Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Better Wash


1/13/10

Give me the “Better Wash” please….

I should be doing a million other things right now other than writing this post, but this image struck me so square between the eyes that I could not ignore it.

Recently, we had a pretty intense snow storm- well, for Arkansas it was…about eight inches of snow on the ground. And with all the gravel, salt, slush and mud that is created in the melt off, our jeep looked like we actually took it off road (ha!)…the poor thing was crazy dirty.

Since then, the weather has finally cleared, and everyone is scrambling to get their cars clean (perhaps to rediscover what color their car ACTUALLY is beneath all that beige and dirt and grime.) The lines for the car wash have been CRAZY!

I was so excited to pull up to the order station and find I was the first one in line yesterday. I selected the “Better Wash”- you know the one without the fancy tire shine and was directed into the bay by a nice college boy who offered me a sucker to pass the three minutes of wash time.

I set the car in neutral and sat back…letting the scrubbies and giant wash rags buff away 8 inches of dirt on the Jeep. Watching the rainbow soap as it blended together and turned purple, listening as the “Spot Free” rinse rained on the sunroof and rinsed away all the lather and soap and dirt and grime.  Then through the giant blow dryer to dry all the little droplets of water left behind.  By the time I reached the green, “GO Now” light, I had a SILVER Jeep again.  AHHHHH! How wonderful it felt to be in a freshly washed car.

Now I love Boomerang because you pay a little higher price for a wash, but they have free vacuums. So, meaning to clean out the inside of the car, I pulled in next to one of the vacuums. But, it was 34 degrees outside, I was in heels and there were still icy patches in the lot, so I decided that I would skip the vacuum and just be ok with the clean car on the outside.

As I was driving out of the parking lot it hit me. I do this in my Christian walk to. I ask for the “Better Wash” and pull my life into the automatic car wash.  Jesus, being full of grace  and love for me, washes me clean. I come out all shiny and new, and because it it’s hard, or it’s cold, or it’s slippery, or I’m just plain ole too lazy, I don’t take the time to CLEAN OUT THE INSIDE. I put my Jesus coat on, and on the outside, I am clean and pristine. but inside, I am still dirty and grungy and greasy and have trash piled so high that I have no room for other people to come in, unless they want to sit on the yuck stuff.

The sad part is that I don’t HAVE to carry any of that around. Jesus provides us with FREE vacuums.  Powerful vacuums that can suck up any dirt, any debris, any trash.  That take it all away and we don’t have to worry about anymore.  All we have to do is get out of the car long enough to use them.  It isn’t easy.  It does mean you got to look at that trash squarely and decide you don’t want it anymore. That you are going to let it go and not ever look back.

But isn’t it worth it?

For that just cleaned, brand new feeling that you get. The “AHHHHHH!” of scrubbed fresh. Jesus wants to do that in our lives, but he’s not gonna stand at the end of the carwash and force you to do it. He loves us enough to let us make the choice. 

What trash will you get rid of today?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Encounter with the Saviour

From my bible study this morning, I love this.  (I am currently working through a Bible study called Live Intimately: Lessons from the Upper Room by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose.  It has been a wonderful study so far.  This morning, from the chapter “Changing Expectations:”

I had walked life’s path with an easy tread,
Had followed where comfort and pleasure led;
And then by chance in a quiet place-
I met my Master face to face.

With station and rank and wealth for goal,
Much thought for body but none for soul,
I had entered to win this life’s mad race-
When I met my Master face to face.

I had built my castles, reared them high,
Till their towers had pierced the blue of the sky;
I had sworn to rule  with an iron mace-
When I met my Master face to face.

I met Him and knew Him, and blushed to see
That His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me;
And I faltered, and fell at His feet that day
While my castles vanished and melted away.

Melted and vanished; and in their place
I saw naught else but my Master’s face;
And I cried aloud: “Oh, make me meet
To follow the marks of Thy wounded feet.”

My thought is now for the souls of men’
I have lost my life to find it again
Ever since alone in that holy place
My Master and I stood face to face.


Dear Lord, I have to admit that washing feet was not what I had in mind when I became a Christian. It’s awe inspiring to see your humble example. Lord, I surrender my lofty plans. Let me do what you  have done and serve others. Amen

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vision and Invitation: The Fast


Wow! Did God lay the smack down on me this weekend! Totally. Rocked. My. World. I wrote all about it over at Strings Attached...why don't you come check out what's going on over there?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Go Pluck Yourself


I grab the tweezers and lean in close to the mirror.  Bracing for the pain, I stretch the skin taut and        take a firm hold on the stray hair- and then *pluck*!

OWWWWW! Man..that one smarted!

Let me just say before I jump into the life illustration, the woman who told me “the more you pluck,    the thinner and less likely your eyebrows are to grow back” lied through her teeth! But I whole-heartedly believed her because, well...

To read more and find out what I think habits have to do with plucking, come on over towww.carikaufman.com!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Expectations Can Get You Lost


“It’s A-L-M-O-O Street .”
“Got it, Alamo St.”
“No…No…Al-moo…you know, moo like a cow.”
“Oh, ok. I’ve got it Alamo. Thanks.”

*Sigh*

That’s a package that’s not likely to make it here....

I'm blogging about expectations and final destinations over at Strings Attached. Won't you come join me?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Lessons

My chest aches. I realize that what I thought was heartache is actually something physical...The ache of muscles not used in weeks.....

Breathing Muscles.

I just realized I haven't taken a deep, cleansing, full chest breath in weeks. Quick gasps. That's it. That's all.

My hip hurts. A pain deep in the joint. A pain I can't pinpoint or relate to specific injury.  A pain that prevents me from taking a step, from moving forward.  A physical pain- but maybe related to unfinished emotional business?


This last week has been full of gifts.  Some beautiful and easy, others not quickly or simply received.  Some so exciting that I rip the paper off and break the ribbon. Others I slowly open with trepidation about what's inside.  But gifts all....to receive and learn from and to incorporate into my life.

