Author Archive

Running the Race

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A few months ago I decided I was tired of being tired. I had put on weight since my wedding…ya know, the whole “fat and happy” syndrome, and I felt sluggish and not my usual athletic self. I sought out my own routine – I tried Jillian, Insanity, going to the gym, and every tip I could find on fitness blogs, but I just couldn’t seem to get in a rhythm that stuck. A few ladies in town told me about a fitness group called Camp Gladiator, so I decided to check it out. What I found is that CG provides 60-minute intense workouts at many locations throughout the week in my area (including one across the street from my house…which makes it nearly impossible to find an excuse not to go **face palm**).

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They have certified trainers that write full-body workouts and provide accountability for its members. After the first month, I realized that I felt better, lost weight and most importantly, found a routine. I found a community of women that push me to run faster, go further, and show up to workouts at 5am. Long story short, I am now four months in, 15 pounds down, and feel better than ever.

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This is me and my trainer Heather the day I signed up for CG.

At the end of the summer I will be participating in a competition called CG Games. It is a unique physical test unlike any other that challenges its participants in endurance, speed, agility, strength, and all other areas of physical fitness. In many ways, I’ve realized that training for CG Games is like running the “race” God calls us to run in life. As I have prayed through what the future holds for this community of women, I continue to come back to lessons I’ve learned in physical fitness.

  1. Run with a purpose – don’t run aimlessly.

One reason training for CG Games has been good for me is because it has given me a purpose to run. I’ve never been much of a runner, but now when I pop in my ear buds and throw on my tennis shoes, I am running with a specific goal in mind. When running aimlessly, we tend to burn out quicker, stop short when our bodies could continue, and lack purpose. Just like training for a race, I believe that the Lord calls us to do all things in life with a purpose and to the best of our ability. In 1 Corinthians, Paul says,

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

As Kelsey, Andi, Amanda, and Lauren have previously stated the past couple of weeks, there have been many things… good things, like babies and changes in ministry contexts and new jobs… that have taken our time and attention the past few months. For this reason, we have not been able to invest the adequate time into GLOW to allow it to be all that it can be and reach its potential. After much prayer and deliberation, we believe that, for a season, we need to pause, exercise self-control, and take a break from GLOW to fulfill our other responsibilities to the fullest. Our plan is to return at the start of 2017 fresh, rejuvenated, and full of energy and passion to move forward.

  1. Slow and steady wins the race.

When I started my workout regimen a few months ago, it was tempting to eat far too few calories to jumpstart the weight loss or even worse, eat far too many calories because it felt like momentum wasn’t in my favor. If girls at workout could lift more than me or run faster, it made me want to either go to the extreme and workout twice a day (which is unrealistic with my schedule) or quit working out all together. Neither one of these are good options. What I realized through my training was that sometimes it’s better to jog for a long distance and finish, than it is to sprint a short distance and stop before I’ve reached my goal. It’s better to consistently work out and eat a balanced healthy diet over time than it is to workout excessively for a short time. With GLOW, our team has decided that it would be best for us to take a short break now to allow rest than it would be to continue “sprinting,” leading to a burnout. Each of us on the team has a heart for this blog, this community, and sharing our hearts for the sake of His glory. We believe that taking things slow and steady will lead to a win when we launch again in January.

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise.” Ephesians 5:15

  1. Balance is crucial.

In physical fitness, balance is key. I’m not just referring to literal core strength. The balance in nutrition (goodbye carbs), time spent working out, and consistent sleep patterns directly affect weight loss and muscle gain. I believe this to be true in life as well. I had to learn some hard lessons regarding balance the last few months. I bit off more than I could chew and found that I was consistently stressed out and feeling inadequate since I couldn’t do any one thing on my calendar to the best of my ability. I felt like a juggler, juggling so many balls that I would have just enough energy to catch one and throw it back in the air in the knick of time before it hit the ground and ended my performance. I decided I needed to cut back on writing weekly for GLOW for a few months until other commitments ended and I was able to get control of my schedule again. While I was still very much a part of the operations behind the scenes, I wanted to thank each of you for being patient with me and allowing me the break that I needed. At this time, our team has decided that as a whole we need to exercise balance as well. Said balance means that we need to take a short break from GLOW to allow everyone to fulfill their current commitments well.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

