Fun on FaceTime

I FaceTime my mom, on average, six days a week.  That’s right.  It’s a lot.  But after living in the same town as my mom for 38 of my 40 years of life, it’s a necessity.  And while a normal phone call works just fine (and I do actually just call on occasion), I love to see her face and show her my antics haven’t changed in the 2 years I’ve been in California.

Enter tonight’s convo.  Not unlike any other.  I literally discuss a lot of nothing with my mom.  I ramble usually for the better part of an hour about the most random things.  Tonight, I talked to her about my bible study research as well as the lunch I tried today from a local restaurant I’d found.  I talked to her about Rite Aid and how there isn’t one in Cheyenne (like she didn’t know that), and I told her about the Kokie eyeliner I’d found.

On the subject of eyeliner, we began talking about the two colors I’d picked up, Chocolate and Bronzed, and the color difference between the two.  So, I put a couple of swatches on my hand for her to see.  As the conversation wound down, and I told her I needed to get off the phone, I decided at the last minute I’d give her a better look at what the colors looked like by actually applying them to my lower lid line.  Which then led to this…

img_3942
FaceTime snapshots that my mom took!

I can’t help it.  I seize opportunities.  And when “Instagram Brow” popped into my head, my eyeliner pencil became my paintbrush.  This is typically the kind of conversations that we have.  And then I usually add one or both of my daughters to the mix to sufficiently embarrass them yet still remind them how much fun I can be!

What does this have to do with Jesus, you ask?  Everything!  Not everything has to be so serious!  It was a moment of JOY!  It was a conversation of happiness and silliness, and the bible clearly tells us that joy is good and pleasing to Him.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22, and Ecclesiastes 3:1/4, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

When we have Jesus in our lives, we have joy filling our lives as well.  It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect.  It doesn’t mean we don’t have bad days.  It does, however, mean that we can find the joy in the seemingly silly or mundane.  We can laugh out ourselves and make other people laugh.  We can create moments with others that become fond memories in later years.  A piece of our testimony for our Father is the joy that radiates from within us because of His grace and mercy in our lives!

Find the joy in your conversations.  Fill those conversations with laughter.  You won’t be disappointed!  How about you?  Do you have a moment you can recall that brought joy to an everyday conversation?  Share with us in the comments below!

~Erin

Raindrop Races

Recently it rained for nine days straight in Alabama and it seemed we were going to float away.  Being from the Pacific Northwest, I grew up with continuous rain and know that it will end eventually.  Nothing of my childhood in the rain prepared me for nine days of rain with an eight-year-old on Christmas break.   We were both going stir-crazy and on each other’s nerves.

While we were driving during this ever-present rain, I was reminded of a game I used to play with my brother when we were younger.  We would each select fat raindrops towards the top of the window and then we would watch as the drops “raced” each other towards the bottom.

In retrospect, it was a good game to keep us quiet and occupied while my parents drove.  It also afforded an opportunity to pause and enjoy the glory of nature.  We loved the joy of inspecting raindrops, which lead to both of us to be mindful and present in nature.

God gives us the gift of nature to know He loves us completely and we can benefit from what nature provides.  In Acts 14:17 (NIV), we see an exact example of his kindness through the provision of rain. In this instance, the gift of rain is specific to the needs of the crops in order to provide food for each of us.

This look at nature should fill us with joy simply because it is tangible proof of God’s love for us.

He will testify about His love.  He has a testimony.  Through the rain, we see that testimony of love for humans being a top priority.

During times when we feel stir-crazy, joy can be found.

That joy may be in something as simple as a raindrop race.

Reflect on how God’s love, through a glimpse at nature, and tell us about the joy God provides.

~Emily

“Yet He has not left Himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons: He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” ~Acts 14:17

rain

Crying Gifts

I made my husband cry on Christmas day.

All I did was hand him keys and an invoice to a brand-new boat.  He was so overwhelmed that it brought him to tears.  It wasn’t the boat itself that caused the tears. The tears came from knowing, I was willing to be part of investing in his dreams.  At that moment, he knew that I had complete belief that he would have his own fly-fishing guide service.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by a gift and started crying?

I once cried over a set of earrings, my first real diamonds.  I have cried over a rocking chair, in hopes I would one day rock an infant to sleep.  I even cried over my great-grandma’s Bible, entrusted to me as the family historian.

There is an overwhelming emotion that comes out as tears when someone believes in you and your dreams.  A career change, becoming a spouse or parent, or preserving a family’s heritage…all of those are dreams, that when tied to a gift, create an emotional response.  I think that’s the main reason my husband cried over a boat.

