Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen, Random

When Advent Gets a Little Weird

Daily devotions by my advent wreath”
Advent Card ‘Calendar’ Tradition
“Cookie Baking with friends”
Sing in the Vespers Choir
“Use more paper plates” …

Wait, what?!?
How did paper plates make their way onto my mental “Ways to celebrate Advent this year” list?!?

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure.

Maybe it’s an excuse to be lazy.
Maybe it’s just flat out weird.
However somehow, as I explored the Advent Conspiracy phrases of Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All, I found myself wondering if perhaps those few minutes it takes to wash the dishes each day could be better spent somewhere else.

A ten minute drive around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights
An extra moment to write a Christmas card to a soldier or missionary
The chance to hit the snooze button or simply sit quietly on the couch during an often busy, stressful season

A theme God is teaching me a lot about in my life right now is the idea of holding both myself and others to a standard of pure grace rather than perfection and some days that means paper plates.

Sure there will still be pots and pans to wash. And of course, sometimes I may choose to get out the even fancier dishes than my normal dishware, but as I think about ways to care for myself and others this Advent season, I’m glad “paper plates” made the list.

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Random

Unexpected Family at 32,000 feet

To anyone walking past row 6 on flight 3699 to Chicago Monday morning, it likely seemed all three of us passengers were together despite knowing practically nothing about the man and woman in seats A and B.

Having had an busy morning making final preparations to leave town for a few days, I was just getting a chance to able to pull out my Bible and journal as I climbed aboard the puddle jumper plane. As I settled into my seat 32,000 feet in the air, I also was able to settle into God’s Presence and read words from His holy book that somehow so powerfully calm my soul.

But I found myself distracted in the most wonderful of ways. Soon after take-off the man next to me pulls his Bible out of the seatback in front of him and the woman I assume is his wife does the same. And there we sit, strangers, yet family, taking in God’s Word, feeding on it as we sip our 4 oz cups of juice provided by the stewardess.

If that wasn’t enough of a beautiful picture, I look up from my journal at one point just in time to see the man reach across the aisle, grab his wife’s hand, and hold it gently, only letting go to let the flight attendant pass with the beverage cart. No words were exchanged, I don’t even think there was a glance in her direction. Just a man and a woman, connecting with their Savior, each other, and without them knowing it, me, their fellow sister. Perhaps those people passing row 6 are right… we ARE “together.”

We are family.

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First Trinity, Random

God’s Word is Strong!

One of the most common reasons some people struggle to believe Christianity and/or Jesus is true comes down to a simple game of “telephone”.

You’ve all played the game before: One person starts with a phrase and whispers it to the next person. That person whispers it to another and so on, until it gets to the last person. What makes this “telephone” game fun is the fact that by the time the last person receives the message, “The cow jumped over the moon” somehow mysteriously turns into “My cat escaped from the zoo.” We see this in real life too, right? We called it gossip or the rumor mill. The truth gets twisted in 16 different ways as it moves from person to person.

Because much of the Bible was passed on orally for many years before it was written down, people just assume that somehow the message must have changed along the way. If “The cow jumped over the moon” can’t pass through 6 people accurately sitting in the same room, how can we trust that whole Biblical accounts could be passed on from generation to generation to generation and still be 100% without fault?

Well, the answer is quite simple:
GOD’S WORD IS STRONG!

I got to see this in action this past Sunday when I had a chance to play an extreme game of “telephone” while leading the children’s message in worship. I started out sharing a message with a few of the kids and then asked them to go share it 3-4 other people out in the congregation. Then, each of the people who heard the message were to pass it along until everyone in the sanctuary had heard the message. Here’s where the risk came in: I then asked the whole congregation, on the count of 3, to say what they heard.

The possibility for disaster was great and I was dreading trying to make the connection with the theme that needed to be made if the message came back all mixed up. But it was time to see the results and when “3” came around, the message echoed clearly through the sanctuary:

“Jesus is alive and He loves you!”

At first I was amazed that it actually worked! (Especially since some of my first messengers where only a few years old!). Then it was relief that I could finish my message as planned. But as I walked back from up front, I remembered:

God’s Word is strong!

