Monday, February 25, 2013

Scaling Back

I find myself tired and overwhelmed a lot these days. I need to make space for some things. I need to make space for some people. As such I'm going to cut back on my posts. I'm thinking Wednesday and Saturday for the next little while. I'm going to cut back on my time on Twitter and Facebook as well. The interwebs have done much to grow me as a person, as a writer, and as a child of God. I have met some amazing people on here who constantly challenge me to be better. So I'm going to go be better in my physical life. I'm not sure what this will look like or how God is going to use it, but I'll believe he is going to fill my life with something. So I'm going to make space for him to do that.

I won't be gone completely because I'll post here on Wed. and Sat. I will answer you if you email me or tweet at me, or facebook me. I just won't be around as much. Thanks for all the love and support you guys have given me. And stick around for the stories I'll be telling on Wednesdays.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Good Stuff Saturday 2-23

Poetry and Photos

Little Stones, Little Stars - Out in the Fields with God 

National Geographic Photo A Day - Cafe, Amsterdam

These made me stop and think
Tammy Helfrich: Embrace Your Story - What's Your Symbol  - Do you have a symbol that resonates with you?
Something that has special meaning for you?
Maybe it’s a family symbol, or something that has helped you through a tough time.

Sundi Jo: Lead. Laugh. Love. - Dear Mr. President - When did we start referring to president’s by their last name?
I was convicted. So were others. For the last four years I have referred to you as Obama. I haven’t recognized you as President Obama and I realize in doing so, I was dishonoring you.

Prodigal Magazine - I Will Fix You  - In just one year of marriage, my perspective on ministry has changed dramatically. What I thought I knew about ministry just wasn’t working in my marriage. I was at a loss until one small shift changed everything for me.

My problem was, I looked at the Bible like a book rather than a person.

Applying the Bible as a user’s manual was my approach to ministry. If there was a problem, I used the Bible to fix it. 

Drip Jesus - On Oppotunities  - “I’m here to pick out a card from my husband to me. I do this so that my kids think that he loves me. I don’t want them to grow up and be like him, so I try to teach them that a husband loves his wife.”

These made me say, "Yes!"
Unknown Jim - Rollercoasters Aren't For Toddlers - I’m a toddler. Maybe even a newborn.
Any way you slice it, when I walk, I’m still very wobbly.
I’ve only been writing seriously for about 6 months.
I’ve been on the page-views-watching roller coaster and I’d like to get off of this ride.

The Story Project - I Have Idolized the Skinny Girl  - I have idolized her. I have thought she is better than me. She is more loved than me. She is more sought after than me. She is more fought for than me. That skinny girl, she is more valuable, more accepted, more of a treasure. 

I have even thought in my mind, "At least if I cannot be skinny, let me have skinny friends. Maybe it will rub off on me, maybe people will forget that I am not skinny." 

Thoughts I have never said aloud, but thoughts that have sat on my mind like cement. - Surviving in an Anti-God Society  - The airwaves of social media are laden with the demise of America. Christians are seen mourning over election results and some are stocking up on guns.
The question of surviving in an increasingly anti-God society seems to come up often.
I recently finished teaching the book of Daniel, which also asks this question. Daniel was taken captive from Jerusalem to Babylon. He was indoctrinated with the culture and customs of Babylon in an attempt to strip him of his Jewish identity. Daniel was forced to serve in a horrible, pagan government.
How did he do it? This is worth a look into the life of an incredible man.

Life As Experienced - They Will Know We Are Christians By Our .... Political Opinions?  - The real challenge is that Jesus wasn’t a political figurehead.  Rather He simply told us to “render unto Caesars that which is Caesars.”  Interestingly that he forgot to tell us which party to vote for, and he never mentioned what political issues were important.  We do know where He stood on taking care of the poor, on loving our neighbors, and on sharing the radical concept of grace with others.

Something for you to check out!

I'm going to be published and you can too! 
Unknown Jim - Let's Write an Ebook - So what’s the challenge? A poetry ebook. The topic is love and relationships—however you interpret that topic. Even if you’d like to contribute a couple Haikus, that’s fine too. You can read more about the ebook guidelines and send in your submissions here. The deadline is next Thursday (2/28/13) so there is not much time to waste.

My friend started an etsy shop with some great jewlery that is SOOO reasonably priced.
Etsy - Squiggle Designs  - There are lots of earring choices and she can make custom orders as well.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Love is what?


