on New Life {31 Days to Coming Alive by Jennifer Hand}

We entered Indiana in a snow storm. It blew white over the roads, the same color as my knuckles gripping tight the steering wheel.

And so began our re-introduction to real winter weather. We had weeks of below-zero temperatures. Snow on the ground measured in feet. More snow days than I care to count or remember. Grey skies and not a hint of sun for weeks. Cold, biting wind that cuts through all the layers of warmth and chills the bones.

Out the windows, a snow-covered and lifeless landscape. Everything still and covered in ice, frozen in its current state.

Oh soul, is your spiritual landscape frozen and lifeless? Have you had more grey skies than blue lately? Is the frigid wind cutting through your warmth?

This week spring has begun to timidly emerge, tender green shoots popping up. Birds are chirping once again. New life is beginning, slowly but surely.

And so it is with my spirit. After a long period of winter, numb with cold, tender green shoots are peeking up. Hope takes wing like a bird. Beauty prepares to blossom forth once again.

Is your soul waking after a long winter? Do you need a jolt, a wake-up call, a push in the right direction?

My dear friend Jennifer Hand has written a lovely 31-day devotional ebook, 31 Days to Coming Alive. It is available today, March 20! I got a chance to read it a few weeks ago and so enjoyed Jennifer’s funny and brutally honest approach. If you need an encourager for your spirit, a friend to tell you the truth, or a push out of your sleepy soul-state, this book is just what you’ve been looking for.

31 Days to Coming Alive is a 31 Day Devotional adventure designed to take you on a journey of coming alive and connecting in a deeper way with Jesus. Each day will contain story to connect your heart to scripture for the day’s theme, heart work to connect your heart to Christ, and an invitation to Come Alive.

- from the book description

Each day is short and easy-to-read, but definitely not lacking in power. If you take Jennifer’s words to heart you will emerge in 31 days as a woman fully awake in your heart and spirit.

Let’s chase away winter in our souls, shall we?

Meet Jennifer | Order 31 Days to Coming Alive

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Remember, You are Dust

2014-03_DustHe scooped a coating of ashes on his thumb. Raising it to my forehead and making the sacred sign, he said, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

…For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Genesis 3:19 NASB

I sometimes feel a little self-important, walking around in this earthly body. I am too impressed with the weight of my own words. I become too enamored with my gifts. I fall in love too deeply with this shifting, temporal existence. I am obsessed with the trappings of my finite life.

I need to be reminded: I am dust.

I spend a good portion of my life battling the dust in my house. I wipe it from surfaces. I sweep it from floors. Dust is a nuisance, to be scraped away and thrown out. I spend good money on tools to rid myself of its filth.

In God’s upside-down economy, dust is precious. Dust is the beginning of all. Dust in the hands of the Creator becomes life.

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7 NASB

The God-hands mold and shape dirt tenderly, lovingly into something useful and, even more than that, beautiful.

The God-breath imparts life to what was once dead and useless.

And we, made from dust, are infinitely precious to this Creator. We are His treasure and He knows us each by name.

Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes.

Genesis 18:27 NASB

We can be so bold as to hold the hands that formed us. We speak to the One who spoke the universe into existence.

What a Wonderful Maker indeed.

the Friday Five 03.07.2014

2014-01_TheFridayFive

Every week on Friday I post five things I’m loving this week. They’re not big things, or earth-shattering things. They’re just five things that made me smile. They’re five things I enjoy. And they’re five things I want to share.

  Rock of Ages Soundtrack – If you love classic rock as much as I do, you need this. And probably a playlist of all the original songs they cover. My kids can sing Paradise City. I’m not sure if that makes me a bad parent or a good one.
  Grandma’s Pantry, Wakarusa, IN – We happened by this place while we were in Wakarusa. It is literally the coolest grocery store ever. There are rows and rows of baking products, soup mixes, homemade baked goods, fresh peanut butter, local honey, homemade jams and jellies, local meats, herbs and spices, and so much good stuff at such crazy reasonable prices I wanted to BUY. ALL. THE. THINGS. I settled on Cappucino Peanut Butter, Southwest Chipotle Dip Mix, Beef Barley Soup Mix, and Espresso Cream Cappuccino Mix.
  The Unburdened Heart: Finding the Freedom of Forgiveness by Suzanne Eller – If you’ve had hurt in your life (and who hasn’t?) you’ve likely struggled with forgiveness. In our Christian circles we can encourage those who’ve been wronged to “Just forgive.” While this is true, it does nothing to explain the nuances of the journey to forgiveness. Suzanne Eller unpacks the concept from Scripture, helping the reader to be honest about their past and experience true, Biblical forgiveness.
Suzanne’s newest book, The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places just came out. She is doing a study of the book on her blog starting Monday, March 10 if you want to read along.
  French Cheeseburger Loaf Recipe – I feel like “cheeseburger loaf” is an inappropriate name for this dish. Cheeseburger loaf sounds like a processed meat product in the shape of its can. This is ground beef sauteed with onions and bell pepper, seasoned with dijon mustard and wrapped in refrigerated french bread dough with slices of cheese. YES PLEASE. There was none left after dinner. None.
Image Credit
Spiritual Gifts Test online - If you’ve never taken a spiritual gifts test, or it has been a long time since you have, take this free online inventory and get immediate results. These help you recognize how God has gifted you uniquely to serve, and focus your time, talents and attention on those areas. It had been several years since I took a spiritual gifts test, so I was a little surprised at my results.

