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Showing posts with label Girl Talk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Girl Talk. Show all posts

Nov 9, 2020

Abide


You want to hear something funny?  This post, just a title and a sentence, has been sitting in my draft folder since January.  Yep, you read that right:  January.  That's how long it's taken me to actually sit down and write it.

For the past few years, I've been choosing a word for the year.  In 2014, it was teachable.  I wanted to come to work, to my personal life, to my online world with a teachable spirit, and reminding myself of that in the face of criticism or a moment when I just need to own a mistake was a great perspective shift.

When 2015 started to loom, I decided that my word would be abide.  I was trying really hard at the end of 2014 to spend time with Jesus daily and I was in a season where contentment was escaping me (as evidenced by the cry fests that I had to both my mom and AJ about how "we're never going to get married" ha...funny one, God).  So abide it was, and when I chose that word in December of 2014, I had no idea the craziness that 2015 would hold, or that I would be ending the year with a different last name.

To be honest, I don't think I embodied my word in 2015.  In a lot of ways, I'm not sure that I'm heading out of this year more centered than when I came into it.  But at the same time, I do know that I'm closing out this year with a better awareness of the presence of Jesus in my life.

The way I see it, change can take you by surprise, even if you see it coming.  This year has been a year of change, both personally and in the life of our church.  Since our pastor's accident back in June, we've seen growth and revival coming to our county and congregation.  We've watched God orchestrate too many moments and happenings to even count, and as a staff, we've become more and more aware of the way God has worked and moved to carry us through the storm we faced on the evening of June 7th.

When I chose abide as my word for 2015, I didn't know that I'd spend 9 months of this year planning my wedding and then celebrating my brother's marriage as well.  I didn't know that so many of my friends would welcome babies into their families this year, and I didn't know what the transition into married life would look like.  Now, two months after saying "I do," I'm realizing that abiding looks differently than I expected it to.

Abiding, now, doesn't just mean getting up a little earlier and opening my Bible, or trying to carve out some time to read a book that reminds me of God's goodness.  It means saying no to commitments that take away from time spent with my husband.  It means encouraging one another to grow in our walks with God and being cheerleaders for one another in all things.

Last year at this time, I thought I knew what this year might hold.  I had plans, I had goals, and I had a word.  Have I embodied the word abide in the way that I thought I would this year?  Most definitely not.  But in the process, I've learned so much more about the way that God shows up and surrounds us with His steadfast goodness, in both the hard and the joyful times, and I think in so many ways, that's a greater lesson than I could have ever taught myself through my own striving.

DID YOU HAVE A WORD FOR 2015?  WHAT HAS GOD BEEN TEACHING YOU THIS YEAR?

Jul 10, 2020

Love, The Bachelorette, and Other Musings


Let me start off this post by saying that I don't think I've ever written a post about The Bachelor or The Bachelorette before, and frankly, I doubt I ever will again.  It's one of those shows that I catch from time to time (like, every other season), and I love watching it with my mom and giggling about how dramatic they make it all look.  I don't "trust the process" that this show proclaims is the way the star will find the love of their life.  Mostly, I find it to be just fun, entertaining, albeit occasionally trashy, TV.

But there's something about this season that just isn't sitting well with me and frankly, it makes my heart hurt a little bit.

If you've been watching this season of The Bachelorette, you probably know that it's been one of the most controversial and rule-breaking seasons to date (and yes, I know they say that about every season).  Besides breaking away from the typical recap-dates-rose ceremony-preview formula and putting most of the rose ceremonies smack dab in the middle of the episode so that you don't know which way is up (guys, I'm seriously annoyed by this!), this season of The Bachelorette has featured a bachelorette who's fun-loving, carefree, and very sexual attitude has had her going to bed with suitors early on in the season and being pretty forthcoming on all of the juicy details.

But that's not what has me sad about this season.  Frankly, I'm not naive.  I know that waiting until marriage to have sex is not the cultural norm and I'm not going to pretend like I don't realize that sex happens behind the scenes on this series.  While it's not the lifestyle choice that I've made, I also don't think that it's my place to judge someone else who has different beliefs than me.

What does have me reeling a little bit is how many times Kaitlyn has sat in the interview room and cried over "jeopardizing her relationship" with other guys because of how she's acted in the moment. She's cried over the damage she may have done by sleeping with one of the guys; she's sobbed about letting things go too far when she told a guy that he was "the one."  And then, the real thing that is killing me is how many times she's said that she feels good when she's with a particular guy.

And there it is, friends....she "feels."  She feels good or feels like a woman or feels desired.  And if I was her, I'd probably feel the same way.  Drop any girl into a fantasy world of extravagant dates and attractive guys who are all focused on her, and who wouldn't feel all of those things?

But the problem is this:  love is about so much more than how you feel.

I'm no expert in love, and I'm certainly not going to pretend to know much about marriage, but I do know this:  love, real love, withstands the waves of how you feel.  Love is a choice.  When you're committed to someone to the point of wanting to spend the rest of your life with them, you wake up each morning and make the decision to love that person whether you feel like it or not.

Because the truth is that there will be days when you don't feel like it.  There will be days when you don't feel desired or good.  There will be days when love hurts.  And there may even be days when the world presents something to you that holds the promise of making you feel better than the way love is making you feel.

And if all you have is how you feel, if your love is built on feeling, then that's not going to sustain you.  Obviously, the process of The Bachelor franchise isn't the most healthy way to date and meet a future spouse.  So while The Bachelorette is all fun and games for those of us viewing from the comfort of our homes, the reality is that it's real people involved, which means real hearts and real hurt.  Sure, it pretends to take love seriously, but never before have I seen a star talk all of the "finding the one" talk while simultaneously seeming to have little grasp on what it truly means to love someone.

The glitz and the glamour of The Bachelorette is attractive and romantic and it's easy to see how a girl could get wrapped up in all of it.  And I can't deny that watching those extravagant helicopter rides to Irish cliffs and candlelit dinners in centuries-old monasteries often make my heart swoon!  But no matter how movie-esque your life is, at the end of the day, love is still about so much more than how you feel.

