Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Letter to a Friend

This week Holley has encouraged us to write a letter to one of our dreamer friends. I will be honest it has been difficult to choose just one! 🙂 I have been loved and prayed for and blessed by this community of women in so many ways….some day I want to take the time to write a letter to each of you….and even that doesn’t seem like enough! But for today I want to lift up my dreamer buddy Jenn and share with you why she is such an amazing woman.

Dear Jenn,

I can’t tell you what an honor it has been to get to know you these past few months. I think I posted one day on FB that when I see a picture of you I think of one word – JOY.

It is the look that is always on your face.  A look of joy despite the most difficult of trials you have faced with your family.  In the midst of the pain you have continued to find ways to encourage me, lift up others and be that light.

God’s light.

It shines so brightly through you….can you see that?

Can you see the impact that you are having on those around you….the people that know you well and the people that are just meeting you? It is such a gift and I don’t know that you realize how valuable you are!

You are selfless and put others needs before yours. As I write this you are in the process of packing up your home so that you can move to be closer to your family….so you can serve them better.

You have a servant’s heart. God created you in this special way and you embrace it. I love that!  And even though you could step back and claim (and rightfully so) busyness with just those responsibilities…you don’t.

Because you have a dream. A dream to help other women learn to come alive in Christ. You have a passion for sharing this life-gift you have been given….and so you are starting a weekly bible study to lead others through this path of dreaming.

I am learning to stretch myself because of your example. Learning to give to others even when I am tired…learning to chase after dreams, even when “life” seems to be too much.

You my friend are a treasure. God put you in our group for a reason and I am so so blessed by you! Thank you for being an example – even when maybe you don’t think you are. Thank you for being a light, for trusting in God’s perfect plan….it encourages me to do the same.

I hope that you know how special you are, how loved you are, and how grateful I am today for you.

Many hugs and much love!

Kristin

**Letter writing is a lost art isn’t it?  If there is one person you could write a letter of encouragement to who would it be?? Do it today and be a blessing!! And if you want to read more – jump over to Holley’s blog and see what the other dreamers are saying!!**

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Five Minute Friday – Friend

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It is fitting that the FMF topic is friend today….I already had plans to introduce you to my friend Karlena. Today would have been her 38th birthday….but instead of celebrating with her here she is celebrating in heaven.

The picture above was the last time we saw each other. I was 15 weeks (give or take) pregnant with our daughter…her namesake.

She was so excited that we were finally having a girl – and that we had chosen to give her, her name. It was a really special time. But we both knew that Karlena’s time here on earth was short. We both cherished the friendship we had.

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I learned so much from Karlena about authentic faith. About walking with God through difficult times and trusting Him, regardless of my circumstances.

Karlena’s faith was amazing…it was real…it was evident in all that she did.

She challenged me and yet loved me for who I was.

It is one of the many things that I miss about her.

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Here she is holding Elijah…..we had so hoped (and expected) that there would be pictures of her holding my girl as well….

On November 1, 2010 – just 6 weeks from the time we would welcome our daughter into this world….Karlena slipped from us here and into her Father’s arms….I honestly believe that she is dancing among angels today.

Her friendship is a loss that hasn’t been replaced….not in the same form at least.

And I miss my friend.

She is not forgotten and still so loved.

Happy Birthday Karlena – I know that you are having a birthday celebration that couldn’t be matched here. I am honored to have shared life with you.

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Join the rest of the FMF girls who are posting about what the word friend means to them!

World Malaria Day – Can you help?

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With all the snow on the ground we still have in Minnesota, it is hard to think about controlling these pesky mosquito’s. But today is World Malaria Day – and so I am partnering with Compassion International to bring awareness to this deadly disease.

Some facts from the World Health Organization

“About 3.3 billion people – half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria. In 2010, there were about 219 million malaria cases (with an uncertainty range of 154 million to 289 million) and an estimated 660 000 malaria deaths (with an uncertainty range of 490 000 to 836 000). Increased prevention and control measures have led to a reduction in malaria mortality rates by more than 25% globally since 2000 and by 33% in the WHO African Region.

