“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Trapped! I Took the Bait.

No temptation has seized you 
except what is common to man. 
And God is faithful; 
he will not let you be tempted 
beyond what you can bear. 

But when you are tempted, 
he will also provide a way out 
so that you can stand up under it. 

1 Corinthians 10:13

I caught a mouse the other day.  Well, actually, I set a trap to catch a mouse.  After 24 hours, I caught the mouse.  He had no way out once caught.  And after some self-talk about bravery and courage... 24 hours after that... I emptied the trap.

Have you ever been caught in a trap?  Of course, the bait for you wasn't peanut butter.  Perhaps it was food... or perhaps... lying... or cheating... or speeding... or alcohol... or pornography... or infidelity?  And when you're in that trap... after you have been caught, you look to the heavens and say something like, "Lord, I thought you said you would provide a way out... but I'm stuck now... and I have to suffer the consequences."

I hate to admit that I decided to watch "He's Just Not That Into You" a couple weeks ago.  It is not a movie that I would normally watch... but I was sick... and bored... and it was free... and having heard of it from others... I decided it was for educational purposes... and took the bait.

You know the feeling a day or two after you eat something that doesn't settle right in your stomach?  Every now and then... the aftertaste... ugh, and it reminds you of how sick it made you... and you wish you had never ate it... and will shy away from eating it in the future?  That is how I have felt since watching that movie.

And since watching the movie, I have questioned -- in my mind -- my husband's loyalty to me... and my attractiveness to him.  He had just come home from a few days of travel which did not help matters.  And some of the scenes and conversations of the movie.  Ugh, aftertaste.

And some of you may think that I am a prude for shying away from movies like this... but I'm telling you that I hate the aftertaste... so the only way to avoid it... is to not take the bait.

Because here's the thing... God does provide a way out.  Every time.  But it is within the time of temptation.  Not after the sin.

Think of the mouse... he was tempted because of the bait... but if he would have looked around and noticed the trap... he would have realized that there truly was a way out... DON'T GO INTO THE TRAP.  But he took the bait.  And there was no way out for him.

So, for me... perhaps I set the bar a bit higher for things I put into my mind... because I am easily tempted... and once I take the bait... I'm trapped.  And God will be there with me.  He will help me through the consequences of being trapped... but if I turn to Him now and say... "Where was the way out that you promised in my temptation?"  He will gently say, "It was called the power off button."

I'm not saying that watching certain movies are a sin... but for me... being the thinker that I am... I remember things... and then think about them.  It is how I am wired.  I think and the temptation to daydream... which leads to... ugh, aftertaste.

So, for me... I'm choosing to stay as far away from the bait... and the trap as possible.  Prude, perhaps... but prudent, definitely!

*This is one of the 70 unpublished posts I mentioned here. I still had no intention of posting it... but I caught another mouse today.  It was a big one.  And I thought I better post this before God prompts me in some other way!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Celebrating My 400th Published Post!
So Long, Insecurity

Today I am celebrating my 400th published post.  I emphasize published because I have actually written more posts than that (er, 470), but some have failed to see the light of day.



If you've been around here a while you know I have struggled in the past with feeling my writing is Substandard... or my struggle with Perfection... or feeling Self-Conscious.

I'll admit that I have come a long way... especially considering the fact that I just went to Houston, Texas for the SSMTC by myself to meet women I've never met all while wearing a bright pink feather boa!

Beth Moore is releasing a book on February 2nd entitled So Long, Insecurity.  Today the Living Proof Ministries Blog announced that Beth will be hosting a discussion group over the next nine weeks... basically reading two chapters a week.   She will wrap up the book discussion just in time for her April 24, 2010 simulcast where she will bring closure to her thoughts on the topic.

So in celebration of my 400th published post, I am giving away a copy of So Long, Insecurity.  Leave a comment and I will pick a random winner.  The winner will be announced on my February 1st post.

And I'd love to know if you are considering joining the discussion group... and if you're interested in joining me for the simulcast.

