There are 30 days left of the Spring semester. It’s so crazy to me! Did I not just put up the Christmas decorations? (Oh, right, I did. It’s just that it was 3 months after Christmas that I chose to put them away…) Thirty days with which to invest our time as missionaries here at Ole Miss.
What will we do with these fleeting hours? How will we invest our lives? How will we prepare for our summer assignment overseas? What will help students feel most cared for and how will they best be prepared to walk with God for a summer or graduates, for a lifetime?
These are the questions burning on the minds of Joel, myself, our team and campus ministers everywhere. All of these questions bring us to our knees and we wanted to ask you to join us in praying for college students and for those who minister to them.
Maybe it’s a university in your town or your alma mater. If nothing else, would you join us in praying for college students here at the University of Mississippi?
Praying for College Students
Pray for students’ minds to be strengthened by God’s truth and able to reject philosophy of the world. (2 Timothy 3:16, Colossians 2:8)
Pray for believing professors to be a winsome witness in the classroom and boldly share Him with colleagues. (Ephesians 6:19)
Pray for non-believing professors to come to know Jesus. (2 Corinthians 3:14, 2 Corinthians 4:4)
Pray for lost college students to see their need for Jesus. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
Pray for Christian students to understand their identity in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 1)
Pray for Christian students to understand the power of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:8, Galatians 5:22-24)
Pray for Christians to join in on evangelism, discipleship, prayer, fellowship and missions on campus and in local church bodies. (Acts 2)
Pray for the Gospel to go out on social media platforms used by college students. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Pray for missionaries to be sent out from college campuses into vocational ministry and into the workplace to have a ministry. (John 3:11, Matthew 28:18-20)
Pray for a love and understanding of God’s Word. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Psalm 119:105) And from that a love of righteousness and disgust for sin. (Psalms 78:1-8, 103:17-18; Isaiah 54:13; Ephesians 3:20-21)
Thank you for joining us in prayer for these world-changers!
I can’t thank y’all enough for your words of affirmation and tangible encouragement following my pain last week. Writing is how I process and after I “got it out” I felt like I could move forward with peace and comfort of His presence. Coffee, flowers and the most beautiful letter, texts and comments sure did help.
I went back and forth about posting on social media, because I didn’t want to be all “look at me and my sadness” but then I was all, “the mess is the message“ and with the click of the button a good old fashioned vulnerability hangover hit me like a semi-truck. I felt exposed and insecure, ashamed and embarrassed by what I had shared.
It was so strange…I love vulnerability and real talk. But as it turns out, I prefer to care for and encourage others MUCH more than I enjoy letting others do that for me. So, here I am feeling at peace with our family situation but now having to uproot the prideful lies surrounding my need to live in community with others!?! Se la vie. Thank you so much for being used by God to mutually encourage.
Speaking of vulnerability and encouragement…there was a book sitting on my nightstand that I had avoided picking up since the day came in the mail. You know the type of book that you know will require some emotional stamina to get through? The one your KNOW will bring on the tears? Well, I finally cracked it open (and then devoured it in 48 hours) and was blessed beyond measure.
I had hoped to share about this book last week, but then, well, last week happened. So, here I am writing about “The Hardest Peace” by Kara Tippetts today. Today, which just so happens to be the first full day of Kara being absent from the body and present with the Lord.
I had wanted her to hear my feeble attempt at sharing highlights and thanking her for her book that touched my soul, but instead, it will be a commemoration of her life’s work.
Kara’s book recounts her tumultuous childhood followed by disorderly adolescent experience of “keeping quiet and looking good” in stark contrast of her beautifully healing salvation experience. She shares the good, bad and the ugly of learning and loving Jesus, the family He gave her and the family He would use to make her into a woman who could embrace suffering and declare life with Christ as better.
She walks you through her cancer story in the most gentle way. She’s real, she’s aware and she’s hopeful. Her words tapped into my own pain and lifted my chin to look long at God’s character. I’m amazed by how she crafted her message to apply to any struggle.
