Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ted Dekker

Did you know Ted Dekker's new book is out? It is. And you should be reading it. Because it's creepy and wonderful and officially my book of the week. ENJOY!

Suicide by sugar

Question asked? Are you going to stop all this not eating sugar nonsense in the new year?

Answer? No. I'm not going to stop. I'm never eating or drinking sugar again. Ever. As far as I can tell at least.

In fact right this minute I'm reading Nancy Appleton's book Suicide by Sugar and I'm convinced all over again it's no good.

As always, my opinion only. You don't have to give up sugar. I won't be mad if you eat a whole carton of ice cream right in front of me and I won't condemn you for doing so. Ever. But for me? Well, sugar's not for me :) Not in 2009 and not in 2010 either.

The kind solace of Surrender

Solace: something that gives comfort, consolation, or relief

I would really like to write a lengthy post tonight about spiritual victories I've had recently. I'd love to write about the power of God to transform one life solely dedicated to Him and dependent on His leading. I'd LOVE to tell you how my life has perfectly portrayed Him as of late and how much He must love having me as His child. I could probably make some stuff up that would sound really good to go with it too, but, sigh, it wouldn't be true. None of it.

Don't get me wrong-God is working in my life. Painstakingly (for me) He is at work. But, I'm kind of a now person. I want to have it all together like right this minute and then I want to keep it together forever. It drives me absolutely nuts that I cannot achieve spiritual perfection and complete holiness this side of the pearly gates. Not that I'm anywhere close! I want some kind of a measuring device. "Today you are 80% holy. Maybe tomorrow you could try for 85." And the scary thing is....I WOULD! I'd be excellent at works theology. I like to work! Humanity! SO FRUSTRATING!!!!

Maybe it's that Sunday I had the best day I've had in forever. Maybe I'm just more aware of a lot of things. And maybe it's just that I've had a string of really dumb things happen this week all orchestrated by yours truly. Just today I cannot believe some of the stupid things I have heard come out of my mouth. Unbelievable. I don't know that I have the gift of helps, but I like to help and it's my prayer especially on the weekends that God would use me to help, not make things worse. And I swear at the end of the last 2 days, and I promise by the end of today it's like I can hear God saying, "I gave you the chance. That wasn't helpful!" ARGH!

I think if I were writing the Bible I would write this-"Dear Sheep. Don't be stupid. Don't say dumb stuff and don't do anything that hurts my name or my image or my people. I've given you everything you need to be just like me. Don't blow it. No really, don't." Love, Jesus

Ah, but the power of grace. God was not taken by surprise when Adam and Eve blew it and I certainly don't think He falls off His throne when I don't look, act, or talk like Him even a million times a day. That's not an excuse to act stupid, but I do think sometimes we have to offer ourselves the grace that He does. We cannot wallow in our stupidity or our sin. We have to ask God to forgive us for those moments when we act like we're made in image of anyone but Christ and thank him for new mercies every day.

Someone asked me the other day a question I asked not so long ago. "How do you know you're on track with the Lord?" I told her the only thing I knew to say. "When you do something or say something that you know has no resemblance to Christ and it hurts your heart." I told her I think it's really dangerous to have that same scenario and not care.

So if there's any redeeming value of late it's that I do care, a lot. It's breaking my heart that God did everything for me and I can't make it 24 hours without acting like a wayward disciple! And I'm praying the next time I do or say something that's completely ludicrous God would remind me of this feeling and stop me-PLEASE!

We can find our solace in Him by surrendering to Him. Our lives, our wills, our emotions, our words, our choices, our hearts, our hopes, our dreams, our fears, our discouragements, and our humanity. He has big enough shoulders and a mighty heart that encompasses every misstep we can dream of taking.

And He's with us on the journey. Not just here, but for all of eternity.

Lord, thank you that when we are nothing like you, you do not see us as we are, but what you've created us to be.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I'm not really very good at New Year's Resolutions. It seems daunting to decide on a random day to change everything starting immediately, but that's just me. I do try to focus on some specific things each year and this year my list is as follows:

-To be more responsible with my relationship with the Lord. To not just see Him as an accessory to some life I have planned, but to make my time with Him the first priority. And to find some solid accountability with fellow believers that will help me stick to my resolutions. To take the spiritual opportunities around me seriously and trust the Lord to meet my spiritual needs in His way even if it doesn't seem especially traditional.

-To take better care of this temple. Continue with no sugar, no flour, no fried food. Work out, eat well, sleep some and not just drink coffee :)

And that's it! Simple, to the point, and the most important things I can think of right now. I love the promise of a new year and thankful that we can begin again all the time with the Lord. New mercies to you every day and in the new year too.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Book Club

The book club resumes January 1st! Wanted to give you the heads up on our first 2 titles. As promised there will now be a fiction and non-fiction title each month. I may review them both as part of the Tuesday book review, but more than likely just the non-fiction. Feel free to read one or both or none! And be sure to get your comments into me by January 31st.

Just a reminder-the book club is not simply "Books Brenda loves." I really try to incorporate books that will attract the most people which is why we don't read Brennen Manning, Robert Benson and Henri Nouwen every month (BUT WE SHOULD!). Ha! So if you don't like this month check back. They are not all the same genre of books. I love to read books with people so this is a great way for me to read with some of my favorite "friends." Join us if you want to!

We are reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett for the fiction selection.

And we are reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis for the Non-fiction.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2009

I know it seems like the holidays come and go quickly every year, but for some reason this year they seem especially fast. I hate that you almost can't help but miss the reason for the season with all the chaos everywhere. I do however love that even people claiming to be atheists find themselves humming "Silent Night" this time of year. I know I usually have some cute top 10 list for the year or at least a cute picture of the pups for the Christmas card. Not this year. Fail on all counts! I've written exactly one Christmas card, I'm too tired to think of 10 interesting things that happened this year and the dogs don't honestly want to wear Santa hats I'm sure. So, you're stuck with me and just a regular Christmas letter. Ha!

I'm sure this year had some funny moments. I can almost guarantee it had some embarrassing ones. There were some hard moments and difficult circumstances. There were opportunities for rest and some sleepless nights. A balanced mix of joy and sorrow. You know-a regular life. But as I've thought back over this year in the past few days the resounding theme has been the faithfulness of God. I can't get past it and there's nothing else I'd rather write about. I would not be surprised if I will return to 2009 the rest of my life as a significant turning point with the Lord. And He for sure deserves all the credit.

I still stand in amazement at how things have unfolded. I can't really put my finger on why it suddenly became a panicked priority to get seriously back on track with the Lord at whatever cost, but it was. I can't explain why suddenly I had to go to church again. I can't explain why after not going to church for several years I just wanted to sit on the floor and cry when I couldn't be there. I don't know why I had to have a Bible Study at my house even if I was the only one who came. I don't know why it didn't matter what I had to do-I had to find Him.

The only thing I do know? He never let's go.

I just cannot believe what had to fall into place in order for me to stand spiritually where I am today (and not that I've arrived in any way!). That God has been reinstated into the forefront of my life is in itself a great gift from His gracious hand. It makes me want to cry that even when I felt so far removed from the body of Christ, He was putting people and circumstances into place that would line up perfectly when my heart was willing to surrender. I could give you 100 examples. I'll spare you, but trust me-it's amazing!

I'm thankful for:

-A church that I just about literally have to break my neck to get to on Sunday mornings and that there's nowhere else I'd rather be.

-People who love the Lord and are walking, talking examples of what it means to truly live for Him. People who are further down the road with the Lord. People who's lives are echoing, "He can be trusted." Not perfect people-just people in love with a perfect God.

-A year of many, many lessons most of which will continue into next year along with some new ones I'm sure.

-That God never, ever gives up on us. When we are His, he will forever call to us, He will forever draw us to Himself, and He will love us in the process.

This Christmas I could care less if I get one gift or one card or one Christmas hug even though I love all those things. I have already found everything I need and more in new and different ways this year. The true gift of Christmas started in a manger, hung on a cross and sits at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. It's more than enough that He volunteered to be our Savior. May you experience His transforming love this season and make Him also Lord of your life.

Merry Christmas!
Brenda, Odyssey, Ella, and Shine

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thomas Nelson Blog-Jesus Lives

Sarah Young has been one of my favorites for a very long time. I love the way she brings Jesus into a conversation with her readers and makes you feel like He's speaking just to you. Just about everyone I know has read Jesus Calling more than once. I've gotten it as a gift more than once and each time read it from cover to cover. This year I'm giving Jesus Lives to almost everyone on my Christmas list. From beginning to end it radiates the heart of Christ to His creation whether joyful, hurting, or worshipping. It's been amazing to me how the devotion of the day so lines up with the circumstances of my life. I would and have recommended it to many friends and I will again. Great Book!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rock Star

I love probably more than anything else in life really deep spiritually meaningful conversations that I can just think about for days and days. I love the well timed moments of the Lord when just the right person will come along with just the right question and you know that the Lord is in the midst.

