Monday, June 28, 2010


I lift up my eyes to the hills.
        From where does my help come?
     My help comes from the LORD,
        who made heaven and earth.

    He will not let your foot be moved;
        he who keeps you will not slumber.
     Behold, he who keeps Israel
        will neither slumber nor sleep.

    The LORD is your keeper;
        the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
     The sun shall not strike you by day,
        nor the moon by night.

    The LORD will keep you from all evil;
        he will keep your life.
     The LORD will keep
        your going out and your coming in
        from this time forth and forevermore.
 (Psalm 121)

i read this psalm today and as i did, i was both comforted and convicted.  i was comforted to be reminded that the lord is my help!!  this powerful god is in control and always on watch and working out his plan, never sleeping. never caught of guard. never vulnerable to attack. he is always in charge and knows what will happen, though i may be clueless.  the one who created the heavens and the earth is the one who helps me.

i was also convicted because i was reminded that the lord is my help.  i was convicted because all to often i think other things are my help, or that i just am not that in need of help.  the lord is always my help, whether i am in crisis or just answering some emails.  he is always working out his plan for me, whether i acknowledge and trust it or not.  

i am slowly learning that i am always poor and needy. i am helpless and my plan and resources only get me so far.  i know all of this in my head of course, but i am slow to actually let go of control and believe it. i like trusting in me, after all i am the most reliable person i know. but faith in jesus calls for me to let go of being independent, in control, always planning and back up planning.  it calls for me to need help and to trust my helper.  you know, the one that is all powerful and never sleeps.  i am praying that i will believe in my heart that i am helpless, it just sounds so nice to not worry or be in control, but to trust him.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

one year left...

as i have said before, i am officially in a new season of life.  in a year or so i plan to be all done with foster care classes and home-study and hopefully be adopting a child out of foster care.  for all intensive purposes i have a year to live life according to my schedule and however i feel.  most people don't get this long of a warning before a life change.  or if they do, it involves planning a wedding, so really, their life makes a pretty drastic change as soon as a ring is on their finger.  my life has undergone some changes for sure, but i still really have a lot of freedom, for one more year...

the other night as i was running, i began thinking about this.  my life will be drastically different over the next year or so.  i was asking myself, "how am i going to spend this next year?  what am i going to do with it?"  i had this thought a few months back and my answer was something to the effect of "living it up."  enjoying my freedom and my singleness.  stay out late, sleep in, eat out when i want and where i want and have all the fun.  spend time hanging out with all my single friends while i can.

but as the thought crossed my mind this week, my answer was a little different.  i started realizing that this next year will be the most free year i will have in a LONG time to live a life where my affections are not divided.  i can full on invest in eternal things without having to care for anyone but me.  i just started a new discipleship group.  i have a lot of stud leaders on my kidstuff lead team that i am investing in.  i work with lots of amazing women that i want to spend time with.  and for this next year, i can do that without worrying about helping my kid with their homework, or getting them to a practice, or finding someone to watch them, or being home in time to go to bed or to get up early for school. or, most importantly, investing in my kid and teaching them about christ.  i can give my money to people and things i want without thinking about what clothes my kid needs, or what doctor's appointments we need to get to, or whatever.  i even have the blessing of being able to spend long times alone with the lord, uninterrupted. a privilege that will be rare as a mother.

so sure for this next year, i can spend that time and money out having fun and i am sure i will still do that. but this week, i was convicted about how much freedom i wanted to waste on temporary things and on my pleasure.  my investments of time and money will soon be mainly invested in a little disciple that i will adopt.  i want ot take this next year to invest in the kingdom and those around me, undivided.  maybe i will actually use my singleness and life stage how the bible tells me i should.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

a sweet reminder...

so last night in my discipleship group, my girls and i were discussing some chapters from big truths for young hearts.  we were discussing the idea that god needs nothing from us and he chooses to love us and make himself known to us, even though he knew we would leave him and reject him.  as we were talking about it we started talking about the many implications that has for our lives.  one of them really hit my little pharisaical hear to the core. 

