Sunday, May 30, 2010

Being Joyful Always

There is no way around it, the Christian life here on the earth is a great intertwining of sorrow and joy.

We can’t escape the sorrow of sin or of sickness, the sorrow of financial collapse or of oil spills. But if the eyes of our hearts are open to the gospel – oh what good news! – we also cannot escape the great joy there is in knowing God.  In knowing our sins are forgiven. In knowing He will not leave or abandon us here. And in knowing His work is complete, but not yet fully done.

In fact, He is at work in this sin-stained, money-loving, environmentally damaged world.  He’s carrying out His plan to make all things new and glorious once again.

Pastor Scotty Smith described the gospel this way in a letter to his friend Tillian Tchividjian: “The gospel is God’s passionate, joyful, covenant commitment to make all things new through the person and work of his Son, Jesus, and by the power and presence of His Holy Spirit. ‘All things’ include both a people and a place - the Bride of Christ, and the new heaven and new earth.”

Through out the Bible we find commands to be a joyful people here on this earth:

“Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, rejoice!”
“The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.”
“Serve the Lord with gladness.”
“You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace.”
“The Lord will rejoice in doing you good.”
“Rejoice, for your names are written in heaven.”
“These things I speak, that your joy might be full.”
“The disciples were filled with joy and the Spirit.”
“Rejoice in hope.”
“The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy.”
“We rejoice in our sufferings.”
“The joy of the Lord is your strength.”
“The fruit of the Spirit is joy.”

Sorrow and joy.  The first need not prevent the other. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:16-18

Thanks for stopping by from my devotion for today at Proverbs 31.

Feel free to leave a prayer request, a praise, or both. And have a joyful day!

Thankful for the protection & freedoms afforded me by our armed services.

Happy Memorial Day.

School House Rock

Several years ago my husband and some fellow faculty members formed a band for a student-faculty talent show at the university.  Since they were all profs, they called themselves The Schoolboys.  Pretty soon the university was asking them to play various events through out the year. And then people in the community started asking them to play outside campus. So now, about once a month or so, they “gig.”

Tonight they played at Sunset Grill on the rooftop patio from 7:00 until 10:00.   I took pictures for you.

Let me introduce you to the band:

May 2010 & Sunset gig 016 On bass, Bill DiNome. He’s in charge of student media.

May 2010 & Sunset gig 017 On lead guitar, Dr. Bill Bolduc. He’s also our next door neighbor

May 2010 & Sunset gig 018 On rhythm guitar and vocals, Chair of the Theater Dept., Frank Trimble

May 2010 & Sunset gig 019 On drums, Dr. James Hunt - playing barefoot:May 2010 & Sunset gig 023  


On keyboard, lead vocalist, my other half …

Dr. Rick Olsen, Chair of Communication Studies  May 2010 & Sunset gig 009

Here’s shots of the crowd on the rooftop patio. Looks kind of like a pontoon boat from here.

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May 2010 & Sunset gig 007

Rick playing harmonica during one of my requests: “Keep your Hands to Yourself” by Georgia Satellites

Rick on harmonica

And here he is tearing up a keyboard solo.

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Finally, here’s Rick singing a sweet ballad.  Probably “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”  :)

Rick's serenade May 2010 & Sunset gig 021 Yeah, I’m with the band. 

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

PS. Rick also plays regularly in our church’s worship band, and in our home.  His keyboard is in my home office –so he takes requests while I’m working.  :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Learning the Art of Enjoyment

Oswald Chambers once outlined the wisdom books of the Old Testament like this:

The Psalms teach us how to pray.

The Proverbs teach us how to act.

Job teaches us how to suffer.

The Song of Songs teaches us how to love.

Ecclesiastes teaches us how to enjoy.

It's the latter that God has brought to my forefront this year. In fact, when my husband and I prayerfully chose our one words for the year, we both came up with enjoyment (just in different ways). His one word is "enjoy" and mine is "slow" which represents to me the need to slow down to recognize and savor the parts in my day God has granted me to enjoy.

What does it mean to enjoy God and the life He gives? That's my current driving quest, and possibly the topic of a future book from me.