It has done my soul much good to have had at least 3 of these conversations in the past week. It wouldn't be fair to the people I have had them with to list details here and I certainly don't want all of cyberspace to know the deepest questions of my soul, but I'll just say they were some of the most spiritually satisfying moments of my life and I'm grateful for each one of them.

And it got me thinking. God is in the questions. In the middle of the night when sleep won't come because life is hazy and overwhelming God is near. When situations arise where words won't come because they'd never do it justice, God is in the silence. When life just makes us want to scream at the top of our lungs that it's not fair-God is louder than the anguished cries of our hearts. When we're afraid that we've missed our purpose, taken a wrong turn, or are more lost than we've ever felt before-God is the map that is forever pointing us back home to Him.

And maybe we're not called to be the Rock Star of our stories. Maybe we're called to be the stage hand in the story called A Life Redeemed starring the only One who could make it happen-Jesus Himself. And maybe stressing about every costume change and every minute of the play is taking our attention off the main performance. Believe me when I say I'm telling myself this today as much as you. THE STORY IS WRITTEN. The plot was laid down as finalized long before the foundation of the world. We are fulfilling our roles but the purposes of the Lord cannot be thwarted even by ourselves.

This has been my prayer for years: "Lord, please don't let me do anything that would make you have to find someone else to fulfill your call on my life." It scares me to death that God would reach the point of frustration in my disobedience that He would ultimately have no choice but to give up, not on me, but on what He planned for me to do. He cannot wait forever. What He has ordained to accomplish must be completed on the eternal continuum. I like to comfort myself by saying what little things I'm doing really don't make any difference, but I feel certain they do.

And I have a feeling when we get to Heaven we'll find that it wasn't the showstopping events that changed the course of all history. It was the 45 minutes we met someone for coffee and shared all that the Lord is doing when we don't have 5 minutes to spare that jump started some one's life with enough faith to take the next step. It's the moment of vulnerability shared that conquers our fear of failure and the insistence on perfection. It's the being out of control on occasion that reminds those around us that God really is in control. Human weakness is the perfect canvas for God's strength to shine through.

We very well may leave this Earth having the same questions we arrived with. I'm so thankful that if some things never ever make sense on this Earth, I still know the Answer. One day when all things are made known, and we see Him as He really is we'll know we could have trusted him in total faith every minute of our whole lives. Let's not wait until then. Let's let Him be the star of this show today.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Grown Up Christmas List

My family has always done Christmas well. We always knew the real meaning of the holidays but we also knew how to celebrate! There's nothing like a huge pile of gifts from people who are the absolute best at picking out the perfect present. We always spent Christmas at grandma's as a child and now we're spread out all over so it's not the same, but I still love the holidays. I love how everyone has traditions. We always had amazing food Christmas Eve and woke up early to open gifts followed by the best homemade cinnamon rolls. And I loved how you could just take the day to watch new movies, play with new toys and read new books. I always asked for lots of books and can remember the excitement over which one to read first! Yes, I'm a nerd :)

So what's on my Christmas list this year? This is the list that went to my mom who by the way is an excellent shopper. She's been known to take a list, go on-line, click click click and Christmas morning you have everything you asked for. LOVE THAT! Ha!

-The extra large bottles of Grace by Philosophy-body wash, perfume and lotion. I love philosophy. They have quotes on their bottles. Quotes! And it smells amazing. What's not to love. Hint: If you ever order any, go to the philosophy website and decide what you want and then go to QVC to order it. They have much better pricing and great gift packs.

-The movie Julie and Julia since I still haven't seen it! And I can't wait to own The Blind Side. If you haven't seen it run, don't walk to the theater. Awesome.

-John Mayer's new CD.

-The new red bake ware from Crate and Barrel. No, I don't cook but I like to be surrounded by cool kitchen stuff in case the mood ever strikes me. Ha!

-The new Nautical heels from Sperry. Tan snakeskin. Adorable and exactly what I think snakes should be made into-cute shoes. And the dark brown and light brown sperrys with brown laces. And the new 5 inch spike black heels with a pink bow from Kristin Davis. I heart shoes :)

-I'm getting a new DVR for the TV in my bedroom. I have a love hate relationship with TV and don't be surprised if by mid-January I'm cancelling it. I find TV overall a total waste of time, but I do like to listen to the news when I get ready. We'll see.

-Starbucks gift cards-shocking I know.

-a magic bullet to make smoothies and salsa

-Compendium journals-also my favorite

-Hue Pajamas

-Several books

-A Steam Mop

-A Vera Bradley area rug for my closet. Yes my closet is big enough to require an area rug. I built it just like that :)

And a partridge in a pear tree.

Unto Us

I'm so thankful to live in a time after Jesus came to save the world from sin. I love the Old Testament, but one - I'm not so big on killing animals for any reason and two - I don't do a great job of keeping up with my sin as it is. I suppose growing up in that culture we would have had a better understanding of traditions and sacrifices. Without Jesus as an intercessor they must have had great respect for the Lord. It is interesting to study, but I think it would have been awfully difficult to live.

And most of the Old Testament does not make me wish I had been there. I love the stories of Esther and Deborah and Jeremiah and David and on and on and on, but the circumstances surrounding what made them famous would not have been terribly enjoyable.

As the New Testament opens though, I really wish I had been there. And if I could have I think I would have chosen to be an occupant in the Inn where Joseph and Mary stopped to deliver the Savior into the world. I like to think the night would have just felt different. Maybe the stars were brighter. Maybe the air outside was filled with anticipation that something wonderful was about to happen. Maybe as Jesus came into the world and took His first breath on the planet He had come to save, the demons physically shuddered. He was here.

Maybe as the other occupants of the Inn went for the continental breakfast (?) the next morning they heard the soft whimper of a newborn baby and stopped to say hello. Did they see something eternal in his eyes? Sure he looked like any other baby, but was there something so different about Him that people stopped to ponder what it might be? Was Mary even then wondering how someone so human could protect, nurture and care for someone so divine?

I love this time of year. It's always slightly amusing to me to hear people who the rest of the year give no thought to Jesus worship Him with the songs they sing. I was sitting in Starbucks the other day where usually overhead is playing songs with weird messages, cussing and hopelessness and had to smile when Christ the Savior is Born came on. The guy at the next table over wearing a t-shirt depicting Buddha smoking marijuana was singing along! I loved it.

This is His season. This is when those of us who have loved Him all year stop to remember that the gift in the manger still lives within those of us who believe in Him. We worship Him as one who has come and is coming again. Bethlehem is as much a heart place as a geographical location. And it's a time for those who never give thought to Him the rest of the year to be confronted by His amazing beginning at every turn.

Unto us is born.......A Savior.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Love Me

I know so many people lately who are mourning the death of an infant. Those who have lost people they loved before their lives began. Some are celebrating significant anniversaries even this week which seems doubly unfair with the holidays around the corner. Some are preparing for new arrivals while still in mourning over those who have gone. It's a hard time of year for many people. I love this poem and praying it brings some small measure of comfort that our purpose is not limited to days on the Earth but by the impact we leave behind.

Love Me

Once upon a special day in Heaven up above, the tiniest souls sat at God's feet, surrounded by His love. ‘The time is coming, very soon’, God said, ‘Do not be scared. Your family awaits your arrival, now let us get prepared’.

And so God looked upon these souls, in mute consideration. He knew the life each one would live, He weighed each situation.

The souls chatted amongst themselves, and wondered who they'd be. They knew the day grew closer; soon, they'd meet their family.

How would you like to change the world?’ God asked each soul in fun. The chance to change a soul, a heart, is held by only one.

‘I'm going to make the world laugh’, one soul said with a smile, ‘for laughter heals a broken heart, and helps us through each trial’.

‘Then take with you the brightest smile, and share your laughter well’. The soul thanked God immensely, and down to earth he fell.

‘And I'll remind the world to sing’, a sweet little soul told the Lord. ‘I have the gift of a beautiful voice; I can hit every note and every chord’.

‘You’ll have the gift of music then, a voice, lovely and strong. Share your gift with others, and let them hear your song’.

‘I will show compassion’, the next little soul raised her hand. ‘Some people only need a friend, someone to understand’.

‘Compassion is a good thing’, God said with much delight. ‘To you, I will give mercy. You'll perceive wrong from right’.

And so each soul shared every thought, their plans, their hopes, their dreams. And God explained that life, it is, much harder than it seems.

And as each soul began to leave in a scurry of laughter and fun, Heaven became quiet and still, for left was only one.

‘Come sit with Me my little child’, God said with just a sigh. ‘Do you know how many you will touch, in a world left wondering why? Before your life comes to an end, you will know much strife, but you'll teach those who know you, to cherish the smallest things in life.