With that in mind, do you think Mary cried over the gifts from the wise men?

The Bible tells us that they brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold is historically a gift provided to someone of royalty.  Not necessarily a traditional gift for a child, but rather a gift fit for a King.  Both frankincense and myrrh are used for their aroma as incense, perfume, and medicine in burial rituals to assist with covering the scent of death.  Not necessarily a traditional gift for a child and certainly not one for a King. Yet these gifts are a foreshadowing of the death that would occur for this small child.

My feminine heart feels like Mary may have cried over those gifts.  They were gifts with overwhelming meaning, which created the potential for an emotional response.  The knowledge that the Messiah had been born and was going to die for all of us.

A death, which would be the ultimate gift. One worthy of an emotional response. And likely the reason that we see new believers often in tears when they first accept this gift from God.  Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” (NIV)

Whether is a dream come true gift, a piece of history gift, or an extravagant gift, tears could be a natural reaction.  I didn’t mean to make my husband cry on Christmas, nor do I think the wise men would have meant to make Mary cry if that ever happened.

I do believe God smiles benevolently at the heavenly rejoicing when one of us accepts the gift of salvation through the belief that Jesus is our Savior.  It’s likely that He understands tears, as an emotional response to that gift.

~Emily

Boat

The Debris Hauler

Emily and I had been praying for one of the debris trucks to make their way down McKenna’s street.  It had already come once at some point before we got there to start cleanup; there were a couple of houses on their street who’d been able to get their cleanup completed.  But there was no guarantees of when the trucks would be coming again.  The city was desperately trying to be fair in getting around to streets and get to them as quickly as possible.

For us, the prayer was two-fold.  First, we didn’t want old food and moldy household items to attract rodents and pests.  The last thing McKenna needed was a raccoon infestation or a snake problem.  Second, with the pain of throwing away her memories and household items, we wanted that stuff to be gone and out of McKenna’s line of vision as she began to rebuild.  It would feel as if she was truly making a dent in her restoration, and she would be able to move forward.

Towards the end of Wednesday afternoon at around 230pm, we saw a debris hauler on the intersecting street near McKenna’s house and hope surged that it was coming towards us.  However, at the intersection it took the dreaded turn left instead of right toward the opposite end.  All three of us were joking when we saw it happen, and pretended to try and ‘will’ the truck back in our direction.

We continued raking the debris into the growing pile all the while side-eyeing that truck down the street.  McKenna saw it first.  “It turned around!  It’s coming in our direction!”

We were all so excited.  The raking and shoveling pace increased as it cleaned up the debris four houses down, then three, then two….and when he was done with their house, his truck was full.  Even writing about it now makes me chuckle.

He stopped at our driveway, and I went up to the stranger to ask if he would be back.  He was so kind.  “I’m going to go dump this, but I’ll be back.  I’ll have about 15 minutes left that I can haul it into the truck.”  I thanked him profusely and as he drove off, the pace of our work was bordering frantic!  We wanted all of it to be gone!

Ten minutes later, he drove up to the house, waved hi and began his work of running the hauler equipment as we continued to rake.  He kept smiling at us and yelled out, “Slow down!  Slow down!  You’ve got time!”  I yelled back with the clock ticking at 15 minutes, we were going to make the haul worth it!  He told us not worry—“I’ll stay until it’s done, ladies.  I won’t leave.”

And he didn’t.  He took every bit of our debris from the front, and we filled his truck to the brim with our things from the house.  We were so thankful that we asked for his name and if it would be alright to take our picture with him!  His name was Randy, and he was retiring in eight months, so we wished him a happy congratulations in his upcoming retirement and thanked him again for his willingness not to take off when his time was up.

In Philippians 4:19 the Bible says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Isn’t it just like God to give us exactly what we needed at the exact moment we needed it?!  We were winding down much of our cleanup, and the last hurdle we were praying for was for the debris pile to disappear.

McKenna, Indy, and Andros still have a long road ahead in their hurricane recovery.  As we speak, they’re still waiting on a new roof, new walls, and 2 new windows.  But a lot of work has been done to get them to that point, and they are at least able to live in the downstairs part of their house.   When we’ve least expected it, God has supplied McKenna and Indy with the necessary and even sometimes the extra that we only hope and wish for.  Our God is a good God!

How about you?  Tell us about a time that God has supplied your needs.  We’d love to have you share in the comments below!

~Erin

IMG_1240
Erin, Randy, and Emily (McKenna was speaking to her roofer in the garage!)
IMG_3725
The debris pile on Tuesday before we started adding outside debris in front of the driveway!
IMG_3754
Randy working his magic!
IMG_3757
The truck was amazing! Can you imagine how many trips to the dump it would’ve taken us?!

