Category Archives: (in)courage

A Moment to Breathe

I shared last week some of the scary stuff that is going on in my life right now and you were all so encouraging to me, offering prayer and support. Thank you. I know that no matter what, I am not going through this alone and that is so comforting!

That said, I have certainly had my moments of crazy-town as early on I spent waaaay too much time consulting Dr. Google. Let me tell you that Dr. Google doesn’t always have the best bedside manner and may often leave you in a fit of panic.

At one point I voxed my best friend and lamented my woes to her and I almost spent $449 on a mattress cooling pad thingy without talking to Dominic because I was certain that I would be recovering in a pile of sweat after my surgery and didn’t want to be in pain and drowning in my own nastiness. I tend to have a flair towards the dramatic….

Thankfully I did not purchase said mattress pad and she lovingly but sternly told me that I was banned from Dr. Google until after my pre-op appointment that is still a LONG 9 days away, and I was not allowed to purchase any products right now to treat something I am not yet dealing with! She was right though. And as I laughed about it with Dominic later that evening he reminded me that I was essentially “paying the fine for a ticket I hadn’t even gotten”….I have a tendency to jump the gun a little if you haven’t noticed.

The next morning I got up and found an empty prayer journal. I had been really good about writing out my prayers a year ago and then I got busy and I stopped. But I knew that in this season especially, I needed to take a few moments in the morning and focus on centering my life and my heart in prayer.

When I write the prayers out I can go back and see all the ways that God has answered those prayers, and it keeps me focused. My mind can’t wander as easily and I am forced to put my phone down {ahem}.

It doesn’t take much time in the morning, but it’s a moment to breathe, to focus on prayer and to spend time with God.

I recently shared on Facebook that I was blessed to be a part of a new devotional that is coming out from (in)courage called A Moment to Breathe. 365 Devotions that meet you in your everyday mess. Well isn’t that just perfect for me? And even more exciting is that the book will be available for purchase on October 3rd. The very day of my surgery.

A day that I will be waking up hungry and scared and nervous can now instead be marked by excitement and honor to be featured as an author alongside some of my most favorite authors! It really feels pretty unbelievable to me still!

Right now, and while supplies last, when you order your copy of A Moment to Breathe here though Lifeway, Lifeway will send you this beautiful mug (pictured above) for free! And the mug ships right away, I know because I ordered several to give as gifts and they are HUGE and beautiful!!

It is a perfect gift and the book is something that you will be able to read again and again!! I hope that you will order a copy for yourself and maybe a copy to share with a good friend, I know we all can use a moment to breathe in the midst of our mess can’t we?!

Looking for Him this Season

shepherd-on-the-search

We have had an unseasonably warm fall here in Minnesota, something that has been such a gift this year. So it has been hard for me to get in the “Holiday” mindset. Maybe it is the impending blizzard watch we are under for later in the week or the fact that every store is decorated for Christmas, but thoughts of Christmas were on my mind this morning.

I was remembering the times we spent at my grandparent’s home and how before we opened any gifts on Christmas Eve my grandpa would pause and read us the Christmas story. As a child, I was filled with the excitement and anticipation of what was in the packages under the tree …not of the miracle of Christ’s birth.

But my grandpa recognized something that I now understand more deeply myself…the season should be a celebration of the amazing gift God sent for all of humanity. 

I try and put myself in the place of those we read about in Luke 2. How must Mary have felt, carrying the Son of God inside her? What was the journey like that the wise men took to travel incredible distances to bring gifts to Jesus?

Or the shepherds, have you ever thought about the shepherds?

Typically the shepherd was kind of the low man on the totem poll. They spent their days and nights out in the field with sheep. And yet God sent His angels to the shepherds so that He could announce the coming Christ child.

Luke 2 paints a beautiful picture for us:

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 And this 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!”[d]

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.

As a parent, I would love for my kids to see the wonder of Christmas in the birth of Christ and not just in the gifts laying under the tree.

With wish lists and toy guides and elf-on-the-shelf, often Christmas loses its focus on Christ pretty quickly.  So we have to be intentional during the Advent season to bring things back into a right focus.

One of the ways we will be doing that this season is with Dayspring’s Shepherd on the Search kit. In the kit is a book, a small shepherd doll and a box that creates a manger scene. The book tells the kids the journey the shepherd will be on throughout the month of December.

Inviting the kids to go on a journey of their own, each morning the kids will search for where the shepherd might be. His final destination is the stable on Christmas Eve. One of the things that I loved about this kit was that Dayspring has a website specifically dedicated to sharing ideas on how you can incorporate this kit in your day to day life.

This is a fun, yet focused way that you can incorporate the anticipation and celebration of Christ’s birth every day during the Advent season.

Dayspring also has a Christmas CD that features kids singing some of our favorite Christmas Carols! What a wonderful way to create a worshipful environment all season long!

The excitement of presents and new toys will always be something our kids will have, but my hope is that with a daily focus on the miracle of Jesus, we will help establish them a love for the true meaning of the Season.

What are some of the ways you keep Christ present in the Christmas season for your kids? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

I was provided the Shepherd on the Search kit for free from Dayspring in exchange for my honest review. All stories and opinions are my own.

Bible Journaling – Illustrated Faith

Journaling Bible

My husband bought me an ESV Journaling Bible for Christmas in 2014. I have loved having the space to take notes when I am at church. So often I can’t remember all the nuggets of wisdom that my pastor has to offer each week and by writing it down I can go back and look through it at a later date and remember.