'And some may only know you through a simple photograph, they'll never hold you in their arms, or memorize your laugh. Some may only know you through the words they read each day, but you'll do something wonderful, you'll make them stop and pray’.

The tiniest soul raised her head up, to touch God's firm, strong hand. ‘Father, I am ready for the life that you have planned. And I will do the best I can without a word or deed. For you Lord, are the planter, and I will be Your seed’.

She could already hear many praying, and although they had not seen her face, they were praying for her safe arrival, they were asking for mercy and grace.

‘What talent do I leave with Lord? What gift do You impart?’
‘All that you will need’, God said, ‘I've placed within your heart’.

And so God kissed this tiny child, knowing all that she would be, and whispered as He watched her go...'You'll teach them . . . to love Me'.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Those of you who get the blog e-mailed automatically to you just got the unedited version. oops! Forgive the typo's! It's been corrected for those of you who read it at Wrong button :)


So, you wouldn't know it from looking at my day planner or peering into my life, but I really do love a good adventure. In my life in recent years I find an uninterrupted hour to read a book a luxury which is sad really. I used to dream of traveling to Figi by myself to explore the island and laying by the beach. I've always wanted to spend a month in solitude at an ashram in India to search for the meaning of life and develop a wonderful life map that I could follow to the letter. Strange but both true! And you never know. I might just do both one day.

I went to a Methodist college that really preferred that their students were........well, Methodist! And I went to the Methodist church. Twice. Nothing against the Methodist church, but it wasn't for me. Then I spent the next year at a Christian church which was like a motivational speech every Sunday. It was great as long as you didn't need a sermon about sin or anything in any way controversial. I always left feeling like I was better than I was and in some twisted way like Jesus didn't deserve me. Heaven help us!

So after my freshman year all of my friends continued to go to the feel better about yourself sermonette church and I just decided that wasn't going to work for me. I had promised myself one thing going into college and that was that I would not reject anything without researching it for myself. I cannot stand when people have opinions about things they know nothing about. I promised I would not adopt someone else's mindset as my own until I discovered it for myself.

Now I was saved at this point so it's not like I decided to try Buddhism for myself. I had good solid theology, but I was just fed up with the denominational borders with "do not cross" yellow tape. I believed and I still believe in The Body of Christ as a unified entity.

I flipped through the phone book and decided the first church that sounded interesting would be the one for me. Enter a 3 year experience of Bethel Harvest Church. Their byline in the phone book was "We're anointed to make you uncomfortable." PERFECT! I needed to get out of my comfort zone.

I'll tell you, looking back God was strategically working in my life at that time. I have always had a really hard time getting salvation from my head to my heart and the supernatural cannot just live in your head. I was at a place especially then that if Jesus didn't move into my heart for real we were going to be in big trouble.

Once I saw the ad in the phone book I knew two things-I knew I had to go at least once and I knew I had to go by myself. And I did. Looking back I think it's hilarious what we think things we know nothing about are going to be like. I think I jumped every time someone talked to me like I was expecting them to push me over! I was surprised at how normal the people were! We sang songs and the pastor preached and a bunch of people went to the alter for prayer and it was over. And I left in tears. I still cannot tell you exactly what it was but I knew in that moment like never before that Jesus was really real. It didn't matter that I was there by myself. It didn't matter what I dressed like or what shoes I was wearing. No one noticed. They had come to worship the living God and worship they did! It was SUCH a difference from the church I had been in for a year.

I came back to my dorm room and my roommate at the time said, "Where have you been?" I said, "church, why?" She said, "I don't know. You look peaceful." And I was. The next morning as we were getting ready she said, "spill it." I said, "spill what." "Church." I told her there was nothing to tell, but she insisted. So, I told her about the church and she said, "I'll go with you next Sunday." I didn't really think that was such a good idea. I wasn't so sure weird things weren't going to happen there, but she insisted and so we went together the next Sunday. And she left in tears. Eventually 8 of my friends and I went to Bethel Harvest Church for 3 years and I've never been the same.

Now, to be fair, the first Sunday may have been a little bit misleading. It definitely had it's moments of weirdness from there. It took a little getting used to finding myself smack dab in the middle of the gifts of the Spirit having grown up without much mention of them. But I really learned to appreciate the way other people worshipped. Especially toward the end of my time in Kentucky I had zero idea of what I was going to do or where I was going to go from there and I cannot tell you what a difference it made to my faith to have people there praying for me and with me great believing prayers. I hold those 3 years in my heart as some of the most important years of my faith journey.

Above everything else I respect the Lord. I have great holy fear for his power and position. I do not take for granted the dichotomy that he is Perfectly Holy and yet calls me His friend. I am on my very best day totally unworthy. And I believe in the church running decently and in order in accordance with scripture absolutely. But I also believe God is looking for true worshippers. People who are not ashamed to really love him whatever that looks like to you. I'm not really a weep at the alter kind of person, but I know people that are and I think that's wonderful. I've seen some amazing transformations come from time spent at the alter of the Lord and I've seen people go up there apparently for show and leave exactly the same.

I think some of charismatic tradition is a little too emotional. I think Jesus comes just as powerfully to the people wailing as he does for those whispering, "I need you now." He inhabits the praises of His people. But if you like to worship loudly I say go for it. If you like to worship quietly I say go for it. I have experienced both and I find them both amazingly comforting. I did not become a convert to the charismatic tradition necessarily by spending time there, but I did learn to appreciate that Jesus does not always come in the ways we expect him, but he always comes when we call.

I can't say that I didn't wonder to myself on several occasions, "What in the world was that?" I don't really understand all of what they do or how they do it. I think it would take a lot for me to get so caught up in the emotion of something that I'd fall on the floor. But, hey, whatever works for you! But I will tell you that the spirit filled sermons coming from the heart of a pastor that believed that Jesus was here to change you into his image-like now-were some of the most powerful I've ever heard and they changed my life forever. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss that church every Sunday morning for years. I missed the connection of people that not only would pray with you but believe with you. Big prayers. Powerful prayers. Relocating from that church was very lonely for a long time. And even though I've moved on I still wish sometimes that I could just fly in for the worship every once in awhile.

I don't think it was God's intention for me to stay at that church for the rest of my life. My time there was immediately followed by a serious valley and spiritual drought. That time taught me that we cannot live in the emotion of God because you will find yourself feeling abandoned when you leave that environment. They also were important years in the formation of my faith and learning to trust God for what I know Him to be and not just for the feelings that accompany faith. But it certainly was nice sometimes when I felt spiritually weak to be surrounded by people so passionate about their faith.

I am now in a church with a group of people that I believe with all my heart truly love the Lord. It is not a charismatic church. The sermons are straight from the word of God and they are changing my life every time I'm there. I was stressed to the max walking into church this morning and I found the peace of God to be very real. In a hug, in a kind word and most importantly from the Word of God itself. It is a church founded and sustained on the truth of scripture, solid theology and guidance from the Bible. I feel as much at home there in this season of my life as I did at Bethel Harvest Church in college. For everything there is a season.

I don't remember there being a lot of emotion at church this morning. The singing was good. The message was powerful. The people were friendly. And ironically, I left with tears in my eyes so grateful to have spent time with the Lord. I loved Bethel Harvest Church and I love Covenant Baptist Church. Equally powerful. Equally life changing. People who equally are in love with their Savior. They may express themselves differently at times, but they are both filled to the brim with sinners acknowledging in whatever way they choose that they are in need of a Savior. I appreciate the different worship styles of people and am thankful that we live in a country with enough religious freedom that we can worship openly in whatever way we choose.

Those people today around the world huddled in a corner with a single torn page of scripture that had to be smuggled in at the risk of death have a lot to teach our spoiled country about denominational disagreements. I'm not saying charismatic people have it all right and I'm not saying baptists do everything right. But they don't have it all wrong either. We need to look deeper into the hearts of those worshipping and not strictly on the way their worship is expressed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Because I love them

Thomas Nelson Book Review-Sacred Meal

I just finished the book The Sacred Meal by Sara Gallagher. Awesome. I am totally loving the ancient practices series. I have had my eyes opened more than once to how important Christianity is from long ago until today. We are part of a bigger family, a greater circle, and a more important life than just our own. She says in this book "to engage in a spiritual practice is to show up and not get attached to the outcome." In other words, we don't love God because of what He does for us. We love Him because He's God and He loved us first. "Holy communion was a web, a web of people who were being stitched together."
I liked that she talked about communion being done in community. It really isn't meant to be done alone from the preparation to the taking of communion to the afterward we are called to fellowship with one another. "When we all show up and do our parts, we are the sacrament, the body of Christ. Do this to remember me. Do this to remember who you were with me. Do this to remember who you are."
I sometimes wonder why we make some parts of Christianity so hard. "Why is it that I have to be dragged, kicking and screaming into paradise?" I wonder that myself sometimes. And I wonder why it's so hard to stay connected to fellow believers. This quote hit me over the head. "If you break all the covenants: if you travel too far from what is balanced and sane, you just go over the edge." Ouch.
I like that she referred to communion as opening our hands and trusting God to fill them with what He wants to.
"Christ is everywhere, especially in bread and wine, where, as Luther says, he binds himself and us to each other."
Great and important read!

