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. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

| 31 Days | A Resourceful Woman

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. - Proverbs 31:18-19

So this Proverbs 31 woman is basically a boss. She doesn't play games, and she means business. Literally. This pair of verses send a strong message of a woman who is resourceful and also seeks various avenues in order to help provide for her family. In Christian circles, it is very easy for us to fall into the trap of believing that there is one way for family dynamics to be "healthy" and "right." We can easily think that being a Proverbs 31 woman consists of marrying the perfect man, bearing the perfect children, and maintaining the perfect friend. But my friends, that thought process simply is not true. 

In these verses, we see that this woman contributes to the financial stability of her home. She works hard and is uses the fruit of her labor to provide for her family. My desire for children and marriage is genuine. As a child, I mistakenly believed that there was one right way to maintain a home. I thought that once a woman married, she must stay home to take care of the children-working was for men. As I've grown and matured, I've seen that there is no formula. 

These verses free women from the lies that say you have to choose between a career and a family. Each woman is completely different, created with gifts and abilities unlike any other. God places desires and passions within the hearts of every woman and cultivates them, allowing her to see and believe that she can be used for His kingdom within and outside of the home. The Proverbs 31 woman is not afraid of hard work, and she is also not afraid to go against the grain in order to do what is best not only for her, but for her family members. 

For more on Biblical femininity, I highly recommend reading Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women by Sarah Bessey. You'll be glad you did. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

| 31 Days | A Woman of Strength

She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. - Proverb 31:17

For the record, there is no way I could do the yoga pose in the photo above. Not that you were assuming I could. :) I love the Scripture for today's look at the Proverbs 31 woman, because it takes us back to what is most important about our appearance. It is not that we are a size 2 or that we have a thigh gap, but that we are clothed with strength. 

As a child, I never played sports. Ever. No soccer or basketball, tennis or horseback riding. When we lived in Indianapolis, I did ballet for a year, but we didn't keep up with it when we moved to Marietta. Sports were never really my thing; my parents did not play sports growing up, and I just never asked to be a part of them. You could find me with my nose in a book. My sister and I loved to ride our bikes and swing on our swing set in the backyard, but when it came to playing with the boys and actually throwing a ball or getting a game going, that was all Lauren. Not I. I was "GG"- Girly Girl, and she was "TB"- Tomboy. 

In high school I found that I loved home videos because they were convenient, but I also loved group fitness classes at the YMCA. Zumba is life-changing, ladies. Fast forward to college, and it seemed like everywhere I looked, people were running. And they liked it. Now, my experience with running was the mile run in middle school and high school. And I loathed it. But when I signed up to take a walking class for my physical education credit, I found that I enjoyed being outside and loved taking in the sights around me while listening to music. The practice calmed me, and I figured that I should make it a part of my life outside of my P.E. class. I began walking to class, forgoing the bus and trekking it around UGA's huge campus. In time, I began to experiment with running. One day I decided that I was going to place a goal before myself and train for a half marathon. Finishing that first race was one of the greatest feelings of my life. One week from tomorrow, I will run my fifth half marathon. 

Exercise is not meant to be tortuous, but rather a means of taking care of the bodies that God has entrusted us with for our time here on earth. My preferred means of exercise is running. I also enjoy walking, Zumba, and yoga. Zumba makes me come alive and makes me feel more beautiful and feminine as I "shake what my mama gave me." Yoga centers me and helps me to calm my often anxious heart. I find myself praying and asking the Lord to help me keep my eyes on Him as I work on balance and strengthening my core. 

The Proverbs 31 woman is not a woman who intimidates others by being an overachiever who bests everyone and makes others look weak. Instead she is a woman who cares about her body. She understands the importance of fitness, and she seeks to take care of herself by staying active not only for herself, but also for her family and for the well-being of those around her. 

How can you get moving today? What is your favorite way to take care of yourself?

| 31 Days | Mind on My Money, Money on My Mind


She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 
Proverbs 31: 16

Let's be honest, stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. They are grounded in truth and have an element of consistency to them when held up against fact. When I hear the word business, I think of money and numbers and businessmen and things that are oh so scary to me. I think of my father and his sharp mind, quick to figure the best deal.

My father is honestly one of the smartest men I know. We jokingly call him the closet genius. He reads and retains so much information in that brain of his, and he is quite knowledgeable on myriad subjects. Daddy, if you're reading, don't let this go to your head. :) As a child, I received a weekly allowance of one dollar. And do you know what I had to do with 10% of that dollar? I had to tithe each Sunday. So for you mathematicians out there, I made ninety cents a week. Big ballin', right?! The importance of tithing taught me that my money is not my own. Everything I have belongs to the Lord, and I have to treat it as such. Now that I make a bajillion times more than ninety cents a week, I am tempted to withhold my tithe. But I have learned that God does so much more with my 90% than I could do with my 100%.