I wish there was more honestly in the media today...more couples who fight for their love; whose love is forged through a foundation of friendship and built on mutual faith in Jesus.  More couples who stand together and decide to stay and fight when things get hard instead of taking out that pre-nup and filing the divorce papers.  I wish that young girls who were sitting at home on Monday nights watching "real life" fairy-tales a la The Bachelor would see a couple fight through the hard moments and see how real love doesn't just send someone home when they feel like they're "not connecting this week" or that the "relationship isn't progressing fast enough."

I wish we saw more examples of how love is patient; how love is kind.  How it does not envy or boast or dishonor others.  How it's not proud or self-seeking.  How it's not easily angered or keep record of wrongs and how love seeks the truth and delights in it.

I wish we saw more examples of how love always protects, trust, hopes, and perseveres.

Wouldn't the world be a different place if we really took 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to heart?

Jul 3, 2020

Grace Upon Grace


I've been thinking a lot about grace lately.  
I've been thinking about all of the times that I fall short, that I don't fulfill a commitment in the way I meant to, or didn't live up to being the kind of friend or employee or daughter or fianc矇 that I intend to.  
The times that my temper gets the best of me and I snap back at someone or the times that I say the wrong thing and then have to apologize for coming across in a way that I'm not proud of.  

I've had to ask for a lot of grace lately.  Stress does that to you.  Busyness does that to you.  In light of what the month of June held...my dad's whole brain radiation treatment for the 30+ lesions they found in his brain, our pastor's motorcycle accident in which his wife lost her life, the impending stress of the last two months of wedding planning and not having time to even think about it...I've found myself asking for another to extend grace to me or thanking someone for their understanding and grace when I've had to put life on hold.  

It's never been easy for me to ask for grace.  Even though I was saved by it at a young age, it's still not easy for me to accept it, even from the One who wants to give it so freely.  John 1:16 says, "For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace."  I'm not even sure that I can comprehend what that even means...grace upon grace.  As if just plain 'ol grace wasn't enough, here's some more. Grace upon grace.  

I've never been one to jump into the political fray, and I'm not going to start now, but it's hard to ignore the arguments and the bitterness and the hurt that is all over social media after last week's news.  And as I scroll through my Facebook feed, my heart breaks, because I keep missing one thing from both sides of the debate:  grace.  While politics bring out the good, bad, and the ugly in people, the debate going on through our screens right now seems to just be a microcosm of how we conduct ourselves and how we treat others as a whole.

We lack grace in our words, both typed and spoken, and its hurtful to ourselves and to the person we're speaking to.  It's easy to justify lacking grace towards people who have hurt us or who we don't think deserve it or who are unable to compromise and see our side of things, but if we deny grace to those we don't favor, then we've missed the point.

Grace, by definition, means "the free and unmerited favor of God."  By our human nature, by the fall, by sin, we're so unworthy of grace.  Yet He gives it freely and without merit.  

It's so humbling when you think about it.  That the Savior of the World, the One who created it all, the Prince of Joy, would distribute grace upon grace to broken, fallen people who are so unworthy of it, and who so often turn around and don't extend the same grace to others.  I bet it breaks His heart when we don't give out grace in the same way He does.  But thank goodness that He does give it out.  And He delights in it.  He's so full of grace that He can't help but to spill it out on each of us.

And we, in turn, are called to pour that grace out on our neighbor.  Whether it means lending a hand or accepting an apology before it's even offered, or simply showing kindness and love even when our feelings are hurt, we're called to it.  In the glow of the heated debates and declarations and decisions that light up our social media feeds, we're called to extend grace in our responses, our declarations, and our interactions so that Christ's light can shine more fully in us.  

I don't know about you, but I'm sure that I don't deserve the grace that Christ has handed to me.  I don't get it right every time, and more often than not, my own sinful human nature rears its ugly head and I'm left with the shame that I didn't possess the right amount of patience or self control or gentleness.  But oh, what a Savior, that He should look past all of that and love me anyway.  Who am I to not show that same love and grace to others?

Jun 16, 2020

When You Walk Through the Fire...


To say the past week has been hard is an understatement. (If you missed my news last week, then click here to read.) Part of my job at GT is helping to manage the church's social media accounts, and this past week has been the most intense season of work I've ever experienced.

Yesterday, before I left the office, I was looking for a Scripture verse to schedule for our Facebook page this morning and came across Isaiah 43:2: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

On Sunday, our executive Pastor, Scott, took the GT stage and preached a message about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He talked about how when we go through fires, we don't have to stand along, we don't have to come out smelling like smoke, and that God shows up in new ways. So when I found the verse in Isaiah, it was an obvious choice for putting out there to our church body.

But as I reflected on that verse, something occurred to me. It doesn't say "if you walk through the fire," it says when.

It's not if you face tragedy, it's when.
It's not if you experience pain, it's when.

God isn't surprised by our tragedy.  He's not surprised by our pain or our hurt.  In fact, his Word says that we will walk through the fire, we will pass through the river.

I don't believe that fires that we walk through are of God.  Our world is broken as a result of the fall, and so while we tarry to redeem a fallen Creation to it's Creator, the reality is that bad things happen.  People make bad choices and there are consequences for those decisions, and the fact that we live in a fallen world means that we aren't always spared hardship and heartbreak. God doesn't make those bad things happen, but He does work through them to bring healing and hope.

My life over the past two years has been nothing short of a roller coaster.  Between two cancer diagnosis's, health issues with both of my grandmothers, losing AJ's grandfather, a long distance relationship, and now everything that's happened with my church, there have been days when I've asked God when I get to step out of the flames.

But from time to time I realize that the God who promises to be with us in Isaiah 43, and who stood amongst the flames with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3, is the same God who will see us through even the greatest of tragedies.

And He does see us through.  Isaiah 43 doesn't say "when you stand in the waters" or "when you hang out in the fire," it says through.  We don't have to stay in the rivers and fires of our lives.  We have to carry on and walk through.

God doesn't promise easy.  He doesn't promise safe, or pain-free, or simple.  But He promises to be there in the good times and the bad, and He promises to be with us and see us through.

We will face hardship.  There will be fires to walk through.  There will be rivers to pass through and there will be times when we feel like the flood waters are about to pull us under.  But God promises to be there, to preserve us, and to not allow the flames to set us ablaze.