What will the next few months look like for me? I will continue my job at the seminary working in marketing and communications. This will include some travel to conferences and other events. I will also be taking seminary classes to continue my Masters in Theological Studies. Mike and I have been very busy with our church and, as a team, our passion to love God’s people grows each day. We have several trips planned to see family and I look forward to spending time with my nieces and nephews. While I have largely put my photography business on hold (as a part of that whole exercising balance thing I mentioned earlier), I have a few projects on the horizon this fall. Considering the topic of today’s post, I guess I should mention that I will continue to workout and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for tuning in every day to read. If you are a contributor or desire to be a contributor, please feel free to continue sending us blog posts via the instructions on the Submissions page. Our goal is to start fresh with many blog posts in the “bank” to be published after the new year. Check in with our media channels as they will be updated closer to the time of our new launch in January. Please be in prayer for the GLOW team and continue to keep in touch.

Just as Camp Gladiator offered a community of friends that provided encouragement, accountability, and consistency in physical fitness, GLOW provided those same things for me in my spiritual walk. GLOW has been an encouragement when times were tough, it kept me accountable to spend time in God’s Word, and it was a consistent source of “real talk” written by women who want to know God more. We want our team to be that for you, too! See you in January, friends.

A fresh start

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Texas forgot about winter. She just skipped over it as if a good frost wasn’t necessary. Here we are in March with temps reaching the 80’s and flowers blooming like it’s May. As a native Colorado girl, I’m not so okay with this. But it seems Texas didn’t take my opinion into account when she mapped out the forecast.

There’s just something about approaching spring and summer that brightens my day (no pun intended). Maybe it’s the feeling of embarking on something new, the hint of change, the expectedness of something great. The longer days can never hurt either (is it just me, or does your productivity increase ten fold in the summer too?). Somehow I eat better, I work-out harder, I am more consistent with my quiet times – it’s like Spring kicks me in the bum and tells me to ‘get in gear’.

Spring is the perfect picture of a fresh start. It is a reminder to take a close look at the different areas in my life — finances, health, relationships, hobbies, commitments, spiritual growth — and evaluate. Do I need to improve? Do I need to scale back? Do I need to work harder? Do I need to change my methods? How can I be more efficient? How can I be more effective? It’s a moment to refocus, to revamp, and to revise. It’s a time of the year that brings about renewal.

A couple of weeks ago, the GLOW team had a virtual meeting to connect with one another and discuss our vision, answering a few of the questions listed above. We all agreed that Lord was doing great things with this blog and each of us are as passionate about writing as we were when we launched in Fall 2014. But as with any good thing, there are always ways to improve.

From day one, we have been committed to consistent posts containing quality content that encourage women to grow closer to Him in the every day. We have posted five days a week for over a year and a half, and while we are very thankful for this opportunity and platform, we have decided to take a step back, even if it’s just for a time, to refocus. After prayer and thoughtful consideration, we decided it would be best to post three times a week – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – for the next few months. Our goal moving forward is to publish longer, content-rich posts that place an emphasis on Scripture and relate to women in various stages of life.

Amanda, Kelsey, Andi and I will continue to post every other week. Our monthly writers will also continue with monthly contributions, and of course, we still welcome guest submissions. From the busyness of life, coupled with several of our writers undergoing major life transitions in recent months, we agreed that this change would allow everyone extra time to write a thorough and thoughtful post, and would give some of us the break we need to sit back and reflect on what it is the Lord is prompting us to share.

Spring is a reminder of God’s ability to make things new. But according to the Bible, His mercies are new every day.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23-23 (ESV)

Each day, it is our prayer that GLOW brings you closer to Him. Whether we remind you of His goodness, prompt you to dig deeper in Scripture or encourage you in a difficult time, our goal is to give God the glory. We look forward to all that the Lord has in store for GLOW in the coming months. Know that we are thankful for you, our readers, and are praying for you as you walk through life daily pursuing Him.

