The Bright Morning Star

Monday, December 24, 2012  ::   4 important comments

I posted this last Christmas, but find myself wondering the same questions. 
Merry Christmas, friends! May Christ fill your hearts with joy and peace. I pray we all earnestly long for His return and live with worship, kindness, diligence, and peace. 
Revelation 22:16 "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root of David the Bright Morning Star." 
Jesus came to push back the darkness. 
John 8:12 When Jesus spoke to the people again he said, "I am the Light of the worldWhoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." 
In the darkest places of my life, He still shines brightly.
I John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 
Last night during Second Mile's Sunday gathering Chad gave everyone 2-3 minutes of silence to sit and reflect on the part of Jesus' birth that was most captivating to us. I can't help but to be overwhelmed with the fact that our very infinite God wrapped Himself up in skin to come to the earth. My head can spin trying to understand this mystery. 
I wonder...
Was it painful? Did He feel confined? Did Jesus grieve leaving the glory of being with the Father to come to earth? Did it feel claustrophobic for Him? Did He love Mary and Joseph the way children love their parents and the way God loves humans? How did creation respond to God walking the planet? What did it feel like to hear His voice in the cry of a baby? From heaven He knew He was being worshipped, but did He as a baby lying in a manger know He was being worshipped? Did his earthly parents, the shepherds, the wise men sense the darkness in their lives being pushed back when they were in the presence of this God baby? 
Today I'm thankful that Jesus has made Himself known. I'm also thankful for the mystery of God so that He remains profound and unexplainable. I'm thankful that in Him there is no darkness at all and that He continues to push back the darkness in my life making me more like Jesus through the process of sanctification. 
Today my heart is anxiously awaiting His return
Come, Lord Jesus, come! 

A Seismic Shift at Beautifully Rooted

Thursday, December 13, 2012  ::   1 important comment

At Beautifully Rooted, I wrote out some thoughts about the wonder of a huge God coming as a baby to redeem the world.



A seismic shift for the entire planet took place.

I hope you will go read some more of this post and leave a comment over there testifying of what God has shown you about His birth on earth. 

Bold and Spicy

Wednesday, December 12, 2012  ::   6 important comments

Esther loves chex mix. She bugs me to make it quite often. I'm thinking the Christmas season truly starts for her as soon as I make the first batch of chex mix. Now, anyone can read and copy the original recipe and if you aren't a bold and spicy kinda person, I would encourage you to do so.  However, if you want to take it up a notch or two, keep reading. 

First, melt one stick of unsalted butter (1/2 cup) in a large roasting pan in your oven set at 250°. Please skip the microwave directions. Just skip it. The flavor and texture of oven roasted chex mix is far superior to insta-mix. Take an hour to make a legit batch of this deliciousness. Think of it as disciplining yourself to slow down a bit to enjoy life.

In a big bowl mix all of the dry ingredients, minus the spices. I kind of follow the original suggestions, but then get a little crazy.

3 cups each rice, corn, wheat chex
A big handful of stick pretzels (They are easy to pick and will be gone fast if you don't add extra.)
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup whole cashews (my fancy expensive ingredient)
1 cup pecans (My parents and my mom-in-law have pecan trees. I can't even imagine having to buy pecans in the store. I'm spoiled.)
1 cup Cheerios (But only if you want something that soaks up extra flavor. The little cheerios are Esther's favorite part. They will take on so much of the sauce, so leave it out if you will just throw them out after everything else is eaten.)
1 cup of something special (Goldfish, Cheezits, Bugles, bagel chips...anything you think would fit the flavor profile. Goldfish are my favorite, but I may try the spicy Cheezits sometime soon.)

Be careful when you mix not to crush the cereal.

In a separate container, measure out your spices. Again, I just do my own thing. I'm pretty sure it is different every time, but I err on the side of too much because too little is just buttered cereal and who wants to eat that?


2 tsp seasoned salt
2 tsp garlic powder (you already added salt, so don't add garlic salt)
1 heaping tsp chili powder
1 tsp onion powder

Whoa. That's a lot of flavor.

Take out your pan and get over your guilt of making something with that much butter.

Enter the key ingredients: Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco Sauce. Oh yes. Most definitely. 

Don't freak out, but I add about 6-8 tablespoons of the W-sauce. I know it's a lot, but my chex mix is pretty amazing. 

If you don't like spicy food (I'll pray for you) skip the Tabasco or add just a little. I add 3-4 tablespoons. Yep. I know. You think that's too much. But you're wrong. That's what gives it a kick. This is not your bland, ordinary chex mix. This is bold and spicy! You will love it! People will love it! Trust me. 

Add your spices in and mix it all up. 

Now dump in your cereal mixture and gently stir to coat. It will look brown, wet, and buttery, but it will come together perfectly within an hour. Stir every 15 minutes of baking to continue to evenly distribute the seasonings. 

After an hour of baking, beautiful golden crunchy goodness appears.

