Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Look Back at 2014

It is absolutely insane to me that there are only two days left of the year 2014. I still remember thinking that the year 2000 was distant and strange. How quickly time flies. This year has been an incredible one, with many changes. There were mountains and valleys, and God has been faithful through every season, as He always is. It was so wonderful to begin to rekindle my passion for writing and find that there were people who actually cared about what I had to say in this little space. Here are my favorite posts of 2014, in no particular order. Thank you for reading, friends, and I will see you in the new year!

Relationship Things


Hard Things


Fun Things

At the Downtown Ministries Golf Tournament with my boys and Josh Murray. #bestfieldtripever

Thursday, December 18, 2014

for when Christmas is hard


I don't know about y'all, but sometimes Christmas is hard. There are so many wonderful things about this season. We are anticipating the birth of Christ and in the midst of celebrating the Savior who came to earth. His birth brought us freedom, joy, and life. And yet we get so caught up in that which does not satisfy or last beyond December 25. If you're like me at all, maybe you've found yourself struggling to see the good. You've allowed yourself to become distracted and a slave to the idol of busyness. Your eyes are fixed on your circumstances or those of friends and family around you-circumstances that seem like they'll never change or improve.

But God

came down as a humble babe
gives us grace upon grace
pardons our sin
calls us blameless
walks with us in the midst of our trials
carries us through the fire
sings over us
rejoices with us
never fails us.

While the whole world searches for what is good, we hold it in our hearts. While the world waits for the next best/big thing, we've got all we could ever want in Christ alone. Let's be joyful.

It seems as though each day I am bombarded with stories of sadness that make my heart heavy, whether from friends, family, students, or the news. And in the midst of this Advent season, instead of anticipating Christ, I can find myself sad and confused about why a good God allows bad things to happen. And so I ask Him to carry me and be in me what I cannot be. I tell Him about my fears and ask Him to carry me just one more day. Because I know that He came for me. And that truth is enough to restore my joy and give me hope.

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. - Luke 1:45

Our choice to believe is just that- a choice. We can choose to know and believe and cling to truth, or we can allow ourselves to be held down by lies and fears. His perfect love casts out fear, and His promises hold true. Mary did not submit to fear and doubt, but rather to the One who calls Himself faithful. She readied herself for the journey by getting on her knees. She acknowledged the power of He who is good. Let's walk after the example she gave us and choose to believe that He will do what He has said He will do.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Currently: December

I know it has been rather quiet around these parts lately, and I'm ok with that. I hope you are, too. This time of year can be characterized by frenzy, busyness, and burnout. Or, it can be characterized by rest, anticipation, and sweet memories. Here's to the enjoying of a special season. 


making time to see friends and spend time with those who matter to me.
listening lots of Christmas playlists and Pandora stations.
wrapping up the semester and finding it hard to believe that 2014 is coming to a close.
watching Christmas movies and Gilmore Girls (still) on Netflix.
anticipating the coming of Jesus through Advent and a new beginning in 2015. 

I'm linking up with Jenna of Dearest Love and Anne of In Residence for this post! 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

For when we feel justice has not been served

Last night, I sat on my parents' bed and watched the Ferguson decision. A few months ago, I sat and wept and wrote about why Ferguson and Michael Brown matter. And today I find myself in the same position. This morning I woke up and scrolled through Twitter, tears welling in my eyes as I found myself frustrated and hurting and just so very unsure of what to think or believe about the state of our nation.

My heart hurts as I think about Michael Brown's family, because they lost a son. My heart hurts as I consider Darren Wilson, knowing that he did not wake up that morning expecting to take a life. My heart aches as I think about the futures of my ten sweet chocolate faced babies whom I love and adore and spend my days with at work. My heart hurts.

I cannot pretend to know all that happened that day in Ferguson. I cannot feign ignorance towards a race problem in America. I cannot turn a blind eye to the hurt and despair within our nation. And yet I have no answers. As I read through various perspectives, what is clear to me is one thing: we are in need of peace. Peace does not come through arguments and protests. Peace does not come through prejudice and harsh words. Peace is a Person, and that Person is Jesus Christ.