The way she speaks about marriage is striking and makes you intensely reflect. Her mothering, is an incredibly powerful message for all moms. Her take on church life and community was beautiful and helpful to someone in a new town. Her perspective on boundaries and connecting is powerful. Her view of Heaven, magnificent. I can’t say enough about her writing style and her heart. You can also view the remarkable 3 minute documentary of her life HERE.
My favorite quote from the book was:
“The God I know, the sovereign God of the Bible, knows well my story of suffering and offers Himself at every turn. If the honesty with which I tell my story were the limitation of His strength, well, I would be utterly screwed. But imagine if He were intimately involved in my story, WHICH HE IS. Imagine if He showed Himself in my hard, WHICH HE DID, and what if the hard of my story is the beautiful redemption of my today? Could suffering then take on a different hue? Could the coloring of the hard not be so dark, so hateful, so gloomy? If our hard is the absence of a good God then how can anyone walk in faith?”
The part that made me sob was:
“I wanted him to hear me say, You are an excellent husband. Be a husband again. Be discerning, be cautious, be patient, but don’t close your heart ot the possibility of love. Go for it, dearest–we met the best of life in the gift of marriage. In the places of Jason’s begging for more time, Jesus hears him and loves him exactly in the place and grants me that next breath. But I know, I quietly know, when the time comes for that last breath to take place, a beautiful grace will meet my dear love in that sacred moment. What seems utterly frightening and lonely will be a moment filled with grace and peace.”
And what made her beautiful in her dying was her confidence in the love of God:
“My little body has grown tired of battle, and treatment is no longer helping,” she recently wrote. “But what I see, what I know, what I have is Jesus. He has still given me breath, and with it I pray I would live well and fade well.”
Kara sent two copies of “The Hardest Peace”–one to read and one to give to a reader. Please comment below if you’d like to win a copy of this beautiful memoir of faith.
So take seriously the story that God has given you to live. It’s time to read your own life, because your story is the one that could set us all ablaze. –Dan Allender
I was so freaked out that I couldn’t even take the test for fear of a positive sign.
But, I am baffled by my fear. Isn’t this what we’ve been hoping for these last 5 years?
My sheer terror tells me that it’s still less about the baby and more about the “no”.
I hurt less because of empty arms and more because of the ever-elusive answer.
Why on earth, not??
And then there’s the surge of guilt because my arms aren’t actually empty. In fact, they’re not empty at all. My arms are full with Him and His plentiful gifts.
My pain is muted by Presence.
The Presence of One who sees me in my pain and uses my pain to produce a whole host of things. The presence of dear ones who think to ask and pause to pray. And most tangibly, the presence of two darling children who fill our hearts and home to the brim. I am totally satisfied and complete. Until I’m not.
Because there’s still pain.
I’m the girl who starts her period at baby showers. On Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Valentine’s. The cycle of hope and despair is relentless. It’s unstoppable really. And if I don’t have my eyes locked on Him it all just feels mean.
So, here I sit after 40 minutes of just staring out the window. Trying to lock my eyes with His but making peace with just glazing over in the darkness of early morning. His eyes haven’t moved from me. I can rest in the darkness snuggled and comforted by my well-worn quilt that has faithfully softened the blows.These squares of fabric have been my physical reminder that His banner over me isn’t mean, it’s love. The stillness and quiet help me linger. I’m begging for light to delay its coming.
Daylight means productivity. Productivity and pain don’t mingle well.
But, daylight also means perspective and life and peace and a perfect plan.
So, I think I’ll ease into the day leaning into the pain instead of judging it. I’ll try and attend to the freedom and need I have to be gentle with myself. I’ll share my pain with others, even when and especially when it’s tiring and embarrassing. (Blogging can be this sheepishly weary person’s best way to be vulnerable :) And I’ll choose to pleasure in His Presence in the presence of pain
They are all the rave, aren’t they? I totally get that they are full of vitamins, minerals and all the nutrients my body needs. I know that they give me the extra energy I need to chase kiddos all day. I’m convinced they make me feel nourished and set the tone for more mindful health choices all day…yet, 99% of the time I am too lazy to get my blender out and care for myself…UNTIL, I had a lightbulb moment. Every Sunday night I do sit down for 15 minutes to Meal Plan, and I absolutely LOVE freezer cooking, so why not begin a habit of nourishing self care also known as Sunday Night Smoothie Prep?