When I got the bible I did some research about the best pens, highlighters etc. that I should use on the delicate pages. Searching unearthed (at least for me) the new trend of people illustrating their faith in the pages of their bible.

The work that these artists are doing is so incredible, I had to share a few of my favorites:

Illustrated Faith 2

Beautiful work by Tiffany Zajas. Simple, yet that tangible reminder to bloom where you are planted.

Illustrated Faith 7

Jaime was featured over at the Illustrated Faith website and I love that she uses stickers, colored pencils, washi tape and her own {amazing} handwriting to make this page her own!

Illustrated Faith 8

And finally this from Bekah, also featured at Illustrated Faith has used watercolors and paper cutouts to add whimsy to her page.

I will be honest with you when I started seeing all these beautiful pictures I was a little overwhelmed. I am more of a paint by numbers kind of girl and my handwriting leaves much to be desired. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to create something so beautiful in my own bible.

And then I heard about the Illustrated Faith line from Dayspring.

Initially I purchased some stickers, I thought that it would be a place to start. Then when I had the opportunity to review a full Illustrated Faith kit, I jumped at the chance!

The kit arrived and was packed so pretty. I received the Blessings or Lessons Illustrated Faith set.

Illustrated Faith 5

Here were the Items in the kit:

    • 1 devotional booklet (14 devotionals)
    • 1 stamp pad
    • 1 clear stamp collection with 1 sheet of cut outs enclosed
    • 1 roll of washi tape
    • 1 package of 3 Scripture sharables
    • 1 sticker
    • 1 bow clip

I love that the kit came with a devotional, I hadn’t expected that! Each month a new kit is available and has just enough to get a novice like myself started.

I decided to start by just placing the Scripture sharables in my bible where the verses are found. This way I have them with me and can share them as an opportunity arises.

I tried a couple of the stamps out, but they do recommend that you use an acrylic block to fix the stamps to before you use them. I didn’t have a block so I tried to wing it. One of the stamps slipped a little when I was taking it off the page. The block would have prevented that…so it is on my list of things to purchase.

Illustrated Faith 6I told you I am a novice at this, but it is fun! I want to get some colored pencils and maybe color around the stamp featured above. There are endless possibilities really with what you can do with just 1 kit!

I am even more excited to start using the sticker sets that I purchased but was afraid to try. Maybe this brings me back to those days when we decorated the covers of our notebooks with NKOB stickers and pictures (maybe that was just me, ha!)…it was fun to create then and I guess I had forgotten how something like this is fulfilling for a creative’s soul!

If you haven’t ever tried this form of creative journaling…maybe now is the time to start!!

For more information about the woman who designed this incredible collection see the video below! Email subscribers click here.

YouTube Preview Image

I was sent the Illustrated Faith kit in exchange for my honest review but even more exciting is that the lovely people at Dayspring have a kit to send to one of my readers! I am telling you that you want this!! To enter leave a comment sharing your favorite item from the Dayspring site or tell me if you have done any Bible Journaling yourself. Share this post on FB or Twitter for additional entries, just leave me a comment saying what you have done! 🙂

I will pick a winner on June 13th!

Photo Credit: Kit picture compliments of Dayspring

Do Not Be Afraid – An (in)Courage Guest Post

Incourage Mary post

It was the final day of our time in Florida and for some reason I woke up extra early with one thought in my mind…that I needed to check and see when the next opening was to submit a guest post over at one of my favorite sites – incourage.

Upon checking I discovered that the deadline was that very day. I started reflecting on the early days of Mary, her discovery that she was pregnant and her response. And that morning in the dark of my room I wrote words that surprisingly have encouraged me today.

I struggle with fear, I want things to be perfect and problems or changes in the plan cause me panic. I think there are many of us that can relate to that fear…

And Mary? What about her?

As I read the text in Luke again I saw a response that gave me great hope.

I would love if you would head on over here at incourage to read more about Mary and why we shouldn’t be afraid.

In moments of uncertainty, let’s shed the chains of fear and walk forward with a song of praise. (<====Click to Tweet)

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If you are just hearing about incourage for the first time you should really spend some time seeing all they have to offer to encourage women! And so you don’t miss a single post you should sign up here to receive free daily encouragement from the writers of (in)courage, right in your inbox!

I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and it is my prayer that we can enter into 2016 filled with excitement and anticipation at all God will do through us and with us!

Unconventional Friendships – An (in)Courage Guest Post!

Incourage Friendship Post

Just under 6 short years ago a website was born who’s heart and mission it was to encourage women, gather them together, and equip them to serve well where God had planted them. That site is (in)courage and was one of the first community sites that I started reading after I started blogging myself.

Each morning a post would fill my inbox that gave me hope, brought me laughter and helped me feel like I wasn’t alone. You see making friends hasn’t ever been easy for me. I tend to isolate. And so having a little piece of friendship in my inbox each morning was such a  gift.

And so today it is with excitement and honor that I get to share a little of my journey to some “unconventional” friendships on the (in)courage site. I would love to have you join me there. While some of my dearest friendships have come in an unexpected way, it has reminded me that God can and will use any situation to gather His daughters together!

Because God knew my secret longings for friendship, and He provided it in the most unconventional way…(<====Click to Tweet)

And if you haven’t already been receiving the emails from (in)courage every day – sign up here so that you too can receive these free daily emails of encouragement in your inbox! You will be glad that you did! 🙂

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