Peace is a Person & not a place & we can run to Him, stay in Him, walk in Him & in Him, reach out, peacemakers in a world that's pain-making.- Ann Voskamp

So where do we go from here? How do we move forward when we are hurting and angry and confused and just so very sad? We continue to pray. We work towards understanding by seeking to listen to others who are not like us. We ask the Lord to give us eyes and ears that are humble and aware. And we recognize that justice is not ours to execute, but rather in the hands of a mighty God who holds our tears in His hands.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? - Micah 6:8

Monday, November 24, 2014

thankful thoughts

Well, friends, it has been quite some time since I sat down to write in this little space. I still write just about every day in my journals and planners, but this space has been neglected. I don't know if I could say that I was burnt out, but I got close. I loved being a part of Blogtember, and I wanted so badly to fulfill each day of Write 31 Days, but things just got crazy, and I was no longer writing because I wanted to, but because I felt like I had to. And that is not beneficial for anyone, least of all me. I'm sure you've all been waiting with baited breath, just dying to know what all has been going on in my neck of the woods. 

Let me tell you that I am so thankful for this season, friends-literally and figuratively. I love fall so very much. Watching the leaves turn and enjoying cooler temperatures is something that I look forward to each year as we say goodbye to the oppressive heat of summer. Knowing that the cooler temps are ushering in a season of sweet celebration with Thanksgiving and Christmas makes everything even better. 

This fall, I've had the privilege of studying James with a group of women from my church. James is a short book with so much conviction and power in every verse. There are so many lessons to be taken from the words penned by Jesus' brother. The Lord has been showing me just how important it is to be thankful in all things. In the first chapter of James, he writes that we must rejoice in our trials, saying that we should  "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." {James 1:2-4} 

If everything were perfect all the time, we would fail to recognize our need for a Savior. And so He gives us these trials that we hate but must endure in order to draw us closer to Him. If the desire of our heart is to be made like him, then we will thank Him in the trials and in the blessings. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds us to "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." {Emphasis mine} That last phrase just keeps on running through my mind- it is the will of God for us to be thankful. He desires that we have grateful hearts at all times. So let's fulfill His will, not only on Thanksgiving, but each day. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Women with Vision: Jennifer Brommet

Jennifer and I met through quite serendipitous events. We both were the last minute additions on a trip to Kenya this summer. The way that the Lord brought us together is just so Him. Jennifer is an incredible woman with a sincere heart for the Lord and a desire to see women (and men) walk in freedom through the power of the Holy Spirit. She and I quickly became close through our week together in Kenya, and I am so grateful for the way that the Lord allowed us to come together not only as friends, but hopefully as partners in ministry. Be encouraged by her today, friends.

Tell us about yourself! Who are you?
I’m Jennifer Brommet, and I live in Cumming, Georgia with my husband Remco. We’ve been married 28 years and have two daughters, Carina and Sophia. Carina lives in London, England, finishing a master’s degree in screenwriting and Sophia is a sophomore at Berry College majoring in theater. I love being creative, with a background in art, graphic design and photography. One of my favorite times of work was as the Art Director for the Billy Graham Association which eventually took me to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where I met and married my husband! Our marriage mission is to help as many inside and outside the church come to a saving and intimate relationship with God, and have been in various ministry work most of our married life.
In 2008, God called me to start and direct True Identity Ministries, Inc., a nonprofit, nondenominational ministry with a passion for helping people come to understand and embrace their True Identity in Christ, setting them free to be all God designed and desires for them to be. I love to write with God and have written a book, True Identity, sharing my own journey from severe rejection and depression to freedom in my true identity, and write a weekly blog. Since going through breast cancer treatment in 2011, I cherish each day even more as a gift from God. Most importantly, I am a precious, redeemed daughter of the most high God!

How do you define a woman with vision?
To me a woman of vision is one who is solidly living in her true identity and is passionate about an intimate relationship with God. She desires to embrace all that God has called and purposed for her to do, and is willing to step out in faith, and outside her comfort zones, to answer that call. She is about God’s Kingdom work here on earth and investing in things of eternal value.

What are three things you want the women of our generation to remember?
1. God loves you, is passionate about you, and has an exciting purpose and plan for your life! 2. You are a beautiful, one of a kind, masterpiece. 3. Be there for one another, truly care for one another, and invest in lasting friendships.

Give us your life verse- the one that keeps you going.

Romans 8:28 - “ALL things work together for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” This verse has gotten me through the darkest days and deepest valleys and I have seen this promise come true over and over again.

Describe your perfect day, from sunup to sundown.

I have 3 kind of perfect days - “Me”day and ministry days.