And who knows... maybe after I finish this book... I might actually publish some of my hidden posts! 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Met Someone Like You

I was not prepared for the stories.  When I had imagined the Siesta SMT Celebration, I guess I hadn't thought much about the conversations I would have.  It just never crossed my mind.

I had imagined that the Celebration would take center stage this past weekend, but it didn't.  It was the stories.  Over and over, again.  Each Siesta I met... had a story.  And she was more than willing to share it with her "new found BFFs"... her Siestas in Christ.  To share where she had been.  What pit she had been lifted out of.  And what joy she found by being delivered by the Father.  And how memorizing the scriptures last year became more than a goal... but a necessity. 

Some might have walked into the Celebration meeting room and thought to themselves that there were 508 women who have figured it all out... and have "it" all together.  Their excitement... joy for the Lord... love for each other.   But you know what... the don't have it all together, but what they do have is a daily dependence on the Lord and a desire to walk in His ways... and so they commit His Word to memory to get through each day… because they have come to the conclusion that the only way they are getting through each day... is with God.

And perhaps you are wondering why this matters to you?  Because I know that you have your own pit. You are struggling. You keep trying. You talk it over and over. You read different books and listen to podcasts and maybe even go to church. But nothing is helping. You are still addicted… or you are still in a loveless marriage… or you are still a single mom with no help… or you have been hurt by “the church”… or you left the ministry… And nothing is working. The pain is still there. And you… well, maybe… maybe you are just desperate enough to try anything.

 My soul is weary with sorrow; 
strengthen me according to your word. 
Psalm 119:28

So I invite you to join me... in memorizing scripture.  Just two verses a month.  The 1st and the 15th of each month. You pick the verses. And even if you are unable to memorize scripture, I challenge you to find a verse and write it down in a spiral and carry it with you... and turn to it before... during... and after you are in the pit of despair.

Because all I know is that this past weekend, I met someone like you... who had been where you have been... and who has had her own turnaround... and has found her strength by relying daily upon God and His Word.

And in January of 2011, we'll have our own celebration.  Pink boas and all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration!
Just a Couple More Highlights!

Siestas Charlotte, Sheri and Amanda  
(not pictured Siestas Linda & Jackie aka Rooney)
(No, really... she said hi to us first!)

"As soon as I got out of my car
I saw a group of Siestas
who were leaving to have dinner at Pappasito's.
It was such a fun encounter - the first of many!"
~ Amanda, LPM Blog

Friday night ended with a “Meet and Greet” where we enjoyed Texas Sheet Cake and coffee. We browsed the resource table and considered getting in line to meet Beth.

Beth is still recovering from her recent surgery. She looks great, but much to her dismay was not able to greet everyone… or over do it… or jump to Travis’ worship… per doctor’s orders.

Amanda, Melissa and Beth
Saturday morning there were some breakfast items and coffee for purchase in the church lobby… fewer resources on the resource table (having been purchased)… and a rush to get a good seat. Jackie, Charlotte and I had to check out before we went to the church, so Siesta Christina graciously saved us seats together… and Siesta Linda joined us.

There were door prizes - $25 gift certificates to the Lifeway Store. Those Siestas who memorized their 24 verses were put in a drawing for the unreleased "So Long, Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us" which will be released February 2nd… I didn’t win one… and they weren’t for purchase! Bummer! There was even a drawing for the best screen name, which “Lop-Sided Halo” won, and she got to come up on stage and she was just the cutest thing! And there were lots of hugs from Beth.

 Siestas Sheri and Anne
Plenty of worship and teaching. Then we paired off and recited our scriptures. I was in a group of three – me, Jackie and Christina – and all three of us recited all 24! Completed! Then there was a Q&A time with Beth, Amanda, Melissa and Travis and closing in worship.

Siestas Sheri and Christina
But one of the highlights was when Beth has us pair off again and commission one another. Just like she does at the LPL events. Look at each other and repeat after her… a blessing upon one another. Again, a completion of the event. I had the privilege of doing this with Christina, which is doubly exciting because she lives in Roseburg, Oregon and I will have the ability to meet up with her when we return to Oregon and get settled back into the real world.

