Sunday, February 28, 2010

Entrepreneurial Destiny

My favorite thing in all the world is a quality conversation. An intelligent often God soaked interaction with another human being can keep me interested for a very long time. And I love to listen to other people's conversations. Not really to be nosy, but just to find out what's important to people and what they find interesting enough to talk about. More often than not I find it incredibly funny too.

Reading and blogging and working on Bible study at Starbucks with endless free refills and a few unplanned hours is my own little slice of Heaven. Almost always when I'm there I either get into or overhear something interesting. For example:

A few weeks ago there were two girls sitting behind me. One had returned from college and the other was clearly upset about their lack of interaction. The college one said, "Amanda. You don't understand. When I'm away from school and home I would like to be able to rest socially." WHAT??? What does that even mean?? Apparently the other girl spoke her language though because she immediately burst into tears. Ha!

Last week I had an impromptu conversation with my pastor who wandered in for his 2 pounds of coffee for the week (love that about him!). His unexpected visit coated with Godly wisdom was invaluable.

One day when I was working on a Bible study one of the girls that works there asked me if I could recommend a Bible to her. I'm sure I gave her more information than she bargained for but it ended up being a neat conversation about she desperately needed to get back on track with the Lord. Fabulous.

Recently the two women next to me were praying together over what must have been some unwanted test results. Loved that.

The guy in front of me in line the other day who ordered a Pepsi......WHAT?

The girl in front of me a few weeks ago who wanted something that didn't taste too much like coffee.......WHAT???

The new employee who asked me if I was drinking decaf. Really? Starbucks has decaf??? I honestly didn't know that. And no, I wasn't.

And the many conversations that revolve around the new Starbucks gold card. It tells you how many times you've been there this year which is SUCH a problem!!! Ignorance is bliss and all that. As of this morning? 70 times since January 4th. UNBELIEVABLE! My own little not so private addiction. The happiness it brings me at the moment is well worth the price of rehab in the future.

But the conversations there got me thinking the other day. Surrounded by business men drinking espresso dopios in little tiny cups with 65 packets of sugar and still scowling I overheard many of their conversations. Talks about the stock market, health care reform, business plans and ventures, investments, liabilities, cost analysis, and the future of business in general. Their entrepreneurial destiny? Lots of money, fancy cars, beautiful wives and a retirement villa on a private island. Then they all laughed like they'd figured out the meaning of life. This happened to be the same day the two women in the corner with tears in their eyes were taking page after page of lab results to the Father clearly needing a miracle.

And I couldn't help but wonder which of the two groups were investing in something greater. The men were throwing all their eggs (both real and imagined) in an earthly basket. The women were giving very visible concerns to an "invisible" God. They both spent the same amount of time in discussion/prayer. The men got up, patted each other on the back, reminded each other of their golf outing on Saturday and looked way stressed out. The women hugged, said their good-byes and with eyes still glistening seemed totally at peace. It was a stark contrast, but had a huge impact on my thinking.

The men seemed like they knew what they were talking about. They might just get all they planned for. But at some point - that's all they'll ever get. Their average lifespan is no longer or shorter than anyone else no matter how successful they are or become. They are investing in the temporal and the ground, especially in this economy, is shaky at best. Their entrepreneurial destiny is uncertain, dependent on unknown variables and more likely than ever to fail. And they will fail with it if/when it does.

But those women spoke volumes to me that day. I don't know if whoever's test results those were is still alive. I don't even know if those were one of their tests. I just know that they had a problem, they had concerns, they had hard questions - and they took them to the Answer. Their Entrepreneurial destiny was a guaranteed success because the outcome did not belong to them. They placed what they could never hold into the hands of One who holds everything. Nothing changed physically that day that I know of, but everything changed for them spiritually. For that moment in time, you could see it in their eyes-they were peaceful, confident, reassured, and believing.