Dump it out on foil or paper towels to cool. Try really hard not to pick out the cashews and pretzels while it sits there wafting its fragrance everywhere. After it cools, store in an air tight container. It won't last long! This is also a great gift because it isn't a sweet treat and will stand above all the other plates of cookies your neighbors and kids' teachers receive. If you do give this to a teacher, be sure to add a nice gift card to Starbucks because they just deserve it.

Oh my yumminess. This stuff is so, so good! I've made two batches already. My kids are piggies.

I wouldn't lead you astray. It is easy to make. It is delicious. You should try it. 

Will you? Do you have any questions? Do you have a not sweet treat you like to make during the holidays? 

Surprises in Starbucks

Wednesday, December 05, 2012  ::   16 important comments

I have a serious case of brain block. To be honest, I'm struggling in the land of ambiguity, therefore I feel as if the self-preservation practice of not thinking has overtaken me.

As you know, after many tests, scans, pokes, and prods it was determined I had a stroke in August. My doctor referred me to a neurologist that I've seen a few times. He ordered more tests and scans to determine the cause of my stroke. During my last visit with him, he crossed his arms, leaned against the cabinet and said there seemed to be no known cause, that because of my age and the location of the stroke in my brain, he was concerned and wanted to send me to a specialist in Phoenix so another set of eyes could look over all my charts and information. That was over a month ago.

I've called the Phoenix doctor's assistant once or twice a week since then, but he is "still looking at my charts" whatever that means. Apparently, he isn't thinking about my brain as much as I am.

So I wait.

The waiting game is like a roller coaster for me. Sometimes it creates an out of sight out of mind attitude. I act like I didn't have a stroke, don't take my baby aspirin, and pack my schedule full of meetings and activities. This foolishness results in increased symptoms such as tears, headaches, and difficulty in speaking. Clearly, ignoring reality isn't a great practice for me.

Sometimes in the waiting game, I over think everything that has happened. I research online to find answers about having a stroke as a 39 year old woman in the right temporal lobe of the brain. You will not be surprised to know there is some scary information on the internet! I believe that being an advocate and educating myself is wise. I believe researching without a foundation of knowledge and an actual diagnosis is unwise and can lead to fear.

Sometimes in the waiting game, I avoid good things like blogging, reading books, thinking deeply about theology and how God is active in our world. Honestly, I think (ha) if I would engage in these activities I love, I may find some relief from ambiguity.

But, I'm afraid.

I'm afraid if I move on that I may forget something bad happened to me this summer.

I'm afraid if I move on my community will expect me to be the way I used to be, able to keep up with all of life's demands.

I'm afraid if I move on I will actually discover that I've just been being a baby.

I'm afraid if I move on I will never know any answers as to why I had a stroke in the first place and that there might actually be an answer AND if there is an answer we don't know about I'm afraid it may happen again.

I'm afraid if I move on and try to start reading deep books or have deep conversations I will be confronted with one of my worst fears that my brain has changed too much and I'm not smart enough remember or to keep up.

I'm afraid if I keep typing out all these fears I didn't know I even had I will be bawling my eyes out right in the middle of this Starbucks. The other patrons may feel awkward. Good news: I'm not afraid to be awkward. I'm a natural at awkwardness, but I should be considerate of others.

Oh fear, you suck. I can rationalize that you are irrational, but isn't that the point of most fears? Well, up yours! I am moving on, but not like you tell me I should by ignoring reality, researching to the point of fear, or sitting on the floor with my hands over my head hoping nothing else falls on me.

I'm taking Chad's and Lauren's advice in remembering that intensity is not the point. Daily devotion and consistency is the point. I know these truths in my brain, but once again, life circumstances are requiring me to move what was once easily lived out into a deeper, more experiential place in my heart and mind.

To live this out, I will try to read a couple of paragraphs of A Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian  (Thanks, Alysa) three or four times a week. My goal/hope is to blog five times this December. To many of you that may not seem like much, but these are a big goals for me as blogging and reading are much more difficult than they used to be.

I will take my baby aspirin every day. I will continue to go on my morning walks and go to yoga class once a week. I will not overdo it in meeting with people, but I will have a few meetings each week.

The most difficult goal is to talk with a few friends about what I'm really processing concerning this dumb stroke. Ugh. This one is a hard one because being the overly intuitive person that I am, I often wrongly intuit that I'm bothering people. I know, I know. It's silly, but I'm a sinner and have wrong thinking sometimes. Thank goodness for Jesus' grace and the gentleness of friends.

I appreciate some of you are gearing yourself up to "hold me accountable." While I appreciate the offer, I think this public confession will be all the accountability I need. If all of the people that love me start asking if I'm reading every day I may punch someone in the face with harsh words and then you will feel sad and rejected and then I will have to apologize and then you'll wonder if I really love Jesus, so maybe just encourage and pray?? Is that fair? It's not that I don't need accountablity. It's just that I don't need it from all of you.