Thankful Thursday

I'm not a huge holiday person. I think it's fun to get together with people, but I usually don't. I think it's fun to eat good food and laugh about years gone by but I don't usually do that either. I like to be in the midst of endless chatter and people everywhere in various stages of conversations, football, reading, and nap times, but you won't usually find me anywhere near there. One of my friends said the other day, "I like to work on the holidays. It's less lonely." I totally get that. I've been thinking about that a lot and even though my grandparents are here for Thanksgiving this year the feelings are the same.

I think holidays are for families and when you reach an age that you are too old really to be a part of the family you were born into and don't have a family really to call your own, you don't fit. It's nobody's fault. It's not my fault for not being married with children by the age of 30 like most of the people around me. It's not their fault that they have followed a more normal path to social acceptance. And as an aside the next person to tell me that getting married and having children will make things less awkward for them is going to get punched in the face. I digress.

Someone who obviously doesn't know me very well said to me the other day, "I so admire your relationship with the Lord. You depend on Him and you love Him always." I seriously looked behind me to see who she was talking to. I appreciate that she thought that and it was such a compliment, but it wasn't exactly accurate. 99.99999% of the time I feel like a revolving prodigal on the carousel of life holding on tight but fully expecting to get thrown off the ride!

But I will say this. Whatever our relationship with the Lord looks like at the moment is in part directly parallel to what we have experienced up to this point. I suppose I do depend on the Lord differently than some. I don't have anyone else! I suppose I do love Him always. He really is the constant in my life.

And we've hit some rough waters in recent months. I don't know what He's doing in this life and I'm not always so happy about it. I think having VERY unpredictable and limited Christian fellowship is way worse then it was to not have any. I'm frustrated and sad that the road in a lot of ways is seeming uphill lately. For everything there is a season............

So this Thanksgiving I'm thankful for the day. For the chance to curl up on the couch with my 2 wonderful puppies and bask in their unconditional love for me. To share dinner with my grandparents and listen to my grandfather go on and on about how he would never dream of giving up sugar when it's time for dessert. To finish some books and watch a movie and with any luck go to bed early.

And to take a few moments to be still before the Lord. To remember again that these days of my life were planned before the foundation of the world and nothing takes Him by surprise. To remember that it's okay to question Him, to doubt Him, but not to lose trust in Him for no one could love me like He does. There isn't a person on this earth that would voluntarily get on a cross and suffer and die so that today I can say, "there is now no condemnation."

I'm thankful for a relational God that did not set the world in motion and then go on a 1000 year coffee break. He's involved. He's present. And He asks the same from us. Be here. Show up for your life. He's doing great things that we are missing every moment. I'm thankful for the reminder to see the big picture and not get so wrapped up in the details that life becomes overwhelming.

And I'm thankful that if we die having ONLY had a relationship with Jesus-no friends, no family, no spouse, no children-we will die blessed. The rest is just icing on the proverbial cake. He promises that no matter what He is enough for us. I'm thankful that He came here to the earth because He knew we'd need someone to relate to and that He's now in Heaven encouraging us to live for Him.

Hebrews 12:28 (New Living Translation)
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Count your blessings and hold onto hope for even more to come!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Blog Post 17-Daily Devotions

Day 17-Daily Devotions

I get lots of questions about material for daily devotions, how to have devotions, etc.

First of all, in my heart I really, really want to be a morning person. It's an all the time struggle for me to be productive in the mornings. I love to stay up late, I love the middle of the night, and unless I have a really exciting reason to, I don't love getting up early in the mornings. That said, I'm ALWAYS glad I do when I make it happen.

Unless you want to be super convicted do not look up the phrase "early in the morning" in scripture. A whole bunch of really important things happened early in the morning from the Old Testament to the New Testament. There's absolutely something to it. That said, I don't think you really have to be legalistic about it. I think Satan LOVES to convince us that if we're not going to do things right down to the letter then we might as well not do them at all.

I'm kind of all over the place as a character flaw anyway! HA! But right now I have a copy of Jesus Lives by Sarah Young in my purse that I read, My Bible by my bed along with Brennen Manning's latest book and various other things floating around that I may or may not pick up from time to time.

I think the Bible is the foundation of our lives and to leave it out of our time with the Lord doesn't really make sense. I also think He can speak through other tools brought to us by great people of faith that may have something to say to a particular season of our lives. I don't think God is standing over us with a baseball bat saying, "It's only been 10 minutes!" I don't honestly know how long I spend with the Lord on any given day, but it's usually not all at the same time. I certainly want the Lord to have the best of me. Some days that's in the morning and some days it's late at night and some days it's in the middle of the night. I'm sure on some level I should be more disciplined in a lot of things, but this works for me.

Here's some tools I have found useful:
How to Study your Bible by Kay Arthur
Handbook for Christian Living by Charles Stanley
Streams in the Desert
10 Minutes a Day with Jesus by Jim Reapsome
The Bible. I like the NASB/Message versions side by side but that's just me.
Conversations by Eugene Peterson

Blog Post 16-Coffee

Day 16 coffee

Again I feel like I'm being totally redundant, but I know there are new people to the blog so I will do a quick post about coffee. AGAIN, just because I drink huge amounts of it does not make me an expert on it by any means! But, here's what I have picked up along the way.

-Don't store coffee in the freezer or refrigerator. Store it in a sealed canister on the counter or in the cabinet but not in direct sunlight.

-The golden rule to coffee to water ratio is half plus one. If you are making 12 cups of coffee you'd use 7 tablespoons of coffee. Get it?

-Brewed coffee only lasts 15 minutes on the burner and the coffee beans about 2 weeks once it's ground in a canister.

Everything else is preference really. Whatever roast you like, espresso vs. brewed coffee etc. See previous posts for more detailed info!

Blog Topic 15-Prism

Day 15-Prism

I still get lots of questions about the Prism weight loss system. You can refer back to previous posts for specifics but basically it's a no sugar no white flour no fried food lifetime committment way of life. I've been on it for over a year and have no plans to stop anytime soon. I can say that it's easy but that's because I've been on it for 63 weeks! It's not easy at the beginning. Sugar especailly is in everything! I'd recommend reading the book and then deciding if you want to committ to the initial 6 weeks which is the hardest part. Then really study it, make use of the help Prism offers and work to make it a lifestyle. I don't think it's for everyone, but it has worked for me. To those of you who have asked if I would start a group in Valdosta remind me to get back to you. Prism has asked me to, but right now I don't have time to remember my own name! I'm praying about it. Whether I do one here or someone does one where you live it can be done individually. I did it without the DVD's, workbook, or group meetings. All you need is the book!

Blog Topic 14-Quotes

Day 14 - quotes

I suppose you don't have to know me very well to know I love quotes. My friend Katie gave me a quote book in college to record all the neat little sayings I found in books along the way and the rest is history. I've given my friends quote books for Christmas ever since and as far as I know they love them too! I have quotes on my walls and quotes on my coffee mugs and revolving quotes on my shower walls and bathroom mirrors. I can't help it-I like them!

Most of my favorite quotes come from C.S. Lewis who I hope lives close to me in Heaven. I'd love to hop down there in the mornings and listen to him tell his stories. He's fascinating and the way he can wrap the English Language around a Biblical principle is incredible if you ask me. I could read The Chronicals of Narnia from start to finish over and over and over again and be perfectly happy to never own another book. Here's one of my favorites.

"I shall feel rather nervous meeting a lion," said Susan."That you will, dearie, and make no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there is anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking they're either braver than most or just silly.""Then He isn't safe?" said Lucy."Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "Who said anything about safe?! Of Course He isn't safe. But He is good. He is the King I tell you."(The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)

Friday, November 20, 2009

more posts on the way

Oh my word I'm the worst blogger in history lately. Do not tell me. I already know. Good news for those of you who wait with bated breath for the next installment of my so-called life (?). There's a bunch of posts on the way in the next week! The rest of the 30 days of topics are set to post. I'll review Prodigal God by Timothy Keller, I'll review Amish Christmas for Thomas Nelson, and I'll give you an update on the sit on the edge of your seat excitement that is my life....ahem. In the meantime, tell me what's going on with you!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blog topic 13-death

Day 13-Death

Revelation 21:4 There shall be no more death.

Death is inevitable unless the Lord returns to sweep us off our feet into eternal glory. The thing that bugs me about death is you really can't ask anyone about it. Apart from strange people that have spent 90 minutes or 23 minutes or ate bad pizza before they went to bed-no one has been there. No one prepared you for your birth and the only people who can help to prepare you for death-are people who are still alive!