People living in the poorest countries are the most vulnerable to malaria. In 2010, 90% of all malaria deaths occurred in the WHO African Region, mostly among children under five years of age.”

In our area of the world, mosquitoes are an annoyance. I don’t think most of us think twice about the possibilities of getting malaria if we are bitten by a mosquito.

But in many countries, it is a concern, and what’s worse – children are dying because of it.

But there are a couple simple ways we can help.

One of the things Compassion does with its funds is purchase mosquito nets. A simple net protects a family while they sleep. A small donation of $20 will purchase 2 nets.

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How often do I throw away $20 without even thinking? Something we don’t “need” when we are at Wal-mart, dinner at a fast food restaurant. We really have it so easy don’t we?

In addition to providing nets, Compassion International also educates people about malaria prevention and helps treat those who are suffering from Malaria.

So today, on World Malaria Day – will you join me in making a difference. While the task seems big – each donation helps…each dollar makes a difference and we need to partner together to make a change! You can help by donating here.

**Pictures found and used from the Compassion International site**

When I almost missed it…..

Earlier this week one of my fellow sisters and GSD’s, Christine, asked if anyone in the group wanted to gather together via video chat to pray for our team.

I have felt and seen the power of people praying together and so I said I would join in. It was over my lunch hour time – so it was perfect.

And then I started to panic.

I wasn’t sure how to get the Google Hangout dealie to work, and the more I thought about it I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get it to work.

I mean these are all amazing ladies that have become friends….but wouldn’t it be weird having our faces all on the screens, and what if I prayed wrong or something like that.

I figured that a technology “fail” was as good as an excuse as any – and worked a little later past noon than planned….thinking I would bail last minute.

But the Holy Spirit nudged me ever so gently and I rushed home and got the plugin installed on my laptop. And I waited. I was invited to the “meeting”…but didn’t want to be the first to join.

Which is so counter intuitive….haven’t I always longed to be “picked”…to be part of a group – even since I was a young girl….and here I was potentially letting this opportunity pass me by?

I know…I have issues! 🙂

So with all the courage I had in me I hit “Join”….and there we all were. 10 of us (11 if you count Delonna who had legitimate computer problems – not made up ones like I did)

And then it happened….

Christine started us out and we all took turns praying. (Side note – I was maybe obsessing just a little about if I should close my eyes or not….I’m sure you can understand??!!)

Anywhoo…

It really was amazing. Women connected, through this little group called the God Sized Dream Team, united in prayer for our team and one another…sharing our struggles and lifting them up.

God moves, He hears and it was felt!

And I almost missed it out of fear.

After it was done and we had gone about our day a message feed appeared on FB – sharing our thanks for the time together….and you know what? Several people felt the same as I had…afraid of what to expect…one sweet friend (I won’t name names) said she was going to use the excuse of cleaning her basement to avoid this time…. 😉 (I LOVED that btw)

All because the enemy was attacking each of us in our own way…..telling us we had something to be afraid of….when really he was the one afraid.

Because there is power in numbers and God heard us yesterday. He was present and I won’t miss it again because of fear!!

Has there ever been a time where you missed something because of fear? Stand in the truth today friends and fear no more!!

Finding Joy

I have felt challenged recently to seek out more Joy in my life.  Too often it seems,  I am feeling frustrated or short-tempered…and as a result I am seeing those same behaviors in my kids.  And having irritable and grumpy kids is no good for anyone!!

A few weeks ago I attended a Moms Expo put on here in Marshall. One of the speakers was a friend from church, Robin. Robin talked about the book “One Word – that will change your life”.  She shared about how she and each of the members of her family chose a word that they would apply to 6 areas in their life –  mental, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, and financial.

Last year I chose a word (Purposeful) but I didn’t really follow through. And since the seminar I have been praying about my word and I feel like God wants me to be more Joyful in all those areas of my life.

Joyful.

Joyful in my family, in my job, in my interactions with my kids, in my giving of my time and finances.

And while it is already a few months into the year – I feel like focusing on being more joyful is a perfect way to finish out the remainder of 2013!

But it isn’t like being joyful in all things comes easy. I have to be in prayer about my attitude and when I am I do see a difference in my family.

