working toward one thousand

Sundays are a good day to share what makes up thankful – and sometimes all I am think is “WOW. I have a lot to be thankful for!” I am busy creating my list of one thousand gifts… my iPhone notes are full of things that just bless me. Bless me oh-so-big.

12. air conditioning on hot, windy winter days
13. hard, round trigger point ball for sciatica pain
14. the same gourmet sandwich two days in a row
15. empty white canvases and full tubes of bright paint
16. shoots of green growing of of otherwise dry and barren hills burned by fire last year
17. innocent, unforced belly laughter of children
18. the breezy feeling on my newly-bald head
19. women support women who are strangers to them
20. Thursday night Bible studies with friends in home familiar to be as my own
21. feet pounding on pavement and the miles racking up
22. piñatas full of Blow Pops

There’s more. There’s always more. But I would like to end with this quote from Ann Voskamp, who keeps piercing me in the heart in the best possible way:

I watch the hands move grace on the clock face. I’m growing older. These children growing up. But time is not running out. This day is not a sieve, losing time. With each passing minute, each passing year, there’s this deepening awareness that I am filling, gaining time. We stand on the bring of eternity.”

(From One Thousand Giftswhich I highly recommend!)

We are at eternity’s door. Let’s live like it – in thanks and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Friday Favorites: Spring Edition!

Ok, you can’t be mad at me for saying this, but it’s basically been spring since I was born in California close to 31 years ago. Someone on Instagram asked me the other day where the snow was and I said, “Uh. Snow? What is that stuff of which you speak?”

Friday Favorites graphic

There are some many things I am in love with right now, and it’s Friday, so… you know the drill!

1. #SheReadsTruth
All of it. Instagram feed. Twitter feed. Website. And app-in-development. I love that ladies can come together and love the Lord and grow in their knowledge of Him together. Irons sharpens iron. Will you consider donating and sharpening with the #SRT sisters?

2. Salads
I don’t have a picture for this one, but I’m enjoying salads lately. Dinner. Lunch. Just because. Last night I had one with bacon, hard boiled eggs (yuck – took out the yolks!), goat cheese, cabbage, and spinach. Today I had one with strawberries, spinach, sliced almonds, golden raisins, and goat cheese. SO GOOD. Maybe it’s because summer is practically here and salad seems like a warm-weather food.

3. Diet Dr. Pepper
I know this is basically poison, but it. is. SO. good.

4. essie Spring Collection
I love the entire collection, but this is probably my favorite of the bunch:

Truth or Flare

Truth or Flare

5.  My new wallet.
An early birthday present. And it’s on sale at Kohl’s for $21! So fun and both springy and summery!

Isn't it pretty?!

Isn’t it pretty?!

And that’s a wrap – for this week. What are you enjoying this Friday?

brave, bald, and the walls of Jericho

I’ve had a lot of people ask me a lot of questions over the last week and a half about my hair, what it’s like to be bald and if they can touch it. And most of those people have said the same thing to me: “You’re so brave for doing it. I don’t think I ever could.”

This is the statement I struggle with the most because it doesn’t seem like a brave thing at all to me.

In fact, it was impulsive. I didn’t wake up that morning with the intent to shave my head. Although my hair wasn’t as thick or curly or distinctively red as it once was, I loved it – in all its curlyish, reddish splendor. I was caught up in a massive, twisting swirl of emotion and decided, in those few seconds, that I was going to do it.

It didn’t feel brave as I sat in the chair, having my hair put into tiny ponytails so it could be donated. It didn’t feel brave as I felt the buzzer make its first swoop across my perpetually-hot head. In fact, it was so incredibly calm that I didn’t really feel like anything.

Left: day zero. Right: day seven.

Left: day zero. Right: day seven.

So I’m struggling with brave. I’ve gotten funny looks from people – on Saturday, a woman walked past me twice at Target, blatantly staring while I talked to a friend in the aisle. Others have assumed I’m sick and have asked me outright. A last at church said “So what happened to your hair?” very boldly. Others still think I’m making a statement about my sexuality. But I don’t think it takes bravery to deal with that. Just a thick skin and lots of patience.

Because the thing is, I made a very willingly, albeit impulsive, decision to go bald to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Like it or love it, it was a choice I made. And my hair will grow back – is already going back quite nicely, thanks to some supplements I’m taking. I don’t mean to diminish the positive support of those who call me brave, but I’m 30 years old (for two and a half more weeks!). I’ve relatively healthy. I have a lot of life ahead of me, and a lot of hair ahead of me.

What is brave, if I am not?

Listening to God speak, and responding with obedience.

I am terrible at this. For evidence, let me remind you of the six months God clearly told me through His word, pastors, and other Christians (all without knowing what I was wrestling with) that He was calling me to volunteer at the pregnancy center. I said, “No no no, this isn’t what You’re calling me to do. Something else. Anything else.” I practically had a nervous breakdown when I read a chapter in Weirsbe’s On Being A Servant of God about how God sent a big fish to a disobedient Jonah. I mean. For the love. Could it have been anymore clear?

And still I resisted.

Eventually I said yes, but it cost me a lot – and the cost could have been avoided if I had said yes in the first place when I recognized God’s calling on my life to serve. It was only to be for a short season, but it was what He had for me.

Because I know how hard the yes can be, I am always so inspired by those who shove past the no to grab hold tightly to the yes: past the uncertainty, the fears, the doubts. Past Satan’s whispers of “You’re not good enough” and “You will never succeed” and “Did God really tell you…?” a la Eve in the Garden.