The Waiting Game

When I was young, Christmas was my favorite day of the year. To me, Christmas started the moment the turkey and dressing was put away. The Christmas lights, carols, crafts, candy canes, even the 25 days of Christmas on ABC. While all the activities were fun, the Friday after Thanksgiving signaled a month of waiting, like an impossible journey ahead. Every day was one day closer to Christmas day, but that month always seemed like years.photo-1418506714344-2c0445654cdf

And the worst waiting of all? Christmas Eve – the night before the excitement. When hours felt like days. The anticipation of waking up with my siblings in the wee morning hours on Christmas day to see our stockings laying out, illuminated by sparkling tree lights. The milk glass empty, the cookies half eaten on the plate we left out for Santa. I remember one year in particular when my older brother and I could not sleep out of excitement (after all, we had already waited nearly a month), so we woke up at 3am Christmas morning. We immediately woke up our parents… after all, it’s Christmas! We were told to go back to bed and that 3am was too early to start the day. More waiting?! Long story short, we survived.

As I grow older, I’ve realize that the dreaded wait surrounding Christmas I experienced as a kid is very much transferred into adult life. In many ways, it feels like we are always in a waiting stage. In high school, we are waiting for college. In college, we are waiting to enter the real world. In the real world, we are constantly waiting for the next promotion, the new house, the next stage of life the Lord has called us to. Waiting is inevitable, but how we handle it is what’s important.

Have you heard the story about Jacob marrying Rachel? Take a moment to read it below. In a nutshell, Jacob loved Rachel and asked her father Laban if he could marry Rachel if he worked for him for seven years. (Yes, I said SEVEN year.) Laban agreed. After the seven years, Laban provided a wedding feast for Jacob and Rachel, but on their wedding night, he sent Leah, Rachel’s older sister, to be with Jacob. When Jacob realized it was Leah and not Rachel the next morning, Laban explained to Jacob that he could marry Rachel if he continued to work for him for another seven years. Since Jacob loved Rachel deeply, he agreed.

Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”

So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.

When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”

And Jacob did so. He finished the week with Leah, and then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. Laban gave his servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her attendant. Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah. And he worked for Laban another seven years. Genesis 29:16-30 (NIV)

Jacob had to wait for what was good and right for fourteen years. It may be a short and sweet story in the book of Genesis, but I don’t know many people that would wait 14 years for someone they care about.

Thomas Jeffers once said, “Waiting time isn’t wasted time when you are waiting on the Lord.”

It is true that sometimes we are unsure what exactly we are waiting on or what is ahead of us at the finish line. We don’t know what the future holds or what the Lord has for us in the next stage. But what is important is that we trust in the Lord, that He will take care of us and provide. Sometimes the waiting stage can be difficult. After all, Abraham and Sarah waited for years for their promised child. This is where trusting in Him comes in play. I googled, “Trusting in God Bible Verses.” No less than 81 verses popped up, and I know there are more. Among the long list are a few of my favorites:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25

The Lord has a plan for our lives and I promise His plan is the best plan. Sometimes it’s not in our ideal timing, but trusting the Lord means we don’t just seek His will for our life, we seek His will in His timing. And sometimes that means we have to wait. Are you in a waiting stage in your life? If so, reflect on how you are handling the situation. Are you impatient and anxious like I was before Christmas day as a kid? Or are you patient and faithful like Jacob in his pursuit of Rachel? I pray it is the latter.

Hostess Fail

It was a Saturday night and Mike and I were hosting our first dinner party with some friends since we had been married. We lived in seminary housing in a tiny apartment, but we were excited to share our new life together with friends. We spent the day tidying up the place, returning our last few duplicated wedding gifts and spending the remaining money on Target gift cards on home decor. I planned out the meal, fine tuned my recipes and went to the store for the final ingredients. I was making my mom’s parmesan chicken, mashed potatoes, a salad and pazookies for dessert (if you haven’t tried a pazookie, go to BJ’s and order one – it will change your life). Nothing could go wrong from here. The house was sparkling clean, the ingredients were bought and Mike and I were planning to impress our friends with our “perfectly perfect” new life together…

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Our first married-life apartment.

…Until I looked at the clock. Somehow time had gotten away from me and our guests were going to arrive in just 30 minutes but I hadn’t even started cooking. I seasoned the chicken, rolled it in flour, and stuck it in the oven. I peeled the potatoes, put the water on to boil and, mistakenly, put the potatoes into the monster pot of water before it was boiling. Oh well, it will boil quickly. I tear up the lettuce, by this point I’m sweating, Mike sets the table… WHEW. Our guests arrive…

The only thing left is the potatoes.