In the weeks after Ben was born, I remember standing in the kitchen of the apartment we were quickly growing out of and crying. Ben was gassy all time and slept several hours less than the 'average'. So sleeping and eating were both difficult. Drew and I had started watching episodes of Seinfeld or King of Queens on DVD as the nights turned into morning. It was a tiny spot of laughter in the weeks of survival. We had thought we were prepared for this, but we were so wrong.

On that particular day, Ben was crying in pain from thrush. It was first a small spot and then developed into a large section of his small mouth. We were waiting for the doctors office to call back. We needed medicine. It just took one call from the doctor and he could begin recovering. And that wasn't coming. Stressed doesn't begin to explain it.

In the waiting and helplessness through tears, I finally said the words that had been in my head for so many days. "I don't know if I love him like I should."

As the words left my mouth, I knew them to be false in my head. However, my heart was not yet convinced. My husband's gentle kiss to my forehead and his soft words, "Yes you do." were confirmation that I needed. And now 4 years later, I am beginning to understand what I struggled with in that kitchen. Love is not an emotion. It is a verb. It is an action. It isn't about what I feel, but how I act. So I stop worrying about if I feel it or not and I do what I am led to do.

It is then that I am loving my son.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Monday, I was blessed to participate in a discussion with some amazing and encouraging ladies. Search #overcomethelie at Twitter and you life will be changed. I promise you. It is powerful stuff.

Tuesday, I had to miss my normal #writestuff discussion. I will be catching up on that today. Last night's discussion was about books that changed your life. Search Twitter and you can get a great list of reading material.

And today, I am sharing a story about my life changing over at The Ramblings of Denise Dilley. She is doing a series for February called "Love Found Me". I'm sharing a story about when love came and found me. It felt rather raw and honest to write. I hope you enjoy it.

I blamed myself and I blamed others. It was not pretty. It was an ugly year full of pain. Not one part of the downward spiral or grabbing the survival line was pretty. However there was one moment of light. One honest prayer that broke through all my pain and anger. I prayed part of "Don't take the Girl" by Tim McGraw, "Take the very breath you gave me."

Head on over there to read the rest of the story. 

And for Friday, I think I have another story about love finding me. So tune in on Friday for another life story.

Thanks for hanging around and supporting my writing elsewhere.

Today be encouraged, find something that speaks to you, and share it.


If you are visiting from Denise's blog, below are a few of my favorite stories.

To My Dear Departed Coffee Thermos

The Time I Stood in the Slow Lane

I'm Saying it Loud: I'm a Straight Edge Hippie

The Day We Bollixed It

Fuzzy Slippers and Dirty Diapers

Monday, February 18, 2013


Pinky's Bedtime Photo Credit: edenpictures

The time of night I think I love the most is from the time my son falls asleep on my lap to the time I fall asleep.  Before I go any further with this story, it is important to note that my son is a night owl. (I've talked about that here and here.) So our current theory is let him go until about 10 and make him lay down on the couch with us. Then most of the time he falls asleep laying on me or my husband. We know he is really asleep when he starts snoring lightly or when he twitches. Then we put him in bed and I have a little bit of time before I'm so exhausted that I go to bed. I can get a few minutes of reading or writing or watching a TV show. Those moments of relaxing are awesome, but then I get to go to bed myself.

Is there anything better than climbing into bed and pulling the covers up over you?

I don't think so. However, before I can enjoy that I have a few things I have to do. Of course, there is the typical wash my face and brush my teeth. But a little more unusually, I have to rearrange the bed. I have to make sure that the fitted sheet it all straight without any wrinkles. I have to make sure that the top sheet is all tucked in at the bottom and that both sides of the bed are even. Then I can arrange the cover to make sure that it is even and straight all around. When that is all done, I can get into bed and pull the covers up to my neck and settle in for the night.

If I'm lucky, I can fall asleep before my husband (who is also a night owl) gets into bed and untucks and unstraightens all of my hard work. He will toss and turn and kick at the covers until I can't hardly stand it. And that is why I have to rearrange the sheets and covers before I get into bed every night. But it is worth it when I can relax at night into a perfectly arranged bed.

