Saturday, December 8, 2012

Unseen Words

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I really need to start writing consistently again. I found out that one of my favorite authors, Robin McKinley, does a daily blog, and it was so refreshing to read her style for her personal posts. She really is a hoot and writes in such a conversational, clever, and yet so educated way. Seriously, I don’t remember the last time I read a blog and needed to reach for the dictionary--multiple times. That woman must have memorized a thesaurus at one point in her life.

But I think what I really need to do is just write every day, and frankly, that scares me. I have these standards--one of which I’ve realized is that I only want to write things I’m ok with sharing, with publishing to my blog. And that means I don’t write very often.


But I've decided I can't be ok with not writing very often. And that means you may not see everything that I write.

Some of you may not know this about little ol' Tori: I really don't like NOT sharing things. So this decision to write without sharing is actually a pretty huge deal.

Like I've mentioned in the past, I noticed that I write a lot less when I have someone around to tell things to. (Ahem, Husband.) Talking through things is how I process them, be in with someone in person, or written out on paper or a blog post. But to me, it has always felt like a waste if there is no one reading what I write.

But no more! This woman is going to do her best to write when she can, because even if I'm not posting, writers write. If I want to keep calling myself a writer, I better get my act together and do it.

Even if no one sees it.


What new thing have you decided to do recently?


Monday, November 12, 2012

Writers Write

In order to be a writer, you have to write. 

I struggle with that. 

Maybe it's my old perfectionism lingering on in this area--a symptom of a lifestyle that use to be much worse in my life? Could it be that a large portion of my job is writing--emails, websites, brochures--I write a lot as an administrator, and it does use up my composing juices, that's sure and certain.

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It could definitely be how full my life is--but there isn't a soul who tells me that life gets any less full as you get older. My goodness, I don't even have a child yet. Why do I reason with myself that I'll write more in the future, as if I'm going to suddenly have more time then?

It's funny. When I'm not able to write, I come up with a plethora of topics. And yet when I have the time to sit down, no topic seems suitable for this blog, interesting enough, or worth taking the time to write down.

And then I look up and realize two years of my marriage has passed and I've barely recorded any of it here. I realize WorshipArts is taking off and there are so many testimonies I wish I had captured here. I see our immediate families growing and changing and yet I haven't captured what it feels like here.

It's hard to write about WorshipArts, because I want this to be my personal blog, and yet so often when I start to write about WorshipArts I feel like I go into a "work/promotion" voice unintentionally, and that people are going to tune it out. I don't want to just self-promote here. No one wants to read that long term.

I also struggle with writing about my job. I really want to let people know what it's like to work at a church, how blessed it is, and all the projects that I'm excited about. But I don't want to say anything that would be misunderstood, to accidentally give away information too soon, or to some how misrepresent my church. Plus I write about church stuff all day at work.

And then there is my relationship with Peter. It's pretty stinkin' amazing. But I guess I don't write about it too much because I want to keep a certain level of it private and personal... and many of you get more than enough of our sentimental romance through our sappy Facebook posts!

When I was younger, I wrote so, so much. I ranted, vented, worried, rejoiced, and expressed just about every emotion through writing--and much of it was public on blogs online. Then my relationship with Peter blossomed, and he helped me work through so much in conversation that I didn't feel as much of a need to process life in writing. I've done very little private journaling, for example, since we've been seriously dating and married.

Yet I know writing is good and it's something I want to do. I know God has gifted me with it for a reason--many reasons probably.

And yet I don't do it consistently. Ugh.

Maybe just getting this on the table will help.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Genesis Sneak Peek

The Genesis worship team is WorshipArts advanced worship ministry team. I got to spend the evening listening to them last night, and man, they are anointed. I'm so honored that God has given us the privilege to pour into these teens as they whole-heartedly seek Jesus.

Last night, in addition to their worship practice, they did some filming with our media team. Here are some behind the scenes pictures of the videos that will be released soon. (Click on the pictures and they will get bigger!)






Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Style

Lace scarf with cascading pearl
necklace. I love this necklace
with scarves!
One of my favorite things about getting older has been developing my own sense of style, and feeling so much more confident about how I look and dress. It's amazing the difference five or six years can make--I truly feel like I was just floundering along back when I was 16 or 17!

Glammed up for chaperoning prom.
$10 JCP dress!
 I went into a whole new level of self-confidence and strength in who I am after I got married as God led me through the beginnings of being a wife, and one of the fun byproducts has been my new freedom in my appearance.

Peter has been such an awesome support too--he has taken me on multiple spontaneous shopping sprees, and he find the perfect balance between helping me be frugal, while whole-heartedly supporting adding to my wardrobe.

