Blessings this Week: 09.26.2014

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A great weekend with wonderful gals-- I got to see both my moms and my aunt this weekend during our Women's Retreat here at Camp. Who could ask for more?

I'm so blessed to be surrounded with strong, loving, godly women. What great role models.

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A piece of rhubarb pie from friends.
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We got to spend a little time back in our hometown this past weekend- and got to meet these funny cats at the farm. They walked around right up against one another like this. Best buddies.

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We also got apples from the farm. An abundance of apples. Tons of apples.

And so Trevor is trying his hand at making apple chips using the dehydrator.

So, so yummy.

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Acorns popping under golf cart wheels. 

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Chicken stock in progress
We're so blessed to have meals provided for us at Camp throughout the whole entire summer, but there's something so wonderful about reclaiming my kitchen every fall.

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This guy. 

I won't say that our marriage is perfect (because, Ha! Hahaha!), but God knew what He was doing when He paired me with this wonderful man. 

What blessings have you seen in your life this week?


Blessings this Week: 09.19.2014

Some who shared a great Women's Retreat experience with me last weekend! I'm blessed by new friendships, stronger friendships, and my goodness, those little bacon-wrapped chicken things? Yum.

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A visit from my folks on Sunday, complete with baked goods. 

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On Tuesday, Trevor went disc golfing with a friend. It was a beautiful night, and a nice little walk for me!

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An always-inventive husband- an empty plastic container becomes an acorn scoop.

I tried to get him to say, "TA DA!"... He was less enthused.

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Tomatoes free with the purchase of gas at our local gas station.

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Sadly, no picture, but... have you ever ridden on a tandem bike? You know, a bicycle built for two? Trevor and I got to try one out (donated to Camp), and I've found my new favorite way to ride a bike. But only if I'm in the back. When we decided to try it with me in front... well... "disaster" would be one way to put it.

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All of the ladies who will be joining us here at Camp for our Women's Retreat coming up soon!

What blessings have you seen in your life this week?


Walk as Children of the Light

In Ephesians 5, Paul kind of goes off on a tangent- but a very important tangent.

He's been telling the church in Ephesus how to live a holy lifestyle, but now he goes into why we live the way we do.

Live in the World with a Lifestyle that is Different from the World

"Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord." 

(I once had a Bible teacher who said that whenever you see "therefore" in Scripture, you should go back and figure out what it's there for. He was clever.)

The "them" that this verse addresses is the people in verse 6- those who might deceive you with empty words- people not living a holy lifestyle... people who tell you that all those "thou shalt nots" are there to ruin all your fun, and lighten up already!

Paul says that because of this, we're not to be partners with them.

What does he mean by "partners?" 

Are we to be completely cut off from society? Should we avoid contact with all non-Christians, listen to only Christian music, only watch movies based on the Bible, and if a non-believer strolls past we should hide?

I don't think that's a lifestyle that would please Jesus. After all, he did the whole "eat meals with prostitutes, thieves, and beggars on a regular basis" thing.

We are in the world- we live within a culture, among so many types of people. But we're different. 

Being different doesn't mean that we don't associate with non-Christians, or that we're somehow granted a right to judge the people around us (because who the heck are we, anyway? We did nothing to earn this, remember?), but our lifestyle won't match up with theirs. Not really.

It's worth noting here... you are not Jesus. Yes, he spent a ton of his earthly time chillin' with people who were living very sinful lives. But you are not him.

There are so many stories of people who are welcoming and encouraging and spend lots of time with non-believers, but after the course of a few years (or a few months), it becomes hard to tell who is the believer and who isn’t. Ways of life may change because of those relationships, but it's the Christians who often do the changing.

We need to ask ourselves- who is the better evangelist, here? Who is winning whom?

If we see our own life, our own spirit, our own attitude being pulled toward the darkness, we need to be incredibly careful. Being pulled into the lifestyle of the world is so easy.

On the flip side, you won't win any friends or lives for Jesus by being a militant Christian. It is not your job to judge. We're not supposed to force our friends to find Christ.

Remember, we're fishers of men, not hunters of men.

We give the opportunity to come to know Him, but it's really up to each individual, and God working in each heart.

Trying to "hunt" people will only lead to your own disappointment and loss of relationships... and also put a bad taste about Christianity in the mouth of the person we're trying to save.

Our lives are different. 

It's not a bossy lifestyle, it's not a spectator-gathering one, nor is an isolated lifestyle.

I think it would be easier to choose one of those lifestyles. I mean, it would be easy to figure out the steps to an isolated life. It's cut and dry. Or a pushy way of approaching life. Just point out flaws in everyone and everything, and back it up with scripture! No biggie!

But when has the Christian walk ever been easy? 

This life we're called to lead... it's hard. It's work. It’s complicated. It means making constant decisions, constant evaluations.

You choose not to participate in gossip and turn the conversation back to blessings and building others up. You change a habit of dealing with conflict at work. You change the way you spend your time or spend your money. You hold that tongue for once!

Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

You're now a child of the light. Try your best to discern what God would have you do- in every moment, in every statement, in every action, in every relationship.

The light of your life makes a difference.


Blessings this Week: 09.12.2014

A fun time at the  County Fair with my tall husband and large equipment.

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A husband who makes me laugh deeply at least once a day.