Why lug out all the spinach, kale, berries, chia seeds, flax seed, etc. etc. multiple times per week when you can get it out once on Sunday evening, ration it all into individual bags, zip them, freeze them and throw them in the freezer? Then, as you’re scrambling to get the kids to school and the last thing you’re thinking about is how to mother yourself, just pull a smoothie bag out, add some water, orange juice, and maybe even 1/2 an avocado and enjoy! It’s like putting 20 minutes of your life on cruise control! Between this and Plan To Eat’s meal planning service, the administrative part of my need to feed is SET! Here’s a 30-Day Free Trial of Plan To Eat if you’re interested in trying it out. (Also, it wouldn’t have worked for me if I hadn’t watched these videos. Hope they help!) xoxo
I very well remember the days of floating through life a little bit more at my own pace…waking up whenever, exercising whenever, having people over whenever. Strolling into the kitchen at five o’clock deciding what we were in the mood for that night. Life, and especially the domestic upkeep of my home, was on my terms. I thought my mother-in-law was c.r.a.z.y because she did laundry EVERY DAY… while we were more of the “why do laundry when there’s still one more pair of clean underwear” school of thought.
Well, when the kids arrived there was no room in the inn for our lackadaisical approach to getting out the door, serving meals or cleaning a sufficient number of underwear. We had to figure it out.
It was in the thick of our figuring it out, that a wise woman shared with me how her “Morning Routine” was helpful for coordinating her large family. She told me that having a morning routine helped her home-life function in an organized fashion while using very little mental energy.
Mindless organization? SIGN ME UP.
She suggested that if I could start thinking of a few simple rhythms to incorporate into my days, that these habits would soon become ingrained rituals. And these rituals would become second nature and would help my home run at least at a bare minimum, without me having to think. Thinking really is so hard, isn’t it?
So to put an end to the drudgery of waking up and stumbling through my day, I found myself soaking up any and all tips and tricks I could find on how to set up a solid morning routine. There were some really helpful thoughts on Inspired To Action, LifeHacker and My Morning Routine. Yes, this is totally my personality and may not even come close to working for you, FREEDOM!! But, I needed a routine to help simplify and streamline our household tasks.
How To Set Up A Morning Routine:
I began making notes of what the pain points were in our home:
Dishes in the sink really get on Joel’s nerves. The continual clutter feels like really loud static in my brain. The laundry seems out of control 24/7, and by the way, where have all the school uniforms gone? Speaking of school, we are incessantly late. Also, who is packing lunches and making these children supper? Oh, that’d be me.
Once I wrote out the pain points, I could begin framing up some simple tactics to help alleviate the stress. And from that The Daily 5was birthed. Five simple tasks that I would aim to complete each day to keep my household viable.
To Domestically Stay Afloat, I Must Daily:
Do a load of dishes
Do a load of laundry
Set out supper
Wipe down surfaces
This list is magical. Quite profound, really. Except for the fact that it’s not. But if it can help some other young mom from walking around like a zombie then it’s worth spending a nap time outlining it here. And really, 9 times out of 10 we all just need someone to hold our hand, tell us that it’s all going to be okay and then to remind us of what we already know.
So why these five simple, mundane tasks? Well because…
A Load A Day Keeps The Crazy Away- In my house, there are always more dishes and dirty clothes a comin’, so I try to begin the day with an empty sink and hamper and embrace the momentum it creates.
Setting Out Supper Stabilizes Sanity- Each morning, while I still have a drop of energy, I check my Plan to Eat meal planner and pull out all the ingredients so that they are sitting on the counter giving me a sideways glare that says “WE HAVE A PLAN, WOMAN, and no, no you may not eat a 6-count CFA Kids’ Meal for dinner tonight.”
