Tuesday, April 15, 2014

One Thousand Gifts | Ann Voskamp and a Book for the Rest of Us


Reading is tough for me. I'm not a quick reader and quite frankly, I get bored. I don't read fantasy or science fiction. Or really any fiction. My bookmarks are still on page 8 of Twilight and 23 of Hunger Games. The first one. 

But non-fiction I can do. Stories, ones lived by real people somewhere at some point in time. That stuff moves me. 

The first time I realized I loved the power of story was in Shauna Niequist's Cold Tangerines. I was a freshman in college and Tommee emailed me a free excerpt with a note that read, "This is so you. Read it." 

And I did. Three times that year. That's when I got my first taste of this new(ish) type of raw, unpolished yet refined way of putting one's life onto paper for the world to experience and whisper, "Me too." 

Since then, I've read memoirs, biographies, essays and blogs that hover around this same type of artistry. 

But to call Ann Voskamp an artist of the written word must be the understatement of the year. 

Unlike any author I've read, she has managed to paint and arrange the words of her book, One Thousand Gifts, in a way that makes me cry every. single. time. But this isn't the type of crying that is all sorrowful. These tears, different than every other time, are tears of gratitude, thankfulness, and release. 

Ann has been affectionately called, the C.S. Lewis of today, wearing a skirt. And to that I say "AMEN!" 

In One Thousand Gifts, Ann makes you feel like you are on her front porch, sipping tea and pulling bite sized pieces from her freshly baked bread loaf. She lets you in to the depth of her heart, you know that place? The one every woman has, but rarely opens the gates to. She walks you through her story, piece by piece, not for pity or pride, but because she has seen the weaving hand of God and wants you to see it too. 


She beams, "Eucharisteo." 
"Eucharisteo—it comes right out of the Gospel of Luke: 'And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them…' (Luke 22:19 NIV). In the original language, 'He gave thanks' reads 'eucharisteo.' 
The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning 'grace.' Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning 'joy.' 
Charis. Grace. Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving. Chara. Joy. 
Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo; the table of thanksgiving. The holy grail of joy, God set it in the very center of Christianity." 
( - Voskamp, quote via thehighcalling.org

So who is this book for? The person who feels like life is going to fast and furious. The person who can't seem to find one good thing about today. The person who worry is outranking their joy. The person who needs something to change, now. The person who is craving breakthrough.

This book is for everyone. 



One Thousand Gifts is available wherever books are sold. (Including Amazon and B&N)

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This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small portion of the items purchased from this post. I was not paid for this review. All opinions are entirely my own. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Love is Big(ger) Than Geography


Love is big. Bigger than anything. More powerful than anything. Yet, the most difficult emotion to express. Be it physical boundaries or emotional, love takes effort. Sacrifice. It takes some schedule rearranging and active prioritizing. Neither of which I am great at.

But for the next couple months, I will attempt to do both in a small group of women. We live in four different cities, with six kids, four husbands, two timezones and our own insecurities between us, but we are committing to do this life together (Thanking God for Skype the whole way!)

Why?

Because we need each other to remind one another that love is, indeed, bigger.

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Cards by Bold Face Type / Book we're going through: Believing God

Friday, April 11, 2014

10 Notable Blogs to Read | Essential Oils, Controversy, and a Homeless Guy


ON CREATIVITY/BLOGGING

Oh Happy Day is my favorite pinner right now. #blackholeofdistraction #sorry (Oh Happy Day)

Do you blog? Or have you thought Hey that looks like fun! Laura, from Hollywood Housewife, is doing a full on blog series on blogging. And it's really pretty good. (Hollywood Housewife)

I go to this blog just for the pictures. (Blog Milk Blog)

ON FAITH/LIFE

I love Amber's "If We Were on a Coffee Date" post today. We grew up(ish) together and this girl has become such an amazing woman. (Mr. Thomas and Me)

Have you heard of The American Blogger film that's coming out? There's a lot of controversy on it lately. Most of it is b/s but I love Natalie's post on the issue. (Natalie Falls)

ON WORSHIP

Carlos, a brilliantly witty and inspiring blogger, was filming a music video and a homeless guy ended up in the shot. Bummer? No way. It'll make you cry. (Ragamuffin Soul)

Pretty excited Kari Jobe and Brian Johnson wrote this gem of a resurrection song. And just in time for Easter! (Kari Jobe)

ON FOOD/HEALTH


I made this this week. (Damn Delicious) 
I want to make these right now. (Smitten Kitchen)
What's your take on Essential Oils? Fad or for reals? (And Kathleen)

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Happy Friday! Eat some cake.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Safest In My Father's Arms


She was more awake today. More alert at the details that surrounded her. Pigeons pecking crumbs in the courtyard. The siren of emergency vehicles whizzing by. The man lifting his cigarette as we stood at the crosswalk. 

