionally in a way that mirrors Christ's love for us. Hard. Good. Worth it.


Being married has molded and grown us in some really uncomfortable ways. But we're better for it, and thank God for the gift of each other.

What have you learned from marriage that you'd like to share?




Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Girl in the Next Seat




The room was full when I walked in to find a seat that night. My eyes were scanning the rows of chairs searching for a seat next to someone I didn't know well. I wasn't hoping to meet someone new. No, on this night I wanted to hide.

I knew I'd be in a roomful of ladies I attended church with and would normally enjoy engaging in conversation with, being the extrovert that I am, but on this night I was fragile. I knew God wanted me to be filling one of those seats, and I truly wanted to be there. But a vulnerable place in my soul left me wanting the opposite of what I normally seek.

I wonder if you've been there too. Your world feels heavy and conversations are hard. That was me that night as I sat down between two women who would be neutral. Do you know what I mean? They wouldn't know me well enough to be able to see through my smile, and I would be safe for a time.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I almost turned around and left to wander Target for the second Thursday night in a row.  For a few moments, I let fear mess with me. But instead of high-tailing it out of there, I decided to be a big girl and face the unknown inside the building.

I'm usually an engager. One who is eager and happy to connect. And I'm not usually one to shy away from a challenge, or run away from a difficulty. This time it was different. I wanted to run. Oh, how I wanted to run.

When I sat down, I realized that the woman on my left was one I'd seen around our community through the years, but had never had the pleasure of meeting. She was a little younger than myself and sat by her mother. A mother who was protective, though proud of this daughter of hers with special needs.

As we sat through the event, my new friend watched my every move. She tried to be sly, peering out the corner of her eye with her neck turned ever so slightly my way. She watched me take note after note in my Eiffel Tower notebook. She would occasionally crane her neck to investigate my scarf and necklace. She laughed when I laughed. She won my heart without saying a word.

After sitting by me for forty-five whole minutes, she leaned in close, pressing her arm and shoulder into mine, and whispered, "Hi...." It was the longest, most beautiful "hi" of my life. She saw me. She liked me. She welcomed me.

I knew right then and there I was supposed to be there that night, even sitting there in my un-brave and neutral spot so God could show me He sees, likes, and welcomes me.

After the class wrapped up, I stood and shook hands with my new friend as I introduced myself. We chatted about her favorite shows on HGTV and I learned about the crush she has on one of the hosts. Then she said three little words that held big meaning. She looked me square in the eyes and said, "I... love... you."

Twice. She said it twice to make sure I was listening.

Her mom smiled and even seemed a bit embarrassed. But I knew this girl was a messenger. She looked straight into my soul and delivered Jesus to me.

We all have lonely and painful times. We've all felt so vulnerable we want to run. I can even bet the next time you're sitting in a roomful of ladies, you don't have to look very far to find someone who needs your smile, who needs to know she's seen.

Will we show her we see her, we like her, and we welcome her like my new friend did for me?

I left the event with my head held high. Sure, I snuck out without making any intentional connections or eye contact (I'll have you know), but I'd received what I'd come for. Along with some stellar Bible teaching, I'd seen the face of God.


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Friday, September 25, 2015

You're Healed. Now Walk Like It.





"Do you want to get well?"

These words from the story of Jesus healing the paralytic man at the pool of Bethesda in John chapter 5, rattle around in my brain. This man Jesus made well had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. At the point of their interaction, he had been suffering since before the Messiah he was speaking to was even born.

He sat alongside the healing pool in hopes of being cured by the waters. The first person to get into the water after it was supernaturally stirred would be the one to receive healing.

"This story doesn't make sense," I'd often think. It confused me for years.

"Was there no one, after all those years of seeing him waiting by the pool, who would help him in when the time came? What is wrong with people? If not, why didn't he just ask someone? Why didn't they form a line or draw numbers so they'd know who was next?" 

I never saw it as the man's or anyone's fault, per se. But I realize now that the point of this story isn't about fault. It's more of a circumstance, I guess. Sometimes I read too much into things searching for a lesson to be learned.