________________________________________

It feels disingenuous of me to end this post without talking about the hope we have in Jesus. The Bible is filled with the promises of God, and one of the greatest promises any of us can put our hope in is the eternal life found through faith in Christ. If you're reading this post, and you're not sure what you believe or you're walking through a fire right now and you need some hope, then, friend, I can't begin to describe to you how great God's love is for you. He wants to stand in that fire with you and carry you through. 

Personally, I'm not sure how I would have made it through the past two years without my relationship with God. And I want you to know that relationship, too. If you'd like to start that relationship, but aren't sure how, I'm happy to tell you that it's simple.  God is fully accessible to us through prayer, and all it takes is stopping, right now, to pray and tell Him about your belief in Him, your desire to know Him more, and your recognition that you're in need of a Savior. (Let me tell you a secret...we all are!) 

Prayer doesn't have to be this mysterious thing, it's a conversation, so just talk to Him. If you pray that prayer today and you're looking for more direction, please email me at [email protected] because I would love to talk with you more about your decision!  It's the most important one you'll ever make, and I'd be thrilled to walk through that with you.

Jun 5, 2020

The Importance of Self Care


I've been meaning to write this post for a while. In fact, I put it into my drafts folder well over a month ago (maybe even three months ago, I don't seem to keep track of time all that well these days), and it's just sat there, staring at me every time I open my blog dashboard, begging to be written. My heart has so much to say on the topic of self care, (mostly that I'm no good at it), but I feel a bit like a fraud even trying to conquer such a fleeting concept and hot topic amongst young creatives and women today.

And I guess it's ironic that it's taken me so long to find the time to sit and process and really write this out. Because in a way, this post about the importance of caring for oneself is a form of self care for me, yet it's taken me months to do it.

I'm not 100% sure why the idea of caring for myself is so hard for me; or why it's so hard for so many of us, for that matter.  I think there's a feeling of selfishness associated with taking care of ourselves, or with taking time to do something to get that sought-after "me time".  We carry the banner of being modern superwomen, and we hold it together and make it look so easy, but then when our eyes close at night, we're exhausted in every sense of the word.

We fill our days with work and school and managing our online lives and blogs and shops, and then pile that onto taking care of our marriages and families, and by the end of it all, there's nothing left.  Nothing left in the way of time and nothing left in the way of energy.  There are so many days that I fall into bed at midnight, exhausted from living my energizer-bunny lifestyle since 7:30 that morning, and set my alarm to get up and do it all again the next day.

And yet we get up each day ready to do it all again, drained before the day even begins.

But you know what?  I'm tired.  I'm tired of having so much running through my mind that even my sleep is often plagued with dreams about forgetting things on my to-do list.  I'm tired of watching women stand strong while their souls are weary.

Self care looks differently for each of us.  For some, it's hitting the pavement and going for a run and for others, it's stealing away for a manicure.  Whatever it is for you, it's important, so stop telling yourself that you don't deserve it.  1 Corinthians 3:16 says "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"  If we truly believe that, then why aren't we taking care of ourselves, friends?

Christ didn't sacrifice everything for us to fill our lives with schedules that leave us broken and tired and weary. While He never promised this life would be easy, or safe, I also don't think He intended for us to treat it like a marathon that we have to run at a sprint pace until we collapse from exhaustion.

There's no shame or guilt in saying "It's too much" and taking some time for you. When all that you're living for (and I hope, sister, that it's Christ first and foremost, but beyond that, I'm talking here about your job, kids, creative outlets, marriage, relationship, school, etc.) begins to drain you and pull you under, then it's time to step back.

Let's be women who boldly declare peace and wellness in our own lives.
Let's be women who realize the value of taking care of ourselves so that we can better take care of the people and things that we love.
Let's be women who shrug off the guilt and aren't afraid to say that taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually is important.
And finally, let's be women who leave behind weary in exchange for worth.

Apr 1, 2020

The Most Powerful Weapon (An Oldie, but a Goodie)

This post originally appeared on Heavens to Betsy in September of 2013...but with this past week's events, I've been praying hard, and praying long, and this post rings true then and now.



Last Wednesday, I hopped on a plane and flew up to Boston to visit AJ for the week.  It was 9/11, and after watching documentaries about that fateful day during the earlier part of the week with my parents, I'll admit I was a bit nervous to fly.  I've flown the Philly-Boston corridor more times than I can count and really, I've never been afraid to step on a plane.  But something about last Wednesday, the weight of the significance of that date, the realization that no one else who stepped on their respective planes that day twelve years ago knew their fate, it just made me a little nervous.

I took my seat on board and got out my iPad and headphones and book in preparation, and then I took a moment to do what I always do when I get on a plane...I prayed.  Except, this time, my prayer was different.  It was more powerful and more passionate.

I've been learning a lot about prayer over the past few months.  When my dad first received his diagnosis back in May, we immediately gathered family and friends at our church for a time of prayer over him.  Then, we started making weekly appointments with our church's Healing Ministry, and every Wednesday night, we gathered with a team who encouraged us with scripture when we felt despair and celebrated our joys when we received news.

Growing up in the church, I always thought I knew how to pray.  I carefully listened to my pastors and youth leaders pray over the years, and picked up phrases and formulas for what I thought "good" prayers sounded like.  Eventually, my prayers became my own and became more authentic.  But it wasn't until this summer that I realized that God wants us to claim things in prayer.

Claiming my dad's healing and banishing the enemies of death and disease takes courage and faith beyond measure.  It requires prayers that you can stand behind 100%, believing completely that what you're praying will become reality.  God requires bold prayers of us, and it's a pretty awesome thing to pray boldly, and to have the freedom to come before your savior humbly praising His name while boldly asking for Him to move in big ways.  And what's even greater is when you can look at your life and praise Him for answering those prayers.

My challenge for you this week is this:  pray, and pray boldly.  No matter what you're dealing with, what you desire, find Scripture verses that you can pray over, for there's nothing more powerful than praying and claiming God's promises in Scripture.  Learning to pray with a boldness takes time, practice, and courage...find some people who can pray with you and can teach you what praying boldly means.  And gather with other believers, because there's no greater thing than sharing your sorrow and joys with others who can encourage you along this walk.