Blues, reds and whites, with black
jacket. Spring happiness!
This past year I have finally felt like I've figured out who I am style-wise, what I like, and that, along with the growth I've experienced, has helped me be confident enough to step out and try different, out-of-my-comfort-zone styles. It's been a great adventure! I realized that it would be fun to have some of my pictures all in one place, to see what my style looks like back-to-back. (Also, I've lost twelve pounds this summer--so I'll try to put these in chronological order and hopefully I'll be able to see a difference!)

One of the big things for me has been accessories. I've focused on getting simple tops and using scarves, my boots, and jewelry to add flavor. It's been great!

 I also went way out of my comfort zone and got bangs this summer. And let me tell you--I love them!! I can't wait to go back next month and get them again--they've grown out quite a bit, but thankfully they've been super easy to manage.

Here's some more photos:
(If you click on any of the pics they get nice and big!)


Summer braid, teal jewelry made for
my beauteous bridesmaids
by Hannah Ailes!
Trying out tucked in with a belt:
wasn't overly thrilled, but the pics
turned out cute. This was
pre-weight loss too!
Love this bow headband!
Enter: bangs!

Our anniversary trip:
got the hat and shirt in A^2
and totally love them!
My first fully fall outfit of the year.
I've pretty much only worn those boots
since this. LOVE THEM.

Here I am, 12 lbs later! Love my Pinterest inspired sweater-turned-leg-warmers.
Also, this yellow shirt is my current fave. Such a great, happy color!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Healthier Days

I've been wanting to get my self in shape for quite some time. Back when I got engaged, over three years ago, I did pretty good going to the gym around my classes, but honestly, since I've gotten married, I haven't stuck to much of a health plan.

That is, until one of my dearest friends met me for coffee on June 2nd. She told me about how she was going to start using this app called MyFitnessPal, and on an impulse I said I'd do it with her. I had tried it before, but had never really stuck too it. However, this time was totally different, even though it was a spontaneous decision. Because she was keep track of her calories too, and she eats healthier than I do, I was really motivated to do good and stick with it. Even when she decided to take a break from the plan, I was able to keep it up on my own, after her help to get me started.

I'm excited to share that it is now 135 days later (that's about 4 and a half months, folks!) and I have entered my calories in every day! Just the fact that I don't want to break that streak has been so motivating for me to enter my calories in, even if I slack off and go over every now and then.

I definitely haven't been perfect, and I still eat unhealthy things, but I'm paying attention to what I'm consuming, planning out what I eat much better, and not habitually overeating anymore. I'm so excited to announce that I've lost 12 lbs, and I look and feel so much better than ever before!

My next fitness goal is to start working out regularly.  I've got a free gym membership to a gym less than a mile away. I really have no excuse--other than I just don't want to make the time for it. But I know that's the next step to being a healthier me, so I have to tackle it eventually.

What have you done in the past year to get healthier? I'd love to know!


Saturday, August 25, 2012

It's a New Season

Today we had the first WorshipArts meeting of the season! We had 25+ come out to the Student and Parent  meeting (SaP meeting, as we affectionately call it). And this year, we have 39 students! It was such a blessing to meet in the beautiful Iglesia building--that place just oozes out creativity and inspiration for new ways to give God glory! Every time we are there it makes us long for a place just like it for WorshipArts to own.

Over the past year, God has been pulling Peter and I into new depths with Him. It's been amazing to see Peter specifically aim higher and higher in the levels of ministry training for these awesome students. Last season God unlocked a key for us with the focus on personal devotion, and the transformations in the students were incredible. This season we are taking personal devotion to the next step--discipleship. In essence, this is personal devotion and leadership combined, and I'm expecting God to do new things in each student's life.

I was struck today looking back on WorshipArts history--we started just a few years ago with five kids, simply learning how to play worship music together, and God has molded, stretched, nurtured, twisted, pulled, shoved and sprouted us into a completely different creature, giving Him praise. Each season WorshipArts takes on a whole new feel and vision, as we cast off the methods that didn't give Him the most praise and strengthen everything that draws the students closer to Jesus.

Sometimes I get freaked out thinking about it--this new God-glorifying beast-of-a-vision that is WorshipArts. Sometimes it feels like it's a wild stallion, that's letting us ride it, but at any point it could buck us off. Running a business has a lot of risk. But God has poured out obnoxious amounts of favor on it and us, and I daily have to choose to trust Him about everything in my life--so why waste time fearing about this? God's totally got us in His hands.

I am choosing to believe all the crazy evidence before me that this is going to go amazing well. I'm choosing to expect that God will fulfill His promises: as these students and Peter and I press into God and seek His Kingdom, ALL things will be added unto us!

Screenshot of the editing the video from the SaP meeting today

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It’s all about Love

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God has designed us to be in relationship with Him. Naturally, we try to compare our relationship with God, our Creator, to relationships with other people on earth to help us get a glimpse for what our relationship with Him can look like.

So often we hear about how God relates to us, because He conveys every earthly relationship to us. He is our Father, our best friend, our Savior; He mother’s us, shelters us, defends us. He is our King, our Lord, our Creator.