Her eyes were wide today. We walked along the boardwalk pier and I could almost see her mind reeling. The blue. The waves. The foam. The bigness. 

We've been to the ocean as a family of three more times than not. Living a dozen miles from the sand and sea has made us regulars in this little place. Venice
 beach is our favorite. 

But today, today it was like she saw it for the first time. 


"You see the water baby girl?" We'd ask, knowing her response wouldn't be verbal. "That's the ocean. The big blue ocean. It's pretty huh?" 

As I stared and clicked away her facial expressions, I got excited about so many other things she has yet to see, taste, smell and touch. A forest. A mountain of snow. A fire made just for smores. A zoo filled with animals she's only been read to about. 

And then my mind did something I'm finding a little too familiar these days. It skipped passed the good parts to the bad parts. As beautiful as this world is, it will crush her someday. Or at least try to. 

It will push her around and call her names. It will tell her she's not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart or adequate enough.

And she will cry. And I will cry. And cry. And cry. 

She will break, probably more than once. 

Just the thought of her chubby ever present smile fading because life happened makes my insides knot up. 

I'll just lock her in her room forever, so nothing bad can ever happen. But thanks to the foresight of Disney's fairytales, we know the will of a girl cannot be contained to the top of a tower.

I've been asking God to give me a promise for Baby Girl Mo's life. A verse or proverb I can pray over her that will foster courage and strength and beauty; more for my sake than hers.

And then I read this this morning:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
Which cross-referenced to this:
"If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes [her] steps firm;  though [she] stumble, [she] will not fall, for the LORD upholds [her] with his hand.  I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. " (Psalm 34:22-23)
And then I got giddy. 

She's not ours. I mean she is, but she's not fully. She's His! Our girl belongs to the Creator of the Universe, the same God that commanded and empowered giant armies, the One who raised up strong leaders out of nothing and gave them huge callings!




She is safest in His arms. Not ours. 
She was purposed for His mission. Not ours. 
She is more loved by Him than us. As impossible as that seems. 

But so are we. 


Thank you Jesus! I prayed. 

Thank you that we get to be the one to hold her and wipe her tears and bandage her battle scars. Thank you for trusting her to us so we may see and experience Your grace and love in a more tangible way. 
Thank you for letting us help mold this precious little being. We'll try not to screw it up.

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While motherhood is a very prevalent part of my current season, I try to limit myself to a once a week gush. It's usually Thursdays. Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Are You an Intentional Friend?



Me neither.


Friendship is the mother of all relationships; ironically. (Click to tweet!)

Without friendship, the human race cannot thrive. We could survive, sure, but we wouldn’t be living at our full capacity. We wouldn’t be tapping into who we really are: Created beings in the image of a relational God.

Now with that, let me say I am a bad friend.

Or at least that’s what my sweet husband tried to tell me. We were watching a video series on marriage and that evening’s topic was on friendship. The pastor said thatfriendship is the foundation of all healthy relationships. Different types of friendships will go to different levels of intimacy, nonetheless, friendship is the required baseline.
At the end of the video, he told us to ask one another how they think we are doing on the friendship scale. When I asked Ty, he replied,
“You’re a good friend babe…when you want to be.”
Of course he was super gentle and compassionate in his response, so much so that I did not feel offended (for long). But he was right. Ty’s words to me that day were both timely and enlightening. I never realized I was that way with my friends. But as I started to evaluate my friendships and the ones that fizzled, I saw a pattern of declining priority among them.

I realized I am what I like to categorize as a “convenience friend.”

When the stars align and my schedule clears up, then we can try to get coffee. It’s not for lack of desire necessarily, but rather ignorant precedence. I love my friends, probably more than they know, but I wasn’t being intentional about showing them their value in my life.
That night I tossed and turned until 4AM, mulling over the many friendships I’ve probably lost due to my unintentional way of being a friend; or convenience friendship. I felt dichotomized because on one hand I felt so much sorrow for the past, and on the other hand I felt motivated to start showing my friends just how much they mean to me.
I was reminded while reading Colossians 3, that friendship doesn’t just consistent of the DON’T's (don’t gossip, don’t backstab, don’t hate, don’t hurt, etc), but more so of the DO’s (love, humility, patience, kindness, compassion, etc).

Friendship isn’t passive and convenient, it is proactive and sought out because it is necessary! We were never meant to be independent and self-sufficient. We were never meant to be alone.

You need them to get through this life and they need you.

