Monthly Archives: December 2013

Better Than I Imagined….

Tree with Lights

Photo Credit: Felix Montino

It still amazes me that 2013 has come to an end. How quickly this year seems to have gone! And as I sit down to reflect on my God Sized Dreams for 2013 I just want to start by thanking God for the many blessings He gave me this year.

I started 2013 on a journey to discovering what a “God Sized Dream” might be and more specifically what I thought that dream was in my own life.

I thought I had it all figured out. After starting this blog space in late December 2012, I was certain that God wanted me to have a place of encouragement and hope for others here in 2013. If I am being honest I would tell you that I was secretly hoping that maybe my blog would go big, that I would write that “it” post and it would go viral….or that I would start writing a book proposal. All big dreams for sure.

While I still believe that this place of encouragement is a part of my God Sized Dream, I am convinced that God had different and even better things planned for me that I was unable to see in the beginning.

The biggest blessing that I received this past year is the gift of Community. 

A community in which I was accepted and loved, a community where I was able to stop always thinking about me and what I wanted to do – and start focusing on developing a skill of encouraging others in their dreams.

THIS has been the biggest unexpected and beautiful gift in my life this past year.

Women who were just faces on a computer screen became IRL friends when several of us met in person for the first time at Allume.  Community was embraced and celebrated. Tears were shed and laughter welled from the depths of me that I hadn’t felt in a long time. It was God-filled for sure!

And while 2013 has also been filled with personal failures big and small, I have learned that God is in all the details. He is with me through everything that I do well and everything I fail at.  He loves me regardless and having a greater understanding of that gift was worth the journey.

The GSD team led me specifically to a group of women that all believed in something greater than themselves. A place where we could take what we have learned from this year and give back to other women seeking the same path.

Under Christine’s  leading we have come together and as announced yesterday started this amazing God-sized Dreams website. Something like this was NOT on my radar at all. And that is what I love the most about it.

It is all God’s!

It wasn’t “My” idea or plan, it was His. So I can look back on 2013 and see in all the places where God deserves the glory.  Just as He should have.

2013 was never about me. (I know this is not a surprise to most of you….but it is at times a surprise to me!) 🙂

While I learned some wonderful lessons and received so many gifts in this community…..ultimately none of it would have been possible without God’s leading and direction in the first place.

So while 2013 ends differently than I had anticipated it might, it ends more beautifully than I could have ever expected and each moment was worth it!

Did 2013 end as you had hoped?? I’d love to hear how God exceeded you expectations too! And if you blog why don’t you link up with us today over at God-sized Dreams and share your 2013 recap!

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An Amazing Announcement

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Oh friends do I have some exciting news to share with you! A dream in the making for sure and I am just on my knees humbled and honored to even be a part of it.

At the beginning of 2013, as you may remember, I was chosen to be a part of Holley Gerth’s God Sized Dream Team. There were 99 of us and somehow in those first few months my now friend Christine from Living Joel 2:25 put a call out to the entire group to see if there were any people interested in starting a little “Mastermind” sub-group. A place where we could encourage one another and bounce ideas off each other etc.

10 of us women from all over the country, with different lives and backgrounds, responded.  It was a blessing to be a part of it and we found this group a place to share prayer requests and lift one another up.

Then, one day in May, Christine came to us and said she had something that was nagging at her and wouldn’t let go. An idea for a website. A place where dreamers could connect, encourage one another, get inspiration etc…

We had all learned so much from our 5 months under Holley’s direction and encouragement and we didn’t want to see it end. Christine felt God was calling her to start this website and she invited those of us in the Mastermind group to participate if we were interested.

I can’t honestly share all the details (there isn’t time!!), and all the small miracles that we experienced along the way. And the roadblocks – oh the roadblocks! At times we wondered if this site would ever launch!!  We had “our” plan, but we continued to place the site, its contents etc., in God’s hands.

We have been praying and praying over the details and finally felt that it was time to set this ship to sail and see where God takes it. Fully ready or not – sometimes we have to give up the reins a bit and take that leap of faith.

