Monday, May 30, 2011

Retreat Session Pt. 1: Broken People

**Some of you have been asking me to post a blog series on my session I gave at the RCC  Women's retreat. I was honored and thought it was an absolute splendid idea. I had so much more I wanted to say and ran out of time so this is the perfect opportunity to get it all out! :) Here's Pt. 1. I'll try to do a couple post of it the next 2 weeks.**

I am here more so to humour you than to teach you with my little baby 23 years of lessons and experiences. I was given 2 very big topics and I was grateful to teach on them until this past month or so when the Lord decided I’d teach better if my emotions were more raw and fresh.

I know God has done something here this weekend that the enemy tried very hard to destroy. I wrote Satan a letter the other day on my blog giving him props because his tactics were very much targeted, specific, and potent to my current season of life. I was discouraged and broken and weary and out of control this week. But thank God almighty that the war has already been won!

In fact, the irony of this message is that I had to re-live it in order to teach it this morning. SO if there was every any doubt about the truthes about to be explored this morning, they have been vanished because I am here, teaching, confidently and empowered. 

--This was my intro to my session at the women's retreat. It had been a very hard week, emotionally, physically, and spiritually but God was faithful to let my exhaustion not be in vain. So many women come forward just to tell me that everything I had revealed about my week, my pain, my struggles, and my out-of-control emotions [blogged on that one here] was as if I was speaking about them. They knew what I was talking about and were floundering, just like me, for any ounce of rest. 

But God.

Yes, He knew what He was doing.

I would not have been able to encourage nor motivate those women had I not felt what they felt. I say it all the time, broken people only listen to broken people. We listen to those we most relate to, feel like, think like, and experience life like. 

We find our hope through Real People with Real Lives and Real Victories. 

So this is my challenge to you and to me::

Be real with someone in your life this week. Tell them what you're feeling and what you're thinking and give them that opportunity to respond with, "Me too!" or "I thought I was the only one!" Crazy things happen when we let down our masks of perfection. We begin to really see that no one is perfect and we're all more alike than we care to admit. 

It's ok that we're broken. Because God loves us. That's it. 


Friday, May 27, 2011

#Friday #Follow: What's in my iPhone

In light of my new single being available now on Amazon and iTunes, this week's #Friday #Follow is my current music faves. I have a ton of music in my iPhone right now that I'm listening to on constant repeat. And I always get asked about the type of music I listen to. So I figured I'd use this week to show you what's in my iPhone. Ready???

**I have HEARTED all my favorites, although on all of these the whole album is my favorite. But I chose just for your sakes :)

You can't go wrong with this girl. Her album was on repeat for like 2 months after it was released. Such passion and "umph" comes through her music. Love it. But you already know that due to this rant ;) 

Brooke Fraser
I first heard this girl from Hillsong and wanted so bad to sing like her. Then I realized she was from Australia and that was probably never going to happen. haha. While her worship stuff is impeccable, her single/solo music is equally as captivating. Her most recent album is my favorite. Very different from her other stuff. I'd say its more catchy.

Jessica Andrews
Everyone has "the music that got me through high school". For me, it was Jessica Andrews. Country, of course, but her music was always so hopeful and lovey dovey and pretty. What every teenage girl likes. I only have one song in the iPhone right now, but this post reminded me I need to add more :) Her song Summer Girl was a dorm fave in my college days

Katharine McPhee
I really really really really really wanted this girl to win American Idol! She was my favorite in the very beginning. I was happy for her that she got 2nd at least, but she totally owned Taylor Hicks with her Over the Rainbow bit. [Sorry Taylor & Taylor lovers.] She finally came out with a new album earlier last year and I love it. More edgy and raw than anything she's done so far. Good work Katharine. {Ps, I really like your blonde hair!}

Death Cab for Cutie
When I was first introduced to these guys, I didn't like them. I thought they were too weird. I didn't like how "electrical" their music sounded. But, they grew on me and are now one of my favorite bands. If you like Owl City [all you youngins] you'll like these guys. They own Owl City. [And by "own" I mean, "are way better than..."]

She & Him
I actually just found out about this band last night from some of our dear friends. We were talking about music, naturally, and one of us mentioned Zoey Deschanel from Elf and they informed us that she's married to the lead singer from Death Cab [Ben Gibbardand she has her own band called She & Him! So I bought album today and will be listening to it all the way home from SD tomorrow.  

So that's what in my iPhone right now. What about you? Any new music I should check out??? I hear Civil Wars is good too but haven't gotten a chance to listen yet. 

Happy Friday and Memorial Weekend. 
Thank you to all those who give their lives in service for our freedom. Special shout out to my cousin Ryan for his service in the Army!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rancho Community Women's Retreat 2011

{Photo from Jeanne Oliver}
Last weekend I spoke and sang at a women's retreat put on by my home church. There was alot of baggage and discouragement leading up to it [if you remember my Letter to Satan you know what I'm talking about] but once I got there, set up and took a jump in the pool, there was an wave of peace that began to settle in. It was going to be ok. Everything was going to work out.