Dec 10, 2020

Girl Talk // Defining Dreams



when i was little, my answer to "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was always the same:  a pediatrician.  except for a year in elementary school where i decided that being a dolphin trainer sounded really cool, i never wavered from my medical dream.  but then, somewhere into my second year of pre-med as a biology major, i realized that i really didn't like science all that much.  i changed my major and eventually got a masters degree in education.  and today, my life and my dreams and my passions look very different than what i would have guessed five years ago.

my mentor and i are working our way through mark batter son's the circle maker right now.  it's a great book, and even better when you read it with someone else, specifically someone who will really push and challenge you.  chrissy is not only a great voice of truth and encouragement, but in just the few weeks that we've been meeting, she's pushed and stretched me.

the hardest thing for me about defining those dreams is actually putting them out there.  because it's scary!  a lot of my goals revolve around my online life.  and articulating that to someone over a cup of coffee puts my stomach into knots, because what if they don't understand it?  what if they don't get this part of my life or how it could be sustainable?  ultimately, my heart's desire is to honor god with anything that i do, to be so in tune with what he wants for me that i'm not afraid to speak life into my dreams when i know that they are from him.

if you're not familiar with the circle maker, it's all about how praying boldly and dreaming big can transform your walk with jesus.  our god is huge, and our prayers should be huge too.

god honors bold dreams, and bold dreams honor god.

we've probably all heard (or felt) someone say that something was "too small" to bother god about.  but i like to think that god is delighted when we pray for and thank him for both the big and the small.  those small prayers, for the small graces like a good parking spot or a coffee date with a friend are important.  they are the daily reminders that god loves to shower us in blessing.  but the big prayers, about a future or a move or a financial decision or a relationship, or whatever it is for you, those are the ones that give god the  most glory.

so don't be afraid to ask for what seems impossible.  don't be afraid to define the big dreams.  god is for you and he will delight in showing you his power when you dare to pray with boldness.  so define the dream, circle it in prayer, and then get ready.  because if you do pray, anything could happen.

have you read the circle maker?  what are you circling in prayer right now?

Dec 2, 2020

Advent // Walk in Light & Be Courageous


this post is part of the peony project's monthly link-up.

there's this place not far from my hometown called christmas village.  it's literally only open during november and december and the place is just covered in christmas lights.  you can see it's glow from far away, peeking over the hills as you approach.  its light guides you, and it's hard to miss.

light is a funny thing.  it seems so simple, and it surrounds us every day, yet it's so powerful.  it gives life, it guides, it helps.  and yet in the bible, light is one of the most moving pictures of christ's coming.

one of my favorite verses in the bible appears in isaiah 9:2.
 the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; 
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

years before the birth of christ, isaiah predicts his coming through the symbolism of light shining on a fallen israel; a people walking in darkness.  and then, at his birth, light is used to guide the magi to him.  and with his birth he brings glorious light.  he humbles himself to live amongst us.  emmanuel.  god with us. 

i won't pretend to know what god was thinking when he sent his son down to earth.  but from time to time i wonder if jesus knew, even as a baby, what he was getting himself into.  this fall, i read let's all be brave by annie f. downs.  it's all about leading the courageous life god is calling you to.  it's one of those books that is riddled with great quotes, and one of the absolute best ones in the entire book is found towards the end and is just six little words:
courage was born on christmas day.

i'm sure jesus knew exactly what his becoming flesh among men meant.  and i'm sure it took courage to come and live a life that was less than glamorous in order to save a people living in darkness. emmanuel. god with us. 

the other thing about that verse in isaiah that i like to think about is how the people would have responded.  after trudging around in a deep darkness, wouldn't you want to dance in the light?  and christ's birth didn't only signal courage for him, but for the rest of us as well.  because he chose to live amongst us, we get to revel in the glory of his courageous light.

as we enter the advent season, i invite you to think over that verse, and that quote.  

in what ways are you walking in darkness?  what areas of your life need light?
maybe there's a relationship in your life that needs mending, or maybe you've been turning away from god in pursuit of other things.  maybe you're facing this christmas without someone you love, and that's painful.

how is god calling you to courage this advent season?
is god nudging you to invite your neighbor to your church's christmas eve service?  to step out in faith financially and give generously to a family in need?  to open your home to someone who has nowhere to go this christmas?

allow the light of christ to dawn over these areas of your life and then embolden you to make bold and courageous steps toward his light.  and live as a people who have seen a great light.

we showed this video in church this past weekend.  it features an excerpt from a sermon by charles spurgeon, and everything about it gives me chills.  i hope you take a few minutes to watch it and be encouraged by the power of christ in us.

 

if you're a blogger reading this, and you've been searching for a community to call home; searching for people who will understand this part of your life, who will get the blogging world and who will be real friends for you in it, then i hope you'll consider joining us in the peony project.  that's our heart, after all...to be friends for the journey.

and if you just stopped by today to do a little reading, then i'm so happy you're here.  and i hope you'll either consider what advent means to you and join in on our link-up, or that you'll stop by a few of the other posts below and check out what it means to some other awesome ladies. 


Nov 14, 2020

The Trouble with Mary & Martha



i've never particularly liked the story of mary and martha.  probably because i can totally relate to martha, and yet mary is the one jesus praises.  it always feels a little like he's chastising me when he says "mary has chosen what is better" (luke 10:42).

truthfully, i feel bad for martha!  she was just trying to be a good hostess after all.  i'd do the same.  the meal needed to be prepared, the table to be set, she probably had to tidy up a little bit.  she had opened her home not to just any guy, but the lord...and i'm sure she wanted to make a good impression.

earlier this week, i attended an influence network class about hospitality taught by annie downs.  we talked a little bit about mary and martha, and her perspective changed that story for me.  you see, everyone wants to be invited in.  we've all been there...maybe you've been the new girl hoping for a friend or maybe you've seen the new girl and felt the tug to include her.  and when it comes to mary and martha, the reality is that things do need to get done.

but, in the wise words of annie, you can't keep working for people to be invited in,  if you keep washing the dishes or clearing the table, everyone else is going to feel like they need to be working too or not be included.

i don't know abut you, but i was raised to always offer to help.  and so, when i go to a party or gathering and the host stands up to start the clean-up process, my instinct is to pitch in.  and when i'm the host, i will often begin cleaning up when my guests are still around the table.