Whew. This blog post was a shock. I set out to write about why traditions are important to me and ended up telling you about some ickiness in my heart. I guess the good news is I have still have another topic to write about!

Moxie Memorizers

Saturday, December 01, 2012  ::   10 important comments

My friend, Lauren, mentioned a couple of Sundays ago that she would be interested in writing a guest post about her scripture memory journey. A few days later she sent me these wonderful words.

Lauren, thank you for following through without any questions or prodding on my part. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. Your vulnerability and practical suggestions are perfect. I hope it gives insight to anyone who may be wrestling with similar thoughts. 


I have been in a rut, a real rut, when it comes to spiritual disciplines. For the life of me, this entire year I have struggled with finding time to review my verses or read the Bible. It always seemed a daunting task to consider studying the Bible or reviewing memory verses. 

My excuse for not reviewing my verses seemed to always be the fact that I had no natural breaks in my day since transitioning from college life to an 8-5 monday-friday desk job. I tried a suggestion of memorizing in the car, but since I got married I ride my bike to work because my husband takes the car. So I have been stuck in my list of excuses and unable to come up with a solution. 

I have always had a knack for memorization, so memorizing a new verse was easy. I could have it memorized after one or two rounds of going over the verse. However, after not reviewing for a month I would forget the verse all together. Since college I have also been riding on the wave of PRIDE, because I already was introduced to memorizing and had to memorize 60 verses to be a Bible Study leader in college (which isn't something to brag about). So I have been hanging on to the high times of the past and listing excuse after excuse of why I didn't need to or couldn't review my verses....

And then a few weeks ago, Chad demonstrated via the work out called Insanity a concept that I have heard for a thousand times but finally made sense to my mind and heart. It is not about the intensity at which I study scripture, pray, or review verses, it is about daily devotion and frequency! I have heard this several times in the realm of setting spiritual discipline goals (keep them simple, attainable, and measurable). However, I am such an OVERACHIEVER that my idea of Bible Study is a solid hour a day and reviewing memory verses means reviewing all of them every time I pick up the pack (oh and budgeting my money means spending $100 a month and working out means running 10 miles a day). 

Now don't get me wrong, it would be great if I could ACTUALLY do all of these things. And when I was in college, studying the Bible every day for a half hour to an hour was more achievable (but I didn't always do it). But in the end, I CAN'T do all of these things at this stage in life and some I will never be able to do. And I need to accept this, but it is really hard for me because I absolutely hate feeling inadequate (this = PRIDE). But through this one area, Jesus is teaching me that daily devotion to him is not about achievement but about relationship. And the important part of scripture memory and reading the Bible is not the intensity at which I do it, but that I do it and that I regularly come before Jesus.  

So when this finally clicked, I decided I would review 3 verses a day (usually it goes new verse, a newer verse, and an old verse). And you know what? I have been doing this for the entire month! I have missed one day here or there, but there is frequency and I am actually reviewing my verses. 3 verses each day is enough to know I can do it, it is just the right number that I can pause at work and go over them. Now I start my day at work by going through those 3 verses, and it helps me focus on glorifying Jesus in my work. I also might increase from 3 to 5 a day next month, which means that there is still room for challenge in memorization. 

I wanted to share this with you all, because I finally found a way to start memorizing that might inspire some of you to get back in the game. Maybe you also are an overachiever or maybe you don't really know where to start? But, no matter where you are with scripture memory, I hope you are frequently meeting Jesus in your day to day lives! 


See what I mean? Beautiful words and great suggestions! 

Since there wasn't a post on November 15th, you all should be ready to post what you are memorizing. Right? I apologize for the lack of post that day. Thank you for your patience and grace towards me through this strange and frustrating season.  

Post away, friends! Tell us what you are memorizing. 

Foundations at Beautifully Rooted

Friday, November 02, 2012  ::   4 important comments

Lately, Jesus has been reminding me of salvation deep in my guts. He speaks directly, kindly, lovingly, and with authority about what He has done and is doing in my life.

I gave my heart to Him when I was six, wandered many years (those details are for another post), and then truly submitted myself to His rule in my life in college (more than a few years ago).

With Thanksgiving approaching, it is only natural to deepen my thoughts of that for which I am thankful.

I hope you want to keep reading and will click on over to Beautifully Rooted

It is enjoyable to write posts about how much I love Jesus for a whole new audience, but I definitely want to share my thoughts with all of you! Thanks for checking it out and sharing your comment love. 

Moxie Memorizers

Thursday, November 01, 2012  ::   13 important comments

I don't have any fancy words about memorizing scripture for you today. My encouragement for you is to stick with it. My hope is that you are growing in this discipline and that you don't need this blog post to remind you to do business.

To keep saying the same thing over and over seems silly, however, memorizing new things is still very challenging for me at this point. I mostly have Colossians 2:6-7 down if I look at the first couple of words. I'm going to keep working on it. I pretend it is good therapy for my brain to review my old verses and work to learn new ones.