We greet our friends, offer them some sweet tea, they take a seat. And wait. And wait. And wait… what is taking the potatoes so long?!

I had not used our stove more than once or twice and turns out, water takes a VERY long time to boil on this particular stovetop. After waiting nearly 45 minutes after our friends had gotten there, I frustratingly took the potatoes out before they were finished cooking, threw in the milk and butter and whipped them up to not-so-perfection. They were as lumpy as a 85 year-old-mattress, they were mushy from soaking in sitting water, the chicken was now cold, the salad soggy and our bellies were roaring with hunger.

I spent too much time cleaning and preparing and not enough time on the thing that really mattered – the meal that we were going to eat. The whole reason we invited our friends to our home. The food that would give our bodies the nutrition we needed (plus a little sugar and carbs). Too worried about a sparkling house, I missed the whole point.

Don’t we do that with a lot of things? Don’t we spend too much time on things that don’t matter and fail to focus our attention on the things that matter most? We can be so much like the Pharisees.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. Matthew 23:27-28 (NIV)

The Pharisees spent so much time fixing up what was on the outside that they neglected to focus on the heart issue – what matters most. Like Jesus said, they were like polished tombs with nothing more than dead bones on the inside – lifeless.

God doesn’t want you to clean your life up like I cleaned up my house. God wants you to give your life to Him – focus on what matters – and let Him clean up the house for you.

When we focus on good deeds, the things other people see, and our outside appearances, it’s like cleaning the house before we cook the meal. And a clean house at a dinner party doesn’t matter if the food we eat doesn’t taste good.

iPhone Graphic FREEBIES

As you are packing up Christmas and stuffing boxes in the attic, I thought your phone wallpaper might need a little New Year’s update. Uplifting Bible verses can’t hurt anybody, especially as you are saying “no” to sweets, “yes” to simplifying, and checking things off your 2016 bucket list before the year officially begins.

My post today is short and sweet and here is my excuse: A chunk of my time this week was taken up by a few technical difficulties with GLOW (sorry for being absent yesterday, and thank you all for your patience and kind words as we were getting everything figured out!). The good news is that we are BACK and everything is working good as new. YAY.

The links to the graphics are all listed below. Tell us which one is your favorite!

Psalm65DOWNLOAD GRAPHIC ONE HERE

Isaiah40

DOWNLOAD GRAPHIC TWO HERE

2Corinthians

DOWNLOAD GRAPHIC THREE HERE

 

Christmas with the Griswold’s

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Christmas and all of its surrounding events has been the go-to topic of conversation the last few weeks. Between the gift buying, the cookie baking and the holiday parties, it’s hard to think about much else. As we all know, with Christmas comes family. The meals. The events. The gatherings. Both sides of the family. The estranged aunts. The distant cousins. You name it – everyone has a story to tell when it comes to their family, distant or otherwise.

This holiday season my heart has been particularly sensitive to the negative murmurs, sighs and chuckles that often arise when discussing family Christmas festivities. You know what I mean, the stories of the crazy grandma, the awkward brother or sister, the snotty niece. Spending time with family around the holidays in particular is talked about liked it’s a burden – just another “thing to get through.” Just look at some of our favorite Christmas movies – Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, A Christmas Story, The Santa Clause and the list goes on. They all portray the stressful, tension-filled household around the holidays that American culture embraces as the norm. While I do see the comedy in these movies (and admittedly watch them annually), the reality of is saddening. I understand everyone has different relationships and family situations, but in general, our culture deems it “cool” and appropriate to talk negatively about our family to others. It’s normal to not look forward to spending time with your family around the holidays. It’s weird to actually get along with your family and enjoy one another’s company. Just think about the million and one “mother-in-law” jokes.

To be frank, I don’t get it, can’t stand it and don’t put up with it. I get a pit in my stomach when I hear people talking negatively about their family and taking for granted the time that they have to spend with them. People chalk it up to me living far away from my family, and I suppose that’s part of it. Part of it is also the fact that I am blessed with a wonderful family (in-laws included – I couldn’t have asked for a better family to marry into if I tried, I love them just as if I’d known them forever and I never take this for granted), but I would trade places with any of my friends who have their family close by in a second. Of course there will be disagreements, irritating moments and awkward situations, but family is a blessing and honestly, I don’t have time to waste on family feuds.

