Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Couch-Buddy & Fuddy-Duddy

A snapped these over the weekend while still playing with the camera on my new phone (which I love!!), and couldn't resist sharing them - Can you tell the couch-buddy from the fuddy-duddy?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Favorite Photo Friday!

Just for the record, I bought mine first!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Give Me ________ Or I Will Die!"

“Idols aren’t just stone statues. No, idols are the thoughts, desires, longings, and expectations that we worship in the place of the true God. Idols cause us to ignore the true God in search of what we think we need."
(Fitzpatrick, 23)

One of the highlights of being done with seminary, for me and my husband alike, has been the opportunity to go back and read certain books again. We were extremely fortunate to have some pretty amazing required reading lists, particularly for my counseling courses. However, the inevitable downside of the required reading during seminary was the inability to truly savor the content. I was given some of the most enriching texts I could have asked for, but given the hurried nature of my schedule throughout seminary, I didn't often really reflect on what I was reading. Hence the reason for creating a post-seminary reading list. I found it only appropriate to begin with Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick, a veritable cornerstone for the entire premise of biblical counseling and my heart for such ministry.
The second chapter in Idols deals very personally with "Rachel's Idols and You." If you aren't familiar with Rachel's story from Genesis 29-30, she was consumed with jealousy and anger over the fact that she wasn't able to have children. Rachel, the beautiful sister, the one whom Jacob considered lovely, could not bear children, while her sister Leah gave him sons and a daughter. So overcome with envy, Rachel cried out to Jacob, "Give me children, or I shall die!" God saw fit to eventually give her children, and yet... after all of her pleading and agonizing, after a deep root of bitterness had grown, such blessing still wasn't enough for her. Why wasn't it enough for Rachel to finally be granted the one thing she had asked of the Lord? She craved something more than God Himself. She desired the gift over the Giver, and therefore her wicked heart remained unsatisfied. Rachel's story illustrates of what real idolatry looks like: elevating created things over the Creator, the gift over the Giver... What is it that we crave so much that we are willing to sin in order to obtain it, and then will sin if we don't? We each have a heart bent toward certain sins, hearts that are, as Luther referred to them, "idol factories" quick to seek satisfaction from something or someone other than God.
I know full well that I can relate to Rachel very personally, and that I am prone to her response removed from God's daily grace. My natural inclination would be to wallow in self-pity, feed my own root of bitterness, and cultivate a heart incapable of sharing in the joy and celebration of others. These thoughts went through my mind after the events of this past weekend, one of many baby showers I have helped coordinate since being here in Louisville. The pain, the empty "something's missing" feeling, the sadness, the longing can very easily move me to anger and envy. Or even worse, I could be moved even further to no longer feeling anything, the paralized state of someone whose hope is swallowed up by despair. By the grace of God, I am not marked by such despair! Because of Christ, I have been given a new heart, a heart that feels and has emotion and has real desires. My husband and I desperately desire to have a family, and there are days when the longing seems enough to suffocate the very life out of me. But I don't struggle as one who has no hope. Because of that hope, because of the One who knows my form and my future, I can rejoice with those who rejoice, even if there are those days in between when I simply need to weep. I did shed some tears this weekend after the sweet celebration, but those tears did not come from an embittered heart. I know my tendencies, but I have also known grace. Rachel's story is never far from my mind in this regard because I know full well that I could quickly cry out, "Give me children, or I will die!" were it not for His grace intervening.
For you, the "Give me _____, or I will die!" may be something else. Success? A husband or wife? A spouse with whom you would never argue? Perfect children? Whatever goes in the blank, ask yourself this: Is there something in my life I crave so deeply that I will either sin to get it or sin if I don't? "God calls us to bury our false gods at the cross. It’s in union with Jesus Christ, the One who hung on Golgotha’s tree, that we have the power to conquer all of our idolatry and bury our gods in the blood-soaked ground beneath His cross" (Fitzpatrick, 28). Praise the Lord that He has redeemed us through the blood of Christ, and that He satisfies our every longing... that HE is better than life itself.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Sweet Shower with Sweet Friends

I think this season of baby showers for our church is slowing down a bit (we tend to go through cycles at Grace!). We celebrated the upcoming arrival of "Baby D" this weekend with decadent desserts, words of encouragement and advice for Mommy-to-be, sweet friends, and a time of prayer.

