Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Missional During the Big Game


In October I wrote a series entitled 31 Days of Missional Living. One of the main things we talked about is how simple it is to live missionally when you do what you love with intentionality. Some easy times to be missional are around big events. Consider Halloween, summer holidays, change of seasons, and sporting events as prime opportunities for developing relationships in your community.

With what may be the biggest sporting event of the year coming up this Sunday, I highly recommend that you not let this weekend pass by without using it as an easy opportunity for missional living. Host a party at you home, host a block party with your neighbors, or go to a party at a local hangout.

Whatever you do this Sunday just make sure you do something. Then stop by here Monday and let me know how it went.

Coming Soon...a printable, a giveaway, and an exciting series. Be sure to follow by email, Twitter, or RSS so you don't miss a single post.

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Theme for 2013

 In 2012 we saw the death of many dreams. My husband left a job that while emotionally deadening was financially stable. We began the long hard road of starting our own business and spent a few thousand dollars on training, travel, and materials. And we still have a long road ahead of us. As we continued to cry out to God with the hope of expanding our family our prayers seemed to fall upon dead ears.

For 2012 God gave me the theme of Passion and Purity but I often wondered if he’d really meant loss and heartache? But as 2012 came to a close slowly but surely new doors started to open and hope started to shine through the ashes. 

During the week of Thanksgiving after nine long months my husband received a very unexpected job offer. In the month of December we had the pleasure of hosting an orphan from Colombia and my husband started his long awaited Master’s program. Doors kept opening and I am convinced… 

2013 will be the year of new beginnings  and I have chosen the theme, “All Things New.” I’m reflecting on the following verses as I enter this new year:
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21: 3-5
I’m praying that 2013 will be a year of new beginnings for you as well. What would it look like for God to make all things new in your life this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Celebrating Four Years

 (Today is my fourth wedding anniversary. Last year I shared why our third anniversary meant so much to me. In honor of of another year of marriage I decided to re-post last year's reflection as a reminder of how much I have to be thankful to God for.)

"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5
On January 17th of this year my husband and I celebrated three years of marriage. If you’ve been married any length of time this may not seem like much to you. But to me this is huge.

You see I was married before. Just over 34 months to be exact. Just shy of three years. My first husband was a cop/worship minister and a Godly man. On the afternoon of February 29, 2008, he went for a motorcycle ride with a fellow deputy. Darryl would say that he never got to ride his bike enough so I’m very glad that this was the last great experience he had before he left this earth. On his way home, less than a mile from our house, Darryl was in an accident with another vehicle in which he sustained a serious head injury. He was rushed to the hospital where one of our friends met him and got to exchange the last conversation Darryl would ever have on this earth.

Meanwhile Darryl’s Sergeant knocked on our door and gave me the news every spouse fears. Initially we thought Darryl just had a broken leg. So I while I rode to the hospital in the passenger seat of a police cruiser I made the customary calls to friends and family. Shortly after my arrival at the hospital we learned of Darryl’s head injury and made the decision to do the only procedure that may save his life. 

Over the next three weeks while Darryl was in a coma one more procedure was done but Darryl never woke up and the swelling in his brain never went down significantly. After three weeks of being in a coma in a Lakeland, FL hospital Darryl went home to be with Jesus peacefully with me by his side in the trauma ward. 

What I will never forget about that period of my life was the amazing support I had from Darryl’s family and mine, my pastors and church family, the Polk County Sherriff’s Office, and the community. (For more on Darryl's story visit here.)

Now four years have passed and it’s still impossible to believe. As this most recent wedding anniversary loomed on the horizon last fall, I wondered if I would ever get to the three year marriage mark with my current husband. I did the math and realized that is if by God’s design history would repeat itself again November of 2011 would have been the end of my time with Jason. So in the two months leading up to my first ever three year anniversary I tried to love and appreciate my husband with a fresh realization that every day could be the last. 

Here I am today over a month past the three year mark and beginning for the first time a fourth year of marriage. After all this time I am convinced that life by definition is incredibly hard but God is more faithful than we can ever imagine. Thank you for your prayer as the days leading up to March 22 (the anniversary of Darryl’s passing) are always difficult for me and all those who loved Darryl.

This post was originally published on February 29, 2012.

Monday, January 14, 2013

{In Real Life} 2013

(in)RL is a free conference that brings woman together in real life. It connects communities, bloggers, and relationships on the other side of the computer. It doesn't require packing or plane tickets but instead happens in the comfort of your living room or another safe space in your community.

This year you'll be able to take a closer look at what it takes to stay rooted in community when sometimes just walking away would be so much easier and tons more convenient.