So what kind of bed do you prefer? Straight and tucked or unstraight and untucked?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Good Stuff Saturday 2-16


National Geographic Photo of the Day - Building Facade Detroit 

National Geographic Photo a Day - Street Scene , Manhattan 

You Decide How to Be

I'd Laugh, But It All Happened to Me - Liver and Lima Beans (A Lenten Challenge)  - For many years I joked that every year for Lent I would give up liver and lima beans.  And I never cheated on that promise.  It was easy- I HATE liver and lima beans!  This may seem like a terrible way to approach Lent, but in some bizarre way I was on to something. 

The Well Thought Out Life - What does it look like to submit to the Church?  - When I was in college a Prof of presented a list of spiritual disciplines, and one of them was submission. I was intrigued. I'd never heard the word used outside of the debate about submission in marriage, and the idea that we needed to at times choose the discipline of submission (to a boss, in a relationship, to a church, ...?) was all new. It absolutely went against my nature to think of choosing to submit when I didn't have to by moral obligation. - Religious Activism of the Insecure  - But the statement caused me to take pause and wonder, “How much of our activism is rooted in insecurity?”
How many good deeds are actually attempts to earn the favor of God rather than as a loving response to it?

The Esau Project - Forgiveness - I think as Christians sometimes we’re afraid to let someone know that we’re angry or hurting because we’re always supposed to forgive.  But the way I read chapter 2, Paul doesn’t take the offense lightly.  I believe he was truly hurt.  And I believe that it wasn’t in his nature to forgive the person who had wronged him.  But he took time to step back from the offense and decided to forgive.

Where My Soul Belongs - How to Knock Down Writer's Block - Writer’s block does not exist.
It’s a fallacy. A myth. A fairy tale.
Writer’s block is a clever device writers have concocted so we have an easy out for when we are afraid to write.

You are worth it

The Story Project - My Anthem: He Can  -He can restore your body from sickness.
He can make you well again.
He can rekindle your dream.
He can raise you up to change a nation from your bedroom no matter your age. 

Unchained Faith - You are Loved -  Words mean things.  “Damaged goods” is something we should use to describe a bruised banana or a dented can of tomatoes or a package of frozen peas that split open.  Damaged goods are unsaleable throw-aways.
Call us sinners, if you believe we are.  Say we make mistakes or that we sometimes hurt each other or that we need forgiveness (from people or God).
But don’t call us damaged goods.  Human beings are not ever damaged goods.

Mustard Seed - Divorce and God - I was raised to believe that divorce is wrong.  It is!  But God still loves you and wants to pick you up and put you back together.  You have been broken.  God will put you back together.  You will never be the same again.  You will be stronger.  Think of your life like a stick.  When a stick is broken it can never be put back the same.  But, if you lash the two pieces together, it is twice as strong as before.  That is what God has done for me, and He will do it for you if you let Him. 

You Can Help

Mustard Seed - Surgery  - My surgery is scheduled for 7:30am on Monday February 18.  It is just minor surgery, I don’t even have to go to the Hospital, but I would appreciate your prayers.  

Overcome the Lie - Twitter Party on Monday, February 18th at 9 EST. #OvercomeTheLie and @OvercomeTheLie  All are invited and I'm pretty excited! We are empowering a generation of women to overcome every lie because Jesus overcame the grave. 

International Justice Mission - Ask the President to help Make Freedom Real  - President Obama will begin his second term as our nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation – the great promise of freedom to America’s slaves authored by President Lincoln.  As Dr Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “There is but one way to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation. That is to make its declarations of freedom real…” 

Friday, February 15, 2013

This is how I know what love is...

Mom helped me study for my Masters exam while I was driving home. She quizzed me about various books even though she knew nothing about them or even how to pronounce some of them.

Dad bought black olives and kept a little bit of pizza dough raw because he knew I liked eating them, especially together. (Yes, I was an odd kid.)

Jon, my brother, chose to sleep in my room on the floor on Christmas Eve. He choose time with me at Christmas.

When asked where he was taking me for Valentine's Day, Drew said I was so low maintenance that I would prefer IHOP. He knows what I like. 

An anonymous member of church gave us money because they know these last couple of weeks of surgery and travel have been hard.

A friend going out of her way to make sure Drew ate while his mom was in the hospital.

And the bloggers sharing their space with me, Amy and Tim. And next week Denise.

Especially today, go check out the snippet of fiction that Tim so graciously allowed me to post! Thanks!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Professionally Single, Part 2

As she began to write, she found that she had much to say. She wanted to talk about the judgments that she got that hurt. She wanted to talk about the things she accomplished on her own. She wanted to talk about the benefits she found. She wanted to talk about the humor she found in the men that saw her column as a challenge. The more she talked the more others responded. She got mountains of emails everyday in response to what she wrote. As much as she tried to prevent it, they did interfere with her job. It was only 3 months into the deal and she was worried about her job. A Friday afternoon in that third month her editor called her into his office.

