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The first thing I ever sewed was a hand print of mine in third grade. Each student carefully traced her hand in pencil on muslin fabric pulled tightly through an embroidery hoop, stuffed it full of cotton filler, and then sewed it closed. It was a Christmas present for our parents. It marked the beginning of my sewing adventures.

For a few years after that I thought it was a cheating to sew with a machine, so my cousin and I sewed clothes and blankets and pillows together by hand. Eventually, I caved and the new found speed made projects a breeze. And more years went by and I majored in apparel marketing and design with pride leading the way.

I had been sewing for so long in my own self taught way, that I did not care too much for learning new things and trying other techniques and improving upon my skill set. I blocked my own growth, all while paying for the classes.

In our faith journey, it can be similar. We know the routine and the answers and the rituals. But we lack the techniques and proper use of the application to apply teachings to our daily life.

We forego mastering button holes and lapped zippers and French seams in order to stay on the sidelines within our faith comfort zones. We do projects that do not stretch us.

We sit in church and miss the opportunities to grow our faith. Miss the opportunities to know God on an intimate level. We miss the glimpses of joy that comes from knowing God and following his leading in to the unknown. We miss the intricacy and details that make up the garment and that gives it its lure and luster. We miss the transformation to reflect Christ.

The bible is pretty self explanatory about pride. A few examples:

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor. Proverbs 29:23

Pride prohibits growth and learning. It causes one to be so full of self that eventually something has to give. Marriage. Job. Finances. Being so focused on ourselves and how good we are, shuts our eyes to see others and destroys relationships and lives. It is the humble who admit they are wrong and can build from there, along with God's help.

Praying your eyes would be opened to the pride in your life, from the grandiose to the minute. Praying you would not think of yourself as higher than you are but would put others ahead and be willing to be last.

Praying that you would have wisdom to see the pride before the fall and would be caught up in mercy and humility instead. Praying you would grow in meekness in ways you have never known through uncharted territories and under explored truths.

Here's to less falls and more humility. 

One of my favorite parts of the day is the watercolor session with my four year old, when the boys are mostly napping, after we have had our bible study and with a warm soy chai in hand.

Months back I came across old watercolors from a fashion drawing class in college I could not have disliked more - drawing is not something I excel in, even remotely, though my teacher was highly gifted and sweet. Showing me strokes that flowed off her fingers like it was nothing only to have mine end up with tangles and knots that have way too odd curves. Give me stick figures any day.

But on that day months ago, they seemed intruding, especially after watching Penny dapple in her set days prior.

And so it began. A time of mixing and playing and practicing and brush strokes and water and colors of the rainbow strewn about. Neither of us an expert in the area but enjoying figuring it out and experimenting none the less.

In our Christian walk, we tell ourselves we have to know so much in order to teach anything. We have to be able to say the Road to Romans and have bible verses memorized and be a theologian to share the gospel. We put ourselves down and do not teach others because we are never qualified enough. We lose out on wisdom gained from others and vice versa because we are too afraid to share.

I find great amusement in the way God has wired us and the lessons he teaches us at different times. No matter how long we have walked as a Christian, everyone is at a different level in various areas of their faith. In fully surrendering and trusting God.

Some may have been a follower for decades but have never learned the truth that God will provide because of self sufficiency in material possessions, until a great loss occurs later. Others struggle to trust God with their family, knowing whatever happens to them is in God's control. Or perhaps trusting with their children, that God has in store for their future. And still others with jobs or school or past traumas. And the list goes on.

But we are always in a place to learn and grow and prosper in the Truth. Sharing is the key. And teaching what you know thus far is imperative.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

It is trusting God that we can share our stories and share the failures and the triumphs and the redemption and teach others what we have learned through experience. It is trusting God that though you struggle in an area in your faith, knowing that he will be faithful and continue to work complete his good work in you.

Praying that though it may seem like it is something you can hardly teach due to lack of skill set, that you would pray for guidance and wisdom and that you would dabble in it together anyway, learning together as you go. Because that is how faith grows and community forms and how God answers. 

Praying that when it seems like you have nothing to give and nothing to teach or the energy to think about such things or the time to prep for them that God would wrap you in his truth and bind them around your heart and you could not help but speak of what you have seen and heard. 

Here's to more trust and teaching. 

I have always had this picture of Jesus as a warmhearted, passionate, joyous person. He made time for the children and broke bread with the disciples and taught and was passionate about God's temple. It all seems so sweet, yet Isaiah 53:3 declares him a man of sorrows.

He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

The opposite of pure joy perhaps is sorrow.  Though it is possible to have joy in your sorrows, in the same way you can be being happy and sad for various reasons.