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The time we got to spend stroking these soft little ears. 

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The safety of my loved ones and friends- especially as thousands remember those who were lost thirteen years ago this week. 

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Happy Friday, everyone! How have you been blessed this week?


Hot Air Balloons

Ally (watching a movie where a couple is up in a hot air balloon): Hey! We should do that sometime.

Trevor: You can't even handle a suspension bridge- I'm pretty sure you don't want to go up in a hot air balloon. 

"No, no, no, but seriously. Don't. Move. The Bridge."

Mmm. That is something to consider.



Blessings th(ese) Week(s): 08.29.2014 and 09.05.2014

So, I'm really seriously late on my blessings post this week. It's been a busy couple of weeks for blessings.

Many years of former staff and supporters at Camp last weekend, and how I'm reminded of how blessed I am to be part of this ministry that's been serving people and bringing them close to Christ.

It's humbling to be part of something so big, so meaningful in the lives of so many people.

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On Sunday, at the end of our big weekend, the rain held off until all the songs were sung and prayers were said, and even until all the chairs were put inside. And then it down poured.

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The "office ladies" skit that Jane, Carolyn, and I put on during the Talent Show (big thanks to Carolyn who came up with the idea and convinced us to do it!) The laughter we shared while fleshing out the script was the best part. I won't forget that anytime soon! (And because the skit was filmed, I don't think we'll have the opportunity to forget it, either!)

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Hostas finally blooming (despite the bunny rabbits' best efforts).

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Soft and cozy flannel sheets. Because I did a lot of sleeping on Monday. And it was glorious.

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A husband who comes up with the best solutions. (The problem? Golf cart didn't have headlights... so we couldn't use it to take people to campfire in the evening.)

Solution: Electrical tape and flashlights.

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When Trevor works late and I get to go, too.
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Chinese buffet night with a car full of co-worker/friends.

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Time to rest and refresh and get ready for the next couple of months. 

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What are your blessings this week?


The Hope to Which He Has Called Us

We're surrounded by the word "hope."

Campaigns have used it as a promise, a theme, a catch phrase. It's commonly as encouragement- "There is always hope" is one of those phrases that's used a ton on social media and memes and all kinds of things. "I Hope..." is the title of many songs.  In fact, that's one of the ways we use it most- with an "I" in front of it.

"I hope he calls." "I hope I make the basketball team." "I hope I pass my LSAT." "I hope her chemo shrinks the tumor." "I hope this wrinkle cream works." "I hope this is the month I get those two pink lines."

From the big things to the little things, we hope. 

In Ephesians, Paul tells us that God has called us to hope. What does that even mean?

Well, I think an important distinction needs to be made here.

See, there are two different definitions of the word "hope."

The Way the World Defines "Hope:"

           : the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen : a feeling that something good will happen or be true, the chance that something good will happen

While there isn't necessarily anything wrong with "worldly" hope, it does present us with some problems.

It's not certain. There's a chance, but no guarantee.

If I'm hoping to get that check in the mail and I don't, I'm disappointed.

If I hope that a loved one will beat cancer and she doesn't, it's more than disappointment. I'm being beaten against the rocks of my hope, crushed, torn apart.

Worldly hope has the very real possibility of letting us down, and when it does, we can be devastated. 

This type of hope also makes us trust in something fleeting or out of our control. Putting my hope in this particular wrinkle cream may very well be misguided. I might have hope that my husband brings me flowers, but he's human- and humans mess up and disappoint us. I might study very hard for a test, hoping that I pass, but my trust is really in my own intellect, or maybe even my flash cards!

Trusting in something fallible makes us vulnerable to disappointment.

Surely, that's not the hope Paul is talking about here. God wouldn't call us to to be let down and devastated, or to put our trust in the wavering things of this world. Why would He want us to know that kind of hope?

The Way the Bible Defines "Hope:"

          :to expect with confidence, expectation of fulfillment or success, to place trust in the promise of a future event, to anticipate with certainty

As Christians, we hope in something we know. As the saying goes, "We've read the end of the story, and we know who wins."

We have a future in heaven, through the blood of Christ. We trust in that, we put our hope in that. We know that the God who loves us works all things for our good. That's hope. That's our focus.

But oh, my goodness, that is hard.  

How do we go about living a life filled with Biblical hope? 

These are the two things I've been focusing on, recently.


"This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 
Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, 
For his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; 
Great is your faithfulness. 
I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; 
Therefore, I will wait for him.' " -Lamentations 3:21-24

It may be an event in our own life- an answered prayer, an event (that seemed like a total mess at the time) where you can see God's leading now, a miracle...
It may be a Biblical event, the life of a founder of the Church, or even reflecting on the cross.

Remember God's faithfulness to you, and remind yourself that God is your portion.


"...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." - Romans 5:2-7

Rejoicing in suffering seems totally counter intuitive, doesn't it? Trusting that God will produce good things in our lives through our suffering provides us hope for the future. And isn't it amazing what it says here? Hope does not disappoint us- because God has poured his love into our hearts! God obviously knows what's best for me- He made me, after all. And I know that God loves me. I have to trust in that. I have my hope in that.

That's the hope to which He's called me- to the hope of my salvation through the death of Christ, to the assurance that what He's promised will be fulfilled, the trust in His goodness and mercy towards a sinner like me.