She took a deep breath. "This is it, but you will survive because you have a following and you have your work. You could even publish a book."

"Ms. Rayburn, when you proposed this column 3 months ago I was a sceptic. However, it has become one of the most popular columns. That has forced us to break our agreement and offer you the position of staff writer earlier than agreed."


"We are officially offering you the position of staff writer at this time. "

"Thank you sir. Are you sure about this?"

"Honestly Miss Rayburn if we don't someone else will. We have fielded several calls asking to syndicate your column. These papers have noticed that you are not currently listed among our writers. That fact has made them rather excited. We would like to keep you here at The City Post. We are more than happy to syndicate your column to as many papers as ask. We do require that you give us first publication rights for your articles and that you stay with us for the duration of your column or 2 full years, whichever comes first."

"What if I want to publish a book? Would I have to buy the rights to the articles from you?"

" I don't know what the decision about that is. We can discuss it further on Monday. Today I would like a verbal agreement to stay with this paper."

"Yes I would love to stay with the paper. However I do want final publishing rights to my work."

"If you are serious about that, then this weekend prepare the wording that you would like to have on the contract and we will leave a space for it."

"That seems more than fair, Mr. Barnes. Thank you." Noelle said exiting the office.

Noelle took the directive seriously. She came up with various phrases and sentences. She spoke with several friends and some other colleagues to ensure that it was just what she wanted. First thing on Monday morning, Noelle met with Mr. Barnes, the owner of the paper, and two other supervisors. She presented her wording and her reasoning. It was a remarkably simple discussion. They thought it was quite fair and put up no argument. The contracts were signed and she was now officially a staff writer with protected works. She spent the rest of the morning moving from one desk on the second floor to a desk on the fourth floor. She said good bye to her friends in the advertising department. As she was moving into the new desk, she saw several staring at her. Some were envious. Some were curious. Some just stared with no particular emotion. She just continued about her business without responding to any of the stares. 

Lunch came quickly. She gathered her purse and headed toward the deli around the corner. She entered and   Julie asked, "The usual?"

"No. I'm rewarding myself. A Hot Pastrami on Rye with deli mustard."

"What is the occasion?"

"I got a promotion."

"Congratulations! It's about time. You've been working your rear end off. You deserve this!"

"Thanks. You are too kind." Noelle complimented as she was picking up her sandwich. She moved to an empty table and began to eat. A few bites into the sandwich a well dressed man approached her. 

"Are you Noelle Rayburn of Professionally Single?"

"Yes." She said cautiously wondering if this was an aficionado or a conquistador.

"I really admire your writing is humorous and realistic. You don't take yourself too seriously, but you do take your work very seriously. It is really enjoyable."

"Thank you. You are very kind." Noelle said still unsure of his intentions, but appreciative of the genuine compliments. Not quite sure what to say next an awkward lapse began to yawn between them. He didn't fidget or move. He just kept standing there. So she invited him to sit down. 

"I would love to sit down and chat some more with you about your writing process."

"Are you an aspiring writer?"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Driving Disasters (Nearly)

New traffic pattern ahead Photo Credit: pvera

Monday my mother in law had surgery (It went well) and Friday there was some pre-op stuff. So my husband took her to that and I took Ben to school. Dropping him off was rather uneventful and I was hoping picking him up would be as uneventful. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

As I turned off the main road and headed to car riders, I noticed a van in the drive. As I got closer, I saw it was a carpet cleaning van. I pulled in behind it and thought that surely they were just inside for a minute. They wouldn't have parked in such a bad spot, right? Wrong.

They weren't moving and I was behind them and two more were behind me. Ben's teacher dropped him off and said she was going to drop off the other two. Then their parents would back out and I could too. The other two cars backed out easily and then it was my turn. The difficulty comes in because this particular drive is a curve. I was right in that curve. I turned my wheels and began to back up. I hit the curb, so I pulled forward and tried to go the other way to get a better angle. I backed up again and felt like I hit the same spot. I thought, "Maybe I'm turning my wheels the wrong way." So I turned them the opposite way. Everything in me screamed, "Not that way!" So I put them back the right way and tried again. Maybe a smidge farther. After a couple more of these just to leave me feeling like a complete driving idiot, I finally was able to pull forward. Ben's teacher was very nice as she watched my back and forth dance. She didn't even laugh. Needless to say, I was embarrassed.