1. The weather would be sunny and warm - around 75 degrees, (I hate being cold!) with a clear blue sky.  I would get up around 8. After a light breakfast, I would have a peaceful quiet time on the porch reading the Word, journaling, and basking in God’s presence in listening prayer time. I would then workout for about an hour, shower, dress in comfortable clothes and then spend time outside in a beautiful setting enjoying God’s magnificent creation and taking photos. I may also do some writing. I would then love to spend the rest of my day/evening with family and friends sharing a meal, great conversations, laughter, faith encouraging stories, and praying with one another. If time, I would then do a little reading or knitting before turning in to bed.

2. Getting up around 8 on a warm, sunny day and spending the day/evening in ministry, witnessing God transforming lives, and encouraging others in their faith.

3. My other perfect day would be waking up in Kenya and spending the entire day and evening with beloved Kenyan brothers and sisters in Christ, sharing the True Identity message and encouraging them in how to share it with others!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Currently: November

READING through the book of James with my Bible study. So very good. So, so good.

WISHLISTING lots of Christmas albums! I love Christmas music so much; I've already started listening to it. When there is the slightest hint of a chill in the air, I feel like Christmas just needs to get here already. So I eagerly await the most wonderful time of the year with a killer soundtrack. :)

LOVING this beautiful fall weather we've been having. Chilly mornings and evenings with some great temperatures that are just right during the day. 

APPRECIATING the abundant and wonderful mercies of Jesus.

CREATING lesson plans that do not bore my children. Ha.

ON THE HUNT FOR Christmas presents for my family. 

EXCITED ABOUT all that is to come with this holiday season. 

Linking up today with Jenna of Dearest Love. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Women with Vision: Suzanne Chambers

Friends, today I have the joy and privilege of introducing you to yet another incredible woman. The Lord has blessed me with some amazing friendships, and today, you get to meet my dear friend Suzanne. While our friendship is somewhat new (a couple years old), I feel as though we have a history together. Her oldest daughter and I went to school together and had a mutual friend that we were both close to during our time at UGA. Her second daughter and I also share a very dear mutual friend, and her younger two are in the youth group where I serve at church! Each member of her family is dear, but I have had the great joy of getting to know Mrs. Chambers over the past year or so as she has led me in Bible study. Her love of the Lord and His word is unparalleled and truly moving. She is a wonderful wife and mommy, and I am so grateful for her presence in my life. I know you will be encouraged by her words of wisdom. 

Tell us about yourself. Who are you?

I am a wife, Mom, teacher, Bible study leader, caregiver to my elderly parents, educational consultant, and mentor to young women.  I love sharing my life with others so we can learn from one another and enjoy the process.  Mostly, I share my flaws and failures because that’s the easiest to learn from, I think!
How do you define a woman with vision?

Women with vision – wow.  I don’t know the answer to that.  I admire women (and men) who have great ideas and grand plans to do great things. But  I am not one of them.  I just strive to focus on taking the next step of obedience, whatever that may be.  Perhaps the Lord is protecting me from potential problems that could arise from “dreaming big dreams” – perhaps if I were to do that, I would wind up following my own agenda and seeking to satisfy my own ego rather than seeking His glory.  I am not saying that all those who long to do big things have those issues – I just think that might be a potential problem for me. The Enemy isn’t terribly creative – he doesn’t usually let us put our ego to death....he just suggests ways we can make it look spiritual by transferring its satisfaction from the world to the church. 
So, all that to say, I guess I don’t have a definition of “women with vision”.  My hope would be that we just seek to know God and make Him known in the place He has us right now.  If He wants to move us to the next place, that is up to Him.  He will make that plain.

What are three things you want the women of our generation to remember? 
What do I want this generation of women to remember?  The two greatest commandments – Love God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength.  And then love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.  And make no mistake about it, we do love ourselves.  In spite of all the dogma about self-hatred,we do love ourselves.  We go to great lengths to please ourselves, to protect our own well-being (emotional and physical), and to prop up our own esteem.  So the lesson I’d love to see us learn?  To die to ourselves and live to Christ.  And to enjoy every day forever the incomprehensible reality of God’s immeasurable love!
Give us your life verse- the one that always keeps you going. 