But what about the opposite--how do you relate to Him?

I have seen in my own life that though there are times when I view God as my Father, Protector, and Savior. I am accustomed to living my own kind of life of faith and I naturally fall into treating Him like a really great friend. And God’s been showing me that’s not enough.

God wants me to love Him--to love Him with a love that is more passionate, selfless, and faithful than the best lover dreamed up in a romance story. God wants me to love Him better than I love my closest friends, better than I love my family, and better than I love my husband. Quite frankly, that seems impossible.

Especially when I feel like I could do so much better at being a friend, sister, daughter, and wife. How could I even possibly be better than that, for God??

It gets so easy to just put forth as much effort as fits into my schedule, which in many earthly relationships is accepted and the norm. Grace is so key to who God is, right? And my friends are so forgiving--God is so much more so, right?

God is full of forgiveness, and He has put my mistakes and sin as far from me as the east is from the west. He says not to worry, and to take it one day at a time. Yet all of these truths get so easily twisted into a solid path of excuses that leaves me walking just within reach of Jesus, if I stretch--but certainly not enveloped in His arms, walking in His footsteps, and in the place He wants me to be.

What does it look like to really love someone? How do I want to be loved? How do I want to treat the most important people in my life? That’s what I’ve been chewing on lately. Though there is so much to dive into on this topic, for now, it boils down to one thing.

The truth is this: I don’t have a right relationship with God if my time--my life--doesn’t reflect that He is most important. Period. No questions, no excuses. If I don’t meet with God every day, intentionally, I am not honoring Him; I am not loving God according to His call on my life.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

He Jumped In Front of a Car For Me

I've been a Christian my whole life. And so I know that I need to spend time with God. It definitely seems straightforward--God sent His son to die for you, and so we give Him our time. But it doesn't always work out that black and white.

In a way, this is how my history with God has looked:  He jumped in front of a car for me, and endured some crazy damage. He had to spend a whole weekend in the hospital, He flatlined... but it was crazy, after a weekend, He was up and talking, and the one thing He kept saying was He wanted to be a part of my life. Well, He saved it, so who am I to argue? Certainly a decent thing to do when you your life has been spared, right?



So I spend time with Him, meet Him for breakfast, call Him, email, text, post links on His facebook. At first, the conversation is awesome--this guy saved my life, and He's such a people person! I'm going to be whatever He wants. We talk about my life, we talk about His word, He gives me some ideas on things I can do better.

But as time goes on, we go through seasons. The same topics keep coming up, and it's getting a little old. Love, grace, forgiveness, justice... Sometimes it's hard to talk to a perfect person, even if He is a great empathizer. Life gets busy. Maybe we don't meet as often as I meant to, so I try just calling, instead of our usual breakfast together. I'm still staying in touch, right? It's been so long since that wreck...I'm used to looking at Him, I don't even notice His scars any more. Calling is fine! Friends give grace for that, right? He keeps saying He's all about that.

Man, now it's been an even crazier week. I just have all this stuff, some good and some bad, going on. You're a great friend, but I really can't make that call today--I'm so sorry! I'll try to text to let you know what's up today.

And tomorrow.

And then a week goes by and I haven't even texted you back. Yikes... I'll have to get better at that ...after I finish finals. Or that project our family is doing. Or get through this crazy week at work.

Now we just touch base a few times a month, checking out each other's Facebook walls and liking a few great status updates, with a text now and then. I'm keeping my eye out for where He's at, He's keeping a watch on me. If there's a crisis I know I can call Him. Honestly, this is a really good friendship--we're just in a season where it's harder.

After those projects are done, we have a solid week where we spend face-to-face time together! And then we stay really in touch for a few months! But those same topics keep coming up, and He keeps obsessing about how He love me. "Yeah, I know you do. You died for me. But can we talk about something else?" I keep thinking. I just don't feel like this friendship is going anywhere. So I miss breakfast again...that snooze button was the death of me...sorry! I'll do better tomorrow...

And so it cycles.

I am a friend of God.  And I have truly, honestly, excellent earthly friendships that look almost exactly like this cycle.  But I think there is an underlying, major problem with this type of relationship with God, and it's something I don't want to have any more. It's a cycle I want to break out of, and a cycle I want to see broken in the lives of my Christian friends, acquaintances, and total strangers.

I believe God must be more than just a best friend. And I'm going on a journey to discover what a deeper relationship with Him can be.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hunger Games Review

A few weeks ago myself and two of my favorite people in the world took a road trip to Florida. We decided to drive straight across the country in one fell swoop, and to keep us engaged, we grabbed the audio book "The Hunger Games" for our trip. We had heard the hype and decided we wanted to check it out for ourselves.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book by Suzanne Collins. The concept and world were very interesting--a conglomeration of gladiators, class separation, and the contrasts of  high-tech/low-tech communities and the rumblings of rebelling against tyrants. Maybe it was because I listened to it as an audio book, but the first-person writing got a bit long at times. The main character, Katniss, was a bit cynical and skeptical (her life situations did lead to that) and she was also a bit over-dramatic at times. It was violent, but knowing this was a gladiator setting prepared me for that. Yet overall, it was a great story of pressing through and not letting the evil in power over steal and kill your identity.