I started telling the kids that God wants us to have joyful hearts in all that we do – even if it isn’t something we like or want to do. When I sense a tone in someones voice I will ask them if their response is joyful or irritable. 🙂

What is amazing is that they get it – they can recognize the difference right away. I use it in the mornings when we are getting ready….and I find the kids laughing more.

Don’t we all need a little more laughter in our lives? 

We recently got an elliptical machine. I am loving it (and hating it), but I have used it every day since we got it…and I feel great about it.  I am taking care of myself, and even though it is hard and I am terribly out of shape – it brings me joy.

I signed up to be a summer leader of a Hello Mornings group starting in May (more details about that later this week) – and I am excited about going deeper into God’s word and hopefully being an encouragement to others.

Getting involved, stretching myself, brings me joy!

Life is busy, there is always work to do at home or the office. I have a choice about how I am going to react to the multiple stressors I come in contact with.

I want to choose joy. (Thank you Sara)

A part of walking towards my God Sized Dream is finding joy in ALL things. Seeing joy even if my dreams aren’t progressing as quickly as I would like. Remembering how far I have come and being joyful about all the ways that God has equipped me along the way.

One word to encompass my journey as I dream.

Joyful.

What’s one word that you would use to describe your primary focus this year?? 

This week the GSD are talking about finding time to “play”….to not take ourselves too seriously. In my life “play” and “joy” go hand in hand. Want to read how other dreamers are finding joy?! Join us here!

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Enjoying the journey

It is Tuesday again….I missed last week’s posting about fear. I honestly was tired and uninspired and maybe even a little lazy! 😉 But today I am jumping in again and sharing about the journey I am on with God.

For this week: “Sometimes we feel alone not because we need to be with others but because God wants to be with us. Our lives are busy–especially when we’re pursuing a dream–and God may want to pull us aside for a bit” {You’re Made for a God-sized Dream, Chapter Six}. The most important part of any God-sized dream is the Giver of it. Set aside a particular time this week to be with Him–to pray, journal, take a walk or simply sit quietly and listen. Write a post sharing what your heart hears or receives then link it up below.

We just got a new elliptical machine. I love it…and I despise it sometimes too, but mostly love it. This morning I was feeling a little more worn out than usual. This sinus infection I am fighting is making me weary. So I wanted to take my workout a little easy.

I jumped on and instead of watching tv I decided to just close my eyes and pray. I started praying for health in our family, and for our extended families, people I know who need prayers and some people who need lifting up from our church.

I prayed about this God sized dream of mine and asked for clarity…..

And then I opened my eyes and looked down and I was already 3 minutes into my cool down. How had 25 minutes gone so fast? Was I really that zen in my prayer time?

Unfortunately no.

A setting had been changed by accident and so the time clock was going about 2 times fast than it should have been going…so essentially I did a 25 minute workout in about 6 minutes. Bummer! 🙂

But the scenario got me thinking about my own life.

During those difficult seasons in my life, all I have wanted to do was close my eyes and have everything go away. I have wanted to rush through it and not see the situation for what it could mean in my life.

An opportunity for growth.

But a few times this week, I have been reminded that we need the rocky soil (thanks Christine), that sometimes it is where we grow the best. And GSD Lisa shared that life with God can be an adventure…we just have to be open to it.

Beautiful posts from God driven women.

Sometimes the path to our dreams is slower than we would like. But that doesn’t mean that we are doing anything wrong…maybe God just wants us to savor this time, grow from this adventure and seek Him in all of it.

Don’t be discouraged if you have opened your eyes and the “finish line” isn’t what you thought it would be….I am guessing there is something much better in store for you – so press on and enjoy the journey!

As for me….I am trying to be better about living and enjoy the now…and not worrying too much about the possible tomorrows!

Where do you find God leading you this week? Link up your stories with the rest of the dreamers here!

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If Your Soil is Rocky – Guest Post!!

Friends you are in for a treat today. I will admit I have been tired and busy and a little uninspired this past week….I guess I needed a break. But my dear dreamer friend Christine, who is so much like me it is scary ;), has graciously written a gem of a piece, straight from her heart, to share here. I know that you will be blessed by her writing and hope that you hop on over to her blog Living Joel 2:25, and subscribe to her blog…you won’t regret it!

