Thursday, April 17, 2014

Team Jesus

Was I the only one who thought today was called "Monday Thursday" as a kid?  Now I just say "Holy Thursday" to avoid confusing any little ears that may be listening.

Conveniently, I opened my Bible to John 17 last night and was struck by verses 20-26, where Jesus prays for believers.  I love that he prays for his disciples, but includes us too:  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.
I don't want to take for granted for one second that Jesus thought me worthy of a prayer.  Worthy of so much more, too, but this small act touches me. 

In his last day on earth, Jesus prays that all believers will "be one."  It seems easy to forget we are all on the same team.  I know you've come across this too- some churches or people that are hung up on the details of various Christian faiths when, in fact, we are all commissioned to do the same work for God.  A few days ago somebody rang my doorbell to invite me to their church.  I declined, because I have a church that is just perfect for me, but how can I not wish this person the best?  I pray she knocks on a door of a non-believer, whose interest is piqued.  They attend a service just to get this person to stop coming to their house and wind up a faithful follower of Christ. 

I don't care what "brand" of Christian you are.  If you are mourning Jesus' death with me tomorrow, and rejoicing with me in his resurrection this Sunday, I count you as a brother or sister in Christ.  We are all on Team Jesus.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palms and More

Palm Sunday!  I've had that song in my head all day.  You know the one?

Peter and John went to pray
They met a lame man on the way
He asked for alms and held out his palms and this is what Peter did say:
"Silver and gold have I none
But such as I have I give thee,
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk!"

There's more, but you get it.  It has the word "palms" in there, so you know.  It's in my head. 

In Beth Moore's study on the book of Deuteronomy she gives this great message about eating.  She talks about the importance of food in the Bible and the important miracles and conversations that happened at meal times, not the least of which was Jesus' Last Supper. 

Some of the best times of my life have taken place around a table.  And the other best times were immediately followed by a celebratory meal.  My husband just clued me in to this great website,  The site has conversation starters for different age groups, menu ideas, and more.  I love it because it combines my favorite things: food and talking!

Have a lovely Holy Week.  I pray you feel God's love as he holds you in the palm of his hand.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Intentional Faith Development.

Happy Spring Break!  Or belated spring break, or pre-spring break... or just... HAPPY SPRING!!  Isn't it lovely and sunshiney and robin-esque and practically tulip-y?  Utterly make-up-wordish!  Never mind the mud!  I'm happy to have it!

Sunday I had the opportunity to talk to my church about intentional faith development.  I felt silly because as I looked out over our congregation, 99% of the people in the pews could have been up there instead of me.  Talk about preaching to the choir!  This is the gist of what I told them:

I grew up in the church, but I was a "quiet Christian."  I went to church and prayed, but didn't want to appear too excited about Jesus because that was weird, right?  When Jim and I moved down south, we quickly joined a church and small group.  The pastor outlined a Bible reading plan for us and my faith began to swell and grow.  But I was still asking what God could do for me.  How was being a Christian in my best interest?

Then we moved back to Michigan and luckily found our current church.  It's only been in the past few years my relationship with God has really grown.  It's in large part because God planted the most amazing people in my life.  It finally became clear to me that Christianity is not a Sunday morning religion.  As it turns out, God's main goal is not for me to happy (shock!), but to live a Christ-like life.  Super exciting, super scary.  So I began picking the low hanging fruit, if you will.  Doing some things that were manageable for me like: spending more time reading my Bible, memorizing Scripture, reading books to address lingering questions and doubts I had floating around, keeping my prayer journal, and joining a Bible study.

Then, God began softening my heart to some things that used to be much scarier for me: how to allocate my finances, talking about my faith, and the ways I use my time and other resources.  God knows just what He's doing.  He keeps dropping fruit for me to grab.  Sometimes I have to stretch a bit to reach it and that's not always comfortable, but He is constantly providing new ways for me to serve Him and serve His children.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Small Miracles

I read a cute article in HomeLife magazine, in which a mom explains to her kid they can't buy Miracle Whip unless it's on sale (something my kids can totally relate to).  They pray about it and... the store has a huge sale on what else?  Miracle Whip!