Everything MORE than worked out. Here are some highlights:

-An All Girl Band: My band was made up of an amazing group of girls and we pretty much killed it. Below is a video of us rehearsing Nothing But the Blood for Bluegrass Saturday. 

- Being with my mom and sister: I love my family so much. Something happens when your family grows up and all the kids get married. The relationship changes, mostly good, but I cherish more the moments we take a couple hours out of our day to be with each other. Lucky for me it was a whole weekend. 

- Sharing Our News with Everyone!: No, we're not preggo. Well, kind of ;) We're looking into adoption! The last couple of weeks leading up to the women's retreat were challenging, but now I know why. God was preparing my heart and giving me a new story to tell @ my Sunday speaking session. That story is one of adoption. Ty and I have felt that God is calling us to adopt a baby before we have our own. It will be a long journey, but we trust that since He put it in our hearts, He will make a way clear. Yay! 

- The Sunshine & Pool-time: For this girl, nothing beats laying in the sun and chit-chatting with friends. We stayed at La Quinta resort in Palm Springs. This place is G-o-r-g-e-o-u-s. The rooms are comfy and homy, there is a pool in the center of ever 8 rooms, the grounds are impeccably kept and blooming right now, and the service is quite hospitable. Sum up: very very good. 

- Seeing lives change right before my eyes: From Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon, I saw women change. I saw their thinking expand, their lives begin to heal, and their hearts melt for the things of God. We are still hearing story after story of women who left knowing, hearing, and becoming a different person because they encountered God. Makes my job SO utterly and completely worth it. 

All to say, it was a good weekend. Can't wait for the couple retreat in September. Ty & I get to lead that one together. Woot woot.

Here are some pictures for your seeing pleasure: 
//Pictures taken by Emily @ Oopsie Daisie Photography//

Happy Tuesday! Eat some tacos. Everybody's doing it. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stop Trying to Be Valuable.

For the next couple days I'll be MIA due to excessive reading, writing, and studying. This is my last couple of days before our women's retreat and I have a zillion loose ends to tie up. I'm posting tomorrow for Wordless Wednesday and will have a guest blogger for Friday Feature...who is it gonna beeeee? 

But for now a poem that shook my soul. This is so me.

I Made You
[A poem by Melody Ross]

I took a stroll and then a walk, a thought at first and then a talk
I said "just look how fast I go, if you watch someday you'll know"

I walked with blisters, couldn't quit, No rest, no strength but not there yet
I knew there was so much to learn, so much to do with His love to earn

I picked up speed and started to run, I raised my eyes and spoke at the sun
"You see! I'm worth it, look at me! If I do enough, someday you'll see"

"Look" I said, "I'm climbing now! I'll keep it up and prove somehow
That I'm a good one, you will see. Someday you'll be so proud of me!"

I got so tired but couldn't stop, I had to race right to the top
It couldn't be so far I knew, I had to show what I could do

Things so bleak, a trail so rough, wanting to prove that I was enough
Beaten down and cold and shot, but what if I waste this chance I've got?

I climbed then crawled when I couldn't walk
A though at first and then a talk, I'll climb until I reach the top

When I get there can I finally stop...

[Then he said]

Who told you that you had to climb? 
Who told you you weren't just fine?
Who told you that it must be earned?
There is so much that you need to learn

I loved you when you strolled and thought
You've always had the things you've sought
There's nothing that you have to do, to prove to Me
For I made you

I know what you can do, you see
Just do you best and breathe and be
And stop the proving just to show
For these are things I already know

Walk if you want and run if you choose
Climb if you must, you've got nothing to lose
But do it for joy, rest along the way
If you need answers just kneel and pray

Do your best and know what's real 

Stop climbing when you cannot feel

And turn and look into the sky
And watch the birds and how they fly

And know that every part of you 
Was created with all that's good and true
There's nothing that you have to do
To prove to Me
For I made you

Happy Tuesday! 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

//Sunday Worship// Youth Band

Today was a very inspirational day for our church. It has been our prayer for over a two years that God would send a revival and grow up our younger generation to do great and mighty things in our valley. More specifically, to lead worship. Today, that prayer couldn't have been more clearly answered.

Our worship team was made up of guys and girls from our youth groups, ages 12 to 19. I cried like a proud mother hen. Ty and I get the privilege of working with these guys (and girls) every week, 52 weeks a year, leading them, teaching them, learning with them, befriending them, and watching God grow a fire in their souls for worship.

They're not just talented musicians (although they are really talented!). They are worship leaders.

I am overwhelmed.

Here's some behind the scene pics. Good job team!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

RePost: It's Crafted for You

*This is a repost from about 5 months ago but I re-read it today and it gave me a new sense of perspective & peace about where I am in my life right now. I hope it does the same for you.*

Right now I'm reading a book called "Permission to Speak Freely" by Anne Jackson. I started the introduction last night and read through 13 chapters this morning. She writes with raw, uncandy-coated words, communicating the imperative need for the Church to allow its people to be real. Honest. Open. And struggle through life. She says:

"It's my opinion that many times we [the church] have been given easy answers that may temporarily act as good advice, but we aren't cookie-cutter humans, and those easy answers won't satisfy a story that's eternal. A formula will not work in the long run. Sometimes a formula won't work at all. Discovering why we feel trapped by fear or shame, and how God wants to begin to heal our brokenness, is a personal journey that nobody on the face of this earth has the right to define or say how it should look in order for it to be true. 
Your journey is providentially crafted for you."