No Service: A Distraction-Free Zone

Cell PhoneNo service or the spinning wheel of death usually causes a groan because I can’t access Google, Facebook or text messages. It often happens at the worst time, such as when I need directions in some remote area of Amish country.  Or worse, when I’m standing in a line…bored and needing some electronic entertainment. It’s annoying to not have service on my cell phone.

Except that there is one place where I don’t receive cell service that it isn’t annoying. It’s the one place I’m grateful I don’t get service.

At my church.

I don’t get one single bar.  A continuous spinning wheel of death.  Repeated “Not Delivered” messages.  Not a tiny, itty, bitty inch of service.

And I’m glad for it.  Why?  Because it’s a total and complete break from social media and obligations through my electronic lease.

It’s a relief to have that chain broken so that I can 100% focus on God and the people within the walls of the church. I literally have no excuse to not get involved, to not engage in conversation, to not fully worship and pray.  I have no buzz in my pocket tugging me away from being present in the moment.  No service means no distractions while I’m in the walls of the church.

Have you found yourself distracted while in your church?  It may be your phone, your child, your worries from work or even your spouse. Those distractions tear your attention away from God.

*Focus During Worship

Have you struggled with focusing on God while the worship music is happening? Are you self-conscious about singing in tune?  Perhaps you are wondering where the singer got her adorable dress? Fretting over clapping verses raising your hands in praise?

All of those are distractions from the true intent of focusing on God during worship time.

You can sing like an angel or roar like a lion, but not say one thing to God. You can be tone deaf or not care for a particular song, but speak to the Father fully from your heart.  I would encourage you to examine yourself and figure out if your words of worship are simply lip-service or if you are truly offering a song to the Lord.

“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” ~Matthew 15:8-9 (NIV)

*Focus During Prayer

During times of prayer, does your mind wander? Are you making a grocery list? Thinking about your child’s homework? Wishing you could pray more eloquently?

All of those are distractions from the true intent of focusing on God during prayer time.

You can get loud and pray boldly, but your prayer still won’t touch Heaven. You can stumble and use verbal pauses…..ummmmmm….., but speak directly to the Father’s heart.  Examine yourself and figure out if you are just tossing words around or are you offering a sweet sound of praise and request to the Lord.

“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” ~Psalm 18:14 (NIV)

*Focus During Service to Others

When you are serving others, are you considering other things you could be doing? Do you feel a sense of obligation rather than joy? Are you watching your watch, wishing the time away?

All of those are distractions from the true intent of focusing on God during times of serving others.

You can volunteer for dozens of organizations, but your service can be unpleasant to the Lord. You can serve one person in a seemingly mundane manner, but make the Father proud of you.  Examine yourself and figure out if you are serving others for yourself or are you offering the gift of your time as praise to the Lord.

“Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’” ~Mark 9:35 (NIV)

These are just three examples of where we, as Christians, need to focus:                     During worship. During prayer. During service to others.

Through focusing on God, we need to mitigate distractions.

While my phone is an asset for staying connected in business and personal relationships, it can also become a distraction.   A distraction that has been eliminated based on the lack of a service area.

I am grateful for the elimination of that distraction.  It’s one step closer to staying focused on the Lord!

I pray that you have deliberately focused week that is free from the distractions of the season!

Merry Christmas!

~Emily

 

 

Transitions: Change and Growth

I am overwhelmed by all the changes that happened in my life this last week.  I officially retired from the Air Force after 24 years, 10 months, and 26 days (would it just be easier to continue saying 25 years?!?!?!).  That means I was accepted into the “blue card club”; AKA I got my retired military ID card.

As a result of that transition, I was given 30 days to establish formal residency in the state of Alabama.  That means I gave up my Oregon driver’s license this week, which I might add had a 28-year-old-Emily photo and weight.  I traded that in for a Jabba-The-Hut photo with a 25-pound weight gain on a black and white temporary Alabama ID.

This week also brought a switch in health care insurance to retired status for my whole family, as well as registration for voting.  The next Alabama voting season will literally be the first time I have ever voted in an actual polling booth and not through an absentee ballot.

Overwhelming transitions that changed many of my self-identifiers.

*No longer active duty…now retired.

*No longer an Oregonian…now an Alabamian (is that the correct term??!?!?!).

*No longer insured for free…now paying lots for healthcare.

*No longer absentee voter…now a poll voter.

