Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking Forward

As a way to reflect on and bid farewell to 2011, I had planned to participate in a reverbing exercise. You can see from my lack of posts this month that my attempt did not pan out too well.

Truthfully, a lot of what I would have written probably would have sounded like a broken record anyway. And I have a hunch that there would not have been nearly enough positivity as one should possess while reflecting on the blessings in her life. I suspect that there would have been too much, "Poor me. I hate my job. I long to be at home" and way too little Thank You's. So in a way, I'm glad I didn't go there.

Instead, I will simply look forward and imagine that 2012 will be full of:

~ Holding Bianca
~ Loving Harry
~ Spending time in quiet
~ Reading the Word
~ Eating right
~ Exercising
~ Singing
~ Writing
~ Dreaming
~ Choosing names
~ Laughing
~ Nourishing the important parts
~ Leaving work on time
~ Napping in the sun
~ Running away to the beach
~ Embracing a new reality
~ Strengthening friendships
~ Witnessing answered prayers
~ Being brave
~ Asking for help
~ Taking action
~ Opening new doors
~ Playing
~ Spinning in circles
~ Honoring my body
~ Stretching
~ Transitioning
~ Nesting
~ Simplifying
~ Savoring
~ Making memories
~ Healing
~ Saying goodbye
~ Being authentic
~ Embracing newness
~ Jumping ship
~ Growing by leaps and bounds

Sunday, December 4, 2011

#reverb11: Meet

Who did you meet?
I met some really amazing people this year.
~ My awesome Hospitality Team: Dina, Kellie, Brian, Dawn
~ My fabulous MOPS small group and Tetris Table members: Jeannie, Jen, Melanie, Amy, Dana, Tabetha, MaryEllen, Anne
~ My sweet trainer Angela
~ The inspirational Eva
~ The vibrant Debbie
~ The beautiful Nicole
~ The Spirit-filled Amir
About a year ago, my BFF Stephanie and I spoke of wanting to have more nutritious people in our lives. That desire was definitely manifested in my life this past year. In 2012, I hope to get to know these nourishing people better.

Friday, December 2, 2011

#reverb11: The Beginning

I still can’t completely wrap my head around the fact that 2011 will be over in a few short weeks. At this time last year, I took part in a blogging exercise called Reverb 10. While there are no official Reverb 11 prompts this year, the creators of the project encouraged everyone to reverb on their own. It’s a great way to reflect on the year we just lived, plus set dreams, goals, and intentions for the year ahead.

I liked Kaileen Elise’s first prompt, so I am going to start there.

Where did 2011 begin?

It’s funny, but I couldn’t recall the beginning of this year in my mind. I had to peruse my blog archive to see where I was in January 2011. As it turns out, while commencing my self-proclaimed breakthrough year, I was preoccupied with work. Laboring far too many hours on way too little sleep, longing for a job with greater flexibility and a shorter commute that would allow me to spend more quality time with my family. I also desired to know God better and to get healthier in mind, body, and spirit.

Looks like not much has changed over the last 12 months! So much for breakthrough, huh? (I think I’ll ponder this question more before giving an answer – I may have made more progress than what’s found on the surface!)

The truth is that this year has passed me by at lightning speed, and I think I spent most of it on autopilot. My days were filled with wake up, shower, eat, commute, work, eat, work, commute, eat, sleep, rinse and repeat. Though precious moments of nourishment were sprinkled here and there, they were pretty scarce when you look at my year as a whole.

I have to make a conscious decision not to live like that anymore. In 2012, I need to focus on being on being more present, more aware, more connected, more joyful. I also need to nurture parts of myself that have been neglected far too long – things like my alone time with God, my health, my writing, my relationships, and my singing. I need to take time for fun and play and laughter and movement and hugs and tickle fights and lunches eaten away from my desk. It’s my hope that 2012 will be the most joyful, peaceful, centered, connected, brave, generous, loving, life-changing year of my life.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Used to Sing

For those of you who don't know, I used to sing at church. In the Catholic church, they call it cantoring. Elsewhere, they call it leading worship. Either way, I used to do it. Pretty much every week for over 15 years. I also sang throughout high school and college.

Now that I've changed churches, I don't sing anymore. I didn't think it was a huge deal. After all, I was serving the church in a new way - both on the Hospitality Team and as a backup in the Preschool Ministry. I thought it was enough.

Today, I was asked to sing for a wedding at my old church. My heart leaped at the request. And as I enthusiastically accepted, I realized that I really, really miss singing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30th

I can't believe that another month has gone by! They say that time flies when you're having fun, but I think it flies regardless!

I'm writing this post in bed. I'm supposed to be at work right now, but I just couldn't bring myself to go. I needed a time out. I was dressed for work, my lunch was packed, and I was about to head out the door when I realized I just couldn't handle another hectic day. I needed a day to be surrounded by silence. A day to put away the clean clothes that have been sitting in the basket since Sunday. A day to pick up a few things for my mom's birthday. A day to study. A day that involves anything but bumper-to-bumper traffic, an overbearing supervisor, and an empty job. A day to gather my thoughts. A day to revisit this neglected blog. A day to simply pause and breathe.

While I don't have anything particularly profound to say, this is the world of Carey right now:

~ I love my church. I love the season we're entering together. I love the girls in my small group. I love my hospitality team. I love all the connections I'm making. I love the children's ministry and the fact that Bianca loves going to church as much as I do. I am so proud to call CCC my home!

~ The fall semester at CCBC is quickly coming to a close. I have three more classes and three more exams to go. A&P will finally be behind me, and I will have moved one step closer to my dream! Woo hoo!

~ I have four more personal training sessions to go. I lost 10 pounds, but ended up gaining one back, which leaves me with a total of 9 pounds lost over the four month period. I'm happy that the scale has gone down, but disappointed that I didn't reach my goal, which was 15 pounds. Sadly, I won't be able to continue with training. Our finances required me to make a choice: more training or another class. While I do hope to continue losing weight and getting healthier, right now, my heart is set on school. I really want to make my dreams a reality! (Then again, embracing total holistic health is also one of my dreams, so I just have to keep working on my body on my own - even though it is so much harder without the accountability!)

~ My handsome hubby is doing well. Basketball season just started up, so I'll be pretty much single until February!

~ Bianca is growing up way too quickly, and becoming so much fun in the process. Being a mother is definitely the most joyful part of my life!! Even on my worst days, I can't help but smile because I am blessed with such a precious baby girl. Of course, don't let her hear me say that. She would surely respond with, "I not a baby anymore. I a big girl!" {I would then kindly remind her that big girls use the potty. : ) }

~ Work is work. I can't find another job, so I just assume that God isn't ready for me to leave UMB quite yet. (But any time, Lord, any time....)