When we left there, Ben and I headed to Wal-Mart to pick up my prescription. That was a pleasant and uneventful trip. To get home, we drive down a 'country' road. It isn't really isolated like 'country' roads that I'm used to, but it is a little less traveled than other roads. They were doing a survey on this road. I saw the sign and could see from a ways back that I was approaching the work area. I could also see the guy on my side of the road had not looked my way yet. I slowed a little bit. I saw him wave at the guy on the other side of the road. And then he stepped out into the road. Thank the Lord I had slowed down already. I hit the brakes hard and stopped quickly. The guy's eyes got huge and and he apologized. I'm not sure if he was supposed to look or if the other guy was supposed to warn him, but I was sure glad that I had slowed down when I came toward them. I was also not worrying about my ability to back up anymore.

Then on Saturday night, I drove separately to a youth event in case Ben got too tired to stay. The only problem was that I wasn't sure how to get there. I asked Drew and he tried to explain it, but I just couldn't see in my mind how the two places connected. He told me to just follow him, but I had to get gas and somehow we separated. So I just followed his directions. On the way there, I realized why I didn't know where this place was at. Drew always uses the back way to get there and not the easy, but stoplight filled way he told me about. So I got there later than him even though I left earlier. It was a great night, but I still blamed him for the wrong directions.

So this weekend, I learned that I am not as bad of a driver as I thought I was because I can back out of tight spots, stop in case of emergency, and find the right place even with bad directions.

And I'm over at Amy's place today ranting a little. If you are interested, click here. (After 9:30 am)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Professionally Single, Part 1

Noelle sighed as she sorted through her mail. She recognized another shower invitation. She opened it and was disappointed to find a wedding shower invitation. She preferred babies because there was no future commitment with them. New mothers didn't want bunches of people to come by, so no time for awkward questions. It was just friend time and a little bit of cuddling. Gaining a husband or a baby didn't matter when it came to the shower because they were all painful with numerous awkward questions about the lack of movement in her job or her life.

"I really wish she was having a baby." Noelle complained to her boxer dog, Chili. "I know I should be honored that I have so many friends who want to spend this special time with me, but after a while it feels like you are making fun of the single girl."

Chili's response was to to sigh while laying down on his bed.

"Thanks for caring so much." She continued complaining, "Couldn't I at least have some tragic break up story that explains my singleness? Well maybe that isn't the best idea, but it would make a better story."

As the words left her mouth, something in her brain clicked. A better story. "That's what I need." For the next few days, Noelle set about creating a better story. She knew she needed a new job title. She couldn't afford to quit her job, but she could at least have a new title or a part time job with a new title. Not just any new title, but something that made her singleness special, something that made it worthwhile.

"AH HA! I've got it." She exclaimed frightening Chili. "I will be professionally single" She sat down to write out a sample article to show her editor in the morning.

She approached her editor's office the next morning. "You have a degree in journalism. You have worked at this paper for 5 years. It is time for them to trust you with something new."

"Yes it is." She said straightening her posture and holding her head high. She entered her editors office to present her idea.

"Are you creating a new job for yourself?" He asked accusingly.

"Not at all sir. I am suggesting that I continue in my current job while adding a new column to the newspaper that will appeal to a new demographic. I have not seen anything like this amongst our competitors either. All of these benefits will come to the paper at no cost for the first 6 months. If at that time, the paper would like to cancel the column they can do so with no further requirements. However if the paper would like to continue the column, then I would be promoted to staff writer with the appropriate salary." Noelle calmly presented.

"So for the next 6 months, you continue to do your job as well as writing a column for the Lifestyle section. What if I don't like it after one month?"

"You are free to cancel it at that time."

"So what's the catch? Why are you working for free?"

"Honestly, I'm tired of the people in my life expecting me to have a life that follows everyone else's time table. I want them to respect my time table. Publishing articles about it will certainly shut some of them up. All I ask for are a few business cards to reflect the validity of the work I am doing."

"That would come out of your salary."

"It would be a small price to pay for gaining some respect."

"They can't say that you are a staff writer. So what would they say?"

"Noelle Rayburn. City Post. Professionally Single."