You know those moments when you hear something and it’s like an arrow has pierced your heart?  You know for certain it was meant for you?  A sort-of tunnel vision forms…and it’s as if God were whispering directly to you, “Listen closely sweet child, I’ve written this for you.”

The Bible study I attend went through an awesome book by Margaret Feinberg, called Scouting the Divine – Searching for God in Wine, Wool and Wild Honey.  In it, the author followed a modern-day beekeeper, shepherd, and vintner, all in an attempt to better understand the references made in the Bible.

It was incredible and my eyes will never fly quickly over those references again.  My favorite part was the weekly video that went along with it.  One in particular, which spoke of what it takes to actually grow a grape vine.

It takes time.  Lots of time.  It’s a good fifteen years after a vine is planted until it finally produces grapes of a decent quality.  In other words, winemakers know they won’t see a return on their investment for quite awhile.

And it takes the right soil.  No surprise there.  It’s not like every piece of ground can grow grapes. Until she mentioned what the right soil was… 

Hard, rocky soil.

Yes.  You heard correctly.  Rocky soil is the best.  The grapes grow best in what would seem to be the worst type of soil.  As a matter of fact, if it is too clear, people have been known to actually bury rocks in their vineyards, in order to create a proper soil for growth.

When I heard that, it was as if the large sanctuary that we were sitting in, suddenly faded away and it was only Margaret and I.  (That is, of course, if I had a friend named Margaret, who studied with vintners and published books and taped Bible studies and lived in my town and sat with me…but whatever…) 

Anyway, Margaret went on to explain it’s the same with us.  It’s the rocks in our soil that allow for the best growth. 

All those years I’ve been looking at the rocks in my life, some big, some small, some strewn across the surface, some buried down deep, and wondering, “What good could ever come from this horrible ground?”

 

I should have just been saying, “Thank you, God.”

“Thank you God for all the lessons my missteps have brought.”

“Thank you God for the beauty of brokenness.”

“Thank you God for the boulders, in every shape and size.”

“Thank you, Jesus, that even when I was so awash in grief, and unaware of your presence, you never left my side.  Not once.”

 

Little by little, I am seeing His plan revealed and I can’t believe my eyes.  All He can do with even the most rocky soil.  All that He can weave together for good.

There have been times my soil has felt more like unyielding bedrock, especially during the dark times I choose to take the direction of my life in my own hands. I have wasted so much time and energy struggling against the rocks – the rocks that make up my history.  I now know even the things that brought such crushing pain, I didn’t think I would survive, will be used by the Master Vintner in the creation of His fine vintage.

The vintage of my life.

 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”  John 15:1 (NIV)

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Christine has a heart for broken women who hide it well.  Women who find it impossible to believe God has a calling for them.  Personally touched by such things as divorce, miscarriage, sickness and alcoholism, she has walked a pain-filled road and believes the places her own heart has broken, are the places she can best help others.  Her life verse is Joel 2:25, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…”  Christine is married to Mr. Wright and has four children, ages 16, 14, 7 and 3, which means having a child in high school, middle, elementary and preschool, all at the same time!  She loves writing, pants with crazy prints, a really good nap, walking the beach at early morning, and donuts.  Lots of donuts.  Christine blogs at www.livingjoel225.com.

Finding Community

One of these reasons that I started this blog was to find Community. Find people that “get” me and love me for who I am.

Through blogging I have met some amazing women. I know that people that don’t blog….maybe don’t understand how that is possible – but I have and have been so blessed by it.

One of my favorite sites is (in)courage. Last year they held their first “conference” of sorts where women around the world gathered in homes and churches and met together to share community.

I, a little scared that no one would show, signed up as a host and hoped for the best.

3 beautiful women came…from my town and a surrounding one. Lovely women that I have now kept in contact with through Facebook….women who are all coming again this year.

This year’s “conference” is in just a few weeks – April 27th….and there is still time to enter!! Click over to their website to register for this free conference. And if you are in the Marshall area and want to join our little group – even better!! 🙂

We all need community…at least I do. I have found it in some unexpected places – but have been blessed by it. You will be too.

