Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Randomness (Vol. 13)

Scripture speaking to my heart

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." ~ Matthew 28:20b

Actually, the last few chapters of Matthew have been speaking to my heart. I really do wish it felt easier for me to explain why.

After listening to my Executive Pastor preach the past two Sunday's on the Pharisee in us, all I can say is Jesus has quite a bit to say to the Pharisees in Chapter 23.

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!"

It really has me thinking about the Pharisee in me.

JOY-filled scripture

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of Joy." ~ Job 8:21

More from Anything, by Jennie Allen

I shared the ending of Jennie's book on Facebook this week here, but she also leaves us with another powerful question shortly before the end,

"Wherever you are, there are people in need both spiritually and physically. Where does God want to take your plenty and and pour it out?"

And then this...

"We love because he first loved us.
We die because he first died.
We give because he gave everything."

I could easily return to the first page and read this book again.

What's up next

I'm joining my friend Kristin of 152 Insights to My Soul in a 10-week study of the book Storyline, by Donald Miller. I hope I can keep up. If you have been following along for the past few months you know it takes me much longer than 10-weeks to finish a book. I'm remaining hopeful.

A few of my favorite blog reads

I love when similar messages are shared within the same week. God apparently had a message He wanted me to hear on fitting in:

#1 ~ Not fitting in by Alison of Embrace the Struggle
#2 ~ Stones by Barbara of My Life As An Adventure

Sharita of 7-Days Time blew me away with Haters gonna hate (Jesus gonna love).

I love Rebekah's (from Three Bees in a Blue Bonnet) honesty in her post Embracing My Anger.

Mari-Anna Stålnacke of Flowing Faith gave me goosebumps when sharing How to Live to the Max.

My favorite, favorite blog read

Melanie of Only A Breath stole my heart with this... How do we thank our military and their families?

Three Word Wednesday Featured Writer

This is one of those times when I randomly decide to skip because I didn't have time to reach out to one of our writers. But #16 and #31 are NEW friends who linked up this week for Three Word Wednesday so would you visit them and say hello?

Favorite moment

My favorite moment remains the time spent with my friend Lauren. I've used my Sweet B mug every morning this week and it always makes me think of her.

Favorite new song

Okay, not a new one but surely a favorite.

And what a great song to then take us to...

I'm finding JOY in a deployment #JoyDare #1000gifts

#60 ~ A prayer board at church that is filled with many heartfelt prayers for our heroes serving.

#61 ~ Friends who have me over for dinner.

#62 ~ Two precious little girls who stole my heart while playing Old Maid and War.

#63 ~ Bitterly cold days that keep you inside where it's warm.

#64 ~ Dinner alone with my son. He find so much joy in cooking for us.

#65 ~ A text from my DIL saying she heard from my son. It's always a blessing to know he is safe and well.

#66 ~ Dinner out with two #milspouse friends and their children.

#67 ~ New coasters -- pretty blue ones in different patterns.

#68 ~ New opportunities to grow.

#69 ~ Cold days that end up closing the office early.

#70 ~ Running into a high school friend at the post office.

#71 ~ The fun gift I purchased for my friend Lauren who gave me that Sweet B mug.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: Sweet B mug

My three words could easily be the same as last week for God has done so much more than I could have ever imagined and I am filled with JOY.

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." ~ Psalm 126:3

My now IN REAL LIFE friend Lauren of It's a Wilderness Out There...And in Here Too gave me a Sweet B mug. I'm not sure if the mug is really called a Sweet B mug or if that is only what she calls it. Does it really matter though? She gave one to me and I'm in love with my new mug.

She was super sweet as she handed me my gift all wrapped up in red tissue paper and then explained why it had been chosen for me.

"The world would look at my collection and see it as incomplete, but I know it's not. It's more complete than it was before, because it's being shared a state away. My adorable mug resides in a cupboard far away, holding a reminder of the love of Christ that binds together sisters from two different mothers."

Lauren writes more about it here.

My Sweet B mug is just about the nicest gift I've ever received.

Lauren handed me the gift as our time together came to an end. We had spent the afternoon driving from South Sioux City to Omaha. She had driven from the real Sioux City (I'm still not getting the whole real Sioux City thing) to South Sioux City to pick me up from the Compel Conference. From there she drove me to Omaha where I would catch a flight home the following morning. Oh, and she still had to drive back home to the real Sioux City. Did I mention she had three of her adorable children along for the ride?

Don't bother looking up the route on MapQuest. Let me assure you it equates to many hours of driving. Who does that for someone they have never met? Well, my friend Lauren does!

She recently read the book Love Does by Bob Goff. I discovered, through my friend Lauren, love does wonderful things like picking up an online friend you have not previously met to drive her to Omaha and then giving her one of your Sweet B mugs. Wow! Do I come even close to loving like that?

I can't lie; my time with Lauren was the highlight of my time in Nebraska (and a small portion of Iowa). She is rather remarkable and I can't wait for the day when I see her again.

The day and a half spent at Compel was also a delight. The lovely Deidra Riggs captured my heart as she spoke to a room full of women on daring to dream with words like,

"God empowers us to speak life and light into the chaos. That's what your dream is about."