Sorrow is defined as mental, physical or emotional anguish. The gut wrenching angst for something more or something less. For the wrongs to be righted and the dead to be made alive and the dark to be overcome by light and the night to give way to the dawn and ultimately, for the sinners to turn from their ways.

Living in a world full of sin that is distant from God, knowing this is not how we were meant to be, must have been hard. Knowing we were made for greater. Knowing the toiling and ensnaring and separation and chaos that sin so entails each person, should he choose. That is a reason for sorrow and pain and suffering.

But Jesus' sorrow was not without reason and not due to his own sin, but for the most worthy of causes. It was about encouragement for us, all the more, in to leading humanity to repentance while he walked the earth and died on the cross and rose from the grave and ascended to heaven. Culminating with bringing about our redemption.

Man of Sorrows by Hillsong Worship is a great listen for this sorrow + redemption story. Have a listen.

Man of sorrows Lamb of God
By His own betrayed
The sin of man and wrath of God
Has been on Jesus laid

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow is the root that gives depth to the soul and allows praise to bud and rise and grow in to a nourished, strong, unwavering, fruit producing, shade giving tree. This sorrow produces perseverance and repentance and has the ability to set the heart ablaze with the desires of God.

Paul goes on listing to the Corinthians what godly sorrow produces (2 Corinthians 7:11):

               Earnestness  - sincerity of heart to repent  
               Eagerness to clear yourselves - a certain amount of excitement to stop sinning
               Indignation / alarm / longing / concern / readiness to see justice done - taking ownership                 and acknowledging the sin + its effects in order to learn + grow.  

Would I like to be known as a woman of sorrow?  Quite frankly no. Perhaps you would like that added next to your name on a business card?

________, a man / woman of sorrow.

It has a such a broken and sad connotation to it. But what if in your state of sorrow, you brought one person in to eternity. Or maybe two. Or a dozen or hundreds. It is impossible to see what God has planned but there is a place for sorrow as there is a place for joy and becoming like Jesus encapsulates them both.

Praying that as you experience sorrow in your life - sorrow for the poor, the afflicted, the broken hearted, the sick, the unjust - that you would find encouragers on the path to point you towards the goal and that it would ultimately lead you to a deeper concern and love for others and with God.

Praying your adventure would not be one of wandering and meandering but seeking justice and loving and sharing truth. Praying that while it may feel like more of a lonesome journey at times, that you would take each step and put one foot in front of the other and count on God for the strength to endure and the love to act.  

Here's to sorrows and redemption. 

God has been teaching me to choose joy and find the joy in the everyday moments since the birth of baby number two. Reminding me of the constant choice to see the beauty and the fullness of life around me. To see the beauty in the rainbow formed by crayons scattered all over the floors and seeing the mountains of laundry as abundant provision and the ongoing snack prep as little thanksgiving feasts because life can be good but we were made for greater. We were made for joy in the depths of our souls and fullness beyond measure. 

For Christmas, my mama got me Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts Devotional and then was gifted the actual book a few months later, which I have been reading through ever so slowly. God has been working and guiding me subtly, training my eyes and mind and heart to see the joys scattered throughout out the days. Seeing them through His lenses.

Right now, finding the joy is embracing a little messier house with unfolded laundry and longer sitting dishes. Finding joy is rocking tired babies to sleep when my body says it would rather be snuggled in my sheets. Finding joy is opening my eyes to the brokenness around me and watching God restore and piece it together. Finding joy is teeny seeds budding in the kitchen and little rain drops on the patio. Finding joy is eating vanilla ice cream next to my best buddy, while the kiddos sleep. Find joy is sending cards in the mail for reasons only God knows.

Finding joy is finding myself in the present. It is focusing on what my senses are taking in. The sights. The smell. The taste and the touch and the sound. It is not focusing on the next but the now.

True joy is a byproduct of following Jesus, mingled with trusting God and a fruit of the Spirit.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

As we trust in God, the God of hope, we are being filled with joy and peace, two interlinked fruits. The purpose being to overflow with hope through the power of the Spirit. It is a constant process of ebbs and flows and findings.

Finding joy is finding the water to the thirsting soul. Finding joy is stopping the busy and multi  - tasking and simply breathing. Tasting each moment to its fullest, letting it sit on your tongue until at last the flavor dissolves, leaving you with a smile pressed on your lips and thankfulness tucked in your heart, as the clock ticks away putting you one step close to entering eternity.

Praying you find joy in your every day moments that are here today and gone tomorrow.  Praying that your eyes would be opened to the beauty around you. That you would be able to find if nothing more, one thing that catches your eye with glimpses of the extraordinary.