So today it is my great honor to share with you an amazing new website called God-Sized Dreams.  I can’t even believe that I am getting to be a part of this!! “Officially” I will be the sites Prayer Team Leader and a monthly Contributing Author! A God sized dream of my own for sure and such a blessing.

Our prayer is that this will be a welcoming place for dreamers at every stage in the journey. Over the next few months, if you choose to follow along with us, you will have an opportunity to meet all of my fellow dreamer friends that have helped make this site possible.  And I know that you are going to love them like I do.

In addition, we will be accepting guest posts and having fun giveaways and connecting you with dreamers who are walking in God’s plan for their lives – I am so excited about how God will use each and every woman that comes by. Oh the stories we will tell!

Finally, tomorrow (December 31st) we will be having a link up for all dreamers to share about their God Sized Dreams – so if you have a blog, we would love for you to join in the fun!

2014 is the year that dreams will be setting sail, will you be joining us?!

When All You Can Do Is Pray

Snow

This was our view on one of the drives we made over Christmas.  I didn’t take a picture during the other drive, but imagine lots of snow, winds and at times near white out conditions….if I haven’t already mentioned it I do not like driving during winter weather.  And yes I realize that I live in Minnesota so it is inevitable, but I don’t have to like it!

On top of all of this I am a very nervous rider. It seems to me that when I am not in the drivers seat it feels like everything is always on the verge of being out of control. Good times for all involved I know.

So I found myself in a long car ride, sick to my stomach. Fear and worry can consume me in a snap and I start to think about the worst case scenerio happening to us. I know that these feelings are not from God and so at times like this the only thing I can do is pray.

I have no control over the weather.

I have no control over the drivers in front of us or behind us, or the semis that are screaming past us….no control. And while I find comfort in believing that I have control over some things…I knew this was one situation that I had to give over to God completely.

So I prayed.

And prayed and prayed.

In moments where we don’t have control and we don’t know what else to do – we CAN pray. And it doesn’t have to be a really in-depth prayer either….I literally just prayed “God Protect Us” over and over.

I just started reading a new book by Mark Batterson called “In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day“. I am not that far into the book but this stuck out at me specifically.

“The word over in the phrase “over the water” comes from the two-dimensional Hebrew word paniym.  In regards to time, paniym can refer to the split second before something happens and the split second after something happens. In regards to space, it can refer to the space right in front or right in back of you.

In the words of the Psalmist:

I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there too.

It’s almost as if God forms a parenthesis in time and a parenthesis in space around us. He is hovering all around you all the time.”

Do you love that visual as much as I do?

That God literally is behind you and in front of you at all times?!

Bad things happen but it doesn’t mean that God isn’t there with us.  I have struggled with this in the past so I am not some “expert” on walking the Christian life well.  I have found myself in situations where I was sure God had deserted me then to see, in hindsight, that He had been there all along.

He has formed a parenthesis around my life.

He is in it all. So I can remind myself in times of worry and fear, God continues to go before me, continues to walk behind me….Just as He always has.

I will find myself on a snowy road again in the future, literally and figuratively.  We are not promised that we won’t have troubles, but we are promised that He has overcome all of it.

Today I will hold tight to that promise and the idea that He goes before me and behind me through it all.

Do you struggle with worry? What works best for you in situations like these??

2013 – A Year in Review!

I can’t believe that 2013 is almost over! What a whirlwind of a year it has been.  A year ago I didn’t know that I would be working full time with my husband. I had just started this little blog and I had no idea what a life changer it would be to have been chosen for the God Sized Dream Team.  And there were several beautiful women out there that I hadn’t yet met and I had no idea that they would become life long friends in the course of 2013.

God has been moving for certain.  And while my faith often waivers and I sometimes question why God has me in a specific place at a specific time….I can look back on the past year and see how His hand has been in every detail of my life.  It hasn’t been an easy year, or a perfect year but it has been filled with so many unexpected blessings that I am grateful for the journey.