This reminded me of a similar predicament we had earlier this year.  Molly is allowed to get hot lunch every other Friday, but Lucky Tray Day was coming up.  That is a Big Deal if you're Molly Mitchell.  She asked if she might swap a Friday hot lunch for Lucky Tray Day on Wednesday.  What could I do?  I agreed, of course.  If you are not familiar with the (almost a) holiday that is Lucky Tray Day, a sticker is placed under a couple select lunch trays and if yours has a sticker, you win!

The night before the big day I asked Molly what she wanted to pray about (she normally has really legitimate and considerate prayer requests, honest!)  Of course she wanted to pray that she would get the lucky tray.  This was painful for me, because come on.  People are starving ("Lord, we want to lift up to you the children who do not have any trays, lucky or not!") and here we are praying for a win.  But, I've always told my girls they can pray about anything, so have mercy, we prayed for a lucky tray. 

Don't think she did not win.

I really did not see this one coming.  She was the only one in her class with a lucky tray.  She could pick an ice cream cone or a hat as her prize.  Here she is in her hat (that she wore nearly every polar vortex-y day, by the way!)

The truth is, I've prayed for some pretty minuscule stuff myself.  But minuscule prayers don't feel that way at the time, right?  It's just another awesome thing about our God.  If something is important to us, it's important to Him.  I love that God concerns Himself with the details of our lives.  Lucky trays and all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thoughts and Words

I am not superstitious.  But when I woke up to a snowstorm today, I cut down the snowflake ornaments I still had hanging from the light fixture above my dining room table.  Cut them with a mighty snip.  On my way to take my daughter to school there were several cars off the road and I felt my own giant vehicle slip under me more than once, causing me to think lots of less-than-holy words. 

Last week, when I locked my keys in my car (or so I thought, I actually left them in the ice arena, on the desk, but didn't realize that until we waited outside for 45 minutes for my husband to bring the extra set from home) I said a lot of not nice words right out loud.  Lots of words, lots of times.

Here is my point: sometimes I say bad things and sometimes I think bad things.

Have I mentioned the verse I have by the door that the girls and I recite every time we leave the house?  It's Psalm 19:14. "May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to you, O Lord, my Rock and Redeemer."  Yeah.  I know.  But I'm trying!  I swear.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Basketball and Derbies and Justice, Oh My!

Happy Monday!  What an exciting weekend!  Exciting enough to merit a countdown!  Here are my top three thrilling(ish) moments of the weekend.

1. Michigan State is not disappointing!  Our team is a favorite to win this NCAA thing and they are well on their way!  Go green, go white!  Goooo cute apparel that I love to sport!

2. We went to our first roller derby!  It was fun and funny!  Why don't all athletes use punny names?  Adrien Payne In Your Neck.  Sydney Cross-Checkby.  Jerry Rice You to the End-Zone.  Seriously.  We fans should insist on this.  Anyway, the derby was fun, but I'm sticking to basketball these days because I understand the scoring in that game.

3. Our church hosted a guest speaker from IJM (International Justice Mission), and I had the honor of going to lunch with him afterward.  As I've mentioned, our church formed a Justice Team after a different speaker came last year (also from IJM).  After hearing him, we simply could not continue as though we hadn't heard the stories and the statistics.  We've been meeting for a year now, and are as determined as ever.  This year Seth Wispelwey came to speak- he works in IJM's Government Relations and Advocacy department.  The timing was perfect- Seth was able to provide us with some information about how we may want to organize our team, how to utilize our congregation's strengths, ways to support IJM, and how to be active locally.  He provided tons of resources, and all the templates a justice team could ever want.  Having the chance to pick Seth's brain was the most exciting part of my weekend.

If you are interested in justice- internationally or domestically, check out the resources available on IJM's website.  Another great organization that is fighting human trafficking is Polaris Project.  And if you suspect a human trafficking case (or would like to find out about volunteer opportunities) call this number: 1-888-373-7888.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Book Good Enough to Eat

I don't know about your household, but over here, we are very motivated by food.  So you can imagine my delight when my girls received this book as a gift:

It's adorable.  Rosenthal gives sugar sweet lessons on good character using what else?  Cookies!  It inspired my girls to ask questions every parent wants to hear.  Like, "What does 'cooperate' mean?" and "How can we be respectful?" and "Can we make cookies?" (Um, always!  With extra chips, my girls.)  Happily, my kids are still too young for any "Bite me" jokes.  Sadly, they didn't get it when I told them they were a little kooky.  (Kooky.  Cookie.  Get it?)