And it reminded me to invest wisely. It's important to be responsible with money for sure and we certainly need Godly business people, but more important than that is to invest spiritually. What am I doing on a day to day basis that makes a difference for eternity? Am I just spending a few minutes in monotonous prayers, or am I listening to the Holy Spirit and praying believing prayers on the behalf of others in my life who need the Lord? Am I just reading a couple of scriptures a day to mark it off my spiritual to-do list or am I meditating over the Word of the Lord and carrying it with me in my heart letting it make a difference in my day? Am I spending time wisely or am I wasting time on things that will not change my own or anyone else's destiny in any way?

As believers in Christ, our entrepreneurial destiny is to build the kingdom of Christ-in word, in deed, and in the lives we live. We can build for ourselves lives that by earthly standards are successful. We can spend 90 years establishing our own kingdoms and if we've done them for earthly gain they will not last half of a second in eternity. The conversation that brings someone to or closer to the Lord will last. The time spent truly in prayer and in the Word allowing it to change us from the inside out will last. The sacrifices we make for the kingdom of God will last.

And good news-it's all the Lord's work to do. All we ever have to be is available and willing. He'll provide the opportunities, the strength and the wisdom if we'll just follow His lead.

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Women's conference and community event

I am speaking at a women's conference in Illinois April 30th and May 1st and at a community event May 1st. I just saw the signage and it has the blog address on it!! So fun. So, I may mention some more reminders about the event on the blog but I will not be posting about specific details of the messages. That would be cheating :) Some have asked about registration-I have no idea, but I will find out and post the link here. Thanks for asking and hope to see you there! :)

March books of the Month

March book of the month is Same Kind of Different as Me and the fiction title is Francine River's new book Her Mother's Hope. I'll review the non-fiction one April 1st. Enjoy!

February book review -Between the dreaming and the coming true

Well, thanks for humoring me by reading my favorite book this month. I loved the comments about how it was even better the 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. time. It's totally true. And I'm glad the new people liked it too. I knew you would! :)

I'm going to list a few of our favorite quotes from the book as a summary. These and many more have been plastered around my life in various seasons as gentle reminders of the grace of God. I'm going to list them by page number for reference purposes.

3. Those who pray the Psalms by heart do not rattle easily.

5. What we have here on Earth is a longing-for the God we have known and for the God we are going home to.

9. What I fear now is that I will somehow miss the point of living here at all, living here between the dreaming and the coming true.

38. I have come to believe that the thing God said just before "Let there be light" was "Good-bye dark."

52. We are closing our ears and then blaming God for the silence.

75. How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. - Annie Dillard

76. There is no shortage of good days, declares Dillard, It is good lives that are hard to come by.

110. If we take the Eucharist once a year, take no time to be apart and to listen to the Voice, give God some directives and pointers for five minutes a day and call it prayer, and do none of the things that the faithful who traveled the road before us would remind us to do, then we are likely to only talk to God, and never hear a response.

111. A prayerful life is a life in which nothing, absolutely nothing is done, said, or understood independently of the One who is the origin and purpose of our existence. - Henri Nouwen

123. Perhaps we who would follow Him, we who seek to be His body in this world, would do well to pray as He prayed, to pray as His followers first prayed, to seek to live a life of prayer and devotion as did those who first followed Him.

139. Once we start home toward God-which happens the minute we start, actually-we simply do not ever turn around and head in another direction. There is no other direction.