What an amazing time!  I expected it to be a celebration, but I received so much more than I ever imagined... and yes, I will be sharing that, too!  For more information about the Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration, stop by the LPM blog here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration!
The Cherry On The Top!

 Siestas Linda, Sheri, Jackie and Charlotte with Mama Beth

After the last session of the Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration… we were saying some of our good-byes, when Mama Beth appeared… and we were able to get our photo taken with her. It didn’t seem necessary, but I have to admit… that in the end… it was just the cherry on top!

As a special surprise each Siesta was given a LPM 2010 Weekly Planner, which has all the upcoming events and matched our Siesta SMT Celebration T-shirts. I so missed my fellow Siestas who finished well, but were unable to come to Houston.  I thought of you and prayed for you.  I also purchased five additional planners to give to five of you Siestas who were part of the SSMT who follow my blog and completed your 24 verses but were unable to go to Houston. So, e-mail your address to me! And as a GRAND PRIZE -- one of the five will be picked randomly to receive a Siesta SMT Celebration t-shirt size X-Large.  Sorry, Siestas... I am out of planners.  I wish I would have bought more for you!

As we pray to our God and Father about you, 
we think of your faithful work, 
your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have 
because of our Lord Jesus Christ.  
1 Thessalonians 1:3 NLT

Friday, January 22, 2010

Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration!
I'm Not Exactly What You Call a Redneck...

I arrived in Houston yesterday afternoon to SUN and warmth.  The sun actually warms your skin as it hits you.  Oh my!  It is sweet... and I even remembered to bring my sunglasses and sandals. 

It had been suggested (by Siesta Anne) to wear something pink to recognize one another at the airports and throughout the weekend.  If you were brave enough... or silly enough... they suggested a pink boa.  I am wearing a bright pink feather boa which attracts a lot of siestas and attention!  But it is molting! and unbeknownst to me - staining my clothes and neck!  So, I'm not exactly what you call a redneck... but I guess you could call me a pinkneck?

Thursday morning, I flew from Portland to Seattle.  When I got on the plane in Seattle I noticed two gals wearing pink scarves... and I asked them if they were going to see Beth.  They were and then they pointed out the other Siestas who coincidentally (wink) were sitting around us.  We hadn't planned it... but God did.  There were seven of us within three rows of each other.  I even got to sit next to Siesta Angie.  Other Siestas were Marybeth, Donna, Emily, Marykay and Amanda.  Seven in all!

I met up with Siesta Jackie (aka Rooney) at the airport.  We had found each other through Siesta Angie's spreadsheet.  Siesta Charlotte and her mom Julie also had hooked up with Siesta Jackie.

I am so glad I did not rent a car on my own!  I read the directions as Siesta Jackie drove.  I would have been in tears if I would have had to navigate the streets of Houston on my own.

Thursday night, we hopped in the hotel's stretch limo and had dinner a PF Changs.  Yum!  And returned to a hotel which had been ordered by the city to turn off the water for emergency repairs.  We had to fill our tubs just in case of emergency, and the hotel provided bottled water and antiseptic wipes.  It really was a non issue... but memorable oddly enough.

We started meeting more and more ladies who had traveled alone to the SSTMC.  They were drawn to us because of our boas... and we jokingly said... "We've met our new BFFs for the first time!"  We would invite them to ride with us to the church... or join us for dinner.  Always amazed at how quickly we bonded.  A lot of people mistaked us as having come together because we chatted together like lifelong friends... which is what we are now.

Today we hung out in the Presidential Suite at the Omni.  LPM had reserved it for the Siestas as just a place to meet.  Charlotte, Jackie and I were up there reviewing our memory verses as ladies came in to chat or just check out the room.  We met siestas who stopped by... like Danelle, Eleanor, Sheila and Janice.  You just might end up seeing some of them on my Facebook!