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Lesson In Hospitality

Next year my Little Middle is going to be in kindergarten if you can flipping believe it.  So, last Friday we went to her school-to-be to sit in on a current kindergarten class.  We were both just a little nervous, no doubt about it, but you guys?  I was completely schooled.  These tiny five year olds put me to hospitality shame. 

Now, I love having people to my house.  I want you to feel comfortable here!  I do.  Which is why it isn't ever totally clean.  I am going for a lived-in, homey feel (is what I tell myself).  I am happy to offer you a beverage (unless it's my last Diet Coke, but I assure you, our water is crisp and refreshing!) Really.  I am happy to open my home to friends.  Even friends of friends!  But these kindergarteners?  Were over the top hospitable.  Is hospitality part of some standardized test I don't know about or are kids just kinder these days? 

Here are some instances:
  • Immediately as we sat down after the teacher introduced us, a little girl came up to Adrienne and wordlessly gave her a gentle hug, then floated like a little angel back to her seat.
  • The teacher gave Adrienne the same worksheet the rest of the class was working on, and as she carefully did her work, no less than three dear little boys walked past and looked over her shoulder and whispered, "You're doing good!" "Hey, good job!" "You're good at that!"  (I mean, she was doing fine, but not unusually so- let me just be honest.)  Multiple kids also checked in with her to make sure she had a gluestick, scissors, pencils, etc.  All the tools she needed to excel in her first hour of kindergarten.
  • When the kids were practicing telling time, a little girl raised her hand and said, "We should give Adrienne a turn!"  Generous, because ALL the kids were begging for a turn to move the hands on this big clock and the teacher had explained only three kids would get a turn.
  • Finally, at the end of the day, the teacher picked a little guy to pray.  He began, "Thank you for our guests and that Adrienne is going to be in this class next year." Then he said some other adorable things, that I didn't hear because I was concentrating on not crying.
I know kids can be cruel, and we hear a lot about bullying these days, so when kids are being amazing and welcoming a complete outsider into their little worlds, I just can't leave it unmentioned.  Something tells me the next generation of kids may even offer up the last of their Diet Cokes someday.  Tell me that doesn't just warm your heart.

Monday, March 10, 2014

I Always Did Love Green

It's time to play "Where Are They Now?"  Here is Tommy, the Green Power Ranger, back in the Power Ranger glory days:

Go, go Power Ranger! (I don't know what the real catchphrase was.)
I was more of a Ninja Turtle girl myself (I heart Michelangelo!), so I would NOT know the answer to where Tommy is now (and like you, would be really confused about why anybody would be asking me about him).  I still wouldn't know what Tommy is up to these days if my brother hadn't sent me this picture the other day:

Tommy?  You're so much less... green!
Look at him now!  He is an MMA fighter!  (That stands for Mixed Martial Arts.  I had to ask.)  His tattoo reads, "Jesus Didn't Tap."  I had to ask about that too.  I mean duh.  You can't tap in sandals.  There was a bunch of conversation and laughing at me, but once I got it, I loved it.  Jesus didn't pass the buck.  He didn't have a person to bail him out.  Jesus was our whipping boy.  In fact, not only did Jesus take the fall for us on the cross, every day He is waiting for our taps.  When we are weighed down with confusion, fatigue, loneliness, grief, guilt, when life is simply too heavy to bear, we need only tap for Jesus.  TKO every time.

I have new respect for Jason David Frank (fka the Green Power Ranger).  He gets it, and is letting the MMA world know it.  And you know what?  More Power to him.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lentertaining Social Media

We are a few days in to Lent now.  Ash Wednesday was well-publicized this year, thanks to social media.  My girlfriend brought this Wall Street Journal article to my attention:

I understand some people feel like tweeting one's own ashy forehead is flip, but I don't agree.  If people want to go to a church service on Ash Wednesday just so later they can put up a selfie?  I'm okay with that!  I'm certainly not going to lash out at them!  In fact I took my own selfie on Wednesday.  It wasn't exactly for social media, but in large part to note how swollen my jaw was after I fell and slammed my face onto a ledge. (You might say, I crashed before I ashed.)  Was it in front of bleachers full of people?  Yes, actually.  I wish I had given up public humiliation for Lent.

