life of faith

taking baby steps & leaps & everything in between


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Weekend Update: First Full Weekend of 2012 Edition

Sometimes I have to blog about things so that I’ll remember them in the future, and this weekend was so chock full of good stuff that a blog entry is definitely in order.

2012 is shaping up to be a fantastic year, mostly because of our commitment to reading through the Bible this year using the Daily Walk Bible. Did I mention that Dayne decided to do it with me? 😀 When I bought my Bible, I ordered two more – one for Dana and one for whoever else decided to do it. None of my girlfriends volunteered, and Dayne asked if I wanted him to join me. It has been one of the better experiences in our marriage so far. We often talk about the things we’re reading – things that stood out to us that are just plain cool, questions that were raised during our readings, and we sometimes process the devotionals/applications together. It’s so nice to have a casual, regular way to talk about God and our individual walks in faith. Not only that, it is just so incredibly refreshing and exciting to be in the Word and growing closer to the heart of God everyday. I’m finding that Genesis, so far, reads like a novel, where I can’t wait to see what happens next to Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham & Sarah, and Isaac & Rebekah. For the first time for me, these stories have fit together like a puzzle where I can see God walking alongside each person and continuously acting in their lives. It reinforces for me the truth that God never changes; He has been the same all along (“…the Father of the heavenly lights… does not change like shifting shadows.” [James 1:17]). He walked so intimately with His people, and it is a challenge for me to accept that He still wants to walk that intimately with us today, that we need to orient ourselves toward Him, “fix our eyes” on Him (2 Cor. 4:18, Heb. 12:2) and try to “keep in step” with Him in obedience (Gal. 5:25).

José, one of Dayne’s friends from work, let us borrow the New Super Mario Bros. for Wii, so Dayne & I have been playing that at random times together. Dayne (or should I say “Mario”) gets upset with me (or should I say “Luigi”) because I lose a lot of lives, but it’s really nice to have a co-op game we can play together (and surely “Luigi” will get better). We played that sporadically throughout the weekend, and it was fun!

On Saturday, Dayne got up super early to go to our new church’s Men’s Bible Study. They meet at Cracker Barrel so there’s some breakfast incentive. 🙂 I was so proud of him for getting up and going! I thought I would sleep through it (since it’s at 7:30), but I got up when Dayne was getting ready and had some delicious quiet time eating breakfast, reading my Bible, cleaning up around the house, and starting The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. It sounds like Dayne’s gonna keep going on Saturdays, and I think that’s wonderful for both of us.

Saturday was such a gorgeous day, and it was our first completely free day in a while, so we took it upon ourselves to go to the Brandywine Zoo.

At the Zoo.

I had gone to the Brandywine Zoo a few times with my family when I was growing up, and I somehow remember it being a lot bigger??? It is a tiny zoo. But it was fun; they have some weird and random animals! Our favorite was the capybara, since we were discussing on the way to the zoo how much we like prairie dogs, and the capybara looks (and sounds) like a giant guinea pig. I also got some nice photos of Dayne petting the pygmy goats…

The zoo's capybara, before he got upset and squeaked and went inside his house.

Dayne petting the pgymy goats... they were all OVER him!

After the zoo, which was free that day (awesome!), we spontaneously decided to go to ChaddsFord Winery. Dayne has become a wine fan since marrying me, which was exactly what was supposed to happen. 😉 We took a self-guided tour, and instead of doing a tasting on empty stomachs, we picked out a few kinds of wine to take home and try. I’m especially excited about the Spiced Apple Wine, which you can heat on the stove with cinnamon sticks and spices to make hot mulled apple wine. Cozy and yum!

On our way home, we stopped at Arby’s for Jamocha shakes (delicious!). We ended up going out to dinner that night at Chili’s (with a gift card!), which was nice since we haven’t gone out on a dinner date in a while, either.

On Sunday, we got up and went to our church. I am so in love with this church and so thankful that God has so obviously led us there. Connection (small) groups are starting back up for the new year, so we signed up to get more information on a Financial Peace University class and a Marriage study. The young couples’ group is also starting back up this week (!), so we’re going to that tomorrow night and I.cannot.wait.

The sermon series is currently on Ezekiel and being fearless… since fear and anxiety are things I struggle with, I’m thankful to be focusing on them early in the New Year. It’s exciting to feel what God is doing in my heart, see what God is doing with my husband & me, and to also be a part of what God’s doing in our church.

After church, we mustered up our courage to try another meal in the Crockpot (after our first failure which I was too embarrassed and disappointed to write about). I was intrigued by this blog earlier this year, and then I got the author’s actual cookbook for Christmas this year from my brother: MORE Make it Fast, Cook it Slow. We threw in the ingredients for a Ground Beef Layered Casserole and crossed our fingers!

After that, we quickly headed out the door to go over to see the family I used to nanny for. It was wonderful to see them all again! Seriously so much fun. The older girl just turned 4 and it is amazing to watch how fast both of the girls grow up. We had a great time meeting their two new cats, seeing the girls’ gifts from Santa, reading stories, catching up with the parents, and swinging the girls by their ankles (that was more Mr. Dayne, not me). The girls fell in love with Dayne (“Mr. Dayne is so funny”) and I was old news by the end of the afternoon 🙂

Finally, last night Dayne and I ate our casserole and watched a documentary on Netflix. I’m quite happy to start a new week with such a relaxing, rejuvenating weekend behind me!

What are your favorite things to do on free weekends?


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Unity & Trust, Peace & Joy

Here I am again, a day later, blogging.

