Archive for November, 2011

Living Proof Live Pensacola – Ticket Giveaway

Good Wednesday morning, Siestas! Typically we would wait until tomorrow to post the ticket giveaway, but tomorrow is December 1st and we all know what that means. Our SSMT post will be of utmost importance, so, as to not double up tomorrow, we’re hitting it a day early!

All of that to say, as stated earlier, the very last LPL of 2011 is this coming weekend and they’re going out with a bang in the “Sunshine State”. Quite different from our last LPL in Wyoming where it was snowing!

Thanks to the Siesta Scholarship Fund, we are thrilled to offer 20 scholarship tickets for those of you that desire to attend, but just cannot afford it at this time.

If that is you and you qualify for this, we will offer the tickets to the first 20 ladies that call the Living Proof  office during regular business hours (8:30 – 4:30 CST). Please ask for Kimberly or Susan at 1-888-700-1999 and they will take care of you. If you happen to get the voicemail or call during the lunch hour, please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. It is such a joy to us that the Lord allows us to do this and we pray you are blessed!

Also, you certainly wouldn’t waste a prayer on our Siesta Mama as she prepares for this weekend. I know she appreciates each and every one of them.

Those of you that are attending this weekend, we pray the Lord is near. The nearness of God is our good! Amen!

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A Great Thanksgiving Behind Us and Our Last Living Proof Live of 2011 ahead!

Hey, Sweet Things!

I couldn’t wait to see my LPM coworkers today but whew! It was hard to get back in the swing of things this morning! Was anybody else a little hungover from so much turkey and dressing and visiting and coming and going and cleaning and butter and sugar and coffee? Lord, have mercy! We put these bodies of ours through a lot over a holiday, don’t we? I feel like I could use about a week of saltine crackers and water. But then I’d have to have coffee, too, and that would be a gross combination. I’d end up needing a little something sweet to go with the coffee and then some dip for the crackers and it would just go on from there. Before you knew it, I’d be driving back through Chick Fil A.

I had such a great week (we get the whole week off at LPM). After a very busy Monday morning through Thursday night, I spent most of Friday by my very own self in the country. Keith was at our cactus ranch and the girls were also doing their own things. It felt so good to have a few hours of reflection and quiet after such heightened activity and great company. That’s one of the gifts of being older and your family being grown. Just getting to hear yourself think on occasion. I feel bad about even mentioning it to you moms who haven’t been alone for one minute since, say, 1999. Then, if you do get a while by yourself and you’re like me, you can’t wait to get back with your peeps. After my Friday alone, I spent three or four hours with Amanda and Melissa over Saturday lunch and we laughed our heads off and talked a hundred miles an hour. They remain my very best friends.

I so hope all of your Thanksgivings were wonderful and, maybe more than that, meaningful. It’s just flat healthy to take a season of time to tell God how grateful we are. It relieves us of some of the imploding stress of our self-absorption. God has been so good to us. So unspeakably faithful. You as a community were among the things I felt so thankful for. I had a blast swapping recipes with you guys. I made two completely new dishes because of you and adapted several of my own recipes. It was great fun. Thank you for joining in! It made me feel like I spent part of my Thanksgiving with you.

I have to keep it short today because I’m in the happy trenches of preparation for our last Living Proof Live of 2011. Travis and the LPL team and I will be in Pensacola, Florida this very weekend. We won’t have another LPL until, hmmmm, late March I think. As we looked for practical ways to alleviate some of the stress on my schedule several years ago, my very wise office administrator suggested that we not pile speaking engagements right on top of Houston Tuesday night Bible study. (It kicks off in mid-January each year.)  We’ve done this for a year now and, although I always miss the activity that I’m not doing, I’ve savored every second of it. The new schedule has enabled me to give more attention to one thing at a time. Contrary to my prior standard-operating-procedure, I can say with no fibbing that we’ve made some strides in lessening the work and stress load around here and I’m so grateful to God. I hope you are doing something similar. There comes a time when a person has to say, “I CANNOT KEEP LIVING LIKE THIS” and then, here’s the hard part – do what is necessary – and Godly (lest someone think I’m talking about her leaving her husband) – to change it. I’m just still going to say to you that it’s tough being a woman.