So, this last Thursday, we three, my sister and husband, reunited again to go see the midnight showing of the Hunger Games movie.

Wow.

I probably said "wow" at least 10 times throughout the movie, because I was genuinely blown away with the adaption to the film. Even the little additions they added felt perfect and their tweaks from the book, overall, made more sense to me than the original story! I truly appreciated how everything came together--the use of colors, costumes, the music (and lack thereof), the filming techniques (shaking camera vs steady) and all the little details and references to cultures were incredible.

I loved that they didn't stick with first person, yet they communicated the feel so well. They were concise and got through pages and pages of Katniss' thoughts in seconds on the screen, and yet after two hours, I still wanted more! If you enjoyed the book, I HIGHLY recommend you go see this movie. My only reservation is there are some genuinely scary and graphic scenes, because these kids are basically GLADIATORS, and all that that terrible situation implies, so I completely understand why this is rated PG-13. If you haven't read the book yet...I think you could go and still enjoy this movie, but it was much more meaningful for me personally, and for my sister and hubs, to know they story ahead of time.

***Now for the spoilers.***

In the opening scene, I noticed and loved how they broke through some normal editing boundaries that I haven't noticed before. For example, when Katniss leaves Prim, the audio at then end is her saying something like "I love you Prim" but the visual is her getting out of the house to go hunting. I value that they know we are smart enough to follow and that they saved a few precious seconds right there. Kudos production, editors, or whoever was responsible for that.

In fact overall I felt like the filmers knew the audience was smart. There was a lot of unnecessary things shorted, and that contributed hugely to moving the film along. Yet I never felt like they spent too little time on things...they knew I got it, and they didn't need to tell me everything. It wasn't in first person, and that was truly refreshing.

I liked how they changed the whole Mockingjay pin story. It made so much more sense to come from the Hob, Katniss giving it to Prim, and Prim giving it back. I even wonder why Collins didn't have it they way in the book.

They actually really played down the romance and potential love triangle with Gale and Peeta. In retrospect, you could walk away from this and possibly even miss the whole Gale side of the story, if you weren't aware already. I think this was ok, because they can bring that all up in the second movie, like they did in the second book. It also quenched everyone's fears of copycatting the Twilight Team Edward vs Team Jacob phenomenon, and I appreciated that. There were a few little details--even a little more eye contact with Katniss and Gale at the end? Something? That could have been nice, but it worked.

So...Rue's death. I was super bummed that Rue said, "Did you blow up the food?" Because she didn't know that....and it completely drew me out of the moment. Yes, I can rationalize that she heard it....but it was poor word choice and ruined the moment for me. It took until Katniss was gathering the flowers for it to connect...and that was excellently done.

Speaking of death, I felt like the violence scenes were well done. (This coming from the girl who watches 24, and has her husband cover her eyes during the bad torture scenes.) Basically, I've come to terms with being ok with violence in movies when its about survival and overcoming evil. I don't like swearing and immoral sexuality in films, but violence can actually be scriptural (ahem, old testament, my friends?) and this is exactly what early Christians dealt with--a gladiator situation. Yes, they didn't fight back, but this isn't a story about faith, it's about surviving trials to overcome tyranny. On the scary front--the tracker-jackers were FREAKY. If you have a young person who could be influenced to a terrorizing fear of bees, avoid that scene at least... yikes. I was squirming in my chair.

I LOVE SEEING THE CAPITOL DURING THE GAMES. Oh man. The control room was so cool, and I loved getting more of what was going on, seeing the Gamemaker talking to Snow, oh man, so good. Definitely added so much to the story for me. Definite win over the book in my mind.

Yeah, overall, I was stunned with how great it was, and it made me super excited for summer movies this year. SO GOOD.



How about you? Have you read the book? Are you going to see the movie? If you aren't into Hunger Games, what books or movies are you excited about lately/coming out soon?

P.S. Don't give anything away from the third book, please. I haven't gotten there yet!

Friday, March 16, 2012

So much good happening right now.

I am so blessed.

I don't know what clicked in the last few weeks exactly, but I have just been overwhelmed by the favor of God in my life!

Our vacation was so much fun! First we went to Sarasota and visited my lovely Nana and grandpa (and Siesta Beach--the #1 beach in the USA!). Then we packed a lot into our Disney days but took time every afternoon to come back to the Disney campground and take a nap or go to the pool, which was super great and relaxing. I think part of my good feeling has rubbed off from such a great time in FL with my family.

