Monday, November 28, 2011

Cross Ornament Exchange

I thought I'd do something a little out of the ordinary for this blog. Sometimes an unexpected interruption is just what's needed (especially if it's fun).

I am hosting my first ever exchange (swap). I've participated in a few over the years, but this is the first time I am playing hostess. I'm sure to make at least one mistake (*wink*), so thank you in advance for grace.

Christmas is a time for celebrating the birth of Jesus, but the cross reminds us of why He came. During the holidays, we often need help keeping the right perspective - our new cross ornament can serve as a visual reminder of Who, what and why.

Each participant will be responsible for mailing one cross ornament or an ornament with a cross on it and will receive one cross ornament or an ornament with a cross on it.

Sound simple enough?

The exchange opens for sign-ups today, Monday, November 28 and will close this Friday, December 2 at 10:00 PM. After 10:00 PM Friday, no more participants may be added to the exchange. I will randomly select names and will send an email letting you know who you will be making an ornament for along with their favorites/preferences. You will not know who is sending an ornament to you until you receive it (this will not be the same person you are sending to). I thought this would add to the excitement. :)

Once you receive the name of the person you will be sending an ornament to, you will have one week to make or purchase your ornament. Cross ornaments must be mailed no later than Friday, December 16 (out of fairness to everyone, please do not sign up if you think you cannot make the deadline). If there are international participants, some ornaments may arrive after Christmas - but you'll have your first new ornament for next year plus a new friend in another country! :)  *You may specify whether or not you are willing to ship internationally (as this will be more expensive).

If you would like to participate, please email me at with the subject line Cross Ornament Exchange. In your email, include the following information:

1. Name
2. Address
3. Favorite color
4. Favorite metal (gold, silver, bronze etc)
5. Favorite finish (rustic, distressed, shiny, blingy, etc)
6. Theme (shabby chic, Victorian, western, vintage, animal print, etc)
(If you do not have a preference, simply state no preference.)
7. Are you willing to ship internationally? (yes or no)

Cross ornaments can be:
  • Hand-made
  • Store bought
  • Your favorite cross ornament taken from your personal tree
  • Wood
  • Fabric
  • Glass (just make sure you pack it tight)
  • Metal
  • You get the idea... :)
If you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to ask. And if you see that I have left out some vital information in this post, please feel free to let me know :)

I love receiving packages in the mail!  Can't wait!

Let the exchange begin!
Linking up with Jen and others for the Soli Deo Gloria Party:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More Than Just a Day to Say Thank You

As the holiday approaches, I stop to contemplate thanks-giving. The subject of our celebration—gratefulness. The purpose of our gathering—the giving of thanks.

What is it that deserves this response of praise? This recognition of honor? What commands my thoughts as I meditate on this giving?

How can I choose when I have been given so much?

Yet to respond with a generic “everything” seems in itself dishonoring and inappropriate, ungrateful even.

To be truly thankful for all I’ve been given requires more than just a day of remembering.

It demands a life of acknowledging.

A life of choosing to see all that I’ve been given and responding to the One Who’s given.

More than just a day to say thank you.

A life of applauding instead of complaining, contentment instead of whining, appreciation instead of criticism.

A life thank-full.

Thank you, God, for life. For seven years cancer free and waking up in the morning to celebrate another day. For air to breathe, for food to eat, for eyes that see, and ears that hear.

Thank You, God, for family. For a husband choosing to walk this imperfect journey with me, growing and learning and loving together. For children who, like us, are not perfect but are ours and healthy and beautiful and Yours. For belly laughs and group hugs and family movie nights. For parents who love You and share wisdom and value marriage.

Thank You, God, for extended family and friends and acquaintances and friends who've become family and people who choose to smile in passing and offer love on the days I need it most.

Thank You, God, for the hard times I would have never chosen for myself and never want to go through again. Times that caused me to question and ponder and take a closer look and drink more deeply.

Thank You, Jesus, for the price you paid that I might be free and whole and healed and forgiven.

Thank You, God, for the Holy Spirit, Who empowers me to live this life and walk this journey and stay the course.

Thank You, God, for allowing me to choose and make mistakes and fall down and get back up and learn and find my way to You.

Thank You for choosing me.

Thank You for faith.

And love.

And mercy.

And grace.

And hope.

“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalms 34:1

“…in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

And thank You, God, for pecan pie.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Like an unwelcome visitor, an uninvited stranger barging in, interrupting life, dragging bags of disappointment and unloading boxes of hard to swallow news.

Family members die, friends divorce, leaders abuse, children rebel, houses are lost, jobs end, cancer invades.

And still He whispers, "Trust Me."

No matter how much we pray or cry or wish or scream, sometimes things are not ok.

When plans fail and dreams fade and life. was. not. supposed. to. be. like. this.

"Trust Me."

The unexpected strips away all that is not anchored.

Like a punch in the stomach, the unexpected can leave us struggling to breathe.

But it can center. It can strengthen. It can remind.

Like Peter, if we take our eyes off of Jesus, we begin to sink.

But when we fix our gaze, though the storms may be violent and the unexpected may take us by surprise, our feet can stand firm and secure.

And when I want to pull the covers over my head and the water is swirling around my ankles...

I have to listen.

"Trust Me."

And fix my gaze...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Have I Made This Gospel Fit?

Last night I read a post on my friend Jen's page. She wrote of China and radical devotion and persecution and worship in the dark. Secret places and mountain caves and religion that is not free.

Her words and the picture created clenched my heart.

Jen...Just when we think we have given all, abandoned all, for His sake. We find, we have given little. A watered down faith, a comfortable gospel, a message that feels and fits just right. God is more. Thank you for stirring my heart with these words...Shelly

Would I have the courage to risk everything? Would my words be so bold? Would I desire enough to wake while everyone sleeps and love enough to be found hands lifted in a cave?