OK, I better get back to work. Thanks for a quick coffee break! Will I see any of you girls in Pensacola this weekend? I’ll look so forward to our clandestine meet-up. Shhhhhhh. That one’s got to stay a secret. Watch for the slide.

I love you guys.

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Thanks Be To Our God

Since the first day I had in my hands Travis’s new CD When the Stars Burn Down, I have played and replayed and replayed the song Thanks Be To Our God (#13) and a good many times cried through it. I couldn’t think of anything more fitting to post in our community today than the lyrics. Sisters, I am so thankful to God for you. So thankful for your commitment to Him. For your pure-hearted worship. For your love for the Lord Jesus Christ, our one and only Savior. And I am so deeply thankful to God for His unfathomable grace, mercy, steadfast love and redemption toward my family and me and for the living, breathing power of His Word in cracked jars of clay. I am thankful for four generations that will eat at the same table together. I am grateful for the gift of laughter than is rarely left unpacked at our table. Thanks be to our God.

For the road that leads from darkness into light,
For the hope that rescues from endless night,
For the grace covers sin, at the the door where life begins,
For salvation reaching in to guide us through,
Thanks be to our God.

For the healing that no mortal can explain,
For deliverance that breaks the sinner’s chains,
For the strength to carry on, and forgiveness great and strong,
And the promise of your mercies ever new,
Thanks be to our God.

Hallelujah! Everlasting songs will rise
For all you’ve done.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Thanks be to our God!

For the emptiness that cries out to be filled,
For the promise that your word is deeper still,
For the longing and the need, to have more of you in me,
Because nothing satifies the way you do,
Thanks be to our God!

Hallelujah! Everlasting songs will rise
For all you’ve done.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Thanks be to our God!

For the mysterious beyond the veil of death,
For the peace that opens with our closing breath,
When our struggles pass away, and we finally see your face,
And a greater glory rises into you.
Thanks be to our God!

Hallelujah! Everlasting songs will rise
For all you’ve done.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Thanks be to our God!

Hallelujah! Everlasting songs will rise
For all you’ve done.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Thanks be to our God!

Thanks be to our God!
(Travis Cottrell)

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Holiday Cooking Hints: Open Forum!

Hey, Sweet Things!

Last night I was helping a younger woman with a few hints for roasting her first Thanksgiving turkey. It caused me to think someone else might need a couple of tips so I threw some things I’d told her on Twitter. Then, I got enough responses to wonder if I should open up a forum for questions and helps here on the blog today. I talked to Jan Morton, one of our most beloved Siestas and the owner of one fabulous kitchen, and she promised she’d pitch in this afternoon, too, so LET’S DO THIS! It’s perfect timing since we’ve still got a few days and, if it turns out to be too late for some of you, keep in mind that all of this applies to your Christmas cooking as well.

Now, listen. I am not a stellar cook. I really am only fairly proficient at country cooking and meals like rump roasts and gravy and smothered steak and gravy and pork chops and gravy and fried chicken and gravy and, okay, anything at all with gravy. (And, no, I surely cannot eat that way all the time which is why I don’t cook much.) What I am is a women’s teacher/tutor and I think this is a perfect time to help some women out in the kitchen and it’s Biblical, after all.

Do you remember what Peter said to the beggar at the Temple gate in Acts 3? “Silver and gold have I none, but that which I have, give I thee!” (I love it in the KJV.) So, I don’t have mad cooking skills but, what I have, I give thee. Because I love thee. And because few of us are flat-out gifted in the kitchen. Most of us have to learn and that means somebody needs to teach us. SO, calling all teachers!!!