Frustrating, huh? Now I know a whole bunch of hospice workers and nursing people and doctors who have seen enough death to be relative experts on the topic. There are common themes and reactions in death for sure. In any stressful situation there are obvious scriptures and human comfort that can ease the transition for most people without the knowledge of what exactly is on the "other side."

I don't think a lot about death. I think it's kind of a waste of living, but it crosses my mind from time to time. I guess anything can happen anywhere, but as the population increases in mental illness AND violence as a combination it is concerning. Just this week it has come up in meetings at work that there is no metal detector at the hospital where I work. Any given weekend I'm the first person people see coming in right off the street. I assume they do not have a weapon, but I don't know that. And from there they are escorted to my office which is the only one open on the weekends on an isolated hallway. When I think about it like that (which I've had reason to the past few weekends) it makes me nervous sometimes.

Which makes me glad that my days have been appointed long before I had thought about them. My days have been numbered since I've had a day to number. I can rest in the promises that my future is secure in the one who made me from the very beginning. And the promise that the One who has overcome the grave will welcome me when this life is done.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blog post 12-Heaven

Day 12-Heaven

I know all the verses in Revelation that talk about the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven. People going up to heaven. I know. I just don't like it.

Somewhere in my head I just don't like it that God the Father, Jesus, the Spirit are SOOOOO far away. In college one of our professors offered a theory that we are 3 dimensional and Heaven is in the 4th dimension which puts them right next to us but on a different plane. I can't explain it all mathematically! But I really loved that. It makes them seem so close.

And they are close. Somewhere in the great plan of things God can be fully in heaven and fully in the hearts of millions of people. I don't know how all that works and I don't really have to I suppose. I just like them HERE please!

It might be a little sci-fi movie ish but I like to think when we hold our hands out Jesus takes them in another dimension. We can't see Him, but we know He's there. Where 2 or more are gathered and He is there? He's not physically here, but He is absolutely here.

Which means dying really doesn't put us on a huge elevator to the sky but rather a turning around into a new reality only to find that we've known it was there all along.

which works for me!

blog post 11-Hell

Day 11-Hell

*Disclaimer-my blog my opinion get over it :)

I'm a huge fan of Dante which I feel certain has framed my view of Hell. I think it's interesting to think about although I have ZERO intentions of ever finding out :)

I don't think Hell is hot. I think Hell is cold. There is no light in Hell and in order to have heat you have to have light. I'm sure Hell can go against natural law if it wants to, but it makes more sense to me that it's cold. Freezing Cold. And dark like the frozen tundra in the middle of winter in the middle of night with no clothes on. Where you can't see one inch in front of you and you're totally lost. And miserable. I don't know exactly what to do about the verses that suggest that things are thrown into the lake of fire except that extremely cold temperatures produce vapors. Maybe. Maybe not.

I also don't think Heaven is in the air somewhere-but that's tomorrow's post :)

Blog post 10-non issues

Day 10-Non-issues

I honestly think sometimes Jesus must look down here at His followers and feel like He's running a daycare. As believers we argue over the most insignificant things and demand our righteousness whether we're right, they're right or no one is right. It's ridiculous if you think about it. I have a list of non-issues. Unless it's someone I know that we can disagree and still maintain a quality relationship, I do not discuss the following things with people. It works out really well for me.

Alcohol-I don't drink. Ever. I don't think alcohol has much to offer the quality of a life myself and I spend much of my time on the weekend dealing with it's negative effects. That said, I could not care less if you drink. I think the Bible is pretty clear about not getting drunk. Otherwise, it seriously makes no difference to me. I'm around people who drink frequently. I don't care that they drink and they don't care that I don't. Besides-alcohol has way too many calories :) Non-issue.

Media-I think God would have us protect our minds, ears, etc. in so much as we are able. I also don't think you can see someone doing drugs on TV-start a cocaine addiction and blame Hollywood. Grow up. We live in a world where ungodly images are flashed before us so frequently we don't even notice anymore which is unfortunate. I know people who don't own a TV and I wish often that I didn't. I also know people that watch things I would never watch and they're on their way to Heaven just as much as I am. I fall somewhere in the middle I'm sure. We need to stand guard absolutely. I don't judge people for their choices though.

A bunch of random spiritual issues-I LOVE to debate the Bible, to discuss the Lord, to be involved in a really good conversation about what's going on-LOVE IT! I can't think of many things I enjoy more. There are people in my life with whom we can discuss different sides of the same issue for 2 hours, agree to disagree and leave as friends. Love them. There are other people in my life that if you disagree with them on a single point they have a total hissy fit and question your salvation. SPARE ME. I only get into debates about spiritual things with group A. I'll discuss the weather with group B :)

I'm not afraid to talk to anybody about anything. I've always been one of those people that people feel like they can tell anything to-and trust me-they do! I don't get embarrassed easily-at all-and I love a really good conversation. It's just that sometimes it's not worth it! SO, those are my non-issues. Anything else is obviously on the table!! :)

Blog post 9-fair

Day 9-fair

Matthew 5:45b for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

I'm the first to complain sometimes that life is not fair. And let's face it-it isn't. But it's not only unfair in the positive, it's unfair in the negative as well. We may not all be millionaires, but we're also not all dying of cancer and AIDS.

I don't think it's fair that someone I went to high school with had 4 abortions and now has a wonderful husband and 4 beautiful children while several people I know who did everything right cannot get pregnant. Not fair.

I don't think it's fair that really good wonderful Godly people are suffering miserably for their faith while pagan heathen morons are running around the planet free as a bird. Blech.

The bottom line is nowhere in scripture are we promised absolute fairness and we wouldn't want it that way anyway. If cause and effect were absolute then every time we had a sinful thought, lied, or held hatred in our heart we'd get hit by a bus. And we wouldn't be around very long to make that mistake again!

And fair doesn't exactly put the sinless Son of Heaven on a cross for the sinners who would come after and before him now does it? Justice doesn't blame the One without fault for the shortcomings of many.

Love does.

So when the Godly among us are blessed far more than we could ever hope or imagine and it doesn't seem fair when we are struggling-let's purposefully rejoice with them. And when the ungodly are blessed in ways that seem downright maddening-let's purposefully rejoice with them too. Whatever blessings and happiness they find on this earth may be all the joy they'll ever know.

And when we're tempted to shake our fists to the heavens and demand justice -let's really remember that the one we're upset with knows far better than we ever will that sometimes One has to make an unfair sacrifice for many.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thomas Nelson Book Review

I'm not a huge sports fan, but I actually enjoyed this book! Great to see how sports have gone across time and generations to find a common denominator. I definitely recommend it! Great Christmas gift!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


there's some weird glitch in the blogger auto post so I know you're missing the last few days posts. I'm sending it back to my friends who designed it to see what the problem is and they assure me at that point it will be back on track. Also at that point you'll get all the posts you're missing. See? It'll be okay :) Thanks for letting me know!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blog Post 8-books!

Day 8-BOOKS!

I honestly never ever in a million years thought I would blog so much about books! But, I continue to get LOTS of comments and questions about what to read, my favorite authors, etc. And I totally get that. There's nothing I love more than when my friends who read a lot say, "You have to read this!"

I would encourage you to see my list of my favorite books and books worth reading. In general I love well thought out fiction, humorous fiction, really solid theological books and the occasional biography.

People always think I don't do anything else except read because I talk about books so much on here! Ha! I read super fast but I can't speed read. I can finish an average book in several hours. And I try to make time to read when I can because I really enjoy it. Some weeks I don't read a word honestly. It just depends on how tired I am by the time the day is done. I also really don't love TV and consider several times a year throwing it in the trash can. I only watch TV when I'm super tired or doing something else to have noise in my house. I don't have some great opinion on TV so don't send me e-mails about it! I just think for me it's kind of a waste of time. Plus, I love to read and I certainly understand that some people don't.

I'm going to do a separate post on daily devotions since that seems to come up with the book questions for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Blog post 7-transparency

Day 7-Transparency

We seem to have a bunch of comments about being ourselves with the Lord, being honest with Him and telling Him how we really feel. Trust me, I have the same concerns and questions but it still cracks me up! Who better to be real with?

I really try to remind myself that He already knows. He is not falling off His throne every time I mess up. He knows at my best I'm still human. He's not surprised when I make promises I can't keep, but sees straight through to the heart of that promise and acknowledges my desire to be like Him. He certainly knows what I have done, what I'll do today that will be totally ridiculous, and what I'll do in the future. He knows.

And still......

He offers us his hand when we stumble, his heart when we're hurting, his ear when we're lonely, his plan when we're lost, his purpose when we're hopeless and his grace when we trip all over ourselves.

God has whispered to me in so many different ways lately, "I am with you. Always." It's made a huge difference. I've appreciated in a new way His invitation to be real with Him. To share my fears, to voice my frustrations and the accept His help which is always offered.