Making The Beds Makes Things A Little More Beautiful- Even if there are Legos and Barbie shoes all over the floor, I can walk past the bedrooms and feel some semblance of order if at least the beds are made. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
Kids Are Sticky, You Better Wipe Away All That Icky- We host a lot of people in our home and I am always trying to stay on top of the level of gunk that a lively family produces. Starting the day by grabbing a tub of antibacterial wipes and making sure all the surfaces are wiped down makes a huge difference and is a nice Daily 5 finishing touch. Lighting a candle when I’m through doesn’t hurt either!
After about 18 months of practicing these rhythms (and posting them like a crazy person all over our home), the tasks have become as normal and thoughtless as brushing my teeth!! Meaning, they happen at least 2.5 times a week!! :) Major progress. Miles away from perfection (just ask anyone who knows me in real life) but def progress.
Now that I’ve seen the difference a morning routine can make I’ve tried to start thinking through rhythms and routines to bring order out of the chaos that is the rest of life and work.Let’s just say my kids are all about flipping through and accomplishing “their cards” to get ready in the mornings…or maybe they’re just all about the screen time that they earn after they jump through the hoops, regardless, these habits have brought boatloads of Type A order to life and have allowed for more fun in our days.
What about you? What’s your “Daily 5″? DO you have a morning routine or other habits that work for you? Does this kind of thing jive with your personality? How do you find freedom and order in your home life?
Because it’s Monday and I’m a chronic, yet recovering hustler.
Because I want to do great and grand things, meanwhile there’s still a Valentine’s Day wreath on my front door and a nativity scene in my garage. Because I forgot to eat breakfast this morning and just made a fierce u-turn on the way to the gym. And because hormones are giving me ALL the crazy thoughts. Because I need the gentle reminder and because maybe I’m not alone.
And because His thoughts are higher than ours and His ways better than our wildest dreams. Also, because He has given us the mind of Christ!
1 Corinthians 2:9-16
But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this tin words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Take heart! HE has overcome the world…and any case of the Mondays we might have!
Winter has officially hit the South, folks.
It’s been cold for quite some time, but we’ve not seen a flake of snow! Until yesterday…we were pumped because school was canceled for a little bit of ice, and they said snow was coming…
We didn’t buy it until “cotton balls from Heaven” started pouring down. It was glorious!!!
Watching the first snow through children’s eyes is truly magical. Especially through the eyes of this adorable neighborhood gang.
When it was time to defrost, EG refused to get in the car…so we made her run alongside us. She lasted about 100 feet. Then, after a round of cocoa, the snow was really coming down and we were excited to build a snowman. We sang all the Frozen songs and Joel cracked me up by noting that this would be the winter of Olaf dethroning Frosty.
We clearly need to buy Joel a pair of gloves. Things got really deeeeeeepp really fast. Five inches in less than 4 hours. It was the perfect time to sled. On garbage can lids, of course. Where is my West Virginian heritage when I need it??
It was the best we had till friends brought over their boogie boards. That classed things up a bit.
You’ve never seen such joyful redneck hysteria. And I don’t know about you, but snow is such a unifier to me. I get all patriotic and warm and fuzzy. It’s like the Olympics or a marathon. Makes me feel proud to be an American. So we met some new neighbors and all became friends over more warm drinks and chocolate drizzled popcorn. Our family has knighted this day as, “The Best Snow Day Ever” and since Oxford hasn’t seen this much snow fall in over 30 years, I think the title will reign for quite some time in our minds. And that, my friends is the fun of “A Southern Snow Day!”
Stacks-a set of shelves for books or other materials ranged compactly one above the other, as in a library. The area or part of the library in which the books and other holdings are stored or kept.
Y’all, I am a straight up bibliophile. I was raised in the aisles of my Daddy’s Christian bookstore reading crisp best-sellers, playing with “Let Your Light Shine” flashlights and pounding Testamints.
