Monday, January 9, 2017

Fasting Day 1 - A Note to my Church Family

Hello sweet church family.

21 Day Prayer and Fasting, Day 1.  It was a dozy.  No.  I mean, seriously, a dozy.

Let me hand you the short version.  Child #1 - experiencing some health issues - crashed Billy's newly restored car in to a light pole.  Yea, you read it right.

Child #2 - got to DIA only to discover that her flight was delayed.  5 hours.  Causing her to arrive home at 3:30 am and missing her ride to school (which is 1.5 hours away).

Question:  Have you ever put a child on an airplane unsure if current health conditions warrant medical attention instead?

Ever imagined your daughter sleeping on the floor of an airport 24 hours away, hoping she'll find a ride in the morning?  Done all this while hungry and denying your physical senses?

Well, let's just say I was already a little shaky then when Eli and I walked into our Chinese cooking class and he puked on the neighbors floor.

Here's a picture of us still on the floor at DIA at 10:30 pm.

Someone told me today - we must be on the right track.  The push back and all.

What about you?  Sitting here at the end of Day's a picture of my back yard.  Hurricane force winds trashed it.  Nice.

Have you had a little push back as well?

Honestly, I don't know if all this means we are on the right track.  I do know it's NOT a sign that we are on the wrong one.

In this season, I find myself pouring over the book of Matthew.  As I read about the birth of Jesus and the fulfillment of prophecy, I put these words in my journal:

Word for 2017

God has been at work long before January 1, 2017.  He's been at work for a long, long time actually.

Fulfilled:  I am complete in Jesus, and find myself in the middle of something that's already going on.  Open my eyes and my mind Lord to all that is.  We are neither accidental nor incidental.  We are in the right place.  We've arrived at just the right time.

ReImagine Church, we are neither accidental nor incidental.  We are in the right place.  We've arrived at just the right time.  Push back and all.

On the day John was to baptize Jesus, Jesus said, "Do it.  God's work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism" (Matthew 3).

Incase you didn't know, all this work of God is Him putting things right.

God himself was so pleased by Jesus humble obedience he spoke aloud, "This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life".

Jesus had a moment.  Seems to me, a breakthrough moment.  Where His calling, His identity, His pure unadulterated awesomeness was affirmed in front of others by none other than the voice of God himself.  His caring father stepped in to speak a clear, magnificent word that this is right. Clearly, that should be a sign to all the rest of us that he was on the right track.

And, yet, the very NEXT thing that happened was Jesus being LED BY GOD into the WILDERNESS to be given a TEST.  And, the test would be administered by none other than Satan.  No warm and fuzzy there.  Seriously, go read it for yourself.

Bottom line - you can be right smack dab in the middle of God's will and be in the wilderness and all that applies...lonely, barren, desolate, broke, aimless, tired, thirsty, wanting, get my point.

Jesus did something in the wilderness before he was tested.  He prepared for the test.  He prepared by FASTING.

And, as we corporately prepare for the year ahead, by fasting together, know that you aren't alone.  We are standing before the altar - crying out to God on your behalf - on behalf of your family, your finances, your hearts, and your callings.  You are soooooooo not alone.

Trust.  Trust Him.  You are where you need to be.  Alive to God.  Filled with His Spirit.  Listening to His voice.  Pressing in.  Ignoring distractions.  Refusing to be denied.

You can't be left behind.  He's got you.

From the darkness comes a light.....

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Follow Faith

Recently, a friend asked Billy and I, "Why should people follow your leadership"?  

There was no accusation in his voice. He just truly wondered what we would say.

Innocent enough.

Still, something about it struck me funny.  And, 24 hours later, I've decided what that was. Possibly, it was just the wrong question.  That, and it's a little weird to be asked to tell others how sure your leadership is when referring to God's Kingdom, where leadership is really about the first going last, humility, and decreasing so that Christ can increase. Can you already see where I'm going with this?

In the church, we've embraced the 21 Laws of Leadership as if the principles within God's Kingdom are the same as the worlds.  If I may, the Kingdom isn't  about LEADERSHIP.  It's about DISCIPLESHIP.

Paul said, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." (NIV).  

Christian friends, if you are looking for a "leader" to follow, know this...leadership in the church looks like this...