What a fantastic journey I've been on that I can frame these lessons in a way that makes it easy to accept the beauty in them.  Especially in the hard ones.  But it hasn't been a particularly short journey and the ache in my body reminds me that I am not quite finished yet.

"What's going on?" So many of you have asked....thank you for caring, and praying and loving and supporting even though I haven't shared details with you. And I still can't, not yet...God isn't through with it all yet. 


But the essence of it is this: this week I waved a flag of surrender....this is not something I do easily. I have been working so hard to maintain a tight-ship semblance of sanity within our schedule, and God kept bringing me back to the path he set before me and the realization that I was clearly not walking it.  He kept bringing up the truth that doing godly work and working for God were two different things, and teaching me the lesson that I am sure the Old Testament prophets learned the hard way too.  Sometimes the people you are sent to help are not ready to hear God's message.  It is not my job to make sure they receive the gift, only that it is delivered.

These are just some of the gifts I received this week....and I am still learning.  I am learning that God will take my pain away, both physically and emotionally, but I have to be willing to let it go.  I'm learning that he holds me up and holds me tight even when I choose to wander around in the desert. I'm learning that I am strong enough with Him to forge a path on my own, without someone else to copy.

And if all that wasn't enough, I learned a little about brokenness and healing, too.

I guess you could say it was a big week!

I'm still processing, still learning, and still trying to live what I've learned this far.  God is still handing me  presents, and I am still opening them.  Perhaps soon, I will show you where I've been and what I've learned, but for now know this- every one of your prayers was felt and every one of your virtual hugs was needed and embraced.  Keep praying me through this journey, as I am praying for you. Love to you all!

What about you? What gifts has God given you this week?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Calling in my Prayer Warriors: Love, Loss and Grief

"Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies ... the pain of the leaving can tear us apart. 

Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking." - Henri Nouwen

Ah, Henri, how your words speak to me today.  

I always think of leaving and loss and grief in the physical sense...as in leaving a job, or family or friends and grief as in the death of a loved one or the loss of a close friend. I forget until I am in the thick of the mourning that grief and loss and leaving all happen more regularly in the death of an idea or the loss of the way that you thought something would be.  It always catches me off guard in a way and I find myself in the middle of the grieving process without any real idea how I got here.  There is a work to be done in me there, and God is proving faithful in that work.

But, oh, my friends, my heart is torn asunder. I sit in the midst of not just the loss of an idea, but of an ideal, and I am not sure how to proceed.  Shall I hold tightly in the clenched fist of my own stubbornness what I believe to be the reason for who I am at this moment and lose so many things that I have come to love? Or shall I acquiesce, submit to authority and do things in a way that I don't feel is authentic to my own journey in the hopes of being able to inject my heart somewhere along the way?

I am certain of two things: God called me to this place (I mean both spiritually and physically) and Satan opposes it in a great and mighty way. What I am not certain of at this point is why I am here and what I am supposed to do at this juncture.  Perhaps I was merely called for a short time here to open eyes and give me experiences that I would not otherwise have.  Perhaps, as a friend gently reminded me recently, that it is Satan's lie that whispers "You are done here. Move on." 

Please, dear friends, I stand at a crossroads.  Battle weary and fatigued, out of breath and tired of being buffeted by the storm. I need your prayers.  I know that God will guide me with His peace if I will allow it.  Pray for that peace to fall on me today. That God's guidance will be clear and easily discerned. Pray that I will have the wisdom to know the difference between my fleshy desire to BE right and God's RIGHT PLAN for this place. Pray that I will have the strength to choose God's right plan, even if it does not align with my own. 

Thank you, sweet friends, for listening. For supporting. And above all, for praying.I love you all.

I am off to spend some time seeking God's wisdom and I am so thankful that God designed such a perfect day for that, knowing exactly what I would need today.  

What about you? Can I pray for you today?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire


Recently, I ran across a woman who wrote a memoir about her life as a Christian witch.  As a former Wiccan, this caught my attention.  Escaping the Cauldron is an open and honest look at the world of the occult and how Christian’s are being drawn into that world.  It is a fantastic resource and a fascinating read. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a friend or relative who is involved with or drawn to the supernatural/occult. Below is an interview about her book and what she hopes to achieve through it.
What is the book about?
The book is part testimony of how I went from committed, albeit legalistic, Christian for twenty-nine years to witch, medium, and ghost hunter for eight years before God restored my faith and life. It details my personal struggle with trying to be “the perfect Christian” while being drawn to the Occult from childhood. The book is also a Biblical study that examines the current pop-cultural interest in the occult (in particular ghosts, hauntings, and mediums) and how this interest is affecting Christians...
Join me over at Strings Attached Ministries to read the rest of the interview....

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Tight-Clenched Fist

I am blogging about pressure and surrender over at http://www.carikaufman.com/.  Come on over and check it out!

Friday, June 25, 2010

What I learned on my summer vacation....

I learned to eat strawberries....no, really...it's true! For more about the lessons gleaned from this year's vacation, visit me over at www.carikaufman.com and let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I'm so excited!

I'm so excited to be featuring a guest post from one of my favorite guy bloggers over on www.carikaufman.com, Jonathan Acuff. Jon writes a blog called Stuff Christians Like (he also just published a book by the same name, released in April 2010) which is probably one of the funniest blogs I have ever read. Stuff Christians Like seeks to answer the question, "Does the stuff we like ever get in the way of the God we love?" with satire and truth.  It is hilariously funny, sometimes a little scandalous, and openly honest about the Christian life. On what Jon calls "Serious Wednesdays," though, he dives much deeper into the Christian life and takes a serious look at the challenges that we face and the God we love.  I love Wednesdays!

Anyway, come on over and check out one of these serious Wednesday posts....and check out Jon's site, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Where in the world have I been?

Wooo!  My sweet blog friends....where in the world have I been all month?

