Friday, May 31, 2013

5 Minute Friday: Imagine

Imagine how you would feel if you were comfortable in your own skin.

If you forgave yourself as Jesus forgives you.

If you accepted people's answers as they are, without trying to discern the hidden meaning.

Imagine how you would feel if you were so confident in being a daughter of the King, that when the jabs of the world came, you wouldn't even feel them.

Because after all, imagine you were wearing the armor of God.

Imagine if you put aside the notion that your child's behavior is not an intimate reflection of who you are.

Imagine if you didn't wear everyone else's mistakes as your own.

Imagine if you spent the same amount of time cultivating yourself as you did everyone else.  What would you look like today? Imagine.

Imagine if you called yourself worthy when you looked in the mirror.





Imagine how those negative tapes would be erased and new songs would rise up in your heart.

Imagine how much energy you would have if you gave up the tug-of-war rope of control.

Imagine feeling the free.

Imagine dancing under the stars and knowing no matter if you mess up a step, He is enraptured with you.

Imagine being in a cocoon, where all is soft and gentle and Him.  Where you are safe, protected, warm, and purely loved.

Imagine and believe.

I'm hanging out with Lisa-Jo this morning.  Want in?  Here's the deal:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Teens aren't the only Rebels

I always considered myself to be "the good girl."

When I was younger, I didn't do drugs or smoke or sneak out my window at night.  I made good grades.  I didn't sleep with anyone on a whim.  In fact, I waited for my husband.  I had "good girl" friends, participated in church and Bible study, and spent (most of) my money wisely.

But when I read Isaiah 30, I see that I have been a rebel all along, just not in the way the world would deem me so.
"'What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,' says the LORD. 'You make plans that are contrary to mine.  You make alliances not directed by my Spirit, thus piling up your sins.'" (verse 1)

Let me tell you, I have made plans contrary to God's.  I've made plans without consulting God.  I have tried to gather people and things for protection, for success, for security that God never asked me to touch.  I've controlled.  I've schemed.  I've dreamed of my own glory.

I did all this because I was afraid. Because I was insecure.  Because I didn't understand the purpose of my life.  Much like the Israelites.  You see, the Assyrians were threatening to run them out of town, to destroy their community, and take over their land.  But instead of turning to God for help, they turned to Egypt, a country that was waning in power. But for some reason, the Israelites still sought them out for refuge and relief.

Sometimes we do stupid things, don't we?

I'm writing for The Whatever Girls today.  Want to continue reading?  Click here.  Comments closed here so we can have a conversation over there.
(Food addiction series will continue next week).  Want to catch up on that series?
Part 1
Part 2
Linking today with Tracy and  Michell.

Monday, May 27, 2013

When you think you aren't worthy enough and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria party!
This is a place where women gather to encourage each other to live authentically,
sharing our heartbreaks, our joys, and the wisdom from God that sustains us.
Please, link up your heart with ours and encourage other's before you leave.  Only have time to read one?  Choose your neighbor -- no one wants to leave a party empty-handed!
If you would like to be a part of a Soli Deo Gloria small group, now is a great time to join.
Click here for more details.
When I was in college, my roommates would make so much fun of me because I would get stressed out if I hadn't finished a paper that was due in two weeks time.  Consistently, I'd say to them, "Hey!  Let's watch a movie!" and then proceed to leave halfway through because I thought I should be spending my time studying.  (You do see why this "fun" thing is a problem for me, yes?)

But life is teaching me this: Sometimes last minute is right on time.  Because God knows exactly when you'll need to hear something.  He knows when the planted seed is just about to reach the point when it will crack its shell, ready to open up.  God knows when just the right words will make us grow.

Last week, Craig was in Ireland on business.  He was gone eight days.  He was in a new country where it doesn't get dark until 9:30pm.  And there were pubs.  And lots of friends.  And he stayed out really late.  And every night, I worried.  And of course, the root of the worry was fear.  I was afraid he would get hurt.  I was afraid he'd fall into temptation and look at porn.  And the really embarrassing thing?  I was afraid he would cheat on me.  I have absolutely no grounds to ever suspect he would, but I was overwhelmed with this thought.

And then, as I was fixing dinner for me and the girls, wondering when he would call (Ireland is 6 hours ahead of us), I heard God speak into my heart:  "You think he will cheat on you because you do not feel worthy enough to have him.  These fears are about you.  They are not about him."

What do you do with something like that?  How do you hear these words?  What am I supposed to do about this?  How can I learn that I am worthy?

And, of course, I feel like a hypocrite. How many times do I tell all of you that you are worthy?  Worthy because God made you. Worthy because God loves you.  Worthy because God has a plan and a purpose for you life?