Another huge reason is this truly crazy weather we are having here in southwest Michigan. This Wednesday it hit 80 degrees--and broke the record for hottest march 14th ever in Kalamazoo! And it's not a one day fluke; it's still getting up into the 70s. Let me just say--it's definitely easier to be happy when it's warm out. =)

I've also started trying to eat better and workout. I'm starting slow this time, and that (coupled with this weather) is making it much more manageable. I've also got a much more frequent reward plan for the first 12 weeks which is helping too. Plus, Peter has send I can spend more money investing into my health--so I've been buying Lean Cuisine so it's easy to know my calorie intake and I got some fantastic new workout gear from old navy. The freedom to purchase this stuff has really made it more fun and doable with our crazy busy lifestyles.

Plus, WorshipArts is being used to do great and mighty things and it's been incredible to see! They have had 3 events in the last week and another tonight--and wow. Is the Holy Spirit moving through them or what! I wish each of you could come out tonight to experience God working through them. It truly is life changing when Jesus walks in the room, and they are so anointed to welcome Him in!!

My personal devotion life has gone in flux lately but this last week has been solid. God is so real my friends--take the time to press into Him and He will not let you down. As I heard last week from a beautiful gospel singing woman, "He may not come when you want Him too, but He'll show up right on time! he's an on time God, yes He is!"

Friday, February 17, 2012

People. I'm excited.

People. I'm excited.

In just 184 hours my husband, sister and I will be on the way to the happiest place on earth.


Yes, we are going to Walt Disney world.

I just needed to let you know.

I'm freaking out.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Journal

I love starting new journals for my prayers and devotions. For years, I would always try to get a medium to large sized journal...I don't know why exactly, it just felt more sturdy and legit. However, I would rarely finish these journals completely...because I would get tired of them, or feel like I was in a new season, and want to move on to something different.

But in December, Peter and I tried these slim moleskine journals, and oh my goodness, I love it. It's been just under two months, and I only have 3 pages left! Plus, it fits inside my bible, which makes for easy transportation.

I love writing out my prayers...I use a modified version of the ACTS prayer model, in addition to just writing out verses that stick out to me and things God says to me. It has been so wonderful to look back and see the victories God has given me throughout the pages of my journals--and I've had a prayer journal since I was about 13 or 14!


Do you have a particular type of journal you love? Do you write out your prayers?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

10 Truths About Being on Time

Ever had that day where you get up, look at your clock, and do a double take? 
"Oh snaaap. Does that really say a whole hour after when I meant to get up!?"

via
I've definitely done that.


I've also had those mornings full of the "one more thing" syndrome. You know, when you get up to make breakfast, and notice that old food in your fridge you meant to throw out a week ago, so you dump that in the garbage, and then it smells, so you take out the garbage and while you are out you may as well grab the mail, and oh, look! An invitation to a family party! Better put that on the calendar real quick so we don't forget, and then there is that email I need to read...and before you know it the time you planned on getting ready to go to work is gone and you're going to be 20 minutes late!?


Timeliness has been on my heart lately. God's shown me some truths about this that have radically changed my perspective and pushed me to pursue excellent timeliness. Honestly, I am so not perfect at this yet...but I've gotten a lot better in the past year and I plan to get even better in the future!

1. Timeliness gives honor. When I am on time, I give honor to those I am meeting. When I'm late, I'm dishonoring them--and that is a big deal in His eyes. In fact, giving honor is such a big deal, God made it a commandment to us: "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor" (Romans 12:10). I'm going to do everything I can to never think lightly of God and His commandments.

How is timeliness showing honor?  Being on time shows that I value you because it says, "Every minute with you is important to me." It also shows that I value your time, because it says, "Your time is important and I' respect that."

2. My reputation represents the reputation of Christ. I want to be known as someone who gives honor, because that is who Christ is. This applies in every situation. When you show up on time to that meeting at school or work, you tell the world that Christians are responsible, faithful people--and that knocks down one wall on their path to meeting the real Jesus. When you show up on time to teach Sunday School, that shows that you care about serving your body of Christ--like Jesus does.

3. I can't believe my excuses anymore. Another way timeliness represents Jesus it shows His nature--He is always on time. He is always ready. Yeah, yeah, He's omnipresent. But get this: Jesus has ALREADY given us the power to do EVERYTHING we need to live a Godly life and to do all He has called us to (2 Peter 1:3 and Philippians 2:13)! Through these verses, another life changing revelation is revealed: we no longer have any excuse for any behavior that doesn't line up with His kingdom. We have everything we need to live as He has called us to live--and that includes honoring others through timeliness. If we choose to believe our excuses--such and such came up, the roads were bad, my alarm didn't go off, today was busy, even something more legitimate-feeling like I have a disorder that makes it hard for me to be on time--then we are saying that the power of Christ is not enough to beat those circumstances.