Even though it is humbling for me, I'm not going to add a new one just yet. Thanks for continuing to pray for my brain as it heals and my heart as I wait.

I can't wait to read what you are learning! The way you faithfully add His word to your heart and mind encourages me so very much.

Please post what you are memorizing so we can all celebrate with you!

Mugs and Smiles

Thursday, October 18, 2012  ::   9 important comments

On Friday night of each Retreat de Moxie, we enjoy "organized laughing time." Our thought has been to plan intentional time to relax, laugh, be goofy, and get to know one another through whatever torture craziness my good/weird/uninhibited friends, Sara and Angela, asked us to do. Two years in a row they  invited us to choreograph dances to their "fantastic" music selections using strange props. This may not sound fun to you and I will admit the two minutes of stage time with your own group is long and painful. However, the twenty minutes of watching the other groups dance is pure awesomeness. 

Unfortunately, Sara and Angela were unable to join us on retreat this year. In efforts of sparing someone the awkwardness of trying to live up to their antics, we opted for a change in events. 

This summer Kim hosted a mug swap and I thought it would be great fun to engage in a swap with my Moxie friends. 

Weird dance party averted and everyone got a new mug! 

By the way, no one every complained about the group dance-off. Every one always participated. And, we all laughed until our sides hurt. There's just something about watching grown women dance funkily with light sabors and baby dolls that is so funny. Or, maybe I just lead a very weird group of women. I'm totally ok with that. 

Here are some highlights from our swap: 

All the mugs in brown bags with no names to increase curiosity. Perfect.  

 47 women getting ready to open their own brown bag or steal a mug from someone else

 Our awesome facilitator. Jenn teaches 4th grade gifted and talented students. She is intelligent and goofy just like her pupils.  

Jenn planned a few extra credit activities for people to earn additional prizes. Erin happily and actively (hence the lack of focus) performed "I'm a little teapot." Jenn did you ever give Erin her alternative prize? She earned it. 

There were several comments made about the creepiness of this particular mug. I, however, think it is unique and vintage-y. It's really more of a dainty cup than a mug. Alisa just moved away on an excellent adventure this week. Alisa, I hope you took your cute cup. 

Happy we didn't have to dance and swapped mugs with friends instead

Perfect for a teacher Jenn because sometimes she does quirky stuff that makes you tilt your head and say, "What?"

We went to retreat with 47 women and headed home with 47 women and one baby. A sweet baby girl decided she was ready to see the world a few weeks early! This text sums it up beautifully! 

I shamelessly swiped some of these photos from Janice, Jenn, and Tori. Thanks, friends. 

So, would you rather have a dance-off or swap mugs? Do you think Alisa's mug is cute or creepy? Are you willing to admit if you brought it? Do you have any ideas for the night of laughter for next year's retreat? Please share! 

Here and There at Beautifully Rooted

Monday, October 15, 2012  ::   1 important comment

There is a perfectly obscure verse in the Old Testament that many of us should probably mediate on,
and possibly even memorize.

Do you sometimes feel overly busy?

Do urgent needs often overtake truly important needs?

Does all the stuff that just has to be done sometimes take priority over conversation with people?**


Want to continue reading? 

Recently I was invited to contribute monthly to Beautifully Rooted and my first post went up today. Please click over and check it out. I would love for you to leave some comment love so I don't feel so lonely in my new rooted spot. Look around if you haven't visited Beautifully Rooted before. I bet you'll find some topics that interest you.  

Continue reading HERE. 

Moxie Memorizers

Monday, October 15, 2012  ::   12 important comments

I apologize for not having an October 1st memorizers post. I thought about writing a quick one, faking that I could do it all, and pushing through the discomfort. 

And then I remembered 

  • that I value authenticity in my relationships. 
  • that I own this blog, it does not own me. 
  • that we memorize scripture because we value God's word and how He transforms our lives through it, not because we get to post our verses twice a month on this silly blog. 
So I didn't post. I trust you kept up with the discipline even though the accountability of posting your verse for everyone to see was absent. 

Two of the top disciplines in my walk with Jesus that I truly love are memorizing scripture and worshiping Him through music. Since the change in my brain both have become very difficult. 

However, don't pity me. Do you remember that old Matt Redman song? "I'm coming back to the heart of worship, and it's all about you, Lord." 

Maybe I can't hear music the way I used to hear it or sing as loud as I used to sing, but I'm pressing into to worship Him just as passionately and possibly without the distraction of familiarity.

Maybe it takes significantly more effort to memorize new scripture, but I'm meditating on many of the passages I've already memorized in a much deeper way. 

Disciplines in our walks with Christ shouldn't become idols and shouldn't become obsessions. I'm not saying singing to Jesus or memorizing His Word were idols for me, but I am saying my current season is reminding me to depend fully on Him, not what I can do or have done for Him.  

I am still working on Colossians 2:6-7. Whew. It is such hard work, but I will learn it. 

Reviewing passages has made me grin a few times because of the timely application. I switched out my review section last week. The first card in line? 