And I believe it.  For you.  And on many levels I believe it for me, too.  But this is one area, where, I guess, I don't.

So back to the "last minute is right on time" thing.  Emily Wierenga gave me the privilege of reviewing her book, Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life after Pregnancy, months ago.  And here I am reading it right now.  But I read it and do you know what it says?
We get married anyway, and there’s nothing magical about two broken people vowing to love each other for better or worse. It’s crazy hard, and some days, it feels impossible. You don’t know who you are, and you despise the person you think you are, and then you marry someone who claims to adore you, and you become convinced he is lying because who can really love you? You don’t even love yourself. This is not exactly a strong premise for marriage. So the broken woman becomes a broken wife with a shattered reflection. 
And I weep.  I weep because I'm not alone.  I weep because God knew I needed to know I'm not alone.  I weep because I am broken in this area.  I weep because I am still trying to figure out how this loving yourself really works.

One of the recommendations at the end of chapter 3 is this:
Spend a night talking to your husband about when you first met, and ask him to remind you of what first attracted him to you. Focus on the love in his eyes, and consider why you find it hard to believe that you are lovable. 
My first thought is "I cannot do that." It feels like it would be physically painful.  But I struggle to take a compliment from anyone.  And why is this?  I don't know.  But clearly, it is rooted in deep-seated feelings of unworthiness.  Is this where I'm supposed to start the journey, God?  I'm wincing already just thinking about having to listen to this.  Do any of you long for your significant other to tell you you're beautiful, and then, when it comes, you just think "No, I'm not." and you shiver with discomfort.  (Or maybe I'm just the crazy one?)

It is very scary for me to venture to these dark recesses of my heart.  But I long to be whole in this area. I long to not live in fear.  I long for the "perfect love [that] expels fear." (1 John 4:18)

All this to say, Emily's book goes deep into the heart of a woman.  It addresses far more than pregnancy and body image.  It addresses primary issues of worth and how God created us to see, really see, ourselves.  It's a book that helps us take off the glasses through which we glare at the woman in the mirror and put on God's eyes so that we may see ourselves wrapped in Truth.

T.R.U.S.T. Question:  How do you witness the transformation from fear to love in your own life?  How do you combat fear with love -- what does this look like in your life?

Thank you for listening to my brokenness, friends.  Thank you for loving me enough to be here.
To read more about Emily's book, Mom in the Mirror, please click here. You can purchase it most anywhere, but here is one place.  But, before you go, be sure to enter to win a copy by using the widget below. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you new here? Welcome! We'd love to shower you with some love and encouragement, so if this is your first time linking up, will you put "I'm New!" as your caption under your linky picture? Want more info on what this sisterhood is all about? Click here.
Want to show a sister some love? Tweet her post using the Twitter handle #sdgsisters. Make sure you check the # later for some great posts to read!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

No Matter Our Shape

Linking with Sandra today for some stillness and Jennifer at W2W.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Food: Nourishing your body or your soul?, Part 2

We've begun a journey here.  Just for full disclosure, I never meant to start blogging about food addiction again.  Briefly, I wrote about it for Blissfully Domestic, and I thought I was done talking about it, but apparently God has other plans.

Maybe I was hesitant last week to bring it up because it's still something with which I struggle.  So often, I think "I'll just wait to talk about it once I've made it firmly to the other side.  I'll wait until I'm fully healed, until it's all packaged so nicely, and my written words will be the bow placed on top."

But no.  That's not how God works in me.  There is a beauty when we bring things before our sisters, our friends, our families, when they are still in pieces.  Sure, some of me is put back together regarding this food addiction, but I am not fully whole in this area.  And honestly, it may always be a struggle, but that's okay.  Because in my weakness, I lean on His strength.

Last week, I gave you some things to discuss with God regarding your eating habits and we laid out 3 strategies for keeping food in its rightful place of physical nourishment.  Let's recap:
Today, we are going to focus on #1:  Be consistent about what you eat.  

When I took the first steps to overcome my food addiction (eating too much and fearing there would be too little to satisfy me), I knew I had to develop a routine that would help me acquire a taste for what was good for me.  I wanted to learn how to crave things that would nourish my body instead of craving things I thought would nourish my soul.

(Something to pause and think about -- what do you crave the most?  What is the biggest food temptation you face?)

Then, I created a list of healthy things I would like to eat for 3 meals, plus snacks.  Oftentimes, it takes practice to learn to like certain foods, especially those I held disdain for as a kid.  As such, I decided I would consistently try foods to which I previously had turned up my nose.  Turns out, those first impressions we make as kids (or even teenagers) can be wrong.