Last Page: Which is in the end the object of the exercise; to become the saints we were dreamed into being to become. The journey between the dreaming and the coming true is a journey made on holy ground. It is a journey made through silence and longing where, if we will listen, we can hear the whisper of the Dreamer echoing deep within us, calling us to become what the Dreamer sees when our names were first whispered: saints who believe in and pay attention for and recognize the Voice; saints who live our lives in joy and confidence and hope rather than judgement and anxiety and desperation; saints whose hours and days and lives are spent carrying people to the Christ, lending each other a hand when one of us has fallen, slipping along the river that brings joy to the heart of God, carrying God's peace and love and presence and life to those we meet along the way. That is what we have been sent here to do. And we will.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Jane Austen

Thomas Nelson Book Review
I really love Jane Austen, but can't say I've ever known much about her life. I like how this series of books focuses on how these authors came to a Christian faith. I especially loved about her brothers being leadership in the church and the way she was raised. It was short enough to be interesting, but long enough to be relatively thourough. I did not lose interest. I think those who love Jane Austen's books and those who know nothing about her would find this equally useful. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the other authors in this series.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Letter to my 3 year old self

I'm doing a blog series this week called letters to myself. One of my friends did it recently and it was awesome!! I think it's fun to look back and forward. Enjoy!

Dear Brenda,

You are 3 years old now but soon you'll be almost 30 (gasp!). It will go by quicker and slower than you'd expect depending on the season. Right now you live in Waterford, Pennsylvania in the house your grandparents used to live in with your parents and your 1 year old brother. From the stories I've heard I think life was better before he arrived on the scene (ha!), but he'll grow up soon and contrary to expectations you won't kill each other in adolescence. Your very best friend in all the world is Brooke and she lives next door. As soon as she learns to ride her bike without training wheels you will jump hard and fast on that bandwagon so you can ride with her. You love your grandparents more than anything and get in trouble just about every weekend by your dad for crying when it's time to go home from their house. In about 20 years though they'll come visit you for the winter at your house in Georgia and they'll be the ones crying when they leave!

Speaking of your grandparents-you'll be tagged "the favorite" very early on and great news-it never changes! Now instead of them buying you anything and taking you anywhere you want to go, they'll be changing lightbulbs in your house for you. You'll love it some day-trust me!

In about a year you'll read the Gingerbread Boy all by yourself for the very first time. From then on you'll always be trying to read far above your age level and will have a lifetime love affair with reading. I love that you're "reading" this book in the picture! And clearly you took that necklace from your grandmother's jewelry box-it was probably her idea!

Life is good at the moment, but there are hard things right on the horizon. You'll be moving to Erie soon which is when your parents marriage will fall all to pieces. They'll be divorced. Your mom will remarry and you'll move far far away to Illinois. You'll also inherit a sweet pug named Rascal who will immediately leave her love for her owner and become your very best friend. So begins a lifelong love affair with canines!

A lot happens in Illinois, but I'll save that for next time. Hang on! Life is just about to get started........

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

30 draws near

Well it has happened to most of my friends this year and now it's happening to me! I'll be 30 years old in less than a month. Most of my blogging friends have done 30 days of posts leading up to the "big day." I seriously don't have the energy for that. But it has made me think about some things-where I've been and where I'd like to be by the time the next decade comes to a close. And in redoing some pictures at my house I've come across a bunch of old ones that are kinda funny. I'm working on scanning them and I'll try to include some in some upcoming posts. Stay tuned! :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Voice of the Psalms-Thomas Nelson

I hate to write this post because I've seriously enjoyed every book I've gotten from Thomas Nelson so far. And I do love the Psalms still! The good part about this book is that it does contain every psalm of the Bible in an easy to read format. It would be excellent for devotions - except for the translation. The Voice translation is not one I feel comfortable with reading very often. Maybe it's just because of examples like Psalm 22:7 that says, "I'm a loser." I know the Bible speaks to us today and transcends generations, but I don't think David said that. Call me crazy. I understand it's purpose and I appreciate the intent behind the approach. I just think it misses the mark entirely in historical and verbal accuracy. I unfortunately would not be able to recommend this one. I also found the additional content/comments meant to be helpful seriously distracting. Just my opinion!

Well, that's fun

How exciting is it when your favorite author of all times reads your blog? Very. How even more exciting is it when after a great day you get a package in the mail from said author with an autographed copy of his latest book and a handwritten letter thanking you for reading his books and sharing them with friends?? VERY! So, now you really better be reading Between the dreaming and the coming true-one of our book club selections for the month!! Thanks Robert Benson!

