Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The "Call" of Missions

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I'm called to missions.

Maybe you know someone who says that. Maybe you are someone who says that. Over the course of my life I have known quite a number of people that felt this way.

I think that's wonderful.

The great commission says we are to go and make disciples of all nations. If we are called to missions, then we are called to leave our homes and families and travel to reach the unreached.

At least, that seems to be the pervading thought. I don't know Greek, but I know a number of people who do, and what I am told is that the aforementioned Scripture would more accurately be translated, "as you are going, make disciples of all nations."

This doesn't necessarily mean we are called to leave our homes, families, friends to go far off and reach the unreached. As we go about our normal, everyday lives we can make disciples. In fact, in America (particularly the cities) we can easily make disciples of all nations right here in basically our own backyard.

If you can't think of opportunities you have to do this, there are probably easy ways you can: does your church support a local ministry which helps the less fortunate both practically and spiritually? If so, get involved. If not, see if they can recommend one to you.

See, the thing is if you are a Christian you have the call of missions on your life. Its not this mystical, esoteric, super specialized thing. Its a mandate for everyone who believes in Jesus.

Some people are supposed to go across the country or across the world to reach certain people, but most of us aren't. That doesn't mean we can't support their work (which makes us missional). That doesn't mean we can't go on one or many short term missions trip(s) in our lifetime. Raising children (biological, adoptive, or foster) - is a mission field. As is reaching their friends and teachers.

And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (where you live), in all Judea and Samaria (your state/country), and to the ends of the earth (everywhere else). Being a missionary does not mean neglecting your neighbor.

"'Not but that it's good, of course, to send money to the heathen, and I shouldn't want 'em not to send some there,' sighed Pollyanna to herself as she trudged sorrowfully along. 'But they acted as if little boys here weren't any account - only little boys way off. I should think, though, they'd rather see Jimmy Bean grow - than just a report!'" (Porter, Eleanor H., Pollyanna. Watermill Press: New Jersey, 1989, pg 89)

Serve the Lord at home. Seek Him. Trust Him. He will guide you and help you live a missional life - after all, if we choose to follow Jesus, missions isn't a "call" on our life ... it's something that's caused in our life. "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." If you find that's not the case for you, maybe you should examine your life. Maybe you aren't actually following Jesus - maybe you're trying to fit Jesus into your life, when you should be fitting your life into Jesus.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

TJ and the Time Stumblers (Series Review)

Here is my review for each book in the TJ and the Time Stumblers series by Bill Myers.

New Kid Catastrophes: 3 stars: Sets the tone of the series

Not my favorite book (or series) - I love imagination, but its just a little over-the-top for my taste. I do appreciate the values the book (and series) highlight, but the book(s) (should be) for elementary aged kids - not middle schoolers. If this is what appeals to adolescents then we're worse off than I suspected. The book (and series) aren't bad, but they aren't fantastic either.

AAAARGH!!!: 3 stars: Just alright

The book is crazy-over-the-top. If you like the craziness of Myer's "My Life as ..." Series, you should love this. I never got into that series, and find a similar lack of connection here. No doubt it would appeal to some children (it's intended audience) but probably not if your child is more into the classics (like I was). I did appreciate the lesson the book had about cheating. At least there is a point to the story =)

Oops!: 3 stars: Over the Top

This book is so over the top - beyond what happened previously. Not that the book doesn't make good points about valuable lessons, but maybe it would be good for TJ to have to live with the consequences of her actions instead of getting a do-over thanks to 23rd century technology. Of course, that would make for a really awkward life, in this instance.

Ho-Ho-NOOO!: 4 stars: Best One Yet!

These books are not my favorite, but once you get used to them they aren't too bad. This one is my favorite so far - mainly because instead of time going backwards so everything can be redone, TJ has to learn her lesson and live with the actual results. That seems a much better way to teach a lesson than to have gadgets to get you out of the mess you (and the Time Stumblers) created.

Switched!: 3 stars: Predictable

This book felt like a replay of most of the other Time Stumblers books. They're zany and zonked as usual, but Myers' is running out of ideas for TJ and her friends. The lessons are still good ones, but the writing and scenarios created felt like a rerun instead of a new episode.

