Frilly Flowers

Tuesday, February 28, 2012  ::   3 important comments

Do you remember when I wrote about planting flowers? Some of you know that I killed them two times. The second time I went to Lowes the cashier told me to keep the receipt and I could get my money back if it happened again. I explained to her that I didn't feel right about doing that because I'm a known plant murderer. She leaned towards me and with her strong out of place because I live in Tucson southern accent replied, "Honey, Lowes is a big enough corporation that they can afford to refund the cost of a few petunias. You bring those back if they die." My response? "Yes, ma'am."

So the flowers started out like this:  

Look what happened! They grew!

Apparently, the pink ones are very hardy and domineering. 

Some of you may be fantastic gardeners and know that growing petunias isn't actually that difficult, but for me, this is a big accomplishment. They smell amazing. The vibrant colors make me smile. People coming to my home are greeted with simple beauty. I love my flowers. Also, I love living in a place that I can grow flowers through the winter months. I didn't give up even though I killed two other batches. 

Don't give up! Flowers may be a cheesy example compared to the difficulties of life, but we can learn so many lessons throughout life if we will just pay attention. 

Don't give up. 


Remember When I Used to Blog?

Monday, February 27, 2012  ::   6 important comments

Yep. No motivation. None. Also, my thoughts have been so jumbled in my head that coherent written thoughts would have surely caused some sort of strain.

And then we went on vacation to Sedona and the Grand Canyon.

Aaaahhhhhh. Much better. It had been a few years that our family had gotten away with no purpose other than to be together. A couple of really awesome guys made it possible for us. Thanks, guys! You truly blessed our family.

Because I'm still not in the mood to write a full out blog post, I'm going to give you some bullet points of randomness floating around in my brain. Eek. That's kinda scary.

  • At Christmas time we finally took Julie's advice and tried ugly steaks from Dickman's Meat Market. Oh my goodness.  Deeee-lish! We took them on our vacation to grill at the cabin we stayed in in Sedona. They were perfect for our picnic in front of the giant red rock formations. 

Oh Yeah. So good. 
Seriously. Is that an incredible picnic view or what? 

  • I have a recurring shoulder issue. A friend of mine injured her shoulder when we were in college and a really mean stupid doctor told her if she lost weight it wouldn't hurt anymore. Do you know what is crazy? That is one of the main thoughts that swirls in my head every time my shoulder does its crazy painful thing. Well, guess what. I've lost some weight and my shoulder still hurts. It didn't work for me. Stupid doctor. 
  • Because of my shoulder/back issue, I've visited a chiropractor when I really throw it out. (No lectures about how you hate chiropractors, please.) When my shoulder went out right before vacation I tried to get in to see him, but he was booked. My wonderful strategic arranging wooing husband remembered a random conversation he had at a coffee shop, and voila, a new chiro. I really like her, but I'm afraid she's a new age quack. I can't quite discern if I'm being paranoid or if I'm being discerning, so I'm taking my time before I go see her again. She incorporates Chinese medicine which I think can be very legit because we are connected mind, body, and spirit. But, I would have more problems than just a hurt shoulder if I opened myself up to spirituality that doesn't jive with Jesus. Anyone that loves Jesus and understands Chinese medicine that wants to have a conversation, let's do it! Jamie?? 
  • I'm going to make homemade laundry detergent and shampoo. I'll tell you about it soon. 
  • Politics are annoying. I got a recorded phone call that started like this: "Because you are a Christian voter, I know you will make the right decision when you vote because you care about the same issues I care about." Um, excuse me?
  • I've been totally nerding out over Clifton Strengthsfinder for the last few weeks. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check it out. This is a great tool to help you better understand who God made you to be. I bought the kid's edition for Kyle and Esther. I can't wait for them to take the assessment! 
  • Leadership is constantly on my mind these days. Recently I read about a poll where 10,000 people were asked to give four characteristics they admired in leaders who had a positive influence in their lives. 1,000 of those people, 10%, gave the same words. That's nuts. What are your guesses? Purpose? Clear communicator? Humility? While those are great qualities, they were not the top answers. ~~Trust, Compassion, Stability, Hope~~  Put that in your book and ponder it. 
Just one more vacation photo because it's just fun... 