We all know that loving one another is biblical.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

But I would also contend that loving our family should be a response to how much God loves us. There is no better time to think about this than Christmas. God loved us SO much that He sent His Son to be born of a virgin and live a life on earth only to be tortured, beaten, mocked, scorned and left to die on a cross to save us from our sins. Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of His Son, a glorious day when the Messiah was born to redeem us all from the wicked ways of sin. There has never been more love expressed than that of God sending His Son. He taught us, no He demonstrated, what it means to love others.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3: 16-20

Our RESPONSE to God’s love for us should be love for our family. If we are truly loving God, we should love our families too, lumps included. Culture may encourage us to tell yet another “crazy mother-in-law” joke, but why? What does this do, other than tear down the family unit – the people in this world you should care most about?

To me, the BEST part about the holidays is spending time with family. We are far from perfect and any relationship will occasionally have bumps in the road, but I love my family and wouldn’t trade them for anything. Instead of dreading the family get-togethers this holiday season, take a moment to cherish the time. After all, you never know how many more Christmases you’ll have.

Today Mike and I are headed to Colorado for a week. There will be over 10 people staying in one house, including the newest member of the family, little E-man. It will be loud, chaotic at times and a shower with hot water is a matter of survival of the fittest.

…And I can’t wait. Merry Christmas!

10 Ways to Make Guests Feel Welcome at Church and Why it’s Important

IMG_0373Do you remember the first time you went to church? Or maybe you relocated and had to find a new church. What was your experience like as a first-time guest? How did people treat you? Do you remember those that greeted you, shook your hand and made you feel a part? I bet you do. Don’t you want to be one of those people? The Bible, even in Old Testament law, talks a lot about practicing hospitality to guests:

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” Matthew 25:40

We’ve all been a newcomer at some point. Treat others like you would want to be treated.

“So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:19

“The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:34

We want visiters to become members. We want them to stick around, to get involved, to become part of our church community. As followers of Christ, we are called to be a part of the body of Christ. It’s our job to encourage newcomers to stay, to be friendly and let them know we want them to be a part of our church family. Here are 10 ways to make guests feel welcome at church:

  1. Look for new faces. Make it the first thing you do during greeting time. Introduce yourself, ask questions, learn about their children – make them feel welcome and extend hospitality. The most important person to make visitors feel welcome is you. Not the pastor, a staff member, or the greeter. People know that people in those positions “have” to greet them. They want to hear from the regular church member.
  2. Remember their name. I once heard someone say that everyone’s favorite word is their name. People want to be known.
  3. Smile. :) This one may seem obvious. Especially for those of you who are shy, a smile can go a long way. It implies that you are happy they are there.
  4. Introduce them to others. Once you meet them, try to connect them with other people who have similar interests, live in their neighborhood or have kids their age. This makes them feel more a part and helps them become more comfortable in a new environment.
  5. Get them involved. Invite them to church fellowships, Sunday school or other church activities. A few years ago I realized the importance of inviting others to church activities. We host a bible study at our house a few Sunday evenings a month. I distinctly remember a time a few when I specifically invited a family to the bible study and…they came! When I asked why they hadn’t been coming, they said, “Because we were never invited.” We are all aware that church activities are open to everyone – everyone is invited. But sometimes, people want to know that they are wanted somewhere, they want to be personally invited.
  6. Be their tour guide at church. Help guests find their way to Sunday School, the restroom, the nursery, etc. It may be familiar to you, but it is not to them. Visiting a new church is like engaging in a new culture. Help them quickly get over the initial culture shock hump and escort them where they need to go.
  7. Connect outside of church. Whether it’s dinner at your house, a girls night with friends, or a work-out group, invite guests to be a part of your community, inside and outside of the church.
  8. Never let people sit alone. A family may take up an entire row, but a couple or a single person wants to feel like they belong. Suggest a place for them to sit or offer them the spot next to you.
  9. Pray for guests throughout the week. Prayer is a powerful thing.
  10. Be yourself. Make new friends. You offer something no one else does. Make guests feel like church is their home.

We get a lot of re-do’s in life, but one thing we never get a second-chance at is a first impression.