So I thought it might be fun to recap some of the favorite posts on my blog from this past year….

I started out 2013 by sharing what, at the time, I thought my God Sized Dreams for the year were. God Sized Dreams for 2013.

I shared a post about what got me started blogging in the first place when I posted The Beginning of the Story.

I studied a little bit about Paul in the Hello Mornings challenge and was reminded that God uses us even when we don’t have it all together. He Calls the Broken.

I shared an important lesson that I learned from my daughter on one very long and miserable road trip…in The Buckle.

I had a chance to read a little about Hannah in the Bible and was struck by her amazing faith and shared why I wanted A Heart Like Hannah’s.

Who knew that something as simple as a harmonica could teach me a lesson this year, but Karlena has a way about her and when she was playing her Angry Harmonica, well I was reminded that I bear the sin of anger way too often and it is something that I need to constantly be laying at the feet of the cross.

In Those Who Have Gone Before Us, I shared about my experience with infertility and miscarriage and how faithful, brave women that had also walked a similar path had been an encouragement to me…and that because of them I was hoping to some day pay it forward.

It isn’t always easy to find joy. Sometimes I am stubborn and won’t open my eyes to the blessings right in front of me, and other times I am walking in abundance – regardless of where you are today are you finding Joy – Unspeakable Joy?

I struggle with fear in so many areas and I shared about it here. When Fear Overwhelms.

I wanted so badly to be a cheerleader in high school and wasn’t ever given the chance. Now God has redeemed that in a unique way – A Different Kind of Cheerleader.

It isn’t fun to share the difficult times, it is easier to forget really. But in sharing about The Darkest Hour in my life I was able to see how God has redeemed my life in so many ways!

I shared a story about the power of prayer and the hope that The Three Coins my mom brought me from Greece represented in my life.

Well there you have it!! Some of the top posts here in 2013.  My prayer is that 2014 will bring more dreaming and seeking God in all of the minute details of my life.  I am so very grateful for each of you that come here and share life with me. Many of you have become IRL friends and others – well it is just a matter of time! 🙂  Until then, thank you for loving on me here and have a blessed New Year!

The Greatest Gift!

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Merry Christmas from our family to yours! It is my prayer that each and every one of us will experience the true gift of Christmas this year. Christ came to Earth as a baby so that He could ultimately die as the sacrifice for each of our sins. That is overwhelming to me and I am so very grateful that God loves us that much! All we have to do is receive the gift God has freely given through His Son.

If you have not established a relationship with Christ yet, stop waiting!! What a gift it would be to finally enter into a relationship with God this year. I am praying today for all who may not know Christ in an intimate way. I have posted my favorite Christmas story below, let’s receive Him with great joy today!!  Merry Christmas friends!

Luke: 2: 1-20 – 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed,[b] who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 Andthis will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[c]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Updates and More

Wow I have been an absent blogger recently! I have found myself doing my best to just keep up it seems and blogging just has to take a back seat.  I have been writing recently, but it hasn’t exactly been for this space.  I am humbled and honored to be a part of an amazing project which I will be able to share with you very soon.

It is a God Sized Dream for sure so don’t leave just yet…I promise I will be able to share all the details, God willing, before the end of the year!

Until then I wanted to share a few things that our family has been up to!

Christmas Tree 1

We have been decorating!!  Every morning my favorite time is waking up to the tree all lit up and spending some quiet time soaking in the beauty. I am going to miss this view when we have to take it down!

This is my favorite time of year, I so enjoy the decorations and the lights. On Saturday we are going to our hometown to do a tour of the holiday lights in a stretch hummer limo! Dominic made the arrangements and we got to invite people from both of our extended families. I am excited and it should be a fun way to start out Christmas week!

Elijah - Reindeer

We have been to a fun Christmas program at Elijah’s school!  And can I just say isn’t his shirt adorable?!  His amazing teachers made them for all the kids. I am going to have to save that for sure!  The kids did a great job and I was so proud of Elijah because he knew all of the words and actions!