~ I have two outstanding book reviews to complete. I must be the worst book blogger ever. I always feel like I'm two steps behind. One day I'll catch up. One day....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

Looking for something fun and different to do this weekend? Why not fit in a shopping trip and fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child? National Collection Week runs from November 14-21, so now is the perfect time to get involved.





I have had the honor of meeting a recipient of one of these shoeboxes. She is a precious girl named Victoria who lives in Blantyre, Malawi, South Africa who happened to make the voyage to the U.S. in 2008, which is when our paths crossed. She had received the box a few years prior, but the experience lived with her far longer. In fact, I spoke to her mother yesterday and she again retold the story of her daughter receiving that box. To them, it was a great gesture.

To us, it may just be a box filled with small toys, gum, and hygiene items - things we often take for granted. But to the recipient of that same box, it is a gift of love and of hope. As you can see from Victoria's story, your gift may last far longer than you can even imagine.

Bianca and I will be filling a box for a very special child this weekend. Won't you join us?

Thought for Today

On Tuesday, I was listening to the Jack and Erin show on Shine FM as I was driving home from work. While I was stopped at a red light on Martin Luther King Boulevard, a question was posed that I can't seem to shake from my mind. The question was simple, yet the answer is so profound that it has literally changed my attitude the past two days.

And so I will ask the same of you: What if tomorrow when you woke up, the only things you had left were the things you gave thanks for today? What would you have left?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

212

This past Sunday, our church kicked off a two-year initiative simply called 212. As way of explanation, at 211 degrees, water sits calm and still in the pot. But at 212 degrees, it boils and moves and comes to life. At 212 degrees, water undergoes a transformation and begins turning into steam: something powerful enough to move a locomotive or generate electricity.

At CCC, we want the same to be true about our own lives and our relationships with God. It’s possible for us to come to church, sing the songs and listen to the message, and never really be moved to become something more than we currently are. We can attend a small group and form relationships, but still never grow. We can serve and help others, but never be transformed into the people God dreams us to be.

Over the next two years, we will be going on a journey to turn up the heat in our lives, to become 212 kind of people. We are hoping that God will transform us into something new: into people who trust God is amazing ways and who are radically generous with our lives.

I’m personally really excited about this process. I know God will move in big ways in our hearts, in our church, in our community, and in the world. I can’t wait to be a witness to it all. I am honored that I find myself a part of CCC at such an exciting time.

I was given a promise last year that I would experience an Ephesians 3:20 decade, and I finally feel like it is here. I am ready to turn up the heat and be transformed. I’m ready to recalibrate my life, living each day with a sense of adventure and excitement, with following Jesus at the center of it all.

I’m ready to Live a Radically Generous Life!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Review: Our Last Great Hope


I have a confession – Our Last Great Hope by Ronnie Floyd has been in my possession since August. (I’m sure that fact has the best of the book-review bloggers cringing!) I started reading the book while I was away at the Women of Faith conference. I never finished.

Honestly, realizing how much time had passed without a review, I was considering merely skimming the book and glancing at other reviews in order to craft my own. But here’s the thing: after I started skimming the chapters, I felt compelled to start reading. It was this paragraph that tugged at my heart strings:

In Matthew 7:23 Jesus warns us that some people will be shocked at the final judgment when He says to them, “I’m sorry, but I never knew you.” These people will be wearing the right Christian t-shirts. They’ll have frequented all the trendy Bible study groups, and they are likely to have nothing but contemporary Christian music playing in their earbuds as they wait in line to enter heaven.

Immediately I recognize myself in that line and wonder if Jesus would find my name written in the Book of Life. With that thought in mind, I begin to read again.

I realize that some readers might not agree with Floyd’s doctrine. I know others have different ideas of what discipleship and evangelism really look like and entail. No matter what your personal set of beliefs, I think this book is still worth reading.

If nothing else, Floyd makes you stop and think. He helps you to consider your own actions in the area of evangelism (or lack of such.) Are you ok with the reality of your own status quo, or are you being called to do more in terms of bringing more lost souls into God’s kingdom? Only you will decide the answer to that question.

I rated the book 4 stars because the content did lead me to evaluate my current efforts in the area of the Great Commission. However, as you can see by the expanse of time that went by without a review, the book really wasn’t compelling enough in the beginning to draw me back in. I never once thought to myself, “Gee, I really want to finish that book.” It was more like, “{grumble, grumble} I still haven’t read that pesky book yet. BookSneeze is surely unhappy with me.”

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review: Espresso for Your Spirit


Espresso for Your Spirit: Hope and Humor for Pooped-Out Parents” by Pam Vredevelt is a devotional of sorts written for parents who need a little pick-me-up. The author hopes that the book will bring refreshment for the soul the way that espresso brings energy to the body.

Each chapter starts with a Bible verse. Then a story surrounding the mundane adventures of parenting is told. The chapter concludes with a “Power Perk,” which could be anything from a humorous anecdote, inspirational quotes, or a favorite Bible verse. At the end of the book, you will find “Koffee Klatch Questions,” intended to be discussed with a friend or two – over a delicious cup of coffee, of course.

This may seem silly, but my favorite part of the book was the “Espresso Lingo.” Now I never again have to wonder the difference between a latte vs. a macchiato vs. a cappuccino! Thank you, Ms. Vredevelt!

I must admit that I didn’t exactly love this book like I love my Mocha Lattes. Though it was a cute, fun read, my soul didn’t exactly perk up after reading it. The one thing I did particularly enjoy, though, was the reminder that we as parents won’t ever be perfect. We aren’t alone in the mistakes we sometimes make. There will be days when we’re disheveled. There will be others when we simply don’t have the energy to get out of bed. But despite all of that, God is right there with us. If we keep our eyes and hearts focused on Him, He will give us all the respite and hope we need to keep on going.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 17, 2011

On the Horizon



Perhaps it is due to the beautiful colors and crisp air of Fall, but the feeling of change is saturating the air. I must admit that I was beginning to feel a bit disappointed that the Ephesians 3:20 decade I was promised wasn't quite coming to pass. But now, all of a sudden, my insides are quivering with anticipation.

Though I don't know what it is, I sense that something wonderful is just around the bend. Something significant that will change my life as I know it. My Ephesians 3:20 decade is going to show up in an incredible, currently unimaginable way. I can't wait to see what's in store!

What about you? Is anyone else filled with an unexplained feeling of giddy anticipation?

Friday, October 14, 2011

A&P - 1 Year Later

If you can't tell, that is a picture of a dissected sheep's brain. Cutting open the tiny organ was today's lab activity in our A&P class. This exercise confirmed that I will never be a medical doctor! (I was a bit grossed out and nauseous by the whole process.)

I can't really explain, though, how proud and excited I am to have gotten this far in the class. I look back at my first attempt at A&P. I never made it to the first exam, let alone a dissection. But look at me now: heading into midterms with a 98%.

