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Friday, July 31, 2009

encouragement blog hop

Russell French photo.

Remember, man does not live on bread alone: sometimes he needs a little buttering up.

—John C. Maxwell

for one who has a rather critical spirit, a tendency to see the glass as "half full," and to be one who is oftentimes guilty of beating myself up before someone else can, i forget the power of encouragement. i know how much it makes my soul sing when i get a word of encouragement. and i also know the sting of criticism, and how defensive it makes me feel.
they say children need to hear five positive things to off-set one negative thing. kids get corrected alot. but so do adults, so i guess it's important to be the kind of person that is a tank-filler, not a tank-sucker. not a very pretty visual, but it does cause me to ponder.
i'm thankful for this little exercise today. to focus on encouragement.
and in the words of paula deen, "everything's better with a stick of butter!"
so i'm taking this to heart. beyond the encouragement i already give, i am going to really, consciously pursue being an encourager.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

as promised

well, i'm kind of new to the whole video thing, and i have never made a youtube video before, so we'll see how this works. i promised you a video of our time praying in our city for a place that is dear to my heart. several of our high school students joined me and we had a really rich time noticing and using the visual cues we encountered to pray for this country, specifically the unreached and persecuted.

hope this works, doesn't take too long to load (sorry, i'll try to repost if it does) and hope you enjoy. 

have a blessed day, and i truly hope that this will spur you on to be a noticer, too.

Monday, July 27, 2009

a day of fasting and prayer

**UPDATE** (see below)

last week, an "e-maginary friend" (ie a friend i met through blogging) introduced me to a mom of 10 who is has cancer. i didn't need alot of information other than mom of 10 (ten!!) with many little ones  and what doctors are calling terminal cancer to join with many in fasting and praying for this mother of many. i don't know her, but i do know a little about our God and know that He values his children's prayers.

then last night, stellan, a little guy many of us have prayed for over the months since his miraculous birth, took a turn for the worse and i thought i'd pray and fast for him today as well.

you don't need all the details if you feel you want to join me. God has the ins and outs of their situations completely under control. all we need to do as a body is pray and focus.

if you want a bit more background on cindy's story and/or the call to fast and pray, you can go here and here. if you want to keep up with stellan, you can read more here, and there's a link on that page to follow his momma on twitter, since she's been tweeting more than blogging of late. and by her recent tweets, it wouldn't be a bad idea at all to drop to your knees right now and pray. stellan's in a tough spot. 

dear heavenly father, you are the great healer and physician. you hold both of theses lives and the lives connected to cindy and stellan in your big, powerful hands. you have all things in control, you are soverign. i don't understand your ways, but i trust you. i really do. i don't want to be presumptuous, or pretend that i know better than you, but i do lift up both of these precious lives and boldly ask for healing—for them to be snatched from the gates of suffering. i know my idea of healing may not be yours, and i am okay with that. but i plead for mercy and grace here, Lord. i humbly ask for your healing touch. give jennifer peace and comfort that only you can give. erradicate stellan's SVT and return his heart to normal sinus rhythm and restore the function of his organs. give cindy a future with her husband and her children, and remove the evil foreigner who intrudes. my words are inadequate Lord, and at the risk of offending the holy spirit by the requests i have clumsily offered, i beg for your mercy and grace. i lift these up in the matchless name of Jesus. amen.


adding 5 year old abby to the list. she's on her way to the hospital with a very serious bacteria in her blood and is allergic to many of the good antibiotics. she's undergoing chemo for leukemia and is fragile. this could turn very badly very quickly. what a day!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