"You are the only person that God sent to this world to live your life."

"It's not your dream; it's God's dream for your life."

God also spoke through six beautiful ladies on a Friday night as we gathered in a hotel room. Deidra tells of the evening far better than I ever could in her post God speaks Through The Real People In Your Life. My favorite moment at Compel was on that Friday night. There was also a late night trip to Walmart with two crazy sisters (they aren't really crazy) who had me giggling over their sisterly love.

And I once again come to this place of how there is truly so much more to this writing and sharing of my heart. The best way to share my JOY — keep counting my blessings:

#50 ~ Two amazing sisters (those two crazy sisters) who picked me up from the airport to bring me with them to Compel even though we've never met; a wonderful drive getting to know my two new friends.

#51 ~ Daring to dream... such inspiring words from the lovely Deidra Riggs.

#52 ~ God speaking through each women who gathered in a hotel room on a Friday night.

#53 ~ Even more inspiration on daring to dream.

#54 ~ Hugging IN REAL LIFE friends one last time before saying good-bye.

#55 ~ A special friend who spends hours in her car just to be with me because that is what love does.

#56 ~ My Sweet B mug from that special friend...she said giving to me makes her set more complete.

#57 ~ The sweet sound of my husband's voice; the best way to end my night.

#58 ~ An enjoyable fight home with the kind man who sat next to me as we shared our Christian faith.

#59 ~ The comfort and warmth of being in your own bed again.

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." 
~ Psalm 37:4

Monday, January 27, 2014

(in)courage: Daring to Dream

When I tell someone my husband is deployed I'm typically asked how many tours he has done. Because of our age, many assume we have been a military family for years and this couldn't possibly be his first tour. This tour is indeed his first.

Wait, I wanted to start from the beginning.

After far too many arguments to count, because the thought of my son joining the military scared me to death, I finally gave in and accepted my oldest son's decision to enlist in the Navy.

Can you imagine my surprise when shortly after my husband informed me he wanted to enlist in the Army Reserves? "You are 41. Is that even possible?" I actually surprising said, "Wow, that is way cool." The military had somehow won me over.

In February 2011 my husband became a soldier and in March of the same year my son became a sailor. I could not be prouder of these two men in my life.

I'm not sure why God used the military to draw us closer to Him, but He did. All I know is the decision made by my son and husband led to a transformation for our family that only God can accomplish. You can read our story over at Circles of Faith.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29:11

It did not take long for God to plant a desire in my heart to encourage military spouses.

As a wife to an Army Reserve husband my experiences are rather limited. We do not live on a military base, there are no PCS moves for us and until now we had not been through a deployment. For the most part, daily life remained the same for us after my husband enlisted. "Why me God? How could I encourage military spouses?"

I quickly became enthralled by all things related to supporting our military and their families. My hand raised without hesitation to be the Family Readiness Group Leader for my husband's unit. And I kept raising my hand. I was suddenly greeting service members at the USO, packing comfort care packages to send overseas, writing letters and before long co-leading a military support ministry with my husband.

I wanted military families to know I understood the sacrifice made by the service member and also by the spouse. What I realize now, until the day my husband walked out the door for his first deployment I did not fully understand.

Now surviving a deployment has become my reality and the dream God planted has taken on wings. God has given me the word JOY as my one word for 2014. In a year without my husband, I'm seeking JOY and I find myself praying the same for other military spouses. God is not limited by where we are in the season of our life. JOY can be found even in a season of a deployment.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." ~ James 1:2-4 (NIV)

There are plenty of reasons to say military life stinks. Especially when going through a deployment. I know how deeply your heart can ache. In the skip of a beat you can go from being on cloud nine and then to your knees in uncontrollable sobs because your cloud nine cannot be shared easily with the one you love. Oh, how this just happened to me.

But blessings can be found. God is ready to overwhelm us with blessings.

"God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine so that you’ll always be taken care of in every way and you’ll have more than enough to share." ~ 2 Corinthians 9:8 (Voice)

This past weekend a writing friend spoke on daring to dream. She reminded a room full of women how God will use whatever we are doing right now for a purpose. We simply need to trust Him and go through the doors He opens.

God has opened a door for me to encourage military spouses through (in)courage.

For the next eight weeks I will join another military spouse, Anna Pasquale, in co-leading a Facebook page for the women of (in)courage whose husbands serve in the Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Active Duty, Reserve, or National Guard.

Are you a military spouse? If so, we would love for you to join us. Find out more here and then register for the (in)courage military wives page here.

This is a place where you will find encouragement and understanding from those of us who are traveling the same unique journey beside our own husbands. In our session we’ll dive into scripture, share practical tips for surviving military life, and love on one another when the trials of the day are overwhelming.

If you are not a military spouse, maybe you know one and will want to pass this information along. Pretty please.

Maybe you are another God-sized dreamer. He has placed a dream in all of our hearts. What dream has He placed on yours?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Randomness (Vol. 12)

Scripture speaking to my heart

"But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear." ~ Matthew 13:16

I was captured by all of Matthew 13. The parables are amazing. 