Since I lack a lot in the kitchen myself, here’s what I’m going to do: I’m opening this up for you less experienced cooks to ask questions and you more experienced cooks to read through the comments and answer as many of them as you can. If you see that someone else has already answered the question but you still have something to add, go ahead and leave an additional comment. I really need you seasoned cooks in our community to jump in here and help me because I won’t have the opportunity to answer them all myself. You also don’t have to wait for a comment in order to offer a tip. Go ahead and share some things you learned from other good cooks. Things that come in handy for holiday meals. It’s just wide open, Girls. Teach and be taught on here today.

I’ll get us started with a few things I threw out there last night and I’ll be able to explain a bit more in this format.

If you’re baking a turkey this year for the first time or you’ve done it many times but can’t get it consistently tender, consider using one of these: (You can get it and most of the other items on this post at your basic grocery store like Kroger.)

Just follow the directions exactly and it will tell you how long to bake your turkey according to its size. Even though most of them are basted these days, I can’t resist slathering them down with at least a half stick of melted butter, generous salt and pepper and minced garlic. Then I stick it in the oven bag and bake it just like it says. Girls, be sure and reach in your turkey and pull out the packet in the inside cavity before preparing the turkey. Don’t be embarrassed about not knowing those kinds of things. You can’t know what you don’t know. The size of a turkey means that you usually end up wallowing the thing all over the sink and counter before you finally get it in the bag SO this is a really good time to use a Windex or any other kind of counter spray that includes antibacterial.Remember to spray down things like the handle on the refrigerator. Use your antibacterial on anything the raw turkey touched or your hands touched before you washed them.

After your turkey is completely done, set it out on the counter and start allowing it to cool off. (NOTHING smells better than a turkey roasting.) Girls, turkeys take quite a while to cool off. This actually comes in handy since most of us only have one oven and we can’t fit any of our casseroles in it at the same time our turkey is roasting. Even if you have to wait an hour before your dressing or other casseroles are baked, it’s no big deal. As long as you don’t slice the turkey until the last minute, it will stay warm. You might just lay one piece of aluminum foil over the top of it.

Now, for a few gravy hints. The drippings to a turkey are absolutely divine. After you’ve let the bird cool off enough to work with the drippings, tear open your roasting bag and use a cup or ladle to pour a generous amount into a measuring cup exactly like this:

See how the spout is at the bottom? The fattest part of the liquid will rise to the top after just a few minutes. You only want to use the bottom part to make your gravy or it’s too greasy. Set the filled measuring cup to the side until it’s time to make your gravy. Do you girls have iron skillets? They are best for making gravy but not imperative. You want it to be one of the last things you do before serving your meal. I’m going to tell you how to do basic gravy rather than giblet gravy so you’ll know how to make it from any roast whether beef, pork, or bird. I’ll leave giblet gravy to one of the other cooks on here.

Go back to your measuring cup of drippings. Pour that lower (less fat) half of your liquid in a skillet. Heat it up to a rolling boil. Depending on how much liquid you have in your skillet, put about a heaping tablespoon of flour (not into your pan yet!) into about a fourth cup of warm water and stir it up really well until the lumps are out. While the liquid in your skillet boils, pour in the flour mixture and stir constantly for at least several minutes. After it’s well mixed, decrease your heat to a low boil. Add some salt and pepper if the liquid needs it. (You can’t be afraid to taste it in process or it won’t be well seasoned.) The liquid in the skillet will all begin to thicken. Keep it boiling until it looks like gravy. Grin. And add some water – just a little at a time – until it has the consistency you’re looking for. Especially with any of my bird-gravies (chicken or turkey), I like to add no more than a dime-size of this:

It simply adds a little color. For those of you with access to a Williams Sonoma, however, this is absolutely FABULOUS (this is the only thing on here today you can’t get from a regular grocery store):

You can forget all the trouble of making gravy from scratch and only use the jar (according to the directions, of course – you whisk it with milk) OR you can make your own gravy like I prefer and simply whisk in about a fourth of a cup of the jar to it. When I add the Williams Sonoma gravy base, I do NOT use the Kitchen Bouquet. Each one gives good rich color and a little extra flavoring. Don’t use both.

