Monday, February 28, 2011

$500 to She Speaks

Girls, ever wanted to attend Proverbs 31's annual She Speaks conference, but didn't have the funds?  Pop right over to LEANN RICE's BLOG for a chance to win a $500 scholarship to the conference!  Hurry and enter before Wednesday. This is a tremendous value.

This conference, which has sold out every year for the last decade, has informational tracks for speakers, writers and women's ministry leaders.  It matters not whether you have years of experience or you are brand new to your field. There's something here for everyone, plus plenty of inspirational sessions that will spur you on in your walk with God. And you can mix and match sessions from different tracks to suit your needs.

If you want more information on the conference, follow THIS LINK.

And if you attend this year, please promise me you'll find me, stop me and say hello. I know sometimes the P31 gals appear very busy at this conference, and they do keep us hopping with sessions to teach and groups to lead. But, we are there to serve you.  And I'd be honored to meet you.

Attended any good conferences lately?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tamara in Christ

Tamara took me up on this week's challenge to write down who you are in Christ - want to see what she wrote?   Click here.  Take some time to walk the shore with Jesus, discussing who you are in Him. I pray the revelation you get sets your soul ablaze like the setting sun warms the sky.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Forgotten Fire

I'm sitting here in the early morning by candlelight, pondering my life in Christ. The house is quiet, and chilly.  The candle does little to knock off the chill, but Christ's presence fills me with fire.

Why don't I sense this fire all day everyday?

I think it's because while I never forget Him, I do forget who I am in Him. I forget what I can do in Him. I forget what He asks me to do for and through Him. I simply forget.

I'm pretty sure Christ never forgot. Each day that his adult feet struck the ground in stride -- moving through the countryside, the villages and the grand cities of the day -- He never forgot who He was in relation to God and what He'd been asked to do for His Father.

There is great power in remembering who we are in Christ. Yesterday I posted a teaching by pastor John Piper on our identity and purpose in Christ. It's scripturally tight and impacts me, especially when my heart is already burning with the fire.

But when I'm in my forgotten state, it may or may not bring me back. Curious, isn't that? I'm thinking I need to write my own scripturally based creed of who I am and what I can do in Christ. Have you ever done that?

Want to take the challenge to do so with me? Let's try our hand at writing out this week who we are in Christ. You can write it in your journal. Magnet it to your fridge. Or post it on your blog. And if you do the latter, let me know so I can read. Meanwhile, take a look at yesterday's post and see if Piper gets your ideas flowing and your heart glowing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Us in Him

I wrote at P31 about Jesus being "dissed" by the people of his hometown region - and the fact that though He felt the sting, He didn't let it permanently paralyze Him. He kept His mind on His true identity. So let's think through exactly what our true identity is. I don't know that I can explain it much better than John Piper does in his break down of 1 Peter 2:9-10.  I could probably say it quicker but not better, so I'll let Piper do the talking: 

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." ~ 2 Peter 2:9-10

"To be alive as a human being with indescribable mysteries at every turn, and to have in front of us an eternal destiny of spectacular glory or inexpressible horror is a weight that can either press you down with fear and trembling, or bear you up with joy unspeakable full of glory.

Whether it does the one or the other depends in large measure on whether you know the answer to the big basic human questions or not. Who are you? How did you get that identity? What are you here for? No dog or turtle or squirrel or bird or dolphin or chimpanzee ever lost one night's sleep pondering those questions. Only humans ask these questions.

Not often do we find such resoundingly clear answers to all three questions in such a small space as we do in this text [1 Peter 2: 9-10]. Who am I? How did I get this identity? What's it for—Why am I here?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Got a Study Bible rec?

Confession: I have a bit of a Bible fetish, if I can use that word.  I love buying Bibles in various translations and formats. Am I the only one who has a hard time resisting new Bibles??

For Christmas I got the new C.S. Lewis Bible. It lives on my treadmill and I read it while I walk. Totally love it.  (If you've read chapter 3 of It's No Secret that probably doesn't surprise you at all.)

I have another smaller Bible that lives in my car, for when I'm stuck in carpool line or waiting for a kid's practice to end.  I probably own more than any one person really needs. But for about a decade now I've had one main study Bible.  It's HUGE. I went all out and bought the leather, large print edition with the maps, study notes and built-in book tabs. 