JOY-filled scripture

"My soul shall be joyful in Yehweh. It shall rejoice in His salvation." ~ Psalm 35:9 (WEB)

Shared by the lovely Anita from Hope Flourishes. See image here.

More from Anything, by Jennie Allen

"We don't follow God just because he is God, just because he is boss. We follow God because he builds beautiful stories, even if they are not easy." ~ Jennie Allen

And the winner of the giveaway is: Barbie of My Freshly Brewed Life

A few of my favorite blog reads

A Hand in Your Own by Kelli of Chronicles of Grace
Dear Beautiful You, by Barbie of My Freshly Brewed Life
You're beautiful...just as you are, by Satin of My Heart His Words
Trusting the Healer, by Jenn of Running This Thing Called Life
Snow Day, by Elizabeth of Beauty Observed

And then this one... (have tissue ready before reading)
My Dad Passed Away, by Sharon ~ Sharing God

A new community

If you have not made your way over to Outside the City Gate yet, come join our community. Meet the folks behind this here. I'm so grateful to be one of those folks. ~~happy dance~~

Featured Three Word Wednesday Writer

Our featured writer is Lyli Dunbar of 3-D Lessons for Life.

I really wish I had a better memory but I don't. I'm not sure what brought me to Lyli's but I do recall how her one word in 2013 caught my attention. Her word was: Fruitilicious. What does that mean? Find out here.

Her beautiful heart is what had me returning again and again.

Me: What do you love most about Three Word Wednesday?

Lyli: When I discovered the Three Word Wednesday link up, my immediate reaction was "I can do this.  It's just 3 words. So simple!" That week, I prayed for God to drop a three-word phrase into my heart, and He did not disappoint. I found a cool free stock photo, and added 3 very powerful words: "God loves you." My spirit held onto those words all week. Now, as I read my Bible, I see three-word phrases everywhere and keep a little note on my iPhone for future writing inspiration: "He is able." "Nothing is impossible." "God will provide." I love that on Wednesdays, I can hop over to Beth's and find some mid-week inspiration.  

Me: We have some fabulous ladies joining us for Three Word Wednesday, friends. Be sure to go over and connect with Lyli.

Highlighted Link Up

Since I was already chatting with Lyli, I asked her to tell us about the link up she hosts on Thursday's.

Me: Tell us about Thought Provoking Thursday.

Lyli: I started blogging after having a miscarriage. One of my former students shared her story with me -- through her blog. The whole "blogging world" was new to me, but reading the stories of other women helped me to heal. I started blogging about my faith in hopes that my little space on the web would bring encouragement to the weary and the broken. Through participating in link ups, I have met so many amazing women (like our Beth). Last November, I started hosting a link up Community called "Thought-Provoking Thursdays." I pray that it will be a safe place for my blogging friends to come share their stories and be encouraged.   

Words playing over and over again in my head

Grace upon grace. (Maybe my three words for next week? We shall see...)

“Grace, then, is grace,–that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.” ~ Alexander Whyte

Favorite Moment

My husband and I finally had a decent connection this week and we were able to have a wonderful conversation and see our faces without them freezing several times. It was an answered prayer.

Finding JOY in a deployment

#32 ~ Our Executive Pastor leaving an encouraging message on my husband's Facebook page.

#33 ~ Dinner with my father-in-law and his two friends. Their stories made me smile.

#34 ~ An evening alone which allowed for some sweet quiet time.

#35 ~ Christmas Card that I sue to pray for family and friends.

#36 ~ The wisdom received from God's Word.

#37 ~ Friends who take your "flat" husband on adventures.

#38 ~ More friends who want to join in on the adventures of your "flat" hubby.

#39 ~ Discovering friends have sent a care package to my man.

#40 ~ Meeting online friends in real life.

#41 ~ A quiet few hours at Panera because the Internet was down at home.

#42 ~ Friends who stop by and post on my Facebook wall to say they are thinking of me.

#43 ~ Being asked to co-lead an (in)courage group for Military Wives.

#44 ~ I'm keeping this one to myself (but didn't want to mess up my count).

#45 ~ A good connection finally with my hubby.

#46 ~ Grace upon grace.

#47 ~ Mussels, another wonderful dinner made by my son.

#48 ~ My cleaning lady; not sure what I'd do without her.

#49 ~ Lint brushes.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: So much more

When I began blogging three years ago (under a different blog name) never did I imagine the friendships that would form out of a desire to write and share my heart with others.

My message today is probably more targeted to those who come here and wonder what's up with this blogging stuff. What's the attraction? Is it simply a welcomed distraction from our to-do lists?

Oh, it is so much more.

I'm feeling without words to accurately describe how much these friendships have come to mean to me so instead I will simply share what happens behind the writing and sharing of my heart.

~ cards
~ a care package with a beautiful painting and so much more
~ journals
~ books
~ more cards

These are a few of the items I've received in the mail from who many would call strangers because we have never met. But they are not strangers...they are friends. God is using them in big and mighty ways to fill my days with JOY in a year without my husband home. My cup is overflowing.

That care package with the beautiful painting and so much more came from my friend Barbie of My Freshly Brewed Life. I was overcome with emotions as I opened up her package knowing each item was carefully chosen by her specifically for me. She is so much more than an online friend -- she is a sister in Christ.