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. (Luke 6:31)

It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.  (Matthew 20:26)

He must increase, but I must decrease.  (John 3:30)

Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory. (Proverbs 11:14)

It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, for a throne is established on RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Proverbs 16:12)

So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them with his skillful hands.  (Psalms 78:72)

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan. (Proverbs 29:2)

Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of TRUTH, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. (Exodus 18:21)

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

The king gives stability to the land by justice, but a man who takes bribes overthrows it. (Proverbs 29:4)

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Galatians 6:9)

But if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God.  (I Tim 3:5)

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  (Romans 12:3-8)

Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.  (2 Timothy 3:5)

To that I say, don't follow leadership.  Follow faith.  

Follow faith that has been TESTED in the dessert, in prosperity, in sickness, in health, in honor and in humiliation.  

Follow the one who has walked with God in obedience through the fire and who has learned perseverance, spiritual warfare, and courage.  More of You, less of me.

Follow my faith because I've been broken and am willing to be poured out.  Like Jesus. And, I've decided I'm not going back.  He's always ALWAYS proven Himself faithful to me. 

He's been faithful when He's made all work out the way I wanted.  And, He's been faithful and good EVEN WHEN HE DIDN'T TURN THINGS IN MY DIRECTION.

Job 13:15, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him."

Follow my faith because I delight in following His precepts more than I delight in you delighting in me.

Follow my faith.

And, even if you don't, know that God can use me or not.  It's His stage. I'm surrendered to Him, whatever He decides to do.  In the end, what He thinks about me is what's important.  And, that's a good stance for you to take as well.

Follow the example of people who point you to Jesus.  It's really that simple friends.

Lover of my soul, even unto only glory now and in eternity...

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Drink Coffee, Read Books, Be Happy

The perfect recipe for summer!

First, let me share my coffee ritual.  I like to sweeten my coffee with protein powder.  Vanilla is my go to, but if I can find Cookies and Cream protein powder -- well -- that's as good as it sounds.

Now, make your coffee.  But before you put the powder in to it, YOU HAVE TO TEMPER IT.  If you skip this step, you'll be sorry, and your coffee will have a thick sludge in it.  Sound good?  No?  Don't skip this step.

While your coffee is brewing, put a scoop of protein powder in a separate mug.  Add a small amount of COLD water.  A tablespoon or less will do, but you can use more.  Then stir.  Stir, stir, stir.  You want it to completely mix up.  It will be just a little thicker than creamer.  Once it's mixed, add it to your hot coffee.  I put mine in one of these and shake like crazy.

After, if you must, add 2 T of your favorite creamer.  Don't add crushed cookies.  Looks pretty in the picture, but just don't.  Works with cold coffee too.  You're welcome.

Now, on to the juicy stuff.  What I'm reading...

First, I finished this...

I LOVED IT!  A life changer.  Go buy it.

Then, I finished this...

My girls, who have read this multiple times, have told me for months I should read it.  I bought it. But frankly...IT'S SO THICK.  I just looked at it and thought I'll never get through it.  But, we went on vacation, and, then, 3 days later I was finished.  It was that good.  A completely fresh take on the book of Hosea in the Bible.  (I also admit that after chapter 3, I read the last page.  I had to know.  Don't judge).

I read this.  SOOOOOOOOOOO good.  Serious science, and very entertaining.  Can't wait to read another of Gladwell's books.

Currently reading this - although we really don't need a scientific reason to play.  Upping our play changed our lives several years ago.  Add to that - changed our marriage, our work, and our family.  In a very, very positive way.  This book is very interesting none-the-less.  

Pre-Ordered this one...cause I just love her!  If I could sit down to lunch with ANYONE, it would be Shauna Niequist.

And, I ordered this one hoping Victoria would be interested in reading it together.  I'll let you know as soon as she gets back from Honduras.  

And, well, now it's your turn to spill.  What's on your side table?


Saturday, February 13, 2016

{10 Lessons I've Learned in Marriage} - On Being Committed to Personal Healing

From time to time, I survey my social media friends on what blog topics the would like to see me write about.  I'm always hoping they will suggest something funny.  For instance...

Your Worst DIY Disasters

This past Halloween, all Eli wanted was a simple PacMan Costume. Billy's mother graciously did ALL the sewing and left me with absolutely NOTHING to do except the gluing.  THE GLUING, YA'LL.  And, well, after literally ruining the iron and ironing board with the super incredible AMAZINGLY ADHESIVE spray glue (that apparently isn't suppose to be used inside)...I glued my shoes to the wood floors of my dining room and was in a heap of tears. 