A community of joy is contagious and much needed in the day to day, whenever you have a #findthejoytoday moment you'd like to share, be sure to post to Instagram to bless and encourage others. From the minute to the grandiose. Whatever you find joy in today.

Here's to finding the joy today. 

After talking about how we need rain in California with Penny the other day, she stopped and said we needed to pray for some. So she said a little prayer. Immediately following it, she asked if she could put on her jacket because it was going to rain. I explained answers to prayer do not always happen right away.

So we waited. The sky grew cloudy but no drops came. Another day came and went and we waited some more. She knew the rain was coming and was a little apprehensive about going outside without a jacket - in California - in July - in a drought but that did not deter her. She knew God would answer.

The next morning, clouds came and little drops fell along on the ground. We rushed outside, thanking God for answered prayers. It wasn't long enough for puddles but just enough to to water our little wildflowers and remember God hears even the littlest of prayers and allowing us to worship him in his splendor and faithfulness to reveal himself to this mama and four year old.

Forever by Chris Tomlin fits here for some worship of God's faithfulness. Have a listen.

Forever, God is faithful
Forever, God is strong
Forever, God is with us
Forever, forever

Answered prayers are little nuggets that remind us that the God of the universe hears us and knows us and cares about us. They are building blocks of the faith and in our relationship with him. Not every prayer ends in a yes or the way we hoped but it still is answered and are reminders for when the mountain tops level out to valleys that he is God and he is good, even if we do not understand the circumstance. 

Having a note book or journal dedicated to prayer is a great way to keep track of God's faithfulness and seeing his provision in your life. Often, we ask God for things and then forget what we asked as the days pass, even when he does answer them. Keeping a written record of your prayers helps you to remember what you are asking God for and allows you to give him the glory when they are answered and worship him. It becomes part of your faith and testimony.  

I came across Integrity Graphics  a few years back, a shop that specializes in prayer journals and the like, and my mama surprised me with one for my birthday that year. These journals make it easy to see the prayer request and the answer all in the same spot but any journal or paper work, too. I write prayers all over my journal, as well, although they tend to get buried and are harder to go back to.

Praying that if you have never written down a prayer request that you would put your pen to the paper and watch God in action. Praying that your prayer life would grow and that it would become an integral part of your day. Praying that as you become more intentional in your requests that you would see the power in prayer and in the name of Jesus.

Praying that despite the fact our feeble minds cannot fathom the way God works or answers our petitions, that you would trust him with them and that you would come to know him more intimately because of them.

Here's to more prayers and more answers. 


And if you'd like to find out more how you can help me fund the Allume ticket, click below. 

At the beginning of the year, our two year old request of new carpet for our rental home was answered. Upgraded carpet that does not match the bedrooms (which turned out to make the installation easier) but that is besides the point. My husband had the day off and took our oldest out on grocery shopping adventures during the process and I stayed home with our crawler, confining him to the bedrooms.

As the old padding and carpet was taken out and the new ones put down, I was able to get to know the workers, who were impressively speedy and knew exactly what they were doing.

As the last of the carpet went down in the hallway, the gentleman blatantly asked, "How did you get all this?" This referring to our home and possessions. 

I was taken off guard and wanted to laugh - several thoughts going through my head at once. You mean all this second hand / free / nearly free stuff looks like something worth having?

And of course, he then followed it with, "You do not look very old."

Enter more head laughter. And thankfulness to God for some great genetics and grace to answer the age question for the millionth time. And then a quick flash back to a few months prior when another gentleman asked, "why are you doing this?" Why would I go out of my way to perform a random act of kindness to people I do not know and probably will not see again.

It was there in these split seconds that we all have a choice. We can shy away or we can could be honest. We can cover up our faith and take the credit for the hard work ourselves or we can praise God for his blessings.

"Because of Jesus," I awkwardly, practically blurted. "He's the only reason I have anything in my possession.  He's the reason I do what I do."

Before then, no one had questioned my motives so bluntly.

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2

Paul tells Timothy to share the gospel and be prepared. It is so easy to be caught up in our own to-do lists that we miss the opportunity to be fully present. We have not prepared or studied or it is too awkward and no one wants to offend. But you may be the person who plants a seed and points them to the truth and turns a sinner from their ways. The person who leads them to correction and openly rebukes in love and encouragement.

Praying that at the height of your success and the climb there, that you would give the glory to God. That he would be your reason for the goodness in your life and the motive behind why you do what you do. Praying that those you interact with daily or in passing would see the difference in you. That your joy would overflow and that you would always be ready with an answer for the reason of the joy that you have.

Praying you would have an opportunity to share your faith this week and that seeds would be planted and hearts would be opened and eternities changed.

Here's to pointing others to Jesus throughout your journey.