Monday, February 15, 2010


He who is in a hurry delays the things of God-St. Vincent de Paul

I have always been drawn to the practices of the orthodox church. I love the history of Christianity-the space between when the Bible was written and what happened at our churches last Sunday. I love how people have worked out their relationship with God in practice and in tradition over the centuries. The sole core of Christianity obviously is Christ Himself, but what a treasured gift that the way we worship Him and what draws each of us to His heart may vary by appearance.

My very favorite, most respected authors emerge from the orthodox tradition. Henri Nouwen, Robert Benson, Brennen Manning and others have shaped my faith for many years. I've cried tears of anguish and gratitude in the pages of their stories that in many ways parallel my own.

The orthodox tradition allows space for the Lord to work and that is what I find most attractive. No, we don't need a liturgical calendar to dictate our relationship with God, but sometimes I wonder if my soul couldn't use a schedule of sorts-left to it's own devises it tends to wander. Which is why I've always loved the Daily Office of Prayer. The times I have practiced it I have grown tremendously in my communication both to talk to and hear from the Lord. No, the Lord doesn't need me to pray at 3 P.M. sharp, but without it I never do. So there ya go.

Life (my life) is entirely too noisy. I have to have my mind busy 24 hours a day to feel busy, like I'm using time wisely, and that I'm thinking just enough about things to be responsible. Craziness. I can't remember the last time I sat at a stop light without checking my text messages, facebook, or twitter feed. My life is not exciting enough to update 20 times a day and neither is anyone else's. The Earth will stay on it's axis if I'm unaware someone just ate at Wendy's. Ya know?

I think I get drawn into the practices of meditation, contemplation, rest, etc. because it's exactly opposite of what my personality dictates. For weeks I have felt such a pull in the very depths of my soul to just be away with the Lord. To spend unplanned time with Him. To give Him the opportunity to offer insights into the deepest recesses of my soul. I'm not ANY good at that, but I want to be. Desperately I want to be.

So this Lent season I'm giving up coffee. JOKE! God doesn't want that and neither does anyone else in my life! I'm giving up noise. Not entirely. There's nothing wrong with any of the things in our lives that keep us connected. There's nothing wrong with some television, music, books, etc. But I'm so aware I'm not making space for the Lord. And in the culture we live, we have to make a deliberate effort to make that space, to set apart that time, to create a place in our soul where He can reign supreme. He deserves that and so much more.

So, for lent this year I'm giving up a large portion of the noise in my life and embracing more quiet. I'm committing myself to time in the morning and time in the night to spend with Him-no books, no music, maybe not even a bible at times. Just the opportunity to sit before the Lord and wait for Him and worship Him. All of me for all of Him. I want nothing more in all the world. It makes my heart happy to realize that's the absolute truth.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Test Me in This Thomas Nelson Blog

First of all, I have read all of the ancient practices series and have loved every single title. Tithing is the 7th volume. I think there's pressure in society to only move forward, but God intends for us to remember the ancient practices that we might establish a lasting relationship with Him. I really enjoyed the interviews from several people that offered differing opinions on tithing. The common theme was that tithing initiates our lives as believers by showing compassion and trust. I found it incredibly interesting that tithing is the only time in the Bible where God says, "Test me in this." The one and only time! He said to look at your checkbook register and you will find out where your heart is. OUCH! And very true. Sometimes I feel in more than one way more committed to starbucks than I am to the ways of Christ. It was an excellent reminder not just to give 10% of our income to the Lord, but to live a life of giving. Live so that the Lord can trust us with the money and resources He makes available to us whether that's time, energy, money, physical possessions, etc. It was a good reminder to keep the mindset that what we have belongs to Him anyway.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

God Speaking

I'm absolutely certain God speaks through His word ALL the time and I'm grateful for that. But I really love when He speaks through unexpected things which tends to happen to me, well, all the time.