Ok, Tori. Shut up. I don't want to believe you. The traffic being bad is not my fault! I hear you--God has been challenging me in this too...and I don't like it either, but it's truth, and through this truth we can be set free from tardiness into honoring timeliness!



So what do I do?

If I'm late because of a circumstance beyond my ability to discover, then the first time, I need to walk in grace for myself and apologize for it, not justify it with an excuse.

The next time, however, it is my fault (thankfully there is more grace--but we cannot let ourselves become accustomed to taking it for granted). Why is it your fault? Because you knew, and when you don't change, you chose to dishonor (ouuchh). We just need to take time and be honest with ourselves about what life looks like:
  • You know there is going to be traffic. Especially between 3:30 and 5 when people leave work and school. Plan extra time for it. 
  • Things get crazy in the morning, and the more kids you have, or the more you want to get ready, the more time it's going to take. It's not possible to pack 45 minutes of preparation into 15 minutes. Not wasting time is important, but there is actually a limit to how fast you can get ready. Give your self enough time. 
  • You can help those you depend on. I know a lot of people who depend on others for rides (I'm one of them actually!). If you need to be some where, you can use your time to help them get out the door. Especially if they repeatedly make you late, I challenge you to humbly approach them and ask what you can do to help them get out the door by X:XX time. Honor them even if they haven't gotten the timeliness revelation yet.
  • Something is going to come up every day. Now that I've told you, you know it. So you need to give yourself 10-15 minutes wiggle room between things. Worst case scenario? You wait in your car for 10-15 minutes and get to praise God that much more than you planned to that day. Win!


How do I make more time in my day?

From what I can tell, there are three ways you can "make more time" in your day.
  1. Get up earlier. I heard this awesome testimony from the leaders my church's welcoming ministry. They realized that being on time was essential for honoring guests and members of our church, so they did the "15-min earlier" strategy. Every Sunday, they set their alarm 15-minutes earlier (and actually got their butts out of bed then...which I seriously struggle with). It took them multiple weeks--four a believe--to get up early enough to have a stress-free morning and get to church on time. "An hour earlier??" You say? If that's what it takes, yes. You aren't going to be able to somehow "get ready faster" in the morning. You need to give yourself more time. (Side note: this may mean you have to go to bed earlier, too.) The best part of this story? Jesus has already given us what we need to do this. Have trouble falling asleep early? There is a verse for you to stand on. Struggle with getting up in the morning? Make a commitment to meet with God first--and then honor Him with your timeliness. (And coffee/tea, take a hot shower, put your alarm on the other side of the room...oh, and stand on this verse.)
  2. Say no. If you are constantly late and rushing everywhere, or staying up at all hours to finish your work, or stressing and double-booking yourself, you are doing too much. It's time to get out a pad of paper and actually write out all your commitments and how much time you honestly spend on them every week. Then determine if how you are spending your time lines up with your goals. If not, grab that Bible and worship music, listen to Jesus about what to take out of your life, and then, DO IT.
  3. Stay focused. Oh my goodness, this one is hard for me. That whole "one more thing" syndrome? Totally my battle every day. But you have to stay focused. Maybe setting a "refocus" alarm that goes off every 15 minutes would help you stay on task? Maybe blocking facebook for a week, or getting the discipline to only go on during a certain time of day?  Maybe a friend who keeps you accountable with this (Peter does it for me!)? 
There is a strategy for your victory, because God said we have everything we need to live a Godly life. If you want to read more, check out Psalm 15, which is all about the lifestyle that people who can enter God's presence have. Verse 4 directly applies to keeping our commitments. Also, Matthew 25 is a great example of what happens to those who don't plan and prepare--who make enough time to get ready.

Don't give up until you stand in your victory! Timeliness is something you can have in your life. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

So Blessed

Today was such a good day!

Peter and I got to spend a little bit of time together this morning.
My devotion time was good!
I worked and actually felt like I accomplished a little bit (even though I have a crazy boatload of stuff to do yet).
I made dinner (shout out for NOT doing fast food! Score!).
I got to make this adorable jello jiggler treat for some of the WorshipArts students.
I was able to spend some time praying and drawing based from Psalm 19--I really love how it turned out too! Art with Jesus is the best.
I sang with one of the Horizon teams tonight. I love worshiping God with my voice!
I was blessed with a super edifying conversation with a woman of God I respect.

I am so stinking blessed to be surrounded with His presence. Everything I get to do is focus on Jesus--blessing my husband, spending time with Him, my job, serving my husband with meals, making treats for my brothers & sister in Christ, art with Jesus, worshiping Him, being built up by another sister in Christ...even writing this is honoring the gifts He's given me and the desire in my heart to write!

I want to have this perspective even when my days aren't full of directly Christ-centered activities.

