Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Added Treasures

Yesterday, I bought some fabulous treasures.

Today, I added my own touch.

I wanted to put something a bit unconventional in some cute black picture frames (to accent the incredible hardware on my new desk).

I decided to incorporate my favorite hymn and some of my favorite Bible verses....somehow.

The hymn wasn't too difficult--I was able to find that online and distress the paper a bit.

The Bible verses became a bit of a challenge. I really struggled with whether or not to actually use pages from a real Bible. I found an old Bible I used for a short time as a child--it was one of the only ones that didn't have highlighting or writing in it, so I decided to go for it. 

And guess what? No lightening. I think I'll make it. 

I put Proverbs 31 (the woman part) in one frame:

And in the other, I decided to make a bit of a collage. Psalm 23 is in the background and parts of Psalm 139, Isaiah 41, Colossians 3, and John 1 are in the foreground.

I am a huge fan of the completed look.

What do you think??

Monday, June 25, 2012

Treasure Hunting.

Once upon a time...

....I was going to meet DeAnn for lunch at The Padre (our favorite place). I had been running errands all morning and had a bit of time before lunch. Of course I wasn't going to go home, so what was I to do?

Treasure hunting of course! 

Julie told me a few nights ago about Chic Staging and showed me some of their beautiful things on Facebook. She told me that they had a few of their treasures at Timeless Furniture, so I decided to check it out.

My intentions were pure--browse around, kill some time, maybe find a little treasure or two...

Apparently I didn't stick well to my intentions (this is not a common occurrence people!). 

This is what became of my time treasure hunting...

 A sweet little shelf set...

 A bookcase (I LOVE bookcases!)...

 An amazing chair that is to DIE FOR...

 An awesome desk...

And a GORGEOUS dresser!

LOVE THEM! I know it's a bit difficult to tell from the pictures, but they are all the same beautiful color of blue. 

I had to call my mom from the store to make sure we could find places to keep my treasures until I have a house of my own one day--thankfully she said yes (especially since two pieces are now in her room and look wonderful!). 

Shout out to Mom and Sam for helping me get my little treasures from the store back home!

I'm a big fan of shopping for the house that I don't have yet. We'll just consider it an investment. 

Would anyone like to take a gander at how much these five gorgeous pieces put me back? Go ahead, I dare you! Leave a comment below!

The end. For now...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Miss Them...

It's truly amazing how close you can grow to a group of people in such a short amount of time when you are living and serving with them... 

...when you are experiencing a life changing experience with them...

...when you're able to break down walls and pour out your heart to them. 

I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with them, but I miss them so much it's crazy. 

I pray that God will allow us to be together again soon. 

Y'all know you want to come to CA! ;) 


Monday, June 18, 2012

Thoughts on Marriage...

Our church, Living Grace, is currently going through a series on marriage and family. Yesterday's sermon was about how marriage is a covenant relationship, not a consumer one (although our society treats it as a consumer relationship much of the time). As I sat and listened, I was reminded of something I wrote about this topic four years ago (6/12/08)--although it seems like just yesterday...

The subject of this note may have thrown you off a bit—“Thoughts on Marriage,” especially coming from me. We all know that I have never been married and have never really dated; yet, I am one that learns quite well from others, and I feel as if I have had enough life experience in the area to share a thought or two. I know I am by no means an expert or even a novice in any of this, but I want to share my heart from where I sit today. God has grabbed my heart these last few months and opened my eyes to view a little more clearly his thoughts on marriage, and I believe it is because of my life experiences that I was able to listen and learn. 

Coincidence? I doubt it. I was standing downstairs in Barnes & Noble last night with Christy discussing my thoughts on church and church planting as she simultaneously picked up a book on the shelf that basically echoed my heart—I must read that one soon. What does this have to do with my thoughts on marriage? Well, after the topic of church planting, I moved onto my recently discovered thoughts on marriage. With my thoughts spewing out of my mouth and my back turned to her, she pulled out a book of letters from Dietrich Bonhoeffer and randomly flipped open to a letter he wrote on marriage. I continued on, completely unaware of what she was holding in her hand. I reached a pause in the pouring out of my heart, and she held the book out to me—the letter was everything I had just said and more. Interestingly enough, last night was the first time I had read the letter. I was amazed. Please take a moment to read the words of this theologian, written from his prison cell….

"Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher power, for it is God's holy ordinance, through which He wills to perpetuate the human race until the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to His glory, and calls into His kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and all mankind.

Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal — it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. As you gave the ring to one another and have now received it a second time from the hand of the pastor, so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love."

Read it once more—slowly. How imperative this message is, especially in our society today. The sanctity of marriage has been tainted. The idea of love has been degraded. Pride, selfishness, lust, personal ambition, power, and temptation have seeped into this union that was created by God to be sacred. Lives are being devastated; families are being ripped apart because people have forgotten what marriage is. God created marriage as a union of man and woman to be an earthly example of Christ’s relationship to the church. Take a look at Ephesians 5:

"22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."

Marriage cannot be selfish. Marriage was not created just for the husband and the wife. Marriage was not created merely for pleasure or sex or feelings—yes, those are nice attributes, but they are not the purpose of marriage, they will fade (or so I have heard). The purpose of marriage is to serve God and his Kingdom; to glorify Christ and honor Christ in a union far better than you could by yourself. God created us all so uniquely. We are able minister to his people right now, just as we are, and we should. For some, God’s calling on their lives is to serve Him in their singleness without the ties of marriage. But, for those who are called to be married, how much more effective could they be in a Godly union, bringing complimentary attributes together with the single purpose of serving God and his people and bringing God all the glory along the way? The beautiful picture of marriage painted here cannot be attained in selfishness or pride—it cannot be tainted by lust, greed, or temptation. It must be centered on God and his purpose from the beginning.