Jesus, we'll never take you by surprise. You know it all. We are humbly part of your bigger plan. Remind us that what we do today may very well change all of eternity. Let us not miss a moment. Amen

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


The Blog has been updated through Saturday. More to come! Brenda

Blog Topic 5-The Holy Spirit

Day 5-The Holy Spirit

John 14:25-27"I'm telling you these things while I'm still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I'm leaving you well and whole. That's my parting gift to you. Peace. I don't leave you the way you're used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don't be upset. Don't be distraught.

I really love nothing more than to get in some deep theological debate about just about anything, but especially about the Holy Spirit. Christians are super opinionated about who He is, what He does, and how He presents Himself.

Many of you have asked me to talk more about the years I spent in a charismatic church and I promise I will later this month. I'm so glad I ended up there for that time in my life. It opened my eyes to a lot of things, but it also made me appreciate the way other people worship.

I think the danger with the Holy Spirit is many denominations want to make it all about Him and others don't want anything to do with Him. Both are equally troubling to me. I grew up without much mention of The Holy Spirit, spent time in college worshipping with people who never stopped talking about the Holy Spirit and now have come to a good place of balance I think. He's important, but so are God the Father and Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is God's way of literally being with us always. He deserves our respect and our attention with a healthy balance.

Blog Post 6-Friendship

Day 6-Friendship

Friendship is tricky business if you're asking me. I love my friends most of whom do not live anywhere near me. I used to love having a million friends everywhere, but lately I'm starting to see great value in having a few solid friendships worth investing in. I've taken stock recently in a lot of relationships and found many of them not to be what God would have. There's nothing wrong with the people, the relationships just have no eternal value.

I certainly don't think you have to be so high and mighty that you cannot have anything to do with people who are not on a similar spiritual path. I think we're called to be among a lot of different people and that will always change as the seasons and times of our lives are adjusted. And our every day acquaintances are not that concerning to me. It's the people we choose to be around the most, those that you just know have a drop of eternity mixed in, divine appointments that are unmistakably from the Lord, and people we're on a similar mission with that need our attention, our prayers and our focus. And I think the Lord does intend for us to take our friendships seriously. What are you offering and what is being offered in return that betters your life?

My longest friendship/relationship is probably my sweet friend Kathy who I met at a very divine appointment 16 years ago. It doesn't seem that long, but it has been! I can't think of another soul on the planet that knows more about me than she does. We honestly don't get the opportunity to connect that frequently, but we never miss a beat. It brings tears to my eyes to think of the number of times God has laid each of us on the other's heart to pray for and encourage each other. It may be one of only a handful of relationships that I have seen and felt God orchestrate from the very beginning. It's amazing when He's in the middle of anything.

And it makes me long for more divine appointments in life. To not be so busy that I miss the opportunities God presents to connect with another person on a God level. To trust God to bring those into my path that He has for me and to trust that those He takes away will go for a reason.

Blog Post 4-Eternal Security

Day 4-Eternal Security

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. -2 Corinthians 1:21-22

I don't feel exactly qualified to tackle this topic, but since I agreed to discuss the 30 most talked about topics this month I will. Eternal security is a hard one for me and I feel like it shouldn't be.

At the very core of who I am I believe the only way to get to Heaven is through Jesus Christ and the acceptance of His death on the cross to bring salvation to you if you receive it. I don't believe there's another way. I think all other roads lead straight to Hell. Period. So, I'm pretty confident that's a good foundation.

I just have trouble when the feelings and the facts gets swirled around in daily life to the point that uncertainty reigns over all! About a million cliche's come to mind and I can't stand cliche's so I'm not going to use any of them. I think once we've accepted Jesus the angels rejoice, our names appear in the book of life and the blueprints for our mansions go to the printer. Okay, maybe there aren't blueprints :)

I think we have to find our confidence in Christ for our salvation and for everything else. I also think it's not entirely bad to question our salvation once in awhile. We need to go back to the basics of our faith. I am on a mad dash back to the beginning in my time with the Lord lately and it has been amazing. Salvation, prayer, etc. Loving it. I make things way too hard and way too complicated. It always has been and it always will be about our relationship with Him.

I think we can question lots of things to death and totally miss the point. For sure spend time letting the Spirit speak assurance to your heart. For sure go back to the beginning and remember the establishment of your faith and where the Lord has brought you from there. For sure take notice of the fruit you are bearing and the signs of a true believer that you should be displaying.

But then, when you know that you've accepted Him. When you know that you are living for Him the best you know how. When you know that you know there's no other way to the Father except through Jesus His son-then let it go. Live for Him, anticipate Heaven, and be sure that you are being earthly good to the Kingdom.

And trust that you are sealed by the Father, loved by the Son, and led by the Spirit.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Blog Topic 3-Depression

Day 3 - Depression

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. -Romans 2:12

I still get lots of questions about depression. Causes, symptoms, treatment options, my views on medication, etc. And I have discussed depression on the blog over and over again. My views are not changed, but I will post a summary today of what I've already talked about.

Personally I'm tired of mental illness in general being classified as some nonspiritual illness. Particularly people who are clinically depressed can no more get themselves out of depression than diabetics can pray their sugar down while consuming entire cakes. It's ridiculous and it needs to stop in the Christian circle especially.

I will say that mental illness gets over diagnosed-a lot. Other disorders do too. Everyone who eats chili fries for lunch goes to their Dr. for an acid reflux medication prescription which is why those of us who actually have it have to fight with the insurance companies for months. A bad day here and there; several bad days here and there; tears of frustration or anger or sadness, situations that happen to and around us that make us less than happy does not equal a mental illness.

Emotions are what make us human! We wouldn't know joy if we never knew sorrow. We wouldn't recognize peace if we never felt uneasy. A disorder is classified as something that perpetually interrupts the normal functioning of a life. If you cannot function because of being depressed. If you can't get out of bed, if you have no motivation, if you have unexplained episodes of crying at least 5 times a week, if your sleep and or appetite are off-it might be time to get checked out for depression. That said, it could just as easily be an imbalance of hormones.

I've said before and I'll talk about it more later this month, I spent 3 years in a semi charismatic church in college. I didn't mind it at all. But I found the lines of people expecting immediate healing to be a little bizarre. I'm not saying God can't miraculously do whatever He wants to do, but I have seen that as more the exception than the rule. We grow in our faith by learning to depend on Him for the answers that we need. He has a purpose for anything we go through.

My take on medication? If you need it - get it. If at some point you don't need it anymore-get off of it.

My take on therapy? If you need it - get it. You might find paying to have a conversation where you can say whatever you want is the best thing that's ever happened to you :)

My take on depression? It certainly isn't a sin. It's a symptom. God intends for us to live free in Him and however He leads you to make that possible is a gift from His heart.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blog topic 2-Holiness/Sanctification

Day 2-Holiness

"In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days." -Luke 1:75

I am thankful for Asbury College in my life for many reasons, but first and foremost will always be for their continual attention to personal holiness. In Hughes chapel etched across the archway is "holiness unto the Lord" which was so much more than a catch phrase. I sat under hours of teachings in chapel and classroom lectures on holiness. And I'll forever be thankful that they instilled in me a desire to live above average as a Christian, to remember that God's word is still the gold standard no matter what the world may say, and that although total sanctification is not possible this side of Heaven, it should be our goal to continually seek it.

To me, holiness displays itself in various opportunities every single day. One of my friends always says, "Just go do the next right thing," which is a form of holiness. Doing what we know to do when the Lord brings opportunities to do just that. And in our personal lives allowing God to send the strong currents of His spirit to cleanse us literally from all unrighteousness. We're not going to get it 100% right ever, but at least in my own life I could get it right a little more often!

I could go on a literal tangent about the lack of holiness I've encountered just in the past weeks. I think as the world gets handed over to darkness and we approach the last days more and more things that God calls an abomination become common place. Going along with them makes you socially acceptable I'm sure, but it will never make you holy. When God's heart and His best is what drives us on a daily basis to be like Him, the things of this world that clearly go against His standards will never fulfill us. Never. If you're living in sin and sacrificing your relationship with Him for the things of this world then make today the day you draw the line in the sand and refuse, with His help, not to cross it again. It really makes no difference what the world does. If we profess to be Christians and lovers of His law then we are held to that standard and will be judged accordingly.

When we remember that God is holy; when we remember that we are on our best days unworthy; when on the rare occasion we feel touched by the divine who has broken the barriers of Earth and met us where we are, we have found just a glimpse of holiness. And if it is received in the proper spirit it will compel us to let His sweet spirit whisper, "choose holiness."

1 Peter 13-16 (The Message) So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that's coming when Jesus arrives. Don't lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn't know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, "I am holy; you be holy."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blog Topic 1-Does prayer make a difference?

Day 1-Does prayer make a difference?