Infomercial Weaknesses

We all have them.  And, when we were much younger, before the internet and all, I watched the Ronco Food Dehydrator Infomercial one too many times.  I envisionsed myself making homemade fruit roll-ups, Beef Jerky, Turkey Jerky...and well...the box arrived.  I crazy excitedly announced to Billy, "We only have (3) more payments to make of $69.95 for this baby AND I'm going to be able to save us CRAZY amounts of cash by making everyone homemade banana chips for Christmas!" The look on B's face said it all.  I'd gone slap crazy.  Instantly I thought, "What in God's green Earth have I done?  Banana Chips?"  Never used the things.  Not even once.

Kid Quotes

Eli, "Mom, do you remember when your butt was soooooo big, we couldn't both fit in this chair together?"  My kids are so hilarious, right?

And well, no one EVER suggests these types of topics. 

What they seemingly want to read about is, "Grocery Shopping 101 {and other REALLY boring things", "Raising Up Kids Who are on Mission", and "How to Deal with Dissappointment".

They want my serious side.

So, Here it first ever, SERIOUS, blog series
(Que dramatic music)
(Takes a bow)

Billy and I have been studying and sharing more on marriage lately.

We've been talking with other couples and mentors, going to marriage ministry training, and listening to podcasts.  This week, we'll even head off to "A Weekend to Remember" to focus on our own stuff while in the midst of pushing forward with what we feel compelled to say.

Since what we have to say is a mouthful, I thought I'd break it up into 10 posts.  You're welcome.  :)

So, here ya go, 10 Lessons I've learned in Marriage.

Lesson #1: 

Billy and I both came in to marriage with baggage.  Lots of baggage frankly.  We had limited pre marital counsel, which I only did as a bad could marriage possibly be when you were as awesome as we were?

And, well truthfully, it COULD have been REALLY, REALLY BAD. 

But, in those early years (years 1 - 3) we were VERY committed to personal healing from our past, and very dedicated individually to spending time with the Holy Spirit.  And, we still are.

The best gift you can give your spouse is the gift of a healthy you.  Good health starts deep in your core.

I love what the Bible says in Ezekiel 36:26-28.  "I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you.  I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed.  I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands."

To experience deeper degrees of healing, and forgiveness, and freedom is still one of my most frequent uttered prayers for my family.



Friday, January 29, 2016

Romancing Your Husband for Valentine's Day

This week in the #storyofmarriageCO class...we just threw it right on out there.


Easy, right?

Maybe, but, let's be REAListic.  Cause fake isn't our thing.

While we heard the guffaw in the room, the flirty snickers, and the sweet expressions of mirth (read with an uptick in my voice) -- we also noticed those who looked down at the floor...eyebrows furrowed in worry.  We noticed those whose eyes rolled in frustration...those who sighed...slumped...

I'm just going to say it.  Truth is, some of you, don't much like one another very much...yet.

Empathetic, we circled back around and issued a different kind of challenge.

Instead of the pressure of planning the most romantic filled, love rediscovering, best sex you've ever had in your life Valentine's Day date, we asked for something a little less grandiose (but perhaps even more profound).

A gesture.

An action, a courtesy, a step towards communicating one positive thing to your spouse in the next couple of weeks.


So, ladies, I'm talkin' to you.  (B will address men in his blog later this week).

I want to give you some simple ideas for romancing a man - that you may or may not like all that much right now.  I hope you will be led to have meaningful conversation with God both about your spouse and your own heart.  I pray that conversation leads you to an action step (a gesture) that is specifically meaningful to your man.

Cause, ladies, Valentine's Day isn't all about us girls.


So, how to romance your husband?  
Not the fantasy husband in your mind, but the real life, actual man YOU are married too.  

First, let's just all concede that most men don't want to go to all the hassle of recreating your first date and won't care if you do either.  Most don't get the "feel goods" because you fill their car with helium balloons and sticky hearts. I don't know a single man who really cares to read slips of paper (no matter how thoughtful) tucked in a mason jar labeled "Things I Love About You".  So, let's get our heads out of the Pinterest cloud and back down to earth.

A meaningful gesture is more than the purchase of a candy heart tossed on his side of the bed, or a homemade coupon book, or even deciding you'll get on his schedule for sex just this one night.

It starts when you privately give honest answers to questions like...

What does my spouse do that I'm most grateful for?

What does my spouse do that I really appreciate?

What is my spouse really good at?

What important thing does my spouse really care about?

What brings my spouse joy?

If you can answer one or two of those, you have a place by which you can start to ponder and create a gesture that might not create the stuff Valentine's movies are made of for you - but may be meaningful to your significant other.

So, here ya go....