I've underlined in it. Written in the margins, and even drew a couple pictures in there of images God showed me in my prayer times. When you have that kind of history with God bound inside a Bible, you don't change main Bibles easily.

But it is now falling apart. Literally ... 79 pages have fallen completely out of the binding. I think it's due to the fact that the large print makes the book verrry long and large. 2,779 are a lot of pages to keep bound.  So I'm admitting I need a new main study Bible.  And I thought I'd seek your input.

Do you have a study Bible you love?  What is it called?  What are its strengths in your opinion? What does the cover feel like? (I've very tactile and love soft leathers.) Help me decide what I should get.

PS. SHERRY, girl, you won the Valentines' giveaway! But I don't have any contact info for you. Email me!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Creative (which this title is not)

Working on a brand new project today.

In need of inspiration and vision. Clarification and creativity.

So these quotes are bouncing round my mind at the moment:

"The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things-ancient history, nineteenth century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later, or six months, or six years. But he has faith that it will happen.” — Carl Ally

Oh that is so me, and all my wide-ranging interests!

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook

I love fun. Seriously, I'm all about the fun. Mary Lou is right, it is fun when everything is clicking and you are creating and working in the "flow."  But it is hard work when it's not flowing, yet this the time you have available to be productive.  And it's scary sometimes to break rules and risk mistakes. Sometimes creating or writing is bliss for me, other times it's like opening an artery and spilling blood onto the project or page.  But even when it's that difficult, there is a sense of reward in the process and satisfaction in the finish.

"You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London

Love his spunky spirit.  Perhaps I need to set a club by my desk!

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” — Henry Ward Beecher

True.  But as Christians (re)created in His image, we are also painting God's nature. That's a weighty honor. So I'll be sure and set an open Bible by that club.

You working on anything at the moment? Wishing you some creative productivity today.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

1 Winner, 10 Highlights

Looks like I will be making the cute card out to Sherry - commenter #12. Congrats, Sherry!  See my contact page and email me your address.

Here are your random numbers:12
Timestamp: 2011-02-15 13:48:56 UTC

I wrote a quick top-ten highlights list based on my day yesterday.

10. Found the perfect tablecloth for my Valentine's dinner on clearance at Target for $8.48.

9. It was sunny and about 68 degrees here!

8. The aforementioned weather allowed me to open windows and fill the house with fresh air.

7. It also inspired some spring cleaning in February. I needed the inspiration.

6. Got to the gym and hit the steam room.  I totally love steam rooms. I work out there, but since I have a treadmill and some weights at home, I basically joined this gym for the steam room!

5. While at Target, I bought a Michael Buble CD on sale for dinner music. Rick came home and presented me with what he had bought on his way home: a Michael Buble record. We laughed. It's good to be so in-sync on Valentine's.

4. Watched  my son perform in the 4th grade (musical) show. And got a private encore performance of his solo and favorite song back home in the family room.

3. Enjoyed reading your Valentine's wishes and plans in yesterday's comments. I hope to have some time this week to check out your blogs. It'd be fun to do Melissa's study of It's No Secret together.

2. Quality time (over chocolate-covered strawberries) with my family and husband.

1. God saying to me through Jesus: "Be Mine, beloved!"

So how did your Valentine's turn out? What were your highlights?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Enchanted & Beloved

"... as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you." ~ Isaiah 62:5b

Happy Valentines!

Wish you could exchange Valentines with Christ today?  Try this. Slip out of your seat, and ease to your knees. Quiet your spirit and close your eyes. Take a couple deep breaths. Then declare to Him your love.  Appreciate His sacrifice. Marvel at His majesty. Tell Him how strong your desire is to be close to Him.  Pause in silence and let His affection wash over you. Let His presence enchant you.

Isaiah says, "Your God will rejoice over you."

Want a more tangible way to show Christ your love? Follow this link and joyfully take the opportunity to care for Him as He describes in Matthew 25:34-40.