And of course, the SUN was here... bright and vivid and WARM!  I sat by the pool just soaking it in!  (I am serious when I say that it immediately "brightened" my day!)

Siestas Sheri, Charlotte, Anne & Linda

We met Amanda (Beth's daughter) as we left the hotel parking lot... and of course, took plenty of photos.  We told her we were going to Papasito's and she highly recommended the chicken fajitas... and was she right!  While at dinner, Siesta Anne was about to dine on her own, but we pulled her right in... and she is just a delight!  Well, you would have to be if you were the one who thought of the pink feather boas, right?

We arrived at the church to meet our 507 other BFFs.  We met in Beth's former Bible Study room.  Still we stood at the door for almost an hour waiting to get good seats, but any seat was a good seat!  Amanda, Melissa and Travis were there along with all the other wonderful LPM staff.

Then I saw Siesta Christina who I met on Audrey's spreadsheet via blogland... and she lives in Roseburg, OR.  Sounds like a roadtrip to me!  Of course, there are a couple of ladies trying to convince me to fly to Lexington, Kentucky for the Beth Moore conference in August... and what about the one in Spokane, Washington in October?

Beth took the stage just around 7pm.  Amanda informed us of the diversity of the group... different denominations... 42 different states represented and Canada.  Melissa encouraged us to recognize the LPM hard working staff.

And then... Beth shared how they were audio taping the event... and how the other 1,500 Siestas who completed their 24 verses would be able to download the event.  She soooo missed you Siestas!  And the rest of us, too!

Well, I better get to bed.  I have to get up and pack in the morning so I can check out and head to the event... and hang out with some amazing women... and then hop on a plane back to Oregon tomorrow night... where with anticipation... I'll be walking through the security area... leaving the gate area... and I will see a familiar sight... and feel a familiar tug.  There will be people (Anthony and Christopher!) lined up waiting anxiously for me to walk through the security area... and well, I have to tell you I am looking forward to that moment... when I am waited for... looked for... and feel special... even if it took a little planning ahead of time!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Of Little Consequence To Most...

"Memory" Book

It is completed.  The little Memory Book I started earlier this year.  It contains the 24 scripture passages that I memorized as part of the 2009 Siesta Scripture Memory Team.  I almost left it unfinished.  I had not taken the time to add my last two verses. But as the day drew near for the Siesta Scripture Memory Team Celebration in Houston, Texas... a thought came to my mind... "Complete, but not finished."

It was time to complete the book... to celebrate the completion of this goal.  The completion of this altarBut not finished... I am not finished with these verses.  They have become a cornerstone.  Precious words that have reminded me
to trust the Lord
to pray
to keep planting
to not give up
to listen carefully
to seek
to speak and
to love.
This year I decided to build an altar.  It may seem simple.  Of little consequence to most.  But it is profound to me.

Then come, let us go up to Bethel,
where I will build an altar to God,
who answered me in the day of my distress and
who has been with me wherever I have gone.
Genesis 35:3 NIV

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Desert of Depression:
Celebrating January 15th... The Fourth Anniversary

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico 

photography by Anthony

She still visits me
although she is not welcome.

She knows that I am stronger.
But that doesn't bother her.

She's persistent.

She takes advantage of any situation.
A mispoken word.
A hurt feeling.
The weather.
A head cold.

She'll just try to sneak in...
she is slow and subtle.
And sometimes I let my guard down...
and I let her in...
And I become just like her.

But it isn't for long
because I have learned her weaknesess...
and I have learned my strengths.

I have heard that she has been visiting you lately.
And you are having a hard time resisting her.
You are weak.
And she knows it.

But she is no longer a secret.
We don't have to hide her anymore.
Although some do.
I don't.
I can't.

Has been defeated.
On January 15th, 2006
she came for a visit.
And she was ruthless.