Sometimes the yes is scary. Sometimes it seems like it’s going to be a giant disaster, a horrible plan.

But the yes is always worth it when it’s done the way God works it.

I think of Joshua and Jericho. Can you even imagine how crazy it must have been to say yes to God when He said to walk around the walls of Jericho? To say yes to yelling to knock down the walls?

Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”
(Joshua 6:1-5)

But that’s what Joshua, under the authority of God, had the Israelites do. I can’t imagine God telling my pastor to tell us to walk around a firm, well built wall seven times on that seventh day, shouting at the right time, and watching the walls fall. Cannot fathom it. But that’s exactly what happened. God knew. He ordained it. And brave Joshua, and his brave people – they did it because they trusted in God.

Trusting in God. I’m working really, really hard on making that a reality. Some days I do it better. Some days I feel like I can’t even turn to God because all I’ll do is present Him with a list of things I would like Him to do or give to me, and I know that my heart is in a very ugly place in those moments. I wish it weren’t. I pray so much that it won’t be there for long.

Can I direct us a little away from my own selfish heart to the hearts of a group of ladies that aren’t selfish, but instead incredibly brave?

A few years ago, I saw that some bloggers I admire started doing a devotional study together using the YouVersion app and were tagging their tweets and instragram pictures with #SheReadsTruth. Over these last two years, the number of women participating has grown by huge numbers – huge! They’ve written their own plans, many of which I have participated in (mostly quietly). They launched a beautiful website. God has given them this crazy dream of doing something more – and they’re say yes. They’re building an app.

The #SheReadsTruth team has started a Kickstarter project. Their initial goal was to raise $35,000 by April 22 at 9:59 pm. Within 22 hours of opening the project, they had raised every single dollar they needed. Speechless. It literally left me speechless.

Have you met me? I AM NEVER SPEECHLESS.

So now they are actively working on their next goal: $65,000 – because that first goal only covers an iPhone app. I own an iPhone, but I want my sisters who have Android devices to share in the app fun with me, and that is exactly what this next goal will make happen. It’s going to be a killer app. It will have full versions of the Bible in it (they’ve already secured the rights to a few), the ability to take + edit pictures, reading plans/devotions (for purchase), the ability to journal, and so much more.

I’ve backed this project because I full, utterly believe in what #SheReadsTruth does – it is bringing women of different ages, backgrounds, denominations, and seasons of life together to study God’s word.

Incredible.

One of the reasons I love the fact that this app is happening is because I remember so strongly what it felt like as I got my life together in my late 20s and returned to seeking and following God. Long before I started coming to church again, I felt the hunger to be in God’s word and to be in fellowship with other women, but I was afraid to reach out to my circle of real-life friends. I would have loved a place like #SRT to read and journal and question with other women. God gave me exactly what I needed in the form of a friend who allowed me to do the same things, but can you imagine how an app like this could change the lives of women who are questioning?

I could say, “Hey, download this app and let’s do the This is the Gospel or the This is the Bible study together.” Imagine. Just imagine how that would connect her with tens of thousands of other women who would love and support her, give her community and support.

It makes me want to sob with the beauty of it.

Will you consider backing it? $1 or $10,000 – every dollar raised counts. Every dollar is a woman who will get to experience God’s word with another woman, no matter how much physical or emotional or spiritual distance separates her from other women. Watch the video below and head over to the #SheReadsTruth Kickstarter page to back the project.

with thanks

During my accountability group the other night, while we sat soaking in the hot tub, one of the girls in our group of four said, “Let me tell you about this book I’ve been reading.” She shared with us how she started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and she’s enjoyed it. I’ve had that book on a shelf for almost two years so I thought I’d finally get down to reading it and not just owning it.

It’s a beautiful book. Voskamp has a lyrical writing style – and while this annoys me sometimes because she has a tendency to complicate the simple, as well as break every single rule of grammar in ways that don’t always seem right to me, it is still very powerful. It’s one of those books where there are lines that you have to read a few times to make it seem to make sense.

While I’m not sure how much I agree with (or fully understand) the theology she presents in her writing, I love that she focuses in on the act of thanksgiving as being central to the life of a Christian. Too often I am thankful for the big things I get – “Thank you, God, for my car and the money to fly to Missouri in July and for being able to buy all the new jeans I need when I need them” – and not for the small things. I love that Voskamp does this. Unless I get a big thing, I often feel like God has not given me enough (which is never truth – He has given more far more than enough). Voskamp so beautifully says this: “Though I can hardly whisper it, I live as though He stole what I consider rightly mine: happiest children, marriage of unending bliss, long, content, death defying days.”

So to be grateful for it all, I am making my own list of one thousand, beginning here.

1. the small, stearling heart ring I wear on my right hand, reminding me of Love
2. a message on my phone in a sweet little voice saying “Hi sissy, it’s me, Goosie”
3. the snore of a black dog, the licking of a wheaton dog, and the cuddle on my pillow of a yellow dog
4. cold, sweet air after a good rain
5. a pile of blankets clipped to and wrapped around chairs in the form of a falling-apart fort
6. piles of asymmetrical pancakes on a paper plate, shiny with melted butter
7. days warm and breezy enough to leave the doors open in the early morning
8. bright colored pens that annotate and highlight the pages I read
9. piles of books from the used book store at the library piled on my dresser waiting to be shelved
10. a second cup of coffee, browned just right with creamer, on an early-wake day
11. birds coming through the open windows as they talk to each other