The other day I was walking 2 of my dogs. Ella will walk right beside me as long as I want to walk and happily go home, curl up on the couch, and take a nap. She does not waver from the path. She doesn't smell everything that goes by. She just walks at whatever pace I decide for her. Odyssey acts like a crazy dog the minute I pick up his leash. He has never walked straight even with many books by The Dog Whisperer and lots of hours on the path. He's distracted in a half second by just about anything and goes home to run circles around the house until he passes out from exhaustion. I was thinking on that particular walk, "Ella, you are so much easier to lead. Odyssey, you're killing me. It would be more enjoyable for both of us if you were more willing to be led." I don't know what sounds the Lord is prone to making, but he more than occasionally resounds in my soul with a loud AHEM!

Oh, He's so right!! I've got His plan. I know His way. I know what He expects on this walk. I know His ways are perfection and He wants the best for me. And then I'm distracted by, well, everything. I can almost audibly hear the Lord saying to me, "This would be more enjoyable for both of us if you were willing to be led."

I'm really trying to get the word "but" out of my relationship with the Lord. I tend to have conversations more like this at the moment.

God: This way.
Me: okay, but, that way is shorter.
God: This way.
Me: okay, but, that way is easier.
God: This way.
Me: But I think I'd like that way better.
God: This way.
Me: Fine.
(Oh, he must delight in my immediate obedience!)

But this is the conversation my soul would rather have on a more regular basis.
God: This Way.
Me: Absolutely. Your way is best. I don't have to understand all the details, I just have to know You. After you. And then proceed to actually follow Him at HIS pace.

After a conversation last night about how we can't get it all together and be perfect in an instant (DARN), I had to laugh at a sign at starbucks this morning. "Our promise. Your drink will be perfect." It was such a sweet reminder to my life that we will be perfect too. It won't be here, but it will happen in a twinkling of an eye. We have the promise of Heaven and the hope of one day having it all together. Until then, we have to trust the One who can unravel the cords, put the pieces together, and meet us at every turn. It made such a difference to my life this morning to stop long enough to really hear His heart. He promises if we seek Him, we WILL find Him. What a relief that He's not falling off His throne every time we don't look or act like Him. But He does expect more from us. He expects us to give Him time to respond to our questions in whatever way he chooses. He expects us to give Him the time to work out the things in our life on His terms and in His way. He deserves that. I might think so, but I don't know better. Those who cannot save themselves need a Savior.

Hear Him telling you today, "Let me lead you on the path. It will be more enjoyable for both of us. And don't worry. You will be perfect one day. It's my promise to you."

a book club cop out

Well I'm not going to review The Help our fiction book from January because well, it's a fiction book. But I will say I very much enjoyed it and it sounds like you did too. Excellent.

And, in a change of plans I'm not going to review Mere Christianity either. I loved reading your thoughts about the book and 1. I cannot fit everyone's comments into one entry. And 2. I don't want to ruin your experience of the book by interjecting a whole bunch of my own opinions. I really hadn't considered that outcome when I chose it, but I think it's best to let you dwell on your own thoughts. You can look up book reviews of it on-line if you want to and get all kinds of opinions, but as far as my blog goes, I'm going to leave you with what you discovered. I consider it a must read for every Christian and particuarly every non-christian. I'm glad it meant something to you and pray the changes you feel are eternal.

That said, I absolutely will review Between the Dreaming and the coming true (duh) and Beth Moore's latest book by the end of the month. Thanks for humoring me by letting me read my favorite book and reading along with me :) After this month I'll stop talking about it for at least a few days. :) And I'm loving/hating Beth Moore's latest book already which probably means it was a good choice! Can't wait to hear your thoughts on it.

Happy reading! Brenda


"Have I been kind to His reputation in my life?" - Oswald Chambers