In Appreciation of You

Here's my way of showing my love for you - sweet friends, readers, Yahweh Sisters. Leave a comment today and you'll be entered to win this girlfriend's gift pack which will include a Valentine card from moi to you.

a cute "french" journal, some candy hearts, and

Plans for Tonight

Got any special plans for today or tonight? Rick and I plan to eat at home tonight, then maybe go out for a movie (The King's Speech), or maybe just for dessert (something chocolate or key lime). Here's what I'm thinking of making us ...

Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Alfredo

cooked fettuccine
1-2 Chicken Breasts
1 Red Pepper
2 cups Heavy Cream
2/3 cups shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp Garlic minced (or you can use powdered to taste)
Pinch of Sea Salt
Basil or Parsley leaves for garnish

1. While grilling the chicken, roast the red pepper on the grill. Just place it on the grill and roast until the outside is completely charred black.  Then put it in a mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam itself. Set aside 5-10 minutes.

2. Run roasted pepper under cold water until you've peeled away the charred skin.  Slice and remove seeds. Puree into a paste in a food processor or blender.

3. Start water to boil fettuccine, angel hair or spaghetti. (I use Barilla Plus or Dreamfields brand.)

4. In saute pan, over medium to med-high heat, warm the red pepper paste, heavy cream, garlic and salt. Reduce, about 6-8 minutes. Stir the shredded Parmesan in slowly.

5. Either add the noodles into the sauce, or top the noodles with the sauce. Add sliced grilled chicken breast on top.  Add an extra sprinkle of shredded Parmesan. Then garnish with a parsley or basil sprig.

6. Serve with a tossed salad and crusty bread. (I make the salad ahead and buy the bread that morning.)

7. Light candles and put on some Michael Buble singing Georgia.

If you don't have plans for tonight you could make this for your child, some neighbors, or your girlfriends. Or even put some worship music on and let Christ be your date.

Then again, if Rick were out of town, I might just order in some pizza, take a bubble bath, then climb in bed with a good novel. Either way, all is well. 

Because we are God's beloved.

cute card waiting to be addressed to you

PS. Pop over to Melissa Taylor's blog for a chance to win an autographed copy of my book It's No Secret.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pull Them Close While You Can

I found it enriching to read the comments on the What to Shoot post.  Some of you I identified with.  Some of you I admired.  Some of you I ached for - and I prayed for. I heard all of you express the sentiment that we long to, and need to, pull our loved ones close as much as we can.

Clearly the work/family issue is something that rubs all of us to some extent.  Won't it be nice in heaven ...

Saw this Q&A with financial peace expert Dave Ramsey, which shows me that it affects our men too:

Missing Out

Dear Dave,

I’ve only got a high school education, and I’m stuck in a dead-end job. I’ve always been a hard worker, so the 70-hour weeks don’t bother me. However, I do miss getting to spend time with my kids. I feel like I’m missing out on their lives. Do you have any advice on how to change my situation?

– Scott

Dear Scott,

I think you’ve already solved a lot of the problem by realizing that you’re like a mouse stuck in a wheel. You know you’re not getting anywhere, and you’re ready for things to change. Identifying the problem is a huge step in solving the problem.

Now, mechanically and logistically, how do you make the change when you’re handcuffed to a job that works you 70 hours a week? You’ve got a family to feed, so you can’t just quit your job. But you can talk to your boss, and see if the company will back down on your hours a little bit. Let them know what’s happening with your family, and that you’d like to take some classes and improve yourself and your value in the workplace.

But before you do any of that, you’ve got to have a definite direction in mind. The idea of making more money and working less isn’t the answer. You need an in-depth, detailed game plan for where you want to be in the next three to five years and how to get there. It may involve going back to school for some classes, or even getting a full-blown degree. If you identify your long-term goal in detail, it will lead you to some of the short-term goals that will help you arrive at your final destination.

The best book I’ve ever read on this kind of thing is 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller. He’s my all-time favorite career coach. He’ll lay out the steps to discovering what it is you really love to do and how to get there.

God bless you, Scott! – Dave

Scott's note pulls at my heart-strings. My own husband will be home from work in about 30 minutes, then will leave at 7:30 am tomorrow to take our son on a cub scout camping trip. He won't have a lot of "me time" this weekend. So I'm off to make sure there's a hot meal on the table, his slippers are laid out, and a good movie is picked out on Netflix for tonight. 