It just reminds me how badly my postpartum depression was affecting me. I literally felt like I was living in a fog. My brain simply wasn't functioning properly. I don't know what I was thinking attempting to take a 4 credit class in that state. But none of that matters now.

What matters is that I am clear-headed, focused, and intent on embracing the life I know I was created to live. I don't know how long it will take to get there, but I am certainly on my way!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Life Like That

Working in the Center for Vaccine Development at University of Maryland has its positives. The past two days I have heard fascinating lectures from brilliant scientists. Yesterday, I heard Dr. Gregory Poland, Director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group, speak on the future of the personalized vaccinology. (He also handed me a plate in the breakfast line!)
Today, I listened as Dr. Hilary Koprowski, the inventor of the world's first effective live polio vaccine, told the story of his life. This man, who is considered a living legend in the field of medicine, has lived a very full and rich life.
He earned a degree in music while simultaneously earning his medical degree. He married the love of his life and raised a happy family. He retired from medicine, only to become certified in scuba diving in his 70's and started composing music in his 80's. He is a published author, and at age 95, he is still giving lectures. I am awed at his accomplishments.
At the same time, I am challenged by him. No, I may not achieve the fame or accolades in my lifetime like Dr. Koprowski did. But I can live the same kind of happy, full life that he has lived. He has consistently honored and cultivated his mind, body and spirit, and has remained true to himself and his beliefs even when faced with adversity. This is something to emmulate. This is a well-lived life that is available to each and every one of us.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Living with Intention

Even though I had planned to write about living with intention every day in the month of October, sadly, it doesn’t look like this exercise will come to fruition.

One of my co-workers commented to me the other day, “You say you have no time, and I believe it. You work non-stop, you go to school, you work with a trainer, you go to your moms’ group, you are involved at church, you blog, and every weekend, you seem to have something planned. I don’t know how you manage take care of your husband and daughter in that schedule.” This passing comment from a mere acquaintance has been lingering in my head.


I am well aware what Titus 2, 1 Timothy 3 and Proverbs 31 say. I know that my priority – my life’s main ministry and calling – is to take care of my husband, my children, and my home. So why am I doing everything but what God has commanded me to do?

In this season of fall, I am taking a good, hard look at my life. Evaluating all of my activities and questioning whether they are the best use of my time. After all, if my family is being neglected at the expense of my busyness, then clearly something needs to change. Harry and Bianca are the best parts of my life, and I don’t want them questioning that fact.

Last night during my small group, the ladies who were gathered tried to make me feel better by saying, “You are providing for your family.” I still beg to wonder, though, am I providing them with the things that truly matter?

At Women of Faith, Steph and I heard a message about pruning. Just as it’s important to prune a rose bush to make it grow fuller, it is also important to cut things, people, activities, practices, etc from our lives that are restricting our growth into the people that God calls us to be.

I think it’s time for my pruning to begin!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Review: Extraordinary






Click here to read an excerpt from this book by John Bevere.

I requested to review this book because it sounded intriguing. "Isn't it true that we long to see the extraordinary, experience the extraordinary, do the extraordinary? Yet we so often settle for mediocrity when greatness is within our grasp. Why are we drawn to stories of heroic triumph over seemingly impossible circumstances? In our fascination with adventure movies, superheroes, and tales of incredible human feats, do we reveal an inherent desire for something larger and greater in life? Maybe what we think is a need to escape or be entertained is actually a God-inspired longing...for the extraordinary."

Reading the book, however, I was less enthused. I was a bit confused about the message that Bever was trying to get across. It finally came together towards the end of the book, though: We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God’s power. Grace has been freely given to us, but it can only be accessed by faith. God responds to faith and nothing else. Bever challenges the Church to arise and walk extraordinarily in the power of grace through relentless faith. Quit looking at your ability, but focus in on His authority, His ability, His power that is residing in you. He has given us so much. There is no limit to what we can do to help people come into fullness of life.

It's a great message, but it took a while for the author to get there. Bever repeated himself a lot and never showed the big picture until the conclusion of the book. I found myself a bit bored and lacking the initial enthusiasm I had hoped I'd find while reading.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Oh Wow!!

Remember the 1,000 Member Blog Party I mentioned a few posts ago? Well I just found out that I was one of the giveaway winners!! And not just any prize.... Nope; I won the grand prize!!! A Solo Masterminds membership!!! Could this be an answer to my persistent prayers concerning my job?? I truly believe it is. Yet another example of how awesome and incredible our God is!!! All Glory to Him!!

Thank you, Courtney, for hosting an awesome blog party and for all your hard work and dedication to Faithful Bloggers!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Being Intentional

I just read this post by Seth Godin. While many of his posts captivate my attention, I must admit that few prompt me into action. But perhaps this one will. Writing is a huge part of my life, so why don't I make it more of a priority? Honestly, I can ask that question about several areas of my life. Why aren't I living more purposefully? Why am I allowing myself to become a prisoner of my own hectic schedule, feeling like I am being dragged along instead of walking on my own two feet?

Ever since our Monday night small group, I have been evaluating my life and realizing that I am not living intentionally. Amy made the point that we need to be purposeful in our parenting. If it is our calling to raise the next generation of believers, we need to be intentional about exposing our children to the Word, being a good example for them, and loving and disciplining them in a way that is godly and Bibically-based. It should be our goal to have our husbands and children call us blessed, just like the Proverbs 31 Woman.

I am not silly enough to say that I want complete control over my life, because I know that the One who created me is in the pilot's seat. However, I do want to feel like I am taking some thought-out action as opposed to always reacting to what's placed in front of me.

I read about a blogging challenge on Chatting at the Sky that may help me to concentrate on my writing, as well as focus on living more intentionally. Perhaps I should give "31 Days of Intention" a try....

Faithful Bloggers Blog Party



In order to celebrate having 1,000 members in the Christian blog directory, Courtney at Faithful Bloggers is hosting a Blog Party! She is giving away lots of awesome prizes: some blog related, some work-at-home related, some home related, and one awesome grand prize of a Solo Masterminds membership!

The blog party and giveaways end tomorrow, 9/24/11 at midnight CST, so why not hop on over there now and join the celebration?!?

Congratulations, Faithful Bloggers!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hi!

As a preface, I feel a little silly composing this post after reading this compelling one by my friend Chelle, but I like to write these update posts when I've gone missing from my blog for a while, so I'll do it anyway.

Ever since Hurricane Irene blew in, I feel I've been spinning non-stop like a Whirling Dervish. The Women of Faith conference was great (separate post to follow), but it was like the calm before the literal storm.

This is one of the busiest times of the year for me at work. NIH grant deadlines are fast approaching, and I am currently in the process of assembling 7 applications simultaneously. Lots of busy, long days are in store over the next few weeks.