Other than Revelation, Ecclesiastes may well be the least understood book of the Bible. I've been digging into it for the last six months and absolutely loving what I'm finding there! You may've noticed that my blog redesign even contains a verse from Ecclesiastes in the side bar.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wish I were here

I’m back from my week studying and writing in Williamsburg, VA.  It’s so good to be home and to see my family again! I missed them. (And yes, I’ve already swept and mopped my floors this morning.)

spring 2010 079 

This morning, however, I wish I could still head to my quirky Williamsburg coffee shop.  Aromas sits just on the edge of the historic colonial site and the college of William & Mary - and I spent some time there last week.  I took a few photos for you.

Just outside cute cafe tables sit under an awning on a tree-lined street.  I’d read here in the early morning or late afternoon, when the sun wasn’t too strong. 

There’s an ice cream shop next door and a darling florist shop around the corner. Flags and geraniums are everywhere here by the way.

OK, so let’s head inside and order a decaf  latte  and a biscotti (they have the best biscotti) … 

   spring 2010 074

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That’s the owner to your right with the blonde hair and pink folder.

Now let’s choose a place to sit ….

 spring 2010 073  spring 2010 078

Look closely at the table to the left of the door and you’ll see my laptop sitting there. 

They always have snappy music playing in this shop.  Plus, downtown Williamsburg has free wi-fi.

See the guy in white across from my table? He laughed at me when Billie Jean came on and I couldn’t stop bopping my head to the beat – too much caffeine I think.


OK, so let’s go doctor up our coffee with some sweetner – and you’ll discover that Aroma’s has a sense of humor.  Here’s the condiments station:

spring 2010 076   spring 2010 077

It’s a very good thing my children aren’t with me.  I’d hate to leave them to use the restroom and come back to find I’m now in charge of a Dalmatian puppy too!  Yep, I’m gonna miss this place.

Thankful for the opportunity to spend a week’s retreat with God

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sad news requires a mop

Hey Friends.  Thanks to everyone who participated in this month's devotional carnival - there are some powerful stories and truths in those posts!  And I, for one, needed to read them this week.

This week I am on a self-imposed writing retreat, planning for my next book. I'm spending the entire week alone, out-of-town where I don't know a soul. And last night, as I sat by myself in a Mexican restaurant eating a taco salad while reading a book I'd brought along for research, I got news that my grandmother has just been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. So it helped me to read some of your posts last night. To let my sisters in Christ speak the truth of God's stability into my soul.

It was also great fun reading what each of you obsess over keeping perfect!  I say that in the nicest possible way of course. It fascinates me how the human mind wants to have a sense of control ... and how it will zero in on certain things and exercise extreme power over that one thing just to feel that sense of control. The timeshare I'm staying in this week has no mop that I can find. What's one supposed to do when one gets news that her grandmother has a deadly illness, and she can't mop?! (see this post for context)  Good thing I brought my red toenail polish along.

Now for the announcement of this month's carnival winner.

True Random Number Generator Result from = 4  That means Heather Deaton, you've won the new Francine Rivers novel! Send your address to me at But be patient as I won't be able to mail it out until I get home next week. And I'll have to mop my floor first thing when I get back ...

Thankful my stability isn't dependent on my own ability to control things.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Devotional Carnival - Stability

It's devotional carnival time again! Which means I get to come read your thoughts, insights and prayers at your blog.

This month's topic is slightly off the beaten path. But it's one of the things I was speaking on last week (see the last post, and do tell what you have to keep perfect). It's STABILITY. Think about it ... God is certainly stable, and therefore, consistently following Him should bring some measure of stability to our lives. Right? No? What are your thoughts on or experiences with this? What does scripture say?

Just yesterday I read this quote by Lauren Winner, author of Girl Meets God, "Stability may be the virtue that 21st-century Christians most ignore - and the virture we are most called to embrace." Imagine if we had more stability in our faith, in our marriages, in our churches, in our friendships, in our ...

I chose this topic last month and preannounced it so maybe you've already been thinking about it. If not, don't worry, you're going to have extra time this month to write and link your devotion. I'll be on the road most of the day on Monday, headed to Williamsburg, VA. And my day on Tuesday is full. So you'll have until midnight on Wednesday to join in the carnival here. On Thursday I'll draw a winner for the novel.

What novel you ask? This month's She Reads pick ... one of the hottest books on the Christian fiction market this month. A massive novel at nearly 500 pages, plus group discussion guide. It's Francine River's latest release: Her Mother's Hope. And it's a $25 value. It's yours if you link your devotion here by the end of Wednesday, post a comment below, and I randomly select your comment to win.