Yikes!!!: 2 stars: Strangest book of the series

This is not my favorite series. The book itself follows the series' standard outloopishness but really takes it over the top. It is nice to see TJ start becoming a leader though. I was glad TJ matured where Chad was concerned, but don't like the actual ending to the book. While TJ exhibits servitude in her adventure, it doesn't show the carry-over into her family life, which I found disappointing. I also thought the author broke the 4th wall too often.

PS - sorry for the weird formatting. Don't know what's going on or why I can't fix it!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Crockpot "Baked" Potatoes

I don't know about you, but the crockpot is hands down one of my favorite kitchen appliances. I use almost every day to cook supper. Who has time to stand over a stove and cook when you can throw all the ingredients together in 5-10 minutes and have a lovely supper ready when hubby gets home? Kudos to you if you can do that. I'm not in that stage of life anymore, but I'm LOVIN' the freedom the crockpot gives me.

One of my new favorites is making a HUGE batch of baked potatoes. Yes. Baked potatoes. In. The. Crockpot. 

OK, so maybe I'm completely behind the times on this. Maybe everyone else already knew this beautiful gem of knowledge. I forget where I first heard it mentioned, but half a bag of potatoes about to go bad encouraged me to give it a try. (If it messed up, they were about to go bad anyway. If it succeeded, I just saved 5 lbs of potatoes.)

5 lbs of potatoes were saved. Hallelujah! 

Yes, I fit 5 lbs of potatoes in my 6 qt crockpot. I ended up cooking it on high for around 6 hours before they were done. I think it would go faster if you didn't have quite as many in there as I did. 

I literally washed them and threw them in. No foil. No poking with a fork. Wash. Crockpot. It's beautiful.

Seriously, they're perfect! And you don't have the oven on for hours trying to get them perfect which saves on your electricity bill. And you save on foil. And on the time it takes to repeatedly stab multiple potatoes. Added bonus tip - if you don't want to stand and scrub massive amounts of potatoes, you can throw them in your dishwasher on a rinse cycle. Voila! Clean potatoes ready to go straight to the crockpot.

Given how much I love a baked potato, I'm pretty excited about this new-found trick - a complicated side dish just turned into something easy peasy. Seriously, your five year old child can do this all by himself. 

Just in time for the holidays. 

Cheers! From my kitchen to yours. ♥

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Google +

So, I finally joined Google +. Not really sure what I'm doing, but I'm there. Follow me. Add me in your circle. Do whatever's cool. ... If nothing else, just know I now exist in that land too.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dear Mom & Dad - I'm Sorry

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My daughter is beautiful & sweet & growing right up. She's definitely not to the point that she can intentionally do anything to hurt me, but, since we are all sinners, I know that time is coming. I can't exactly say I'm looking forward to it. It makes me sad just knowing that it will happen one day - and it makes me sad knowing that I did do things (intentionally and on accident) that hurt my parents growing up.

I'm sorry, Mom & Dad. I didn't really know what I was doing.

It's amazing how perspective changes when you become a parent. It also brings to mind our actions against our Heavenly Father.

If I'm pained at simply the thought of my daughter, whom I love dearly, hurting me, how much more will the actual pain be? How much more do our hurtful actions hurt God, who loves us purely?

On the flip side - my daughter regularly recognizes me and smiles when she sees me. Full face, beaming smiles that involve her eyes. Sometimes her nose crinkles. It's adorable. She can't intentionally obey me yet, but just knowing that she recognizes me is heart-warming.

How much more does it make our Father glad when we recognize him? When we know he is the one who provides for us, watches over us - and we smile at him?

How has God provided for you? Have you taken time to smile him a thank you?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

YouTube Debut

I made my debut on YouTube yesterday - yay! haha

Check it out:

I thought a "demo" or "live sample" of my Handmade, Heart-Shaped, All-in-One Stationary would be helpful. It's so hard to convey the function and cuteness of these envelope stationaries in the 5 allotted pictures on Etsy.

The video showcases the small size option.