On the personal front, I am giving Anatomy & Physiology another try. I won't get into the details about why I dropped the class last year, but you can read about it here if you're interested. (yep...another update post...) This year, I am in a completely different place in my mind and in my spirit. Though I didn't realize it at the time, I was suffering from a mild case of post-partum depression. I was also dealing with way more stress than I could handle at work. The weight of my world felt like it was crushing me. But thanks to our Almighty and Loving God, I made it through that dark valley and am now basking in His light. Class has been going on for two weeks, and already I am feeling confident. I understand concepts now that seemed like a foreign language last year. Even though we have a long way to go, between my quizzes and homework, I have a 100% in the class. If I keep it up, I know I will not only pass, but do so with an A. Of course, all of this comes with a price. I pretty much study from the time I get home from work until I go to bed at least four days a week, which I know isn't helping out my quality time with Harry and Bianca.

For about a month I have been working out with a trainer and eating better. So far I've only lost a little over 3 pounds, but I feel so much better overall. I have more energy (no more 3 PM slump) and my pants are fitting better. I'm told that in a couple more weeks I should be seeing more weight come off, so I'm trying not to get too discouraged over the small change in the scale.

MOPS starts up at my church on Monday, and I'm really looking forward to it. The second and fourth weeks of the month we will be following the MOPS curriculum, and on the first and third weeks, we will be having a small group Bible study. The latter part of the ministry is new for us this year, and it gets my heart racing just thinking about it! The Word has simply been making me giddy lately!

Speaking of which, I just bought a tiny Bible that fits in my purse. It is the New Living Translation. At home I have the New King James Version, the New International Version, The Message, and the New American Version. The NLT is a new experience for me, and I am loving every page of it! Oh yes - and I must mention that it is purple!! Isn't it lovely??



In case you're interested, it is on sale this week at LifeWay for only $5.00!! I don't get any commission for promoting it, but it's too great of a deal not to mention!

Anyway, it has truly been a wonderful companion. I read it before I drive, on my lunch breaks, and any time I just need a pick-me-up. It's amazing how much better I feel after soaking up God's wisdom. I highly recommend it to everyone!

So that's what's been going on with me. What's been happening with all of you while I've been gone??

Thursday, August 25, 2011

So Excited!

I feel like a giddy child on Christmas Eve right now! Tomorrow is the Women of Faith conference, and I honestly can't wait! A day of inspiration and encouragement surrounded by an arena full of sisters in Christ plus quality time with my best friend....doesn't get much better than that!
Unfortunately, we will be missing the second day of the conference because we're trying to get home before Irene hits, but that fact won't rain on my parade. (pun intended!) I am so grateful that the Booksneeze program blessed me with this opportunity. I already know that this will be an experience I will remember for the rest of my days.
Have a great night, everybody!!

Beautiful Lesson

They say that children are great teachers, and every day I'm discovering another reason that saying is true. Tonight, as I gave Bianca a bath, my daughter taught me a lesson on beauty.

As I admired the gorgeous curls on the nape of her neck, my attention was then moved to my own wavy hair. I used to dream of permanently straightening my often unruly mane. But now that my darling daughter has the same feature, I wouldn't dream of touching my locks.

The same is true with my nose. I used to imagine how I would look with a longer, leaner nose. I despised my short, stubby one. But now that Bianca has almost an identical nose, I wouldn't dream of changing it.

All my life I didn't appreciate my own looks. It took my adorable daughter to show me just how beautiful I am.

You Could Win a Free Blog Makeover!



Traci, who blogs at Ordinary Inspirations and Graphic Designs by Traci, is giving away a FREE blog makeover!! If you could use one (I am right there with you!!), click here to read more about the contest. The winner will be announced on her due date - August 31st. Good luck!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

I've Got A New Attitude!

My attitude coming into work this Monday morning was a bit different than usual. Instead of my normal negative attitude, I brought with me a huge heap of positivity and joy. I don’t have a different position. My job duties are the same. Both my boss and supervisor are scheduled to be in the office. So why the change?

We are currently studying the book of Titus at church. This week we focused on chapter 2. Though we covered a lot of material, the verses that stood out to me the most were 9 & 10: Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.



photo credit

While I am not technically a slave, this passage very much applies to my job. Pastor David asked a simple question: Is the way that you work making God attractive? Do people look at you and want to get to know Jesus better because of you? Are you bringing glory to God through your work?

Sadly, up until now, I think my answer to these questions would be a resounding, “no.”

The great thing about life is the number of second (and third and fourth and fifth….) chances we get. It’s inevitable that we will fail. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get up and try to do it right the next time.

Even though I long to be home raising my daughter, God has other plans for me right now. It’s about time I start honoring Him with my attitude concerning my job. Who knows how many people I have been unknowingly repelling from the Church simply because of my negative attitude? It’s time to start living like one who is drinking from the Living Water. It’s time to honor God with my entire life – my work-outside-the-home job included.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Loving Eyes

Earlier this week I was driving on Eastern Boulevard when I came to the red light at Stemmers Run Road. As I looked over at the Stembridge football field, I caught a glimpse of my nephew practicing with his team. In that very instant, my heart leaped with joy and I was overcome with a huge sense of love. He had no idea I was there, but that fact couldn’t contain my excitement over the mere sight of my sister’s baby boy.

The incident prompted me to think that God sees us very much the same way. We often get busy with life and don’t pay attention to His loving gaze. And yet even still, He is filled with love, passion, and excitement for us. (Read the Song of Solomon if you need a reminder!)

My eyes started to water as the light turned green, thinking of how amazing it was to be given such a huge blessing on my usually-dreadful drive home from work. Then I glanced upward and smiled at my awesome God.

The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
~ Proverbs 15:3


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Fresh-Brewed Life



I was very excited to review “Fresh-Brewed Life,” mainly because Nicole Johnson is scheduled to perform at the Women of Faith conference I am attending later this month.

To put it mildly, I loved this book. Perhaps it was because Johnson penned the original manuscript at the same age I am now reading it, but I found that this book met me exactly where I was. I thoroughly enjoyed Johnson’s style of writing; I felt like I was listening to the stories of a close girlfriend. I underlined so many points in this book. I wrote in the margins. I recognized my own story in the lines of the heart-provoking prose.

Can anyone else relate to this? “ Each of us wants to be a godly, beautiful, smart, talented woman who cooks, cleans, ministers to the homeless, bakes her own bread, has passionate sex, changes diapers like a pro, teaches a Bible study, works from home, never yells at her children, wears a size 4, and lives in a picture-perfect house. How is it possible that in striving to be everything we end up feeling as though we’re nothing? Perhaps because “everything” is an illusion. It is an idol that will break our hearts. We must choose intentionally and wisely from our list of “everything” and then accept it as enough.”