Darya, author of Summer Tomato, writes:

Knowing about this bias can help you overcome aversions to foods you think you don’t like, and even learn to love them. The first step is deciding that there is value in enjoying a food you currently do not enjoy. I’m not saying you should develop an appreciation for frozen pasta, but most fresh, natural whole foods are worth rediscovering for both taste and culture.  (for full article, click here)

So, perhaps you could call this first strategy, "consistent, with a flair for adventure."  For example, let's say for breakfast, you love omelets.  Could you live without the bacon so to cut down on fat/calories?  And instead, you know you like spinach, but you are unsure about adding mushrooms or bell peppers?  So you could consistently add spinach to your omelet, but try out other veggies to complement it and grow your taste in something that is good for you.

There is so much that goes into a well-balanced meal -- protein, vitamins, minerals, good fats, etc. It can all be overwhelming.  So start small.  Get used to a few whole foods that you love.  Concentrate on adding those in.

What are those things you crave you know are not good for you?  My husband, in a battle to regain perspective on the role food should play in his life, decided he needed to cut out desserts entirely.  Other people are more successful if they set a limit (so they still get the taste of the sweetness without the indulgence).  Talk with God.  What is His recommendation for you?  If you think you will be more successful incorporating a bit of the "tempting foods" into your diet, set a time, place, and amount for what you are to consume.  Boundaries can go a long way in shaping our relationship to food.  God is really good at helping us to become spiritually sensitive to when we are going too far.

Remember, this is not a race to lose weight.  This is learning how to feed ourselves nutritiously while at the same time allowing God to fill those voids we have used food to fill.  Although our food choices can have a positive impact on our health, and possibly our shape, the deeper issue is the contour of our spiritual heart.

Will you share with us?  Do you have  food you turn to so to provide comfort?  Do you have strategies you use to propel you closer to God for refuge rather than food?

Linking today with Tracy and  Michell.

photo credit: BurgTender via photopin cc (words added by Jen)
photo credit: atomicshark via photopin cc (words added by Jen)

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Wardrobe of Grace (&Giveaway) and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria party!
This is a place where women gather to encourage each other to live authentically,
sharing our heartbreaks, our joys, and the wisdom from God that sustains us.
Please, link up your heart with ours and encourage other's before you leave.  Only have time to read one?  Choose your neighbor -- no one wants to leave a party empty-handed!
If you would like to be a part of a Soli Deo Gloria small group, now is a great time to join.
Click here for more details.
I feel this cracking happening in me -- I realize how much "unhardening" has already taken place as I write the forgiveness chapter in our book.  I realize what amounts of pride consume my heart and how I thought in terms of hierarchy and levels and scales.

But I realize today that I still have quiet a ways to go in the way that I wife, mother, and live.  It is difficult for me to look at a mistake in a way other than some level of failure. I tend to beat myself up about it, shaming myself, lambasting my soul for not knowing better.

I read in  my morning devotional (Jesus Calling)--
"Don't be so hard on yourself."
And my first reaction is, "How can I not be? It could all fall apart."

And there is the lie of pride: "If I can do good, everything will be okay."  The motivation of my heart, I realize, sometimes, pulses with self.  "If I do the best I can, I'll be protecting myself from future pains, catastrophes, discomfort." 

Here's the thing: There are many times I am more comfortable clothed in pharisaical robes than I am with grace.  I like black and white and the color of grace is gray.  I like rules that I can follow with rewards and consequences that are appropriately scaled.  I dislike the unexpected because I am afraid.  "Let's all play it safe. Let's not get in trouble."  (I can see why I am hesitant to break down and have fun -- to what might that lead??)

Oh, but God.  He is cracking me and with each new fissure that emerges, I see and taste and smell freedom.

And I don't fully understand it, but I'm learning to embrace it, welcoming it in my arms with a somewhat awkward hug.  And I realize I can't hold both grace and worldly scales at the same time.  These dual world views conflict too much, weigh too much, and make me go cross-eyed. 

I am reading Beth Moore's Jesus the One and Only and I'm enraptured by the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist.  Moore writes:
John proclaimed, "prepare the way of the Lord / make straight paths for him" (Luke 3:4).  The original Greek word for "paths" is the word tribos, which means a "beaten pathway." In a personal way God wants us to prepare a path.  Have we made a path for Him to come and do a powerful work in our lives?...I believe God's word to us in, Make a beaten pathway.  Come to Me.  Make it your practice to approach Me over and over and over again, so that when I am ready to pour out a fresh work, the way will be made clear.  (page 57-58)
I love how Moore highlights the humility of John the Baptist, how he wasn't about scales, rewards, or accolades.  He simply made a way for the One who is greater.  The One who made it so that I do not have to pay the ultimate price (death) for my mistakes, my sins.  The One who made it so there would be nothing I could do to justify myself.  The One who made grace happen for me.