The Proverbs 31 woman is not financially frivolous, allowing her money to slip out of her hands, unaware of its destination. Instead, she plans and considers how best to spend the money that she has. She makes investments by planning for the future, and she takes care of her needs before indulging her wants. I wish I could say that I do all of these things. My dad has taught me so much about money, but if I'm being honest, I have to say that I still have so much to learn.

Here are a few quick tips that have helped me stay afloat:

1) When you pay for something using a credit card, pay it off as soon as possible.
2) Try your best to save something every month. Twenty dollars is something!
3) Track your purchases and see where you are spending needlessly, that way you know where to cut back.
4) Don't feel bad about treating yourself sometimes. (That advice definitely comes from my mom and not my dad. Ha.)
5) Tithe. It doesn't have to be a strict 10%, but give back. When you are generous, it comes back around. That is His promise to us. Don't be afraid and hold on to what isn't yours.

 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. - Malachi 3:10

Thursday, October 9, 2014

| 31 Days | How to Be a Morning Girl

She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.  Proverbs 31:15

When I was younger and slept over at a friend's house, no matter how late we stayed up, I was always the first one awake in the morning. Nothing's changed now. I have to be at school at 7:30, and I live about twelve minutes away. I wake up at 6:00 or 6:15 each day, and I don't always hate it. In fact, I enjoy it. There is something special about that time when no one else is up. This time is so sacred to me; it is when I am truly alone with the Lord. The verse in the photo above is one of my favorites, because I have experienced it so often in my own life. The Lord truly does satisfy, and the morning is one of the best times to remember that and carry it into the tone that I set for my day. 

As a child, I took note as I watched my dad get up every morning and have his time with the Lord. He and I are similar in many ways, and being a morning person is one of the ways that I like to claim that I got from him. As I've gotten older, I confess that I enjoy a couple days to sleep in, but the morning is most definitely my favorite time of day. I have learned that there is great worth in spending time with the Lord before facing the day. During the day, there are so many needs to attend to at school. When I get home I want to veg out and just watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix or lose myself in a book. Then there's Bible study and football practice and making dinner and running and ALL OF THE THINGS. Oh yeah and trying to have friends.

The Proverbs 31 woman recognizes the importance of dedicating her time to the Lord and allowing moments in His presence to set the tone for her day. Robert Murray M'Cheyne said "For every look at self, take ten looks at Christ." When we begin the day with looking into the face of Christ through His living word, we inevitably invite Him in and allow Him to shape our day, and we are better for it. Maybe you're reading this and thinking, "That sounds nice and lovely, but I am a hot mess express that cannot put sentences together before 8 a.m." Ok- God knows that. Start slow. I began with just a few minutes in the morning, but now hate to stop what I've got going to get ready for work. The Lord knows your heart, so talk to Him about it. You'll be glad you did. Set that alarm clock a few minutes earlier for one week, and just watch what He does. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

| 31 Days | Women with Vision: My Mama

Friends, I am so excited to introduce to you an exciting new series that is going to be a part of the blog each Wednesday for the next few weeks. This is my first time doing a series, and I truly believe that this one is going to encourage you. I know that in the midst of planning for it and drafting for it, I've been encouraged. A few weeks ago, I ran across the following quote on Christine Caine's Instagram account: "Little girls with dreams become women with vision." I've always been a dreamer, but now I feel like the Lord has given me vision- for my life and for His kingdom. For the next few weeks, I'll be introducing you to women who have been pivotal in my life. And what better way to start than with my mama, Cathy Miller? :)

My mom is just about the best woman I know. She is kind, gentle, and thoughtful. She often puts others' needs above her own and seeks to take care of everyone around her. She is beautiful-she looks amazing and wears no makeup. Ever. Just a touch a lipstick for church and dates with my daddy. I love her and want to be like her when I grow up.

Tell us about yourself! Who are you? 

My name is Cathy Miller. I am a fifty-eight year old married woman with two children- Jessica Nicole, 26, and Lauren Kristin, 23. My wonderful husband of 32 years is Ed Miller. I work as needed as a hospital pharmacist. I am currently training at a new hospital pharmacy; it is challenging, as the hospital is much larger than my last job.

I became a Christian as an adult at almost 27 years. I love the Lord and try to live my life in a way that will honor Him.

How do you define a woman with vision?

A woman with vision is a woman "who knows and does the will of God." A former pastor, Jerry Sutton, used this phrase to explain the measure of success in God's eyes.