I also really liked the format of the book. Included were inspirational quotes, directed journaling exercises, inspiring fresh-brewed adventures, and discussion questions.

I was so inspired and challenged by this book. I plan to read it again, this time savoring it slowly, just like a delicious cup of coffee.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher's BookSneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sounds of Saturday

Right now, I'm listening to:

~ A CD of gentle piano music
~ The pitter-patter of rain drops
~ Soft thunder rolling
~ Crickets chirping
~ A far-off siren
~ The wind rustling the trees
~ The tapping of our swaying blinds
~ The hum of the dryer
~ Ice dropping from the ice maker
~ Bianca sighing deeply in her sleep
~ The rhythm of the keyboard as I type

I love how everything feels so still but very much alive. I think I could soak up this relaxing Saturday song for days and not tire of it.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” ~Psalm 46:10

Friday, August 12, 2011

Great Quote!

"The best way to keep your non-fiction as interesting as fiction = live a story worth writing about."

~Marla Taviano via WordServe Water Cooler

Friday, August 5, 2011

Transformation

Everyone loves a good transformation story, don't they? How else can you explain the appeal of shows like Extreme Makeover and The Biggest Loser?

Well, I am very excited to announce that starting tomorrow at 8:00 AM, I will begin my own transformation story. I have been blessed by a personal trainer whose rates I cannot only afford, but who also will come to my home. Not only that, but she is also a certified nutritionist, so she will be helping me to develop a healthier eating plan. I didn't think it was possible to have this kind of much-needed help that would fit both my budget and hectic schedule, but as I'm being reminded over and over lately, all things are possible when we keep our eyes focused on God.

I have committed to work out with Angela two times a week for four months. After that, we will see where our budget stands. But I am SO EXCITED knowing that no matter what, I am getting the butt-kicking, support, and accountability I need to finally start walking on the path to a healthy body.

Chelle, for the record, you have been such an inspiration to me. Through your story, I realize just how important a factor a helathy body is in being able to do God's work well. I hope my tranformation story is just as successful as yours! <3

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Big, Crazy Dream

Marcia Wieder of Dream University posted this video on her blog. In it, she reveals her big dream of becoming a talk show host. She then invited its viewers to leave a comment. "Perhaps you'd dare to share YOUR crazy dream....The one that's so big you don't tell anyone for fear they may laugh."

I'll share my response, if you promise to not laugh. : )

My humongous, colossal, gorgeous (and a bit scary) dream is to embrace a career and lifestyle that helps heal the broken and feeds my soul at the same time. I envision being fit and healthy in body, mind and spirit. I am a published author, a massage therapist, a personal trainer, a life coach, a singer, a talk show host, a positive role model, a supportive wife, a loving mother, and a true friend rolled into one amazing, joyful, peaceful me!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Elevator

For two afternoons in a row (Monday and yesterday), I took the elevator in the parking garage. Both times I held the elevator door open because I heard someone entering the garage just before the elevator door started to close. Both times, the person who entered the garage did not get on the elevator.

The scenario made me start thinking about my life in general. How much time have I wasted holding open the proverbial elevator door for people who don't even want me to? By holding open the door and remaining on the ground floor for someone else's sake, I have been unable to reach higher floors as fast as I could have.

And yet, if I simply went up, and the elevator door consequently shut in the face of the person who arrived just after me, I would feel terrible about it. I would consider myself pretty rude.

In the end, I suppose that no matter how quickly I would like to reach the top, I know deep down that I will always be willing to hold open the door for the person behind me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Get a Better Job

The bold words in my inbox spoke loudly to me: “Carey, Get a better job…” The email was an advertisement for a career search engine on whose hyperlink I did not click. But the message’s subject continued to ring in my thoughts hours after I had hit the delete button.

Ok – so this is old news: I am not satisfied with my job. All things considered, it’s not a terrible job. In fact, I would say it’s the best one I’ve ever had. But there is still this longing in my soul for a career that would not only help to heal the broken, but also to feed my spirit. The desire only gets stronger with each passing day. I also crave more quality time with my daughter, and I would love to find a career that would allow me to do just that.

The dreams tucked in my heart, as well as the talents and skills to make them reality are sacred gifts from God, and I don’t want to squander them. And yet I remain stuck in my current circumstances year after year, unsure of how to make a true breakthrough in this area.
Alright – let’s be honest – that’s not quite true. I know exactly how to have a breakthrough: I need to take a giant leap of faith. I need to put myself out there and risk failure, deep down knowing that I can’t possibly fail because God is on my side. I need to start following the path The Spirit has already revealed to me as my destiny.

Martha Beck said, “If you want to live peacefully, joyfully and abundantly, you must walk your talk.” I’m great at talking. Not so great at walking.

I need a proverbial (or literal??) kick in the pants. Anyone willing to do the honors?

Coming to Baltimore...

photo credit




If I were independently wealthy, I think I would spend most of my money on concerts. When I am surrounded by live music, I feel every cell in my body come alive. Butterflies dancing in the belly, heart beating in time with the drums, rushing blood making the skin tingle, shouts of unbounded joy escaping from the lips, feet tapping, head bobbing, hands clapping, ears ringing with the sounds of melodic delight... To me, this is pure bliss!!

I Dreamed a Dream


He said, “Listen to my words: “When there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.
~ Numbers 12:16


Last night, I had a dream in which I was famous. Flashes went off around me, as I smiled widely for the cameras. I waved at fans. I signed autographs. I spent an extended period of time in a candy store with a young girl who exclaimed into her cell phone, “You will never guess who I am with!” I was known, and it was magical.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: Rumors of God





Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson are explicit about why they wrote Rumors of God: Experience the Kind of Faith You’ve Only Heard About. Many of us American Christians are bored, uninspired and disappointed with our faith experiences. Perhaps the life described in the Scriptures is more like a series of rumors instead of real life. Jesus said that He came so that we may have life, and have it more abundantly, but how many of us can say that it describes our life experience? While Christianity is growing in places like South America, China and India, its growth and influence seems to be waning in America. Society seems to be drifting further and further into secular humanism and we, as Christians, feel powerless to do anything about it. It seems like the future of the Western Church is hanging in the balance.

The authors penned this book because they believe God is writing an epic, global, redemptive story that each one of us is invited to. They hope their readers will gain a clearer understanding of the cultural and spiritual obstacles the Western Church is facing and what we can do to overcome them. They are convinced that God has something fresh that He wants to do, and we merely need to earnestly seek Him in order to be a part of it. Using examples from their own lives, they show how powerfully God is still moving today.