Some quick instructions: Write anything you want touching on stability, but be sure to include a key verse, keep it under 700 words, and mention you’re participating in this carnival. Then leave a comment answering the question I posed in my previous post – What in your life or house “has” to be perfect?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What has to be perfect?

Last night I spoke to a group of homeschooling moms on one of the topics from my upcoming book It's No Secret.  This new session is called "Adjust Your Scale" and it deals with women's tendencies toward perfectionism. And our need to grant and accept grace. (You can relate, right?)

This was the first time I've given this message so my excitement was tinged with uncertainty. Will they laugh at the parts I think are funny? Will they take notes on the parts I think are vital?  Will they remember the bottom line 2 days from now?

It seemed to go well. Being teacher-types, they were excellent listeners. And very engaged in the group discussion time as well.  Plus, most the women were still there 30 minutes after the official ending time of 9:00 PM so they were clearly enjoying the chance to connect and get real with like-minded moms.  That was so great to see.

After giving a new message, I go back and tweak it based on how it went over and any feedback I receive from the audience afterward.  So that's on my to-do list this week.  I know you weren't there to hear it, but I'd love for you to share with me what areas of life you struggle the most with perfectionism. Maybe I can address some of those the next time I give this message, or incorporate more examples in my talk.

P So all you perfectionistic types – please, do spill the beans on what you obsess about. What has to be perfect?

Are you an overall perfectionist, or do you have specific things you're obsessive about? Like, I wonder if you have a certain thing that if you can just keep that part perfect, you feel a sense of control despite the rest of the chaos. For me, it's a clean kitchen floor.  I have to have a clean kitchen floor.  I usually sweep it twice a day and mop it twice a week.  The rest of the house can be falling apart but as long as the kitchen floor is clean, I can feel sane. Well, that and my toenails. I have to keep my toenails painted too, with no chipping ...

PS. You do know that being perfectionistic doesn't mean you do things perfectly, right?  Only that you realllllly want to do things perfectly. And you get quite irritable when it's not perfect.  And sometimes you don't do them at all if you think it won't be perfect. Sound at all familiar?

Super thankful for God’s mercy and grace.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mother's Day

A new month is here - I can hardly believe it's May already.

My husband asked me last week what I wanted for a Mother's Day gift. He and the kids usually present me with a personally-picked-out-but-poorly-wrapped gift on Mother's Day.  Last year they bought me a super cute purse and placed a new pair of earrings and a Starbucks gift card inside.

Yep, they're keepers.

At first I said I thought I wanted the Zoku pop maker. I'd been oogling it for months in Williams & Sonoma, along with the yummy looking recipe book. But the next day I retracted that request because it's rather expensive (even if I were to justify it as a Mother's Day present that would really be for the whole family). Plus it only makes three pops at a time - we're a family of four.

new_gran_cru_lily I could always say flowers, but Rick just surprised me with a beautiful lily plant the other weekend. For no reason at all except he saw them while at Home Depot and wanted to bring one to me! It made the house smell amazing.

Then I thought maybe I wanted a professional massage from Massage Envy for Mother's Day.  Only, the last one I had there wasn't great.  That was over a year ago but I still remember laying down on the table anticipating bliss, only to spend the next 40 minutes underwhelmed.  I know what you're thinking, any massage is better than no massage, Rachel. But I decided "not so" when I've just spent a chunk of change on it (about enough to buy a Zoku pop maker ). Maybe it was just that masseuse.

So I still don't know what ideas to give Rick for Mother's Day. Or, what I'll do for my mother-in-law. What's on your Mother's Day wish list? What are you planning for your mom? I could use some inspiration here.  Do tell if you've got some really great honoring mom ideas. 

Maybe we'll do a low key Mother's Day this year.  Perhaps on Sunday I'll just lay down on the carpet, and have my kids walk on my back for a massage.  And I can stick popsicle sticks in some yogurt cups the night before and freeze them for homemade Zoku pops. Then we can sit down for a meal together with the lily as our centerpiece. Honestly, that would suit me just fine. 

Well, that and maybe a pedicure ...

UPDATE: They surprised me with a big urn on the back patio they filled with herbs - sweet basil, stevia, flat parsley, and lemon thyme.  Alaina gave me a homemade coupon for a 20 minute back-rub.  And Caleb, my youngest, gave me a homemade coupon for "Anything you want." That made me giggle. Rick took me out to  lunch and then sent me to Barnes & Noble for 2 hours by mysef and permission to buy a new book. (smiles)