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13

21 Over

day 2

Art by French Press Mornings, lettering by Alyssa Martin

I have a pit in my stomach. More out of irritation at myself than anything. At the risk of subjecting myself to “bad-driver” jokes (what woman hasn’t been the brunt of bad-driver jokes at least 3489349 times…in the last week), I have to admit something to you. I got a speeding ticket last week. FOR 21 MILES OVER THE SPEED LIMIT.

No, I don’t usually drive this way. And no, I didn’t deserve the ticket. :) Let me explain. I’m driving in unknown territory. It’s late, it’s dark. The speed limit is 70mph, so like the good driver I am, I put my cruise on 71mph. I unknownlingly come up on a little town in the middle of nowhere. Thinking back, I briefly remember seeing a 60mph sign, but I continued at 71 for a little bit longer. To me, it looks like a dark abyss ahead of me. No lights, no cars, no…nothing. That is, until I pull over a hill. I see a few lights, cars and a tiny little town. The story goes downhill from here (punny…see what I did there?).

I look to my right and I see a blacked-out cop car. I look at my speedometer. “Dang. 71mph in a 60mph.” He starts to move and I just pull over immediately knowing what’s to come.

He comes to the window and asks me no less than 10 questions. Where do you live? Where are you going? What do you do? blah blah blah. Yes, I did everything “right.” I didn’t cry, I was respectful “Yes, sir / No, sir”, I was honest, I apologized.

Then he said the dreaded words…and here is where the pit in my stomach comes in. “Ma’am, I clocked your speed at 71 mph…” Yes I know. “…IN A 50MPH ZONE.” WHAT?!? I never saw the 50mph sign. I quite honestly didn’t believe him. I explained my error and he went back to his car for what seemed like an eternity.

When he came back, he handed me my ticket and told me to have a nice evening (like that’s possible). I look at the ticket. He really did it. He wrote it for 21mph over. Not 20mph, which would have made the ticket $100 cheaper. Twenty-ONE mph over.

COUDLN’T HE HAVE SHOWN ME SOME GRACE? Didn’t he realize that the last ticket (on my record) was when I was 16 years old? Why couldn’t he have given me a break since, clearly, I was such a good driver, and clearly, their road signs aren’t marked well (I checked on my way back through – total speed trap). Oh and clearly, he is a bored cop in a small country town that needs revenue.

I called Mike crying. I just cringe when I think of ALL THE THINGS I COULD USE THAT MONEY FOR. The new bookcase I want. The new wall art I “need.” A new vacuum cleaner for heaven sakes. But not a ticket. 

For a split second I thought, “God, where were you?” But I realize how silly that is. What about all the little things that God does for us? He gives us grace, provides in so many small ways, yet we fail to thank Him day-to-day. We chalk it up to “luck” or our own doings. Then when the bad days happen, we wonder where He is. I may have had a clean driving record since I was 16, but I’ve been pulled over a few times and have “lucked out” with a simple warning. One time I got a ticket but it was wiped from my driving record. Why didn’t I thank God for those moments of relief? Instead, I get frustrated at God the one time He doesn’t pull me out of the trouble I got my own self in. At the risk of looking too far into the situation, what if, by me getting pulled over and the cop taking forever to fill out the ticket, God was saving me from something else up ahead? Maybe I would have gotten in an accident had I not gotten stopped for 15 minutes. I will never know. But what I do know, is that God loves me and cares for me, and how foolish it is to not express gratitude for the day-to-day mundane, when everything is good in my world.

Luke 12: 22-26 says:

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

Here the disciples are told not to worry because of God’s sure provision. If He takes care of the raven or the sparrow then He will take care of us. The subject of that passage is worry but the reason not to worry is God’s provision.

I’m approaching this Thanksgiving with a new perspective – eyes wide open at the little ways that God provides throughout my daily routine. How many ways can I find to thank God? What areas am I overlooking in my life where God should be given gratitude? I encourage you to do the same.

“Do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers.” Ephesians 1:16

I still have the speeding ticket. Maybe when I call the police department they will show me grace? Probably not. But you bet I will be thanking God for the several other times He pulled me out of this mess.

“O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endures for ever.” Psalm 107:1


There’s no better time to give thanks than the week of Thanksgiving. For this reason, the GLOW team will be focussing on gratitude throughout the week.