sometimes i view my time with god as something i do. i must do. i would never actually describe it that way. i am too christian to do that. :) but that feeling of i have to do this stems from the idea that god some how needs me to do this. like if i do this, he can now work through me.  like it was holding back his sovereign power. part of me deep down still thinks it will bring his approval too.  but i already have his approval, his steadfast and unending love.

i've got it backwards.  my "quiet time" or time spent in prayer and in the word is for my benefit, not his.  i have a god who has chosen to reveal himself to me and those times in the prayer and in the word are so that i may know him!  i get to know him!  how often i forget what a privilege that is!  it is not just something to do or some resource to tap or something to gain good standing, it is for my benefit. i have the chance to sit down anfd learn about this god of mysteries. a chance to commune with him, talk with him and even ask him for things.  funny how when my heart believes this is true, i am excited and even long to spend time in prayer.  sadly for most of my life, a quiet time was a burden. something that i knew would be good for me, but i still felt like it was just something god wanted his children to do.  what a sweet reminder of the privilege it is that god reveals himself to us and we get to approach his throne and know him! 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


one of my favorite coffeeshops to hang out at is mozart's.  now remember that coffee does not taste good in my mouth, so i am not choosing this place based on their coffee. i have no idea how good their coffee is.  BUT i can tell you that their atmosphere is wonderful.  mozart's is mainly outdoors and it is right on the lake.  there is tons of outdoor seating for you and all of your friends. there is free wifi and sometimes live music.  i could spend hours (and often do) out at mozart's.  the tables are big so there is plenty of room whether you are working, playing a game, eating or you just need some personal space.  mozart's also has some tasty pastries and gelato. for non-coffee drinkers like me, there is quite an assortment of tasty beverages that have no coffee flavor.  so go enjoy!

Monday, June 21, 2010

psalm 23...

this psalm has been on my heart a lot lately.  we memorized it with the kiddos last summer, and i was almost hesitant to do it because it was so familiar to me. i mean, next to jeremiah 29:11 is one of the most merchandised verses out there.  i know for me, that has made me overlook the power packed in here. i could recite the words without even thinking about them. this verse was so familiar to me that is held no power anymore.  thankfully the word of god is alive and active and can pierce, even when i don't think it can.  there is so much comfort and power in this simple psalm.  i mean, phrases like "i shall not want," "you are with me," "my cup overflows," all bring me such comfort!  give it a read and see.

psalm 23
[1] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
[2] He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.
[3] He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 
[4] Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
[5] You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 
[6] Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

a cost of discipleship...

one of this year's lessons for me has been learning that the cost of discipleship is not always giving up the things that the christian world often views as "bad." in fact, some of the more costly parts of following christ are actually giving up things that are not inherently bad.  but nonetheless, they are things that christ has called us to give up in order to know him, feel his love, experience his provision, follow him and fulfill the purpose he has for us. 

one of these things in my life has been learning to not say yes to everything that comes my way.  i love people. i love fun. i love food. i love music. i love competition. i love laughing and i love the outdoors.  if anyone invites me to anything where there is even the possibility of these things,  things then i cannot say no. i would hate to miss out! 

enter problem number one:  when i say yes to everything, other things suffer.  i am tired. i stay up too late. i sleep in. i quit making time for things that are important and even essential to my survival.  sometimes i inadvertantly schedule these things right out of my day (i.e. prayer, time in the word, exercise, alone time, etc).  though people and fun are a huge fill to me, running at a can't-say-no-pace, will eventually drain me and hinder me from doing the very things the lord has called me to. 

enter problem number two:  when i say yes to everything, i find that i start spending money on things. fun often costs money, unless you have time to be creative. which i do not because i am too busy saying yes to everything.  even if i am not spending a crazy amount, or if i have a crazy amount to spend, some times this inability to say no, hinders my ability to do what the lord asks of me or go where he is leading me, because i do not have the money to.  i would love to support this person or give to that or whatever, but i just don't have the money.  it is convicting how i will go over on my fun budget in a heartbeat but struggle to give sacrificially. 