Karlena is 3

I can’t hardly believe it but our baby and only girl is going to be 3 tomorrow! How has the time flown by so fast?!? She is our little miss independent and likes things her way. We have our work cut out for us in a few years I think! 🙂 But she is a doll and we are so lucky to have her in our family.

We are looking forward to a couple of days off over Christmas but won’t be able to take as long of a break as we had hoped. Business is crazy busy (yes a blessing even when it is stressful) and so we will likely have to get back to work sooner than expected…but we are counting our blessings and grateful we are busy and not too slow!

The Christmas Angel, an Elf-on-the-Shelf Alternative

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This is Tinker – he was our Elf-on-the-Shelf for probably 5 years or more. I heard about this elf from another blogger and at the time Gabriel was probably 4 or 5 and just really starting to ask about Santa etc. I will admit I initially liked the idea of this “magical elf” that watched for good behavior.  The first year we had Tinker, if Gabriel was being naughty, we would just say “Tinker’s watching” and immediately he would apologize and correct his behavior.

It seemed like a genius idea.

In the past 2 years I have been trying harder to keep Christmas about Christ. Teaching our kids about the true meaning and why we celebrate. Trying to take the focus off of Santa a little.  Our kids do still get Santa presents, but we don’t make it this huge deal.

But the kids LOVED Tinker. They always remembered that he showed back up after Thanksgiving and couldn’t wait to see where he would hide.  I talked last year about getting rid of him but wasn’t sure how….

Then this year a friend on FB had a picture of this Christmas Angel.

   Angel 4

I asked her about it and she shared the link with me.  Story Lines Inc is the company that made the doll. The angel comes on December 1st and delivers a message about the real reason for Christmas each day until Christmas Day.

I thought this might be the perfect alternative to our elf. Admittedly, I enjoy the magic the kids feel about Christmas. Their innocence and how they believe…so we decided to come up with a “plan” to have Tinker leave our family.

He showed up like he always had and for a few days he “hid” in a new spot.  But on November 30th Tinker had a special letter for the kids….

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Basically it said that Tinker had been called on a special assignment and that Santa wanted our kids to understand the real meaning of Christmas. That a Christmas Angel would be coming to share a special message each morning about why God loves us so much and why we celebrate Christmas.

Don’t judge please….I know it seems silly – but this is the way we felt we could best transition the angel into our family.

Angel 3

Our Christmas Angel has a similar “do not touch” rule.  But she isn’t leaving the family each night to “report back to Santa”…rather spreading her wings and rest on a new spot with a new message each morning.

Angel 5

She has found several spots to “hide” so far and the kids have all loved hearing what her card reads.

Angel 2

Each card is short and sweet – but I love the messages they bring.

Angel 1

Overall we have loved the addition of the Christmas Angel to our mornings.  The kids still talk about Tinker from time to time and I know they miss him…but they also have enjoyed hearing what the Angel has to say for them each day so I am glad we made the switch!!

How about you? Do you do the Elf-on-the-Shelf?? What do you think of the Christmas Angel?? What other traditions do you have in your family to keep the focus on the real meaning of Christmas??

**Update as of Nov 2014…I heard from a reader that the site link to the angel I purchased doesn’t work anymore. I am not sure if the company is producing the angel this year, if I hear more I will update this post as it has been a very popular one this year!**

Christmas with Dayspring!

I am a HUGE fan of Dayspring products. You will find their things scattered all throughout my home. They are timeless pieces with a beautiful message.

Dayspring 2

This lantern is sitting on my fireplace hearth. It is a part of Dayspring’s Love Came Down Collection.

Etched on the front door of the lantern is this verse: “The light will dawn in your souls and Christ the Morning Star will shine in your hearts.”  II Peter 1:19

I love that!

There is something about having God’s Word written and displayed all over a home that is so appealing to me. Little reminders that He is present in ALL things.

Dayspring 1

I have a feeling that this lantern will be a permenant part of my hearth year round.

God calls us to be a light in this dark world.

The only way we can do that is by having His light within us in the first place. My prayer for each of us as we have entered the Advent season is that our hearts and minds will be filled with His peace and presence.