Let me just say that the month of May has been INSANE....INSANE good...but crazy nonetheless....

So I wanted to catch you up, first of all, at little admin....

Let me first tell you that the mission of Signs of Life was to be an encouragement and a place for me to post short stories that would eventually lead to the publishing of the devotional, Signs of Life: Adventures of an Everyday Soul. And it's been a great run of that....then I made friends and now Signs of Life is more of a true journal....and I like it that way....so I am transitioning this site to be more of a "What's up in my/our life" place. That being said, I will be posting my stories on www.carikaufman.com and/or www.stringsattachedministries.com.

I just posted about God's eternal love and forgiveness over on www.carikaufman.com- check it out!

Ok, now that all that is out of the way...what have I been doing?

Well...the short answer is speaking to women's groups....it's been such an awesome month of meeting new friends and sharing God's message for women and their friendships, and Strings Attached is really starting to gain momentum.  Pray for discernment and guidance for me as I navigate the waters of women's ministry...they are sometimes murky.

I spoke to my home church on May 15 and just returned from a trip to Burlington,  KS to speak to a budding support group there...Both great experiences in very different ways!

Let's see what else...Xander started baseball and is doing really well! We are enjoying watching his games!

My sister graduated from college and we spent some wonderful time with family celebrating that awesome accomplishment.

The kids are out for the summer and I am so looking forward to the next few weeks! We are headed to Maryland for a few days to attend Charlie's brother's wedding and then on to the Outerbanks for a week at the beach! YAY! I am so excited! As an aside, I am looking for a place to speak while I am in  town, so if you are east coast NC or western MD and have a group for me to speak or would like to host a book signing  June 9-19, message me!

Other than that not much going on! So nice to catching up! What are you guys up to?

Friday, May 7, 2010

To all the Moms I've loved before.....

I wrote this note last year, but as I look through it, well, it fits...so well....to the women in my life- I love you all- from the woman who bore me to the women who bear with me, thank you for mothering me in one way or another! Happy Mother's Day, Ladies!

This is a shout out to all the Mom’s in my life. 

I wanted to take a moment to let you all know how blessed I am to be surrounded by such wonderful examples of motherhood.  To say thank you to the women who daily model for me what being the keeper of the keys to the household is all about.  Some of you I know well, and you daily share your wisdom with me. Others I watch from afar and probably wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a line up, but you still impact me in such a real and positive way.  There are so many of you I can’t even begin to mention you all, but here are just a few.

Mama- wow, how do I begin? You have the ability to sit and listen to just about anyone’s problems/issues with compassion and empathy.  Your wisdom shines through in your daily demeanor and you share it freely with those around you (I like to think that I got this from you and hope that I do it as gracefully as you do).  You have taught me to genuinely care about others and the impact that service to just one individual can make.  In my rush to save the world, you help me to realize that real change happens one soul at a time.

Lora- You have the gift of bridging the generations.  You can easily communicate with people from all walks of life, young and old.  What do I learn from watching you as a mother? The power of calm.  You always seem to take everything in stride, but with enthusiasm and zest for life.  I love to watch you play with your son and my children.  You never seem too busy to stop and take a moment out to just focus on them.  You teach people that they are important through your love and attention.

Alexis- I sometimes get sad for you because I think you are a mom too soon.  I want you to be a kid more, but that is an unreasonable desire….you have always been a mom in heart. You have always been the one who tended to the relationships of this family, kept in contact with everyone.  You have taught me that love is best shown face to face, spoken aloud, written down….not assumed. Keep reminding me, I will learn it eventually!  I am amazed by the way that you have juggled the responsibilities in your life.  Raising three children in this world is not easy, let alone the working full time and finishing school. And you do it with grace and acceptance that I often don’t have at 35, let alone did I have it in my twenties. 

My friends: some of you are “biological” moms who have children of your own, some of you are different types of moms altogether.  But all of you have taught me life lessons.   Like Kim Gordon, who daily teaches me that my high calling…more than anything else, is to minister to my family; or Kim Gartner, who simply amazes me with her peace and grace in the face of 20 K-2 kids everyday, but most of all, reminds me to look for and reward the great things my kids do each day.  My homeschool mom friends, Holly, Tonya, and so many more women who go beyond active participation in their children’s educations, but have made it their lives’ work—I am daily in awe of what you do.  My teacher moms (some with their “own” children, some without)- uh, yeah…wow! You are at times the only real love and structure some children know, and you provide it to 20-30 people at a time. My working mom friends, who are able to hold their household together while working a full time job outside the home. My at-home mom friends, who are able to hold their household together while working a full time job inside the home. And all those in between who manage to be the glue that holds all of the individual parts in place and together. Nicole and all my single mom friends…crazy, how you  manage all the stuff…all the time…just amazing.  Lauren, Beth, Fannesha, Missy, and all those other women out their that are military or corporate “single moms”…I have been there, sometimes knowing you’re partner is on the other side of the world makes the work of a single mother even more difficult because you hold open the space for the your mate, thank you for sharing your husbands with us.  Heather, Kim, AJ and all those other moms who are running/trying to start their own businesses (slash rockstar singing careers) but value the importance of time spent with their children and families…I am constantly in awe of your persistence and ability to continue moving forward.  To my blog friends, who sit down to write and open up your world, thank you for sharing your weaknesses, your thoughts and your heart with us.

Anyway, now my head is spinning with all of these moms that I want to shout out to….too many to count, too many to list.  But know this, whether you have your own children or not, if you are a woman, you are a mother. We as women, bring life to the world, both biologically and through the outpouring of our love on those around us. Regardless, of your circumstances, you deserve to be honored. 

Know that your everyday work and love it is not going unnoticed.  I watch. Others do too.  Your children watch.  We are all learning from your example.  Thank you for providing such a wonderful one for us to follow!  You are all beautiful and awesome! Happy Mother’s Day!



Company Girl Coffee 5/7/2010- Estou com saudades de Você!