But God has comforted me
in my troubles.
So now I can
bring comfort 
to you.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our troubles, 
so that we can comfort those in any trouble 
with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 Scripture Memory Verse #2

My 24th and final memory verse for 2009 is also my anchor verse for 2010.
Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and
with all your soul and
with all your mind and
with all your strength.
Mark 12:30 

My choice was inspired by reading Mark Batterson's Primal (see post). As the new year began, I stopped by Peace for the Journey where Elaine spoke about having an anchor verse for 2010.  I decided Mark 12:30 would be my 2010 anchor verse.  I knew that I wanted to reread Primal and explore the different ways to love the Lord.... with my heart... soul... mind... and strength.

I have decided to choose my 2010 verses in light of my anchor verse.  My first and now second verse focus on my heart... and how to love God with all my heart.

My first verse:

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

My second verse:

Teach me your way, O Lord, 
and I will walk in your truth; 
give me an undivided heart
that I may fear your name.  
Psalm 86:11

The first verse reminds me that by hiding God's Word in my heart through scripture memorization, I will be able to distinguish between right and wrong.  The second verse reminds me that I need to look to the Lord and His Truth (His Word) to learn His ways so I can walk in truth.

A little background on my scripture memorization.... On January 1st of 2009, I decided to join my other "siestas" at the LPM blog... and memorize scripture. We were encouraged to memorize a scripture of our choosing every other week.

One technique I used to learn my verses was to list them on the sidebar of my blog.  I posted them on my bathroom mirror, by my sink and in my office.  I also put them in my e-mail signature so that I see it every time I write an e-mail.  I put it up on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Stop by Beth Moore's mini-tutorial on the RENEW process of scripture memorization.

Read It
Examine It
Need It
Echo It
Wield It

"Need it" and "wield it" have been the most helpful to me. Although I have memorized scripture in the past when I have needed it, I am now being pro-active. I am looking ahead at the next two weeks and asking the Lord... what verse should I memorize? Looking at my upcoming events... what verse might I need? And then to wield it as necessary.

So, how about you? What verse do you need to see you through the next two weeks? God's Word is full of His promises, His truth, and His love.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Which Would I Choose?

Annuals - Summer of 2009

I was walking in my garden today...
and my mind started to wonder
if I had to decide between annuals and perrenials
which would I choose?

Perennial - Spring of 2009

Annuals are easy.
And colorful.
Instant satisfaction
as I only need to dig the hole.

But perennials
are slow growing. 
Causing anticipation
and wonder.

I cannot decide between the two.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And Make Friends, We Did!

He came straight over to me.  He looked me in the eye and with authority said, "This is temporary."

And I thought, "Really?" And I quickly wrote down his words of wisdom and prayed that they were true.

I had been suffering with the deepest depression I had ever known.  Not just for myself... but I had not known or remembered knowing anyone who had been more depressed than I was.

It was a Sunday morning at church.  He was someone I had met 10 years earlier... and our families became friends.  And during this particular season in 2006, he was in the same small group that I was in.  Part of my church family.

And then there was the darling gal who thought it might be a good idea to ask everyone in the Sunday School class I attended to send me a birthday card that year.  To cheer me and to let me know I was being prayed for...

And Christopher's first grade teacher and his principal at the school he attended that was part of our church... who had the children create a "get well" book for me... and pray for me... and give me flowers.

And then there were the many friends in our church who brought over meals... which I couldn't eat because I was so sick... but took the burden of cooking dinner and thinking of what to make for dinner off of my shoulders.

And the wonderful lady who we often share a pew with who crochets... the Lord gave her a dream to make me a shawl with a gold thread around the top and bottom... and she so happened to give it to me the week of my birthday... unbeknownst to her at the time.

And there was our Pastor... who preached on The Need For a Miracle... when I needed one most.

As I begin my celebration of January 15th, I decided to look through the papers and letters and cards and e-mail printouts that I had saved from 2006.  And my eyes are red, friends.  They hurt from the tears pouring down my face... rushing uncontrollably from my eyes to the floor... so that I couldn't even read the words in front of me.