"When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." -Revelation 5:8

I have great admiration for people with a consistent, focused prayer life. In my mind, in my heart, in my new year's resolutions I make plans to be excellent at praying. I set apart the time, I set apart the space, I make a list sometimes and I'll be honest-the only prayer I pray consistently is HELP ME! Usually after some roller coaster I agreed to get on myself which has turned out to be especially stressful!

I've had really wonderful seasons of prayer in my walk with the Lord. In college I spent lots of time as a peer advocate praying with people which I loved. I've met weekly with people in different seasons that have kept me on my spiritual toes and greatly increased my prayer life. And I suppose to be fair I probably pray more than I think I do particularly lately for several people in my life. In the shower, in the car, running out the door, late at night, etc. Sometimes I'm sure my prayers have been signed, sealed, delivered to the heart of the Father and other times I'm certain they went nowhere. Which I think begs the question-does prayer make a difference?

If God is sovereign (and He is) then he already knows the outcome of our lives and thus the outcome of our prayers. So are we wasting our time sending pleas to the Heavens when the verdict has already been rendered? Should we just pray that God's will be done all the time and leave it at that?

I love the above verse in Revelation. If we could see in those golden bowls! Can you imagine the heartache, tears, praise, petitions, joy, sorrow, and love swirled around in a beautiful offering before the Lord? It's my thought that if they're important enough to keep them, they're important enough to offer them.

I'm not a theologian. I don't know specifically how concrete the will of the Lord is. My greatest fear in all the world is missing His will for my life which I do feel is possible. In the Old Testament particularly saints seemed to have changed his mind about destroying his creation a few times! But just in my own life, in my own relationship with the Lord, in my own thoughts I tend to think prayer is of great value to me and pleasing to the Lord.

How many times have you just had enough? How many times have you sat before the Lord just furious that things have not worked out as you'd hoped and the answers did not come as you believed and you are angry-only a few moments later to find yourself telling the Lord you're sorry for your lack of faith and you don't ever want to do anything to hurt him? Prayer changes us on the inside.

How many times have you prayed specifically for healing for someone believing it would happen on Earth only to realize in Heaven they are healed forever? Prayer changes our perspective.

How many times have you begged the Lord on behalf of the prodigals in your life to bring them gently back to His heart only to watch them be dragged literally through Hell? Some return to Him and some do not often without the predictability we desire. Prayer increases our trust in a loving Father.

How many times have you offered your day to the Lord at it's onset and found that you have sufficient time, a pleasing disposition, accomplishments and peace with the wind at your back? Prayer increases the desire to offer our lives as a living offering.

How many times have you approached the throne of grace feeling so unworthy, so undeserving of one more chance, so heartbroken by your own choices or those of another to the point that there are no words to speak? And as the tears fall into a heavenly bottle and His Spirit gently whispers "I am with you always," we realize prayer strengthens our relationship with a God who cares.

I don't know that the plan God laid out before the foundation of the world is in any way altered by the prayers my heart entrusts to the Father, but I do know without a shadow of a doubt that I am changed. When the answer is yes I rejoice with Him. When the answer is no I mourn with Him and am reminded that He has my best interest at heart. And when the answer is wait I have an all out hissy fit! I mean, I'm so happy He's postponed my knowing for the greater good of His will in my life-ahem. No matter the answer though, my trust is restored in Him. I am changed into his likeness with every confession. I am connected to his body with every prayer offered up on their behalf. My faith is strengthened with every answered prayer. And my relationship with the Lord grows stronger every time we share a piece of this puzzle together.

Jesus is not physically here so the only means we have to communicate with the trinity is through prayer. I have to say the best prayer times in my life have been when I've felt particularly burdened to pray specifically for something. It's like you can see the trinity in full circle. The Holy Spirit lays something on your heart, in obedience you offer it to Jesus who whispers it into the ear of the Father who answers our pleas. Love. It. And I think those situations would happen more often if we would stay in tune with the heart of the Father for our own lives, for the lives of those around us, for His body, and for the world at large.

So does prayer make a difference? yes.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Puppy Love

The pups spent the day at the groomers. Odyssey was thrilled. Ella was - well, wasn't. She's REALLY not sure why she had to have a bow in her hair. But they're sooooo clean! They smell good and I totally forgot how small they are without pounds of fur.

Book Club

I hope you've enjoyed reading Return Policy this month by Michael Snyder. I don't generally review fiction titles and I won't be reviewing this one. For November we're reading Prodigal God by Phillip Keller - one of my favorite authors. I will review this one November 30th so get me your comments by then. Happy Reading! Brenda

P.S. We'll close the year with Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury in December also not a reviewed title since we'll all be busy by then! Starting January 1st there will be a non-fiction and a fiction title for each month since several people have mentioned they really only like to read one or the other. I totally understand that :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thank you!

Thanks for all of your responses from my last post. I have not decided anything yet but your comments were very helpful and I'll let you know when I decide. Not that it's hold your breath edge of your seat exciting or anything :)

Coming soon to a blog near you!!! I am going to tackle some of the topics most discussed on the blog including the questions I get asked the most. I have picked 30 topics and they will post once a day in November. Stay tuned!

And since I'm trying to get 30 real posts put together the blog is going on break for the rest of this week. Plus I'm super swamped and I'm sure you don't want to hear me whine incessently anyway :)

First post will be November 1st. See ya then.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thomas Nelson Blog Beautiful Mess

Again, I love reading for Thomas Nelson because it makes me read things I would NEVER read! Beautiful Mess by Diamond Rio was well written with great pictures. I'm not a huge biography fan, but this one wasn't bad. I enjoyed reading how they got to where they are. I'd only recommend it for people who like Diamond Rio and enjoy very detailed biographies.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mixed Bag

Wow, I could whine on here for hours tonight but I won't :) Aren't you glad I decided that on the front end? It's been a weird day. And I'm overly tired which is making everything worse. And I have another crazy week this week which in some ways I'm looking forward to and in others not so much. Se la vi. My grandmother tells me all the time that things will look better in the morning. And they might-If I remember to take my contacts out tonight :)

Last week I had just about enough of being surrounded by total negativity. I work in a mental hospital so I'm not exactly being hugged by clouds of joy every day but it was EVERYWHERE! Everybody hated everything and things were only going to get worse blah blah blah. Believe me-I know I'm glass half empty with the best of them but it really got on my nerves last week. Okay that's all I'm saying about that because too many people I know in real life read this :)

Church was interesting this morning. Besides the fact that the sermon was totally convicting and right on track with everything that needs changed about my walk with the Lord (sigh), 2 couples joined the church. Maybe it's because I grew up as a pastor's kid and was so used to being VERY involved in church. Maybe it's just this season of my life doesn't allow for me to be very involved with many people. Maybe part of it is not really having a family to be involved in church with. I don't know. I've been thinking a lot about church in general the past few weeks. What does belonging to a church really mean? When your schedule only allows you to attend 90% of one service does that make you committed enough to be considered a member of a church? I feel like an outsider by not joining, but am sure that I would feel a little strange joining a church that I can only be a limited part of. Hmmmmmmmm. Someone remind me to run that one by my dad. And feel free to tell me your thoughts. It's been right on top of my heart for awhile now and I'm not sure what to do.

Otherwise, my throat is being stupid again. Huge sigh. I'm going to let you know when they figure it out because I'm sick of talking about, sick of being frustrated about it, and I'm sure you all are sick of hearing about it! So there :)

I'm finally going home, falling into a bubble bath and waking up early to give this very full week to the Lord who is the only one who does all things well. Talk to you soon :) Brenda

Saturday, October 24, 2009


So, I really meant to take an updated picture of my house this year for this post but we're a month past the houseaversary and I didn't do it. Plus my house is in desperate need of a pressure wash which it's getting next month. And the weeds are overtaking it which let's be honest-I'm not going to pull.

To my little sweet house of 5 whole years! This year you've gotten some new bedroom floor treatments and some great new paint. You got updated wall quotes and finally some new light fixtures in the kitchen. You got a super sweet outdoor lab puppy that might just tear your door right off the hinges! And you got a new dryer after your first one tried to explode.