What God has been speaking to me through His Word and through this book is this: Jesus is not about following the rules.  Jesus is about love.  And as I reread stories, I take in all the times He forgave.  All the times He healed.  All the times He loved.  I don't want my pride to be a roadblock that prevents God's fresh work in me.

I am making a beaten path, realizing that there are some high stone walls still that God needs to break down from time to time, but that's okay.  Because my failure to always do the right thing keeps me hungry for Him.  Moore writes, "Even if we could get our external lives perfect and under legalistic control, we'd probably rot on the inside with the heinous sin of pride."  No doubt, Beth.  I've been there.  And perhaps, this is why I'm determined to accept my failures, for they make a road with easy access to a wardrobe of grace.

T.R.U.S.T. Question: My biggest weakness is my pride.  But in 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul writes: "“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”  What is an area of weakness for you through which God has revealed His strength?

ENTER to win a copy of Beth Moore's Jesus the One and Only BELOW, using the Rafflecopter widget.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received two copies of Beth Moore's book, Jesus the One and Only, free of charge, but was not paid to write this review. These are my own opinions of the book.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Songs (and some Billy Joel for you to Groove to)

When I was a kid and didn't wear my hearing aids because, well, no one else was wearing them, I'd still find other ways to embarrass myself from time to time.

I would be in the middle of belting out an 80's ballad with my friends when all of the sudden they stopped singing when they realized I wasn't singing the right words.

It was all because I couldn't hear the right words.  Words wrapped up in notes and quickly strung together.  How could I possibly recite all the words from songs like "We Didn't Start the Fire?"

We won't mention the fact that I cannot get the notes right.  Maybe because I just have a bad voice.  Maybe because I can't hear the notes clearly.

But there are other songs God surprises me with - now that I'm a good girl and wear them (most of the time).  Songs of birds, a mother singing to hear baby in the stroller when I run past.  The songs of my sisters' prayers when they pray aloud in bible study.

Some of you don't live in a muted world like I do, but life can start to sound muted, endless streams of noise smashed together as we strive through life, if we aren't paying attention to the songs He sings over us.  The birds, the lullabies, the wind in the trees are songs for you.

Can you hear Him?

(Now, enough seriousness.  Go get your Billy Joel on.)

I'm hanging out with Lisa-Jo this morning.  Want in?  Here's the deal:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Food: Nourishing your body or your soul?

Some of you know I'm a recovering food addict.  Making healthy choices isn't as much of a struggle as it used to be, but I still have one downfall I to which I can easily fall prey:

Using food as a comfort to nourish my soul instead of my body.

Daily, I'm tempted.  I think I'll feel better if I had a chai latte after lunch.  I'm a bit sad when my coffee mug is empty.  Sometimes I'll think what's for dinner won't be enough to fill me up.  And sometimes, I let thoughts about my next meal to buoy or drown my excitement for the day.

It's an spiritual battle with emotional and physical consequences.

God created food so that we could enjoy nourishing our bodies.  We need food for energy and health.  Food also helps draw people together.  There is a reason Jesus broke bread with His friends.  But so often, food becomes a primary focus in our life that God wants reserved for Him.

Whether you find yourself eating too much or too little, God wants to bring wholeness into this area of your life.

After a conversation with friend, I came up with three strategies that might help her proactively keep her mind focused on how God intended food to be used in our lives.  They are similar to what God showed me to do as He was freeing my from my unhealthy dependency on food.  As with any new thing, it takes time and practice to build healthy habits.  It takes some experimentation to see what will work for you.

After you read the 3 target areas, I suggest taking them to God and asking Him how to customize them for you.  It was only through God that I realized why I was eating too much to begin with and only through His direction was I able to be satisfied with how He would have me eat in proportion to what my body needed, not my soul.

As with any addiction or area of struggle, this process is not based on willpower.  It's based on God's power.  And He knows there will be days temptation will get the best of you.  This is why He is One who offers grace and opportunity to get plugged into Him again.  This is not a process that is based on legalism, but on practicing habits that will give you life, energy, and joy.  This is also not a process about getting to look a certain way.  This is simply about putting food in its rightful space in your life.

3 Strategies to Keeping Food in its Rightful Place:

1.  Be consistent about what you eat.

2.  Be consistent about how much you eat.

3.  Be consistent about when you eat.

Over the next 3 weeks, we will discuss each one in more detail.  But between now and then, there is time to talk with God about your food habits.  What to discuss?  Maybe these questions will help:

{1}  What habits do you have that empower healthiness in your life?

{2}  What habits do you have that detract from being healthy?

{3}  When are the most notable times that you turn to food for something other than physical nourishment?