I guess sometimes you need to vent about something to feel right again.

Life is good today. While work was a bit rough and I felt a bit off all day, there were some definite bright spots in between 8am & 4pm. For example: chatting with Dana in the morning, getting some solid work done, finally receiving the school’s updated phone list (yippee! Seriously), and my friend Ashlee bringing me a cranberry-orange smoothie from Panera and chatting with me at the end of the day.

I also got a good start this morning with my Daily Walk Bible. I’m up to Genesis 15, and it’s really cool to see some themes start to emerge:

  • Yesterday we studied the building of the Tower of Babel, when God noticed the power of man’s UNITY and pride and decided to disperse them and confuse their languages (Genesis 11). It was interesting to ponder how we are still in a state of confusion and dispersion today, which leads to a lot of worldwide misunderstanding and conflict. The most fascinating part is recognizing that we have greater unity in Christ than we’d ever have in human unity. God’s plan all along is for a more perfect unity through Himself.
  • Today we studied God’s call to Abram to pick up his family and his possessions and move to a land that God would show him (Genesis 12). What?! This proposition would never fly in Lisa Land. I’ve noticed that I am far less TRUSTing than Abram. I am a planner through and through, and the idea of starting something so revolutionary while only knowing the first step throws me because it is so counter-intuitive to me. However, this is the FAITH God calls us to have! “…Without faith it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6). Will I recognize my lack of faith and move forward in complete trust in God? I could think of one major area in particular where I struggle with this: our search for a house. I was thankful for the opportunity to talk this through with Dayne tonight, especially because he’s reading the same passages each day with me. I think we have a fresh perspective on our house hunt in 2012, and I think I have the motivation to be more calm and at peace and patient with wherever God leads us.

After work, Dayne was supposed to be out til 7, so I actually summoned the energy to go run some errands! I read a great article today entitled, “You Never Marry the Right Person“, and was so excited about it that I decided to buy the book at Barnes & Noble: The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller. CANNOT. WAIT. to read it. I also picked up The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht, because I read great reviews of it and have been wanting to read a new novel. And I bought a new journal for notetaking during sermons, prayer requests, etc. for 2012. I write everything down.

I *also* ran to Target and finished buying my husband’s surprise birthday presents!! His birthday is February 6th.

…Feel free to leave him love notes, as long as they’re not too lovey.

The day settled with cheeseburgers and corn for dinner, made by my hubby, with our conversation on what we’ve been reading in the Bible and the catch-up of our days. In case you’re wondering, Dayne had a good day, too. I’m proud of the fantastic job he does at work and thrilled that he is such a great provider. I’m a blessed lady.

Well, my blog friends, that is about all I wanted to say. I needed an encouraging day pretty badly, and God gave me one. I am thankful for my many blessings tonight, and I even have the energy to stay up a little later so that I can write this blog and start my new journal.

I hope you’re all feeling some peace and joy today, too — though those words are often on Christmas cards, I am feeling them ever-so-strongly tonight.


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Be Inspiring!

From The War of Art by Steven Pressfield:

“Once you make your break, you can’t turn around for your buddy who catches his trouser leg on the barbed wire.  The best thing you can do for that friend (and he’d tell you this himself, if he really is your friend) is to get over the wall and keep [moving].

The best and only thing that one artist can do for another is to serve as an example and an inspiration.” (p. 20, emphasis mine)

I’d like to suggest that you could replace “artist” in that last sentence with just about anything – “Christian”, “woman”, “man”, “coworker”, “friend”, “human being”.

The War of Art is about connecting with your inspiration and defeating “Resistance” (anything that gets in the way of you executing your “art”: your gifts, talents, creative nature). I think inspiration can come from just the mere suggestion that you could (and most likely will) inspire someone else. And I think that’s one way we love other people!

It’s interesting; I was just reading an article recently about how it doesn’t help people who are going through a tough time to be miserable with them, even though we think that is true or natural empathy. What really helps is to be the face of (tactful and attentive) optimism and hope for that person.

I wrestle with this philosophy in my Christian walk. When others are struggling with walking in step with Jesus, I often think that the best thing I can do is seek to understand where they’re coming from and focus on the difficulties of Christian life. But if I’m honest, when I’m struggling, do I want to be around people who are lagging behind and complaining about Christianity, or do I want to be around people who are genuinely connecting with God and others and living through Him (i.e. do I want to be inspired)?

Donald Miller (the Christian author who wrote Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years) wrote recently on his blog:

“It’s hard to remember that… people will actually be benefited by our work.

…Most writers don’t think [their] work really matters. I’ve met writers who have sold thousands of books and still don’t think anybody’s life has been changed by their efforts. There’s an enemy whispering in their ear, I think.

I wrote four books and sold millions before I realized I was helping anybody. Sure I knew people were reading my stuff, but I didn’t realize they were making better decisions because we’d sat down for a few hours and I shared my heart.

…Just the thought that somebody out there might not leave their spouse, or quit on that book they’re writing, or change their career or find God. In all those books about writing filled with tips and tricks, I think loving the reader is the best motivator I’ve found.

…So the next time you sit down to write a blog, just remember somebody is going to read it and be encouraged.”

Even though Donald’s focusing on writing specifically, the same principle holds true: the next time you sit down to make a phone call, or write an email, or complete a task at work, or do something you’ve been feeling called to do for a very long time… people are going to notice what you do. We have such power to encourage and inspire.

Use it! Be inspiring!

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. – Romans 12:6-9 (NIV)