Or I missed you in Portuguese! I did! ALOT!

Oh, Girls, where do I begin?  I'm not sure...let's go back a couple of weeks to April 22-25...I had the awesome opportunity to join 406 other women at "Captivating" in Fraser, Colorado.  Captivating is based on John and Stasi Eldredge's book, Captivating: Unveiling the Mysteries of a Woman's Soul. If you have not read it, Girls, don't read another book until you have read this one! I am serious....do it now!

Anyway, after years of trying to get to one of these conferences: it finally happened! My friend and I traveled by plane to Denver, and then by shuttle bus the two hours to Fraser.  I volunteered to be one of the four shuttle commanders- which entailed a little more than I had imagined.  I was thinking more shuttle van than shuttle charter bus...200 women, 4 buses, 4 very different shuttle bus commander personalities- it's a good thing I'm a teambuilding coach...just sayin...

Fortunately all that military leadership training didn't fail me:



We ended up snowed in on the mountain...it snowed ALOT...beautiful...which forced me (and i needed it) to STOP and BE. To REST and LISTEN. God met me there and I am forever grateful for the renewal I experienced.  


Transitioning has been a bit more difficult than I thought and getting back to the "real" world while trying to cling to the truths I learned while on the "mountain top" (figuratively and literally) has been a jarring experience.  Frankly, and this is completely outside my normal M.O., I haven't wanted to be around people at all...I just want to sit with God, bask in His love for me, feel the weight of His delight in me....ah, what a lovely , soul refreshing place to be! But he calls me to be in the world, so I can be of use to Him and well that's where I need to be...I don't have the words yet to fully describe what happened to me and for me up there on that snowy mountain....so I apologize if I don't make sense...maybe soon...;)

So that is where I am...preparing to give a Strings Attached presentation on May 15 and working through where God wants me and this ministry he's given me.  Lots of writing to come....you may want to subscribe...some of the best stuff I've ever written is flowing from my pen these days...God is showing me so much and I pray that my human words can do it justice....Until then, I will share a journal entry from my first morning quiet time at the retreat:

Big fluffy snowflakes fall, muffling the sounds of four hundred women beginning to stir. The beauty of the mountains surround me. We have all come here together seeking the same answer to the same question, a question every woman bears- "Am I captivating?"

We all ask it different ways-but it is the ageless question on every woman's heart. On mine.

"Lord, am I beautiful? Am I truly yours, Lord? Do you really love ME so much that you would send you son to DIE...FOR ME?

I wish I could say that I am a woman who didn't need that question constantly answered. I wish that the blessed assurance that I am God's BELOVED DAUGHTER- bought and paid for...no RANSOMED..by the blood of Jesus Christ would sit, would stay put in  my heart forever. But the understanding of that sacrifice escapes daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes by the minute.

The world and the enemy of my soul they tell me it's not true, they tell me I am not lovely, I am not captivating, I am not beloved....even worse- they tell me I am not His. 

And I wish, God, I pray, that I did not believe that lie so often. So Lord, I come to ask you , "Do you see me? Am I lovely? Am I yours, Lord?

In this room, where others are asking the same question in each their own special way...I hear You shout, not whisper, but cry out a definitive, "YES!"   And my heart cries out in joy...in response.

I see it now, all around me...your extravagant love for me...like a beau bringing flowers to his lady. I see it in the fluffy snowflakes on my eyelashes- like kisses form God. And in the beautiful smiles of the sister hearts I meet all around me. And the breathtaking views of the mountains. And the vivid blue of the sky. And I hear it in the 400 voices raised in song and worship, and the shouts of praise and the whispered prayers of intercessors.  Thank you, Lord Jesus, for meeting me here. For bringing me here. For loving me here. I love You.

"I kept running around it in large or small circles, always looking for someone or something able to convince me of my Belovedness. 

Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the "Beloved". Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence." 





Friday, April 16, 2010

"I'm not very comfortable with this.."

I'm linking up with the Company Girls today! Won't you join me? www.homesanctuary.com 


I gotta be totally honest. I am not a huge fan of snow. I am a southern girl- a lizard, my friends call me- and while I don’t like cold in general, I specifically don’t like driving in inclement weather conditions.

A couple of years ago, I traveled with my business partner and his family to Denver to present a team building workshop called CSI:You for one of our client’s national sales rallies. (The great thing about my work is that it often feels like play- and this was specifically one of those times). The first couple of days we were in town we had open to sight-see and adventure in Colorado. Tim and his daughter are both amateur photographers, and the draw of the mountain vistas and opportunity for beautiful photos could not be denied. Thus, we headed up to the mountains.

 
As we started up Mount Evans (elevation 14,270 ft) in search of scenic landscapes, we were rewarded with winding roads and stunning waterfalls. There was a light rain falling and the sky was the kind of gray that made colors pop in photos. Breathtaking…wonder at God’s creation shouted all around us. As we rounded 9,000 feet or so, it started to snow. It was beautiful..giant fluff-ball flaked snow that fell in a gentle silent cascade that muffled all sound and blanketed us in peace.

We came upon the Ranger station and a jolly-ole-St Nick looking fellow greeted us enthusiastically. 

“Let me tell you what I’ve got for you today, kids! I’ve got winding roads, blizzard heavy snowfall, whiteout conditions and an avalanche warning! If I were a bettin’ man, I would bet that none of that will stop you though! Can’t summit today cause the roads are blocked, but you can make it up to Summit Lake about 12,000 feet! Have fun and be careful!” 

Ruh-Roh, Shaggy! Did he say BLIZZARD? Sounds like inclement weather to me! 

“We’re turning around, right Tim?” I giggled nervously (I wish I had a tape of this particular giggle because, well, I had never heard it come out of me before…or since, but it sounded much like Woody the Woodpecker meets Minnie Mouse.)
“Are you kidding? You know what kind of shots we could get up there? No way, CK, we gotta keep going!"