Frankly, I think Ash Wednesday selfies are an awesome way for non-believers to see how many people from how many walks of life are honoring God by kicking off Lent by visiting His house for some worship.   I say next year we blow up some Twitter feeds and abuse that #ashtag.  "Like" some ashy Instagram pics.  Facebook our ashes.

I pray Jesus is trending.  Not just during Lent, but year round.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chubby Tuesday

Fat Tuesday sounds so rude!  I'd like to make a motion that we politely change "Fat" Tuesday to Plump Tuesday?  Curvy Tuesday?  Water Weight Tuesday?  Whatever we call it, today is the eve of the Lenten season. 

It's only been the last couple years that Lent has meant anything to me.  Truth be told, I mostly thought Lent was a Catholic thing that had something to do with McDonalds putting the Fish Fillet back on the menu.  I'd give up pop or chocolate so I could appropriately agonize with my Catholic friends suffering through their forty days of living without.  Then, I moved away from my very Catholic hometown and Lent followed!  It turns out Lent is for everyone!

And "everyone" is making a move.  More and more I get the feeling from believers that they (we!) want Lent to mean something.  We want to glorify God during Lent.  And I'm here to tell you that when I give up pop?  I un-glorify God.  Same thing when I give up chocolate.  I become a person who de-honors Him through my extreme crabbiness.  I know my Savior, and He and I have an understanding now about caffeine and dessert. 

Many people are finding happier alternatives these days: spending more time with their faces in the Bible for instance, increasing their charitable giving for these weeks, doing random acts of kindness.  I love it.  Of course, there is a lot to be said for giving up something that is prohibiting you from growing in your relationship with Christ.  So this year I'm going to intentionally move something out of my life to make more room for Jesus.  And that something?  Is not carbonated.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Which Biblical Heroine Are You?

I have fought off the temptation.  Day after day.  Friend after friend.  And today I caved.  I took a Buzzfeed quiz.  A Facebook friend posted, "Which Biblical Heroine Are You?" and come on.  How could I not?  I clicked on that link faster than you can say RuthNaomiEsther.  I answered as very honestly as I could (Although there were a couple toss-ups.  I like to knit while watching TV to relax!)  My results?

Drum roll please....

Mary, Mother of Jesus.

That is very generous.  The description was even more generous.  My husband and I read it together and laughed at how completely un-me it was.  For instance, "You're always there to nudge someone in the right direction..." "'Nudge!'" we joked, "maybe shove!"  Another great phrase was, "Quiet and caring..."  Quiet?!  It actually causes me physical pain not to type entire posts in Caps Lock, so do I love being LOUD!!!  Ask my brother who frantically turns his volume down before he'll take a call from me. 

Inaccurate as it may be, I'm certainly not re-taking the quiz.  I don't want to wind up with Eve and suddenly be responsible for the downfall of all mankind. (Uh, no offense if you got Eve!  I'm sure she was lovely.)  Are you dying for the link now?  Have at it.  Which biblical heroine are YOU???

Edit: Oh dear.  I just saw a related quiz: "Which One of Jesus' Disciples Are You?"  I think it's safe to say the rest of the evening will be a wash.  I'll be taking quizzes if anyone needs me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Good Book With A Crummy Title

My sister promised me I could read this book when she was done, so I absentmindedly asked, “Have you finished Killing Jesus?”  Nobody wants to answer that in the affirmative.  But she did finish and now I have too.  The book was great.  Spoiler alert: it has the same ending as the one you already know.  Sorry.  But the authors really did their homework and the history and political tidbits are fascinating.

I’m not sure how to tactfully write this.  The Roman rulers?  Were pervy.  Shame on them!  And ferocious.  Back then rulers killed people like they were getting points for creativity.  We are sneaking up on the Lenten season, when Jesus’ death is magnified, and I’m here to tell you this book magnifies the crud out of our Savior’s crucifixion.  It’s as gruesome and painful to read as it is important.  I’m telling you because I wish somebody would have warned me about the gory parts of the book.