My church family.  The ones that I had longed to be friends with 10 years prior... well, let me tell you... it was worth it.  They were there for me.  Over and beyond.  Loved me.  Held me.  Prayed for me.  Encouraged me.  Fed my family.  And who told me, "This is temporary" and it was!

And I am grateful.

And I am blessed.

And part of who I am today... I owe to them.

Thank you, to my Portland Christian Center Family.

Please see previous post for the rest of the story...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

We Were Going To Make Friends With People Whether They Liked It Or Not

Christmas 2009 at freckledfarm

I was exhausted.  I got off the plane with Anthony and Christopher.  And I was dragging.  We had given up our seats on our original flight so that we could score an extra set of round-trip tickets.  It's worth it because we like to go back to the east coast to see our precious family every year... sometimes twice a year... sometimes more.

But I was walking through the security area... leaving the gate area... and I saw a familiar sight... and felt a familiar tug.  There were people lined up waiting anxiously for their loved one to walk through the security area as I just did... and well, I wished someone was waiting for me.  Just for a moment.  There was this little tug of wanting to be waited for... looked for... feeling special... feeling significant.

But as quickly as the tug came... it went.  I remembered that I was with the two people who would anxiously wait for me... and I remembered that it made no sense to have any one waiting there because we had parked our car at the airport. 

Christmas 2009 in Hagerstown

But the tug.  You know the one.  When you walk into a crowded room, and you look for someone to recognize you... and approach you... and be happy to see you.  It happens weekly for some of you... just as soon as you enter the doors at church... the tug.  No one knows me here... no one knows when I'm not here... no one would miss me if I left... and it hurts.

Oh, I know what you're talking about.  When we first moved to Portland, we began to immediately look for a church.  Four weeks... four churches... but the fourth church was "the one."  We knew it.  We knew the Pastor was our pastor and this would be our church.  So, we began trying to "get known" by people in our age group.  We needed some community because we had no family in Portland... or Oregon... or actually for about 3,000 miles.  We both worked out of our home... and had no children at the time.  We were desperate for friendship... and our expectations went squarely upon our new church family.

We began to attend church regularly and went on church outings.  But somehow... we were invisible.  The pain of feeling unwelcome... left out... cut to the core.  Weren't Christians supposed to be friendly?  Couldn't they see the hurt... the loneliness?   I would often cry and beg Anthony to not go to any more outings.  It hurt too much.  But Anthony would have nothing of my defeatist attitude.  This was our church and we were going to make friends with people whether they liked it or not.

Those were painful times.  Anonymous times.  Times when we grew closer to the Lord... because He was the Only One that seemed to desire our fellowship.  Anthony and I grew closer to each other... and became even more determined to become a part of the church... and to reach out to anyone else who was new to the church and felt... well, left out... not part of the "in" crowd.

It has been 15 years since we first attended that church.  And you know what?  We still do.  And we didn't wait for the church to come and embrace us and love us... we went to them.  Made ourselves available.  Met with different age groups.  Got involved.  Did it take time?  Yup.  But it was worth it.

You see, it would be easy to put this all back on the church... and say what they did or didn't do... but the truth is... it was part of God's plan.  He allowed us to feel a certain way, so that we would learn something.  We would learn how to be welcoming... how to reach out... what it would feel like to be new.  And that still hasn't changed.  And there are quite a few people out there who are glad we went through our time of being anonymous... because we were there for them when they came into the church for the first time... and we we've passed our passion on to others.

And sometimes... we have to set up our expectations.  I happen to be heading to Houston on my own in less then two weeks.  And you know what?  I'm asking Anthony and Christopher to drop me off at the airport and pick me up.  Sometimes it just feels good to have someone waiting for you... even if you have to plan it out ahead of time... and make it happen.

Please see the succeeding post for the rest of the story.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Santa... or Not To Santa...

When I became pregnant with Christopher, Anthony and I had a lot of decisions to make.  Cloth vs. disposable.  Pampers vs. Luvs.  Similac vs. Enfamil.  Natural vs. C-section.  And Santa vs. no Santa.

