Archives for January 2015
Much of last week was silent here, but as I continued to work on the new podcast (update coming soon, I hope!), I was having lots of thoughts about faith. What is faith? How has mine changed over the years? On the way to work one morning, I recorded a voice memo with thoughts to translate that into a blog post for today.
I sat yesterday and tried to do just that, but all I can say is that it felt like God was scrambling the words for me. The written words wouldn’t come and I’ve felt strongly that I should simply share the audio clip along with these few visuals. I would explain more if I could do it over or edit out some parts completely. I stumble over my words at times, but I do think by the end I got my point across and that is to say that faith does indeed grows and if we let it, God begins to create a beautiful picture of His gospel with our lives.
Push play below to listen. Those in emails or readers may have to click through to listen.
The following visuals will only make sense as you listen.
The “God box”
The black and white boxes
The black and white box zoomed out to see that there is much gray
The big, colorful picture that God truly wants to paint
It is only because we have such a faithful God that we can have great faith. Seek Him and the rest will come.
While reading The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith, I pause at these words:
There are two kinds of Christian experiences: an experience of bondage and an experience of liberty.
In the first case, the soul is controlled by a stern sense of duty and obeys the laws of God, either from fear of punishment or from expectation of wages.
In the other case, the controlling power is an inward life principle that works out, by the force of its own motions or instincts, the will of the divine Life Giver without fear of punishment or hope of reward.
Ah, the life of the good girl. Yes, I know something about that kind of bondage.
Read the rest over on Deeper Waters today.
Last weekend the kids and I saw a preview of the new movie Paddington, releasing today. I was *this close* to not attending. I was never a huge Paddington fan as a child. Not that I didn’t like it. I just don’t remember being into it much. I really thought the movie would be too childish for the kids (9, 10 and 12). But man, was I wrong. Paddington was fantastic–for all ages! In fact, I’d love to see it again.
The movie was whimsical without being outrageously silly. I loved how everyone in the town accepted there was a bear walking around town like it was normal and yet, he was the only one.
All the characters were unique and even though perhaps one-dimensional a bit, they played that one dimension perfectly. Nicole Kidman made the perfect evil nemesis. It was also fun watching her in such a different role after watching her and all the awkward with Jimmy Fallon just a few days before.
And Downton Abbey fans, listen up, because you’re going to want to see Hugh Bonneville play the part of the uptight, yet loving dad in a modern British setting. He was phenomenal.
The plot was action-packed and the pacing was spot on. It moved from one fun adventure to the next. I didn’t find any lulls to the movie at all. In fact, about 2/3 through the movie I regretted needing to run out to the restroom. I went as fast as I could so I wouldn’t miss a thing!
But best of all, the entire movie had such great themes about family and adoption. The main ideas walking away were our unique qualities are the best parts about us and family can be put together in all sorts of ways, as long as we accept and love each other. After just adopting these last months, I couldn’t have found a better movie to watch with our family. Of course, though, when the movie ended all three kids just wanted to adopt a bear!
I can’t say enough good things about Paddington and hope you and your family get a chance to watch it–you will ALL love it!
I don’t know about you, but January isn’t the most, er, lucrative month of the year for our family. The downward spiral starts somewhere in the summer with vacations and back to school, takes a dive during our fall birthday season and crashes during the holidays. We brace for bonus and tax season in the spring to save us. Sound a little familiar to anyone?
Yeah, so having a massive car repair bill and then wanting to start a podcast the first two weeks of January isn’t what we would call ideal.
Did you know there are podcasting setups with mics, mixers and such that are thousands of dollars? The top of the line microphone costs $330 alone. Training videos and communities are another couple grand. And that’s nothing to say of editing software, media hosting plans, or graphic design. It all sounds so simple in your head, doesn’t it? Push record, talk, and voila! Podcast!
You can get by, though, with a simple setup at first. I told Scott on Monday I just needed $100 to start.
Well, wouldn’t you know by the next day at noon he was handing me a check from some side work he had done. And guess how much the check was? You guessed it. Exactly $100.
He said, “Here, go buy your mic.”
God is so good isn’t He? I know He’s directed me to this podcast–about faith, no less–and already I see Him at work to provide. Yeah, the provision looks a lot like hard work, but the opportunity presented itself and we were able to take it.
What do you need to believe God for today?
I still need a name for this podcast! I have a long list of ideas, but nothing feels just right yet. I’m going to be married to this name and tag line for, well, life really. Will you pray with me that God shows me just what it would be?
If you would allow, I have a
bit lot of meandering to do in my post today. It’s a lot of pieces tied together telling the story of my verse for the year and more about ,wait for it–my new podcast!
A Verse for the Year
At the end of last year, I started thinking about the new year, what my goals should look like, what direction I should take with the blog or what my one word should be. A few things came out of that. I shared one of those which is my one word for the year: focus. Ever since then, I have seen how important this word is. I am so easily distracted with things to do and thought trains I shouldn’t be on. Many times already, I’ve simply had to tell myself “FOCUS!”
At the first of the year, I also saw how the MOB Society had decided to choose a verse for the year instead of a single word. I really liked that idea, although I’d already picked my word. I tucked that away to see if I needed to do that also. Then, one of my friends on Facebook linked over to Sarah Bessey where she had also picked a word (two, in her case) for the year, but also the Lord led her to a verse. And so, I felt like I should follow suit. I began to look up verses with the word focus in them, but did you know there is not a single verse in the entire Bible with the word focus in it? How could that be? Where was my verse?
But, I really felt like there was a verse out there for me and I wracked my brain for a verse that might come to mind and the Christian-ese phrase, “focus on Jesus” came to mind. Google then led me to Hebrews 12 where it says, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Oh yes, this is exactly what I felt led to in my one word post. I need to focus, or fix my eyes, on Jesus and where he might lead for the year.
Let me push the pause button here because I need to introduce another thread here.
A podcast? Are you sure?
Back at the end of the year another word began to drill a hole in my head and that was podcast. Like, all the time: podcast, podcast, podcast. I found this to be strange because I’ve never had plans to birth a podcast out of this blog. Also, the only experience I have with a podcast is when I co-hosted a fan podcast for Friday Night Lights several years ago (Oh yes, I did interview Tami Taylor, which rocked my socks). But, I mean, certainly God wasn’t leading me towards that, was he?
In addition, I’ve concentrated on writing here, not speaking. Speaking was the furthest thing from my mind. Did you know I used to hide behind my mom’s leg so I wouldn’t have to talk to people? Even the other day, I had to work up the courage to call a doctor to make an appointment. It’s ridiculous how I hate calling for appointments, specially after going through a case with the clinical negligence lawyers because of a situation that happened in the past. I have no idea why. I mean, in general I love talking to people and I love people, but I don’t know, there’s some anxiety there about doing it publicly. So, podcast, Lord? Really?
If you’ve been around the past few months, you know this speaking thing isn’t entirely new, though. I really felt the Lord leading me to speak and teach about Eagle Feathers back in the fall. I ended up doing a little video series on those.
So, podcast. It kept coming up, but I had no idea what to do with that. Should it just be me talking? Perhaps me and Scott? Me and my friends? My family? What would we talk about? How often would it be? I had all the questions.
I emailed a few of my people to see their initial thoughts, and as supportive as they were of whatever I decided, none of them really had any solid direction to provide for me.
And then one day, I was sitting journaling at my dining room table and I looked out the window and saw several birds out my window. It was very strange as birds had been pretty scarce in our backyard recently. But there were 2 or 3 of them, just hanging out near the window. And of course, I thought about our feather story. And sitting there, I really felt like the Lord dropped into my mind what the podcast should be about.
The podcast would be a place for people to share their own feather stories. Not where God had shown up in feathers or butterflies or what not, but the stories where God had directed them to do something that maybe didn’t make sense at the time or from the world’s point of view was a little crazy, and yet by faith, they followed through and later saw the wisdom of his commands. So, maybe you had to move your family or quit a lucrative job or start a ministry or simply reach out and talk to someone but you weren’t sure why at first. It’s the stories of God speaking and his people having just enough faith to believe Him and obey.
So, I began recording my feather story one day on the audio app on my cell phone to explore what the podcast might look like and I said, “the Bible tells of our great cloud of witnesses” and the podcast would be the place for people to share their own stories.
A Great Cloud of Witnesses
Now, let me push play again and go back to where I’m sitting there reading Hebrews 12. I backed up a sentence from “fixing our eyes on Jesus” and it’s the part that says “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” And like, woah. If you know my history, that verse is like a neon sign to me. My eBook written about my emotional affair is named “Entangled,” named from this verse. Looking at these verses, it feels so much the story that God is writing in my life. The last decade has been so much of throwing off everything that hinders and since last year, I’ve felt that shift to focus and run.
And then, if that weren’t enough, I backed up just one more phrase in Hebrews 12 and it says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.” I was stunned. It was the exact phrase I had used about the podcast. And more than that, right in Hebrews, perhaps in reverse order was what I felt God had done and was doing in my life. Throwing off the sin that entangled, focusing on Jesus and then thrust behind the podcast. All of it neatly tied together.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I backed up to Hebrews 11 where it shares many of the stories from those great cloud of witnesses–how Abraham left his home to a place he didn’t know and how the people passed through the Red Sea and how the people marched around Jericho and how Rahab welcomed the spies. All those times God told his people to do something crazy and the people had the faith to obey him.
They are the feather stories of the past and the podcast would be a modern-day Hebrews 11 where people could share their stories of the present.
So no one is building an ark or marching around Jericho but God IS moving. I want to give people an outlet to give Him that glory to say God is able and faithful and if we just believe and act in faith, we will see Him move.
Jennie, Joshua and some feather earrings
So, after I ran into this verse, I was pretty convinced this is the direction to go in.
And then, THEN! Jennie Allen from IF:Gathering announced the new set of Scriptures that IF:Equip is going to study in preparation for the upcoming IF:Gathering and guess what it’s all about? Joshua. They’re focusing on faith and belief in God. They share how Joshua was one of only 2 that really believed God to lead the Israelites into the promised land and how he took over leading the Israelites and then led them to march around Jericho. Jennie says, “We are excited to begin wrestling through unbelief and will fight for a deeper faith in God.” And yes, this is exactly what I feel like God is wanting to do through this podcast.
Clearly, God is moving through his people right now and begging them just to believe he can do great things. We need these modern-day stories as encouragement. We need to build our own cloud of witnesses.
And if that weren’t enough, just guess what Jennie is wearing in her video? Huge feather earrings. I have to laugh just a little because isn’t that so much like God? Jennie
probably has no clue about our feather story or how God has been moving me towards the podcast and honestly, I hadn’t really been paying attention to what the IF:Gathering topic would be about this year even though I’m helping to plan our local gathering. It was just like one of those God winks through a feather to say, Yeah, you’re on the right path.
And so, all of that to say, I’ve got my set of verses this year and a podcast is being birthed (seriously, it’s still just an idea. I haven’t done a thing!). I’m so excited to talk to people and see how God has moved in their lives. I’m so excited at the thought of people’s faith being encouraged and for folks to really step out in faith in whatever God has prepared for them. I believe He really, really wants to do great things through his people.
So who’s with me? What should we name the podcast (Feather Faith, Feather Stories, etc)? Who knows someone who really needs to share their story?
I’m standing in our bedroom watching him jump on our trampoline outside the other day and I just keep thinking it happened, I really have a son. It happens again when I catch a glimpse of his bike lying on the front lawn with his friends’ or when I see his shoes by the couch. Sometimes when I catch his picture in a frame or am folding his laundry. It feels like many transitions in life where you can’t imagine life before it and yet, it feels like it happened yesterday.
Today marks 5 months since Jac0b came to live with us. Somewhere around 150 days.
I went back to work this week for the first time since before the court date. I got a few questions about how the holidays were with the family and how things were going. I only had to think for a second before I enthusisatically answered we were doing great. And I meant it. I’m telling you something special happened that day in court three weeks ago. Well, the obvious special thing happened, but some sort of invisible special switch was flipped.
Ever since that day our family has felt different. Settled. Stable. Confident. Loving. Even between the kids. Of course they have normal sibling fights and I get burned out on a long day, but there hasn’t been one break down, one hateful word, one threat to leave the family, one anything.
It’s just as I had hoped–we all know there’s no getting out of this now! And I say that with this best intent as possible. We’re family and no one can change that and that brings a peace I can’t explain.
I’m sure there are other factors in play, too. We went on our first road trip the evening after we went to court. Road trips are great bonding experiences. Well, if they don’t make you hate each other. Ours really couldn’t have gone better.
All five of us were also hunkered down together for nearly 2 weeks over the holidays. No school. No work. We had so much bonding time and it’s showing.
Lexi and Jac0b seemed to have particularly bonded well. More often than not, I find the two of them playing together now. It’s taken the full five months, but I think they’ve figured each other out. They remind me of two animals that were put in the same pen and they just had to figure out who was going to be Alpha (*cough* Lexi *cough*). Actually, she’s taken quite a maternal role with him and it’s really heartwarming to see. Actually, guys, it feels like a miracle and heartwearming doesn’t even begin to cover how good it feels to see them happy together.
We also reduced Jac0b’s ADHD medication over the holidays. I wouldn’t mention it except I really think it’s a contributing factor that can’t be ignored. He’s settling in and becoming more stable. Also, I believe the DORE program is helping.
I mentioned it in a previous post, but it feels so good to have all that under our belt and to start our family fresh with the new year.
Someone at work commented how well-timed it all seemed and I couldn’t agree more.
I suppose you could sum up this five month update saying that it feels like we’re finding that elusive new normal as “Bennett, Party of Five” and y’all, it feels good.
It’s a New Year and you want a new you–or at least a few new habits. I thought I’d share some posts from the past that always pick up speed at the first of they year. They’ve all helped me with a new start, whether it be diet, exercise, finances or organization at one time or another. I don’t do all of these, all the time, but for the majority, they’ve stood the test of time.
The Daniel Plan
The Daniel Plan is not meant for long-term, but is a great way to jump-start a new healthy eating plan. You eat fruits, veggies and nuts exclusively. I did it for 10 days as part of spiritual fast and truly felt better than ever.
You’re probably starting to see some AdvoCare 24 day challenge groups starting up for the year. After losing 6″ in just 24 days, I’m a believer. I felt better than I ever have on the challenge and continue to this day to take their supplements. In fact, just the other day I ran out of Spark and tried to replace it with coffee and it was a terrible failure. I didn’t get the normal pick-me-up and was extremely sluggish in the afternoon. Spark and all its Vitamin B gives me long-lasting energy!
I haven’t done a full review post on the T25 workout system, but it’s AMAZING. I completed the system last Spring and built more muscle in a month than I have in my entire life. It’s great that’s it’s only 25 minutes and it’s 4 different workouts so you’re never bored. I fell off the wagon when we got a new morning schedule in August, but when I do get a chance to exercise, this is what I do.
30 Day Shred
It’s a classic: Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred is solid and great for beginners.
I’ve written a few times about the Envelope System that Dave Ramsey suggests. Last year I wrote how you can alter the plan without using actual cash.
Still, one of my favorite organizational tips is to buy seperate laundry baskets so you can pre-sort your clothes. I’ll never go back!
If you want to get organized with meal planning, without actually, you know, meal planning, here’s a post about how I shop just once a week without writing down a single thing!
Here’s how we moved our coats OUT of the hall closet and got more organized.
A tip on how to store your feminine products. Check #7 on this list. Yeah, I still can’t believe how this changed my life (or at least my bathroom).
Here’s how we organized the girls’ Barbies.
How about some easy cheesy potato soup for lunch one day instead of eating out?
Or, add this Italian walnut salad and call it dinner!
Or, save cooking time and make one of these super easy crock-pot recipes.
Whether you made yearly goals or not, I hope one of these helped you in some way and you’re having a great start to your new year!