James 1:2

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 

I'm certainly experiencing the testing, and I'm focusing on experiencing the joy!

Post your verses, friends. Feel free to share anything Jesus is teaching you through His word through the discipline of memorizing or reviewing scripture. 

Fall Compulsions :: And a Recipe

Sunday, October 14, 2012  ::   4 important comments

When fall comes I usually want to do three things. 

1. Go to Mt. Lemmon to enjoy the cooler weather and changing leaves. We had a wonderful time in the air and even though it wasn't that cool I wore a sweatshirt all day and pretended it was cold. 

2.  I don't know why, but the change in the air makes me feel like I want to change my hair. Cutting it all off sounds so appealing in the fall. I went for it a few years ago and swore I would never have long hair again. I lied. Right now I'm very tempted to cut it all off again, but I'm not going to just yet. Just so you all know your opinions do not sway me one way or the other. And, if you have an especially strong opinion about what I should do with my hair, I will have a very strong compulsion to do the opposite. Mm-k? Thanks. 

2009 short hair.  I don't updated short style beckons me. 
3.  I want to bake and bake and bake, trying new recipes I've pinned on Pinterest. Morgan and Carah are at the age that I can mostly just supervise while they bake and bake and bake. 

This week we made pumpkin scones from this pin

Just in case you aren't Pinterest savvy and would like the direct link to the recipe, here ya go

I like to try recipes from Pinterest that people I know have tried and recommend. If you are the same way, I highly recommend this one. The scones were fairly easy to make and the result was pumkiny deliciousness. 

These two beauties had a marvelous time. 

We used a pizza cutter to make the triangles. 

If you don't use parchment paper when you bake, you should start now. That stuff is amazing. 

I loved the way the orange tint changed after baking. They fluffed up beautifully which means we mixed the dough perfectly. 

I did not use the glaze from the recipe. Chad isn't fond of plain sugary glaze so I decided to make a thin butter frosting with a touch of cinnamon. I think they turned out lovely. 

One more shot of my cute sous chefs with our finished product. 
See those pretzels in the background? I'll post a pretzel using recipe soon that will, in the words of my friend Laura, rock your face off. 

What about you? What do you like to do in the fall? Do you want to cut off you hair? Have you tried any recipes worth sharing? Leave a link in the comments if you have a good recipe to share. 

Happy Autumn! 

Jumbled, Confused, and Strong

Thursday, October 11, 2012  ::   8 important comments

I haven't posted anything for a few weeks. If you know me personally or you've read any other posts you probably know why I've been kind of quiet.

Chad and I are still visiting doctors so I can get poked and prodded as doctors try to figure out why I randomly had a stroke one day. So far, all my systems have checked out beautifully which is a very good thing.

My heart? Great. My blood? Excellent. My arteries? Clear and flowing. One more test to check the smaller blood vessels in my brain. I wonder why they couldn't check the smaller ones when they checked the larger ones, but who am I to question a neurologist? I planned lessons about leaves for children in college. (No offense to all you fantastic amazing teachers out there.)

After this final test when they tell me the small blood vessels in my brain are also perfectly fine (which is, of course, what we are praying) we will move forward with a cryptogenic stroke diagnosis which basically means I randomly had a stroke one day. More about that when it becomes the actual diagnosis...

As for my quietness in blogging, my brain hurts. I mean, I can tell you exactly where my stroke occurred because when I think for a long time on a subject, or review my memory packet for too long, or engage in intense conversations, or plan four sessions on Titus 3 for a women's retreat my right temporal lobe throbs. So, in order to avoid pain in my brain, I avoid this blog.

The thing is I love this blog. It is a convenient tool to use with the women of Second Mile I am blessed to lead. A few people I've met though out life read my thoughts which humbles and excites me. It has also become a conduit for relationships with women I would have never "met" apart from this crazy internet land. When I'm not blogging I feel somewhat voiceless in these areas.

I was blessed over this past weekend in that Retreat de Moxie gave me the opportunity to use my voice with 47 lovely ladies. I spoke on Titus 3, challenging the women with reminders of how to treat people, who we were before Christ, that we are saved by His generous kindness and love, and how we should treat one another. The passage continues to play over and over in my mind. My prayer is it is playing over and over in their minds, too.

To be honest, this weekend took everything I had. The sports mantra "leave it all on the field" popped into my head several times during the retreat. After each session I went to my little closet that my sweet friends transformed into my room and laid on my air mattress and let the tears stream. Don't worry, friends. It's mostly stroke symptomatic. However, there was also emotion stemming from desiring my old brain back. I didn't want to have to lay down. I wanted to talk with everyone, to hear what each person was processing, to stay up late and laugh, but physically I just couldn't.

As I would lay there and pray, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 became more personal than it had ever been.