It was quite a dilemma.  Of course, some decisions were easier than others.  But to Santa or not to Santa... that was the question.  I had been raised believing in Santa.  And I have no gripes about that.  But being the legalist that I can sometimes be... I had a hard time thinking about deceiving my child into believing in a nice jolly fellow who would make all his dreams come true... and then one day admit that I had been lying the whole time.

So, after Christopher was born Santa didn't visit our house.  And Christopher didn't notice... considering being an only child... he had plenty of gifts beneath the tree.  We would visit Santa at the mall.  Christopher would receive gifts from Santa when he visited relatives.  When asked by Christopher, "Mommy, do you believe in Santa?" I would respond with a gentle prodding question, "What do you think?"  He still wondered... and being considerate of other parents... we never denied Santa's existence.

I later found that the choice to not have Santa visit our home was a huge benefit.  Christopher never asked for large presents... he was appreciative for what he received... and I could even admit that I was Christmas shopping for him or wrapping his gifts.  It was also to our benefit because when we would travel at Christmas to other homes, Christopher would not be concerned with whether or not Santa would find him on Christmas Eve... having opened his gifts in his own home days earlier.
But then something happened.  And I truly don't know what to think.

It was just this past Christmas Eve as we were driving from one relative's home to another.  Every store was closed.  There was an occasional convenience store open, but Best Buy and Toys R Us and Macys and Target... were closed.  And they would be closed on December 25th.  Christmas Day.

I began to realize that I was able to celebrate Christmas Day with my family... and have the day off... because Santa only comes one evening a year.  And to keep the dream of Santa alive... stores needed to close... and parents needed to be home... and children needed to be in bed.

Was it true?  Didn't Christmas Day have to do with the birth of Christ?  And yes, it does.  But I could celebrate the birth of Christ on any day... and actually... every day.  But not Santa.  Just one night... just one day... that we all agree upon.

So all along I was thinking that I should keep Santa out of Christmas... and what if I succeeded in that?  I mean truly succeeded in Christmas not having to do anything with Santa at all?  What if we all got together and rid Christmas of Santa all together?  I have a feeling that our "right" to have Christmas Day off and spend with our families... would disappear... and we would realize that it wasn't a "right" all along... but a privilege.  And I sure would miss it.

Sometimes... I just wish Christmas was simple, don't you?  I guess I have about 350 more days to ponder it...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Fruit of Anonymous...
Memorizing Scripture

Last year I took the opportunity to memorize scripture as part of Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team.  I was kinda hoping she'd do it, again... but it doesn't look that way.  So, I figured I was on my own.

In studying Anonymous, Alicia Britt Chole reminds us that Jesus defeated temptation with Scripture.  And we can, too!  Well, except for the fact that we need to know Scripture before we can use it.  We don't always have time to go to Biblegateway.com and do a search on "gluttony" or "usury" when faced with a temptation... so we need to be more familiar with the Scriptures so that we can use them.

Anyway, some of the gals who joined me for Anonymous said they'd be willing to come alongside me and memorize scripture... and we thought about you... and maybe you would like to join us, too? 

I'll be using the same format I used last year with the Siesta Scripture Memory Team.  1st and 15th of each month.  You can put your name and verse and Bible version.  I'll add more details later... but I thought we'd better get started.

Here's my 1st Memory Verse for 2010:

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

I am choosing this verse because... well, it sums up using Scripture to defeat temptation.  Feel free to use the same verse that I am memorizing.

Don't forget to put your name, verse, and if you want... even the reason you chose the verse in the comment. 

Now I need to think of a cool name to call this... hmmm... any ideas?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Random Number Generator: 1

Congratulations to Joyce at The Secret Gardener. You have won the Anonymous bundle. Please e-mail your address.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Anonymous: Complete, But Not Finished
Leave a comment, win a bundle

Day is done, gone the sun...
Photography by Anthony

This Tuesday marks the completion of my small group's study of Anonymous: Jesus' hidden years... and yours. Complete, but not finished. Anonymous has been a tool that has drawn me into a discovery process that will continue to unfold. An anonymous journey. I'm still in process, but I want to acknowledge that the study is complete and has made space for a new season in my life.