Wow.  One verse?  Can’t do it.  I will share several that sustain me -
Psalm 84:11 – The Lord God is a sun and shield; He gives grace and glory.  No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
I Thess 2:13 – And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the Word of God’s message, you accepted it , not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.
Ephesians 3:14-21 – For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in Heaven and on Earth derives its name, that He would grant you , according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit, in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, and that you, being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

Describe your perfect day- what would you do from sunup to sundown?

My perfect day.  Sunup to sundown......hmmmmmmmmmm  Well, at sunup, I’d still be asleep!  To be able to sleep a little late would be divine.  Then I’d wake up at the beach and be able to have a cold TAB on a balcony overlooking the ocean and spend some good time in the Word.
Next, fix a yummy breakfast for my family and then laugh and sing together for a while til we felt like walking on the isolated beach.  All my family together.  Everyone would be content and sweet, just happy to be together.
The rest of the day would be spend building sandcastles and playing in the water. Maybe riding bikes but not too much. :) Lunch would magically appear as would dinner.    That evening we would sit around a campfire on the beach and sing and share and just enjoy one another.  As the day came to a close, Jesus would appear in the sky and take us all home!  That would be my ideal day!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

| 31 Days | Women with Vision: Lisa Rafferty

It is only fitting that I introduce you to Lisa today, because TOMORROW  I will get to hug her and see her in the flesh. This fact makes me incredibly happy, friends. Lisa and I met when I was in Mexico because I taught her daughter Quincy for two years. Lisa, her husband Sean, and their four girls were an integral part of my life while in Chihuahua. Not only was I Quincy's teacher, but I also attended the church they planted, Capilla Calvario Chihuahua (Calvary Chapel Chihuahua). We saw each other nearly every day. They invited me into their lives, and it wasn't long before my Thanksgiving and Easter days were spent there, along with many a Friday night or Sunday afternoon watching movies with the girls and dancing the night away when their parents went out of town. Lisa is an incredible woman. She loves her family fiercely, but more than that, she loves the Lord her God. I am sincerely grateful to call her my friend, and I am so excited that y'all get to meet her today.

Tell us about yourself! Who are you?

I am Lisa Rafferty. I am a pastor's wife and former missionary. I am a mother to 4 girls and I live Colorado Springs. 

How do you define a woman with vision?

To me, being a woman with a vision  is to life purposefully, with a strong hope and clarity of the future. 

What are three things you want the women of our generation to remember?

3 things I want this generation to remember are that: 1) this world is not our home, which follows that anytime we feel as foreigners and strangers, we should remember that it is supposed to be that way so that we long for our true home in eternity. 2) the Word of God has the answer for every issue of life, which means that knowing it and the One who gave it to us should be a chief goal in life. 3) womanhood is a beautiful and powerful thing. Don't be afraid of it, don't reject it, and find your purpose in it. Only then will you be fulfilled. 

Give us your life verse-the one that always keeps you going.

My life verse is Acts 20:24, "But none of these move me, nor do I count my life as dear to me, that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I received from The Lord that I may testify to the gospel of the grace of God."

Describe your perfect day- what would you do from sunup to sundown?

The perfect day for me would always begin in the Word and prayer so that I can walk in the Spirit. Then I would be on top of my morning chores so that I could visit a friend in need of encouragement, or bring her a meal, or whatever doors God may open for me. In the afternoon I would stumble on the perfect sale that would meet needs in my family for a fraction of the price. I would then be home for my children when they arrive from school with a warm and yummy home baked snack, and later share a tasty nutritious meal with my family while my husband leads us in family devotions. 
Later I would be emotionally present as my kids pour their hearts out at bedtime and pray with them and end the evening with an intimate, romantic time with my husband as we drift off into sweet sleep awaiting a new day. I know, it doesn't exist like that all in one day, does it?

Monday, October 27, 2014

| 31 Days | What We Wear

She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. - Proverbs 31:21-22

I am the typical girl- I love shopping and clothes. When we moved into our current house, I was overjoyed to get the bedroom with the biggest closet. Growing up, I loved to spend my allowance at Target on a new purse or new shoes. Clothes have just always been something I enjoy. When we think about the way God made us and look at ourselves in light of a creation formed in His image, we must know that God Himself appreciates beauty. He created it and wants to appreciate it in all forms.