{4}  Can you correlate a desire for food with a desire for something else that you find missing in your life?

What other questions might be good to bring to God?  Will you share with us in the comments?

(FYI, most of you know I am not a doctor or a nutritionist.  I'm a simply a girl who works out this issue with God on a continual basis.)

Linking today with Tracy and  Michell.

Also, there is still time to support a new local business (and even if you don't live in Austin, TX, your donation goes to supporting the creation of new local businesses). Click here to read the powerful story of Stonebridge Coffee.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Because no matter where you live, there is Community and the Soli Deo Gloria Party

Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria party!
This is a place where women gather to encourage each other to live authentically,
sharing our heartbreaks, our joys, and the wisdom from God that sustains us.
Please, link up your heart with ours and encourage other's before you leave.  Only have time to read one?  Choose your neighbor -- no one wants to leave a party empty-handed!
If you would like to be a part of a Soli Deo Gloria small group, now is a great time to join.
Click here for more details.
Today, I have a special guest.  His name is Justin and he is married to one of my best friends, Jenny, a fellow Soli Sister.  Because I am passionate about people living into their callings AND community, I asked Justin to tell us about his new adventure.  And we SDG girls love adventure (or at least we are learning to, like me).  Here's Justin's amazing story.


I sometimes feel that my community is lost and disconnected.  Not because it actually is, but because I have been disconnected and kept myself apart from the masses.

Why?  Good question.  I used to believe “people” made horrible decisions and only “individuals” could be a light to those in darkness.  I avoided the masses because those were the “people” who cut me off in traffic, had 21 items in the ‘20 items or less’ checkout line, or insisted on paying by check at the exact moment I was in a huge hurry.  In my opinion, these “people” – the nameless, faceless masses – made horrible decisions that would inevitably annoy me.  Frankly, I had the attitude: “who needs ‘em?”

These days, however, I’m singing a different tune.  Over the last couple of years, as my circumstances changed, my understanding of community has drastically shifted.  I used to think that my community involved my wife, my children, and five others with whom I have walked for two decades.  I didn’t need anyone beyond that.  Until, that is, I did.

After a series of really hard life changes, my wife and I found ourselves without money and scrambling for everything.  I was diagnosed with epilepsy, we had our second child, and I lost my job.  My daughter developed inexplicable health issues, then my wife also started dealing with severe health problems that still aren’t resolved, and on and on.  Nothing seemed stable and it felt like everything was always crumbling around us. We were drowning, and we definitely needed help.  

We were beyond pride.  It was time to reach out.

As we slowly started letting down those outer walls of pride and sharing our circumstances with “people”, we started to experience two Scriptures that, I believe, embody community:

Mathew 18:20 – Where two or more are gathered in His name, He is also there.

Galatians 6:2 - Help carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will obey the law of Christ.

In the last four years I have been challenged to rethink what my community looks like due, in part, to kind gestures from strangers.  Here’s one of about a thousand stories I could tell you (all of which God has used to transform my perspective and realize the supreme value of people, as God sees them).

There was one night early on in our ‘Period of Poverty’ when I knew Jenny and I needed time together, desperately.  We needed a night out, we needed a break, but we only had $30.00.  Not, I just got paid so let’s blow $30.00.  That is all we had to our name.  We thought: let’s split a meal to save money.  Let’s not even go out to save the money. Shouldn’t we give this to the church?  My stomach won out and we went to dinner.  I could feel tension rising as the bill came to the table.  Had we made the wrong choice?  Would God be mad at us for eating out instead of buying groceries?  How would we ever afford our $25 meal?

The waiter walked over and, instead of handing us the check, she simply said: “That table over there took care of it.”  We looked and there was no one there.  They had already left before we could acknowledge their gift.  Jenny cried with joy and humility; I changed my definition of community.

As far as I was concerned those strangers were the “people” I had previously resented and avoided, and, yet, they had just bought me dinner for no reason.  To me, that couple embodied both of the verses above.  They were gathered, God was with them and did amazing things through their community, and they truly helped carry our burden.  For me this was the beginning of a giant leap in my personal understanding of what community is and can do.

The stories (experiences) kept coming.  Neighbors brought us groceries.  Fellow church-goers (anonymous) paid our mortgage.  Family and friends and strangers alike stepped up to help us get back on track in known and unknown ways.  In the end, I realized I was living Matthew 18:20 and Galatians 6:20, and I was on the receiving end.  All of those folks for which I had had disdain – those “people” – were now the very ones that helped me feed my kids and keep a roof over my family.  Talk about humbling.