And while I don’t necessarily claim to be well-read, I love, love, love to read. I am never without at least two books in my purse, (Who knew this habit has a name? It’s called “being book-bosomed“ … anyone else have a subtle fear of being caught without a book?)
The luxury of reading at length isn’t my current reality, but when I finally do victoriously turn the last page and exhale the deep sigh of satisfaction of a great ending, I often have to re-read and take notes just to remember what in the world I read in those 3 minute increments of quiet over the course of a year.
My kids voraciously devour books too. Point in case, I just paid the mortgage and am now the owner of “Uni the Unicorn” and “Ducks Christmas”. Two children’s books that will never line the bookshelves of my kids’ rooms because I left them outside our hotel door at a conference where Joel and I were in the middle of a “changing of the guards” to get to meetings while putting D & EG down for naps.
I texted Joel from outside the door, so as not to disturb the fragile naptime routine of kids who are far too old to nap, but who are deliriously and recklessly disobedient from 2-5 pm every day.
“If you want to read to them before they go to sleep, there are two library books under a bag of Mexican food.”
And of course, somehow between me hitting “send” and my children drifting into dreamland, housekeeping came by and, supposing they were trash, swiped Joel’s lunch AND the library books. $49.99 FOR TWO CHILDREN’S BOOKS, PEOPLE! I love the public library and I probably owe them my sanity, let alone a fifty dollar bill. But, good grief. I finally coughed it up yesterday just so I could get off the librarian’s naughty list. And now that I am no longer considered a “delinquent patron”, who “claims to have lost two books” (and now, thanks stupid Uni the Unicorn, has no entertainment budget) I am on a requesting-spree at the library and am trying to dig through my stacks of unread books and enjoy all the ones I’ve hoarded over the years.
“Replenish” by Lisa Grace Byrnes (So great, usually don’t recommend a ton of secular books, but this is the best thing I’ve read on self care and there’s a free audio version on her Podcast station “The Well Grounded Life Show” Just use the purple podcast app on your iphone and listen away!)
“Desperate” by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson (Literally my favorite book for moms! A MUST-Read for mom’s who need room to breathe.)
I just started “The Hardest Peace” by Kara Tippetts and will be doing a giveaway as soon as I finish it. Will keep you posted on this one. It’s rocking my world so far.
I am headed to the library tomorrow to grab “On Writing Well” and a bunch of other recommended books for blog writers. Can’t wait to get my hands on those! Okay, so do you love to read? Just like starting but rarely finish? Are you book-bosomed? What are you reading these days? Anything you’d recommend?
Only God could come up with the idea of family. Only God could redeem the way we have messed things up. Only God could provide a child who needs a family with a family who needs a child. Only God could work miracles to ensure justice is served and children are protected. Only God could mesh mismatched hearts and make love grow. Only God could rewrite stories giving new names and new hope. Only God could create, redeem and sustain a family.
Maybe you’re clueless as to how you could ever love a child that “isn’t yours” but you wonder if God might be calling you to take a giant leap of faith.
Maybe you find yourself fantasizing about adopting “some day” yet your heart aches because the timing just isn’t right.
Perhaps you are in the thick of paperwork and home studies as we speak but you wonder if you’ll ever get “the call”.
Maybe you’re like us and you’re almost 2 years in, but still can’t figure out how giving a child the wrong fork could send them spiraling out of control.
No matter how adoption might touch you- orphans, foster children, adopted children and their families need prayer. Much of adoption is beautiful and fun, but just as much of it is ugly and hard.
I’m reminded of wise counsel I received a few years ago when I was struggling with anxiety:
“When everything feels out of control, the ONE THING I CAN CONTROL is how much I cry out to God.”
Oftentimes when the spouse just isn’t there, paperwork is lost or has to be redone, or plates of spaghetti are being hurled across your dining room, you can’t even find the words to pray. So, “12 Ways To Pray For Adopted Children + Their Families” will be what I’ll be using to pray for our family and others.
Maybe you could take one prayer point for each day or set your cell phone alarm to sound each hour on the hour. Regardless of how you use this list, would you join me in prayer?