The (in)RL webcast kicks off on Friday, April 26 and (in)RL meetups follow on Saturday, April 27. I'll be hosting an (in)RL meetup in the Downtown Orlando area. If you're local I'd love for you to join me. If not signup to join or host a group in your city.

Bonus reasons to join:
  1. It’s FREE!
  2. Everyone who registers on the day registration opens (Monday Jan 14-Today!) gets a copy of our (in)courage 365 Daybrightener while supplies last (US residents only).
  3. Everyone gets a copy of our first eBook: “Best of the Beach House 2012.”
So will you join me? Let me know in the comments below if you'll be a part of (in)RL this year.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Prayer for an Imperfectly Perfect Home

An ornament lovingly made by our sweet, Jean Carlos
 (In the month of December hosted a sweet boy from Colombia in hopes of finding him a forever home. This post was one of a series that I wrote the day I took him to theairport to fly back to Colombia. If you’d like to learn more about hosting a Colombian child or international adoption please leave a comment below or contact Embraced by Grace directly).

I never knew a clean house could be so boring. But what I learned through our journey hosting and advocating for a Colombian child is that dirty houses speak of live lived in the mess. Dirty houses speak of being too busy playing to waste time on something temporary like mopping the floor.
I have new stains in my living room carpet. I’m not quite sure what they are or how the
y got there but I’m certain they weren’t there three weeks ago. There’s something sticky and unidentified on my dining room table. And earlier in the week I found Goldfish crackers on my bathroom counter. (Can anyone tell me why this would be?)

As I came home to a wreck of a home after taking our sweet Jean Carlos to the airport to fly back to Colombia I began to pick up, and vacuum, and wipe away the mess. When I was all done I was left with something that was in stark contrast to my heart. You see my heart was in anguish, all broken and bloody in the midst of an all-too-quiet house. The freshly shined countertops did nothing to stop the tears from streaming down my cheeks. And it was in that moment that I realized it…

I have a friend whose house is notoriously messy. She has an eighteen-month-old boy that is constantly moving to say the least. When you go to her home you are not struck by how clean her floors are or her most recent Pinterest-perfect projects. What you do notice is that her home is full of life. Her hospitality is the easy kind. The pour yourself a drink, put your feet up on the couch, and don’t worry about spilling kind. She has chosen to live life in the mess. 

And that is what I would like to do as well…

God, help me to not desire a sterile castle where nothing gets broken and everything is always in it’s place. Instead help me to desire and cultivate a place where we do life amidst the messiness. Please help me to have a home where we experience the bloody brokenness of real relationships, where we’re all having too much fun to clean all the time, and where we spend more time on eternal investments than temporary ones. Amen.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Prayer for 2013?

 As a little girl growing up in the ‘80s in South Florida, The Shepherd’s Prayer is the one thing I remember most about my mom at Christmas time. Every time we drove the streets of Ft. Lauderdale she would blast this song over the speakers and sing along with the shepherd from her heart. While the song isn’t some amazing piece of musical genius the words are especially poignant at Christmastime and necessary all through the year.

This year as I began to put my manger scene away on New Year’s Day I was struck once again by the cry of the Shepherd. How transformative it would be if we made his prayer our own, both in 2013 and through all our days:
Twas the night before Christmas,
And my only desire
Was peace among kids, and to rest by the fire.
I had just settled down in my favorite chair;
When I heard a small voice, and a cry of despair.
As I stared at the hearth I saw a strange sight!
Our nativity scene, in the flickering light
Seemed almost alive!
And how could this be!
One lonely shepherd was calling to me.

Move me closer, move me closer
Move me closer to the Child.
Let me see Him, let me hold His hand.
Move me closer to the Child.

As you can well imagine, I was a bit surprised.
So with a shake of the head and a rub of the eyes
I took another look, and what did I see,
Without a doubt he was looking at me.

It seems in the hustle and bustle of things
In the wrapping of gifts, and the building of swings,
In assembling his scene, I’d been a bit hurried,
And understandably so, He was a little bit worried.

Move me closer, move me closer
Move me closer to the Child.
Let me see Him, let me hold His hand.
Move me closer to the Child.

You see, candy canes and holly trim
Didn’t mean a thing to him.
If it kept him from his post
Beside the child he loved the most.

So as strange as it must seem,
Whether it was, or wasn’t, a dream.
I placed him back where he belonged
As he sang again his simple song.
And now when we at Christmas share,
We sing his song:
A Shepherd’s Prayer.

Move me closer, move me closer
Move me closer to the Child.
Let me see Him, let me hold His hand.
Move me closer to the Child.
Move me closer to the Child.
Would you consider joining me this year, with the shepherd in the field, and ask God each day to more closely commune with him? I’d love to hear if this prayer resonates with you and how you intend to move closer to the Christ child this year in the comments below.