February 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Kern!

Today, Kern got to fly in a helicopter.

How's that for a birthday?



If we're lucky, maybe he will revive his blog and post some photos and video footage later in the week.

Until then, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KERN!

February 16, 2012

Importance of Prayer

It's tempting to go into "auto-pilot" when you see the phrase "the importance of prayer."  Yes, yes we all agree prayer is vital!  We all agree that we should do it more.

Prayer should be a constant communication between God and His believers.  This past Sunday in church, my pastor, Glenn, phrased it this way: "Do you count how many minutes you stay on the phone or talk to your significant other?  Then sigh and say,"Whew, only 5 minutes this time.  Good."  Of course not!  We don't consider it a hardship to be in constant communication with those whom we love.  In fact, if we went days or months without talking to a best friend or spouse...wouldn't you consider that relationship on the rocks?

The passage we read this past Sunday was I John 5:13-15:
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him."

There's so much to unpack and absorb in this passage, but I just want to share a few points that really stuck with me.

There is no request or concern too trivial to bring to God.  I'm thankful to have had this drilled into my head at a young age.  I have this weird memory from second grade that I can actually recall explaining to a fellow second grader with total confidence, "God cares about everything about me.  Even if my little finger hurts he cares."  Ah, the trusting innocence of childhood.  I think back on that moment and wonder why, as an adult, I neglect to bring even my little "pinkie" problems to Him.  I often want to shrink or sanitize my problems before I bring them to Him.  This is not how our relationship is meant to be.

Asking according to His Will.  It's easy to read this phrase and chuckle, thinking, "Yep, this is the part where God gives himself an out and won't really answer my prayers."  Glenn's illustration to this point was great.  He reminded us that God is not asking us to order off the appetizer menu.  In fact, He is trying to steer us away from the dumpster of our own bad decisions and bring us into the restaurant where we can order the best of the best. 

So what if God doesn't give me what I ask for?  The Bible is full of examples of people who prayed for one thing and another thing happened.  Moses wanted to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land after being in the dessert with them for 40 years.  God said no.  Paul prayed for God to take away the "thorn in his flesh."  God said no.  Even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, prayed that "IF this cup could be removed, please do so."  God said no.  How could they go on when a good God refused to give them what they wanted?  Their understanding of the goodness of God's character wasn't linked to their personal requests, rather it was linked to the CHARACTER of God.

True faith does not demand God to give us what we want when we want it.  We are not allowed to place a timer on our requests.  True faith places weight on the character of God and the knowledge that if He does not give us what we ask for, He will give us something far better.

We serve a mighty and powerful God, who sees the end from the beginning and knows His path for us each day.  Trust and pray, for He is good.

February 15, 2012

Pick a Fight

"I was thinking about this motto, pick a fight, and it dawned on me: prayer is picking a fight with the enemy.  It’s the way we engage, the way we advance.  Prayer is the way we drawbattle lines.  Prayer puts us on the front lines. It’s the way we go from defense to offense. And when we get on our knees, the Lord starts fighting our battles for us!"

Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker

Kern and I are starting a new Bible study with some friends where we will read The Circle Maker.  Mark Batterson is a pastor in DC and lots of our friends attend his church.

My roommate, Holly, sent me this quote and I read and reread it several times.

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by all the bad things going on.  The news cycle constantly reports devastation, crimes against children, and scandals.  I read about human trafficking or hear a story about people who don't have a place to live or food to eat.  I instantly want to be involved in helping people in these situations.  This quote came at just the right time, because while I cannot fly to a foreign country to help feed the hungry or give humanitarian aid, I can do something just as powerful: PRAY.

I often wonder why I tend to put prayer on the back burner.  If you asked me about the importance of prayer, I would tell you it was the most important part of my relationship with God.  If I had to be totally honest, I sometimes treat it like it's not.  I get tired or busy or indifferent and don't bring my requests to God.

Have you ever heard someone described as a "prayer warrior"?  I hope that I can be someone who people can count on to pray for them.  Let's all commit to get on the front lines for our friends, for our "hard to love" people and for people we don't even know.

God hears and He cares deeply.  Now it's up to us!

February 14, 2012

What time is it in Sao Paulo?

You're probably expecting a Valentine's Day post today, right?  I do love this and am celebrating allllll day long by eating way too many sweets, but in the meantime, other exciting events are taking place!

It's a monumental week for one of my best friends, Ashley and her husband, Michael.

Ashley was one of my original DC roommates.  I only have a few friends like her--she is always ready to listen, quick to offer good advice and promises to pray for me, whatever the circumstance.  She is a constant source of encouragement.  She never shies away from speaking the truth.  She is the epitome of a lady who is beautiful inside and out.