If you’re going somewhere tropical and beach-y for Spring Break?  Take some Janet Evanovich.  But, if you want a historically accurate, thought-provoking book to pick up this Lent, pick up the aforementioned book.  The one with the crummy title.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


I admit it!  Blogging has taken an absolute backseat in my bobsled now that the Olympics are on!  I can't get enough!  Let me just say these five words: Charlie White and Meryl Davis.  Eeeeee!  Could you just die?  His hair?  Her spriteliness?  It just makes me want to make up nonsense words like "spriteliness" I love them so!

Even as I obsess over the Olympics, there are things going on even more exciting.  And I'm not talking about my going to The Price is Right traveling show.  Even more exciting, if you can believe it.  Do you remember tiny Louisa?  From this post?  Friends, she went home from the hospital today.  And I can't even type about it without sobbing for joy.  This is an actual miracle from God's own hand.  A miracle.

Her doctors and nurses were skillful, no doubt.  She was in a fantastic hospital, for sure.  But I'm done short-changing God by mislabeling miracles.  It's not luck, or coincidence.  Christians, let's call these amazing events (big and small!) what they are!  Miracles. 

Here is more joy from a guy I've admired since I first saw his on-ice back flip.  If you ask me?  He's miraculous.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Olympics!!

The Winter Olympics start tomorrow!!!  Are you freaking out?  I've only seen about three minutes of back stories so far, and I'm already an emotional mess.  Thrilled and nervous for these athletes (and their parents!  Don't forget their parents!)  Let's pray they glorify God with every swishing ski and cut of the ice.

In honor of the most exciting competition in the world, I found some Bible verses to inspire the athletes in us:

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)  But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.  you are serving the Lord Christ.

Hebrews 12:11 (ESV)  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Happily, these verses apply to you whether you're a figure skater or you just figure you may want to go skating! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Our Father

My Bible study group is studying the book of Ruth right now; we're at the beginning, when we know Naomi lost both her sons and her husband, and is returning humbly to Bethlehem.  She wasn't exactly chipper.  Consequently, the question was presented to my group, "How do you cope when life hands you something difficult?"  I, of course, put my anxiety on the shelf and pray about the situation, then continue to face the world with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

Also, I have a bridge in Brooklyn you may be interested in.

Actually, I confided to my group (and now to you, entire Internet!) In times of difficulty I immediately assume I'm being punished.  I would never figure someone else is being disciplined by God when something goes wrong for them, only me!  So already my logic is faulty.  Also, there's that deep down belief I have that God is a loving God.  He doesn't punish us for things like enjoying a glorious day all alone: shopping slowly, eating by myself, and taking a nap (although I did get a horrible stomach flu that very night, so you can see why I would think I was being punished).

Luckily, I have this great technique (if you can call it that).  When I start to worry that God is unleashing His wrath on me, I remember, "He is my Father."  A parent.  A good and loving parent.  He works the same way I do but waaaaaay better.  My baby might think I'm horrible, and punishing her by taking a fist-sized gumball out of those chubby, little hands, when really I'm doing it for her safety.  We are little toddlers; where we see punishment, God sees the danger He is removing to keep us in one piece.  And if we are put in "time-out" by our Father it's because our behavior is unacceptable.  We wouldn't allow our two-year old continue yanking her sisters' hair, and God won't let us continue our destructive behavior either.  He loves us too much for that.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Saints Alive!

I recently bought an e-book that I just can't stand.  Usually, I tend to agree with reviews and this one had five stars!  It had a funny title!  Instead, I couldn't get past the first chapter.  Awful.  And now that e-books often cost more than hold-in-your-hot-little-hands books, it makes me crazy to not get my money's worth.  Does that make me cheap?  I don't know.  I think I just value a dollar! (Full disclosure: my Dad says I invented the copper wire.) 

In this week's "The Economist" there is an article about sainthood: "These days a successful canonization campaign launched in America typically costs around $250,000, and can go far higher, says the Catholic News Service..."