don't get me wrong...i think the conversations that happen at the sink, with one person washing dishes and another drying, can be life-giving and relationship-forming.  my mom will tell you that she bonded with her sisters-in-law over sinks full of dirty dishes after family gatherings.  and watching them in the kitchen (and joining them) is now one of my favorite things about those family dinners.

but when we look deeper at the story of mary and martha, it's not just about doing work versus sitting at the table and spending time with others.  martha comes to jesus, with mary at his feet, asking him to send her sister to help her prepare the meal.  she was so worried by the work to be done that she couldn't see the importance in what her sister had chosen.

and when i examine my own heart, it's here that i can relate the most to martha.  because often, when i'm standing at that kitchen sink and there are people at the table who haven't offered to help, my heart turns bitter.  thoughts of "why aren't they helping?" and "can't they see what work needs to be done?" run through my mind.

true hospitality is an issue of the heart.  it's not enough to just open your doors and invite people into your home.  no matter how pinterest-perfect and carefully planned a gathering is, making people feel welcome goes beyond a picturesque table setting and a delicious dinner followed by warm cups of coffee.

in reality, it doesn't matter how well you prepare, what people will remember is how well you cared.

there's beauty in sharing your home and your food.  impact in being generous with your money and your time.  inviting people into your life, no matter how messy and imperfect it may be at times, is worth it.

but it can be so much better, so much more impactful, so much more beautiful, if you "choose what is better."
choose the conversation over the task list.
choose to listen when the dishes are screaming at you.
choose to include people in the relationship instead of the work. 

i'm not sure that the story of mary and martha will ever not make me feel uncomfortable.  and that's probably the point.  because for me, it's easy to see the work to be done and do it.  it stretches me more to make the small talk and ask the good and hard questions.  but washing dishes isn't what jesus asks us to do.  he asks us to take the time to see the need, to see the person, and to be his hands and feet.

what about you?  do you identify more with mary or martha?

Oct 29, 2020

Community Brew // Invest & Invite



today i'm joining in with madison over at wetherills say i do and rachel of oh, simple thoughts for their community brew link-up!  community brew is a monthly link-up that is designed for bloggers to be "open, honest, and vulnerable, and to build community with others."  november's prompt is open-ended, so whatever is on your heart, feel free to join in!

right inside the front doors of our church's worship center atrium is a small table with a sign on it that says "invest and invite."  it's topped with invitation cards for our services and events and upcoming sermon series that our congregation can pick up and hand out to friends and family, making it easy to invite them to church.

for me, the investing part is the easy part.  i'm an extrovert; a people-person, so i can do the occasional coffee date or relationship-building texting conversation or whatever it is.  but the invite part?  that's always a little harder for me.  i've never found it easy to ask someone for help, and somehow, inviting someone to wake up early on a sunday and come to church feels like i'm asking for a favor.

but i think that the fear of asking too much of someone in inviting them somewhere...especially somewhere as important as church...is, at the heart of it, doing them a disservice.  when you consider the idea that the invitation that you're extending could save someone's life, then that invitation takes on a whole new weight.

paul starts off romans 10 with "brothers and sisters, my heart's desire and prayer to god for the israelites is that they may be saved."  i love that.  paul's heart's desire was for his brothers & sisters to be saved.  i don't know about you, but it can take work for me to have that same mindset.  it's not always at the forefront of my thoughts, but it should be!  and it doesn't take outright evangelistic conversations to practice the concept of investing and inviting.  it just takes being there, being consistent, building trust, and showing the love of christ to others through your words and actions.  

and the concept of invest & invite isn't just confined to the face-to-face parts of our lives, but our online lives too.  no matter where you're active...by writing a blog, just being present on twitter or instagram or pinterest, whatever...you have opportunities to be salt and light, and to invest and invite in those spaces too.  your words, your posts, your pins and repins...they all matter, and they all mean something.

if you're joining in on the hospitality study with she reads truth that started on monday, you know that this idea of investing and inviting is at the heart of this study.  (to be perfectly honest, that fact didn't even occur to me until i was halfway through writing this post)  yesterday, logan wolfram wrote an awesome devotion about how we need to love like jesus loved, and then follow his lead in inviting others into the journey with us.

she talked about how that love and invitation needs to stem from the heart.  a heart that is full of the love that god has for us will brim over and spread that love to others.


we posture our hearts to welcome others in response to the invitation 
we have been given through the gospel of jesus christ.
-logan wolfram

it always comes back to this, friends:
jesus loved us, so we could love others.  we often teach in our children's ministry at gt that every commandment jesus ever gave us fits into two categories:  love god, or love others.  christ made the ultimate sacrifice in death on the cross, and he didn't do it so we could keep it to ourselves.  he loved us, so we could love others.

in what ways is god asking you to invest in and invite others into his kingdom?  is it a challenge for you?  how so?

Oct 24, 2020

Learning to Rest



last week, i was a little bit absent from this space.  life just caught up to me, and i needed a break.  i've been so diligent with writing and scheduling posts over the weekend, and having a constant and consistent presence on my blog, but last weekend was just busy in every way...aj was home, my parents rode the philly ride to conquer cancer, and i was still battling a sinus infection and bronchitis. so this last week, once i was able to exhale, things like sleep and catching up on work just took priority.

last wednesday night, i walked into my room after a twelve-hour work day, dumped my bags on the floor, sat down at my desk, and lettered these words:  rest and abide.

god has been slowly whispering to my heart these past few days...rest and abide.  it's been one of those times where life feels like it hasn't slowed down since mid-august.  where the demands of work, relationships, and just life in general have me learning the power of saying "no" to things.  where i've felt nothing short of overwhelmed and dried up at every turn.

and when i get overwhelmed, i get weepy.  to be honest, it doesn't really take much to make me cry...aj often refers to me as a human faucet.  but i hit a wall on wednesday night, with work still to do and friends still to have dinner with and appearances still to keep up, and blog posts still to write, and finally, i decided to shed the guilt of not being present here, or not producing the content i wish i was writing.



at one of those dinners with friends the other night, blogging was a topic of conversation, and one girl was sharing wisdom from an influence network class she had just watched.  "don't let your blog become your kingdom"...those words hit me so hard.  had my blog, the space i've been working so hard to build and the community i've been pouring myself into, become my kingdom, or was i still using it to really do what i have always wanted it to...spread god's kingdom?