Insert screeching brake sounds here….WHAT!?


Did you hear the guy?! He said BLIZZARD! We’re in Colorado- when they say blizzard they mean it!

But what actually came out of my mouth was, “Hehehe..” (I would continue this nervous Woody/Minnie giggle for the next hour at least) “I’m not very comfortable with this.

But I wasn’t in the driver’s seat, so really my options were limited, and being left outside in the cold was less appealing than trusting my friend and business partner to take good care of us.

I’m not very comfortable with this…” Now that I have put Jesus in the driver’s seat of my life, I often find myself looking at a blizzard of activities and saying, “God, I’m not very comfortable with this.” I have to trust that God has this under control and he can see and navigate through the storms of life far better than I can.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t express my concern. I’ve learned in my life that experiencing fear isn’t always the same thing as having a lack of trust. God built us to analyze and perceive situations as safe or unsafe. Saying, “I’m not comfortable with this,” is not the same as saying “I don’t trust you.” What makes the difference between healthy fear and expressing concern and a lack of trust which eventually leads to defiance is the action that YOU take after recognizing your fears.

I suppose I could have folded my arms across my chest, stomped my foot and thrown a fit about climbing that mountain. Or opened the door and gotten out of the vehicle (I am certain Kris Kringle had hot cocoa in the ranger station), but what I did  showed that just because I felt fear and expressed it didn’t mean that I did not trust my friend. I was rewarded with a great experience and a hilarious story to share with others. We made it to Summit Lake that day…the white out/blizzard conditions made for an interesting photo op…yep that’s us, standing somewhere near Summit Lake (since we couldn’t actually see Summit Lake, it’s hard to tell. You can see the plaque behind us, but when they say WHITEOUT, they mean EVERYTHING IS WHITE!)

God has equally wonderful adventures and blessings waiting for me just beyond the point of  “I’m not very comfortable with this..” What about you?

Has God asked you to step out of your comfort zone and into something bigger? Are you a little scared of where that might lead? 

I encourage you to giggle nervously and breathlessly await God’s blessing….it’s ok to admit you’re a little scared…but step out anyway! I promise- it’s worth it!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Company Girl Shout Out! 4/6/2010


Olá!, minhas irmãs da menina da companhia!Como é você todo? Won' t você junta-se me para algum chá? (Hello my Company Girl Sisters! How are you all? Won't you join me for some tea?) Check me with the Portugese!  I am learning....oh so slowly, but enjoying the process! 

How are you girls these days? Life is going well for me! Have a seat and some CHOCOLATE quinoa breakfast brownies...oh man, these puppies are even better than the regular quinoa breakfast brownies (of course they are...they have more chocolate!) I missed last week so let me catch you up!

First of all, I want to say thank you to you girls for all your prayers. I was really struggling to put my breakout session together (talk about reinventing the wheel, ladies...it was a tough one for me) and struggled with a great deal of self-doubt and spiritual warfare last week. Your prayers were needed and felt so dearly at the crucial moment....thank you.  

As for the keynote and breakout I presented at the Jonesboro Young Professionals Network Leadership Conference, I thought they went well. I got great feedback, and met some outstanding people. I was blown away by the welcome I got, and just can't say enough good things about the group! I made new friends, and found new sisters and simply fell in love with the group.

Came home to choir practice in preparation for our Resurrection Sunday Presentation. I had a solo in the presentation, and simply did not feel prepared for it. Sunday went really well, though. We had record numbers in attendance and the presentation itself went nicely.  I think God was blessed by it...but you wanna know the coolest part? We had EIGHT baptisms! ON RESURRECTION SUNDAY! Oh man, it was awesome to join in celebration of the new life Christ gives us! 

This week has been a week of much needed rest. Taking my friend Mary Ann's advice, I scheduled myself off this week. Each morning during my prayer time, I have been asking for God to give me his priorities, his to do list for my day....WOW! It's been an amazing week of seeing how God is so present....ESPECIALLY in the little things. I won't share all the details with you because well...there are so many small ones...but suffice it to say I have been greatly blessed, refreshed and in awe of all that he does for us. I did get to work in my garden this week and God showed me this. It was an amazing day of reflection for me. And I am so grateful to my friends for reminding me that this time of rest is needed, and to my God who so graciously refreshes my weary soul and heart.

In homefront news, Xanman started baseball this week.  We will see how this all plays out, but for now, he is waking his father at 6 am to throw the ball.  Yep, that's right...the sun isn't even up yet.  I love it....love seeing his heart come alive with the joy of learning a new skill...it's been great to watch.  LizzieLou is doing quite well with her Vision Therapy and got a great report from her progress exam last week. We are definitely seeing big leaps in her reading levels. 

I am half way to my goal of $3500 for the International Life and Leadership Camp and have sold over 50 books! YAY! If you would like to donate, or to buy a book...just click on the paypal buttons in the sidebar! I would really appreciate your help!

So that's my life this past couple of weeks....what about yours? How is all going with you?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Gardener's Pain

I love spring.  I love the bursting forth of new life. I love the possibility of new growth. I love green and bright yellow and red and blue. I love the bright rainbows of color after the white and gray of winter. I love to grow stuff. Stuff in my garden, stuff in my flower bed, stuff in the yard. I am NOT a fan of the allergies that come with spring, but I understand the necessity.

I am new to gardening/plant caretaking. It’s only been in the last few years that I have learned to heed my father’s (he is a builder of parks…he knows a thing or two- or a million- about getting things to grow) advice about being a gardener. I remember the first time he told me that I had to prune my rosebushes all the way back to the original stalk to get the best growth. Or when I grew my first tomato plant and he told me to cut all the runners off except for the top two.  I was aghast!

 “REALLY, Daddy? I have to chop down my entire rose bush? It will never grow back!”
“Well, it will still grow without it, but it won’t get strong. There is a great power in pruning.”

And after my first couple of years with leggy, pouty roses and 4 tomatoes to a plant, I wholeheartedly agree. There is power in pruning.
 