If you’re like me, you love yeast rolls for holiday meals but they’re often too time consuming to do from scratch. (I did it for years and it’s still the best way but so much is going on in the kitchen at once on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I have to give something up. I only have one oven and in a fairly small kitchen.) Sister Schubert Rolls are so good and they require no thawing and only about 15 minutes of baking time. They’re in the freezer section of almost any decent grocery store. I don’t have mine yet so I can’t add a picture but they come in round foil pans. And don’t you dare put margarine on them. B.U.T.T.E.R.

Okay! Those are a few of my tips! They are basics as you can see but a lot of our women need to know the basics. No shame here! I hope our better cooks tell you lots of other things you can put to great use this holiday season. So many women out there can leave me in the dust in the kitchen and we need to hear from them today! (And, yes, ladies, you are welcome to post recipes. Just try to use some that aren’t profusely long.)

And just because it’s Thanksgiving week, I’ll add this picture IF you think you can handle it. Annabeth at her Mother’s Day Out Thanksgiving Feast last week. She then visited the ministry in period costume and we all fell so in love, we were worthless.

 

Come on, questions and cooks! It’s a kitchen free-for-all in Siestaville today!

Surely you know by now that I love you. Grin.

 

PS. You girls made me so hungry, I had to get up and spread me a peanut butter and jelly just so that I could keep moderating the comments!

 

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A Cathartic Moment with Qoheleth on the Eve of Thanksgiving Week

A month ago I read From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life by Jacques Barzun. In the introduction he makes a fascinating comment about the modern era in which we live:

“It is a very active time, full of deep concerns, but peculiarly restless, for it sees no clear lines of advance. The loss it faces is that of Possibility. The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result. Boredom and fatigue are great historical forces” (Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, xx).

Now, Barzun is writing a cultural history and I’m not interested in evaluating his argument here on the blog. And you’re thinking to yourself, “There is hope, after all!” What interests me is how similar Barzun’s critique sounds to Qoheleth (or Koheleth) in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. Qoheleth is the English transliteration of the Hebrew noun (קֹהֶלֶת) that the author of Ecclesiastes uses to refer to himself. In fact, the English word “Ecclesiastes” is actually derived from the Greek translation (ἐκκλησιαστὴς) of the Hebrew noun (קֹהֶלֶת). The noun is most likely a title (not a proper name) and means something like assembler, teacher, or preacher.

Check out just one relevant section in Ecclesiastes (1:1-14 ESV):

1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
3 What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
4 A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
7 All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
8 All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
9 What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.
12 I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.
13 And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.
14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

The gist of the paragraph is that in spite of relentless human activity, all things “under the sun” are full of weariness—they are both tiring and tired out. In the Hebrew text the biblical author’s point is strikingly clear. In verses 4-7 alone there are some fifteen active participles, suggesting that although there is a copious amount of human action, nothing fruitful really happens at all (C. Seow, Ecclesiastes, 112). While Barzun attributes this peculiar weariness primarily to the end of the modern era (and I’m not saying I agree with Barzun!), Qoheleth seems to suggest that this weariness is descriptive of human experience in general.

We often read Qoheleth and think, “What am I supposed to do with this text?” But the irony is that most of us have probably had the same thoughts as Qoheleth at one point or another. This is precisely what makes his message so powerful. Qoheleth speaks to the dark and sinister moments in our journey of faith, even if they are few and far between.

Have you ever felt like Qoheleth? Have you ever wondered after a long day of work, “Okay so what was the point of all that?” Do you ever ask yourself, “How is it that everyone is talking, nonstop talking, but no one is saying anything new or interesting?”