(funny, as i write this, i'm sitting backstage on sunday morning listening to our pastor preach...about "your kingdom, or god's?"....think jesus is trying to tell me something?)

i think that we as bloggers, or anyone with an online presence, walk a fine line.  it's so easy to raise up our blogs or our online lives to a high priority...because after all, what will our 750 instagram followers do if they don't see the photo of that latte we picked up at starbucks this afternoon?!

the reality is that our online lives do matter, but only to the point that they are glorifying the lord, and no further.  once they become our kingdom, then they are worthless, and all of the influence we have and all of the followers we've gained mean nothing.

learning to rest is tough...chances are, if you're a blogger, you've spent plenty of late nights at your computer at 11:30pm crafting that perfect post and editing those photos to top it off.  and let's be real, you probably have seen more of those nights than you care to admit.



but i think that it's important to find intentional places and spaces that will encourage you to rest, to consider the influence you have, and to care for your spirit and your heart.  and one of those places is the influence network.

about a month ago, after watching instagram like it was the news all weekend as so many of my blogging friends gathered together at the 2014 influence conference, i decided to take the plunge and purchase a ticket to the 2015 conference.  it's a time to for women with creative hearts to gather and talk about the unique influence they have right where they're at.

and because i'm so excited for next september, i want you to be there too, so i joined up with a bunch of other wonderful, god-loving women to offer you the chance to win a conference ticket.  you don't have to be a blogger to be there...you just need to love jesus and want to know him better.

so i hope you'll consider entering, and if you don't win, then i hope you pray about investing in a ticket to the conference!  i'd love to see you there.

what is the influence network?
via
via
two lucky readers will win a ticket to the 2015 influence conference. the conference is a three day event held in indianapolis, indiana at the westin hotel. you will meet women from all over the country who are seeking to learn the right tools for their passions. there will be workshops, classes, speakers, coffee, & shopping. there will be bloggers, mothers, small business owners, writers, and the list goes on & on. 


two places at once     //     what she saw     //     rivers & roads
oak & oats    //     amy cornwell     //     simplicity relished
rachel rewritten     //     trusty chucks     //     wear flowers in your hair
she lives free    //     elah tree     //     mandy living life
vallarina creative     //     camp patton     //     23 and 9 creative
wetherills say i do      //     oh simple thoughts     //     frankly my dear

you do not have to be a member of the influence network to enter the giveaway or to go the conference but i encourage you to check out the network and consider joining!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
**please note that this giveaway is in no way sponsored by the influence network. 
we are a group of independent women who are joining together to make this conference happen for two of our readers. the two recipients will only receive tickets to the event & are responsible for all other expenses, including but not limited to travel, lodging, meals, parking, etc. if for some reason either of the winners cannot attend the conference they will be expected to contact one of the hosts immediately so that another winner can be chosen.

Sep 17, 2020

Girl Talk // That Familiar Free Fall



i can't believe that we've passed the halfway point in september already.  i feel like a week ago, it was summer, and now here we are, barreling towards the soft amber glow of october.

its been a while since i've written one of these girl talk posts.  my heart has been longing to write one, to pour out some snippet of truth or encouragement.  this series originally started in hopes of creating community and conversation, and in the year or so since i launched it, it has become one of my favorite series to write.  but its also become a neglected one, because, well, these posts aren't always easy.

i'm the kind of person that loves to be busy.  i'd rather have a to-do list a mile long than one that's totally empty.  but there is a fine line between being busy, and being overwhelmed.

and lately, i've just felt overwhelmed.

between beginning my first year as a preschool teacher and saying goodbye to my boyfriend as he headed off to boston for his last year of college, and chaperoning a youth group retreat and then visiting that boyfriend in boston and juggling responsibilities for my part-time job at church, its felt like a little bit more than i'd like to handle.

things have been neglected, like my attempted recommitment to exercise and that new devotional plan that i'm working on.  even this blog has been an afterthought.

maybe you feel that same pull....that you're teetering just on the edge of keeping it all together while still finding time to curl your hair in the morning and of completely free-falling.

this sort of thing hits me once in a while, and i'm noticing that it's often associated with fall.  while all of the leaves are starting to die and make their way downward, i feel almost a sense of renewal.  its the kind of renewal that only a tidal wave of business can bring...the kind that washes you of that carefree summer glow and brings you back to shore, ready to face the new school year, even if you're not a student.

i sometimes wonder if my life will ever not feel dictated by the school calendar (probably not, since i'm a teacher...), or if the fall will ever cease to bring this renewal.  because though its hard and almost suffocating at times, i feel like i need it.  its like this free-fall...and in the midst of it, i'm tugging at my parachute strings but its just. not. opening.  and then, all of a sudden, it does, and i glide into the best part of this season...the part filled with bonfires and crisp breezes and scarves and boots...the part that i love.  but not until that initial jump out of the plane called summer.

and once my feet hit the ground, in this new season, there is so much opportunity if i just open my eyes to it.  fall is a wake-up call.  its a time of inspiration and of growth.  a time to reflect and a time to act.

one of my favorite verses right now is isaiah 43:19.  it reads: "see, i am doing a new thing!  now it springs up; do you not perceive it? i am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

i love that verse because it's a reminder that god is always doing something.  even in the midst of the business, the to-do lists, and the juggling of life.  even at a time of year when things outside are ending their season of beauty, he is at work in us.  he is doing a new thing.  we just need to perceive it.

new to the girl talk series?  here are a few posts you might want to check out!