{This post contains affiliate links. The small commission I earn when you click on them keeps me in Dr. Pepper and Little Debbies. So thanks.}

Five Minute Friday {WILLING}

What is Five Minute Friday?

So, here’s the skinny: every Friday for going on four years now hundreds of people have joined a kind of writing flash mob over here.

We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that I post here at 1 minute past midnight EST ever Friday. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FMFParty (It stands for Five Minute Friday Party).

It’s easy to join in, read about it here.

The path has been unclear. Treacherous. Heartbreaking.

We have been broken in ways we never could have expected.

God has been more present than we ever could have dreamed.

This life, the way He has directed our path, has brought me to the edge of what I thought I could bear. It made me cry out that I didn’t think I could do His will anymore.

The everlasting Arms carried me further into the wilderness, into places I thought I never could survive. The sure, strong Feet knew the path. The tender Heart knew me.

During that long wilderness walk, my heartbeat changed. No longer was it my own, but it matched His. I stopped praying that He would take this away and instead, prayed thanks.

Lord, I am willing.

Though I cannot see where this path leads. When it looks like I will sink. When my dreams burn up in the fire. When I cannot take another step on my own.

I am willing. For You. For Your name. For Your glory. For the hope of eternity.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

And now, when you ask things I think I cannot do. When the days are long and hard. When I have to leave the comfort of my boat or the safety outside the fire.

I will fix my eyes on You and I will come.

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

{Book Review} Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker

Surprised by Motherhood will be published on April 1, 2014. If you pre-order, Lisa-Jo will send you one of 300 signed bookplates. Hurry — they’ll go fast!

Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being a Mom by Lisa-Jo Baker is the story of one unlikely mother’s journey from never wanting kids to delighting in them. Lisa-Jo relates the pain of her childhood — from a church’s narrow definition of Biblical womanhood to losing her mother at age eighteen — and how that pain shaped her view of herself and what it meant to be a mother. She then takes you on a journey from her childhood home in South Africa to college in the States, and from there to places like Ukraine and Michigan, finally landing beneath the cherry blossoms outside of Washington, D.C. As you immerse yourself in Lisa-Jo’s vivid retellings of each memory tied to the landmarks on her journey, you will see a hurting young lady grow in God’s grace to become a confident, thriving woman and mother.

Your journey to motherhood may be different than Lisa-Jo’s. I know mine was. Unlike Lisa-Jo, I always wanted to be a mother. Like her, all the books and experts I listened to prior to my daughter’s birth did nothing to prepare me for the reality of life with a squalling little cherub or tiny tyrant who is completely dependent on you for everything. I was shocked (shocked!) at how much my life changed and how little it looked like the visions of motherhood I had before. Lisa-Jo invites you in to the desperate, lonely moments of her mothering journey and shows you how God grows a mother out of a girl.

Possibly the most moving moments in Surprised by Motherhood are Lisa-Jo’s birth stories for each of her children. She offers an anthem for each of them, a beautifully crafted celebration of their unique gifts and challenges. Especially lovely is the story of her learning she will be mother to a daughter. From fear and uncertainty to joy and delight, you will join in the rebuilding of her heart through her children.

In her lyrical, unswervingly honest way, Lisa-Jo offers hope to each of us, imperfect mothers all. She shows through each map pin the beautiful God-breathed process that built a mother out of the unlikeliest of raw materials. Mothers aren’t built in a day. They are born, through taking life inside you and growing it in secret, letting that life take sustenance and nourishment from you, through letting it change the bones and sinews of your familiar body, through long and hard labor and bearing down through pain and fatigue to bring something beautiful into the world.

Buy Surprised by Motherhood | Meet Lisa-Jo Baker

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I received a copy of this book for review purposes from NetGalley.