I recently finished a class at my church called SHAPE. Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences. Looking at who we are... how God made us... and serving wholeheartedly with passion to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) I took an additional class with one of the teachers, Larry Briggs, to learn how to coach someone through the SHAPE discovery process. It was in this class that I learned about acknowledging the completion of the class but not the completion of the journey.

To help facilitate the completion of the Anonymous study we will discuss the following questions on Tuesday:
  1. What has been the most impactful part of the Anonymous study?
  2. What part of Anonymous are you still trying to fully grasp?
  3. How would you describe which season of Anonymous you are currently experiencing?
  4. How will you make what you've learned real in your life?
And how about you? Are there any studies, classes or books that you have read that you feel you need to acknowledge are complete, but not finished? These questions are a great place to start.

I recently e-mailed Alicia Britt Chole, the author of Anonymous:
"Just wanted you to know one way that the Anonymous study has helped me... I'm an avid blogger and I often get tied up in receiving (well, not receiving!) comments. Reading Anonymous... and especially doing the study guide... has shown me how much God uses the lack of comments on my blog... to draw me closer to Him. He is kind enough to give me a glimpse into what He is doing now and then, but I am finding that if I am not dependent on the comments... I can truly write what He has called me to write and not be concerned with whether I get comments at all. That way... my faith is becoming unshakable... not swayed by praise or rejection! What a relief!

I'll be wrapping up the Anonymous small group study next week. I'm sorry to see it close, but I have a feeling that this is only the beginning."
To celebrate my completion of the Anonymous study... and because I think this study is LIFE-CHANGING... I will be giving away an Anonymous bundle which includes the book, study guide, and journal. Just leave a comment on this post and I will pick a random winner on January 5th at the end of the small group meeting.

And remember... I do love me some cotton-candy.

Give away is closed.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Loss of a Child

Last night I was reading the article "2 1/2 Hours with Audrey" and as I read the sidebar I folded the corner of the magazine knowing it was my next post. Still I struggled today. Not wanting to write the post. Thinking that it wouldn't be for everyone. But the Lord said that it was okay because it was for someone. And so for you dear friend, I write this post.

Some of you may already know the story of Audrey. She is the daughter of Todd and Angie Smith... and her brief life lasted 2 1/2 hours. Todd is a vocalist for the band Selah. Their song I Will Carry You was written in Audrey's memory. Angie has a blog and a an upcoming book.

Here is the sidebar for the article "2 1/2 Hours with Audrey" from Thriving Family Magazine, January/February 2010. It is how to help those who are grieving the loss of a child... including those who have miscarried.

How to Help

The loss of a child is devastating for a family. If you've never experienced that loss, you may feel uncertain about how to support and comfort those who have. Angie and Todd Smith offer the following suggestions for walking with families through the grieving process:

Be available. Let them know you are willing to help, to pray, to do whatever they need.

Be a good listener. Learn to sit in silence, simply weeping with those who weep.

Allow them to be honest. Even if their thoughts and feelings aren't theologically accurate, don't criticize or correct them.

Don't take it personally. If you feel shut out by friends or family, realize that it is part of their grieving process.

Send letters, cards and e-mails. Acknowledge significant birthdays and anniversaries.

Avoid comments such as, "At least you have two other children," or "At least it was only eight weeks." You don't need to explain or attempt to fix the brokenness.

Avoid cliches or pat answers. While they may contain some truth, they are meaningless to the grieving person.

Don't avoid asking how they are doing. Let them know you care.

Talk about the baby by name. You can take cues to continue talking or change the subject according to the response of the grieving parent.

I'm including a YouTube video from Audrey's family of the song I Will Carry You... it is a touching memorial to Audrey Caroline... and perhaps will bring someone comfort or hope. Much love.