This morning, I noticed that my flowerbed in the front yard is coming to life- YAY!  I also noticed that I had done a poor job of putting it to sleep last fall and had not pruned back all the growth last year. In an effort to let it flower just a little longer I let my Morning Glory and Clematis twine together and continue to grow through the very mild fall. By the time I realized they had started their winter hibernation, it was cold and so I left the dry vines on the trellis.  But there she is, starting to climb, my pretty purple Clematis.

When I arrived home this morning, I decided to take down the dry brush and make way for the new spring growth. So I don my gloves, my pruning shears and head to the trellis to cut through the dead branches.  The Clematis is growing beautifully….twining it’s way around all the nasty, dried up, last year’s growth.

Wow…what a visual for my life.

I am growing, beautifully…producing fruit even, beautiful large purple flowers that praise My Great Gardener’s Care….but, somewhere along the way, I forgot to clear out the brush. The dry, brittle, straw-like branches that don’t bring life. And I am climbing and twining my way up those dry branches. Twisting and turning, grabbing hold tight to the ugly, dead parts of my life. Parts that will hold me back, tie me down and choke out the beauty that I am capable of showing.

Just as I don’t want that ugliness in my flower bed, God doesn’t want it in our lives either. So what does a good gardener do? A good gardener prunes away the dead, to make room for the Life.  And, sometimes…there are casualties. Sometimes, the  live, fruit producing branches are so entwined with the dead ones that there are only two choices:

1)      Let all the ugliness stay

OR

2) Prune both away.



IT HURTS!

Does it hurt the Clematis…yes a bit…but she will have more energy to produce more flowers…big beautiful, glorious flowers.

But it really hurts the Gardener! As a gardener, I feel sad for the Clematis…she has done good work, but it is necessary for her to continue to grow. I feel a bit of anxiety, that she will stop growing all together, and thus never fully step into the potential that I see for her. I wonder how much I can prune, without killing the vine altogether.

As my Great Gardener prunes away the dry and dead brush from my life, I wonder if he feels this pain…no wait, I know he must feel this pain. The pain a Father feels when he is disciplining His daughter. I am saddened that I left the dead brush in place and in my zeal to grow for Him have enmeshed my new growth in my old,dead flesh.

Dear Lord, come and prune away the dead and dying brush from my life. Make way for new life in me. I am sorry that I have entangled the gifts that you have given me with the my old habits of doing things. I am ready to cut away the old, even if I must sacrifice some of the new so that I may reflect only your beauty,  only your glory. Make me beautiful in Your eyes, O God, and train me how to grow to Your potential for my life. I love you. Amen.

What dry brush do you need to clean out in order to make way for new growth? 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Best non-cheese mac and cheese so far....

I just have to share a recipe with ya'll....

Most of you know that my family has some pretty interesting food challenges, so I am not going into big detail with that here, but I just wanted to share and uber-awesome recipe that we had tonight.

In the quest to find food that tastes good and is not some sort of derivative of chicken and rice, I recently signed up for a menu-mailer from Heart of Cooking- www.heartofcooking.com and I have to say I have been super pleased.  If you have a special diet, or simply want to improve yours, check Sarah's site out.  Deliciousness...

So tonight's menu called for Macaroni and Cheese....hmmmm...I have to say in the two years of being allergen free the search for a mac and cheese substitute has been somewhat like the search for the Holy Grail...near impossible and totally exhausting. Sarah has done it though....oh, man....she really has cooked up some yumminess...

So here is the recipe:


DAIRY-FREE CHEESY PASTA
Adpated From: Bryanna Clark Grogan

TOTAL TIME: 20 MINUTES * MAKES 4 SERVINGS

Ingredients:
1 package of your choice of pasta - we used Tinkyada fusili
1- 1 1/3 cup water
1 medium sweet potato (about 4 oz.), peeled and
chunked
1-2 medium carrots, scrubbed and chunked
1/2 medium onion, peeled and chunked
2 clove of garlic
1/2 cup raw cashew pieces
2 Tbsp. sesame tahini, optional (I didn't use this)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast " akes
1 Tbsp lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. salt

Steps:
1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Drain, rinse with cold water, return to pot and cover
to keep warm.
2. Simmer the sweet potato, carrot, garlic and onion
in a small saucepan with the water, covered, for
about 10 minutes, or until the carrot and potato are
tender.
3. Add veggies to the blender container with the
remaining ingredients. Blend until VERY smooth.
Add water if too thick. Add back into the pot and
heat if too liquidly. The cashews will thicken as they
are heated. (You can also use a blending wand in
the pot).
4. Add desired amount of sauce to the pasta and
serve immediately. Or, refrigerate sauce, covered for
up to a week. (Reheat over gentle heat.) Add a little
water to thin.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Company Girl Coffee 3/26/2010- SockMonkey Invasion!


Olá!! Meninas da Companhia! (Portugese for Hello! Company Girls! Can I just say that whoever told me Portugese was just like Spanish was SORELY mistaken! Well, come on in...I am actually NOT running out the door this morning, so perhaps you can stay for some tea and...wait for it....Triple Chocolate Fat Pants Cake....got your "fat pants" on? You'll need them AND and adrenaline injection to drag you out of the sugar coma that follows.  


Oh, man is this gluten free, vegan, and processed sugar free (don't get me wrong...there is a LOT of evaporated cane juice up in that mama), but Erin McKenna really out did herself with this one! This recipe is featured in her book, BabyCakes....and oh, wow...yummmmmm....Anyway, I would love to share a bit with you!


Let's see, why don't I catch you up on all the craziness?