It has power unlike anything else! It’s indestructible. In Matthew 24:35 we read:

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away”

And we see these verses in Isaiah:

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (40:8)

“[My Word] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (55:11)

I’m so thankful for things like “risky” children’s messages that God can use to remind me of simple, but POWERFUL truths about who He is and the beautiful gift He’s given us in His Word!

So whatever joy or struggle you’re in the midst of, remember this: God’s Word is strong and powerful and God longs for that strength and power to be unleashed in our lives each and every day!

(Oh and P.S. Jesus is alive and He LOVES you! … Now go tell a friend!)

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Random

Congratulations!

“Congratulations, you loan is paid in full.”

Ever since starting my Financial Peace journey (which was also around the time I started to have to pay off my student loans), I always get excited and celebrate when I see another e-mail with the above subject line. (Only a few more to go!)

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The emails often come at least a month after the final payment is actually made. So even though I KNOW the debt has already been paid, it is always exciting to get that email that verifies that truth. It’s proof that I don’t owe them anything else. Today, was no exception.

Though, I will say, that as that email came through my inbox today, in this Holy Week, I was reminded of another debt I have… an even greater one that the student loans I’ve managed to rack up. A debt that I would NEVER be able to pay off no matter HOW big my debt snowball is… the debt of sin.

As we journey through this Holy Week with Jesus… seeing his suffering… seeing Him step in and say, “I’ve got this one,” we can look forward to that glorious moment Easter Sunday when we receive a holy “email” that verifies once again:

CONGRATULATIONS, YOUR DEBT HAS BEEN PAID!

May we truly CELEBRATE what God has done for us and live in the freedom that comes in being “debt” free.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. … For you were called to freedom. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:1,13)

Bekah's Heart, Random

Laughter Came From Every Brick

Just wanted to share a beautiful poem I love by Teresa of Avila. Hope you love it too!

Just these two words He spoke
changed my life,

“Enjoy Me.”

What a burden I thought I was to carry –
a crucifix,
as did He.

Love once said to me, “I know a song,
would you like to hear it?”

And laughter came from every brick in the street
and from every pore in the sky.

After a night of prayer,
He changed my life when
He sang,

“Enjoy Me.”

Bekah's Heart, First Trinity, Haiti, Internship Highlights, Joy, Mission Work, NY Adventures, Random

I love my life! (And I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.)

At 11:45 this morning I passed this sign on my way back from helping run the ropes course for Operation Purple Camp at Pioneer Camp and Retreat Center: 

The crazy thing about this is that I drove past that same sign for the very first time exactly two years ago today at the end of a 1,200 miles journey to move here from Kansas.

When I passed the sign today, I found myself instantly breathless and in awe, recalling all that’s happened in the last two years.

I recalled the nervous excitement of pulling into this parking lot for the first time greeted by car-washing youth and my amazing teammates and I think about the one that will take place this coming Saturday in that very spot.

I think about the hard times, the good times, and the in-between times that have filled the last 730 days.

I’ve been stretched, comforted, challenged, pranked, loved, encouraged, invited, broken, healed, sick, healthy, prompted, cared for, listened to, led, followed, supported, …. changed.

And most importantly, I remember the countless amazing people I’ve gotten to experience each day of the last two years with.

Earlier today, a friend commented that I lead a very interesting and fascinating life. As I thought about her comment a little more, I decided it was really true…. I do have an awesome life.  Even in the midst of any struggles or hard times, I have a family who loves me, an awesome job with the best teammates, opportunities outside of work to explore and serve, a wonderful home, a healthy body, the freedom to worship my Savior, friends all over the country and world to share life with, and most of all, a God who created me, saved me, and sustains me each and everyday.

I love my life!  (And I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.)

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full!” (John 10:10)

Bekah's Heart, Random

Delight

I’ve been pondering this for the last few days and just can’t stop thinking about it…

God delights in seeing us delighted.

I wonder what your thoughts on this statement. What is your initial reaction? Do you agree? Disagree? Why? What does this speak to in your life right now? If this is true, how might that change the way you interact with God and simply do life?

Please, share your thoughts in the comments section today.