I truly loved this book. It is absolutely heart-changing. There were two points made that really struck a chord with me. The first is that many people think of hate when they think of the Christian Church, not love. Too often we say, “Correct your ways and then I’ll love you” instead of “I love you right where you are.” The second is that we are all too often acting like an indifferent bride. If during a wedding ceremony, the groom is overflowing with love and excited to marry his bride and she, in turn, is indifferent to him, we would advise the couple to reconsider the marriage. We are Christ’s bride, but do we love Him the way that we should?

Rumors of God is both challenging and encouraging, and I highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher's BookSneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Snapshots of Nourishment

I've been on vacation since last Thursday, and I can't even explain how wonderful it feels. My week has been full of downtime, which is exactly what my soul needed. Here is a small glimpse of the wonderful week I've been having...

Friday morning, I headed to Boston to spend two days with my best friend. I missed being away from home, but it was also really fun to get away. We stayed in the Moroccan Suite inside of a cozy (purple!) house in Charlestown. On Day 1 we partook in an Italian-themed day, while Day 2 was focused on Mediterrian flair. (Day 2 also brought with it a rainy, Saturday morning. We spent the day curled up under plush white blankets talking and reading girlie magazines! It was a great way to simply relax and recharge our batteries!)

When I got home, I made sure to endulge in some extra quality time with my hubby and my Little One. This picture is of Bianca's first attempt at cutting up a strawberry. (She wanted to help, and I couldn't refuse that adorable face!)

Yesterday, my mom and I headed to DC for the Josh Groban concert. One word: uh-maz-ing!! The highlight of the show was him playing and singing on the B Stage, which happened to be a few feet away from where we were sitting! I was in heaven!

This morning after Harry headed to work, BiBi and I headed to the park. She had a blast running around and playing in the sandbox, and I was mesmerized watching her. She also brought home a new pair of sunglasses that the park keeper gave her. They had been in lost and found for over a month, and since no one claimed them, he passed them on to our Little Beauty. She was so excited! Now we are home and she is taking a nap. I plan on filling up her baby pool with fresh water and letting her swim when she gets up.


It's been a fabulous week so far, and we still have three more days to go before I head back to work. I can't wait to see what's waiting to unfold over the next few days!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Enjoying some Natalie Grant and getting pumped for Women of Faith!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review: Restless in Carolina



Click here to read an excerpt from this book.

Restless in Carolina is the third book in Tamara Leigh’s Southern Discomfort trilogy. This story focuses on Bridget, a young widow who is trying to get over the grief of losing her husband. This environmentally-conscious woman is trying to save her family’s estate from the hands of big business. Along the way, she makes a connection with J.C. Dirk, a developer with the reputation of being earth-friendly. Can her heart open up to the possibility of love again? Restless in Carolina is a story focused on love, hope and forgiveness.

I liked this book a lot. Like most chick-lit novels, it was a fun, quick read. I was happy to see familiar characters from Leigh’s other books in the series like Piper, Axel, Maggie and Reece make an appearance in this story. I was also pleased to discover the truth about J.C.’s past. If you’re looking for an easy read with quirky characters, I highly recommend the entire Southern Discomfort series.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.

So Excited!!

I will be attending the Women of Faith "Imagine" Conference in DC on August 26th and 27th, and I can't wait!! Speakers include Sheila Walsh, Luci Swindoll, Lisa Harper, and Ken Davis; Musical guests include Mary Mary and Natalie Grant; with Drama by Nicole Johnson; and special guest Henry Cloud! It should be an incredible two days! Who wants to go with me??

Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Review: You Were Born for This






Click here to read an excerpt from the book.



In "You Were Born for This," Bruce Wilkinson states that miracles happen every day. God uses and actively seeks people who will act as delivery agents for Him. He calls each of His followers into a life of service to Him, but not everyone answers. Wilkinson walks his readers through a step-by-step practical plan that shows them how to confidently work in partnership with God to impact the lives of others. He argues that anyone can be used as part of a miracle as long as he/she is expecting it and knows the formula for making it happen.

This is another book that has the potential to be life-changing. It is exciting to think that we can play a part in delivering God's miracles every day, but at the same time, the thought is a bit scary. We only need faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains, but how many of us actually step out and exercise it? I was challenged by the concepts in this book, and I found myself doubting that I could step into the delivery role Wilkinson describes. The key is trusting God and putting my faith in Him. I'm not the one performing the miracle; I'm simply acting as His hands. I just have to become more aware of what He is nudging me to do.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review.

Book Review: A Place Called Blessing



"A Place Called Blessing" by John Trent with Annette Smith is a story based on the classic book "The Blessing" co-authored by Trent. The authors bring to life the concepts of the original manuscript for a new generation by telling the story of Josh, an orphan with a dark secret that haunts him for years. As an adult, he is introduced to unconditional love and forgiveness through a very special family, and his life is forever changed.

All I can say is "Wow!" I absolutely LOVED this book. I read it in one sitting because I simply couldn't put it down. 85% of the time I will choose non-fiction books over novels, but I am so, so glad I had the opportunity to read this one. It gave me goose bumps, made me cry, and deeply touched my heart. I highly recommend this great read to anyone, but particularly to anyone with a passion for children in the foster system.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher's BookSneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

So Many Reasons to Smile Today!!

~ It's Friday!!
~ A 3-day weekend is waiting to unfold!!
~ It's an absolutely gorgeous morning!!
~ Traffic was relatively light on the way to work!!
~ Chelle begins her 31 Days of Wellness today!!
~ An email from my BFF was waiting for me in my inbox!!
~ I received a message on Facebook that was exactly what I needed to hear!!
~ I will be having lunch with two of my favorite people in a few hours!!
~ And perhaps the most exciting reason of all: I finally feel like 2011 is going to be the Breakthrough Year I had hoped it to be. God is doing something amazing in me, and although I can't reveal the details just yet, just know it is oh so good!!
~ As is He....all the time!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

For N

My dear friend, today this song is on my heart for you. Healing will come. God hears your cries and sees your pain. He will make you whole again. He loves you more than you know.

Wishcasting Wednesday: A Break


Today Jamie asks the question, What do you wish to take a break from?

I wish to take a break from:
~ Unhealthy foods
~ Laziness
~ Negativity
~ Anxiety
~ A life-draining job
~ Too much time away from my daughter
~ Commitments that don't honor my soul
~ Simply dreaming. I need to take more action!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why Massage is So Important to Me

When I was younger, I had great self-esteem. My 12-year old chubby self with frizzy, poufy hair, a crooked tooth, and thick red glasses that resembled Sally Jesse Raphael’s entered the Miss Maryland Pre-Teen beauty pageant because she had no doubts in her head that she would win. Of course I didn’t capture the crown, but that’s not the point of this story.

The point is that I used to have this energy, this zest for life that made me successful at pretty much everything I tried. I had good grades, I had great friends, I was talented, and I truly found life joyful and fun and easy. I knew I could accomplish anything I wanted. The world was mine for the taking.