Every other day or so an online friend also drops by my Facebook page to let me know they are thinking of me. My friend Holly recently stopped by.

If you missed it, my One Word for 2014 is JOY.

Another friend stopped in to write, "Yay! It's Monday! Another week down! Don't forget to celebrate a little today, that you've all made it through to the start of a new week. I think you should reward yourself with something lovely today. Some fancy new tea? New cozy slippers? Yummy smelling bubble bath?"

Then there is my friend Joan who emailed me with a crazy and wonderful idea to take my husband on an adventure this past weekend. AMAZING! I have fallen in love with her and her husband.

You may not be aware of my "flat" husband's adventures, but I promise I have not lost my mind.

And suddenly online friendships are no longer friends I've never met.

In December I had my first in real life meet up when traveling to Washington, D.C. for work. A beautiful evening was spent with the kindhearted Alison of Embrace the Struggle. Alison, why did we not take a picture together?

I had coffee this past weekend with Jenn of Running This Thing Called LifeI'm pretty sure we could have been at Starbucks for hours talking. Our conversation continued on via text messages throughout the day. We will be meeting again soon (or at least we better be) since thankfully we live only an hour apart from one another. Yay!

After coffee with Jenn, I made my way to downtown Chicago to share a glass of wine with Amy of Beloved in Blue JeansAmy and I just recently met online but our friendship is quickly blossoming. I've been doing the happy dance ever since I was asked by Tammy to be a part of the Outside the City Gate team which is what led me to meeting this wonderful lady. She was properly teased for making Chicago her vacation destination in January but I'm so glad she did.

Because God told me to just say yes, I'm meeting several online friends this weekend at the Compel Conference. My Facebook page exploded the other day after the lovely Jennifer posted on my timeline saying, "I get to see you IN.REAL.LIFE!!!!" Oh, what a delight it will be.

Then it happens to be that my sweet friend Lauren of It's A Wilderness Out There...and In Here Too lives near where the conference will be held so I'm meeting her, and her family, too.

I'm super excited for the upcoming weekend and "flat" hubby is looking forward to some adventures as well.

An in real life meet up is also in the works for the spring with last week's Three Word Wednesday featured writer Kristin of 152 Insights to My Soul. ~happy dance~

If an in real life meet up is not an option, there is always Skype! I'm co-leading an (in)courage group for military wives this session with my #milspouse friend Anna and what a delightful time we had when we did our first planning session via Skype last week.

Last, but not least, this Three Word Wednesday link up has become so much more than a link up. It's a community of writers who come together every Wednesday to embrace and love each other by sharing the love of Christ. It's a beautiful thing. Every single one of the ladies in this community holds a special place in my heart.

Can I tell you something? I've worked on this post for hours. On days when writing is a battle I'm tempted to call it quits. Should it be this hard? I'm not feeling much like a writer right now.

But there is so much more to this writing and sharing of my heart. If all I can muster up is a picture and three words on a Wednesday these friends will still show up and shower me with love. Friends, I hope you know I would do the same for you.

"Let all that you do be done in love." ~ 1 Corinthians 16:14

Now it's your turn to share three words.

  1. Choose three words.
  2. Share a post, photo, scripture — anything that highlights the three words you have chosen. (link up your post URL, not your blog homepage).
  3. Family-friendly posts only. Anything else will be removed.
  4. Grab the Three Word Wednesday button on my home page to use in your post or include a link back to my blog.
  5. Find someone (or a few) to encourage with a comment.
  6. We can also connect on Twitter with the #ThreeWordWednesday hashtag.
  7. Don't have a blog? Share your three words in the comments or on my blog Facebook page.
  8. Help spread the word and get others involved.
  9. If you are linking up for the first time please include the word "NEW" in your link title.

Sharing with Sharita for Everyday Jesus

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Randomness (Vol. 11)

Scripture speaking to my heart

I had the privilege of listening to Lisa-Jo Baker read from James 3 this week on an (in)couragers Spreecast. She read from The Message translation and the words (and her beautiful voice) have been on my mind all week. (The link was provided above instead of me sharing the entire chapter.)

JOY-filled scripture

"I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God." ~ Psalm 9:1-2

What am I reading

I'm still working on finishing Jennie Allen's book, Anything.

I shared a quote from her book on my Facebook page earlier in the week and I'm still at the same place reflecting on her powerful question. "What if we wanted what God wanted most? What if we wanted, like Jesus, God's glory above every other thing?"

And it's time to giveaway a copy of her book. I won't make you wait for me to finish since I'm moving at a snail's pace.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Featured #ThreeWordWednesday Writer

Our featured writer this week is Kristin Taylor of 152 Insights to My Soul.

What do I love about Kristin? I love how she opens her home and family to us. She loves to tell stories and her stories always reflect her faith in God. She is just real and an absolute delight. I'm also incredibly grateful for her continual love and encouragement.

Me: What do you like most about Three Word Wednesday?