7 am: Pray for the familial and attachment bonds to be supernaturally strong and the child to know they are wanted, loved, freely accepted, safe and secure. (Psalm 68:6) 8 am: Pray for their view of God to be whole and complete. (Perhaps pray through attributes of God on behalf of this family.) (Isaiah 40:11) 9 am: Pray for surrender and salvation. (Romans 10:1, Acts 26:18) 10 am:Pray for healthy coping mechanisms, sensory processing, healed neuro-pathways and brain chemistry to be restored. (Proverbs 4:20-22, Matthew 8:17, Psalm 107) 11 am:Pray for the ability to communicate with grace and truth in life-giving ways. (James 1:19, Proverbs 15:1-2) 12 pm:Pray for strength to not parent in faith vs. fear. (2 Timothy 1:7) 1 pm: Pray for healthy modes of discipline to be established and implemented. (Hebrews 12:11, Proverbs 12:1) 2 pm:Pray for creativity and laughter. (Psalm 126:2) 3 pm:Pray for a love and understanding of God’s Word. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Psalm 119:105) 4 pm: Pray for a love of righteousness and a disgust for sin. (Psalms 78:1-8, 103:17-18; Isaiah 54:13; Ephesians 3:20-21) 5 pm:Pray for a healthy view of food. (1 Corinthians 10:31) 6 pm: Pray that children would use godly wisdom in selecting friends. Ask God to give each child a discernment of people as well as knowing the difference between right and wrong (Proverbs 1:10, Proverbs 18:24; Deuteronomy 13:6,8). 7 pm:Pray for sleep to feel safe and for it to be supernaturally restorative. (Psalm 3:5, Psalm 4:8, Proverbs 3:24)
Because, only God is in control and only God can create, redeem and sustain a family, we cry out to Him!
Well, well, well. As if Praline Pecan Bacon weren’t already HEAVEN IN YOUR MOUTH…We HAD to go to the Viking Kitchen School and get this life-changing, pant-size-changing Peanut Butter Pie recipe. We served these as mini pies at our Valentine’s Day Dinner Party last weekend, and you can quickly whip these up for a perfectly gourmet treat any ole time! (You can also make ahead and freeze!)
Peanut Butter Pie + Praline Pecan Bacon = Hog Heaven
Viking’s Peanut Butter Pie
1 cup whipping cream, whipped
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 prepared graham cracker pie crust
2 tablespoons chocolate sauce, for garnish
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, for garnis
Beat the whipping cream to stiff peaks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Scrape into a bowl and set aside. Place cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl and beat using the “V” blade, until smooth. Add peanut butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Fold in whipped cream and spread in the prepared pie crust. Heat chocolate sauce and peanut butter in separate microwave-safe bowls for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until peanut butter can be drizzled. Drizzle chocolate sauce and peanut butter over the pie. Viking says to cover and freeze for 4 hours or overnight, but I preferred it defrosted, yet chilled!
Makes 8 servings or 12 mini pies.
Pecans. Brown Sugar. Yummy Goo. Bacon. It literally is a perfect pairing with the Peanut Butter Pie.
4 Tbsp Steen’s Cane Syrup (I didn’t have any so I subbed 2 Tbsp honey and 2 Tbsp Karo Syrup)
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Pecans, toasted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place a wire rack on an aluminum foil lined sheet tray. Combine the pecans and brown sugar. Lay the bacon side by side on the rack, place in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the bacon is sizzling and starting to brown around the edges. The goal is for the bacon to cook about 3/4 of the way through before adding the topping.
Push the partially cooked bacon as close together as possible on the rack and brush with the cane syrup, this will give the topping something to stick to. Cover generously with the Pecan/brown sugar topping. Place back in the oven for about 10 minutes more or until the topping is bubbly and the bacon is good and brown. Let cool. As the Praline Bacon cools it will set up and have a nice chewy bite to it.
I prepared the bacon in the morning so the bacon smell would dissipate. They are great as a stand alone, but dip this mess in peanut butter and/or chocolate and you’ll have to close your eyes to enjoy.