Sometimes we endure seasons where G.K. Chesterton is exactly right, we simply aren’t strong enough to exult in monotony (G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy). We don’t want to be told to find joy in the little things because we’re simply too jaded by the overall picture. The chirping of the birds is no longer beautiful, it’s just annoying. The bubbling casserole on the stove has lost its legendary power to relieve the fatigue of the daily grind. Cleaning toilets, is well, just that, it’s cleaning toilets and it’s pretty gross. There are seasons when we become so disenchanted with human experience that the little things are, frankly, just not enough. We simply can’t make sense of how all of this is working or where all of this is going. It can get hard to push through when most folks dismiss disillusionment as madness or depression. Have you ever encountered this kind of season? Maybe I’m the only one.

What is most fascinating is that Qoheleth doesn’t solve any of this for us. Qoheleth’s teaching ends right where it began with “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity” (12:8). But the book doesn’t end at 12:8. In 12:9-14 the voice of the narrator (a second and anonymous wise man) sounds and indeed has the final word with his famous lines in v. 13:

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

Now I used to think this ending was sort of anticlimactic, but now I like it. I love how the book lacks a shiny red bow but calls us to orthodox faithfulness nonetheless. Usually when I’m jaded or facing a full-on existential crisis, my tendency is to stop praying, worshipping, and meditating on Scripture. In short, I just stop doing whatever I was doing before to connect with God and His people. But when we’re questioning it all and angry with it all is precisely when we need to push back against the darkness and confusion by engaging anyway. Now, I know I’m posting these words on the eve of Thanksgiving week. I know this might strike some of you as kind of odd timing. But for those of us who are facing seasons of restlessness or dissatisfaction, Qoheleth is a powerful and cathartic read. Qoheleth gives us a canonical excuse to be a little bit cynical for just a moment without allowing us to be too self-indulgent.

I was reminded yesterday of some of my favorite words in Wendell Berry’s novel Hannah Coulter.

“We suffered the thoughts of the nights and at dawn woke up and went back to work. The world that so often had disappointed us and made us sorrowful sometimes made us happy by surprise” (Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter, 147).

Sometimes we’re not strong enough to exult in monotony, but if we continue to be engaged with the world God loves and persistent in faithfulness despite our sorrow or dissatisfaction, who knows, we might just stumble on joy.

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2011 Siesta Scripture Memory Team: Verse 22!

Three more to go!
Three more to go!
Three more to go!

(Hear that all cheerleader like)

Ladies, the finish line is in sight! Let’s run the rest of this race marked out for us. What a privilege this has been, you guys.

I think I told you guys recently that I’d gotten a new Bible. I absolutely love it. I always choose one Book of the Bible to read through carefully when I get a new one and this time I chose the Book of Acts. I’ve been so incredibly inspired by it. The verse I’m memorizing this time is for the sake of prayer. (Do you guys often use your memory verses in prayer, turning them into intercession? It really stirs up my faith and my strength.) I’m praying that what happened when Peter was in the midle of bringing the Scriptures to attentive listeners will happen in our environments, too. I’m praying this for my pastor and those who hear the Scriptures through him. I’m praying it for myself and for those I’m privileged to serve. I now pray it for you and those you teach and encourage with the Word of God.

Beth, Houston. “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the Word.” Acts 10:44 ESV

Lord, let it be! Drench Your listeners with Your Spirit! While we are right in the middle of sharing the Scriptures, fall on every single person who hears. I want this so much. I want a fresh anointing, don’t you? I think our God is willing to give it. Let’s ask Him boldly! All we have to do is make absolutely certain that He gets every ounce of credit. Oh, what He’d be willing to do if we jealously guarded His glory and humbled ourselves as slaves of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ok, Girls. How about yours?

I love you so much.

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Good Monday Morning, Siestas!

Hey, Darling Things!