Many of you have also expressed that you would like to see more recipes in our posts! So to go along with our Week of Gratitude series, we will each be posting our favorite Thanksgiving recipe at the end of each post. Be sure to stop by each morning to grab your Thanksgiving fix.

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My church has a meal every year the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite church events. The ladies in our church know how to cook! My sweet potato casserole has been requested again this year, but since I have already shared that recipe with you, I figured this year I would share my mom’s mandarin salad. It’s to die for.

Mandarin Salad

Topping:
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3 Tbsp. Sugar

In a small pan over medium heat, cook almonds and sugar, stirring constantly until almonds are coated and sugar is dissolved. Watch carefully as they burn easily. Cool and store in airtight container.

saladDressing:
1/2 tsp. salt
dash pepper
2 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Vinegar
1 Tbs. Parsley
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I like Bernoulli Olive Oil)
dash of Tobasco Sauce

Mix dressing ingredients and chill.

Salad:
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
1/2 head romaine lettuce
1 cup chopped celery
2 green onions, chopped
1 11oz. can mandarin oranges, drained

Mix lettuces, celery and onions. Just before serving, add almonds and oranges. Toss with dressing.

How to be a Peacemaker

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9 (NASB)

Talk of “peace” is rampant throughout the media. Darkness has fallen upon the City of Lights – a sad…no, heart wrenching…story. Innocent people have lost their lives due to actions of sick cowards. Yet, social media reacted with emphasizing the importance of peace. Peace, or peacemaking as stated in Matthew, has been heavy on my heart and Friday’s incident only emphasized my conviction.

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Matthew 5:9 says “blessed are the peacemakers.” “Maker” implies action. Peacemakers must pursue. You see, for peacemakers, passivity is not an option.

Living at peace is one thing. We can control ourselves. We can control our anger, our bitterness, our jealousy, our frustrations – all of the things that cause us to live a life not at peace. But being a peacemaker is on a different level – it implies action.

Yesterday my husband and I went with a group from our church to Kirk Cameron’s “Love Worth Fighting For” marriage event. He spoke of different things that are “worth fighting for.” Our marriage, our children, the sanctity of the family were listed among others. Everyone agreed that these things are all worth fighting for.

Once again, peacemaking entered my mind. Because when other people are involved, peace is not possible without effort. It requires peacemaking. And peace is worth fighting for.

Disagree? Think of what’s at stake! Could it be a friendship? A relationship? Your children? Your marriage? Your family? Your character? Someone’s life? As a rule, extended interpersonal conflict is not good. It might temporarily feel good, but once you swallow your pride and approach the situation with God’s agenda in mind, I think you’ll quickly come to the conclusion that peace is worth fighting for.

Romans 12:18 states:

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (NASB)

So how do we resolve interpersonal conflict? Here are a few tips:

  • Let it go. Another word for this would be forgiveness. It’s hard, but sometimes it’s necessary. And let’s face it, sometimes women can be cray-cray (we can’t say that here, right? Our husbands aren’t around). If you can’t just forgive, move on and not hold it as a grudge, then proceed to the next step.
  • Take it to the person. Talk it out. This is the active part of peacemaking. The part that a lot of women don’t want to do…the confrontation. Approach the person in love. Sometimes the best thing you can do is get it out on the table. You might discover that the person who has offended you will immediately apologize and take responsibility. Or, they might at least give you their perspective on the situation and you might find that you are the one who needs to apologize. Either way, it’s true that there are always two sides to every coin. As the old saying goes, “There’s three sides to every story. Your side, my side, and the truth.”
  • Take people or a person with you to discuss with the person. If you try to talk it out and you find yourself at odds, try to find a neutral party to act as a mediator.

God’s goal is reconciliation. He says that peacemakers shall be called “sons of God” and being a son of God requires action through faith. God sacrificed His loving and perfect Son to initiate peace. “Prince of Peace” is not just a crafty alliteration. It is the perfect illustration for who we should strive to be.

So I ask you, do you have conflict with someone in your life right now? Are you at odds with a friend or family member? Is your home filled with fighting words? It’s not worth it. Life is short. Take steps to reconcile. Approach. Apologize. Forgive.

Be a peacemaker. It’s worth fighting for.