With this realization and new understanding of community, after many other transformational experiences, I have decided to start a new venture called Stonebridge Coffee.  I have always wanted to own my own business, and a coffee shop fits me in so many ways.  I like places where you can hang out, be yourself, and slowly, over time, get to know others.  I like places where live music can be heard.  I like meeting places.  I like the idea of owning my own business so that I can buy strangers dinner some day, employ people and help them pay their bills, and provide a physical space where God is present on a daily basis.

Stonebridge Coffee is designed to be a light in my community and serve what I once called “people”.  Now, I look at “people” as part of a greater community that has the ability to make a powerful difference in individuals’ lives.  That’s why Jenny and I decided to try to raise our startup capital through something called Crowd Funding. 

Crowd Funding is a way for “people” to support and build up other people, whether they know them personally or not.  To us, this process is all about Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” 

Stonebridge will strive to live that out as a business in the way we can give to those around us, but we also want to live that out in the ways we receive.  For Jenny and me, our understanding of what it means to walk in community has had a lot to do with learning how to humble ourselves and ask for/receive help.  That’s why we jumped on the chance to write this post when Jen asked us to.

So, why a coffee shop? Why Stonebridge Coffee? We see Christ in a community of twelve, impacting the lives of millions, and all of it being launched with a last supper. Stonebridge Coffee, with God’s help and our community’s help (which now includes you) will be for some the first time they experience a smile, a safe place, new music, coffee and even Christ.

Won’t you join our team?  You can help launch this venture by giving to our startup needs and/or by spreading the word to everyone you know.  

(Note from Jen:  And guess what?  There are rewards for those who donate, level by level, so YOU can have a reminder of what YOU helped to build!  I know how the SDG gals feel about prizes, so I thought you HAD to know about this!!)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Beautiful Likes of You.

What God whispered to me...
and I know that someone needs to hear it today.  Is it you?

Linking with Sandra.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Comfort

a pic of my girls and their cousins years ago...comfortable and the best of friends.

Comfort.  Oh, that 's a hard one for me.  Often times I have a hard time sitting still, if not physically, then mentally, long enough to get comfortable, you know?

But, comfort? I long for what it feels like to be safe in my Father's arms.  To be content in my own skin.  To stop worrying about all that is life and just trust that even if it doesn't all look okay, one day it will be.

And comfort right now is writing without an agenda.  It's about (really) not going back and re-reading each word and making sure that it has a point and it's edited (even though that's the RULE I am always breaking at FMFs).  Comfort may really be that there is a word or two misspelled or a sentence structure skewed.

Comfort is trust.  And friends, God has taught me that I can trust you.  You who read my words and send me emails and leave sweet notes. You, who don't say anything at all, but that's okay, too.

I love you all just the same.  Your presence brings me comfort that I'm not alone on this journey.  It may not always be comfortable, but tarrying together always makes the loads we bear a little lighter.

I'm hanging out with Lisa-Jo this morning.  Want in?  Here's the deal:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Shortest Blog Post Ever? (But it's encouraging!)

To every mom who has encouraged her child, fought through tears and arguments rife with words like "I can't do this, Mom! I'm not good enough!" -- there will come a time when your child says something like Abby said to me today: "I have a long overdue 'thank you,' Mom.  Thank you for always encouraging me to swim and for telling me that God gave me a talent and I should use it." 

It's a glorious experience. Her words are words of encouragement not just to me, but to you, too.  Never give up doing what God has given you to do for and with your kids. It's worth every fight. Every tear.  Every day you think you've failed.

You are not failing.
Keep up the good fight, girl.

Linking today with Tracy and Emily.

Monday, May 6, 2013

ATKT Just for Fun and the Soli Deo Gloria Party!

Welcome to the Soli Deo Gloria party!
This is a place where women gather to encourage each other to live authentically,
sharing our heartbreaks, our joys, and the wisdom from God that sustains us.
Please, link up your heart with ours and encourage other's before you leave.  Only have time to read one?  Choose your neighbor -- no one wants to leave a party empty-handed!
If you would like to be a part of a Soli Deo Gloria small group, now is a great time to join.
Click here for more details.
email subscribers, click here to view the video

Don't worry.  I look "serious" in this picture, but I'm probably just about to describe my Cow Parade Cows.  What are those?  Don't worry -- just click the video to find 1 of maybe 3 things that I do that are Just for Fun.

You see, I've realized perhaps I'm a bit too serious all the time.  And it's time to let my hair down (and put a cow in front of my face -- complete with ruby slippers) and just ramble about things that are Just For Fun.

If this doesn't prove that we can vlog about anything (like the Wizard of Oz Cows) at SDG, then nothing can.