Melissa and I worked out of town most of last week in New Orleans so I feel dreadfully out of the loop. (That’s a story for another time and an experience that proved very fruitful to our souls.) I was also leaving some space for our beloved Amanda to do some blogging about her trip with Compassion International to Ecuador last week but, alas, her laptop completely crashed and it was everything she could do to borrow laptops and get articles up on her own blog. They had limited time and internet access so doubling up on two blogs was almost impossible. She’s going to stop by later this week on the blog and give you some highlights. We are so glad to have her home safe and sound and grateful to God that He uses her to bring attention to poverty stricken children. Amanda had the opportunity to be under the leadership of our good friend Shaun Groves and to serve alongside many of your favorite bloggers and women I’m so personally crazy about: Melanie Shankle (Big Mama), Sophie Hudson (Boomama), Kelly Stamps (Kelly’s Corner) and Ann Voskamp (A Holy Experience). To say that I’m thankful to our own Lindsee for her partnership in serving you is an understatement. She grows dearer and dearer to us everyday.

Let’s see now. What have I been up to? I know one area where I could catch you up! Like many of you, church life is a huge part of my personal life. We are officially heading into our third month as a church plant at Bayou City Fellowship under my dear son-in-law’s pastorate here in Houston. He has done a magnificent job of leading the charge and bringing the Scriptures. You’ve also never seen a core team work any harder and with any better attitudes. You may recall that we are renting space at a large Christian high school so everything has to be set up from scratch every week for the many children and for anything else unique to BCF. (Like signs, posters, welcome tables, community group information, the platform for worship, etc.) I shared with you several months ago that I was just going to serve wherever they asked me. So, here’s what I’ve gotten to do so far and have loved every single second of it:

*My main job is greeting so I do lots and lots of that. I say a plethora of hellos and ask about their week and I also hug anyone that looks like she needs one or just wants one. I also try to read that look on a face that says, “Don’t touch me.” And then I usually refrain. If I don’t, I usually wish I had. Grin. I just hate the awkwardness of hugging someone who doesn’t hug back.

*I also help with the coffee bar each Sunday morning and I have told Pastor Curtis on a number of occasions NEVER to underestimate the ministry of coffee. We find out just how crucial we are every single time something goes wrong resulting in a dismal coffee fail. (Which has indeed and unfortunately happened on several occasions. The shock and awe on disappointed faces were enough to leave Melissa and me nearly permanently scarred. Caffeine addicts without their caffeine should have their pictures plastered on warning posters. They are dangerous. I nearly wore a bicycle helmet the week following our worst debacle.) We usually serve two different flavors: Texas Pecan and Cocoa Nibs (I never know what to think about the word “nibs.” I wouldn’t have chosen it.)

And, of course, we serve real half and half. That’s key to a decent coffee bar. Powder is unforgivably lame and, should you set it out on the counter, no one will take you seriously as a coffee connoisseur. I also bring some holiday flavorings that tend to be big hits. My friend Beverly Newman (a Christian counselor I’ve known for I bet 20 years and a new member of BCF) has a young adult daughter who is a fabulous cook. Almost every Sunday morning, Beverly brings a silver platter of baked goodies via her talented offspring and we set it out near the coffee. We’ve had all sorts of creations like, for instance, carrot cake balls and oatmeal raisin cookies. Yesterday she sent delicate, nearly paper-thin sugar cookies in the shape of gingerbread men that only had a hint of gingerbread in them. I nearly cried they were so good. Needless to say, it’s first come, first serve so they don’t last very long.

*One week I got to help take the offering and it was so exciting. I was nervous that I’d drop the plate or miss a row or repeat one twice so I prayed that I’d do a good job at it and, frankly, I may have, to God be the glory. Laughing. One of the things that’s so exciting about a church plant is that you are OUT ON A VERY THIN LONG LIMB. Out there at high risk. Many don’t make it. At my beloved church of nearly thirty years, unless we were in a building campaign, I don’t really remember being intensely prayerful or hyped up in the spirit over our offerings. I say that to my shame. It’s such a big church with so many faithful members and I guess I just had the feeling that it would all get covered. We participated in giving, of course, but I just can’t remember often feeling a deep sense of urgency. Taking the offering is a whole different thing at a church plant. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. Our pastor is very serious about missions and outreach so, on several occasions, he’s designated a large part of what we receive toward another ministry. I’m so thankful for that. I respect him – and his wife – very much.