1.  Give your spouse the gift of FORGIVENESS.  This is big.  And frankly, it all starts here.  Your UNFORGIVENESS, ladies, is a much greater hindrance to the connectivity you desire (both with your spouse and God) than the dirty under ware he continues to throw on the floor that drives you nuts (metaphorically speaking).

2.  Give your spouse the gift of KINDNESS.  Repent for judging him.

3.  Give your spouse the gift of a RELAXED you.  Decide that on Valentine's Day you're going to laugh.  Smile.  Breathe deeply.  There will be no demanding.  No crazy expectations.  No sighing. No Eye rolling, or riding his case.

4.  For Valentine's Day, give him the gift of your INTEREST, and your PARTICIPATION.  Sit beside him for a football game, and ask him to explain the rules to you (again).  Try to listen.

Suggest that he teach you how to play golf or chess or change a tire, whatever is his thing.  Dare I say it, play the video game with him.  Side by side, shoulder to shoulder, you just might both have some fun.

5.  Give him the gift of your SATISFACTION.  Let him off the hook for what he does or doesn't do for Valentine's Day this year.  Decide you aren't going to be disappointed in him.

6.  Give him the gift of TOUCH.  Valentine's Day isn't about earth altering sex.  I like to think of it as a realistic celebration of all things LOVE (spouse, God, kids, friends).  But, in general, men seem to rightfully, really enjoy sex. get on his schedule.  Night?  Morning?  Lunch break?  He'll notice you broke routine to reach out to him.

7.  Give him the gift of your ATTENTION.  This can be a big deal - especially during a season where your kids are hogging it all up.  Listen to what he says.  Make notes of his likes and dislikes.  Cook his favorites.  Let him pick the movie.  Let him know he's the one on your mind during the day, and that you're excited about seeing him later that evening.  Then, go and review points #1 - #6.

Listen, your life isn’t perfect.  Your Valentine's Day isn't going to be perfect either. That's ok.  

Remember we're adults now.  We aren't into re-creating the pressure of Senior Prom Night year after year like High School girls do. We understand that a perfect Valentine's Day is the FURTHEST THING from the point.  What you want, what we all want, is our relationships to take a step in a healthy, healing direction.  

We are praying for you!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

21 Romantic Ideas for Valentine's Day

Alrighty then.

The marriage class at Pike’s Peak has started and besides that, VALENTINE’S DAY is a mere few weeks away.  So…who’s ready to celebrate lovin’ and romance? 

I’m game.

We’re going to expect all 130 of our class participants to PLAN a Valentine’ish date…execute…and post their pictures with #storyofmarriageco.  And, I thought you might like to get in on the fun as well.

Here’s 21 of our favorite inexpensive romantic ideas to get ya thinkin….

1.  Linger over a fashionably late dinner. 
Put those kids to bed.  Early.  Order take out, or make your favorite meal.  Bust out the nice plates. Light candles, play music, pour a glass of wine.  Enjoy.

2.  Whip up something new together in the kitchen together. 
This is a great little book given to Billy and I years ago as a gift.  There are detailed menus, shopping lists, and “who does what” lists.  Similar ideas can be found online, or make it up as you go! 

But put a little something extra into it.  Move the furniture.  Bring a mattress into the living room or make a comfy pallet on the floor.  Have fun watching the movie as long as you can.  ;)

4.  Cuddle by the Fire
A glass of wine, a little chocolate, great conversation.  What’s not to like?

5.  Enjoy a FREE day. 
The Zoo, the Museum, even restaurants have them!  Do a little research and you can put one a month on your calendar for 2016.  Bonus points!

6.  Read a book together…in your favorite book store…with a warm drink.

7. Go on a hike together
This is something we love to do!  We live in one of the most beautiful cities in the country.  Get out there and enjoy it!

8.  Try something new (rock climbing, canoeing, snow shoeing etc). 
Survey your facebook friends, ask around to your co-workers.  BORROW SOME GEAR.   We’ve borrowed skiis, skates, kayak’s, condos, bikes, dirt bikes, you name it.  Get out there and have a blast!  Tip:  Return equipment in better condition than you got your friends don't mind you borrowing again in the future.

9.  Do a scavenger hunt. 
There are a million of these available for free online.  Pinterest is full of them.  Research for yourself.  Works best if you're in a silly mood.  It just might be hilarious.

10.  Art Walk. 
Admittedly, you can’t do this right now.  But you should know about it.  Old Colorado City.  The first Friday of every month,  April – December from 5 – 8 pm.  Stroll, look at beautiful things, enjoy the night with other interesting people.