**Note, if you are linking a vlog tonight, please place *vlog* in your caption.**

Across the Kitchen Table FAQs

Q:  What is "Across the Kitchen Table?"
A:  It is where we pretend that we all live close enough to walk to each other's houses, have a cup a tea, and share whatever is on our hearts.  It's an opportunity for us to see the authors behind the blogs and make sure y'all are actually living human beings and not robots.  (ha, ha!)

Q:  Do I have to have a vlog in order to link up this week?  
A:  Absolutely not!

Q:  Does my video have to have a specific point?  
A:  Um, no.  Today, I'm talking about cows.  Cows with ruby slippers.

Q:  Is it okay if I say "like" and "um" and "just" a lot in my video?  
A:  Of course.  Remember, this is not about perfection.  This is about being real.

Q:  What would you say if I told you that I can't blog because I'm not pretty enough?  
A:  I'd tell you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator.  And that you need to join on Wednesdays for our series, "beheld in a different Light."

Q:  I didn't do a vlog today because I'm still trying to work up the courage.  Will you be doing this again?
A:  Yes!  Every first Monday of the month, I'll host another edition of "Around the Kitchen Table."

Q:  I have questions about how to make a vlog.  Can I contact you? 
A:  Yep.  You can get me at jenfergie2000 @ me.  com.

Q:  How do you feel about link-up communities, Jen?
A:  If you join 'em, make sure you visit a few people that have linked up, too.  And leave an encouraging word for them, too.

Q:  Can we invite our friends?
A:  That goes without saying!  We are an all-inclusive community!

T.R.U.S.T. Question:  What do you do in life that is Just For Fun?
Are you new here? Welcome! We'd love to shower you with some love and encouragement, so if this is your first time linking up, will you put "I'm New!" as your caption under your linky picture? Want more info on what this sisterhood is all about? Click here.
Want to show a sister some love? Tweet her post using the Twitter handle #sdgsisters. Make sure you check the # later for some great posts to read!

Friday, May 3, 2013

5 Minute Friday: Brave

Brave doesn't require a uniform.

You don't have to wear camouflage (although we know our military men and women are some of the bravest people around).

You don't have to stand in front of a microphone or jump out of a plane or sail around the world.

You don't have to travel with body armor or with a weapon or with bodyguards.

You don't have to attend high-level meetings.

Brave doesn't require that you do the scariest thing you've ever thought of doing.

Brave doesn't even mean big.

Brave for one woman might be allowing her feet to touch the floor when the sun breaks forth on the horizon.

It might mean taking another pregnancy test, negative after negative.

It might mean saying "no" to another drink, or any drink at all.

It might mean choosing to let your daughter walk out the door.

It might mean letting your son fail.

It might mean letting your husband do things differently than you would.

Brave might be leaving a misspelled word on your five minute Friday post.

...Brave looks different through the eyes of God.

Perhaps because God's view of bravery is looking into His eyes and saying "yes" to doing that we He has equipped you to do, but to which the world has said "no way."

Be brave, sweet sister.  Be brave and say "yes."

I'm hanging out with Lisa-Jo this morning.  Want in?  Here's the deal:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

photo credit: aussiegall via photopin cc

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Reformed Performer

stock photo from stock.xchg

I am a performer.

My stage is not in Hollywood, California or in an off-Broadway theatre on the streets of New York.  Rather, it was in my classrooms growing up.  But I wasn't the class clown.  I was the hard-worker.  I sat in the front row, listened attentively, and turned beet red if I ever got in trouble.  One day in sixth grade, I almost got detention for chewing gum.

I thought my world had ended.  What would my parents say of my actions?


I am a director.

My stage doesn't have bright lights or movie cameras.  There isn't a star sign on my dressing room door.  No, my stage now is in my own house and I find myself using a director's voice more than a doting mother's tone most of the time.

I am a performer and a director.  I expect things to move like clock-work, for people to say their lines, to be where they are supposed to be.  "Do not diverge from the script!" I might say.  Going off the beaten path, striking out on your own, unconformity, no that is not me.

I perform so that you will like me.  I perform so you will think I am good.  I perform so that I can get your accolades.  I may not come off as a diva, but it's all a selfish facade, just the same.

I direct because I want it my way.  Don't change the plan.  I don't like to feel uncomfortable.  I don't like not knowing what comes next.

To continue reading my guest post at the W2W this week, please click here. (comments closed on this post so we can chat at W2W)

beheld in a different Light: why every girl longs to be beautiful

There is beauty everywhere, but so often we look through the eyes of the world, and we simply miss it...or maybe dismiss this beauty because it does not seem to hold up to the standards that our society has created.  But what if we take the words of Romans 12: 1-2 seriously and we get serious about not conforming to the patterns of this world, but instead, we let our minds be transformed by the Spirit.  What if we allow God to bend and mold us, what if we allow Him to touch our eyes so that we might see again in new light, what if we prepare our hearts to be astounded by what He has created?  What if we become astounded by ourselves, not with a sense of selfish pride, but with heartbeats of gratitude?  What if we let God's Word lavish our souls with wonder and amazement?  What if we believe Him when He tells us that we are beautiful and that we are His?