Refocusing This Blog

refocus (9) Photo Credit: puresolitude

At one time I had two blogs, but then I put them together because they seemed to be saying the same thing and going the same way. I played around with the days I was going to post and have settled comfortably into  a Monday, Wednesday, Friday posting schedule with a summary post on Saturday. Every so often I will post a poem or something creative, but it doesn't seem to fit into what I said I was going to do with this blog.

The tagline is "Using my real life to encourage growth in my relationships and yours." The idea was to tell stories about what is going on with me, like this and this, to help you think differently about relationships that you are in. I'm also sharing about what is going on in my spiritual life, like this and this. That all feels like it falls under the tagline of the blog. However, the poetry and creative things don't really feel like it belongs. So I restarted my other blog with a new name and a new focus. That will be my creative outlet. I may not post regularly there, but I will post when I have a creative piece to share. Since I'm not posting regularly, I would encourage you to subscribe via reader like Google Reader OR via email in order to get what I write delivered to you. (Thanks to Amy for the idea.)

That means I will focus this blog on what I said I would. I will be telling stories about my life that I think might help you to laugh or look at something in a new way or whatever. I will also be talking about what I am going through and learning spiritually. I will also be sharing the opportunities for you to make a difference, as I have in the past. So that covers the Jesus and me part.

Also I would love to have your voice on here! It is called Jesus, YOU, and me. So if you have a story from your life where you learned something that could help other people. Share it! My rules are pretty simple...

1. It should be your story from your life.
2. Keep it PG if possible.

There you have it. Simple and sweet.

Thanks for sticking with me through this crazy ride as I figure out what I'm doing on here. And I have some pretty cool driving stories from this weekend that I will share with you on Wednesday. So come back then.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Good Stuff Saturday 2-9

National Geographic Photo of the Day - Landscape, Czech Republic 

The Esau Project - Delay of Game  - In the ball game it’s a penalty.  You lose some valuable points.  You lose one shot at a touchdown.  But you usually get to try for it again.  Life mirrors sports so much, whether you like sports or not.  When you’re going for something and you screw up, it’s just a setback.  Most of the time it’s not the end of the game for you.

The Scenic Route - I'm Done Chasing Your Dream - I know I do. Over the past couple of years I’ve had the beautiful opportunity to rub shoulders (at least through my computer screen) with other writers. I love it. I have learned so much from being in community with other folks whose passion in life is to make a difference with their words. But I have this huge tendency to quietly hold onto a very unhealthy misconception:
If you can’t or don’t move this way or that way, you have somehow failed at your craft.

Life as Experienced - I'm the Greatest Husband in the World  - Yet I’m struck by how my wife does that every other day.  Sure, I help dry the dishes each night, but every night she washes them.  And yet, she’s never posted on social media about how awesome she is, she never even makes a big deal about it. 

Life as Experienced - I Can't Get No Satisfaction  - Contentment says that I can enjoy where I am in this moment, regardless of my circumstances.  It washes over us, when we realize just how blessed we really are. It’s more than just a feeling though, it’s a habit we have to build into our lives.  Because it’s easy to get sidetracked.

Writer's Space - I Dreamed a Dream  - Songs have a way of touching our hearts. Very often, they help us say something we wouldn’t otherwise be able to put into words. They give life to our innermost thoughts and feelings, particularly those that we are most afraid to let anyone know. 

101 Books - Steinbeck Mocks the Publishing Process  - If you’ve ever had a book published, or even attempted to have a book published, then you are all too familiar with this process. Just call me a glutton for punishment, because I hope to be going through this process myself in the not-too-distant future.
Here’s how John Steinbeck light-heartedly explains the publishing process:

[re]sourced: Handmade with Love from Albania - By purchasing products from these women, you aren’t just helping to lower their families’ risk of being trafficked.
You are helping these women to realize their talents.
You are helping to employ these women while using those talents.
You are helping these women provide for their families.
You are helping these women have hope for the future.

Jeff Goins, Writer - The Most Inspiring 20-Something I've Ever Met - Locals call children who work in the dump “scavengers.” But The Potter’s House has another name for them: tesoros. Treasures.
Due to the personal investment of a few staff members of this nonprofit, Marlon started seeing himself differently. He found a purpose beyond scavenging and subsistence.