so for me, i am learning (very slowly) to say no (even to some really good things) so that i can say yes to things my lord has called me to do.  to have life and have it abundantly, he is the one i need to follow. otherwise i will live an okay, pretty nice life with a few high points, but still be missing abundant life. the cost of discipleship is more than saying no to the "bad" things, it means saying no to some things so that you can say a full-hearted yes to jesus.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

a common invisble barrier...

one of the greatest barriers to community is actually great people.  how can i possibly say this?  well i have experienced it.  i am blessed to work at a church with tons of incredible people who passionately love jesus, live on mission, serve the least of these, care for the orphan and the widow, encourage one another, exhort one another, etc.  all that you could want in community.  the problem is that there are so many of them.  you want to know all of them.  you find yourself doing something each night with different awesome people.  you may hang out over a meal, or perhaps you are digging into deep conversation, maybe even praying for each other.  but it is not consistent enough to really say that you are living life together. and you are not together enough to really live on mission.  the danger is that it can feel like community and you can even be encouraged, but it is not true biblical community.

having tons of great people around can be an invisible barrier to community for a couple of reasons.  you feel like you have it but you are actually completely missing it.  it is not inherently sinful to spend time with people so you do not even see it as a problem.  but when you are busy spending time with all of these great people, it is hard for them to know you well enough to know what is going on in your life, much less your heart. they don't really get to know you or get down into the junk of your life with you.  until you spend enough time together or experience some stressful situations or conflict, the real you does not often come out.  just the well put together you, that most people like.

secondly, if you are spending all of your time, running from place to place being with all these great people, you suddenly don't have the time and energy to live on mission.  spending time with all these people may not appear to be bad thing, but it may in fact be the very thing that is keeping you from living out the mission god has called you to.  it is deceptive because you are not doing anything bad and you may even experience some growth and encouragement from it.  it is an invisible barrier i think many people in our church encounter without even knowing it.

third, when we are busy chasing after the people we really like, we often miss out on the exact people the lord has for our community.  sometimes the ones who god will use to grow us the most, sharpen us the most and even encourage us the most, are not always the people we would chose, but they are the people the lord has place around us.  if we are always busy hanging out with new people, we will bail on the very ones we are called to be in community with.  we will inadvertently become that person who is always looking for something better and is never satisfied. 

and one more thing, community changes with the ebb and flow of life (i am currently wrestling with this). sometimes you do not have to move cities for the lord to change your community.  life goes in seasons and sometimes, your community goes with it.  you have to let go and move forward. not because you do not love those people, but because in order to follow christ, this is what must happen. it will become a hindrance if you still try to keep up with everyone and move forward.  you can't put your hand to the plow and look back. 

so take a look around you, who has the lord placed in your life for community now?  who do you need to be intentional with? who really knows you?  who are you not only doing bible study with, but also serving with?  who knows you well enough to speak into your life on a regular basis? if you have 50 million friends that you see a couple times a month, i am not so sure you have community.

Monday, June 14, 2010


freddie's is a hidden little place on south first.  it was one of the first cool local places i was taken to when i first moved here and i have loved it since.  freddie's food is decent, but i do not go there because i love the food. i go there because i love the atmosphere!!  it is similar to shady grove, but without the 2 hour wait! there is a big screen TV for big games or summer movies, a couple washer toss pits, a small outdoor stage, and a playground for the kiddos. oh and freddie's is also dog friendly, so bring your pup! it is a great place to eat and hang out!

Friday, June 11, 2010

galaxy cafe...

one of the restuarants i frequent often is galaxy cafe. this local place has a couple locations in austin, my favorite being on west lynn, but all are good.  its an order at the counter kind of restaurant and they bring you your food, but no server.  it is great for lunch or for dinner. it is not expensive and you can eat good healthy food if you want.  they have a variety of menu items, from sandwiches, burgers, soup salad, and then some dinner options (like chicken or salmon plates). the item i order the most is the fish wrap with a side of sweet potato fries.  oh and they have a chocolate cake that is delicious!  might need some milk to go with it!  if you have not eaten there, you must!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


has the lord ever shown you something over and over again.  it is as if he is trying to teach me something.  this happened to me while i was on vacation last week.  i am self-reliant.  i think i always have been.  my parents tell stories of me, even from childhood, refusing help and saying, "no, i do it myself!"  perhaps it was just toddler independence then, but i don't think i ever outgrew it, it has just changed forms and not for the positive, even though it may appear that way.