 I noticed the
change in her
eyes the moment her Daddy handed her that red rose and told her she was beautiful.

I'd told her, too, of course, as I'd zipped up her brand new dress and watched her test out a few dance moves on her bedroom floor.

I'd smiled at her in the mirror as I'd wound her fine blonde hair around the steamy silver curling wand and listened to her chatter.

We'd wondered together if the D.J. at the Father-Daughter
Dance would play her favorite song or if her classmates' daddies would groove all night like hers.

But it was his words that had added a sparkle to her baby blues; his smile that had made her cheeks glow with ruddy radiance.
A mother may instruct her daughter in beauty, but it's a father who calls it out.

When her Daddy said, "You're beautiful," Hannah had held her head a little higher. And she'd twirled like a princess in that sweet spring dress of hers.
page1image11984 page1image12144
When her Daddy said, "You're beautiful," my daughter had believed him.

Hannah waved happy from the window of her Daddy's truck as they drove down the lane.

And from my post on the front step, I remembered how I'd felt when I'd first heard those words, too.

You're beautiful.

I wasn't wearing a fancy dress, just old pajamas covered in spit- up.

I wasn't heading to a dance, I was just heading into another day with screaming toddlers and dirty dishes.

But His words had stirred something deep within me--

“You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless... you’re a secret garden, a private and pure fountain. Body and soul, you are paradise..." -Song of songs: 4:7,12, The Message

I'd scribbled that verse in my journal and read it over and over again, trying to believe that what my Father said was true.

I'd desperately wanted to be her, the one beautiful from head to toe.

And later that week when I'd gathered with other moms like me, our babies crawling at our feet while we poured over the scriptures together, 
I'd asked my friends what they thought about those crazy words that Beth Moore had written across the first page of our week's lesson---

"Christ sees you as beautiful. I also believe this is how the enemy sees you. He just does not want you to know it. His job is to deceive us into believing we are so much less than we are. Why? Because he knows we’ll act like who we think we are.”

Some of those mamas had cried. Others had laughed.page2image16352

But, together, we had wondered if beauty is a choice rather than a hair-style; an act of faith, rather than a secret formula.

Those words had made me feel cheated and hopeful all at once.

And suddenly I was desperate to see myself through my Father's

On the drive home from that Bible study, my baby squealing in the car seat behind me, my toddler screaming for lunch, this twenty-nine-year girl decided to believe her Father's quiet words over the
Enemy's noisy lies.

And that was the day that everything began to change.

Oh, I still had stretch marks and extra skin.

I still had hair that wouldn't grow silky long and bony legs that dangled 
skinny like a bird's.

But my Daddy said I was beautiful.
And for some crazy reason, I chose to believe Him.

Even when the mirror mocked my faith.
Even when all I could see were dark circles under my eyes and blemishes on my chin.
Even when I couldn't see what my Father claims to see.

Eleven years later, I'm still praying for courage to act like the woman that He says I am, because every day, the stakes are getting higher.

I have three little girls watching closely; three girls who will grow into women who desperately long to be beautiful.

More than anything, I want my daughters to take their Heavenly Father at His word, because beautiful women live beautiful lives.

So, while Hannah danced the night away with my handsome man, I stayed home and prayed that the gleam of love in her Daddy's green eyes would point our daughter to the Love that will never let her down.

Because one day, my not-so-little girl will waltz out into the great big world on her own and learn those dance steps that God has created for her alone.

And when she does, I want her to know that she's beautiful. 
A bit about Alicia
I am a lover of Jesus Christ, a seeker of abundant life, and a freelance writer and speaker. I’ve got a handful of children, a home full of laughter and a life full of noise. I’m the frequent hostess of kitchen-floor dance contests, meal time talk-a-thons and dirty laundry campaigns. I love the sound of my children’s laughter, the feeling of my husband’s hand in mine, and the smell of fresh-brewed coffee. I make my home in the Midwest where tulips bloom and neighbors smile. While my laundry baskets are NEVER empty, my soul sometimes is. When all is said and done, I don’t want my minivan to be the only thing crammed to capacity. I want a soul that’s filled to the brim, too. I want to live the life Jesus dreamed for me when he declared, "I have come that (you) may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). As I do, I hope to splatter my world with joy and leave puddles of faith in my wake.
Want to experience more of Alicia?  You can find her here at The Overflow!