The point of the story is Jesus.


Jesus wasn't saying, "Get up, I'll help you miraculously get into the pool."

He said, "Get up and walk." You're healed, now walk like it.

The man had no idea who Jesus was. (v. 13) So it wasn't like he had a giant faith leading to his healing. In fact, he had no faith at all. But Jesus did it anyways. He released healing power into someone who had absolutely zero faith in Him. Huh. 

Jesus is not limited by your faith or my faith. The releasing of His power is not dependent on you or I. This is good for me to ponder. He does move in response to our prayers. But not always. We don't always ask in accordance to His will. Sometimes I think, "If I just had enough faith, this health issue would disappear or that friendship would be resurrected." 

It's good for us to remember that Jesus' power isn't limited within the boundaries of our faith. In the pages of the Bible, we see that Jesus usually healed a person in response to their faith like the story of Jesus making well the sick woman who reached out and touched his robe. (Mark 5:24-34)

But not here. No faith was required. So this leads me to look more closely at the words of Jesus after He heals the man.

Key words are spoken when Jesus tells the man to get up and walk, and the man does. He doesn't argue, "Walk? Yeah, rrrright. There's no way." 

The man simply gets up and starts walking. He's been healed!

This has me thinking about us. We've been healed too. If we're in Christ, we've been healed spiritually right down into depths of our souls. Some of us have been healed on the outside too. In the form of physical bodily healing.

In either case, Jesus would never have us stay sitting by the pool resisting His call to us to get up and walk once we've been healed. But sometimes we do. I still baffle myself with the ways I'm still sitting by the pool.

I hang onto bitterness Christ has already conquered.

I cling to control as a means to keep everyone safe when Christ is our safety.

I allow injustice to eat away at me when Christ brings ultimate justice.

Tired and spent, I ask myself, "Amanda, do you want to get well?" 


Christ is calling us away from the pool. We've been healed. Let's walk like it.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Mandatory Rest

Three weeks ago, Jeremy and I flew four thousand miles away from home for our first-ever week to ourselves in sixteen years of marriage.

It always feels wrong to board a plane and willingly leave the place your most beloved people are, but this time it was different.



For the first time since becoming a mom nearly fifteen years ago, I didn't shed a single tear in the days leading up to saying goodbye to our crew or even in the moment of actually parting and driving away toward the airport. And I didn't even feel bad about it.

Somewhere in the hustle and straight crazy that was this last year, I'd lost myself.

So when it was time to leave, all I could do was sigh, smile, and know that in no time at all, we'd back in the game of parenting eight children and I was so ready to be in that restful space that would only exist if we left.

If I was going to find myself again, it was going to be by getting on an airplane and going away for a time. God had provided the time away and we were confident He would fill us back up to overflowing with Himself while we were gone.

For the first two to three days, we couldn't even talk about the kids or the kind of parents we wanted to be when we got back. I joked about us having PTSD.

In many ways, it was no joke.



Rest had become mandatory if we were going to be productive at all anymore. If we were going to have the ability to have clarity and act with wisdom. Two things we wanted so badly.

In the months leading up to leaving, we were running on fumes. It wasn't pretty. We were desperate.

Maybe we waited too long to have this much time away by ourselves. Maybe we wouldn't have been quite so needy had we done it sooner. Now we know. We need respite like this more often.

Or maybe we need more smaller two to three-day breaks spread throughout the year.

The point isn't really how long or how often. The point is: people need rest.

What if we stopped putting off rest when we need it most? Before the breaking point hits and before desperation hangs so heavy you don't know how you'll go on.

Jesus regularly rested away from the push of people, even his closest companions, the disciples. What sticks out most to me though?

He never once apologized for it.

"I'm so sorry friends, but I'm fatigued and need a break. I should be able to do all of this. I should be more together. I'm sure I'm failing you somehow... but I must go. On second thought, maybe I'll stay around a bit longer because I'm so valuable to you." 