*And, last but far from least, I get to help on occasion with the elementary school students during children’s church. I love getting to do craft-time with Amanda. She works with the children every other week so she stays quite busy on Sundays and it’s fun for us to partner. Twice I’ve gotten to teach the Bible lesson and I just love it. It feels so good to be teaching on Sunday mornings again. The kids get really involved in the lesson and answer back with great gusto when I ask them to repeat something. They also use a lot of their limbs during worship and I like that. I tend to use mine too. Yesterday our lesson was out of Genesis 18 when the three visitors appeared to Abraham. I got four volunteers to help me act it out: three boys for the visitors and one girl to play Sarah and yours truly was Abraham. On Saturday night, I wished so much that I could find one of those long fake gray beards to wear during the lesson but I did not have time to acquire one. I was so mad at myself for not thinking of it sooner. If only I could have remembered where I last set mine. I had several wigs for such occasions but, sadly, no spare beards. The children and I talked about what kind of meals we might make if God and two angels visited us one day while we were in our tents. Hands down, the children believed God and angels alike would most appreciate macaroni and cheese and who could argue with that? Others felt that pizza would be particularly hospitable. They were so enthusiastic that I had a feeling like God would join many of them for lunch that day. They just might not know it.

I had a really sweet moment yesterday that I pray God will seal in my memory forever. Miss Cassie was leading us in children’s worship and all the other workers and I mixed in with the children. We were all on our feet ready to give God some raucous praise and my darling Jackson caught my eye and motioned for me to come worship by him. It touched me so. I really didn’t know what he’d think about Bibby serving in his class but I knew then that he was not embarrassed. He’s such a champ. Miss Cassie leads us in very upbeat worship where we can sing loud and do lots of hand motions. There was even one time when we got to pogo (one of my love languages) and turn around in circles and pump our right fists into the air as we sang “One way, Jesus!” (I’m laughing but also getting a lump in my throat thinking about it.) There we were, a grandson and his grandmother, grinning ear to ear, jumping up and down side by side, praising Jesus, the worthy Son of God.

And I realized how many of my prayers God had answered. As I lived and breathed, it was praise-dancing with granny. In public.

You mothers and you teachers of children, do not dare minimize the power and importance of your labor. The great commission is never more readily received than by the flailing arms of children.

Oh, mercy. I’ve got to get ready for staff prayer time and devotional. Better run! Forgive type-o’s! How are you girls doing???

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Ripped from my Comfort Zone

I have lived in the same city and gone to the same church my entire life. That is no exaggeration. The only exception would be the four years I spent in college in Huntsville, Texas.

It was never my plan to graduate college and attend the same church I grew up at, but the Lord had other plans. Not only did I return to that church, I found myself on staff full time as the Girls Ministry Director. Isn’t He so funny like that? To turn our plans upside down?

I dearly loved my church and was so blessed by being on staff and honored that they would even take a chance on me in that position, but one thing we were lacking was a strong young adult program. To be completely honest, when someone would come that was a “young single” I simply referred them to another church. I didn’t know what else to do because we had a college group that met Sunday mornings, but other than that; we literally had nothing for them. How sad is that?

Slowly more friends were coming back to Cypress after graduating and we finally decided that we needed to do something about this ministry.

After praying about it, planning, and recruiting some leaders, in May of 2010 we had our first Bible study. I think there were a total of five of us there. You have to start somewhere, right?

We continued to meet and grow and now a year a half later, we kicked off our small groups just last week. The Lord has given the group favor and it has been neat to be a part of it from the beginning and watch it grow.

This summer as the Lord began to make it clear to me that He was leading me elsewhere, more than anything; I mourned knowing that eventually I’d be leaving that group as well.

In an intentional attempt to get involved and plugged in at my new church, I’ve slowly been pulling out of this group.