Aug 12, 2020

Learning to Lead


...i want to be an encourager.
...i want to build others up.
...i want to teach and mentor and help others take ownership.

but can i be really, totally, transparently honest with you?  one of the biggest struggles i have is relinquishing control over things.  i've seen this tendency (maybe it's even a twinge of jealousy?) rear it's ugly head at different times in my life, and i hate it.

earlier this summer, i began building a community for bloggers.  its off to an awesome start, and i love watching that community build and flourish.  and as it grows, and i dream bigger dreams for it, i realize that there's no way i can be the only one managing and cultivating it.  if it's going to become something truly awesome, it needs more than just me at the helm.

but that means releasing a little control.  that means handing over responsibility and ownership and stepping back and letting things happen without my direction.

i work for a church, and we often talk about raising up leaders and replacing ourselves.  as a staff, we believe very strongly that it's important to build other people up and find someone who could replace you.  not because you plan on leaving your position, but just as jesus discipled the twelve and then sent them out, we're supposed to acknowledge and develop characteristics in others that will help them become the person god made them to be.

but replacing yourself?  man, that's tough.  especially for someone who likes to be in leadership positions and is a do-er (*raises hand*).  i know what the root of the problem is...its my human nature that wants to be the best at whatever it is i'm doing.  to be irreplaceable.

but that's not the true mark of a leader.  a real leader surrounds themselves with others who are passionate and amazing at what they do, and then collaborates with them, giving them the freedom to work within their calling to make the project or organization thrive.

i love reading paul's epistles.  he is an ultimate example of what it really means to lead...he went, he planted, he trained others up, and then he sent them out.  so many of his letters open with "i'm sending you so-and-so, listen to them"...paul handed over authority to those he raised up.  he asked them to lead, showed them how to, and then said "go do it!".

i'm not saying that i'm an awesome leader by any means (in fact, i'm kind of saying the opposite).  but i desire to be.  i desire to encourage and inspire and build others up and help them realize and develop skills within them.  and i'm working on it.

May 21, 2020

Girl Talk // The Grateful Life

a little while ago, i started writing these grateful heart posts every monday, (thanks to emily at ember grey!)  starting my week off by listing some things that i'm grateful for has been an awesome practice, and one that has taken a lot longer than the past few weeks to get the hang of.

when i was in college, i started being intentional about living with a grateful heart.  i began looking for things to thank god for throughout my day.  when i grabbed the last bagel in the cafeteria or when a class got cancelled and i got to take a drive to the beach, i muttered a quick little "thank you" to jesus.

living with a constant sense of gratitude is one of the hardest things i can think of.  in a world that loves to complain, loves to belittle, loves to make things less than what they are, it can be difficult to find joy in the little things; in a parking space, your favorite coffee creamer being on sale, a passing rain shower.

and that's the problem, i think.  our world so often drowns out the gratitude.  ann voskamp once wrote that "our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in god and what he gives.  we hunger for something more, something other."

that so adequately describes our human nature, doesn't it?  from the beginning, when adam & eve took the fruit, they did so because they were led to believe that there was something more.  and we all must live with the weight of that decision, always managing the tension between what the world wants us to believe and what our god has for us.

but the thing, friends, is that the simple act of gratitude, of finding joy in the simplistic, in the everyday, in the seemingly ordinary, can do wonders in the way of managing that tension.  and it's not just being happy or thankful for what you find, but knowing who to thank.

so here are a few tips for you on your journey to living a more grateful life:

what things do you do to make sure you live a grateful life?

Mar 16, 2020

Girl Talk // Kneel & Let Go

there have been times in my life where God has taken the thing i have my fingers grasped tightly to and whispered..."let go".  he never forces, it's a quiet and gentle command.  and it always takes me by surprise.  in my relatively short twenty-four years, i've boldly declared, time and again, what i thought i wanted, only to watch god change the course of that plan.

i've been reading a few books lately, one of which is ann voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.  this book led me to her blog, and somewhere along the way, i found this quote:
"god's not asking me to climb ladders - he's asking me to kneel and let go." -ann voskamp
i wrote it down immediately, thinking about how profound the concept is.  kneel and let go.  if only it were as easy as it sounds!

i've written before about my struggle to figure out what exactly i wanted to do with my life in college, and how those future plans again hit a speed bump this summer.  and more than anything else, more than any relationship or other desire, the greatest struggle for me has been to kneel and let go of what i want my future to hold, or what i think my five-year plan should be, or what i think my life should look like.  

and over the past ten months, i've been learning this lesson in a new way as well.  last may, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer.  (fortunately, he's doing really well, but prayers are appreciated!)  but over the past ten months, my family has been learning what it means to kneel and let go when you're in the most dire and desperate of times.  we've been blessed by an awesome medical team at one of the country's best hospitals who have been taking great care of my dad, but ultimately, we know that all of his progress, and the journey that got us there, can be attributed to jesus.  

i think in both of these situations, with my future and with my dad's diagnosis, learning to kneel and let go has been instrumental to finding the peace that passes all understanding that the bible talks about.  and ann says it so well:  "god's not asking me to climb ladders…"  it's true!  he's asking you to take it one step at a time.  

he understands that this lesson is not an easy one to learn, that this control is not easy to give up.  just think…it must have been excruciatingly difficult to watch his own son die the most horrible death knowing that he could end it with a blink, but he let go, so that we could ultimately benefit.  he knows first-hand what letting go means.  that's one of my favorite things about god.  he's big and mighty and more glorious than we can even imagine, but he knows and has felt our deepest pain.  that's just mind-blowing to me.  

so the take-away….just four little words, (write 'em down!), kneel and let go.  kneel and let go.  kneel and let go.  when you're at your worst, when you're more desperate than you've ever been, get on your knees, hand it over to god, and let go.  try it, trust me.

what is god trying to tell you to kneel and let go of?  when have you see god's faithfulness through answered prayer?

Feb 12, 2020

Overcome the Lie // Do You Really Deserve God's Best?

i dated this guy when i was in tenth grade, and early in the relationship, i distinctly remember thinking to myself that someday i would hold the title "ex-girlfriend".  the red flags were there…he wasn't a christian and the way we even started dating was too fast and kind of ridiculous.  but i was caught up in the excitement of having my first boyfriend and i was just living in the moment, knowing it wasn't going to last forever.  so when he cheated on me, it actually surprised me how much it hurt.

i didn't realize the insecurity that that hurt buried in me until years later, when i spent a summer investing in what i imagined would someday be a real relationship with someone i could potentially see a future with.  our would-be relationship crumbled under miscommunication and mixed feelings about where we were headed and i sank into a season of hurt, anger, and confusion about how a god who assured me to wait and hold out for "his best" could let me go through this.

can i let you in on a little secret?  insecurity reared it's ugly head and the enemy whispered his lies, and over time, i started to believe them.