Yes, decadent: banana pudding, fresh pineapple, cheesecake, cake balls (my usual, but devils food this time rather than red velvet), and Julia Child's chocolate cake recipe (thanks to my wonderful co-hostess!)~

This sweet friend (whose own baby shower was one of our more recent):
and I got to talking about just how fortunate we are during this season. Many (most) of us are in transition right now, between school and careers and family decisions, and looking around at the group of wonderful ladies on Saturday night just warmed our hearts. The Lord has been so gracious toward us, and we mutually agreed that we will be thankful for this church and these women for years to come~

The big boy on the block was enamored with some of the gifts Mommy received for Baby D!

I couldn't resist getting this for them! Their nursery has a fun alphabet theme with animals here and there, so when purchasing items from the registry, I caved and also purchased this adorable, huggable monkey~

This portion of the evening was perhaps the most meaningful. We ended the shower by praying for Mommy, Daddy and Baby D, accompanied with the other mommies present writing down words of advice for the days ahead. It was a joy to bless them in this way, and I'm so glad the evening turned out the way it did! It truly was a sweet evening with sweet friends~

Monday, March 22, 2010

An encouraging quote...

This morning, after an evening of news frenzy and frustration, I am asking the Lord for this perspective:

"...a tranquility that signals we’re not afraid of the rise and fall of temporal kingdoms and their policies. . . . So if what you’re afraid of is a politician or a policy or a culture or the future of Western civilization, don’t give up the conviction but give up the fear. Work for justice. Oppose evil. But do it so that your opponents will see not fear but trust, optimism, and affection.
'So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love' (1 Cor. 13:13).
Fear God and, beyond that, don’t be afraid."
--Dr. Russell Moore

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Unashamed confession time: I have a new addiction...

Yes, that new addiction is "LOST"!! Some friends of ours were kind enough (kind and knowing that we would get hooked!) to loan us the first three seasons on DVD a month or so ago, and then we caught up on the rest of the episodes online. I've laughed, I've teared up, I've sat at work some days hoping for the hours to go by faster so I can get home to watch the next episode, I've sat virtually all day on a Saturday in my pj's glued to my laptop...it's quite ridiculous, and yet there is no shame to be had. This has seriously been like diving into a wonderful and mysterious novel, except viewing on the TV screen rather than reading words on a page. I don't know when I last enjoyed a series as much as I have this one, and although late to jump on the bandwagon, it has been so much fun to have my husband and our friends here to watch with!
Last night was my first night watching a new episode on the night it actually airs since I was busy getting caught up to speed until this weekend. It just so happened to also be the night our fellow viewing friends decided to have a "Dharma-themed dinner" beforehand (those of you still confused just need to give in to your curiousity and watch the show)! One such friend also happened to have a fun label maker, so she printed out labels for all of our "Dharma-produced" food~

After a dinner of cereal, fruit, and "Dharma beer" (root beer), my husband and I stayed late talking about how we think the story might resolve. Sure, it's just another show on TV to some, but for me it's been a new adventure. I've always been a bookworm, savoring the enjoyment of a novel filled with twists and turns and the totally unexpected, and this show has been no exception to such enjoyment. So this is warning to you all: if you engage in conversation with me in the coming weeks, there's a pretty good chance I will attempt to get you sucked in to the "Lost" world. If not, I'll at least try to teach you how to play a round of backgammon~

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Even Then ~ My Personal Testimony

I was asked this past week to recall my conversion experience in writing. Thankfully, I was asked to do so a couple of years ago for one of my classes at Southern, and therefore already had it typed just needing some minor tweaks. While reading back my personal testimony, I was reminded of this wonderful reality - each of us who have been called by the Lord, redeemed and transferred from darkness into His marvelous light, has a testimony!
If you were raised in a youth group like me, you may have experienced what it was like not to have a "cool testimony" - one filled with seasons of severe depression, addiction, or infidelity, prior to the Lord's saving intervention. These were always the students invited to share their testimony in public, and I was oftentimes envious that mine wasn't as dramatic and "worthy" of being recalled in front of people. How wicked my heart was for reacting that way! I was admittedly a self-centered drama princess myself, and therefore often offended if there wasn't something in me that leaders thought was attractive enough to be in the spotlight... Oh, how thankful I am for the gift of time, and Lord leading through refinement and maturity. Only by His grace am I where I am now, because of His work both now and almost 20 years ago when He called me to Himself. Because of that amazing and unmerited grace, we each have a story. The Author saw fit to give us different experiences, different seasons, through which we would come to know and depend on Him. No personal testimony is greater or more poetic than another. The fact that we each have a unique story of how the Lord rescued us speaks overwhelmingly of both His awesome glory and very personal grace! Praise the Lord that He knows each of us in such a way that He set into motion each event along our individual journeys.
When was the last time you wrote out your personal testimony of conversion? I found it to be a rewarding exercise, stopping and reflecting on what all the Lord has done throughout the course of my life. I remembered both people and events He has brought along the way, all for the purpose of drawing me closer to Him, deepening my faith in and love for Him. If you feel compelled to write out your own, I would love to read it! If you write it out on your own blog, please leave a comment to let me know you've done so. I hope we can be encouraged by one another's testimonies of God's amazing grace:


I still struggle to recollect details of my salvation experience, the specific moment of conversion, due to my young age. This moment, though, occurred following a Sunday night at my home church when my family attended a Christian band concert. I was only eight years old at the time, and the most vivid memory from this particular night was the feeling I had as I glanced around at the surrounding audience. I remember this gnawing feeling deep in the pit of my stomach as I was overcome with one thought: something was missing. As I looked around the sanctuary, I was struck with the reality that I did not know God personally, and certainly did not know His Son the Savior. All of the songs I had been singing since the age of two, all of the Bible verses I was trained to memorize, seemed empty as I realized that I did not know the One whom the words were describing. Upon arriving home later that evening, I sat on my bed with my mother and shared my thoughts with her. I vaguely remember her asking me questions for assurance of whether or not I was experiencing true conversion. We closed our conversation with prayer, and she asked me to pray aloud. I remember asking Him to forgive me of all I had done wrong and to cleanse me as my personal Lord and Savior. I was baptized by immersion only a week or two later as an indication of the transforming work Christ had performed in my heart.
Due to my young age at the time, there were years following when I honestly questioned the sincerity of my conversion. I struggled at times with assurance of salvation, particularly in my early teenage years and around the time when my parents divorced. The question always came to mind of how someone can be a true believer and still battle with anger, depression and frustration. As an immature adolescent, I watched in confusion as my older brother, who once professed the same faith, took a nosedive into a life marked by perpetual rebellion.
Only by the grace of God was I surrounded during those formative years with godly leaders and friends, many of whom I remain in close contact with to this day. The Lord opened my eyes to the truth that He held and protected me through my childhood and adolescence, guarding my heart in ways I was oblivious to then. I cannot look back at the years afforded to me and not be overcome by God’s overwhelming sovereignty and grace. Not only did He guard me personally in those early years, but I can see how past experiences led up to where I am now. His Holy Spirit has clearly been shaping me from an early age in such a way that bears witness to the hope found only in Him and in His Word. He has revealed to me through relationships, with both family and friends, that He is the only One who satisfies the weary, wounded soul. I know without a doubt that I am unworthy of the rich gifts the Lord has provided, of the salvation made possible through Jesus Christ, and that He alone has the power to redeem His beloved.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Friend-Across-the-Big-Pond's Birthday

A certain song comes to mind on this my dear friend's birthday:
Something brought you to my mind today
I thought about the funny ways you make me laugh
And yet I feel like it's okay to cry with you
Something about just being with you
When I leave I feel like I've been near God
And that's the way it ought to be...
'Cause you've been more than a friend to me
You fight off my enemies
'Cause you've spoken the Truth over my life
And you'll never know what it means to me
Just to know you've been on your knees for me
Oh, you have blessed my life
More than you'll ever know...
More than you'll ever know...
You had faith, when I had none
You prayed God would bring me a brand new song
When I didn't think I could find the strength to sing
And all the while I'm hoping that I'll
Do the kind of praying for you that you've done for me
And that's the way it ought to be...
You have carried me
You have taken upon a burden that wasn't your own
And may the blessing return to you a hundredfold...
You are loved, you are continually prayed for, you are missed, you are remembered often, and by so many who have been blessed by your imprint on our hearts. When you feel lonely and distant from those whom you hold dear, my hope is that you'll be encouraged by your brothers and sisters who are continually mindful and so very thankful for you.!
Happy Birthday, Geek #3!! We know who holds the title as Geek #1, and you're just too cool to be #2 so I humbly claim that spot~

Friday, March 05, 2010

Favorite Photo Friday!

Look at those young college kids! I came across this picture a few days ago after not seeing it for quite some time, and can't help but look at it and reflect on the Lord's evident goodness over the years...
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" ~James 1:17