When compared, our worlds seem so different. Our faith, easy.

Suddenly, some things matter less. Some, not at all.

Other things matter more. Still others, most.

This life I live is not my own. Or is it?

Have I made this gospel fit?

Have I twisted and turned and stretched and found a way that is comfortable?

Have we?

Linking today with Emily for imperfect prose.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I try. I fail. I try again.

Yesterday I posted about being mindful of what I leave behind. In other words, how am I relating to people and what am I giving them? When they remember our conversation or point of contact, what things have left a lasting impression…good or bad?

One of my readers commented about being convicted of this very thing but in relation to her home, her own family. I thought about this all night.

Hope Unbroken said, "..perfect. and it brings to mind what i am leaving with those IN MY OWN HOUSE. i fear my aroma around here is often what it should not be, in spite of the scented lotion i use after the shower! i know this because i see it coming back at me in the attitudes of my children. . . convicting thoughts today. thanks for sharing!"

And then this morning one of my teenagers and I had an exchange that wasn’t so pure and lovely. Not that I cursed or stomped or threw my keys (no matter how bad I may have wanted to), but I was clearly frustrated and angry and probably (definitely) made the situation worse by my reaction and the way I chose to respond.

I am a work in progress.

I try. I fail. I try again.

God extends grace.

And then on the way to school (with my kids still in the car) I stopped at a four-way stop sign. I clearly stopped first but the big, bully of a truck on my left proceeded to go at the same time I did and I was in no mood to give. He almost ran me over. But I made it through first and was sure to give my meanest, dirtiest look as I passed by. Hmph. Teach him.

I try. I fail. I try again.

More grace.

He is teaching me and training me and molding me. He is correcting me and rebuking me and exposing me. He is loving and forgiving and merciful and grace-FULL.

It is easy to sit at a computer screen and type words that encourage and build up. It is easy to tell someone else, “You can do this.”

But sometimes, when I’m sitting here in my pajamas, hair uncombed, house dirty, bills due, kids fighting, projects unfinished…in all my messiness and all of life that is sometimes hard and sometimes not what I had planned, a voice (you know the one) whispers, “You can’t do this.”

It’s right at that very moment I have a choice. A very important choice. A life or death choice, really.

Sometimes it’s an easy choice, but a lot of times I struggle. I struggle to believe that He would use me, the me who at the end of any given day feels all used up. That He would love me, the me who is often so unlovely. That He would choose me, the me that sometimes rejects Him and doubts and denies and forgets.

But He does.

He chooses me.

And He chose you.

And He’s not going to change His mind, no matter how many times we do.

So, today, I try again.

I choose Him.

I choose to be corrected and molded and made into His image.

I choose to push through the difficult days knowing that He is here and He is cheering me on.

I can’t do this…alone. But with Him, nothing is impossible.

Choose Him.

Choose life.

Choose to listen to the voice that says, “You can do this.”

And when you try and fail (or scream at your teenager or give dirty looks to the guy trying to run you over), receive His grace, and try again.

Today I am linking with Shanda and others.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Medley of Perfumed Mists or a Dirty Residue of Criticism?

Last week at church I was keenly aware of the various fragrances my friends were wearing. As each of them greeted and hugged me before the worship service, bits and pieces of their perfumes dove into the fibers of my clothing. By the time I got to my seat I was a medley of perfumed mists, a field of flowers, a department store mix of designer samples, a smorgasbord of scents.

I know for some (especially those with allergies) this could prove disastrous. But for me (who had only an empty bottle of perfume at home that morning) it was a gift. And with each breath I was reminded of one of my sweet, scented friends.

Instantly, Holy Spirit challenged me with the question, "What are you leaving behind?"

Beyond actual fragrances, I can leave a number of things with those I come in contact with every day.

Is the character of Christ being poured out through me in my words and actions? Or do selfishness and pride create a dirty residue left clinging to those I touch?

Are love, mercy and graced being poured out? Or are judgement, critical words and condemnation the gifts I offer?

Refine me, Oh God.

I pray that others might desire to know Christ because of Christ living in me. Let me be more mindful of what I'm leaving behind. I pray that those who are looking might find Him in me. As I pour my life out as an offering to Him, let others see His goodness, hear His invitation and smell the sweet aroma of Christ.

What are you leaving behind?

Linking today with Jen at Finding Heaven and Michelle at Graceful.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sometimes It's Easier to Pretend It Doesn't Hurt

If my bedroom or closet is messy (and they usually are) I have a bad habit of walking through with tunnel vision pretending like I don't see it. Life is messy, too. Marriage and church and family and death and teenagers are messy. Sometimes it's easier to avoid the messes.

If I run into writer's block or only get 300 words in a day, I have a bad habit of closing my eyes and putting down my paper (or keyboard) out of frustration or disappointment. Sometimes it's easier to not push through and deal with the hard things.

If someone hurts me I have a bad habit of closing off, putting up a wall, and neglecting the relationship completely. Sometimes it's easier to pretend it doesn't hurt.

But sometimes, we must deal with the messes.

Sometimes, life is hard and we have to push through.

And sometimes we hurt.

God takes our messes (not my messy closet) and makes something beautiful. give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3).

He takes the hard things...His yoke is easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:30)...and His grace is sufficient for me, for His strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 11:9).

And He cares about my hurts. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3).

The God Who created me...knows me and loves me.

The God Who created YOU...knows YOU and loves YOU.

Trust Him.

Even when it's messy.

Even when it's hard.

Even when it hurts.

Linking with Emily for imperfect prose on thursdays.