The Proverbs 31 woman recognizes that her outward appearance, while not of utmost importance, is something to take pride in and consider. If we are believers, then our bodies are no longer our own, but rather a temple of the Holy Spirit. Our hearts are a home for Him. If our bodies are a home for Him, than we should adorn them in a way that honors Him. I love clothes and putting outfits together. Some women would like to wear yoga pants and a simple tee day in and day out. There is no "right" way to dress. However, I think that these verses encourage us as women to consider the clothing we don each day. Do we dress for each other- to impress and compare? Do we dress for men in order to gain their attention? Do we dress in order to establish a certain status?

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. - 1 Peter 3:3-4

Let's be women who take pride in our outer appearance but understand that our beauty is found in Christ. Yes, clothes are fun- I have a closet full of them and enjoy them very much. But clothing is much more than skin-deep. As we don our favorite cardigan or party dress, let us also remember to dress ourselves in the Spirit by asking the Lord to beautify our hearts and minds.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Circle: Book Report

I love a good link-up, and I love to read, so I am especially excited to share with you what I've been reading and some of my most favorite books by linking up with Kiki of In Its Time for The Circle Book Report this month.

I absolutely loved Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider. As someone who loves to travel and see places around the world, this book was so special for me. It spoke to me in so many ways. I also loved Wonder by R.J. Palacio and the Divergent series. And Jesus Feminist was a big one for me, too. I have a lot of favorites!

Right now I am reading If I Stay by Gayle Forman. I’m a sucker for young adult literature, and after my sister and I saw this movie together a couple months ago, I knew I wanted to read the book.

I just finished Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have by Annie Downs. Oh, was it good. I love her style of writing in that it feels like I am talking with a best friend. There were a lot of “amens” said and tears shed through this one. It is definitely one I’ll return to.

I still want to read my friend Gretchen’s book: A God- Sized Love Story: Beautiful Redemption from Beginning to End, and I need to finish my friend Jennifer’s book before I go on a retreat she is hosting in just a few weeks. Reading books written by people you know and love is something special; you get to know another part of their heart.

Goodness gracious I could tear through some books as a child. I loved Nancy Drew books and the Babysitters Club. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good series!


Oh it would have to be the Bible. As much as I love getting caught up in some good fiction, I read the Bible every day and could not live without it.

What have you been reading lately, friends? I'm always searching for good recommendations.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

| 31 Days | Women with Vision: Olivia Wolf

So I have been completely awful at keeping up with my 31 Days series. Lots of things have come up within this past week that have made it quite difficult to be consistent. However, I decided that I would hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection. Life is short, and sometimes I like living it more than writing about it. That being said, I want to finish this series, and will do so. It just won't be within the month of October, and that is ok with me. :)

Today, I have the privilege of introducing you to my dear friend Olivia. When I lived in Mexico, Olivia was one of a few women who were like mothers to me. Olivia and her husband, Dave, have lived in Mexico for over 30 years. They are currently in central Mexico, where Dave is a pilot with UIM International. Olivia is a woman of prayer and a discipler and mentor to so many women of all ages. She is absolutely incredible- always laughing and joking around, making people feel at home by just being herself. Some of my favorite memories in Mexico were in her kitchen, peeling apples for pies and just talking about the Lord and what He was doing in our lives. I count it a privilege to have been able to enjoy part of her light for a couple years as I watched her live a life abandoned to the Lord.

Tell us about yourself! Who are you?

A child of a KING so loved and cared for.  A wife, of David a missionary pilot, serving in Mexico for 35 years and Alaska last 3 summers. Prayer warrior for my family. Mother of our two married daughters, Renee and Angela. Grandmother to our two grandsons, Liam (6) and Lance (2).   I love teaching children about God's creation through art. I am teaching art and helping with homeschool children of our co-workers in Mexico. I so enjoy mentoring younger women when time permits. Photography is a hobbie that helps me capture God's beauty around me. We love having family and friends come and visit us.   As a couple, we love having our Mexican friends for meals. 

How do you define a woman with vision?

A woman with vision does not put God in a box. Every day is 
a gift from God, He has the blueprint and you follow the directions.   Many of my days are far different than I had planned. Many people call them interruptions, but over the years,  God has shown me  that my day is wonderfully thought out by my loving Father.  A woman with vision seeks God daily and He will show her His perfect plan. This is far greater than I could have ever  imagined. 

What are three things you want the women of our generation to remember?

1 Thessalonians 5: 16,17, and 18.
"Be JOYFUL always; PRAY continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. "

PRAYER is a powerful tool God has given us. God communicates and speaks very clearly when we listen. We in return can talk to God, He is always there.  