So this is my challenge to you (and to me!)
This week, write a card, an email, or a text to a friend you have been “convenient” with. 

First, ask for their forgiveness for not being the friend they needed. 
Second, tell them how much you appreciate them and be specific. They will love it!
“Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:7-9).

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dream Bigger | Free Wallpaper


I have a tendency to dream big, up to a certain point, never imagining that there may be something past even that. Do you do that too? 

Let's make a pact to dream a little lot bigger. Let's not put fences on what God can or wants to do in our lives. (< Click to tweet) He doesn't color in the lines and neither should we. You in? 


"And it shall be in the last days," God says, "That I will pour out my Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams." (Acts 2:17 NASB)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What's Your Birth Story?

While motherhood is a very prevalent part of my current season, I try to limit myself to a once a week gush. It's usually Thursdays. Thanks for reading. ---


My best friend is pregnant, and so is another best friend, and so is my sister. You'd think being surrounded by all these pregos would give me baby fever again...and it does. But not in a lets-have-another-one way. More like, oh-lets-talk-about-birth-stories way. 

I loved every moment of my labor and delivery with Baby Girl Mo. Even the scary parts (like pushing for 5 hours) seem like a beautiful piece of the mosaic. Every story needs a little suspense and tension and fear to make it good right? 

I could talk about that day for hours upon hours. Every detail. Every nuance. 
The nurses I did like and the ones I, um, didn't prefer. 
The view from my window and the overwhelming smell of antibacterial soaps. 
How our families flooded my delivery room and we played games and laughed while my contractions were shooting off the chart. 
And how I cried when my bestie called during labor.
My mother praying over me while I pushed.
My sisters face when the head began to crown.
Ty's championing voice so close to my face that I could feel the steam from his tears. 
The pushing, the meditating, the concentrating, and yes, even the pain.
And then the scream. The wailing scream of my sweet first born child. 

Yes, I love that day. 

And since then, whenever I see a mom, I'm compelled to ask her about her "day." It seemed a little intrusive the first time the question flew from my lips, but to my surprise, most women love talking about their day! 

So I figured, why not go cyber with the question!

What was you day like?! 
Was it exactly how you planned or did you get a few surprises?
  • If you're a blogger, share the link to your birth story in the link up below.
  • Don't have a blog? That's okay! Write your story in the comments. There's no maximum so type away!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Write for the Sisterhood


I use to write because I had something to say. It wasn't always good or important, nor did every word really make sense. But it was something. With more questions than statements, writing has always been something I do because I have to. I have to.

Journalling was my sole writing outlet, before technology took over the world. I have boxes of old journals I've kept since high school. Every time we move, Ty asks, "Are you sure you need all of these? Seems a little over zealous."

#ohnohedidnt

I'm the girl who has more journals than time to actually write in them. It's a collection of sorts. Yea, that's what we'll call it.

Journalling became a habit at a young age when my parents bought me my first big girl Bible and a journal. I think I was 9. I felt so grown up. I remember seeing all the women come in for Bible study with their journals and Bibles in hand. One was never without the other. It was as if they were one big bulky book. 

But the women in that room weren't just Bible study buddies. They were phileo friends. Friends that did life, all of life, together. Even the ugly parts. One's husband wasn't a Christian, and let the world know. The other's husband was from a different country and belief system. The other was locked in her house by her husband so she couldn't go to Bible study. And the last one was my mother, a new divorcee desperate for a sisterhood. All with children. All broken. 



Journalling, to them, became the heartbeat of their gatherings. They'd bring their thoughts from the week into one place, lay them out on the table, and pray over each one. Over the next two decades, those prayers, answered and unanswered, would bind them together with a love so deep, so rich, so full of hope and substance. 

They didn't journal because it was a cute, cool hobby to pass time. They journalled because they had to. 

They had something to say, something to offer one another amidst their own brokeness. Even if it came out in bite sized pieces. 

A sisterhood. 
Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. 
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness.  
Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. 
And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Colossians 3:14-17 MSG)
I want that. 

So I keep a journal and fill it with my everyday ramblings, my scattered rabbit trails, my haunting questions and my deepest cries. 

I keep it in hopes that someday, when my very own sisterhood comes together, maybe even here in this blog space, I'll have something to offer. I keep it in hopes that it adds even the tiniest bit of faith to her spirit.

And I'd encourage you to do the same. No matter how dramatic or predictable you feel your life is, you have a story that someone needs to hear. You have learned lessons the hard way and someone needs your wisdom. But they can't hear it unless you tell it. 

So write. Paint. Make music. Tell your story in whatever way brings you the most joy and do it vigorously and freely. Do it for your sisterhood. 


^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

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