Potter's House -
  • Assist: To offer humanitarian aid and assistance to those who cannot help themselves, especially the children and the elderly
  • Develop: To equip the Treasures to develop and become confident, competent, and self-sustaining 
  • Empower: To provide resources for the Treasures to participate in the solution to their personal, familial, communal, and national problems

This Time Around - A Coffee and A Song of Note Friday  - Who You Are did that to me this week. Because you know what? I don’t understand everything that happens in my life or the world around me. But I am getting to know more and more who God is.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Overcoming My Lies

Okay, I won't Photo Credit: Donna Sullivan Thompson

Last week I wrote about weights that have been on me and working to lift them off. Here I am on another Friday and they are still hanging around. I wanted to avoid using the specific lies that are weighing on me because I didn't want to seem like I was calling people out. However, I'm still here carrying the weights. So I'm going to be really bluntly honest.

Lie #1: You shouldn't be happy and proud that you were a virgin before you were married.

Lie #2: If you aren't eating healthier, losing weight, and working out this particular way, then you are contributing to the downfall of America.

Let me start by saying that I don't think this was the message people intended to share. However, this is the message that I gathered between the written words. So I'm not saying that the people writing about these topics said these things or believe them. Even so if I am gathering that message then others might be getting it as well. I would hate for other people to be fighting these lies alone.

Lie #1 - If you are not a virgin and are not married, God loves you, I love you, and your future spouse will too. I can only imagine the pain and doubt you are going through. Don't let God be one of those doubts. I realize that the church has messed up this message a lot and I'm sorry.

If you are a virgin, it is OKAY to be committed to that. It is OKAY to be happy about your decision. If you were a virgin until you got married, it is OKAY to be happy about that and proud of that. You are avoiding or have avoided some heartache and pain. That is NOT a bad thing!

For me the church didn't mess up this message. I made a decision and I stuck by it. It didn't cause me lasting damage. So I can be happy that both my husband and I were virgins before we got married. I can be happy that we didn't have that pain to wade through. (We have plenty of other pain and old scars to work on.) I can be happy about it. I don't have to be ashamed about it!

Lie #2 - If you are eating healthier, losing weight, and working out, that is awesome. Taking care of yourself and getting into that routine is a life long habit that will help you live longer and happier. I know the church doesn't talk about this often enough and that society wars about this stuff. So if you have found something to work for you, that is great.

If you are trying to eat healthier, lose weight, and work out, but are struggling with it. That is OKAY. You don't have to be perfect overnight.  When there is a special event and you eat cake or pie, while enjoying the people with you. That is okay. When you are too tired to work out because you are sick or worn out from other commitments in life, it is okay to sleep in or relax.

For me, I'm a wife, a mother, a teacher, a youth leader, and a teacher leader. I have a lot of other things on my plate and then I add family illness and a cold on top of that. I am exhausted! I have slept in several days in the last couple weeks. I haven't worked out like I normally do. I have tried to fit in more stairs at school and playing with Ben more. I have tried to stand up and fold clothes instead of sitting down. The scale hasn't moved much and I'm frustrated. Maybe I'm gaining muscle and maybe the pie at my mother in laws or the Superbowl dips are catching up with me. Either way, I'm going to continue making my little changes. I'm also not going to stop living my life and enjoying the people I"m with. I'm not going to worry about calories every second of every day. I'm not going to worry about the minutes I spent moving more. I won't let calorie counting or perfect eating or whatever decide how I live my life. AND that is OKAY!!

For more lies that women are working on overcoming, check out this Twitter site. And this series of YouTube videos and this series of blog posts.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Using my voice

Waiting Photo Credit: SanGatiche

I have been struggling because it feels like no one is listening to me. I know I have important things to say and truths to share. I want to tell people about how grace means you can be yourself with God. I want to tell people how God loves them just they way are because he made you that way. I want to tell people how love and grace means you can put your walls down and be real with  people.

I just want to love on them and give them grace. I want it so desperately, but I don't know how to do it.

I'm waiting for some opportunity to talk to just the right person. I'm waiting for a ministry to pop up that gives me a platform. I'm waiting for a Bible Study where I can share these things on my heart. I'm waiting and I don't like it. Actually, I hate it!

Then I hear a whisper. It is God. He reminds me, "I put you here." Why am I sitting here hating this inactivity? God doesn't just put us somewhere to sit back on the sidelines. He puts us where we are and expects us to work with what we have because He is inside us.

He is inside me! He is here with me and has put me right here. So why am I wishing to be somewhere else? God didn't put me somewhere else. He put me right here and gave me a voice. He gave me a passion to speak to hurting people with love and grace. So if He gave me all these things, he must expect me to use them. It's up to me to pay attention to his leading and use the voice and passion he gave me.