Uh.

Never. We've never heard anything like that from Him.

Maybe He didn't even really need a rest. You know, because of the whole fully God part? But maybe He knew we would, and we wouldn't take it seriously unless He showed us how to do it well.



He was humble. Which meant he didn't think so low of the crowds and His disciples to think they couldn't survive without His company for a time.

On the other hand, He didn't think so highly of Himself that He had to stick around and save the world at every moment. (I had to. You know I did.)

We get so weird about rest. Is it really so bad if we get a little behind on the responsibilities that just don't matter in the grand scheme, if we'll be paralyzed with stress and unable to perform the duties that do if we overwork ourselves?

When we fail to take mandatory rests with loved ones or without, it leaves us unable to do anything well. Especially the stuff that matters.



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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Things I Learned in My 38th Year

Yesterday was my 38th birthday.



I don't know that I've ever written a birthday post before, but this last year held some memorable landmarks, silly realizations, and tremendous growth. It feels like the right time to pause and document. 

Don't worry, I won't make you sit through a list of 38 things. I don't think. I'm not quite sure where this list will end, but if you'll stick with me, you'll learn some things I took away from my 38th year:

1.     I can keep houseplants alive. I love the green and life plants add to a home, I've just never been able to keep them looking lovely until this year. I currently have seven, and I'm happy to report all are happy and healthy. We won't talk about the succulent I managed to kill over the winter. Who kills a succulent? A very talented person, that's who.

2.     Never fail, I lie awake all night the first night (and sometimes the second) I'm away from home on a trip. I didn't actually discover this cruel reality this last year, but I was reminded of it five or so times. The worst. No lavender, no sleep aide, no anything helps. Boo. Reading makes me fall asleep every time, but for some reason I don't think of it when I have insomnia. I'll try my best to remember for next time. 

3.     The theme of the books I've read this last year have followed a pattern. Quiet, whitespace, and breathing room. I only read non-fiction. It's this weird thing. I've tried fiction countless times, but I just can't do it anymore. Maybe when my brain can relax and I don't need as much "help", fiction will become my friend again like when I was a child or young adult. 

4.     Sad, but true. I've watched less movies and shows this year of life than any other. Life as we know it leaves Jeremy and I feeling like we're 80. We're pooped. He commutes 2.5 hours every work day, and I'm taking care of the masses and completing my work when he's gone. We love a good movie, so I'm hoping this next year will be the year of the movie night comeback. 

5.     I've learned to make our home one I really love. One we really love. Thanks to reading The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I've gotten rid of things we own that don't spark joy (Kondo) and have learned "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." (Smith) Such good reads. I've gotten rid of half our books (lots and lots) and have created spaces we truly feel cozy living in with little clutter. That is, if you don't count the perpetual clean laundry pile in the family room that always needs folding. Ten peoples' laundry. Can you even? 

6.     I love old things and old people. There's a story to be told if we'll listen. 

7.     Being outside makes me come alive. Again, I didn't just learn that, but it's been especially true this year. 

8.     God uses heartbreak to teach His truth and show enormous love. I didn't know it as much until my 38th year. 

9.     I learned to never give up hope. Right at the moment you're not expecting it, God just might blow your mind with a breakthrough. 

10.     Last year for my birthday, all I wanted was a Bible commentary. I'm talking a 6-inch thick book of amazingness. It's the most favorite book I own. Duh. Except the Bible. Isn't it strange how we feel compelled to clarify when it probably isn't necessary? The struggle is real.

11.     Cosmos. I learned I'm crazy about these simple flowers. They're in the daisy family, no wonder! 




12.     Eating completely sugar, gluten, dairy, and white flour-free for months at a time makes me feel incredible. Abruptly stopping eating said way and binging on sugar, gluten, diary, and white flour makes me feel terrible. Ask me how I know. 