I sit and picture myself as a wife one day. We all know I will not be perfect—I will be far from it. I know things will not always be easy—there will be disagreements, fights, and disappointments. If I go into that marriage just for myself or my husband or even my future family, odds are it may not work out. Every fight would crush me. Every disagreement would seem defeating. Every challenge or rough patch would seem like too much to handle. I know that I could not sustain myself. My husband will not be able to solely sustain me and pull us through—only our Savior has the power to do that. With the goal of my marriage completely focused on Christ and his glory, I pray that fights and disagreements will seem petty. I pray that challenges and rough patches will serve to bring my husband and myself closer to each other and our Creator. I pray that I will not rely on myself or my husband to sustain me—but fully lean on Jesus Christ. I desire to follow my husband as he leads me in ministry. I am excited to see how God may take my gifts and talents together with my husband’s and bring them to fruition in an area where we can best serve Him together. I pray that my marriage will not be for myself, but for my God. 

Remember that love is not just a feeling; it is a decision, one that you must make every morning you step out of bed. 

Our society is sick—it is in desperate need of a Healer. 

Ponder Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words once more: 

"It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love."

To watch an incredibly sweet video that depicts this type of covenant marriage and/or to read a PDF copy of John Piper's book This Momentary Marriage, click here. You really should click there because everyone and their mother/neighbor/friend/coworker should read the book. I'm super serious. ;)  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Take a Trip with Me...

Imagine for a moment…

A place where
The air is thick,                            
Darkness overcomes light,       
Oppression reigns.

In this place,
Abuse is rampant,          
Bodies are used, sold;     
Hope is lost.                        

In this nightmare,           
Loneliness abounds,       
Lost ones cry out,            
Morning never comes.

You can open your eyes.
You can wake up
From this nightmare.
But the orphans can’t.

Can you imagine this pain,
This hopelessness, this nightmare
As your reality?
They have to.

Now imagine for a moment…

A place where
The air is bright,
Light trumps darkness,
Christ reigns.

In this place,
Hugs and kisses heal,
Loving arms reach out,
Hope is found.

In this dream,
Love abounds,
Laughter rings out,
Mercies are new.

Open your eyes,
Picture their broken faces.
We can make this dream
Their reality.

Never forget their pain,
Their hopelessness, their nightmare.
We’re called make a difference.
We have to. 

What Now?


Please take a moment to read through this post that our team leader, Victor (who grew up in a Romanian orphanage) wrote as we were flying home on Tuesday): 

Dear friends! As I write this little note, the USA Team is in the air above the Atlantic, flying back to their homes. We sent them back with our prayers, and I would greatly appreciate if you keep them in your prayers. 

This team has been a blessing to myself and a privilege to lead it. We had a great time together, as we partnered with our Romanian brothers and sisters in Christ, by reaching out the love of Christ to the "least of these", the orphans of Romania.

To understand the whole picture of what we have done in Romania, I will encourage you to meditate on this bible passage: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me'. Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The the King will reply, 'I tell you, the truth, WHATEVER YOU DID FOR ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE BROTHERS OF MINE, YOU DID FOR ME". -- Matthew 25:35-40 --

This passage has been our focus as a team to reach out throughout the orphanages. In one orphanage ("Rehab" center), we were able to feed, give water and clothe them. With the orphans from "Sfanta Ana, we looked after one of them that got injured playing soccer with us, as well welcomed the rest of them in our hearts. With the other orphanages from "Chitila", "Tei" - day care center, #6 apartments & #7 apartments (mini orphanages), as well as the kids from the CTL Counseling Center, we were able to build relationships and became life friends.

From the pictures that we updated you with, you may say that the trip went great and did great things, indeed it was. But our hearts are so BROKEN and we are OVERWHELMED by the living conditions those orphans live in and the DARKNESS and HOPELESS that is found in their lives. If you have never been to Romania, you may never understand this whole trip of brokenness, darkness and hopeless until you are stepping out of your comfort zone and come to Romania! So, think about it and see what is God talking to you to do in the future. Maybe to PRAY for CTL in Romania, SUPPORT financially this ministry, or even GO to Romania! Let's together pray for God's direction as we further His kingdom with the "least of these".

Thank you so much for your prayers over this trip. We appreciate this so much! May the Lord bless you as you are a blessing to others.

If you have not seen any pictures or video from the trip, I will gladly share them with you. Those, combined with these words and the words I have already shared, should have moved you in some way. I want you to ask yourself, what now?  If God has touched your heart at all with the plight of these orphans, please don't ignore it....

Is He encouraging you to pray? Then please pray!

Is He moving you to give financially so that this ministry (CTL) can continue to offer some hope to the least of these? Then please give!

Is He calling you to go? Then please don't ignore that call and go!

What now?

I am continuing to pray about that same question for my life. God has an incredible plan in place in Romania, and I pray that He will bless us all by allowing us to be a part of it. 

I would love to share more of my heart for Romania with you in person, for there is so much that I cannot put into words on here. Please let me know if you'd be interested. 

(For more information about CTL's ministry, please visit their website http://childrentolove.org/.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

If I had to describe my trip in ONE WORD...

...it would be...


causing great sadness; heartbreaking.

I can't even write more than that right now, but I wanted to leave you with that short preview of what may come (if I can figure out how to put any of it into words).

Please keep praying for the children of Romania, the incredible CTL staff, and my team members. May God continue to do amazing work in and through all of us.