so they may know

last saturday, i offered up a time to walk through my city and pray for the people of ch*na. our church had a team over there p-walking in an unreached people village (an unreached people group is one where there is no replicating church, and in many cases, the name Jesus has never been heard) in the southwest part of the country.
i'd love to say that throngs of people showed up for the activity, but i would be lying. and as niecey and i sat there by the water fountains at the court of flags at the 1982 world's fair site, i tried not to get discouraged when the time to begin slipped by.  and by.there was still the two of us, and matthew 18:20 tells us, for where two or three come together in my name, there i am with them. i wasn't about to let the enemy steal this activity. it wasn't long after texting a few people to pray, that three others appeared.
it reminded me of the three: shadrach, meshach and adednego, who were courageous to stand when all others bowed. God can do great things with just a few people, so bouyed by that sentiment, we left on our journey.
i brought my camera so we could remember what we noticed along the way and how we used these visual cues to pray.
we ask you to remove the barriers and make a way for the gospel to be heard…
father, you are the alpha and the omega and hold their stories in your hands…
that one day the name of Jesus would be heard and would be their hearts' desires…
open the doors, Lord. break down the barriers. may the church that exists there preach TRUTH…
how you suffered for us, Jesus. may the people there know how very much you love them…
give them the freedom to speak and to worship. and help us not that these blessings for granted.
i am in the process of finishing the video i put together to show people what p-walking is and that we shouldn't be intimidated by the notion of praying. it's on the docket for tomorrow morning's sunday school class (we're leaders in the high school ministry), so i have to finish! i'll post it as soon as it is finished.
two hours after our walk began, we returned back to our starting point, and were amazed at the lapse of time. how easy it was to pray to our Father for two whole hours! and best of all, the young ladies that accompanied me said their entire understanding of prayer changed through that experience, and taught us all to be a "noticer."
may you all notice something today that sparks a prayer to your abba daddy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

new journey

as if my real life world isn't real enough, i can now tune in once a week and watch people deal with the ins and outs of this wonderful thing called parenthood. i'm so looking forward to this show (i adored the movie). hopefully i'll get to see parents make more mistakes than i did. (do)
i'm (well, we) about to embark on a totally new journey of parenthood. that of the parent-from-afar.
i don't know. i'm just so glad there are cell phones and skype and facebook. i can still keep in touch, or if nothing else, be a teeny fly on their walls just keeping an eye out.
i can't believe this phase of parenthood is looming. emptynesthood always looked like something that old people did. or had.
i'm not old.
am i?
will i feel this young when i'm 80? does that sound torturous to you?
i'm looking forward to parenthood. perhaps by watching, i can relive those crazy days that i never thought we'd get through.
little did i know i'd blink my eyes and it would be over.
now on to the next phase!! i'm sure it will be equally hair-raising.

surviving awkward

if you happened to read my last post, you probably can imagine that i was the poster child for awkward pretty much from age 12 until almost 17. as if middle school and early high school aren't flipping bad enough. (why i didn't burn every picture between 1974 - 1980, i'll never know!)
at least i was blessed with relatively clear skin. thank you Jesus.
no cute tank tops or tube tops for this girl. well, i could have, but it would have been jaw-droppingly, eyebrow-raising bad judgement. talk about that moment when you appear... only to have a chorus of crickets chirping in greeting. yikes.
no, for me it was blousy, non-hip, awful tops with the metal bar of my brace protruding and then encircling my neck with the chin guard hovering just below my jaw and the little knobby head rests jutting up from the back. covering this portable torture device was like trying to pretend i didn't have a siamese twin attached to my head.
let's just say i was described as the girl with the "good personality."
it didn't help that my parents "encouraged" me to wear glasses until i was in the 11th grade. fairly torturous under the circumstances, but really, the least of my worries.
when i wasn't in a cage of metal and straps, i was incarcerated in plaster or fiberglass, bringing new heights to the concept of awkward.
it was either learn to laugh at myself, or always suffer the shame of being talked about or snickered at behind my back.
so laugh i did. i became bitingly witty, sarcastic and always looked for the humor in any situation.
i recovered (from the naked eye's perspective) just before my senior year.
i moved 800 miles away and no one knew the dork i was in high school. life was good.

and now that i'm all grown up, and finally free from the obvious trappings of imperfection, i find that my defense mechanisms are not necessary, and get in the way of deep, meaningful relationships.
unfortunately, old habits die hard. but i'm learning to let my quick-witted tongue take a break before flailing about. i'm learning how to be a better listener. and i'm trying my darndest to really embrace ME like my Father loves me. knowing that i am perfectly made by the master craftsman who makes NO mistakes.
i still struggle with self image.
with wanting to be liked.
with trying too hard.
but i'm learning.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

one word

yesterday, niecey and i took a mini road trip for me to do a little work and for her to check out another college option.

being in a car for a prolonged time with someone can either be really fun or horrendously awkward. i'm pleased it was more the former, as niecey has been living with us for just over two weeks now, and with new relationships, it could have gone either way.

so in between topics like is living here like you expected or completely different or who do you miss most from home, i tossed in a little game called "one word."

one word to describe your mom. (one positive and one perhaps not) after thinking (wow, that's so hard! she lamented) for a minute, she said, involved. such a quiet, yet busy action word. (and she blogged about it eloquently here)

i'd be interested to hear what bamagirl would say.

the game sparked a trip through the family tree and memories. it was kind of fun. and i loved getting a glimpse into her heart that typical conversations usually net. her heart is full and loving and appreciative.

it got me thinking about my mom, and initially, i said hilarious. humor and laughter so defined her. but now that i've had a little while to chew on this, i think i would pick influential.

she had a real joie de vivre. a sparkle in her eye. a helpful nature. accomplished in the kitchen. a true wife of the 50s/60s/70s. dutiful, devoted and domestic.

i don't want this to turn into a novel, but i had lots of health problems as a child. well, orthapaedically challenged is probably a better description. and my mom was beside me every step of the way. when i began 6th grade at a new school, she was there to encourage me. and mid-way through that year when i had to wear a giant Milwaukee brace, a frankenstonian monstrosity made only more atrocious with the addition of the braces on my teeth and my wire-rimmed glasses (my 6th grade picture is merely a giant reflective glare), my mom was right there, my devoted cheerleader.

later, the whole spine thing spun out of control and i ended up in a 1/2 spica cast for the summer between my 7th and 8th grade. basically, it's a body cast that goes from the chest down to one knee, the other leg free. but impossible to bend at the waist. we had a hospital bed in the living room, since i couldn't go up the stairs. everyone had to clear out when i needed to use the restroom. yep. my mom was on chief bedpan city for the entire summer. (i could have used a go girl, for sure!)two years later she was at it again when she was my physical therapist, helping me regain the function of my arm and leg after a brief paralysis during my second spinal surgery for Harrington Rods. never did she let me lapse into poor-me-pitty parties or allow me to make excuses for why i couldn't go back to school. yes. the meanest thing she ever did was make me go back to school in a full torso body cast. right to my chin to my pubic bone. completely incarcerated and let's just say, social suicide. constantly tripping (due to my droopy left foot from paralysis) with a body cast. yes, guys were standing in line to take me out on a friday night. . . not.

but i digress.

making me go back to school was the best thing for me and made me who i am today.

my mom was a huge influence on me. her journey through four back surgeries helped me deal with my three. she was an olympic-caliber encourager and a first class mother and wife. she was brass-tacks kinda gal, and often spoke before thinking (a quality i sheepishly claim as well. it's not unusual to see a size 8 shoe protruding from my mouth).

my mom was known as hot lips in high school. she was outgoing, engaging, hilarious and lit up a room when she entered. always unpredictable, always laughing, always loving.

i miss that lady more than i can describe. she was the best.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

recipe hop!

what fun! espcecially in a particularly difficult time for my family and me, it's nice to take a fresh breath and smell the…

banana bread baking in the oven.

oh yes, moist, scrumptious banana bread.

without any more delay, here it is in all its amazingness!

Awesome Banana Bread

1 2/3 c sugar

2 1/2 c flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup crisco (or i use 1/3 cup and add more bananas)

3 - 4 ripe bananas

2/3 c buttermilk

2 lg eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2/3 c nuts

here's the easy part: mix it all up and pour it in a greased and floured bundt pan (or two lg loaf pans) and bake for 1 hour at 350. when a toothpick comes out clean, it's done!

it's great by itself, but you can drizzle with a milk/confectioners sugar glaze.

hope you enjoy the aroma wafting from your oven as much as we do!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Sunday, July 19, 2009

joy in failuredom

i'm not perfect. i don't even pretend to be. at least on the inside. i know exactly how black and murky this heart of mine is, but i'm afraid this isn't always what shows on the outside (not the black and murky part, but the fact that i know it's like that).

i'm working at my flaws, but am impatiently wanting instant results. 

patience is not one of my gifts, and frankly this isn't one of those areas in my life i'm even wanting to tackle right about now. i want to press the minute button, hear the quiet hum of the mechanism at work and hear the beep beep beep that it's done. open the door and out comes the new improved me.

the one who doesn't wear her heart on her sleeve.

the one who isn't intent on telling everyone how much she knows.

the one who isn't looking for validation in a laugh.

the one who isn't self-seeking or prideful.

the one whose feelings don't get hurt easily.

the one who isn't easily irritated.

the one who doesn't claim joy just hoping if she says it enough it will permeate her being.

the one who isn't a hypocritical sham.

but seriously, i'm okay with that. not of being flawed, a true failure, but in the fact that my God is a God of redemption. i'm in pretty good company in the failure category. really, jonah was a failure at one point, as was moses. i'm certainly not putting myself in those ranks, but it is good to know that God is persuing my heart and is making me new.

God doesn't fit in a box any more than he fits in a microwave, and sadly this transformation business is not going to be wrapped up in any ole minute.

patience. gah! i guess i'll have to work on that, too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

thrill ride

i was jolted from sleep last night by the hugest crack of thunder as the sky exploded in light. a simultaneous smackdown from heaven that left my adrenal gland gasping from its sudden surge. blood was coursing through my system like a raging white water river—my heart the pounding evidence. 

is this why i delight in thunderstorms?

is it a bit like the feeling i get when i crest the top of a huge rollercoaster knowing that in mere seconds, my stomach will be somewhat closer to my throat, my eyes slightly bulged out as the wind whips my hair into my wide-opened mouth? or like sitting in a movie theater, my hand gripping the forearm of my neighbor, unable to turn my eyes from the screen, knowing that i should look away, yet can't. screams erupt all around, my nails did deep into flesh, and my reaction leaves me feeling slightly foolish. the only consolation is i am in good company.

is it the anticipation of the clap of thunder after the flash of lightning? knowing it is coming, but just not when... and jumping out of my skin anyways? and then the nervous laughter. 

thunderstorms. a little natural thrill ride. exhilirating and terrifying all at the same time.

after the storm's main attack, i love the sound of the torrents of rain dancing on my rooftop. the gurgling of the overworked drainspouts and the river of water coursing down my driveway. the thought that my grass and garden and flowerpots are getting a good dousing and i can neglet to water them myself with a clear conscience. 

i love a good storm. 

afterwards, i flip my pillow to its cool dreaminess, pull up my covers and dream of dancing barefoot in the rain.

what's your best memory of a storm?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

take me back

this time last year, i was waking up at 3 am surveying the sleeping city of guiyang, ch*na as my system had not quite adjusted to the twelve hour time difference. while sleep was illusive, it was great to stand on my apartment's balcony, knowing that most of the city's 4 million people were still asleep and spend time with our Father and pray for them.

my heart is lost in that part of asia. i sigh contently just thinking about my three weeks there. 

and i sigh with a heavy heart knowing that i am not a part of the team that is serving there right now.this is not the year for me, and i think this is one of the hardest aspects of m*ssion work. listening to His voice as He calls me to . . . stay.



"yes, it's not about you, after all," He says.

oh. right. 

so this staying, this not-going, has me thinking of why we feel like we have to "go" to make a difference, to serve.

saturday, i'll be p-walking through the downtown of my home city. experiencing the sweltering heat of the mid-day sun (just as our team is frying in the ch*nese heat), pr*ying for the unreached people of ch*na. my hope is there will be many from our youth group that will join me. 

but if i'm all alone? that's okay, too. i'll remember how it was, just me and my Father, standing there on the balcony, lifting up pr*yers for His people. 


and i also find it ridiculous that i have to be careful what i type. that i have to be careful about what i say here and on the facebook group for this event. just another picture of how the enemy is always on the prowl. 

so sorry, evil one, you lose. 

just in case you haven't heard. you can try, you can scheme. but in the end? the game is over. 

thank you, JESUS.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


it's been a pretty wild ride around here. 

and then again, it's been pretty tame. 

depends on the perspective, i guess, and who you ask.

if you asked my friends whose son is 150 miles away undergoing a stem cell transplant how my life looks right now, they'd probably jump at the chance to be in a disheveled house with new housemember and a constant, steady stream of teenagers in and out the front door.

and i'm soooo not complaining.

just a little overwhelmed.

i've moved my office upstairs (alas, i can no longer "affectionately" call my office the cave. i'll have to come up with another name.) and now am the proud owner of a window. allbeit a dirty one, but i can see the american flag waving by my window on breezy days. ahhhhhh. that's something to behold! the freedom to fly a flag AND have dirty windows. i love it!

we had a lovely fourth of july at our former next-door-neighbor's home out by the lake. my sister and her husband were in town from wisconsin as they did a veritable "drive-by" in dropping their daughter off to live with us. in friday afternoon, out first thing on sunday morning. we took a little breather in between setting up checking accounts, purchasing a vehicle for said daughter, and all the other myriad setting up residency things one must do to enjoy a little relaxing afternoon with friends. the weather was ridiculously cooperative as it was not 99% humidity and sticky hot. it was surprisingly pleasant and we all had a great time. no one was injured in the pyro fest so it was a successful holiday!

so in the midst of moving my office (read: mass chaos and still trying to work) and sheparding a new little tennessee transplant into the community, it's been a little wacky around here. i am thrilled to have our niece living with us as it's exactly what i did 28 years ago (yikes, i just choked on that number) when i uprooted my life to follow a dream. i'm just so glad that we have a place where this little chick can land for a year or two.

i'm processing a bunch of thoughts, some light, some rather dense. i feel the Lord's hand upon me. . . really, and i'm trying to remember to be still. . . 

He is the air i breathe. . . 

let me not be so caught up in the static of my life that i don't take time to breathe.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

it's a girl!!

just yesterday, we received the most startling news in our lives.

it's a girl!

or it seemed like just yesterday.

our sweet "son" that we were expecting surprised us with "herself" on her birthday, and i can remember her daddy exclaiming, "IT'S A GIRL!!" as he cut the cord. of course he heard the doctor's proclamation just moments before, but he thought the dr. was kidding—since he's the one who told us the ultrasound said "boy." 

so began her life. always full of surprises.

with a brother just 18 months older, there was little she wasn't willing to try. she was the daring one, the one who would dive in first and ask questions later, unlike her more cautious older brother.

she can drain the threes, run like the wind, hit homers and tackle with the best. but you'd never know it to look at her. when unbeknowing people pick teams for sports, they're always surprised that the girl picked almost last can pretty much whup their butts.

always a surprise.

yet girly. always accessorized. dressed to the nines. shops like a pro. up until peer pressure reared its ugly head in second grade, everyone debated on whether or not the girl even owned pants.

while her brother practically had his own language as a preschooler, we joke that her first words were, "please pass the gray poupon, mummy." she was articulate and precise in her diction and that attention to detail has been a hallmark of hers throughout her life.

projects completed way ahead of the due date (who does that?). meticulous with her work and always concerned about her grades. because of her hard work and persisitance, she graduated with honors, was a tennessee scholar, and is ready to venture out on her own to begin college in (gulp) five weeks.

my how time flies. it ain't a cliché for nuthin'. the past 18 years have been a joy, a blessing and it will be so fun to watch her continue to grow up. because, after all, she's just our little girl.

happy birthday, baby girl. may you continue to shine from the inside, may your heart be overflowing with the love of Jesus so that others may know Him, too. may He guide you carefully along life's ragged path, and may He always be the Lord of your life. we love you!