Ah, I love that! My journey is crafted for me. Your journey is crafted for you. How comforting is that? I am mentoring this sweet dear girl and I told her about this this morning. [I'm not the best mentor...I'm learning. It's hard being a mentor, but probably harder being my mentee ;)] But we met this morning and talked about life, love, and other mysteries and I ended our convo with that quote. Her journey is providentially crafted for her. I'm not here to dictate or control her steps [though sometimes I feel compelled to]. Rather, I'm here to walk along the sidelines, coaching her along, but inevitably the decisions are hers and ultimately God's. This makes me smile uncontrollably.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. {Pr 16:9}

So wherever you are, whether in despair or absolute joy, know that God is guiding you. He is doing a work in you. That work might feel like he's blowing up a brick building with dynamite sticks, but He's working nonetheless ;) He is giving you passions and desires and He will be faithful to bring those to fruition. 

PS. It's Youth Weekend @ Rancho this weekend and it's gonna be goooood. I'll post media [aka. pictures and video] tomorrow. They have some pretty funny behind the scenes from them :) 


Friday, May 13, 2011

My Top 3 Lifestyle Blog Follows

In the blog world there are different categories of blog specialties. Some are food related, others are fashion related, craft related, graphic design related...pretty much any hobby, career, major, or stage of life you're in you'll find a blog for it. Then there are blogs labeled "lifestyle blogs." They cover life. In it's entirety to the author. These can be entertaining and insightful if done right. There are some that are not done right and serve more like a jr. high diary. Sporadic, irrelevant, and full of inside jokes for a select group of people. :) And that's ok, if that's what the author is intending. But it's not ideal for mainstream blogging. 

So today's #Follow #Friday contains {3} Lifestyle Blogs done well. [In my opinion.] Here was my observation criteria: 
1) Clean, organized yet attractive to the eye. Not a mess of random icons or headers.
2) Good design tailored to author's personality. Lookin' pro.
3) Meaningful content. It's hard for me to read about the intricacies of women's lives that I've never met. But if they explain it to me as such [someone they've never met] I am more interested because they start from square one, not assuming I know what "last year's christmas party fail" was. 

With that, here are my top 3 Lifestyle Blog Follows.

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Writing Style

Writing style is a funny thing. It's about as diverse as ice cream flavors. Everybody writes differently, and the world likes that. Jane Austen writes romantically with very dry humour. Lucy Maud Montgomery writes, what I like to call, rosy, wholesome, feel-good stories. She writes with the emotions of her reader in mind. Then you have more modern day writers like Jenny McCarthy, who write about the crass realities of pregnancy and child-birth, in a humorous, non-threatening way. Then, [almost done] you have writers like Shauna Niequist who writes on the celebrations of life, real life. Not just the fuzzy feel-goods, but the tragedies as well, somehow turning all things to appear as beneficial to her growth as a women, a mother, a wife, and a human being. 

THEN you have Tina Fey. 

I recently bought her book, Bossy Pants, and so far I am intrigued. It's the #1 selling book in the country right now and I think that when a book sells that fast and ranks that high, it might say something about the nature of the reading material in our culture. I am only 100 pages in, but Tina seems to be writing her life in the style of an SNL skit [crass jokes and all].  Which I'm sure, isn't coincidental since she hold the titles of Writer, Actress, and Executive Producer to the show. 

This post is not a review on the book, but rather a review on our culture. 

Good content and good stories presented in a less-than-classy style. There seems to be a falling off the cart in the world of literature. Though some would hardly call this book literature. An amazing woman who is the role-model for girls and women all over the US to become noticed because of talent, not figure and sex-appeal, has written of her precious [yes, tough, yes, bizarre] life for, what seems to be, a laugh. Some will argue that that's what she does, she makes people laugh and I would 100% agree. [Have you SEEN Baby Mama???] But my question is how far will she go to get a laugh? How far have we made her feel she needs to go to get a laugh? 

People react to people. If we tell a joke and someone laughs, we tell it again. If we tell a joke and someone doesn't laugh, we search for a new one that will make them laugh based on past laughings. [Sorry I'm confusing myself too.] Our culture of humor has gone from:

"A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment." {Pride & Prejudice}
“If you want to make an audience laugh, you dress a man up like an old lady and push her down the stairs. If you want to make comedy writers laugh, you push an actual old lady down the stairs.” {Tina Fey}

Where do we draw a line? [Way before that joke eh?] This isn't a conviction, it's an observation that is slowing brewing into conviction. I am having a tougher and tougher time laughing at the shows on TV these days. Funny? Yes. But at what cost? At whose cost?

Just something I'm thinking about.

For those of you who've read the book, I'm curious about what your take is. :) This could be fun!


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

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