What have you been thinking about? I would love to hear about it! 

Moxie Memorizers

Wednesday, February 15, 2012  ::   32 important comments

Our time together on Sunday night was so encouraging for me. Everyone had such bright excited eyes. I hope that you all have someone with whom you can share your scripture memory journey! Disciplines alone are good, but disciplines in community are better (except solitude, of course.)

I will be filling in a contextual whole in Ephesians 3 over the next two weeks. In college I memorized Ephesians 3:17-18. Later in life I added 19-21. Now I'm going back to add verse 16 and the first part of 17. That's right. I only memorized the second part of 17 the first time around. Why, you may ask? I have no idea.

Ephesians 3:16-17a
I pray out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, (17) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 

I'm even going to re-write my verse 17 card to include the whole verse...if I can get over the nostalgia of the antique looking card. It was written in 1992, after all! That's almost as old as some of you!

One more thing. If you are participating in this journey with us, I would love to be able to encourage you through your comments by emailing you back. When you post a comment I essentially get an email from you in my inbox. Some of you have set up your accounts with your email address, some of you haven't so you are a "no-reply" commenter. If you would like to know what in the world I'm talking about please read this post at Bearing Fruit by Andee to learn more. Also, a long, long time ago one of my favorite bloggers wrote a post about how to fix your google profile to include your email address.  Leslie, if you remember when you wrote that post would you include the link in your memory verse comment? If you can't remember when you wrote it and find it later this week or so, I would love to add a link so I can help my friends. What do you think?

That may seem like a random tangent to a scripture memory post, but it isn't. I want the ability to be able to encourage each of you in your journeys. We are doing this together, friends. Hebrews 3:12-13 says, "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. Encourage one another daily as long as it is called today so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness."

We often think of hearts hardened by sin's deceitfulness as deep dark hidden issues. I don't know about you, but my heart gets hard through laziness, apathy, procrastination. I appreciate the encouragement I receive through each of your comments on the scripture memory posts. I prevents my heart from hardening. It would be my joy to return the favor!

I'm asking two things this time around:

First and most importantly, post your verse. I LOVE reading what you are memorizing, praying for you, asking God to strengthen your resolve and deepen your relationship with Him.

Second, if you haven't already, sign up to follow. Include your email address, so I can return the love.

Ready? Go!

Easy and Fun Birthday Party

Tuesday, February 14, 2012  ::   7 important comments

Morgan and Carah turned 10 on February 11th. They are sweet, funny, smart, sensitive, silly, and completely wonderful. Watching them grow into unique spirited strong young women brings me great joy. I was so afraid when the nurse told me I was going to be having twins, and now I can't imagine my life any other way! 

To celebrate them we decided to invite some of their friends 
over for a day at the spa.

This cute heart garland is from Ferial-Shmerial that I saw via Happy Days. I love that she posted a crafty project that I could actually make. And, as my son Kyle said, the rope really dressed up the hearts. 

Emily and Yemi brought Morgan and Carah gerber daisies for their birthday. They were the perfect center piece for our spa table. 

With five girls in our house, we knew we would have plenty of nail polish! 

Jenn was a fantastic nail technician. She painted Morgan's nails and engaged her in purposeful conversation.

Abby wasn't super happy to have her hair curled, but Tori was sweet, encouraging, and tender.

Carah enjoyed a foot massage while her pretty blue nails dried. 

Such pretty little hands with bright colorful nails! 

The pampered girlies! 

 There is no way I could have pulled off this party alone. My community blesses my family in the most unique ways. These lovely ladies were our spa experts for the day. Thank you so much Tori, Jenn, Sarah, and Susie! That you would spend a Saturday afternoon loving my daughters and their friends blesses me more than you know. 

Happy birthday, sweet Carah and Morgan! I pray that you know your true value comes from God and who he is making you to be. 

Charm is deceptive, beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30 

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust O Lord, from my youth. Psalm 71:5 

Grace and Celebration

Thursday, February 09, 2012  ::   2 important comments

Leslie at Top of the Page invited me to guest post for her series Grace on Thursday. It was my pleasure to get to write about God's grace leading to obedience. I also used some great photos in the post taken by a great photographer. Please go check it out! 