Pull your loved ones close and make your weekend warm.

The winner of the book giveaway from this week is Colleen. Congrats! Email me your addy.

PS. I've not read the book Dave recommends, but I know Dan Miller is well respected.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Deciding what to shoot

What I'm after is a happy, productive life that pleases God. In my last post I asked you about work. As suspected, I learned that's a tricky subject for women. Especially moms of young children. Tamara said,

"Well, I don't work... outside the home, that is. So I find that I have all sorts of feelings about that. Should I have chosen a career path? Could I do more to relieve my husband's stress? Will my children respect me even if I don't acquire some type of worldly success? I could go on and on... all that to say that there are debates on either side of the fence, the sense that we haven't chosen the right path no matter what the choice was."

I think she's right. I got a master's degree and promptly stopped working because I got pregnant. I'd decided years before that I wanted to stay home with our kids through their preschool years. So I spent several years as a stay at home mom changing diapers and sweeping up Cheerios wondering if all the work in grad school would ever bear any fruit.

I sometimes worried that I'd shot my career (whatever that was going to be) in the foot. And that bothered me. I was never the type of girl who only dreamed of being a wife and mom. But if I hadn't stayed home with my young kids, I would've felt I'd be doing them a disservice. And there's the rub. It seems liked either way I'd be shooting someone or something in the foot. So I shot my career.

Only I didn't fully shoot my career. At least not fatally. Once I was able to get a full night's sleep and complete sentences again (smiles), I started writing freelance articles for regional parenting magazines.  It didn't pay much, maybe $40 a month. But it gave me a creative outlet, and a different kind of satisfaction than I got caring for and teaching my young children. (I have learned to fight the urge to feel guilty saying that.)

And it gave me a way to get that satisfaction while still investing heavily in my family. I worked a few hours a month from home. Other moms may get that satisfaction through scrap booking, or photography, or running the PTA, but I am a words girls.  I have to string words together.

So what have you shot?

How have you balanced the work-family thing? Do you have any regrets? What work, outside of your family, gives you a sense of satisfaction or purpose?  I think we can learn from each other here. And I'll draw a winning commenter on Friday to receive a copy of my book It's No Secret.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Your Work

I'm curious, what is your work?  How do you answer the question, "So, what do you do?"

Is that a question you answer easily?

Do you wish you could answer it differently?

We're planning an upcoming sermon series on the subject of work. Most of us spend the majority of our time working, and yet I find that a lot of people are unsettled about work.  About how it's going, what they're doing, how much they do or don't do, and whether or not they're doing what God wants them to do. 

Others still, completely compartmentalize their work from their walk with God.

Found two quotes I'm mulling around right now. Maybe something here will help you in how you view work.

*Randy Alcorn, in his book 50 Days of Heaven, writes:

“Art, music, literature, crafts, technology, clothing, jewelry, education, food preparation—all are part of society or culture, the creative accomplishments of God’s image-bearers. Human creations are an extension of God’s own creative works, because he created us to reflect him by being creators.

As humans, we glorify God by taking what he created from nothing and shaping it into things for our own good and for his glory. The entire universe—including angels and living creatures in Heaven—should look at our creative ingenuity, our artistic accomplishments, and see God in us, his image-bearers. If that’s true now, how much more will it be true when there’s nothing in us to dishonor him?

We should expect the social dynamics from Earth to carry over to the New Earth, except when they’re a product of our fallenness or when God reveals otherwise.

God created his image-bearers to glorify him in creative accomplishments, and he’s pleased by them. God is pro-culture; he is the creative artist behind and over human culture.”

*In his book Consider the Lilies: A Plea for Creational Theology, T. M. Moore writes:

“Culture consists of the artifacts, institutions, and conventions by which people define, sustain, and enrich themselves. Culture includes the arts, law, languages, economies, philosophies of teaching and learning, family life, community traditions, and much more. All culture ultimately derives from the fact that people are created in the image of God and gifted by Him in many varied ways. After all, the psalmist tells us, God has given gifts of all kinds to all kinds of people, even those who are in rebellion against Him, with the idea that He might express Himself through those gifts, as they are brought to bear on the task of creating culture.”

What is it that you said that you do?