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Below is a link to the trailer video if you want more info!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-6yMAUG32I&feature=youtu.be

Getting it Together – e-Book Review and a Giveaway!!

My friend and fellow “Dreamer” Kayse has a new e-Book available and I was given the opportunity to review it and share it with you!!

If there is one thing that I always feel I need more of it’s organization. From home, to the office, my spare time…..I need to be better about using my time wisely. And I find that when I am organized, I spend less time stressing over silly details and more time enjoying life.

So if you can relate – Kayse’s book will be perfect for you!!  It is a quick and easy read and at the end she provides you with all the printables she talks about so that you can be organized too! 🙂 And for only $3.99 on Amazon – it is a deal!! Also find it here if you don’t have a Kindle but would like a pdf. Same low price!

I haven’t ever had a “family binder”, but after reading this book, and attending a mom’s expo and a session about organization – I decided that it would be a worthwhile investment.  SO I headed off to my local Wal-mart and picked up a few things that Kayse suggested….

A binder, some page protectors, and tab inserts and I also had some old scrapbooking paper left from another project so I used that as well!

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Kayse has TONS of ideas for this binder, everything from a meal planning schedule, auto maintenance log to a pantry and freezer log! I don’t want to share everything that is included because honestly I think you need to buy the book for yourself and see! 😉

And it is in lovely colors too…I didn’t have access to a color printer though so I chose to print everything on colored paper instead. Whatever works right?!

What is great about this book is that you can customize things so they fit your family.  And once you are done you will have all that important info in one place! No more shuffling through multiple drawers to find the info you need and know you have saved somewhere (or has this only happened to me?) 🙂

Side note – I recently put some important papers in a “safe place” so I wouldn’t loose them…and have forgotten where that safe place is. Sigh….

Hopefully after going through this process – that won’t be a problem anymore!  So do yourself a favor – order Kayse’s book and get started on being just a little more organized like I am…

Here are a couple of pics of my binder – it isn’t complete yet…but I love it already!

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In one of the sections I put the info from the Mom’s Expo I went to this weekend where I learned some fun organizational tips!IMG_5498

I have another section for some of those special papers I want to save – but were getting ruined in my cluttered drawer….IMG_5499

And how about that emergency info that you will probably never need – but it’s great to have it in one place just in case!IMG_5500

With Kayse’s help I am on my way to being a bit more organized!  And now I am off to tackle another “junk” drawer. I will get this house organized if it kills me! 🙂

Kayse has generously offered to give one of my readers here a free copy of Getting it Together!! If you want a chance to win please leave a comment telling me what area of your life would you like to see more organized! Drawing will be held Thursday April 18th! Please leave an email for contact if you aren’t signed in!!

And if you want to know more about Kayse you can find her on FB and Twitter – just click the links! 🙂

Five Minute Friday – After

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Linking up with Lisa Jo again this week to participate in Five Minute Friday.

Today’s word is AFTER– ready, set go –

We seem to be living in the “After”. It is a beautiful and lovely place to be – but it didn’t come without cost.

I was visiting with a good friend the other night on the phone. She knows LOTS of the details of our “before”. She has heard the stories of how broken Dominic and I were. She has heard how God slowly, but faithfully redeemed every dark part. And she is witness to our living free in the “after”.

It is something that I don’t want to forget – because I don’t ever want to loose the gratefulness I feel, but I also don’t think that we need to live in that place any more.  We don’t have to be defined by our “before”…but instead because of God’s rich grace – we need to live fully in the after.

Sometimes I wish I could share all the details here….not because I am proud of them – but because I know personally how God took something hopeless and made it whole. God gave us an after – when at one time we could only see an end. Our lives are a miracle…and one I don’t take lightly.

I live in the after – but it isn’t because I made it possible. The only thing that I did was get just a little bit willing to give up control and let God lead the way. The rest, the after, is all His glory!!

Where do you find yourself today? Are you living in the freedom of the after or are you still bound by the chains of your before? It’s time to walk in the light friends!!

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