If you like the idea, you can purchase stationary like this here. I have small vintage-style, small natural theme, and large baby girl themed sets currently available.

Don't forget you can like my shop on FB to keep up with all the latest.

I'm also on Pinterest and Twitter where you can see great tips for home style and food (Pinterest) and giveaways and sweepstakes (Twitter). And, of course, I love having you as a reader here!

PS - I have a collection of books available on Amazon as well, if you're in the market for something to read.

Friday, July 26, 2013

What Childbirth Taught Me About Grace

In case you've wondered why I've been inactive for almost a month, I gave birth end of June to my beautiful daughter. Since she's almost a month old already (so hard to believe!) I thought I would share some reflections on the childbirth process and some takeaways.

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I decided to give birth naturally (no anesthesia, epidural, etc) for a variety of reasons. This meant pain. Now most of what I remember was no worse for me than my normal that-time-of-the-month cramping, but of course it intensified over time. I prayed a lot through my pain. In fact that's apparently all I did for the last few hours of labor.

I remember that it hurt - quite a lot actually. And I remember thinking about Adam and Eve, and what birth could have been like before the fall.

I imagine Eve laying in a meadow of flowers calmly sipping refreshing tea and nibbling on some fresh fruit with the honey the bees delivered to her. Adam and her talk about their future. They know their baby is on the way because Eve's abdomen is contracting, but of course it doesn't hurt. (They don't know what pain is.) Then, her face lights up and she pushes a few a times. Adam catches the baby as he slides out. They sit and stare at him for awhile and smile at each other. Then Adam helps Eve up and they start walking around the garden showing their newborn off to all of their animal friends.

Quick. Easy. Painless.

We aren't told if Adam and Eve had children before the fall or not. I like to think she did since God told her there would be pain in childbirth now as a part of the punishment for their disobedience. Why would she know that was punishment unless she had experienced birth as it should be first? But I wouldn't stake anything on that theory.

Now there's pain in childbirth? There wasn't before? Curse you, Adam and Eve!

Wait. That's the problem.

Uncurse you!

Funny thing. I remember that labor hurt - quite a lot, actually, but I don't actually remember the pain. It's like God has grace even in his punishment...he erases the memory of the pain. And in the end you're just left with a beautiful gift.

But even if I didn't forget my pain, my daughter is absolutely worth every second of pain I was in. That was what motivated me to continue. I knew the outcome. I knew I would be bringing my child into the world. So I labored on.

The pain brought new meaning to many passages of Scripture, too. While I was in labor, I kept thinking about the last days, and times when God would bring his judgement on the nations. One of the most common and vivid descriptions of what folks feel during that time is pains as of a woman in labor.

Now, before I gave birth of course I knew the birthing process was painful. I was not fooled in that regard. Still, the head knowledge is totally different from personally experiencing birth.

In my case, I knew I had a beautiful blessing waiting for me at the end of the pain. With God's judgement? There's no happy ending. It's just pain. Pain like you can't imagine (please don't let that scare you if you're wanting a natural birth. The pain's totally worth it in that case, and, yes, I plan on doing natural birth for any future children I have.), but there's no blessing. Only wrath.

That's a terrifying position to be in.

But nature is also groaning like a woman in labor. Why? Because its waiting. It's waiting to be redeemed like humanity. It's waiting for it's rebirth - for Christ to return. For the new heavens and the new earth to be born. For nature to be restored to how it should've been - a prefall state. And these labor pains are much longer than any we experience in childbirth.

They're longer, and, I daresay, more intense. For if childbirth is a beautiful blessing (and it is) how much more so the restoring of the world to how it should be? For the final stage of redemption? For Christ's return and reign? If childbirth is worth the pain and time, how much more so is this?

And this is grace. For we ought to be groaning in those pains waiting for wrath. No hope. Just pain.

Just pain, and knowing it's only going to get worse.

Instead, we're given the blessing of childbirth - the earth waits through it's pain, groaning. But redemption has come. Restoration is coming. And then there will be no more pain, and our tears will be wiped away.

All of creation deserves the pain with no blessing and all wrath. And instead we're given grace. We're given blessing after blessing. Hallelu Yah.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.