ENJOY the little blessings of life. Take time to see the beauty of God's creation around you. Watch for the little ways God shows how much He loves you. Stop and smell the roses.

LIFE is short have dessert first. Don't put off treating yourself to spending time with people you are so thankful for and love.   

Give us your life verse-the one that always keeps you going.

Philippians 4: 13 " I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. " 
Example.  This summer I was asked to be a camp counselor for junior high girls for a week. My responsibility was to sleep in a cabin and be with these girls almost 24/7 with another counselor in her 20's. I accepted this challenge after praying for God's wisdom on this decision. What a week of feeling God's strength.and seeking His  guidance as we discussed deep spiritual matters. It was my favorite week of my whole summer.  Sharing my life with these native young girls.  This verse Phil 4:13 got me through that week.

Describe your perfect day- what would you do from sunup to sundown?

What a perfect day looks like for me.  

Waking up to the sound of tropical birds out side my window.
Praying with David before our feet hit the floor.
Reading my devotional book on the patio.  
Fixing apple crepes for breakfast with David for our family.
Enjoying a cool walk barefoot on the beach with David. 
Watching the waves and hearing the sounds of waves reaching the shore.  
Shopping with my daughters in the small beach town.
Picking a special place to have a seafood lunch.
Listening to music while I swim in the pool. 
Playing in the sand with my grandsons.  
Having  dinner with my family watching the sunset dip into the ocean.
Read bed-time stories to my grandsons. 
Praying with David before falling asleep. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Etsy Swap 2014

This blogging community is just so fun. I feel like I've barely scratched the surface, but I have loved seeing how bloggers, writers, and creatives come together in this little place we affectionately call the blogosphere. My friend Rachel turned me on to the blog Oak and Oats a few months back, and after following her, I quickly saw that her best friend had a blog worth following as well.

Imagine my delight when I read about a month ago about a fun little connecting activity called the Etsy Swap, sponsored by Meg of Rivers and Roads and Amy of Taking Steps Home. Handmade and homemade goodies are just my sort of thing, and I knew I wanted to participate. It was so fun to be able to send a Give Me Jesus journal to my match, and then I waited with anticipation to see what my match was going to pick for me. The matches were not mutual; I picked something out for someone, and then someone else sent me some goodies.

The day that my package came could not have been more perfect. Of course now I cannot remember what was going on, but it had been a doozy of a day at work, and I was tired when I walked in the door that afternoon. It was the most welcome gift to see a package waiting for me and then open it up to find so many wonderful goodies. My sender did an amazing job of shopping for me and finding some sweet little gifts that were so tailored to my tastes!

I'm definitely a tea drinker and rarely drink coffee, so I am excited to try this tea that my sender makes and sells. 

This sweet addition to our home will remind me to enjoy life's simple pleasures. 

As an avid journaler, these pens and cute little notepads were such a fun treat. New pens and notebooks are some of my favorite things. 

These fun earrings were on my Etsy wishlist for the longest time, but I never got around to buying them. As someone who loves to travel, they are such a fun and unique accessory that I've enjoyed wearing. 

I love how the texture of this sweet little hoop frame changed our little bitty "gallery" wall. :)

Participating in and shopping for the Etsy Swap was such a joy, and I will definitely participate next year. It was a unique way to be able to network with other bloggers and make a new friend! Thanks to Meg and Amy for hosting!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

| 31 Days | Women with Vision: Gretchen Saffles

There are so many amazing things that I could say about my dear friend Gretchen. She and I met when we were college students attending a girls' Bible study at our dear pastor's house, hosted by our sweet friend and mentor, Carla Sibley. Each Wednesday night, about thirty young women gathered to dig into God's word and find solace within a community of friends just like them. I so cherish the memories I have there. Gretchen and I were not super close during our time at UGA, but when I moved to Mexico, she was one of my most passionate prayer supporters. Our friendship blossomed over the miles as she prayed for me and I updated her on what life was really like on the mission field. 

Gretchen is one the most genuine people I know, and she has a heart of gold. She lives in Knoxville with her husband, Greg, and is the founder of Life Lived Beautifully, a wonderful business that has so many products to help you make your heart and home more beautiful. I'm so happy that you get to meet her today. 

Tell us about yourself! Who are you? 

I am Gretchen Saffles, a follower of Jesus, wife to my sweet hubby Greg, and a lover of coffee, travel and all things beautiful! Each morning I start with a coffee cup in hand and big dreams in my head. My heart beats wildly seeing women pursue Jesus with everything they have within them!