Also, if you participate in Moxie Memorizers and live in Tucson (or want to come visit), we are finally going to have our scripture memory celebration! This is incredibly short notice, but the calendar is so packed that we are just going to have to schedule it and go for it! 
THIS Sunday night the 12th right after the gathering we will enjoy pizza and salad together. Pizza will be provided. Will a few of you bring a salad to share? 
We will spend time sharing what memory verses were especially meaningful, discuss strategies for success in 2012, and celebrate the discipline of taking scripture into our lives. Please bring your memory packet or whatever you use to keep track of your verses. 
If you joined in the fun of memorizing scripture in 2011, please join us. If you are committed to taking scripture into your life in 2012, then I would also like to invite you to join us (men included.) This will encourage your heart and strengthen your resolve in this journey. 
You have to eat after the gathering anyway, so don't skip out. We've waited a long time for this celebration! I hope you will join us! Please RSVP here if you can make it.  

Self Shmelf :: Character Change

Wednesday, February 08, 2012  ::   3 important comments

My hobby job is instructing fitness classes. By hobby I mean that someone pays me to workout but not enough to buy groceries or school supplies. It forces me to exercise even when I don't want to, has allowed me to meet some really great people, and puts a little fun cash in my pocket.

During the time of fasting and prayer Second Mile had a couple of weeks ago, God used my Thursday morning spin class to really illustrate a not so great part of my heart. 

Because of my fast it seemed like a long time since the last meal I had eaten. My class starts at 9:15 which may seem early enough to many of you, but after waking up kids, getting breakfast, and taking them to school, it felt like I had already been up for a whole day. The hour or so before my class started I began to give myself "the talk." 

"You don't have to push yourself in class today. Just fake it. Don't be stubborn, Angel. It's ok if you are too physically weak to cycle at your normal pace. Practice mental toughness in not riding hard and don't be stubborn." 

But as soon as I clipped in my shoes and greeted the class my real battle began. 

You see, I put high value in strength and work ethic. I don't tolerate excuses or laziness in myself. If others around me are working then I feel I should work, too. My parents did a wonderful job of teaching me to work hard because they are both diligent, hard working people. They taught my brothers and me to put our noses down and get the job done. 

In the spinning class, it was time for everyone to climb up our first pretend hill. (Spinning classes simulate a road ride through hills, flat roads, and sprints. So much fun!) I told the class to add some resistance, so naturally I added a little. I argued with myself with each push of the lever to go up the hill a little further. The conversation in my head shifted. 

"Don't be a baby, Angel. So, so weak. Lots of people in 2M are fasting and they are at work. Suck it up! Push that gear!" 

Straight into what I believe was the Spirit of God speaking truth...

"Angel, where do you find true strength? Is it not within your weakness? Are you trying to win the approval of your class or of yourself by proving what you can do? Rest in Jesus no matter what circumstances come your way." 

Literally, I would push a gear up and then bring it back, push a gear up, and then bring it back, over and over. 

By the end of the class I was emotionally spent and spiritually aware of the ugliness of my self-reliance. 

Self-reliance. Ugh. I'm so familiar with the struggle of what it means to fully rely on Jesus, fully rely on Chad, on my family, on my community. One definition of self-reliance is reliance on one's own capabilities, judgements, or resources, independence. I think since I was a little girl I've probably been saying, "I can do it by myself!" 

God has led me into a variety of circumstances that required me to press into Him: marriage, living in another country, having children, moving to Tucson, foster care, leading women. But, through the week of prayer I knew God was taking me to a deeper level of conviction to not let my reliance on Him and others be based on circumstances, but to be a change in my character. The thought of my obedience to Him being circumstantial makes me ill. Oh, Jesus, please refine my character! 

Now I am on a quest for scripture, wisdom, insight, understanding of taking relying on the Spirit of God to the depths of who I am. I want to know Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but a righteousness that comes from faith. I want to know that His power is made perfect in my weakness. I want His light to shine through me and not my own puny little cereal box prize flashlight. 

I know this will be a life long lessons, but I choose to surrender to His character refinement in my life. 
What about you? Are there areas of your life that obedience to God is circumstantial? Is there something He has revealed to you in the last few weeks that will need character refinement? Don't push it away, but instead press into Jesus and allow Him to bring lasting change into your life. 