I'm not Catholic, so I don't know much about the road to sainthood.  Here are a few things I found:
  • The candidate must be deceased for five years before being considered.
  • A Postulator travels to Rome to make the case for the candidate after compiling tons of documents and testimonies as evidence the potential saint led a virtuous life. (I'm guessing this compilation of proof is where the bulk of the quarter mil. is spent?)
  • To be labeled "Blessed" the Postulator has to prove the candidate conducted at least one miracle. (Except martyrs- the Pope can waive the miracle requirement for them.)
  • If the Postulator can prove the candidate performed two or more miracles the Pope may declare the person "Saint."  (Finally getting your baby to stay in her crib after she climbs out 8,000 consecutive times does not count as a miracle.  I checked.)
If this song is in your head for the rest of the weekend, I apologize; I just don't see any other way to wrap up this post, but with this little ditty:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dreamy Verses

Today is my parents' 36th wedding anniversary!  They are terribly cute together, and in sync the way couples who have been married for 36 years are.  Incidentally, we had a snow day today, which made my Mom and Dad laugh because they were married in the thick of the infamous 1978 blizzard.  The governor declared a state of emergency, the minister tried to cancel on them, most guests were snowed in, and my Dad had to shovel a path to the church in his suit, making him very late (and probably sweaty).  I'm glad they didn't take the storm as a sign to cancel the whole thing (so are my brother and sister!)

Thirty-six years later.

I DuckDuckGo'd some verses about marriage and all the usual suspects popped up- the tried and so, so true verses we love to hear at weddings.  But here are two that I haven't heard at weddings, and it was love at first sight:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up...  Ephesians 4:9-10

And I will betroth* you to me forever.  I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.  Hosea 2:19

Swoon.  Doesn't it just make you want to get married?  Or get married all over again?  Or go to a wedding?  Or start a wedding board on Pinterest even though you tied the knot ten years ago?  Just me?  Anyway, the good news is, Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  If you're looking for something a little more unique than "Roses are red, Violets are blue...." may I suggest turning to your Bible for the perfect words of adoration.

*The Living Bible translation uses "bind," which I love even more.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Taking Action

Friends, I have been useful today!  (I can't always say that.)  My baby's favorite stuffed animal lost its ear a while back and I?  Sewed it back on today!  Like a real mom!  Who sews!  Here it is:
Bun-Bun has two ears again!
I love feeling useful.  Which means I also love writing politicians (regarding issues even more important than missing bunny ears!)  It's such an easy thing to do, and it makes a difference.  Before you "x" out of this window forever, I promise this is not becoming a political blog.  Selling children as sex slaves, is not, should not, be a political thing; it's a human thing.

Sadly, many of our states do not have a safe harbor law to protect child prostitutes from prosecution.  Children forced into this lifestyle, with no hope of escape, can be charged as criminals rather than supported as victims.  Let's not sugar coat this.  It is human trafficking.  It is slavery.  As Christians, we are also called to free others from bondage- both spiritually and physically.  Jesus leads us toward the suffering and asks us to meet the physical, earthly needs of these aching prisoners.  In this case, the aching and abused children.  It is a daunting task, but do not be overwhelmed.  Here are four easy things you can do to fight child prostitution:

1.  Pray.  Pray for a massive decline in demand for children sex slaves.  Pray for the young men and women who have been rescued and are trying to recover.  Pray for children still enslaved- that they remain hopeful, and are rescued soon.  Pray for our political leaders to recognize the importance of this issue and take action.

2.  Write your Senators, Congressmen and women, Governors, all your political leaders!  Find out if there is a safe harbor statute for children in your state.  Tell them to crack down on human trafficking.  Be heard! 

3.  If you are interested in doing more or learning more, check out International Justice Mission or Polaris Project.  They have loads of information, resources, and Hallelujah! Rescue stories!

4.  Know this number: 1-888-373-7888.  It is the National Human Trafficking Hotline.  Call if you suspect any kind of potential trafficking.