And this year you're getting a brand new walkway, some great new landscaping, pressure washed, and some deep cleaning-don't worry-mostly not done by me :)

You have been a true gift from the Lord. A haven for me and for others along the way. I know you're glad my grandparents are packing their bags because they take much better care of you than I do! They'll be here soon and you'll smell like pine sol, windex and real food once again! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Updated book List - Finaly

Complete Book of Raw Food-Rodwell
So Not Happening-Jenny B. Jones
Souvenirs of Solitude-Brennen Manning
Touching Wonder-John Blase
Heart Exposed-Steven James

Let Go-Sheila Walsh
Handle With Care-Jodi Picoult
Furious Longing of God-Brennen Manning
Just Between You and Me-Jenny B. Jones
Surrender Bay-Denise Hunter
Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World-Dr. David Jeremiah
Intervention-Terri Blackstock
New Sugar Buster's Shopping Guide
Dr. Gott's No Sugar No Flour Book-Dr. Gott
Magnificent Obsession-Anne Graham Lotz
Fearless-Max Lucado
Return Policy-Michael Snyder
Esther-Beth Moore
Seeing Things-Patti Hill
First Drop of Rain-Leslie Parrott
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus-Ann Spangler
Kiss-Ted Dekker
Even Now/Ever After-Karen Kingsbury
Secret Life of Bees-Sue Monk Kidd
Abba's Child-Brennen Manning
Escape-Carolyn Jessup

The Pawn, The Rook, The Knight-Steven James
In Constant Prayer-Robert Benson
Between the Dreaming and the Coming True-Robert Benson
The Return of the Prodigal Son-Henri Nouwen
Redeeming Love-Francine Rivers
Sophie's Choice-Lori Wick
The Ragamuffin Gospel-Brennen Manning
Eternal Security-Charles Stanley
Prism Weight Loss System-Karen Kingsbury
Walking Taylor Home-Brian Schrauger
School of Dying Graces-Richard Felix
Hannah's Gift-Maria Housden
Ruthless Trust-Brennen Manning
Wouldn't Take Nothing for my Journey Now-Maya Angelou
I know why the caged bird sings-Maya Angelou
Falling into the face of God-William Elliot

Take One-Karen Kingsbury
Take Two-Karen Kingsbury
Shades of Blue-Karen Kingsbury
Salty Like Blood-Harry Kraus
Living Prayer-Robert Benson
The Body Broken-Robert Benson
Voluntary Madness-Norah Vincent
The Tenth Circle-Jodi Picoult
Nineteen Minutes-Jodi Picoult
Songs of the Humpback Whale-Jodi Picoult
The Boneman's Daughter-Ted Dekkar
Three Cups of Tea-Greg Mortensen
A Summons to Memphis-Peter Taylor
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant-Ann Tyler
Back When We Were Grownups-Ann Tyler
Art of Racing in the Rain-Garth Stein
For the Love of a Dog-Patricia McConnell

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Goodness I have not done a thankful Thursday post in forever. long overdue.

Today I'm thankful that even though I feel like I'm progressing at the speed of a slow snail (ha!), I'm making progress back towards the heart of God. I feel so prodigal-esque most of the time and usually fall asleep at night thinking Lord? Forgive me. please. AGAIN! So thankful for grace-some days, great big buckets of it poured all over our undeserving little ungrateful selves. Or is that just me? :)

-I'm thankful for a very sincere compliment that I received unexpectedly yesterday. Literally melted my heart. (Thank you J.H.!)

-I'm thankful that this morning I messed up my music system in my car which caused it to play Tina Turner and Handle's Messiah interchangeably. Totally the laugh I needed to start my day. I wish I wouldn't have fixed it. Hilarious.

-I'm thankful for my sweet animals that more than once this week have sucked the loneliness right out of my house. I've been working overtime and have hardly had time to throw a ball, but they still jump up and down whenever I walk through the door.

-I'm thankful that I can eat again and that my throat seems to be holding up! I'm thankful that I may not have to live on smoothies alone for the rest of my life even though I didn't mind them.

-I'm thankful for the dichotomy in life that sometimes it seems wide open - blank canvas - endless possibilities and other times it's hard to focus on the next step and that God is equally faithful in both times.

-I'm thankful for basic necessities that I take for granted every single day.

-I'm thankful for questions without answers that even lately have greatly increased my faith.

-I'm thankful for Brennen Manning and Robert Benson 2 of my very favorite authors who can take your soul and cut it into teeny tiny pieces and return it to you filled with the love of God.

-I'm thankful that even though sometimes it doesn't feel like it, even though it's exceptionally lonely at times from an earthly perspective, even though often times I look more like a child of darkness than a loved daughter of the king of kings-He is enough, He is infinitely faithful, He has all the answers, and for reasons still to be determined, He loves me. Do you suppose that if we really got a hold of that fact and let it sink in deep we might just be changed forever? Me too.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Your Temple

It won't be a surprise to anyone that really knows me that my attention span tends to run a little on the short side. I have 4 books started right now of which I'll probably finish 3-at some point if I don't start another one which I probably will if it looks more interesting. My dining room is currently half mopped-just the truth. I thought I wanted to clean last night but really-I didn't :) And it might be a character flaw but I can seriously mop half my floor and go to bed without being bothered in the least bit. I'm definitely not a "have to have everything tied up with a neat bow before I can sleep" kinda person. Not even kinda :)

I love that our bodies are referred to as temples. I'm not getting any awards for temple caregiver-believe me. I'm sure my temple would like a little more sleep most weeks. My temple would probably like a lot more discipline and some gentle care instead of a run at the speed of light on fumes existence!

Which is why it has surprised me that in this season of such mess with my throat I'm actually to the place where I've really enjoyed the discipline of a liquid diet. Don't get me wrong-I'll be doing a cartwheel in the parking lot if I get the go ahead to eat my regular food again, but I've been pleasantly surprised at the mind clearing season these months have been. Do you even know how much food occupies our lives? It's amazing. Where to eat. What to eat. How much to eat. What to do if we eat too much. Not feeling well because of what we eat. Cooking and cleaning up what we eat. Deciding on food at the grocery store - etc. etc. etc. It's not a bad thing. We're human! We have to eat, but does it have to take up sooooooo much of our existence?

I'll tell you, though difficult at first, giving up sugar and flour was incredibly freeing. I don't think it's for everyone. I think if I started eating sugar and flour again I would gain a million pounds by Friday. It's a commitment-for a lifetime. A commitment I pray about every single day. Satan knows when we're weak we're tempted to change our resolve. I try to remember how much better I feel and in humility stand against temptation. There's NO way I've done this without the help of the Lord-for real. I still remember the very first night when everyone I know(it seemed!) was eating cake that day thinking I can't do it it's too hard!! But I'm sooooo glad I stuck to it. It's the plan God had for me to help rebuild my temple and we're stillllllllllllll workin on it-sometimes more with a wrecking ball!

And this most recent battle with my throat has been strangely freeing as well. It just doesn't take that much time when your options for food are in liquid form. Are you going to drink a smoothie or juice or milk? There ya go. Those are your options :) Now I realize drinking liquids for the rest of my life is not a viable option. But I'm thinking health wise about how I can incorporate the lessons of these weeks into a plan for my life. I don't think God just hands out trials without expecting us to learn something from them.

Matthew 6:25 (The Message)
25-26"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

I have a friend from college who serves her family brown rice for dinner once a week. That's it-brown rice. They donate the cost of their regular meals for those days to World Vision who serves children who are literally in tears over having rice to eat. She's teaching her children young that it's not about what you eat, but being thankful that you have food at all to eat. Last Christmas as a family gift they donated some seed for corn to their families so they could grow their own food. When she told them about it at the dinner table her 6 year old burst into tears. When she asked her what it was she said, "I'm just so happy they can have corn now too with their rice!" Precious!

Turns out health wise our bodies would run better if we'd eat a little lower on the food chain. I am so convicted lately that 90% of what we eat we don't need and it isn't doing a bit of good for our bodies (aka-temples). Don't worry-I'm not going to grow my hair into dreadlocks and make my own granola over an open flame in my backyard! But I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility lately to care properly for this temple. The Holy Spirit lives here (why I'll never know!), but He does! I know it's the Holy Spirit's role to make us into the image of Christ, but I don't want him to always have to work as hard as he has been!! I want him to be comfortable here. I want this temple to be a place where he can flow freely and not have to stop every 5 minutes to say, "Look-you're being dumb again!" (does the Holy Spirit say dumb? I have no idea!)

I think the emphasis is usually on over eating when it comes to our temples, but since this is such a vast audience, I will also say that I think it's a sin to not properly feed our temples. Not eating enough to sustain us will lead to just as many if not more health related issues that personally I also see as a spiritual issue. Satan loves to trap us into extreme thinking. Not eating enough is just as bad as eating too much. Period. If you have trouble with eating disorders pray that God would help you be discerning and trust Him to provide for your daily needs. And get professional help if you need it-seriously.

I had a huge answer to prayer this morning that was so encouraging. I had a test run at the ENT a few weeks ago that showed large amounts of acid in my esophagus. He said to be sure I checked with my dentist at my next checkup because that much acid even for a short time would cause serious tooth decay. Let's just say I'd like my teeth not to decay while my throat is acting crazy! Well, the verdict was NO DECAY-at all!!! None! The dentist said my teeth did not look like a person's with acid reflux AT ALL! He also said with that level the back teeth at least should be showing signs, but nope! Not a spot! Yippee!

What changes can you make to help turn your temple into a place where the Holy Spirit wants to dwell? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

MUAH! Brenda