A QUICK NOTE TO OUR READERS:

If you are like me, you wouldn’t mind if Wednesday was every day. It couldn’t get much better than waking up each morning to Kelsey’s heartfelt words about life, love, and her littles. We are excited to announce that there is now a way to hear from Kelsey more than once a week! Simply hop on over to her personal blog While We Mother: A blog to “encourage and inspire mother’s in the greatest endeavor of our lives; raising people.” Soak up her words, enjoy the soft touches of pink and be sure to show her some love.

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Oh and for you mommas, in case you missed it Kelsey was also featured on Coffee + Crumbs last week! Take a peek at her post here.

Loving God with Your OWN Mind

Screen-Shot-2015-09-19-at-11.03.36-PMI distinctly remember a conversation I had with my dad and Mike a couple years ago. Well, really they were having a conversation and I was listening. We were in the car driving to the airport in Colorado when my dad and Mike were conversing about a theological topic that was way above my head at the time. Though I sat quietly in the backseat, I was intrigued. “Dad,” I asked, “why didn’t you teach me about these theological concepts when I was growing up?”

While my heart wasn’t asking the question in a demeaning or rude way, I am now quite embarrassed to admit that I said that. My parents did a wonderful job of raising us in Christian home – we were in church regularly (my dad was the pastor after all), we were encouraged to read our Bibles daily and even had daily family devotionals at the breakfast table most mornings growing up, despite my complaints. :) My dad responded kindly with, “Well, I did my best to teach you as much about Christ as I could. I’d be happy to discuss any theological topic you would like to learn about.

By asking my dad that question, what I was really doing was placing blame on him for what should have been a red flag to myself about my own sanctification process.

Let me explain. In the world today, we (the laity) place the responsibility of our own sanctification on the church leaders. We allow them to shape our theology – what we believe, why we believe it and what we should or shouldn’t do about it. This, friends, is frightening.

As I’ve said before, I am taking two seminary classes this semester – Hermeneutics and Apologetics (and trust me, sometimes I regret it – it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done!). The reason I decided to start seminary in the first place was in order to seek and find the answers to my questions on my own, instead of always asking my incredibly intelligent theologian of a husband. If I had to pinpoint one thing that has stirred my heart the most from these two classes so far this semester would be the importance of loving God with our minds – our OWN minds.

“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” Matthew 22:37

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” Mark 12:30

Scripture is full of verses that discuss LOVING God with our minds. But what is it to love God with our minds? I know people that have been a Christian for years, been to church service after church service and conference after conference, but still lack basic knowledge about God’s Word. Some would blame the church for watering down the Gospel or the history of subjective interpretation for painting Jesus as simply a moral figure. And while these arguments have merit in today’s increasingly secularized society, my argument is that the main problem for Christian’s lack of biblical knowledge is the lack of effort and care to learn and read the Bible intelligently as followers of Christ.

Recently a friend of ours jokingly said to Mike, “I’ve learned more in my Old Testament class than I did in all my life at the church. Thanks for teaching me nothing.” Given the nature of our friendship, this was a completely appropriate thing to say, and it was quite funny in context. Mike responded with, “Did you know you can read the Bible on your own occasionally too?”

But he’s right. We can read the Bible on our own and as Christians, we OUGHT to the read the Bible on our own. This is a part of loving God with our minds. Loving God with our minds does not mean we all have to attend seminary and obtain a degree in theology (although I do recommend it). :) It does mean that we are called to spend time in His Word, to seek out answers by prayer, study and even from the theologically trained (Need recommended resources? Just ask!) and to let His Word transform us on the inside out. This implies more than simply pulling out your Bible, reading a verse and placing meaning on the verse as it applies to your feelings that day. As Graeme Goldsworthy states in his book “Gospel Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation”:

The purpose of God’s Word is to bring us to God through the salvation that is in Christ. It does this by revealing his plan and purpose, by conforming us more and more to the image of Christ, and by providing the shape of the presence of God with his people through the Spirit of Christ” (page 317).

If the Gospel has truly saved us, it is then our job to develop a taste and passion for good theology and doctrine. Without a doubt, Church leaders have a responsibility to train and equip their sheep to be more like Christ, but if we leave the sole responsibility of our own personal sanctification on their shoulders, we are not only ignoring the commandment to love God with our minds, but we are also missing out on the amazing things Christ can and will teach us if we simply seek Him.

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