For instance, I’m not doing a small group with them. Not only because I’m a part of a community group at my new church, but because come January I’ll be at Tuesday night Bible study. (Which, by the way, I am thrilled to be a part of.)

When they were calling out the small groups last week, they explained that they purposefully didn’t put friends in the same group so that they could get out of their comfort zone and meet new people and make new friends.

I looked at my friend Allison right away and told her I felt like I’d been ripped from my comfort zone.

Because that’s exactly how I feel.

I started attending Bayou City Fellowship right away and to say I love it would be the biggest understatement of the year. I absolutely adore my church. It has been a breath of fresh air to my soul that was starting to feel really dry and stuck.

However, not only am I attending a new church, I also have a new job.

After leaving a place I’d been 26 years, I walked into a ministry that’s been established for over 15 years.

Both Living Proof Ministries and Bayou City Fellowship have been nothing but good to me. I am in no way complaining about the newness, it is just the reality right now.

No matter what, where or when, change is always tough.

What hit me last week in a fresh way was the thought that I really did leave my church. I’m not just trying something out for a few months and returning later, and I really do have a new job. Everything really is new and God willing, it’s not temporary. It was a fresh, hard, good reality.

There is always a honeymoon stage to all things new, and now that I’m feeling settled and learning this new rhythm to life, the honeymoon stage is ending and the reality is setting in.

I’ve never been married, but I’ve heard countless couples say that they couldn’t imagine loving their spouse more than they did on their wedding day, but even six months later, they are more in love than ever, and so on and so forth.

I imagine that is how this new season will turn out. I knew I loved it when I started, but now, even almost three months in, I love it even more.

All honeymoons must come to an end, but that means a sweet future of new memories is just around the corner.

At the beginning of this year I was feeling stuck, but yet comfortable and discontent all at the same time. Everything around me was so familiar and I wasn’t growing. I began to ask the Lord to move in my midst and He did just that. In fact, He did more and moved more than I could have ever asked or imagined.

Not only was I ripped from my comfort zone; I was also ripped from my discontentment. The Lord knew what He was doing. He knew what would challenge me and scare me. He knew what would spur me on. And although it’s hurt along the way, and tears have been shed, I am so thankful.

When I’m comfortable, I’m not growing. When I’m uncomfortable, I cling to Him, which is exactly where I need to be.

Slowly, but surely, I am feeling more at home in this new season. Thank you, Lord, for ripping me away from all things familiar.

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.” Isaiah 43:18 – 19

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Living Proof Live – Casper Recap Video

Good Monday morning, y’all! Just popping in to say hello and post the recap video from Living Proof Live this weekend. We’d love to hear from you if you were there! Thanks, Rich, for your hard work.

Also, be expecting to hear from Amanda quite a bit this week as she travels with Compassion International to Ecuador. I, for one, am looking so forward to reading what all the Lord will do in and through their team. Would you journey along with her as well through prayer? I know they would covet each and every one of them. You ladies are awesome! We love y’all.

Have a wonderful day!

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Living Proof Live: Casper, Wyoming – Ticket Giveaway

Hey Siestas!

Can you believe there are only two more Living Proof Live events left this year? So crazy!

With that said, this weekend our Siesta Mama will be live in Casper, Wyoming (where it is supposed to SNOW!), and we are so excited to offer 20 scholarship tickets, thanks to the Siesta Scholarship Fund, to those of you that are wanting to attend, but just can’t afford it at this time.

If you qualify for this, we will offer them to the first 20 ladies that call the Living Proof office during regular business hours (8:30 – 4:30 CST). Ask for Kimberly or Susan at 1-888-700-1999 and one of them will get you hooked up and squared away. If you happen to get a voicemail or call during the lunch hour, be sure to leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible. We are so humbled and grateful that the Lord has allowed us to do this and pray that you are blessed by the Lord this weekend. May He speak straight to your heart!

“The Word of God has spoken, we are changed forever!” Let it be, Lord.

Anyone else out there heading that way this weekend?

We love you ladies!

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