If you happen to be snowed in (or frozen in), don't fret about not getting your errands done, you can accomplish so much from your own cozy home.  And I promise, doing any one of these things is better than sewing a thousand bunnies back together.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


I sat down at my computer yesterday, and my keyboard looked a little... off.

nEvEr lEt your two yEar old play with your computEr.
Like "E," I was not my usual self today.  I was crabby.  It was because I didn't get my way, and I wanted everyone to pay for it.  I'm totally ashamed, because it would have been a lovely day had I allowed it!  My Sunday School kids were darling, my daughter won her hockey game, I organized my junk drawer AND my nightstand (thank you!), and we finally got our new fireplace working.  But I opted to be an insane person instead.  I let my joy be pulled out from under me.  Just let it happen.  And then I read Louisa's story.

Louisa's Grandma was my daughter's kindergarten teacher, so I've been praying for Louisa, but I just found out about her blog today.  You will ache and sob reading today's post by her Daddy, but do you see the very end?  The part about the joy?  This family's faith is unstoppable.  They aren't allowing the joy of Jesus to leave them.  In fact, they are wrapping themselves up in His joyful truth as a means of coping with their sick baby.  It's enough to make your salty tears taste sugar sweet.  It's completely lovely.

Joy is a choice!  And why choose anything else?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Legacy of Love

A gentleman from our church passed away earlier this week.  I didn't know him, but knew who he was.  Since he passed away I've been hearing such lovely things about him.  The recurring theme is how he affirmed so many people.  This man supported every area of the ministry in one way or another. He had kind words for the choir, the children's ministry, the administrative staff... all of us.  He would stop in the office specifically to ask which areas of the church needed support.

Is that an amazing legacy?

Like I said, I didn't know this man, but I certainly benefited from his support, I would argue the entire church did in one way or another.  Someday I hope my words leave a legacy of love in the same way.

Friday, January 17, 2014

All In the Family

Monday, my mom cleaned out the storage area at her house.  Tuesday, she showed up on my doorstep with... you guessed it!  A bunch of stuff for my storage area.  Including my old She-Ra action figures, my old cheerleading uniform, a box of birthday cards from my first birthday (and the candle that was on my first birthday cake!).  You know.  All kinds of things I don't want her to throw away, but I also don't want taking up space at my house.

Here is one thing she brought that I am over the moon about:
Knitting needles!  Glorious knitting needles!  Aren't they pretty?  And the case too.  It was all my Grandma's.  She died when I was four, but we lived with her, so I have some vague memories, and her knitting is one.  So my mom gave me these because, as Jen Hatmaker once wrote, "I wasn't having enough emotions that day."
Our families.  They leave us legacies- good and bad!  I just started doing a study on the book of Ruth.  As a Moabite, Ruth had some shameful ancestors.  She just did.  The Moabites were born of incest, which I didn't realize.  Yikes.  But she wound up the super great grandmother to Jesus.  Jesus! 
I didn't necessarily inherit my Grandma's mad knitting skills (boo!), and Ruth didn't inherit the disturbing behavior of  her ancestors (yay!).  Our families are huge parts of us and our lives, yes, but our relatives don't completely define us.  I love that God has a plan for every one of us, regardless of any baggage we may inherit.  And right this second?  I think his plan is for me to pick up my needles and get knitting!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Get Quenched

Isn't it awesome when Christianity pops up in the most unexpected places?  Like on your milk jug? 

Milk- it does a body good... and your soul too!
What a pleasant surprise!  It reminded me of the rumor that In-N-Out Burger has John 3:16 on the bottoms of their cups.  I double checked with Snopes and it's true!  For further proof I Google Imaged it; provided this picture:

These companies know how people thirst for the Word of God!  Drink it up, Friends!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Girl Power

Yesterday I was listening to Family Life radio and Priscilla Shirer was talking about Ruth.  She said Ruth was arguably her favorite woman of the Bible.  It made me wonder... who is my favorite woman of the Bible?  I knew it would not be the Proverbs 21 wife who exists only to make me feel inadequate.  But who then?  I must have a favorite!  Luckily, I have an ancient book about the women of the Bible at my house (the program from my Mom's high school Baccalaureate is tucked in the book; it was a public high school, but the entire service was religious.  That's how old the book is.)

Here is the book- isn't it old-timey?

I leafed through the book to determine who my favorite woman of the Bible is.  Here are my top three: (I reserve the right to change my mind any time and every day if I like, by the way!)