just like when i was a kid, i still want to prove myself.  though not exactly the same, there is still some satisfaction in accomplishing something on my own. proving to myself that i do need need anyone, making myself feel good and protecting myself from having to need someone and possibly having them fail me. and also, proving to everyone that i am worth their time,screaming "notice me and look at the cool things i can do and accomplish."

but i have been learning that this survival skill or protection method, that i have often disguised as things to be valued like strength and independence, has actually greatly hindered my walk with the lord.  since i am self-reliant, i am not dependent. or at least not dependent on the right thing - god.  so rather than praying and asking for help or just admitting my weakness before him or anyone, i pull myself up by my boot straps and make it happen.  and rather than letting my community know my struggles and letting them in and letting them help, i pretend all is okay and i just carry my load on my own.  disguising myself as a martyr, all the while dying inside. i have been realizing how much i have missed knowing him.  knowing how he works, how he provides and how he protects. after all, i have been doing it for so long. 

i need jesus to change my stubborn, "i do it myself" heart.  i long to trust him and live by faith, but i will never get there so long as i keep taking care of myself, rather than entrusting myself to the care of the only one who can protect me. my sinful heart still calls him my savior, but does not like to let him in to do the saving work.  i still want to do it.  it is like my sin nature still wants to prove, even to god, that i do not need anyone.
"teach me that christ cannot be the way if i am the end,
that he cannot be redeemer if i am my own savior,
that there can be no true union with him while the creature has my heart, 
that faith accepts him as redeemer and lord or not at all."
(an excerpt from "truth in jesus" from the valley of vision)

new roomies...

so may was a whirlwind of a month for me. in addition to being crazy busy at work, i moved!  this move was a big deal for a couple of reasons:

number one: 
i left these girls, whom i love!  cassie and i have lived together since i moved to austin and rachel was one of my first friends at austin stone. though i know we will still hang out, it will not be the same and i will miss them greatly!

number two:
i got to move in with some other good friends of mine and their two little boys!!  the engstroms have been some of my good friends since i moved here.  todd is on staff with me and olivia and i have not only read through systematic theology together (yes all of it) but we have caused a lot of fun and thrown many parties together. something that i am sure will happen even more often now that i am living in the guest room.  i do love todd and olivia, but one of the biggest highlights for me is getting to live with Gus the Bus (3years) and Deuce the Caboose (1 year)!  i have already become a better sword fighter and fighter of bad guys.  i also have perfected the art of handing deuce back to his mama before he vomits - thus keeping myself clean. how cute are these guys!

number three:
this move marked the end of a season and the beginning of another.  i moved in with the engstrom clan to save money so that i could pay off debt faster. once my debt is paid off, i plan to take the classes i need to in order to adopt and then move in a place of my own, do a home study and then adopt.  so essentially, this was the last time i would have "normal" roommates.  that is it.  exciting and weird all at the same time.  i have been talking about adoption for awhile now, and as i started taking these first concrete steps it has really hit me. i am more excited than ever and more nervous than ever.  we will see what happens over this next year.  CRAZY!  but until then, i will have a blast living with my new roomies (as Gus the Bus calls me).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

quick visits from dear friends...

2 weeks ago (i am so behind in blogging - you should see all my drafts that i have started), two of my dear friends, we will go ahead call them sisters, that live across the ocean came into town for a little visit. i was blessed to be able to steal a couple of hours each with them! ashley (pictured above in a photo we took while she was here) and robin (pictured below in a picture from my trip last year to the DR because we forgot to take a picture last week) both work for makarios (an organization you know i love!). i am blessed to know both of these women.  paul's words in romans 1:8-12 sum up how i feel about them:
"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you  always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you - that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine."