A Verse for the Year and The Birth of a Podcast

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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. 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?

 

Adoption: Five Month Update

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.

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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.

 

Help For a New You in Your New Year

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.

 

Diet

 The Daniel Plan

The Daniel Fast

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.

AdvoCare

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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!

 

Exercise

T25

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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.

 

Finances

How to Stick to the Envelope System Without Cash

 

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.

 

Organization

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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!

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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).

 

Back Camera

Here’s how we organized the girls’ Barbies.

 

 

Recipes

Easy-CheesyPotato-Soup

How about some easy cheesy potato soup for lunch one day instead of eating out?

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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!

 

One Word for 2015: Focus

Last year, and years before, I made a nice long list of things I wanted to accomplish for the year.  Looking back, I can see where I marked some goals off, but many were downright wishful thinking. I love that Crystal over at MoneySavingMom.com, who I modeled my goals after, found much of the same results. It was just too much!

While she decided to simplify her goals in a similar format, I felt led to go the One Word route again this year.

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This year feels like a year to buckle down and FOCUS.

In years past, I always felt a bit like the adoption was hanging over our  heads. We had DSS always watching us.  Jac0b’s room was sitting empty and I was never sure what to do with it.  The future felt like a big question mark. Of course, so much of that settled last year.  Nearly five months into the adoption, I feel like I’ve worked through so much of the confusion and grief of the first few months.  I definitely feel like I can leave so much behind and focus on what’s ahead.

But, I am so easily distracted by many things that are perhaps good, but not best.

As part of the 90 day Bible reading plan that began on the 1st, we read about Eve. She ate the fruit not because she was trying to do something bad, but because she thought it would help her. She thought it would be pleasing. She thought it would provide sustenance. She thought it would make her wiser. And the simple truth is God had said no.

There are so many good things I could say yes to, but this year I want to focus on the things He has put in front of me. In short, my relationship with Christ, my marriage, my kids, my job, our small group, my friends, my writing here. God has been laying the word “podcast” on my mind over and over for a few weeks. So, even though I feel entirely inept, I feel like it’s going to be part of my year. I want my kids to thrive in school. I want them to thrive in their relationship with Christ. I want to make solid memories with them. I want my marriage to flourish.

The phrase “know Him and make Him known” has also been floating around in my heart. If I can filter these important things to me…kids, marriage, job, writing…through that phrase–to know Him and to make Him known, I think it will help focus my attention directly where it needs to be.

Mostly, what I keep feeling is that if I just focus on Him, He will direct my next step in all things.Does that feel like a cop out to goals? Yeah, maybe it does. And I think that’s exactly what I need this year.

2014 Wrap-up

In case you need caught up, 2014 was epic. I couldn’t leave 2014 without a bird’s eye view of the entire year.

 

In January, we literally started the year off with a bang.  I totaled our van. It should have been the first sign that the year was going to find a path of its own.

Easy-CheesyPotato-Soup

I also posted this Easy Cheesy Potato Soup recipe. I am still getting messages that it’s a winner in readers’ homes.

In February, I discussed the challenge to live the Gospel most to the people under your own roof.

How to Stick to the Envelope System Without Cash

 

I also talked about how we stick to the envelope budgeting system without cash.

redeemed

 

In March, I broke down a Psalm describing 4 profiles of the redeemed of the Lord: the lost, the addicted, the rebellious and the worker.

Later that month, God used that post and the book Battlefield of the Mind to free me of my own addictions in Green Pastures.

In April, I shared 3 things I learned from a 5th grade talent show.

I took a bit of a blogging break in May, but posted one essay on how I came to terms with working out of the home.  It’s my yes in my mess.

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In June, I wrote one of the most popular posts of the year Three Ways to Dig Yourself Out of a Funk

We adopted in the summer so most of the rest of year were posts related to our adoption.

Most popular for July was the day we met Jac0b.

In August,  you got to meet Jac0b.

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And then the famous Three Feathers story.

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In September, I documented how I saw Love on the Move.

I also did a series on Eagle Feathers.

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In October, I shared a 10 and 12 week adoption update and shared how I saw the number 7 showing up everywhere. My sister also got married!

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In November, I shared about Jac0b’s yearbooks.  Read Part 1 and Part 2.

In December, I talked about hearing Jac0b referring to me as “my Mom” for the first time.

And of course, I shared all the details on our finalization day.

 

There were many, many more posts for the year. If you aren’t caught up, I’ve made page for the Our Adoption Story and The Feather Story.

2014 certainly was a year of both trials and blessings. So thankful God was so close this year and I hope for more of the same in 2015.  Happy New Year, friends!