Ashley married Michael, who has also become a dear friend, in April of 2010.  They moved to San Francisco, but we have kept in touch and seen each other several times since then despite the distance.  Michael is a lawyer for Jones Day and just got transferred to their Sao Paulo office--a dream that he and Ashley have been pursuing for some time now.  As sad as it makes me to know they are so far away, I am so happy for them.  I have no doubt that they will take the city by storm and rise to any challenge they are presented.

In tribute to their new city, I added Sao Paulo to my "World Clock" page on my phone, so I can always know what time it is there.


If you want to follow their adventures or read up on how they got to this point, please visit Ashley's blog: Jeans & a T-shirt.

Farewell, friends!  See you when I step off the plane in Sao Paulo at some point...

February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Table

I wanted to mix things up a bit on the table in my common area, so I decided to incorporate a few heart-themed decorations.

Using a cookie cutter, I traced two different sizes of hearts - one on metallic gold paper and one on pink paper.

I used scissors with an "antique" edge to cut them out - giving the hearts a relaxed look while also taking the pressure off for me to cut perfectly!  (And yes, these are scrap-booking scissors from my Creative Memories days!)

Everyone got their own heart!

I found these cute little hand towels at Target and snapped them up to use at napkins.  I love the waffle material and the alternating pink and red ripples.

I got this ribbon on a trip to Michael's - I knew it would come in handy for a project!

I used jute to cinch the small hand towels/oversized napkins.

I tied on the two hearts and a piece of decorative Valentine ribbon.

For the centerpiece, I simply changed the ribbon and tied a big bow around the arrangement and filled the tray with one of my favorite candies - conversation hearts!


There's lots to love about this simple idea!  I used a lot of what I already had and it changed the look of the table.
Happy Valentine's Day!

February 08, 2012

There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him

"There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him." 
William Law

February is a month that we are bombarded by love--every time you enter a store there are tons of pink hearts, roses and chocolate everywhere.  Commercials abound trying to sell you gifts, tempt you to dine at restaurants and convince you that a diamond necklace is the perfect gift.

Have you ever thought about loving someone that drives you crazy?  Someone who makes your life harder?  Someone who is needy?  Someone who is hard to love?

Suddenly the month of love seems more like a challenge, huh?

So here's the Love Month Challenge: think of a person in your life that tests your limits and commit to pray for them.  Every day.  For a month.  See if God does not soften your heart and help you to find a characteristic about them that helps you learn to appreciate them--I have a hunch you will be able to find something positive about him or her.  We are all image bearers of Christ.  We are all sinful, too, which complicates relationships and interactions.  It can be hard to love someone you feel has wronged you.  I fight the impulse to write someone off just because he or she wronged me.  Instead, I try to remember God's grace and the way that he stepped in, rescued me, and was not only nice to be but gave his life for me.  Eek, that's a humbling thought.


"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
John 15:13


Let's make February a month that we lay down our lives for everyone--no matter how they treat us in return.

February 07, 2012

Happy February!

I love the month of February: it's still cold outside so it's lovely to sit inside and eat chocolate.

It doesn't take much for me to turn a regular evening into a reason to celebrate.


Life's all about the little things, right?  And sometimes the little things include Whitman's three-piece sampler.

Did I mention I love the little things?

February 01, 2012

God wants his will for me more than I do

"God wants his will for me more than I do"

This past Sunday, a member of my church, Grace DC, shared his testimony during the service.  The one line that really stuck out to me was "God wants his will for me more than I do."

I've been mulling it over the past few days and really trying to absorb the profoundness of that statement. 

God wants his will for me more than I do.

I tend to err on the side of focusing on myself...items I want to own, people I want in my life, places I want to visit, career opportunities I want to pursue.  I do pray for these areas of my life, but I often find myself trying to beg and plead with God instead of taking the attitude that if it is good for me, and in His will, then He will give it to me.  It may not look the exact way I want it to.  It may not be an the exact time I want it.  But I have to trust that since He wants what is best for me, He will give what is best for me.

A couple of verses came to mind:

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
Matthew 6:33

I think about the way my parents raised me.  They wanted what was best for me.  As a child, we were limited on sweets and TV watching time.  Sure, I would have rather had unlimited access to cookies and probably watched much more TV, but would that really have been loving of my parents to allow me to do that?  The same example holds through the teenage years: curfews, driving restrictions, mandatory family time.  I may not have been thrilled at these things, but looking back I can certainly appreciate the ways in which my parents cared about what was best for me.

I can also look back over my life and see the ways in which God has cared for me: relationships that ended, doors closed on certain opportunities that I thought I wanted and even friendships that I thought I wanted.  At the time, it wasn't fun.  I wanted what I wanted.  But God saw fit to change the path--and move me closer to him in the process.

Even though it's February now (yay!) and 2011 memories seem like ancient history, take some time to reflect on the ways in which God has guided your path in the last year.  If you are struggling with patience in an area or not sure where to go next, rest assured that God wants what it best for you.

Finally, I don't say this enough, but if I can ever pray for you, please let me know.  I would be honored!