Then I entered college. My first year was great – I joined every club I could, had a lead spot in chorus, ended with a 3.7 GPA, was one of 12 people selected to be inducted into Phi Theta Kappa; I was truly happy. Then I went through a bad break-up with a person whom I deeply loved and everything changed. I became this shell of a person who struggled with everything. I didn’t have any true friendships, I couldn’t attract “nice” boys, my grades suffered terribly, I considered dropping out of school, and I quickly slid into a dark depression that to this day hasn’t quite dissipated. (I am leaving out years of details here, but you get the picture.)

What the heck happened to that fun-loving girl who had a glow that would light up a room? How did I morph into this completely unrecognizable person?

I think the problem was I had started to be guided by my head and not my heart. I hated business. Truly hated it. And yet I stayed in this major because I believed all the voices telling me that it was a practical field to enter.

When my senior year came around, I was interviewing with companies like T. Rowe Price and Legg Mason. I was actually offered a pretty lucrative position with an executive head-hunting agency - and it scared me to death. I didn’t want to live that life. It didn’t feel like me. So I ran away to California for a year to do community service with AmeriCorps.

Sadly, though I had high hopes for a fresh start, nothing really healed there. When I came home, everything was exactly the same as I had left it. I continued to walk down the familiar path and make decisions based on practicality and not the yearnings of my soul.

So here’s my current truth: I have a life that looks good, but feels terrible. I understand why people have trouble believing that. I see how I can appear to be just overly dramatic. After all, I have a loving husband, a beautiful daughter, a nice house, a career as a budding research administrator – what else do I need?

The answer is simple: I need to feel more like me. The person I used to be. The person I was born to be.

In retrospect, I should have ignored the people who told me that music wasn’t a practical major. I should have followed my heart. I know it would have led me to expand into other areas I was equally passionate about – religion, psychology, wellness. But I can’t go back and change the path I grudgingly took.

What I CAN do is move forward from here. THAT is why massage therapy is so important to me. I may not make it my ultimate career, but I need to go there. I need to explore this desire that has been burning inside of me for over ten years. And if it leads me to new waters, so be it. This is where my heart is longing to start, and this is the direction in which I need to start walking.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

On Parenting

I have read several books on parenting. Why? Because I have a deep-seeded fear that I will “mess up” my daughter’s life. I have so many issues, and I really don’t want to pass them down to her. She deserves so much better.

A common theme that I have read in these books is that parents should discipline their children with a spirit of love. In doing so, you don’t allow their self-esteem to crash and burn. You correct their behavior without destroying their spirit. On paper, this looks wonderful. So I shake my head in agreement, and I vow to do that very thing – discipline in love.

Then on Tuesday night my sweet little daughter breaks my husband’s laptop while he is at basketball practice. I get upset, I freak out, I yell, I cry, I get sick to my stomach, and I give her nasty looks with a dose of angry, negative energy. She is so puzzled by my reaction that she goes to the corner and begins to weep. I know she didn’t mean it. I know she just wanted my attention; she didn’t want to share it with a piece of machinery. I know I should have corrected her with a healthy dose of love, but in that moment – when I was scared to death of my husband’s reaction to the accident – love was nowhere to be found.

Luckily, I asked for her forgiveness and showered her with extra hugs and kisses yesterday. I tried to make up for treating her so badly the day before. She doesn’t fully understand, but I needed to make amends for my own sake.

What this whole incident taught me was that I can’t learn how to parent “correctly” by simply reading a book. It will come with time and practice. And I realize that no matter how much I would like to avoid them, I will make mistakes along the way. My only hope is that I learn from them and try to avoid making the same ones over and over.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Time to Let Go?

I don't believe in coincidences. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. Today, I read four different emails with a common theme:

~ "What stays and what goes?"
~ "How do you know when it's time to move on?"
~ "The wisdom of knowing what and when to let go."
~ "Let go of the old."

I think God is not-so-subtly telling me that it's time to re-examine my life. I need to sit with myself and truly embrace the beauty and truth of who I am. Everything else needs to go. The ghosts of my past, the negative energy surrounding them, the lies that often swarm in my head. It is time to release everything that doesn't fit me anymore and step into a more authentic, joyful, fulfilled version of myself.

This is the magical wonder of growing up...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: Put Your Dream to the Test




In “Put your Dream to the Test,” John Maxwell challenges his readers to look closely at their dreams. Many of us dream, yet few of us actually achieve them. This book offers practical insight into why that could be so. Maxwell asks 10 questions that focus on topics such as clarity, reality, passion, strategy, cost and fulfillment. Each chapter begins with an inspirational story of someone who has achieved their dream. Maxwell then gives practical advice on how the reader can do the same. The book begins with a dream test and concludes with a section to help you map out your dream. These tools help turn the book into more of a workbook, as opposed to simply a good read.

I personally enjoyed this book very much. Reading it not only helped me to clearly visualize my dream, but it also acted as a reminder that there is sacrifice and cost involved in achieving that dream. I highly recommend “Put Your Dream to the Test” to anyone with a dream looking for an inspirational book combined with practical advice. It could also make a great graduation or retirement gift. (It’s never too late to achieve your dreams!!)

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher’s BookSneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

Life Begins When You Do

Here are a few nuggets of inspiration from Mary Anne Radmacher's book "Life Begins When You Do."

Walk the edge.
Listen hard.
Laugh.
Play with abandon.
Practice wellness.
Continue to learn.
Choose with no regrets.
Appreciate your friends.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

If you would dream it, BEGIN it.
If you have an idea, OPEN it.
If there is a longing, ACKNOWLEDGE it.
If there is a mission, COMMIT it.
If there is daring, DO it.
If there is love, SPEAK it.
If there is resource, USE it.
If there is abundance, SHARE it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Review: Secrets of the Vine for Women


Click here to download chapter 1 of this book.

“The Secrets of the Vine for Women” by Darlene Marie Wilkinson is a pocket-sized supplement to “Secrets of the Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson. This small book, as well as its predecessor, is based on John 15. The theme is simple: God wants us to live lives full of abundance. Using the illustration of a daughter visiting her father’s vineyard, Wilkinson takes us on a six-chapter journey through the scripture. The author gives women a recipe for finding greater fruitfulness and service and impact for God in their lives. The book concludes with a study guide that invites the reader to go deeper in reflection on the impact the readings have on their lives.

I personally found myself reading through this book twice. Though small, its message is very powerful and has the potential to be life-changing. If you are looking for a quick read that is full of great substance written specifically for women, I highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wow!

Harry is at school, Bianca is napping, one load of clothes is in the washer and another is in the dryer. I decided to take advantage of the quiet house and read a bit before continuing my chores.