Kristin: I liked the Three Word Wednesday idea from the beginning because it reminded me God's truth could be simple. It was refreshing to have a few words as the focus of a deeper concept. Expanding the concept of Three Word Wednesday to a link up helps me focus on truth this way. You're such a sweet encourager that it only makes sense for your to lead something like this link up. {I love you, friend!}

Me: Why did you start blogging?

Kristin: I started blogging long ago because a friend told me I'd like it. Back then it was a journal type thing a few friends read. As I continued writing through different seasons of life, God used documenting life this way as therapy for my soul. As a former newspaper reporter who is now mostly a stay-at-home mom, blogging gives me a way to document life so I don't forget the details of life, connect with others who love stories, and process what God is teaching me.

Me: You all need to get to know her.

Link up

"What Words of Life encourage you as you listen to the soft gentle voice speaking to your heart in His written word?" ~ Rebekah Hughes

Come share with Rebekah of A Soft Gentle Voice on Wednesday's for her Words of Life Wednesdays Link up.

A Soft Gentle Voice

In real life meet ups

I get to meet two blogging friends this weekend for the first time (on separate occasions). I can't wait to meet you Jenn and Amy.

Favorite blog reads

When You Need To Hear You Are Amazing from Karin at Sunrise with a six pack. Yes, she is one of my favorites again. Love my #milspouse friend.

Favorite new song (not new to me but new to you)

It's a song you've never heard because it was written by the worship leader at my church. Plans are in the works to record his song but in the meantime I hope you take a moment to reflect on these beautiful lyrics.

"You see me in the midst of sin
You accept me, You invite me in
Though dirt stained hands and wandering heart
You wash me, You make me whole

Overwhelm me, overwhelm me
Overwhelm me with Your grace

Motivation Changed, life rearranged
Eyes unveiled through Your mercy Lord
This grace so sure, unmerited
It causes me to run to You

Free to all

Overwhelm Me
by Pastor Celby Hadley

I'm finding JOY in a deployment #JoyDare #1000gifts

#22 ~ A new coffee mug from a friend. I think of her every time I have a cup.

#23 ~ Time with my small group family and a discussion that was "just right."

#24 ~ Friends who come over with letters and gifts to mail to my husband.

#25 ~ The fitness center in my office building... easy access which doesn't require me going back outdoors or getting in my car to get there.

#26 ~ Courage to do scary things.

#27 ~ Seeing beauty in chaos.

#28 ~ God providing the funds to attend the Compel Conference

#29 ~ Friends that encourage.

#30 ~ My new One Word necklace and the one I purchased for my sister-in-law

#31 ~ Three beautiful scarves received in the mail from my husband.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: Just Say Yes

I announced last week that my friend Amy convinced a group of supposed "movers and shakers" to join her in taking risks and embracing the possibility of rejection. Sounds like fun doesn't it? Sure it does. We gather every Thursday to provide an update on the risks we are taking. I'm sharing on Wednesday's with you all.

My risk is one big risk I take daily as a wife of an Army Reservist. More specifically, my risk for 2014 is seeking JOY in the year of a deployment. That creepy snake keeps lurking to try and steal my joy.

Ask any military family member how to best survive a deployment and a majority of them will tell you to stay busy. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. However, I don't want to fill my time with just "stuff." I want to explore opportunities to grow spiritually, embrace new friendships and invest in old ones.

When Michelle DeRusha posted on her Facebook page that she was attending the Compel Conference it grabbed my attention. A conference sounded like a wonderful opportunity to grow spiritually and make new friends. (By the way, it's rare when Michelle posts something that does not grab my attention so you should follow her if you do not.)

Risk #1: I have a fear of going places where I don't know a soul.

I clicked on her link to find out more about the conference. Conference location: South Sioux City. It would be an easy four hour drive. Finally, a conference within driving distance. I commented on Michelle's post inquiring about the size of the conference and for her input on whether or not it would be a good fit.

Risk #2: Expressing an interest verbally. What if she said it wasn't for me?

Thankfully, no one told me the conference wasn't for me. Quite the opposite happened actually.

The lovely and sweet Lelia Chealey, also attending Compel, sent me a friend request on Facebook and we had a delightful exchange. It did not take me long to fall in love with her. Lelia also introduced me the director of Compel, Jen, and we are now friends too. I'm feeling rather blessed.


After time in prayer I felt prompted by God to just say yes. So, I headed on over to the Compel Conference website and registered. I'm going to Compel!

The following morning I explored the Compel website further. I decided to confirm exactly how long it would take me to get there so I pulled up mapquest on the Internet, filled in the addresses for point A and B, pressed "Get Directions" and wah-lah... eight hours to South Sioux City. Oops. What happened to my easy four hour drive?

Embrace Rejection (I'm still working on embracing)

It did not take long for me to realize in my mind South Sioux City was Des Moines, IA. Why I thought this I do not know. Silly me for not doing the proper research prior to registering. Can we say I simply forgot in my excitement over God's prompting to just say yes? I spent quite a bit of time beating myself over my oversight. Either way, I had to inform the lovely Lelia of my dumb mistake because I could not make the eight hour drive on my own, especially this time of the year.

I shared my mishap with Lelia and was blessed by her response: "I'm so sorry this conference didn't work out, but the rewards for your obedience to step out of your comfort zone will outweigh your disappointment. I believe that. He doesn't let the hard "yes" we give Him go unnoticed."