Queen Esther:  I love that she was young and brave, but subtle.  What thirteen year old would risk death to help the Jewish people when she already had it made in the shade?  When I was thirteen I wouldn't risk walking to the mailbox if I had a zit (we had a really cute paperboy).  She saved God's chosen people without so much as whispering God's name, except I'm sure, in fervent prayer.  Her story proves God may not always be blatant, but he is always present.

Mary Magdalene: Does she give us hope or does she give us hope?!  She had not one, not two, but seven evil spirits.  That's seven more than most everybody I know and she was one of Jesus' favorites.  If she can make a comeback, surely I am not a lost cause.  Surely, none of us are.  Plus, Mary was utterly devoted to Jesus, and isn't that what we Christians aspire to?  Jesus brought her to her knees and he brought her to tears, and I just love her for it.

The Elect Lady:  The dark horse!  The wild card!  You didn't see this one coming, did you?!  It's actually the last woman of the Bible my new/old book lists.  John's Second Epistle was written to this lady (and her children).  An epistle for Christian mothers!  Glory!  My book says it best:
"... the Christian mother must also guard her home and her children against un-Christian ideas and behavior.  On this point the author of the Epistle is quite blunt: Christian mothers must be alert to the dangers posed to their homes and families by those who in every age teach false values." 

But no pressure, moms.

Do you have a favorite woman of the Bible?  Who is it?  You can tell me, even if you only pick Mary Magdalene because of her infamous red hair.  I would totally get that.

Monday, January 6, 2014

My New(ish) Prayer Journal

One of my New Year's resolutions was to begin keeping a prayer journal.  My memory isn't getting any better and frankly, I was forgetting to pray for some important stuff!  Plus, everyone I know with a prayer journal speaks about how much more aware they are of God's answers to their prayers.  I want in on that!  So, I did what I always do when starting a new project.  I visited Pinterest.

People have really cute prayer journals.

People have really organized prayer journals.

I became overwhelmed and just started writing sloppy bullet points in an old notepad.

Don't the little birds look like they're chirping songs of praise?

As proof that it isn't a new notebook, you see the old name tag that I slapped on after taking notes during a school tour about three years ago.  I tried to peel it off for this picture, but it's all gummy and not peeling in one piece.  You understand. 

It's not totally unorganized in there.  On the inside cover I have some permanent prayers listed that I want to say every day.  On the other pages I write the current date, and throughout the day I jot down prayers.  Then, I highlight (or, I'm going to- I only have one so far) answered prayers.  At the end of the day, I pray!  It's nothing fancy, but I'm excited about it.  Already, it's made me much more aware of how I communicate with God.  For instance, it serves as a reminder to offer up more praise, and ask for mercy when I screw up.  I also find myself shooting up more mini-prayers throughout the day. 

Do you have a prayer journal?  How do you organize it?  I'm not even a week into this yet, so I still need tips!  Unless you're going to tell me to find a notebook without scribbles from a two year old in it.  It's too late for that.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Spot On, John!

One of the reasons I love living in Michigan is that we have four distinct seasons- each as lovely as the next.  But you guys?  As pretty as the snow is, it's starting to be a bit of an inconvenience.  I'm starting to feel quite certain my girls are going to have snow days until April!  Here is the view out of my window today (I wasn't quite brave enough to open the door for a picture, you understand).

That box is my raised garden.  It's usually much more raised.

The good news is that we have plenty of food and electricity (please, please Lord, let us keep our electricity!) and a cozy fireplace to cuddle up to.  And blustery days are the best days for Bible reading, if you ask me! 
I'm in the book of John right now.  I've always heard this is the best book of the Bible for new believers to read, so I'm trying to read it objectively.  I like it because Jesus talks a lot in John, and we are told over and over that he is the Son of God.  He is not a prophet, he is not just a really good (albeit, rogue) rabbi, he doesn't have political ambitions; he is God in the flesh.  Not only do we hear a lot right from the mouth of Jesus, John provides front row seats to miracles, and doubts the people had about him (John 7:41-42).  By the end of the book readers can't help but be clear that Jesus came for everyone.  He obviously loves outcasts, women, sinners, the worst of the worst, the best of the best, and everyone in between.
John is happy reading for new believers and longtime believers.  Reading joyful enough, in fact, to warm one's heart on a blustery, winter day.