We can be light, we are called to be a light and because of Christ we are!

Is there something in your home that reminds you to be a light for Christ? I’d love to see them! Share a picture or a link below!

Recently Dayspring contacted me to offer me the opportunity to purchase an item from their Christmas shop at a discounted price, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Liebster Award

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My cousin Jaimie (technically she is my cousin-in-law) 🙂 nominated me for a Liebster Award. It is a fun way to introduce smaller blogs to new people. She is so sweet and has the most adorable son Gunder. Hop on over and check her blog out when you have a moment won’t you?

So I get to have a little fun with this and then share the love!!

First 11 random things about me…(this may be tough but let’s see)

1. I am a morning person. Up at 5am and ready to start the day but by 8pm I am beat!

2. I spell the word “receive” wrong every time I type it – thank God for spell check.

3.  I was the first person in 7th grade to have both glasses and braces at the same time. I     embodied the “nerd” look well that year!

4. I always thought I wanted to have twins after growing up with 2 sets of twins in my neighborhood.

5. I love baking and would enjoy taking a cake decorating class some day.

6. I hated my name growing up and wished I had been named Jennifer. I don’t feel that way anymore!

7. I love shopping online and finding good deals!

8. I was sure I was going to be a physical therapist when I grew up but Organic Chem in my freshman year of college changed that for me!

9. I LOVE decorating for Christmas and wish the season lasted longer.

10. I would love to learn how to play the guitar but I am not sure the tips of my fingers could handle it!

11. I love singing….singing is my favorite! 🙂

 

So now Jaimie had 11 questions for me to answer!

If you could redo one thing from your past, what would it be?

Oh boy there are lots of things I might change – but the truth is every mistake I made, the consequences etc., helped me shape my faith and grow into the person I am today so I guess I have to say my past is my past for a reason! 🙂

What is your favorite book?

The Bible of course – but also anything by Angie Smith.

Where is the best place you have visited?

I don’t have a long list of places that I have travelled – but I did go to Jamaica on a mission trip in college with Karlena that was amazing!

Who do you miss?

Karlena of course. 3 years she has been gone and you don’t stop missing your best friend.

If you could change one thing about the world today, what would it be?

Poverty – especially with children

Have you ever lied about your weight?

Hmm…honestly I don’t think so??

Are you a coffee drinker?

Nope not at all – much to the dismay of my husband who would just love to sit on the porch with me and dip coffee together…although we never sit on the porch so I am not sure what he is talking about! 😉

Do you wear any clothing items that you have owned for more than ten years?

I don’t think so. My style has really changed in the past several years so I don’t think I would ever wear what I had in my closet back then! 🙂

If you could trade in your current vehicle for any other, what would it be?

I drive a mini van, which is wonderful for our family, but it doesn’t have AWD…so probably something that would have that, and fit my family, and get good gas mileage (ha!)

What would you like children to learn in school?

More about God! Heck anything about God!

 

Now for My 11 questions for the blogs I am nominating! 🙂

1. What is your favorite time of the day?

2. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

3. What is your biggest pet peeve?

4. Salty or sweet?

5. If you could have one wish granted what would it be?

6. What is your middle name?

7. What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

8. What book are you currently reading?

9. What is the last package you received in the mail?

10. How many loads of laundry do you do in a week?

11. What is the best Christmas present you have ever received?

So the 3 blogs that I am going to “nominate” are:

Laura at Hentown Mama (A fellow dreamer and sweet friend I finally met at Allume)

Delonna at Clothed in Love (is also a dreamer with a wonderful jewelry shop and this week she has some great deals happening!!)

Mel at Barefoot Mel (a new sister and fellow dreamer, roomie at Allume and Voxer friend…while I consider Mel a “bigger” blogger…I was just excited to read her answers!! 🙂 )

 

So there you have it! A fun reason to get back into blogging again after a long break, it seems! Go check out my blogger friends and find someone new to follow in the process! 🙂

 

 

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