11.  Walk around the Broadmoor. 
Vallet park for a mere few dollars.  Bring your travel mugs from home filled with hot chocolate.  Stroll around and pretend like you live there.

12.  Spa Night
(use your imagination)
 13.  Camp fire
One evening, we drove up to a small camp ground.  It wasn’t open per say, and we didn’t plan on staying the night.  We pulled into a small lot that over looked a beautiful section of the mountains.  We took 2 camping chairs and fire wood from our car, and started a fire.  We talked, cuddled under blankets, roasted marshmallows,  watched the sun go down and froze to death.  All good.  All good.

14.  Camping/Star Gazing
For that matter, go camping.  Sleep in a tent…without your kids.  It’s more fun than you think.

15. Play in the Snow

16.  Break out the wedding video
Ours is on VHS tape, but maybe yours isn’t.  J

17.  Make chocolate covered strawberries
Or Chocolate anything for that matter….

18.  Sit beside one another on the couch and send playful texts.

19.  Pillow Fight
Ladies, go all out.  Give it your best shot.  Win.  Girls Rule.

20.  Write a love letter and read it to one another.
Try  “Ten Reasons I Love You”.  Or  “Ten Things You do that Make Me Laugh”.  Or  “Ten Things You do that Make Me Feel Loved by You.”

21.  Kiss
Free, healthy, and goes without saying…

Now, get to it!  Celebrate love, trying, forgiving, being forgiven, creativity, trying some more, friendship and fun!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Another Post About Books

I love reading.  It makes me happy.  Goes very well with "thinking" I believe.  :)

Here is the lot of books I recently finished.

Billy's been talking about this for years, and even uses it in the DESIGN class he teaches, but I'd never taken the time to get into it.  The original book on the subject of developing your strengths versus trying to fix all your weaknesses was Living Your Strengths, out of print for the past couple of years.  2.0 has a short description at the beginning, but isn't meant to stand alone.  Soooooo, the way you want to do it is go to the Strengths Finder website and take the short test.  Your results will be your top 5 "strengths".  Mine were Connector, Intellection, Relator, Discipline, and Restorative.  And, well, it's so interesting and useful I made most of my family take the test as well.  You can then use the book to read about your strengths, how to use them in various situations, etc.  I highly recommend.

Finished yet another book by Neta and Dave Jackson.  My family rolls their eyes and shakes their heads in bewilderment at my adoration for this series.  What can I say?  I like cheese from time to time.

Currently, I am half way through this.  Easy to understand - a great read.  A side trail here:  We have made a few HUGE financial mistakes in the past 20 years.  Not things like forgetting to pay the utility bill, or not saving for back to school, or taking a vacation on a credit card.  WE'VE MADE BIGGER MISTAKES THAN THAT. Looking back though, they weren't mistakes out of ill intention or even selfishness so much as they were mistakes made out of ignorance.  The "right" thing to do, simply wasn't a thought in our consciousness.  I have come to believe, therefore, it's wise to learn about financial things beyond tithing, giving offerings, and saving.  Wise to have a smart head as well as a right heart.  And wise to be prepared for financial surprises that may happen from time to time. 
(For example, if you win the lottery, did you know you should never spend a large, lump sum of money?  You should invest it to make more money.  And, well, I've never played the lottery but there ya go).

LOVED this very short book.  Easy to read in a day.  Fresh, deep reflections on Christian leadership.  Go.  Read.  It.

Currently on my side table...


Almost through this book.  Loving it.  If you have a sense that you are transitioning (and I am), it's a
good word.

We were graced to have Juli come and speak at a MOPS meeting this past year.  And, I decided that while I'm "transitioning" to mentor mode, I want to be a woman who has wise answers, especially concerning hard topics.  I want to have more than canned Christian answers.  I want to say 'I don't know' less often.   And, at 41, I feel no need to impress younger women with my use of slang.  So...I'm skipping around through this topical book which I'd highly recommend.

Next up on my reading list......

My friends keep telling me to read it.  My kids keep telling me to read it.  So...I'm gonna read it.

Finally, on the topic of marriage and family, one of my biggest areas of advice for young marrieds is to learn about GREIF.  Life is full of it, and will be full of it for your spouse and children as well.  Learning to grieve well is one of the healthiest things you could ever do -- and allow your family members to do as well.  Plus, it's C.S. Lewis.  :)

As always, I'd love to hear what you've read in 2015 that was meaningful to you and why it was meaningful.  Lots of your favorites end up on my side table and bless me - so share away!

Many blessings,