While I was feeling overwhelmed this week, our good-good God took time to remind me that we are all in transition.  Sometimes those transitions are overwhelming and sometimes they seem minor, but those transitions are always blessings from God. Those transitions grow us into stronger women…stronger wives & mommas…stronger friends…stronger Christians.

The book of Joshua is filled with amazing reminders that we are not the only ones who have faced transition.  I would argue that after forty years of wandering through the wilderness, God’s people were facing transition as they prepared to enter the promised land.  They faced transition when Moses died.  They faced a transition when Moses’ assistant, Joshua, was placed in charge.

Joshua faced a life-changing transition from the support team to a leader.

As always, God provided guidance.  He told Joshua, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:7-8 NIV).

God’s words of direction became a foundation of Joshua’s leadership.  Our Father went on to state, “Have I not commanded you Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).

Joshua’s leadership status and mission were huge transitions in comparison with me getting a couple of new ID cards.  Yet, it illustrates that transitions happen to us all. Large and small transitions happen every day.

Your identity may change.  Your status may change. Your circumstance may change. But remember this; overwhelming or not, His hand is with us in every transition.

~Emily

Military

 

The Heirloom Quilt

The room is a chilly 65 degrees. It’s super dark. There are half a dozen heavy blankets on the bed.  This, my friends, is my classic formula for a wonderful night of sleep.

Recently, my husband was asking for Christmas present suggestions and I casually mentioned that I wanted to try the weighted blankets.  (Have you seen these blankets?!??!?! They are 20 or 40 pounds and lull you to sleep like you are an infant rocking in your momma’s arms!)

He looked at me, as though I’d threatened to cut off his pinky toe.  He responded, “You don’t need a weighted blanket. You have THE quilt.”

THE quilt is my favorite quilt.  THE quilt is large enough to cover a full bed, but just a tad too big for a twin bed.  THE quilt needs febreze frequently, as it’s way past the washing machine phase.  THE quilt probably weighs about 40 pounds. And yes, I have THE quilt.

The quilt was first sewn in the late 1800s by my great-great-grandmother in a small farming community of Wisconsin.  It was originally sewn from worn-out garments and was the definition of a “patchwork” quilt.

In 1920, my great grandmother sewed over that quilt with another layer of worn-out garments and scraps of fabric.  She tried her best to find feminine colors, as this quilt then became my grandmother’s quilt.  My grandmother recovered the quilt when she got married and again when she had my Aunt.

By 1950, the quilt was passed to my mom as her baby blanket with another layer added.  My mom added her own crazy quilt patchwork layer in the late 1960s, as she headed off to college.  She recovered it again in 1975 as my first blanket.  She taught me to sew and let me recover the quilt when I was 10 years old. After joining the military, I recovered the quilt again.

In 2013, I recovered the quilt one more time. But this time, I could not help but really concentrate on the love and history in this blanket.  The last four generations of my mom’s family have added to this blanket, simply by covering it up with another layer.  That concentration translated to an insatiable curiosity about what the layers-upon-layers looked like.  Could I touch fabric that my great-grandmother had sewn?

As I sewed the new covering, I thought about generational blessings.  I understand that the phrase “generational blessings” is not overtly found in scripture; however, there is evidence of how generations are blessed throughout the years.

Think about Matthew 1:1, where we see the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.  This is a verse that presents evidence of Jesus being the seed of Abraham.  While it does not say, “you will be blessed through all the previous generations,” it does indicate that we are indeed blessed by generational lineage.  A lineage that created the provision of the perfect Son of God, who came solely to die for us.  That is a generational blessing, indeed.

With scriptures in mind, I paused to give thanks to the Lord for that blessing and for providing a way to heaven through His Son. I also gave praise to a family of women who were resourceful in getting supplies to sew a quilt over 100 years ago.

And then I carefully cut through a seam in the middle of the quilt covering from when I was 19 and 10 years old. I cut through the quilt seam of my early childhood to my mom’s college years.  I cut through another seam and another seam…all through the years until I came to the very first thin layer of well worn-garments that was first sewn in the late 1800s.

It was dingy grey and threadbare.  Paper thin to the point I thought it may fall apart in my hands.  The tiny hand sewn stitches still holding fast after a century. As I sat looking at the seamstress work of my great-grandmother, I cried tears of happiness to have seen the center of the quilt.

I put a few loose stitches into each layer of the quilt and finally slipped the newest cover onto the old, yet still new, quilt.  A quilt of generational blessings.  THE quilt.

What family heirlooms that make your heart cry and smile in the same breath? Come tell us at the porch…

~Emily

 “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” ~Psalm 100:5 (NIV)

quilt2