13.     A winter with no snow and an abundance of ice is a prison. 

14.     Beginning a bullet journal is one of the best things I did for myself. Go here and watch the video. Trust me. 

15.     Unconditional love has been a recurring theme. I learned I have much work to do. 

16.     Organizing our books in rainbow color order makes me so happy. 

17.     Air-drying my clothes that are allergic to the dryer makes me feel like Ma Ingalls

18.     Being in a canoe on a lake helps me breathe again. 

19.     Marriage takes a lot of hard work, but with that hard work comes the most rewarding of prizes. Happy 16th anniversary to us!

20.     Don't ever believe the voices that tell you you're a bad friend, bad wife, or bad mother. The voice of God is never condemning. 

21.     A pure white quilt makes a bedroom feel like a haven. 

22.     I own fifteen dresses. Some days I like to be fancy. 

23.     Our children will not always make us happy. But for sure, they will make us depend more on God, make us better, make us feel important and a little crazy. Children bring so many gifts. 

24.     Talking into a microphone to nobody with a dear friend is one of my favorite things. Have you listened to The Masterpiece Mom podcast? We love hearing more than nobody is listening in real life once we hit publish on our conversations. 



25.     God speaks to me in unique ways. I've always known this. But my 38th year was the year of hearts. Though it started well beyond this last year, I see hearts everywhere. The amount I see grows as the days pass. They speak love and care and foreknowledge straight from God to me. Just today I saw one in a cluster of raindrops on a rock, one in a stump, one in the middle of a Cheerio, and one in a child's slobber mark on a throw pillow. Nice. Happy Birthday to me.

26.     Certain pens give me the willies and I love writing with pen to paper. Today I wrote with a pen that had a rollerball that was way too fast. I could hardly deal. Pens shouldn't be allowed to fly off into the next word before you've even thought of it. Just wrong. Click to behold my current favorite pen. Also, I will make a list of nonsense just for the opportunity to write on paper. A lost art. I will never stop writing things down. Never. See #14. 

27.     I think I've exacerbated my back and neck problems by checking email and social media on my phone in the morning while laying in bed. Ouch. What's wrong with me. 

28.     I will forever be tempted by a Carmello candy bar. 

29.     Taking Gallup's Clifton Strengths Finder test online helped me see my top 5 strengths. They are as follows: Strategic, Positivity, Activator, Belief, and Communication. This is exactly me. I loved reading more about these strengths. It has helped me more fully understand God's purposeful design for me. It makes so much sense. 

30.     When a child is pushing all the buttons, if I speak calmly and pray simultaneously, it helps convince me that I am calm. Try it, you'll like it. You'll like yourself afterwards too. 

31.     I have wonderful people in my life. So, so wonderful. 

We're almost to 38, so I'm gonna go for it. 

32.     Your Promises by Elevation Worship has been my go-to song. When I was unbelievably nervous and about to die while driving to speak at an event at my home church, God used it to speak His truth to me. When I've been deeply saddened, it's brought great comfort. When I've at all doubted the glimpses of my future God's shown me, this keeps my eyes on Jesus. Fun fact: Jeremy and I get to visit this church a whopping 4,300 miles away on a Sunday very, very soon. 


33.     After our sweet dog Annabelle died last summer we got guinea pigs. I had no idea how much I would love them as pets. Now I have my own, her name is Apple. I'm seven all over again. 

34.     I really like knowing how people are doing rather than what they're doing. There's a big difference. 

35.     I'm the right person for the job because God says so. When I feel weak in my roles, this keeps me motivated. 

36.     2015 is a bad year for the air conditioning to go out in Larry, our van. Hottest summer I've ever remembered. Awesome and horrific all at the same time.

37.     Oh man, I'm petering out. Just two more... Oh! I learned the definition of the greek word hubris means: pride in the sense of putting yourself in the center of the universe. Ouch. That's what we want to avoid. "One cannot be humble and aware of oneself at the same time." I'm reading A Circle of Quite by Madeleine L'Engle right now. There's some real insight there. 

38.     We made it. In my 38th year, I learned so much. But mostly I learned more of who my Savior is. More of His character and goodness. I'm forever His. 






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