 How do you define a woman with vision?

A woman with vision is a woman who has been captivated by what is worth her time. She has seen Jesus and the hope He gives and revolves everything in her life around making much of Him and sharing the Gospel. She is compelled to live with reckless abandon and nothing less.

What are three things you want the women of our generation to remember?

  1. Numbers don’t equal your value. Whether it be a scale, pant size, number of Instagram followers or likes on a photo, numbers were never meant to tell you your worth. You are free in Christ, and in Him you are enough.
  2. Jesus is worth it. He is worth loving, pursuing, and leaving your dreams to follow Him to the ends of the earth.
  3. Live fully and well. This life is too short to stay in the safe zone. Be adventurous, try new things, travel when the opportunity presents itself. You will be changed and will know the Lord more through living life fully for His glory.
Give us your life verse - that go-to one that always keeps you going.

This has been a prayer and hope of mine for years - “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11 (NIV)

Describe your perfect day- what would you do from sunup to sundown?

My perfect day would begin early before the sun comes up when the rest of the world is asleep. In the early morning hours I can hear the Lord, drink coffee (out of one of my favorite Anthro mugs), and spend time in His presence reading His Word. Then I would go for a run and explore unchartered territory and new places. The morning would consist of a coffee date with a dear friend at a local coffee shop and then lunch with my sweet husband, Greg. After that, Greg and I would go on some sort of adventure - hiking, exploring a treehouse, or enjoying a farmer’s market (where I would inevitably buy fresh flowers). Then in the evening I would make a home cooked meal and have our closest friends over. We would play our favorite board games and sip coffee and laugh together. To end the day, I would just read a good book in bed and fall asleep thanking the Lord for the gift of another beautiful day.

Monday, October 13, 2014

| 31 Days | A Heart for the Poor

She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. - Proverbs 31:20


I was first introduced to Compassion International in high school at a Dare 2 Share evangelism conference. I remember sitting in the arena, tears flowing down my face as I heard about the extreme poverty many children around the face on a daily basis- all due to circumstances beyond their control or choosing. A friend and I decided to sponsor a child for a couple years together. When I went to college, I was unable to continue my support. However, the desire to be a part of a child's life was still there. 

About 4 years ago, when I was still living in Mexico, I was reading a friend's blog and saw that she had the opportunity to meet her child that she sponsored through World Vision. I was so moved by what I saw, but was more familiar and comfortable with Compassion International. That day, I went to the Compassion website and chose a sweet little girl who lives in southern Mexico. She is precious, and one day I hope to meet her. 

Just a few months ago, I was reading my daily (in)courage email, and Emily Freeman (who I met just a few weekends ago), wrote about her experience in Uganda. I knew that I would be headed there in a few months, and when I returned, I chose a Ugandan boy to sponsor. 

Both of my sponsored children were born on January 16, 2004. I chose Ambrose because he had been on the list for a while, and I did not notice his birthday was the same as Maria Luna's until later. Tears sprang to my eyes. That's just like God, isn't it?

My sweet babies :)

What I love about Compassion is that they are so consistent. They communicate well and make it clear that you matter as a sponsor. I am able to write letters to my child and receive letters as well. Periodically, I also receive a letter from the pastor of the local church or the leader of the child development center. When I receive a letter from either one of my children, I am so excited to read about how they've changed and grown. They pray for me, and I pray for them. My desire is to sponsor them until they are ready to graduate from high school. My dream is to meet them in person. 

A letter from Ambrose- notice the plane with me in it on the way to see him. :)

Right now, I know that my heart is for children who are in very difficult situations. This is God's heart, too. Jesus wanted the little children to come to Him. God created each child with a name and a purpose. And His heart is for them to thrive, not just survive. One day, Lord willing, I would love to adopt. For right now, though, I can sponsor these two sweet children who live in countries where the Lord has stirred my heart, knowing that because of my little part in their lives, they will go to school and have brighter futures. God's heart is for children to be in families, and when they are able to stay with their families, they are empowered and inspired. 

Our money is not our own. The resources we have are given to us for a reason. Would you think about where your 10% or your surplus goes each month? Prayerfully consider sponsoring a child today, and know that your commitment will truly change not only the life of that child, but that of their family and community as well.

Watch this video to learn more about child sponsorship. 


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