Last week was my sister's wedding. We were so excited because the week leading up to her big day, weather was stunning! We are talking sunshine and 70 degrees! I actually wore flip flops and capri pants on FRIDAY! On Saturday, IT SNOWED! Welcome to Arkansas my friends, this is how it is! It didn't just snow a little bit....it snowed 12 inches! Insanity! They say rain on your wedding day is good luck...what about snow? Thankfully, we had talked her out of an outdoor wedding and the ceremony itself was unaffected...and absolutely beautiful.  There were so many wonderful moments and my baby sis looked so beautiful....I was so happy to be a part of that special day.  Hopefully, soon, I will share some photos with you!


ANYWAY, so I'm not sure if it was a combo of the three inch heels, the massive stress I put on myself the week before, or holding her EXTREMELY heavy dress up as my mom steamed the tulle, but I threw my back out! Seriously? Wow, laid up by high heels...not good. So I was on my back Sunday and Monday and am just today recovering full range of motion....thank goodness for my chiropractor who restored any motion at all on Monday...Needless to say, this week of spring break has not at all been what I expected.


Sunday is my big book launch party and I am super excited about it! Which reminds me...if you would like a book...all you gotta do is click on the button over there in the sidebar...be sure to fill out who you would like me to sign it to.


I am in full on fundraising mode for Inspired Girls Life and Leadership Camp and looking forward to the blessings that trip will bring to me and the girls. I can't wait. I am blown away by the outpouring of my friends and family. As a family of teachers, education is such an important part of our lives, to think that there are girls whose only obstacle is a $20 set of uniforms.  We can be the difference for them...we can change their lives! You can too! Just click the Donate button in the sidebar. I am about half way to my goal of $3500...  Every little bit helps! 


My Girls, I covet your prayers...I am seriously struggling with a speech I am writing for an event next week. Please pray that God gives me the words...and helps me supernaturally prepare for this event. 


OH...and now for the Sockmonkey reference! I am so excited...my Improv group (we're a fledgling comedy group), Sockmonkey, is having it's first annual weekend intensive this weekend...We have an experienced player from The Roving Imp in Kansas City coming down to put us through our paces and get us ready for our big Comedy debut (May 1). I am so excited about it I can't hardly wait!  If any of you is looking for an activity that pushes you as a person, forces you out of any semblance of comfort zone, and makes you laugh til your face hurts...you should give Improv a whirl! I love it!


What about you guys?  What's up in your world?



Friday, March 19, 2010

EEK! There's a Big Spider on my Bible!


Good Morning, Company Girls! As promised, here is the post about the Spider and the Bible...I was going to post a picture of the kind of spider, but it just eeked me out to much....sorry, for the lack of media, but well...I hope you enjoy the post anyway! It may be late Sun before I get to anyone as sister's wedding is this weekend, but I will make the rounds I promise! Have a great weekend...and be sure to check out the blog at www.stringsattachedministries.com, I posted on beauty for a friend of mine this week, I would love to get your feedback on it!

This morning the Lord woke me early. Well, earlier than normal…I am ex-military and am often told that my early and the rest of the world’s early are two very different time frames. Normally, when this happens I am ashamed to say I grumble like my second grader for “a few more minutes,” snuggle tightly into my husband’s warmth and, well, tell God to bug off until my usual 0530 wake up.

I am happy to say that today I was obedient. When my eyes popped open at 0445, instead of grumbling and rolling over, I asked, “What do you have to tell me today, Lord?”

His answer? “Plenty.”

So I roll out of bed and bound down the stairs. I break out Charlie’s cozy blue Snuggie (these are awesome by the way) and curl up on the couch with my new Bible study (“Live Intimately: Lessons from the Upper Room”), my Bible, my pretty prayer journal that I got at our retreat in November, and an open heart and mind. And I dig in…I tear into the scripture, I madly jot answers and notes…really one of the best quiet times I have had in years. It was awesome!

Then, just as I am pondering an additional scripture reference….an uninvited guest joins my quiet time….and, well…it wasn’t so quiet anymore…

Across the pages of John 13:7-9 walks a ginormous, hugemongous spider….I ain’t gonna lie, ladies, I went full on girly-girl. I shrieked like a banshee and threw the Good Book as far off my lap as I could heft it, jumped up, grabbed a house shoe and proceeded to beat the tar out that spider.

Uh-Oh…metaphor for life alert.

How many times have I abandoned the shelter of the Word of God because the message was something I didn’t want to hear or see? Because in my feeble mind, I was too afraid, too immature, too….undisciplined. Oh, too many to count. Like the spider crawling across the Bible, I use fear as an excuse to run away, or worse…to squash the messenger.

I felt the sudden tug of a repentant heart. Repentance far beyond, “Lord, I am sorry I killed your spider…and threw your book on the ground,”

but more like-

“Oh, MY GOD, I am sorry that I run from your difficult messages. From my ugly places. From the light that you shine on my strongholds of sin. Please, forgive me for lack of discipline, my lack of strength, my lack of obedience. Fill me with Your light, Your strength, Your will. I’m scared to look…but I am ready. Show me.” What I beautiful time I had with the Lord…scary, but beautiful.

Ok…so wanna hear even more God-coolness? In my brand new, super pretty, extra girly prayer journal every even page has a scripture verse. I opened the journal to write this epiphany down. And I see:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”- Psalm 51:10

Wow…I guess eight legged creatures are good for more than just killin’ mosquitoes afterall….

Has God showed you a life lesson through “metaphor” lately? I’d love to hear it!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Face to Face with Adonai

From my bible study this morning, I love this. (I am currently working through a Bible study called Live Intimately: Lessons from the Upper Room by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose. It has been a wonderful study so far, and God is showing me such love in His word and through this study. This morning, poem, from the chapter “Changing Expectations:”

I had walked life’s path with an easy tread,

Had followed where comfort and pleasure led;

And then by chance in a quiet place-

I met my Master face to face.


With station and rank and wealth for goal,

Much thought for body but none for soul,

I had entered to win this life’s mad race-

When I met my Master face to face.


I had built my castles, reared them high,

Till their towers had pierced the blue of the sky;

I had sworn to rule with an iron mace-

When I met my Master face to face.