I'm currently reading "Secrets of the Vine for Women" by Darlene Marie Wilkinson. (And absolutely loving it!!) Well, I just had to take a break and blog because when I opened up to page 96, there is simply a lovely black and white picture of a bunch of grapes followed by Philippians 1:6! He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

I don't think it is any accident that I am reading this book now. And I think it's pretty obvious that God is sending me a clear message. Yes, right now, I am feeling unsettled. I have a job that doesn't satisfy me and takes up too much of my precious time. Because of this, I don't spend enough time with my family - particularly my daughter. I'm feeling restless because I know our family isn't finished growing, but circumstances have prevented us from having more children up until now. I know I was created for so much more than simply going through the motions of this seemingly meaningless existence. I know my life was made to bear much more fruit.

I have a tendency to dwell on the negative. I tend to get down more often than not. I complain, I whine, I cry, I get depressed. But God doesn't want me to live like that. And this week in particular, he is reminding me that HE'S NOT FINISHED WORKING ON ME!!!

I simply need to abide in Him and make Him my heart's biggest desire. And I find a comfort and relief in Wilkinson's book. She says, "You don't have to know more in order to abide. You don't have to wait until you become more mature, more successful, or more accepted. You don't have to prove yourself in any way more worthy. Right now, as you read this page, you are already the object of your Lord's attention and affection. He says, Stay with Me. Be with Me. Remain in Me." I don't have to cram any more serving or doing into my life. It's only as I persue genuine and unbroken intimacy with Him that I can produce the most eternal fruit for His glory. Isn't that such wonderful, comforting news?

When I see God show up in my life like this and speak to me so loudly and plainly, all I can say is "Wow"... and savor every moment of it! : )

Friday, May 6, 2011

Just had to share how awesome our God is....

I woke up this morning feeling rather emotional and bloated with indescribable feelings. (There was no one specific event linked to these emotions; God has just been working on me lately.) As soon as Harry and Bianca left the house, I found myself singing over and over at the top of my lungs: “Hear my prayer, Lord. Hear my prayer.” Tears were dripping down my face, and I felt like I was breathing out so much, even though there were no words coming out except "hear my prayer." In the silence that followed, I felt like I had gone through a huge catharsis in a matter of minutes.

When I got into the car and turned on the radio, guess what verse Tracey read over the air? Psalms 40:1!!!! I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.

I couldn’t help it; I burst into tears again. The Lord heard my cry. Though I am but dust, He turned His ear and His heart towards me! He not only heard me, He confirmed that he heard me!! I felt so humbled, so secure and so loved at the same time. It was nothing short of wonderful!

God also reminded me of a sermon that my pastor gave a few weeks ago. It actually goes quite perfectly after my “Unfinished” post. Even though we start strong and fizzle out, even though we quit when things get too hard, even though we leave so many things unfinished, God is the ultimate closer. (Think baseball here!)

Philippians 1:6 says: He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

How comforting it is to know that not only is God doing a good work in me, but He won’t stop until it is finished. Things may get rough. Our circumstances may not be ideal. But He will use every single thing for His glory. There’s no reason to fear. There’s much reason for hope. As Brandon Heath sings, “There is hope for me yet because God won’t forget all the plans He’s made for me. He’s not finished with me yet.”

I came to work with a great attitude. I was diligent at my tasks. I didn’t whine or complain. And I couldn’t wipe this silly smile off of my face every time I thought of how plainly God spoke to me this morning. Isn’t He so, so good?!? All the time!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Unfinished

So, the A-Z Challenge came to a close last Saturday. As you can see, I didn't quite make it to the finish line. As I explained to my BFF today regarding my silent blog, when I came back to work last week after my vacation, I had a huge mound of work waiting for me. Quite simply, I've been working non-stop, staying late, and having too little energy to do anything at home except hug Bianca and go to bed. I hate when my life gets out of balance like this, but sadly, a permanent rememedy isn't quite within reach at this point. (I have faith it will be one day, though!) Anyway, regardless of my lack of posting of late, I am determined to finish the A-Z Challenge... even if I am a few days late.

It is apropos, then, to mention *some* of the other tasks in my life that are currently unfinished:

~ My massage degree
~ Too many journals
~ Decorating our house
~ Joining a small group at church
~ Getting into shape
~ Eating healthier
~ Having children
~ My Day Zero list
~ Two book reviews
~ My to-do list at work

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for....

~ Terrible game! The Orioles just lost to the Yankees 15-3. Sheesh!

~ Time. I can't believe that this week is already over. Where did the time go? Next week I go back to the grind, and I'm quite sad about it.

~ Terrific. This week has really been wonderful. Just what my soul needed. I just wish it didn't have to end.

~ Thanksgiving. I am so grateful for the many blessings in my life. I don't deserve them.

~ Tuckered out. It's only 10 PM, but I am craving some quality time with my bed!

~ Tea. I'm going to finish savoring this delicious mug of hot tea first.

~ Tomorrow. In a mere 2 hours, it will be Easter Sunday!!!!

~ This Toddler. I can't even describe how much I love her!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Don't Leave it On the Desk

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States. Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution.
Every student was required to take this course their freshman year, regardless of his or her major.

Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him.

"How many push-ups can you do?"

Steve said, "I do about 200 every night."

"200? That's pretty good, Steve," Dr. Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?"

Steve replied, "I don't know.... I've never done 300 at a time"

"Do you think you could?" again asked Dr. Christianson.

"Well, I can try," said Steve.

"Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to
tell me you can do it," said the professor.

Steve said, "Well... I think I can...yeah, I can do it."

Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to do this on Friday.. Let me explain what I have in mind."

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?"

Cynthia said, "Yes."

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?"

"Sure!" Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?"

Joe said, "Yes." Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?"

Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.

Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship.

When the professor asked, "Scott do you want a donut?"

Scott's reply was, "Well, can I do my own push-ups?"

Dr. Christianson said, "No, Steve has to do them."

Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want one then."

Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?"

With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.

Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!"

Dr. Christianson said, "Look! This is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.

Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"

Sternly, Jenny said, "No."

Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?"

Steve did ten....Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say, "No!" and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks..

Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert count the set and watch Steve closely.

Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Dr. Christianson, "Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?"

Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, "Well, they're your push-ups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want." And Dr. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don't come in! Stay out!"

Jason didn't know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him come."

Professor Christianson said, "You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?"

Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut."

Dr. Christianson said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?"

Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. "Yes," he said, "give me a donut."

"Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a donut?"

Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut?"

Linda said, very sadly, "No, thank you."

Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?"

Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want a donut?"

Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. "Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?"

Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No, Steve has to do it alone; I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push-ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes."

"Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?"

As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, "And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, 'Into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten. "

Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.

"Well done, good and faithful servant," said the professor, adding, "Not all sermons are preached in words."

Turning to his class, the professor said, "My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not His Only Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid."

"Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?"