Rejection Avoided

My "yes" did not go unnoticed. I'm still going to Compel. God provided a way.

~ He provided the courage to take a risk and say yes to something outside of my comfort zone.

~ He provided two lovely ladies who embraced and encouraged me even though we've never met.

~ He provided the funds to fly instead of drive.

My message is the same as I shared last week... if God calls you to do something, He will see you through it. He will reward you for your step in obedience. As Lelia said, "He doesn't let the hard "yes" we give Him go unnoticed." Consider what I would have missed out on if I had not said yes. Even if the end result had been not attending the conference (because God had something else in mind for me) I would have missed out on making two new wonderful friends.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.." ~ Jeremiah 29:11

What hard "yes" have you given God recently?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Randomness (Vol. 10)

Scripture speaking to my heart

"As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it." ~ Genesis 9:7

I'm reflecting on and studying the words "be fruitful and multiply."

JOY-filled scripture

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." ~ 1 Peter 1:8-9

What am I reading

"What if these little acts of obedience were a small part of a matrix of dominoes unfolding the glory of God...

...what if I laid down my life, my domino, and through that unleashed an army of others who laid down and unleashed their obedience, and through this matrix, God's glory was displayed through the laying down of lives in the midst of a generation?

We are all dominoes in this . . . we all have our place in this.

I beg you—all of us—to fall. Fall into obedience that will shape the glory of God in our generation.

Besides, I have this feeling these things God has for us may be the best things in life. I don't want to miss them."

~ Anything, by Jennie Allen (Chapter 12)

I'm still slow to finish a book these days but Jennie's book speaks to my heart in so many ways. I recently wrote on how she has me seeking to make heaven and God and forever my new normal.


I read the above words from Jennie and then made my way over to a group of ladies who are stepping out of their comfort zones to take risks and embrace rejection. They are laying down their dominoes and "unfolding the glory of God." My friend Amy Sullivan has started something pretty amazing over at her place. Be sure to check her out.

Featured #ThreeWordWednesday writer

I love the Three Word Wednesday family of writers so I've decided to feature a writer every week. Since I will randomly choose a writer to feature, it seemed appropriate to include in my Friday Randomness post. (Note: randomness also means I can randomly skip a week if need be. I'm giving myself grace.)

Deciding who to feature first was easy. I'm featuring the first person to recommend I start the #ThreeWordWednesday link up. She's been mentioned here many times so I'm pretty sure most of you already know her. If for some crazy reason you do not....

Come meet Barbie of My Freshly Brewed Life

A couple months ago Barbie guest posted for #ThreeWordWednesday. You can read her post here.

I'm not good with introductions but I can tell you Barbie has been an inspiration to me in my walk with Christ. She has become a dear friend and someone I know I can turn to for godly wisdom. I love her and pray for the day to come when I can finally share a cup of coffee with her in real life.

When I asked Barbie what she enjoyed most about #ThreeWordWednesday she replied, "I love the community that is being formed and I love the challenge of creating a title." Me too!

Link up

My list of who to link up with keeps getting longer. To share the love, so you can link up too, I will highlight a link up each week (for the next couple of weeks). The great thing about linking up—the community you become a part of.

The definition of link up: be or become joined or united or linked

Be united. Link up.

Are you looking to begin your week with some inspiration? Who isn't? Check out Inspire Me Monday hosted by one of my local blogging friends, who I'm anxious to meet, Angie Rye.

Favorite new site to visit

You must visit the new website outside the city gate. Their latest post, to run like Grace, oh me oh my. Let's go after grace "with wild abandon and boundless energy." Amen!

Favorite new song

Oh my goodness. Love, love, love the song "All The People Said Amen" by Matt Maher.

I'm going to Compel

Are you? Find out more here. I have more to say about this conference so tune in next week for #ThreeWordWednesday.

Writing tips

Denise Hughes has been posting on her Facebook timeline some helpful writing tips. I recently asked her if they would be compiled somewhere to use as a resource. Guess what? She has a new e-book releasing on January 20th called "Passport to Prose" and it will include all her great writing tips and other editing advice for bloggers. If you subscribe to her blog here you can get for FREE. Click here for a sample of her writing tips.

I'm finding JOY in a deployment #JoyDare #1000gifts

#7 ~ Being told, "You are a treasure."

#8 ~ The sound of my son playing his classical guitar.

#9 ~ God revealing a God-sized Dream to me.

#10 ~ Receiving in the mail from a #milspouse friend a new plaque with the words "I love my Soldier" on it.

#11 ~ A sign, that happens to be blue, from another #milspouse friend that says "I pledge allegiance to the flag and my heart to the soldier who defends it."

#12 ~ A new Pandora bracelet and the many charms received from my children.

#13 ~ The Bible... I'm starting from the beginning... "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." ~ Genesis 1:1

#14 ~ Making new friendships. They are such a JOY.

#15 ~ Watching people help people by lending a hand to shovel them out of snow.

#16 ~ My journals in my purse. I love taking them with me everywhere.

#17 ~ The coffee grounds in my fridge. I can't begin my morning without them.