There was given me a thorn in my flesh (in my brain). Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it from me (probably more like 30 times.) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in all kinds of weaknesses." Therefore, in the quiet moments in my closet I chose to be thankful for this new weakness which allowed me to depend on Jesus in a way I never had. In my weakness, I pray he used my words to challenge the women and glorify Himself.   (Paraphrased and made personal)

After the third and last session on Saturday evening, I sat down and turned my heart towards Jesus to thank him for letting me speak to His daughters. I confessed to Him that I felt like it was the worst teaching I had ever spoken in my ministry years, that it was jumbled and confusing because my brain felt jumbled and confused, but asked that He would use it anyway. I confessed my feelings to some friends and they told me my assessment was wrong. Isn't the Spirit funny that way? When I felt my absolute weakest, He made something good for His people to hear.

"Remind the people...Titus 3" 

Thank you, Moxie ladies, for letting me lead you during the retreat. Your prayers helped to lift and carry me. You all make me so happy.

Thank you, friends, for continuing to love and support me during this weird time. I often tell myself what I'm going through could be much worse in order to gain perspective, but perspective does not diminish the fact that my brain has changed and this is difficult.

My hope is to continue to write on this blog. I'm pretending it is good therapy to help the re-wiring of my brain progress a little faster. Don't you agree?

Retreat de Moxie friends. Photo taken by the lovely Monique. 

Moxie Memorizers

Saturday, September 15, 2012  ::   21 important comments

My friend, Jenn, gave me a card of encouragement when I first started going through this weird health journey. She wrote, "As I pray for you I find myself praying often that the Scriptures you have memorized over the years would be used in powerful ways during this time, that the right verse would spring to mind at precisely the moment you need it to..."

Jenn, your prayer for me has been more than answered. Thank you, friend.

Gratitude for His ministry to me through His Word fills my heart. I've spent much time reading Colossians over and over. Thankfully, the scripture I've memorized encourages me throughout each day.

Why wouldn't you want to fill you heart with the very words of God? 

What keeps you grounded in seasons of ease and rest? 

What keeps you focused through seasons of struggle, hardship, difficulty? 

Whose words fill your heart as you pray, speak to others, talk to yourself? 

Who gives you courage in the midst of adversity? 

Let me testify that God is using His very words in my life in precious, rebuking, encouraging, beautiful ways right now. I'm so glad I've sown in the work of memorizing scripture because the fruit I am currently reaping is literally the nectar of God.

Don't give up.

As you know, my brain is healing and I've noticed that taking in new scripture is difficult. I will work on Colossians 2:6-7 as long as necessary. I'm also having my oldest kids memorize this and verse eight.

Colossians 2:6-7 
So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness

I've been meditating on this passage all summer. Rooted, built up, strengthened, thankful. Please let it be true of my life.

What are you working on?

A New Season

Thursday, September 13, 2012  ::   24 important comments

Sometimes a person can coast for awhile with light heartedness, smiles, and ease. These times are a sweet season of peace from the One who restores us with an extended sabbath for our bodies and our souls.

Sometimes a person must tighten up their boot straps, focus a little harder, furrow their brow a little deeper, and lean heavily on the Cornerstone for support, wisdom, and the ability to persevere. These times can often be a season of sweet sifting by the One who molds us through trials which hopefully produce the sweet fruit of dependance on the Sustainer of Life. 

As the sovereign God has seen fit, I've found myself in a season which demands a deeper dependance on Jesus. 

There have been days when fear knocked on my heart all day long. Taking my thoughts captive and submitting them to Jesus felt like I was doing mental squats with heavy weight and my mind fatigued at the end of the day. When fear would sometimes overtake my desire to trust in God, panic and anxiety stepped in to wreak havoc in my heart. The Spirit of God liberates me from these fears through the power of His word. 

Whom have I in heaven but you and the earth has nothing I desire besides you? My heart and my flesh may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

My heart and my flesh may fail, but God you are my strength. Thank you. 

Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  

Be joyful and pray! Thank you, Jesus, for this opportunity to depend on you more fully. 

There have been days when self-centeredness tempted me to decorate for a pity party to throw in my own honor. Fighting the battle to look to Christ and care for others, even if only through prayer, took focus and determination. Sometimes I just sat right on down on the party bench, cut myself a big piece of pity cake, and held a few helium balloons shaped like my sad, weepy head. Jesus gently reminded me of His work in my life to make me more like Himself. 

What is more I consider everything a lost compared to the surpassing power of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. Phil 3:8-9

Nothing compares to knowing you, my Jesus. 

Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. 1 Pet 4:19-20 

This is for your glory, God. I won't be surprised by this trial, but I will focus on you. 

There have been days where it is difficult to focus, where I cannot find words, noise agitates my nerves, when my head just hurts. The temptation to believe the lie that I'm weak or even worse, faking, entices my thoughts. But, what is so bad about being weak? Struggling through strength vs. weakness are often ponderings of my heart. When I wonder about being the helper I want to be for Chad, He answers. When I wonder about investing in my kids, He answers. When I wonder about mentoring women, He answers. When I wonder about leading a retreat for the women I love so dearly, He answers. 