But I sure am overwhelmingly blessed in this season of my life. Seriously people. Focus on all God's given you--it does wonders for your attitude!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentines

Peter and I celebrated our love for each other and our awesome marriage with a Valentine's Date tonight!

Chessex Megamat
I had been planning and plotting for over a month now to get Peter a chessex megamat. For those non-board-game-geeks out there, it is a blank grid mat that you can use special markers on to create your own board games (or use with complicated games that others have created). I got him a reversible one with square and hexagons and let me tell you--he was super surprised! I don't know how many times he said "This is the best thing you could get me!" I can't wait to see him relax and create all sorts of fun new board games in the coming months with it. It was a success, for sure!

Dinner at Martell's
Peter took me out to one of the Millennium Group restaurants we had never been to--Martell's! It was such a fun, romantic experience. The atmosphere was unique for Kalamazoo--actually, it reminded me a little bit of restaurants I went to in England. And let me tell you--the food was superb! I got the almond crusted walleye with creamy mashed potatoes and veggies...so good. Tonight happened to be their new pastry chef's first night, and we got his amazing lemon cheesecake topped with strawberries. I'm salivating just remembering it! And kudos to the manger--he honored our 40% off coupon from seeing it on our phone, even though he didn't need to, saving us a trip back home to print it!

I love our conversations. We truly are best friends, and it was so much fun to talk about everything together, from the recent things we've seen on Facebook to politics, tax credits, the stock market, Dave Ramsey, our future house, our upcoming trips, and so much more.

The Castle Game
Then we came home and played The Castle together. I don't know what my problem is, but I do pretty good at staying neck and neck with him until about halfway through the game and then I just get stuck as he flies ahead. It was still a ton of fun though!

As I began writing this, he was sitting beside me strumming out unique and interesting melodies on the acoustic guitar, and now I believe he is dozing next to me. I am overcome with love...what an honor to be the wife to such a loving, fun, kind, handsome amazing man! I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with Peter Webb! Truly, God has blessed me more than I could ever deserve our earn. I love His extravagant favor and generosity! Thank you Lord for giving me such a blessed life.

What are you doing to celebrate life and love this week? What are you thankful for?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Victories!

via
Something is moving. Something is changing. It's Heaven on Earth, my friends--God's Kingdom on earth NOW as it is in even, as Jesus called us to pray!

I was brought to tears today when I was getting caught up on the WorshipArts devotional blog. I'm starting to tear up again as I write this. God stopped me in my tracks. This is not a job to take for granted or treat just as work. This is a true ministry and God is moving in powerful ways. People's lives are being changed--and God is using me, and especially my husband, as a venue to call people into deeper relationship with Him.

I almost didn't write this post. I don't want to toot our own horn. This isn't about us and "our" ministry. This is about what God is doing. Similar to Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:12 (Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart.), I want you to know this is coming from a sincere heart in awe of how God is moving.

WorshipArts focus is personal devotion this year. It's about cultivating a secret place with God through faithful and daily prayer, scripture reading, and worship. Check out what some of the students (ages 13-18, mind you!) have said:

"My bible reading went really well this last week. i had trouble putting my bible down! God really showed me how this week, through my bible reading, just how much he loves me. i mean, I've always known that God loves me, but i really never realized just how MUCH he loves me."

"For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am chasing after God, and he just might not be running away from me." 
"First off, I've been working on [reading the Bible & praying everyday for a week] for this week and even though I haven't done the full seven days yet I'm just going to say that I'm not stopping after seven days! It's been an eye opening experience for me. Just a week or two I was complaining that all I got from God was static, and then I started [reading and praying everyday]. For the past week I've been in between excited that God spoke to me, and trying not to freak out over what He told me." 
"I have applied the 7 days longer prayer time and woah God spoke in my life just because i have been making time for him. IT ROCKS to put it simply" 
"The deeper I let God fill me in my secret place with Jesus, is the more I am able to pour out...I'm definately not the woman I was before; but I'm also definately not the women whom I was born to be. But I know that the secret place with God is continuing to draw me closer."

"Prayer has brought so much peace and certainty in my life, during this past week or two. I used to struggle with prayer, I felt distant...listening to what God has to say, has helped me praise Him in spirit and in truth. Now I can hear. Words can't describe how much of a blessing it has been."
If you've been struggling with putting God first, stand in the power of these testimonies! These youth are winning battles and victories for God's kingdom and they are plowing the way for us to stand in greater victory in our own lives! Press in my friends, press in!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Living and Active

The Word of God is living and active, sharper than a two-edge sword, dividing soul and Spirit. Living and active...do you believe it? I had an awesome moment today where I was reminded yet again God's Word is powerful and so much more than a big book with lots of pages.

Peter and I both have loose, similar schedules for reading the Bible. It's a pretty cool, simple system that I should share with you at some point, and it provides stability and direction for our personal times of devotion. It also puts us on "the same page" so we can talk about what God has shown us later on in our day and week.