#18 ~ My husband . He always in my heart.

#19 ~ A home cooked dinner made by my youngest son.

#20 ~ An email from my husband that ends with the words "Still loving you."

#21 ~ A Skype date with my Navy son before he heads out to sea.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: One Big Risk

Over at my friend Amy's place she's talking about taking risks and embracing rejection and she decided "other people" should join in. I happened to be one of the "movers and shakers" she reached out to. I'm not sure if I'm really a mover and shaker. And taking risks and embracing rejection, really?

I was tempted to move along to the next email but Amy is too awesome to ignore. Three words also suddenly came to my mind. (That happens to me all the time now.)


I wrote Amy to asked her if my risk could be one I wake up and take daily. My email was raw and unedited and I'm taking a risk and sharing the raw and unedited version with you.

So...what I meant by each day feels like the same risk over and over again is, well... becoming a military family...RISK! There was the risk of a deployment becoming a reality for my family and now it is. Surviving these months apart, every morning I wake and commit to finding the JOY in the day feels like a risk. I'm afraid, dear friend. I'm afraid of what the day can bring. I can handle the small downs (or bumps) that come my way. What about the big ones? What if they come? What if this war takes my husband from me? What if???? Will I lose my faith in Him?

Every day is one big risk.

Today is another day where I choose to find JOY in the midst of a year without my husband. Today I choose to find JOY in a deployment.

I've realized, seeking JOY in a deployment is one big risk.

Satan does not like my word for the year. My One Word for 2014 is JOY. I'm sure he's slithering around like the snake he is saying, "Oh, have I got news for you, Beth. I'm going to steal your joy. Who finds joy in a deployment?"

After writing about my word and taking the risk to share a God-sized Dream, I woke the following morning on a JOY high. The high continued throughout the day. JOY was easily found over a cup of coffee with girlfriends and then the opportunity to spoil myself with a pedicure and manicure. I had a JOY-filled day.

The following day... not so much. Looking back, I'm certain it started with waking up to more snow. We have had enough snow already. The snow felt like one big rejection and I did not embrace it well. Instead of JOY-filled, the term Debbie Downer better described my mood that day.

Most days, finding JOY comes easily. I communicate with my husband daily and there has yet to be a day where I'm not able to see his face. So far there have been few "rejections" to deal with in his absence. But there are plenty of days when I want to reach through the computer screen to shake him and say, "I'm done. Come home now." The countdown until his return remains too big of a number. Why did I say yes to him joining the Army?

God, in His ever so gentle way, reminds me military life led me and my husband to Him. So this one big risk of saying yes to a military life, if I were given the chance to say yes or no again, I'd still say YES!

Saying yes was a step in obedience. Saying yes was a step closer to God. Saying yes was the beginning to putting our trust in Him. I wonder, how does one take a risk without Him?

The message in my ramblings, if God is calling you to take a risk, He will see you through it until the end for He goes with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9). Don't give up. You may be met with rejection, but He will reward you for your step in obedience. His reward will be far better than anything you can imagine.

Over the next couple weeks I will be more specific on risks taken as I seek JOY in this deployment, rejections I'm met with, and God's amazing grace as I keep moving forward.

{Can I sneak in a message to that crummy, slithering snake? "Go ahead and try to steal my JOY. You have no power here. My God is stronger."}

What risks are you taking? Come join the other "movers and shakers" and tell us about it over at Amy's.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Friday Randomness (Vol. 9)

It's only been three weeks since my last Friday Randomness post but I've missed it. It has become my favorite post to write.

My friend Karin of Sunrise with a Sixpack said this weekly post of mine was like going on a treasure hunt. Oh, how I loved that description. Thank you, Karin! By the way, Karin is a treasure! You really should follow her if you do not already.

Recap of 2013

I'm not good with recaps so keeping this short. I could give you my top 10 blog posts from 2013 but instead I thought I'd share with you the post with the most views and the one with the least. Those poor posts with so few views...our heart tells us it most have been a poorly written post but it could be it was simply missed.

Here goes:

Most read: A Story of Transformation (also tells of my greatest moment from 2013)
Least read: The Forgotten One (ironic that this happened to be the post that was missed ~ or forgotten)

And my favorite blogging moment from 2013: launching Three Word Wednesday! A big heartfelt THANK YOU to this family of writers. I love what God does with three words.

Scripture speaking to my heart

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." ~ Genesis 1:31a

Now go on over to Shelly's place and read her post One Thing You Must Remember for the New Year. It really is something we need to remember so be sure to read.

My One Word - JOY, and a new favorite quote

I announced my One Word for 2014 here. Shortly after announcing my word I read a post by Margaret Feinberg that included these fabulous words,

"In 2014, may joy bubble over and wonder abound. May this year be one where you walk with your forehead glued to Jesus’ shoulder blades. Where every inhale will be of God’s presence and every exhale an extension of his love."


Favorite song of the week

My sweet friend Lauren of It's A Wilderness Out There...And In Here Too has me humming this childhood Sunday school song:

"I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart!
Down in my heart!
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay"

Have a listen and you will soon be humming too. It's contagious! These children are adorable too!!