I met Him and knew Him, and blushed to see

That His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me;

And I faltered, and fell at His feet that day

While my castles vanished and melted away.


Melted and vanished; and in their place

I saw naught else but my Master’s face;

And I cried aloud: “Oh, make me meet

To follow the marks of Thy wounded feet.”

My thought is now for the souls of men.


I have lost my life to find it again

Ever since alone in that holy place

My Master and I stood face to face


Lord, I have to admit that washing feet was not what I had in mind when I became a Christian. It’s awe inspiring to see your humble example. Lord, I surrender my lofty plans. Let me do what you have done and serve others. Amen

Friday, March 12, 2010

Company Girl Coffee 3/12/2010

Hola, Mi Amigas!

I pray your week went as wonderfully as mine. Despite allergy issues with the entire fam (gotta love spring- I will deal with some runny noses in trade for some sunshine though), this week was a pretty big week for me.

Ummm...let's see where to start?

Oh yeah...with a shameless plug! BUY MY BOOK! Check it out- you can order your very own autographed copy just over to the right in the sidebar! Fill the little text box in and I will even personalize it!

AND-please consider a donation to Inspired Girls Life and Leadership Camp- any bit will help...we are trying to provide 180 teenage girls in Brazil the opportunity to go to school. They are currently unable to attend because they can't afford uniforms...wanna know how much they are? $20 US...For less than the cost of a tank of gas you can help a girl get a leg up on life. I've committed to raising $3500. Will you help me make a difference in these girls' lives?

Ok...enough with the solicitation...on with the visiting...

The past weekend was stunning weather wise. Sadly, I spent most of it in a caffeine and sugar overload induced fog. My sister's bachelorette party was Friday night. My middle sister rented a limo (it was my first limo ride) and a group of us went to dinner, and then back to my sister's house for a lingerie party. It was fun, but I learned two things: 1) I am no longer capable of functioning at a high level after staying up and talking til 2 am and 2) I have crossed squarely over into the "mom" category and am simply not much fun by 23 year old standards;). Saturday was her wedding shower. The happy couple are going to Rome for their honeymoon, so the shower had an Italian theme..complete with a cake that looked like a pizza. It was awesome!

Monday, my Lizzie (she's 6) had what we think was a migraine-type headache, and needless to say was not her usual exuberant self, so I picked her up from school before lunch. She's feeling better now, but still isn't quite herself. With all the strong weather fronts moving through I am hoping that is the main culprit.

Tuesday, I met with some folks who want me to teach a series of bible studies for them, and met with several others who want me to partner with them in some way. Pray for me, my sisters. I am a jump-in-with-two-feet kind of gal...and with Strings Attached starting to gain momentum, the temptation to change focus is great. Pray that I hear and obey God's guidance in these days of opportunity.

Wednesday, I registered Strings Attached Ministries as an official business. Ya'll this was a big deal for me. I was in a near cold sweat the whole time I was at the county clerk's office. I am not sure why...perhaps simply because it seems like such a concrete commitment now that I have a paper with a fancy seal on it. Anyway, now I am all official and stuff...it's cool, but SCARY!

Thursday, I made some strides with my website and wrote a great deal...They aren't quite ready for posting yet, but I feel a flurry of blogtivity looming....watch out....deep thoughts ahead;)

One of the oddest things that happened (and spurred an interesting upcoming blog post- look for it next week) was during my quiet time Thursday morning. God woke me extra early (about 5 am) so I went down, opened a new bible study, curled into my husband's snuggie and started reading in John 13. As I am reading, this HUGE SPIDER crawls across the Bible! I went full-on girly-girl, shrieked, threw the Good Book on the ground and proceeded to beat said spider to death! It was quite a rude interruption to my quiet time...somehow, with God's help, I have managed to craft an object lesson out of the whole thing so the poor spider didn't die in vain. I hope to share that story with you next week.

Wow...I am long-winded tonight...I think I might miss you girls a bit... the last few weeks I just haven't been able to get around to everyone. I hope to this week. Let's all link up over at RachelAnne's place! Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Company Girl Coffee 3/5

Come on in! I have gluten free/vegan blueberry muffins and quinoa breakfast brownies for snacks and some lovely tea for drink...yum...I hope you enjoy!

Life has been so hectic these past weeks, I don't have much time to stop and write, but just to catch you up...here's an updated:

Living Life with Strings Attached launched on Monday and is now available for SALE! YAY!
You can order a copy by clicking on the "buy my book" link at the top of the page OR if you would like a more socially conscious way to get your copy (and would like to have my "John Hancock"), send a check for $15 to Strings Attached Ministries, PO Box 187, Lowell, AR 72745 (leave a comment and let me know that you are doing this so I can be sure to have enough books in stock). For every book purchased this way $5 will benefit The Inspired Girls International Life and Leadership Camp in Brazil. I am so excited to share this message and ministry with you!

My first Book Signing Party is March 28, in Bentonville, AR for those of you who are local, message me and I will send details, and I make my big radio debut on Tuesday at 1235 EST on http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cwa-radio. I am a bit nervous about it, but I know that God will meet me at the mic.

My ministry partner and I just returned from a great conference in The Woodlands, TX last weekend called Share Fair 2010. It is a ministry of Reflective Life Ministries and was an absolutely awesome experience. There were fantastic speakers, break out sessions, sweet times of connection with new friends, and over 85 ministries represented. We had a blast!

The kids are out of school today, and well, the sun is shining! It is a glorious day here and we are going to get outside and enjoy it! I have my sister's bachelorette party tonight and her wedding shower tomorrow (pray for energy for me...eek...that's a lot of parties to pull off in one weekend!)

I think that's everything...I have a couple of other things in the works, but they aren't quite ready for unveiling yet! I can't wait to tell you all about them!

Got a big weekend ahead, but I hope to make it around to all the Company Girls...might not be til Sunday night, though! Link up with us!

There was an error in this gadget