This morning Peter and I had a few moments together in the car before we began our day, and Peter popped in a podcast he had been chewing on this week to share with me.  Damon Thompson's passionate preaching boomed though on the topic of the fear of the Lord, and he went to this passage in scripture full of power and revelation. As he was sharing the verse, Peter mentioned to me that he had just stumbled upon the exact same passage before he had heard the message. Then, as I was listening, I realized I too had just read that part of scripture in the past weeks. As we were talking, we realized we had even highlighted some of the same verses.

And then it struck us--this wasn't even close to our reading schedule! Wow. How amazing is our God? Not only did he put time into our lives for us to be encouraged though the podcast together, but he worked in our hearts and led us to the same chapter on His own time. Then on top of that, to prove again to us that He is God, all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, He drew our hearts to the same verses as a confirmation that we both follow His leading and are in the correct place and season in our lives. Amazing.

So, what was the passage? 2 Corinthians 5:11-20.


Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, 
we work hard to persuade others. 
God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.

Are we commending ourselves to you again? 
No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, 
so you can answer those who brag about 
having a spectacular ministry 
rather than having a sincere heart.

If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. 
And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.

Either way, Christ's love controls us. 
Since we believe that Christ died for all, 
we also believe that we have all died to our old life.

He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. 
Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. 
At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. 
How differently we know him now!

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. 
The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

And all of this is a gift from God, 
who brought us back to himself through Christ. 
And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, 
no longer counting people's sins against them. 
And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

So we are Christ's ambassadors; 
God is making his appeal through us. 
We speak for Christ when we plead, 
"Come back to God!"


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beautiful Surprise

For some reason, we struggle we getting to the grocery store. I really don't prefer to go on my own because I tend to deliberate over the prices for much too long and I get distracted with "oh, that would be nice"'s that I don't end up buying anyways. Peter doesn't like going because...well, it takes so long and he'd rather go buy in bulk do we can last a month anyways! =)

So last week we planned to go Monday, it was put off until Tuesday and that day filled up, so it skipped our insanely packed Wednesday and finally the deed settled on Thursday. (It truly is amazing how long you can stretch your food out with just two people!)

The one catch is I work all day Thursday--so my hero saved the day (and our pantry) and tackled the task. I was bragging on him at work to the other ladies (because it truly is a blessing to have a man willing to grocery shop now and then), simply thankful that I didn't have that chore to do. Work went on, and he called me on his way to pick me up. We talked as I finished closing up the office, thankful to be the best of friends. I didn't notice he had entered the building until he turned the corner, still on the phone--holding a gorgeous bouquet of a dozen pink roses!!! I was stunned and so blessed that he bought me flowers "just because." (And beautiful, amazing smelling ones to boot!)

Today, I am so thankful to have the best husband in the world standing by my side, doing life with me every day. What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Winter Ramp Georgia 2011

This past weekend Peter, myself, and thirty-five others encountered God is powerful and life-changing ways at Winter Ramp 2011 in Dalton, Georgia.

I was overwhelmed by God's love and the power of passionately pursuing Christ. Honestly, so much happened and I feel like I am still digesting everything I received! I plan to write more in depth about the sessions, who featured well known speakers and leaders Perry Stone, Damon Thompson, Karen Wheaton, Dutch Sheets, and Chosen (an amazing ministry team). I also hope to share about some new worship leaders who shepherded encounters that I had with Christ with wisdom, joy and passion--Catherine Mullens, Bryn Waddell, and Rick Pino.

There were two themes that stuck out to me throughout this event. First, that we truly serve One Lord--the One True God. Even though the ministry of the Ramp was full of speakers I had never heard of, that probably were not at all connected with the stream of ministers and focuses I grew up on, the themes were the same. For example, Rick Pino spent his first worship set completely focused on tearing down the spirit of orphans and slaves and coming into our identity as sons and daughters. His message was that of the Father Heart, the core of the Toronto Blessing, which was so clear as they sang "Abba, Abba" over and over. The intimacy of Jesus and love for Him was another huge focus (which I've seen greatly in the IHOP stream) and the power of the Holy Spirit and miracles (a major theme at Bethel in CA) was also evident. And just like the Awakening Jesus Culture Conference earlier this year, Winter Ramp was all about getting youth zealous with a honed goal of spreading Christ and His life-changing power everywhere we go. Truly, He is one Big God and He moves consistently among His children, no matter where they are or who they know.

The other major focus of Winter Ramp was the utmost importance of developing and maintaining your own personal prayer life with God. Without it, you are dried up and you choose to limit how much God can do in your life by not letting Him in faithfully. I hope to write about this more in depth soon, because God has been doing lots in my life in this area!


If you're interested in a play-by-play of Winter Ramp Georgia (December 29th-31st, 2011), you can check out my husband's blog (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3).
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