I love my one word. There is so much JOY in the word JOY!

Go Give Challenge

Jennifer at A Girl on the Doorstep announced a new challenge that I'm super excited about. Every month she will share a challenge at her place to go out and give. At the end of the month you come back and link up with her to share your stories. What was her challenge for January? Find out here.

I made my way to Starbucks earlier in the week and enjoyed blessing the person in the drive-thru behind me. Along with a free coffee, they also received a print out of Jennifer's pretty Go-Give January Printable.

"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." ~ Hebrews 13:16 (ESV)

Risk Rejection

Oh just go visit my friend Amy Sullivan and she will explain. Then come back and let me know if you are going to join us. Sounds intriguing but scary doesn't it?

Finding blessings in a deployment

January 1st marks the beginning of taking the Joy Dare with Ann Voskamp. Taking this dare seemed appropriate since my one word for the year is JOY. While I was already counting blessings, I'm going to start over again with #1.

#1 ~ The twirling sound of marbles in a plastic tube (it was used in a game I played with friends and it had me mesmerized).

#2 ~ Lots and lots of laughter from an evening with friends.

#3 ~ The beep my phone makes when I get a message from my husband.

#4 ~ Snow. It really is beautiful as it falls from the sky.

#5 ~ The many different flavors of tea; each of them so yummy and comforting.

#6 ~ Pretzels and Brie cheese. I love this plate combination.

I'm ending with beautiful words from Ann Voskamp...

"Go slow. Be God-struck
Grant grace. Live truth.
Give thanks. Love well. Re-joice.
Share whatever is good."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Three Word Wednesday: Happy New Year!

Here we are -- it's January 1, 2014! Admittedly, there were a few times I wished we could skip over this year. It sounded like a good year to hibernate. Surprisingly though, God has me rather excited about the New Year. Why would I be excited about a year without my husband?

"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see." ~ Hebrews 11:1 (MSG)

He makes life worth living

Sure, there are days when getting out of bed takes a bit longer because my heart aches for my husband, but I don't give up. Instead, I hold on a little tighter to God. Words said by my pastor have stuck with me, "It's never ever worth it to let go of God."

Every day I wake I'm reminded I have the choice to either stay in bed or get up and hold on to the One I can put my faith and trust in. He makes life worth living. He makes it worth getting out of bed!

Another military wife, who I am grateful to take this journey with, shared on her Facebook page a quote from the book Tour of Duty by Sara Horn, "Life is full of ups and downs, but God stands over it all." Can I get an Amen?

Choosing One Word

The past couple of years I've switched from making a resolution for the new year to choosing one word to live and breathe by for the year.

2011 - Believe
2012 - Love
2013 - Embrace

When I chose the word embrace for 2013 it started with the purpose of embracing who I am in Christ. As I reflect back on the year, it appears God had other plans for me. I believe choosing the word embrace was more about surrendering to His loving embrace.

"Come close to God, and God will come close to you." ~ James 4:8

The past year was truly a year of growing closer to God. He was preparing me for the coming year without my husband.

For 2014 my word is Joy

When I come close to God, He makes life worth living. He makes my heart leap for joy.

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." ~ Psalm 28:7

Don't get me wrong; I miss my husband immensely. I'm counting down the days until he returns home. Until that day, I know God wants me to experience joy. And there has not been a single day since my husband left where He has not made my heart leap for joy.

"Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another." ~ John 1:16 (GNT)

Blessing upon blessing; this is what He gives to us. And for all His blessings I will keep I'm singing. (Oh how I love that song!)

"I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High." ~ Psalm 9:1-2

Goals for 2014

I have two primary goals for 2014. The first goal is to read through the entire Bible. This will be a first for me. I will be joining Tricia Goyer, and many other women, using the Women’s Guide to Reading the Bible through in a Year for this journey. I need my days to be filled with more and more of Him. I need Him to get through the coming year.

My second goal is to keep counting my blessings. I will keep on counting the reasons He makes my heart leap for joy.

Instead of hibernating through 2014, my eyes and heart are opened to experience the joy He has planned for me. Remember, our God does only good things. There will be plenty of ups and downs but His presence will go with me. He'll see this journey to the end (Exodus 33:14).

My wish for you in 2014

May you allow Him to infuse your lives with an abundance of JOY.

"I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of JOY and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit." ~ Romans 15:13 (VOICE)

Happy New Year!

Now it's your turn to share three words.

  1. Choose three words.
  2. Share a post, photo, scripture — anything that highlights the three words you have chosen. (link up your post URL, not your blog homepage).
  3. Family-friendly posts only. Anything else will be removed.
  4. Grab the Three Word Wednesday button on my home page to use in your post or include a link back to my blog.
  5. Find someone (or a few) to encourage with a comment.
  6. We can also connect on Twitter with the #ThreeWordWednesday hashtag.
  7. Don't have a blog? Share your three words in the comments or on my blog Facebook page.
  8. Help spread the word and get others involved.
  9. If you are linking up for the first time please include the word "NEW" in your link title.

I'm joining these lovely link-ups: Circles of Faith, Word Filled Wednesday, UNITE, #TellHisStory and Thought Provoking Thursday.