...there was given me a thorn in my flesh...Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it from me, but He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness so that Christ's power may rest on me...For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7:10

I can more fully rely on You in my weakness. You are deepening my experiential understanding of allowing You to work and move and minister to, in, and through me by the power of your Spirit. Thank you. 

There have been days I have wanted to tell all of you what is going on in my life and other days I didn't want to tell a soul. Truth be told, I don't know the whys to the what just yet. However, I don't want to be a stinker and leave you to speculate. 

A few weeks ago, I had an incident before teaching my spin class. I had no idea what was happening because I am 39 and in excellent health. Because it didn't even occur to me I could be suffering from something significant, I taught my class. Now I have tangible proof that I am one tough, stubborn lady! 

After many tests and long days of waiting, it was determined that I had a moderate stroke. I do not have a single risk factor which has led the neurologist to refer me to a cardiologist to do some tests on my heart. We don't know why it happened. Very intelligent doctors will be working to figure out if there is a problem and the needed solutions. 

In the global scheme of things, this is small. People deal with unimaginable life circumstances every day. I've asked God to enable me to set my mind on things above where Christ is seated at His right hand, to teach me to pray for all kinds of people I personally know and do not know.

On a personal level, this is heavy. I'm taking a sabbatical from meeting with women. I'm going to need to allow my brain time to heal and rewire. Through all of this it has been thoroughly revealed that I have many amazing people in my life. I am prayed for, loved, and supported by you. The creative ways that people are supporting my family and me blesses me. 

The great God I worship has been gracious to me through His word which is alive and active in my very own heart.

Through this journey I pray I will depend on His grace that enables me to trust Him with all my heart, to not lean on my own understanding (which is pretty much no understanding), to acknowledge Him in all my ways, and to trust that He will make my paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 He is faithful. 

Mug Swaps Are Fun

Monday, September 10, 2012  ::   10 important comments

There are over one hundred million blogs on the internet. Thankfully, I've found myself in a small little circle of bloggers that are fun, creative, and intelligent. One of these internet lovelies is ACUPPAKIM. She recently hosted her second mug swap with over 200 blog readers. Even though penpal-ish activities aren't really my "cuppa" I really wanted to participate. I'm so glad I did!

When I walked up to my door and saw a small little package smiling up at me, I knew instantly it was my new mug.  A complete stranger picked out the prettiest mug for me. What is so great is that I would have totally picked it out for myself, but never would have bought it because I rarely buy cute-for-no-reason-whatsoever stuff for myself. Thank you so much Ashley

Doesn't it look great in my hand? 

I also had fun picking out a mug for Megan. Thinking it would be a fairly easy process, I waited until the last minute to do my shopping. I carried around five mugs and finally forced myself to just choose! This sweet little daisy mug captured my attention. 

Tazo tea needed to be included because I'm not a fan of coffee. 

While packing it up I giggled at myself almost continuously because I'm just not crafty.  

I didn't want it to break and it looked very unstable in the box so I added some not so earth friendly styrofoam. The mess I made is very indicative of my real life. 

But, I didn't want my new mug friend to be greeted by ugly cut up styrofoam so I threw some festive ribbon on top. 

Whew. I'm dorky and I know it. Don't pity me.  

Thanks for hosting, Kim! It was great fun. You've inspired me for some great fun within my own community. 

Each year I'm blessed to lead the women of my church on a retreat to seek Jesus, laugh together, and get away from every day life. Every year each woman brings her own mug for coffee, tea, or chai. This year, I'm asking everyone to bring a new or vintage mug and we will spend an hour or so engaged in a white elephant type exchange. Won't that be wonderful? Don't judge me, but I've already bought three. I wonder which one I should use?! 

Moxie Memorizers :: A Guest Post

Saturday, September 01, 2012  ::   14 important comments

My friend, Jonathan, is sharing some wonderful thoughts on living a righteous life with us today. It is obvious he love God's word. He is a man who invites the Spirit to speak deeply to him and when Jonathan hears from God, he seeks to obey. Please don't read his word just for information. Let them challenge you. Think deeply about your own pursuit of living a holy life to the glory of God. How is the scripture you are memorizing transforming you more into the image of Christ? 

Jonathan, you had some "awesome" pics to choose from on Facebook. I think I was merciful in choosing this Hello Kitty photo.  This one highlights your style and your smile, two of your terrific outward qualities. 

There are few things that get me more pumped than to tell people how God enabled me to live righteously. Why? Because it's so simple, yet the results are so profound.

Trying to live a righteous life can be one of the most tiring and frustrating aspects of following Jesus. For most of my life I struggled with living righteously; but now, thanks to the grace of God it's not hard. So, what is the secret? I think the best way to see how it happened in my life is for me to share my journey.

I've had the deck stacked in my favor. Born to parents who are both believers, I received Christ as my savior when I was about five years old and I've been going to church ever since I was born. I went to Christian school for 8 years and seminary for 5. See the secret? You just need a lot of Christian education... actually no. 