Try Something New ::Random Suggestions::

Tuesday, February 07, 2012  ::   4 important comments

Chad and I have turned over a new leaf in our eating. We've always been decently healthy eaters, but we've really cleaned up our food this month. We haven't eaten pasta since December! I mean, come on! That is serious healthy eating.

Hosting a Superbowl party could have presented a challenge to our resolve, but together we came up with a plan to have a lettuce wrap extravaganza. There were six varieties to choose from... each unique, each delicious.

My favorite because it was so deliciously weird was the raw vegan pecan with fresh chopped salsa. You should try it.
I used pecans instead of walnuts and did not make the cashew sauce. 
Another variety was roasted garlic and vegetables with balsamic. This isn't really a lettuce wrap recipe, but it worked beautifully.
Pinterest is my friend. I actually make stuff I find on that crazy site. It's like the best magazine without the ads or monthly fees. Good stuff. 

We also made cashew chicken, taco meat with ground turkey, and mini turkey sliders with tons of veggies which is a Chad original recipe. Regan made some delicious chicken salad to stuff in some lettuce. Angela brought some couscous with veggies. Delish!

I know I'm bragging, but our food was tasty and guilt-free. One person who I won't name (Alex) stopped by just to have some food because he knew it would be good. That's a pretty good compliment!

Let me tell you about one more fun thing you should try that is completely unrelated to food. Many of you have heard of the band Gungor, but maybe some of you haven't. If you aren't much of a risk taker in your musical tastes, try out their first album Beautiful Things.  It is creative and will move you to worship. But, if you are up for a new sound, deep, thoughtful lyrics, to be challenged to think about creation and our place in the universe jump right on out to Ghosts Upon the Earth. The first song alone makes me blast the volume and continually hit repeat. If you want a taste of the album and to hear the hearts of these great artists, watch the video below. So good.

Have you tried something new lately? I would love to hear about it! 

Anyone else a Gungor fan? What is your favorite song? 

Moxie Memorizers

Wednesday, February 01, 2012  ::   27 important comments

I've been reading through the New Testament over the last two weeks starting in Galatians. I have been struck by the verses I have memorized out of context. For the next few months, I'm going to be filling in the holes...unless God lays a passage on my heart for the here and now.

Let me encourage you to memorize scripture in context. This doesn't mean that you have to learn an entire chapter, although, I do recommend the challenge at some point in your memorizing journey. But, if you are taking in a verse that is meaningful to you, be sure to read the verses before and after to see how it all fits together. If the whole paragraph adds to the depth and meaning of the one verse, be brave enough to memorize the whole paragraph. This didn't occur to me when I was 19, so now I have make-up work to do.

Many years ago I learned Ephesians 6:18. "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of requests. With this in mind be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." It follows the passage about the full armor of God. I remember memorizing it during college because I wanted to understand what it meant to "pray in the Spirit" and I wanted to be someone who would "always keep on praying for all the saints." Many times I begged God to teach me to pray, to help me know what to pray and for whom to pray. This is still a deep cry of my heart.

However, one of my great weaknesses is praying for myself. I'm actually pretty terrible at it. On top of that, I have the hardest time answering when people ask me how they can pray for me. I usually respond with "Ummmm, well, uhhh, you can, hmmm...I'm not sure." Lame. **

Thank God for His word. He has answers to my inability to pray for myself!

Eph 6:20-21
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. 

There you have it, folks. I'm memorizing this one for sure!

I love how many of you are posting your verses. Thank you. I often hear, "Oh, I'm memorizing, I just never post on the blog." Well, come on! Just do it! It only takes a minute or two. Please know, posting isn't just for you. The accountability for you is great, but the purpose of posting our verses together is for encouragement, community, inspiration. When we see that there are others in this with us, it inspires us to keep up the good work, stay the course, not let anyone down. Community is far superior to taking the loner path. Stepping off my soapbox now...

Post away, friends! Moxie Memorizers celebration is coming soon. Watch for details to be posted in the next few days!

**Please don't worry or lecture. When I don't know specifics to pray for myself, I ask God to build the fruit of His Spirit in my life, to give me a gentle and quiet heart, to enable me to love and serve Chad and my kids, to build His leadership in my life that will flow into allowing me to lead others.