lies that god didn't actually have a plan.
lies that he didn't really want to fulfill the desires of my heart.
lies that i didn't really deserve to be loved in the way that i wanted.

it took a while until i stopped listening to those lies.  even after i was in a relationship with a guy who is better to me than i could have ever imagined, i still questioned whether i deserved it.  i can't even tell you what i did to block them out.  i guess it was just a conscious effort to believe in the promises that god has made…and his plans to give me hope and a future, just like it says in Jeremiah.  

those lies still creep in once in a while, and it's not always easy to push them away.  sometimes, it's a daily, intentional task to remember that i am loved, and i do deserve it, and god does want what's best for me.  love can be tough…no matter where you're at.  it's tough if you're going through a breakup, it's tough if you're single, it can be tough if you're in a relationship.

friday is valentine's day, and while it's fun to watch romantic movies and eat those little candy hearts  and maybe even hand out valentines, i know there are girls out there who are feeling lonely rather than loved this week.  maybe that's you.  maybe you're succumbing to the lie that you don't deserve love.

but guess what, friend?  you're already loved.  you're loved by a savior who gave his life for you.  in the most intense and unimaginable way.  and he continues to love you day in and day out, a love so sustaining and fulfilling that a deeper one has never existed.  so take heart, and bury yourself every day in the arms of a heavenly father who loves you so much that he overcame the grave for you.

 this post was written in partnership with overcome the lie.  overcome the lie is a social media movement that exists to empower a generation of women to overcome the lie because jesus overcame the grave.  they encourage women and give them the resources and opportunity to walk free from the lies, using the authority that jesus hands them.

Jan 30, 2020

Girl Talk // The Habit of Giving

last week, i sat in a meeting with some of our pastors at church and we planned out some of our financial updates for the year.  the subject of tithing came up and we started talking about how different generations view giving to the church.

our lead pastor put it like this:  tithing is like paying your bill at a restaurant…you wouldn't dine and dash, so you shouldn't go to church and not tithe.  and if tithing is your bill, then extra giving (to a special project or fund) is like leaving a tip…it's above and beyond your bill.

easy to say, sometimes harder to follow through on, right?

i remember when I first started tithing, shoving a crumpled one-dollar bill into the offering envelope at 10% of my $10 weekly allowance.  it seemed silly at the time, giving an offering of $1 each sunday, but it mattered.  for me, that small offering created a sense that tithing was a priority.

now, in my twenties, with college loan debt, bills to pay, gas to buy, hopes of travel and saving for a future, and of course, getting slightly larger paychecks than that $10 allowance, tithing is a lithe more complex.  that 10% isn't just a dollar anymore, and i'm gonna be honest…sometimes its tough to see that chunk leave my paycheck as soon as it comes in.

malachi 3:10 says "bring the whole tithe into the storehouse... test me in this... and see if i will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."

sometimes giving at this stage of life is more about faith in what god has promised and relying on his providence than it is about having the extra income lying around.  it's about living in those promises and trusting god to "throw open the floodgates of heaven".

i know people who have had experiences where they've needed a certain amount of money and that exact amount happened to show up in their mailbox just when they needed it.  some might call those sorts of things coincidences but i firmly believe they're god's provision.  and it's stories like those that bring scripture to life for me.

i find that making giving a habit makes it easier to give in times of plenty and in times of want.  god promises to take care of us.  he asks that we be faithful to him, and that includes being faithful in our giving.  and for a god who promises "so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it", who am i to argue?

Jan 21, 2020

Girl Talk // The Dreams You Don't Talk About [Repost]

i started my girl talk feature this summer, and originally posted this particular post at the end of july, and as i was going back through my blog archives today, i found it and remembered that it's one of my favorite girl talks!  it's also interesting to see where god has brought both aj & i in the past six months. i'm constantly amazed by how he knits together our lives so perfectly!



if you've ever had a dream in your life, you know...dreaming can be a scary thing.

dreams give you a glimpse of what your life could be and ask you to follow them without more than a bold hope and the promise of what could be.

one of the dreams i've had all my life has been to have a marriage like my parents' (they've been married almost 28 years and are the best of friends) and to be able to parent children who grow up knowing that they're loved not only by their family, but even more so by christ.

but it wasn't until i was in college, and about halfway through, that i felt comfortable talking about that dream with others.

you see, there's a vulnerability to realizing our dreams aloud.  for me, it was the worry of what others might think, that by wanting first and foremost to be a wife and mother, would mean relinquishing my intellect and potential to have a promising career in whatever field i chose.  that i was somehow shedding what so many women have fought so long and hard for in exchange for an apron and minivan.

it's that vulnerability that causes us to hole up our dreams, keeping them hidden for fear of what others might think or say.  no one wants their dreams crushed into a million tiny pieces, and so it's so much easier to hide them away than to risk the voices of insecurity and reality stomp all over them.

aj and i do a lot of talking about our future.  if i'm being completely transparent with you, i don't know what my dreams are right now.  sure, that dream for a family is still very present, but beyond that?  i don't know.  i have a degree in education, and i'd love to teach in an elementary classroom.  but i also have a passion for global nonprofit work, a creative energy for photography and design, a love of interior decorating, and a penchant for hosting and planning events.

so if you figure out how to wrap all of that up into one career, let me know.

aj, on the other hand, has a very specific dream.  he wants to one day work in a studio as a producer or recording engineer.  and in about a month, he's heading to boston to continue his education at berklee college of music as a step toward achieving that dream.

both of those situations are scary.  mine, because i just don't know what the next step is.  his, because it requires risk and that bold hope.

at the bottom of it all, though, god desires the best for us.  he gives us dreams and puts people in our path who can encourage us and help us achieve them.  and if you're seeking jesus in everything you do, then the dreams that are of him will align with his plan for your life.

no matter how scary your dream is, i guess the question you have to ask yourself is this:  is it worth the risk?  because there's risk in every part of dreaming: from the time that you realize that you even have a dream to the day that you tell others about it to the moment you begin to work toward making it happen.

if the answer to that question is "yes", then start.  start talking to others (because there's accountability in that!), start figuring out what you need to do to make it happen, start praying hard.

too often we rob ourselves of the joy of dreaming because of the fear of failure and judgment.  don't you think it's time to start chasing your dreams?
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