One would think a person surrounded by so much Christian stuff would have figured out how to live righteously; but honestly, even while in seminary sin would get me defeated and I'd feel like a failure.

Everything started to change when a friend shared a teaching series based on 
Philippians 3:9 (ESV) 
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith 

This was totally new to me. It isn't as if I had never read or heard the verse before, but no one had ever pounded into my spirit that we have “righteousness from God that depends on faith.” He went on and on and on about how we don't work for righteousness, but that it comes to us by faith. So, what is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 (ISV) 
1 Now faith is the assurance of things we hope for, the certainty of things we cannot see. 

Faith is my confidence in the things I hope for with certainty in the things I cannot see. So, putting these two things together I have to believe that righteousness comes by my belief in God's truth even in the midst of not seeing it in my life. When I don't see myself living righteously I must believe that I will be living Christ's righteousness. 

Let's take it a step further. Even in the midst of my sinning, I must believe that I have the righteousness of Christ. It's not that I had it or that I will have it, but that I have it in that very moment.

What else does the Bible say? What else should we believe? 
Matthew 5:6 (ESV) 
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 

Jesus said that if we long for righteousness we shall get it. Boom! Done! This is a wonderful promise! And still God has more for us.
1 Corinthians 1:30 (ISV) 
30 It is because of him that you are in union with Christ Jesus, who for us has become wisdom from God, as well as our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. 

Jesus IS our righteousness and we know that his righteousness has no darkness in it. So, even in the midst of our sinning Christ is our righteousness. It's not just His, it is ours. Your righteousness is perfect.
This is so wonderful, but wait, there is even more!

2 Peter 1:3–4 (ESV) 
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 

Do you notice what this passage says? It says God HAS granted (Past tense)  ALL (nothing missing) things that pertain to life and godliness. This comes through the knowledge of Jesus, which comes through Scripture (John 5:39). Additionally, He HAS granted to us “his precious and very great promises.” And we HAVE “escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 

If this passage doesn't get you extremely pumped to know Jesus more and more, and to find God's promises in Scripture then you should probably read the verse several hundred times - at least.

These verses alone would be wonderful enough, but let me tell you about how God did even more amazing work in my spirit. He took me through a familiar passage into unfamiliar territory.

Philippians 2:12–13 (ESV) 
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 

I had gone to church many years and my mind stopped at verse 12 and I thought I had to work so hard to mature, but one day He opened my mind to verse 13. 

I saw truth I had not seen before. God is working in me. And if there is one person I can trust to do a perfect job it is God.

There has been no more influential verse in my life over the last several years.

Jesus is the “founder and perfecter of our faith.” If God is working, then I don't have to stress out about the challenge that stands before me when I face temptation. I might mess up, but God is still working. Why do I stress out about messing up when I know God is working on me?

Since God is working on you, you will surely have His holy will and you will surely do His righteous works. He wants to take pleasure in you. He loves you. That is why He never gives up on you. 

In the midst of messing up, remember that you have the righteousness of Christ and God is working to make it manifest in your life. Remember that your righteousness comes from believing this truth even when you don't see it.

As my journey in righteousness continued God taught me how I should think about my forgiven sins. Part of feeling defeated about my sin was that I remembered I failed – that I had sinned.

One day God reminded me of verses I had heard many times
Isaiah 43:25 (ESV) 
25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. 
Ephesians 5:1 (ESV) 
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 

Since I am called to imitate God, and He remembers my sin no more for his sake, then I should remember my sins no more. Of course, this had always been hard on my own, but when I realized that this was God's will I asked Him to change me. It's pretty awesome when you know you messed up, but by God's grace the remembrance of past sin is fuzzy.

This revelation along with Philippians 2:13 have radically changed my life. If I sin, I ask for forgiveness. I don't remember it and move forward. For freedom Christ as set us free! (Galatians 5:1) We are free from our past!

Lately, I've been meditating on 
Psalm 1:2–3 (ESV) 
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 

I have seen this verse be true. As I have dwelt upon God's truth, He has grown me. He has brought forth fruit of righteousness. It didn't happen immediately. The tree brings forth its fruit in its season. 

Your fruit of righteousness will come in its season. God is patient with us and He wants us to tell stories of supernatural changes that happened instantaneously as well as the supernatural changes that took years to manifest. Each fruit has it's own delightful taste. Rest in Him. He will do it.

The process took time, but it was simple. I sought truth in Scripture. I asked Him to conform me to it. I dwelt not on my efforts or failures, but on His ability and victory. I left it up to Him and saw change happen to me.

And so I leave you with this
1 Thessalonians 5:23–24 (ESV) 
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. 

Please post your verses. Also, pray for Jonathan as he seeks to live a life of freedom that is pleasing to Jesus! Pray also for yourself that you will be obedient to God's call to be holy as He is holy. Ask Him to deepen your understanding of living the righteous live that He is working in you for His good pleasure!