God help me to see those you put in front of me. Give me the courage to speak as you would have me speak. Lord let me love as you love. Strengthen my feeble attempts with your love and your grace.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday Is My Muse: Acts 12:1-19

In Sunday School we read Acts 12: 1-19, I started thinking about how Peter and the Church must have felt after he was freed, but James and the guards were all killed. So if I was Peter...

God, you gave me a miracle,
But you let him die.
I am your son.
He was your son.

God, you gave the Church a miracle,
But it cost the lives of sixteen.
We are your children.
They were your children.

Jesus, you taught me to love
because all people are worthy.
I am your friend.
They were your friends.

God, how can I understand this?
How can I trust you?
How can we move forward
With this blood on our hands?

God, why didn't you save them?
Why did they have to die?
Why am I alive?
Why do I feel so guilty?

Jesus, are you really a redeemer?
Can you really use this?
Does your blood cover all this?
Does your blood cover me?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Good Stuff Saturday 2-2

Pictures of Poverty - Children Attending a Saturday Session 
Pictures of Poverty - Seven Year Old Ruthe and Her Mother Sefako

Prodigal Magazine - I was an Illegal Immigrant  - Unfortunately, the crossing was too dangerous for a newborn infant, so my mother left me with family in Mexico. It broke her heart, but she knew it was what she needed to do. She swore she would come back as soon as she could establish a life that was safe and stable enough to support me.

Compassion - You Can Change the World  - Most of us don’t feel like we can really change the world. Sure, we know that we can make an impact on our community and family, but change the world? That sounds a little too lofty and difficult for us average Joes. Most of us don’t have the money to start a school in Africa or donate billions to AIDS relief, but that isn’t the goal is it?

Courtesy of Compassion International:

Casey Leigh - Intentional with Toddlers  - I recently mentioned a toddler class that I am taking and wanted to share a bit of what I am learning (from the first 2 weeks), there are 2 more weeks of the class that are still to come for an additional post later! 

The Isle of Man - Getting Back on the Horse plus an Update  - (Or - And what I find is, if I have those conversations and let those questions be serious boundaries around the foundation of my writing...

...I don't write.

I'd Laugh, But It All Happened to Me - I'm going to Hell (Or How Not to Do Evangelism)  - I received numerous responses from people who shared my assessment of the situation- that evangelism without love is empty and weak.  Many mentioned bad experiences of their own with church folks trying to "scare the hell out of them."  

I'd Laugh, But It All Happened to Me - A Church Music Conundrum - I have been thinking a lot lately about the songs I have sung in worship over the years.  I am old enough to have been through several generations of church music, and I have loved them all. 

Life of a Christ Follower in Albania - Why I Hate Hollywood -  I have never disliked Hollywood as much as I do since I’ve moved overseas. Here are 3 reasons why:

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lifting the Weights Off my Heart

This past weekend I tweeted:

And I read this:

Galatians 2:4-5
This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

I had a post planned to rail on all the lies and contortions out there in the world. And I was going to share the truth as I understand it. I was going to talk about the well meaning posts I have read this week that only managed to make me feel out of place in the Christian community because I am neither conservative or liberal. Well, more accurately, I am both conservative and liberal. I was going to share how I'm trying to stand strong on the truth of the gospel and not give away the freedom that I have in Christ Jesus. And to be honest, I am still hurting a little from the posts and I'm still a little angry about the the lies that I am hearing that are weighing me down.

But I don't want that to define me or this blog.

I want to be honest on here. Not just honest about my frustrations, but more importantly I want to be honest about what is going in my heart. So I'm not going to rail on those things. I'm not going to try to nicely skewer people or their opinions. I'm going to tell you that this has been a rough week. It has been busy with professional things, but it's more than that. These previously mentioned things are weighing down my heart and taking my attention. My heart has struggled to find the courage to engage in love. My attention has been in other places. I've have had difficulty staying engaged with people and listening to them. I so desperately want to love people as Jesus loved. I want to see those that pass by me every day hurting and needing Him. I want to hear his whisper telling me to smile at that person or feel his nudge to pat this person on the back. I want to see Jesus in those around me. I want to Jesus to just spill out of me and on to those near by.

Lord help me put aside these words that have sucked the space out of my life. Help me pick up the words that give me space for others.