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

1. Remember Whose you are.
2. Remember who you are.
3. Even though life can be difficult at times, God is there to walk with you.

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

1 Samuel 16:7: But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

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

Spiritually: A perfect day would be when I get to see Jesus face to face and sit at His feet and worship Him.

Earthly: A perfect day would involve sleeping until at least 8 am. I would then get up and drink two cups of coffee while watching the Today Show. Next, I would have a leisurely breakfast. Then I would spend time in prayer with Jesus and read the word. (I wouldn't get anything accomplished if I didn't have my coffee first.) Next, I would have a relaxing lunch with Ed. After that, I would take a nap. After waking up, I would read a good book, scrapbook, and get a mani-pedi if time allowed. Next, I would go to dinner and a play with Ed. If I were near a beach, I would walk hand in hand with Ed to end a most perfect day. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

|31 Days| A Nourished Woman

She is like the ships of a merchant; she brings her food from afar. - Proverbs 31:14

Food is one of my passions. I love to prepare it, eat it, and share it with others. When I read this verse, I think about the ways in which our food is carried to us today. We have stores with thousands of food items that stock the shelves. There are aisles and aisles of choices. How do we know how to properly nourish our bodies when there are so many books and diet plans that bombard us through the magazines we read and the fads we see on television? Should I be Paleo or vegan? Gluten-free or vegetarian? The choices are endless. I am not a registered dietitian, nor do I claim to be any kind of professional.

But here's what I know: food was meant to be enjoyed. Our God is an amazing Creator who made thousands of amazing foods that are completely delicious on their own without additives and chemicals. I cannot claim to be an expert nor a perfect example of what it means to nourish yourself well, but I can tell you that I want to be someone who eats to live, not lives to eat. Oftentimes, I find myself in the latter camp, as I am constantly thinking about the next meal- wondering what I'll make for dinner when I get home as I eat my lunch. You know how it goes.

Eating well can take an obsessive turn if we aren't careful. As women, it is easy for us to rationalize our obsessive behaviors when counting calories or working out too hard, saying that we are "just taking care of ourselves." Hear this, ladies: self-deprecation and starvation are never ways that we take care of our bodies. Yes, we should avoid junk and look for ingredients that will strengthen us and give us vitality. But let's not allow ourselves to slip into the trap laid by the enemy that gives one more reason to think less of who Christ made us to be.

I want to be a woman who eats well and nourishes her body so that it is able to more fully complete the will of God. If I am not at my best physically, how will I be able to walk in obedience to what God has for me? Being a Proverbs 31 woman means that I take the time to seek out good food- food that is not only satisfying and tasty, but that can nourish and energize me, giving me the strength I need to fulfill all that God  has called me to do with stamina. From a runner's perspective, I am going to perform so much better when I eat well than if I scarf a Chick-fil-A sandwich beforehand. You feel me? Let's be women who eat to live by taking care of the temples God has entrusted us with for this life.

Monday, October 6, 2014

| 31 Days | Willing Hands

She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. - Proverbs 31:13

May I confess something to y'all? This challenge is harder than I expected. I figured that since I have studied the Proverbs 31 woman before and know the Scripture somewhat well that I would be able to sit down and effortlessly string together words that would inspire and encourage. But the more I look at these verses and sit down to put something together each day, I realize that God's word truly is living and active. Each time I read through the verse for the day, He opens my eyes to things I never noticed and emphasizes parts that I did not think to look at in previous studies. There is something so amazing to me about a God who does that- who takes the time to help His children know Him more by drawing them unto Himself. I just needed to share that with y'all.

At first glance, I want to pay attention to the latter portion of Proverbs 31:13. When I read "works with willing hands," I think about work as the labors we endure from nine to five on Monday through Friday.  Work is not just what we do for payment, though. Work is labor. It can be chores around the house, rearing children, or the hard work of relationships. To work with willing hands means that we do not complain nor despise our work- even when our job sucks and we think we've got it bad. Instead, we work as unto the Lord, not man.

The former portion of the verse says that this woman "seeks wool and flax." In Biblical times (and now), wool and flax were used for material for clothing. Thus, this woman sought out the materials necessary to make her garments. As I dig deeper and learn about this verse, my temptation is to think, "That's great for her, but I can't sew a button on a pair of pants." And while I believe that the words of the Bible are all literally true, I do know that we are not called to emulate every word we read in this passage. The characteristic that we must take away from this verse is that of a good work ethic.

As a child, my parents instilled in me the power of a good work ethic. This value is something I am deeply grateful for and want to instill in my future children as well. Those who know the value of hard work are scarce, and yet it is what the Lord requires of us. May we be women who work hard and are not afraid to get our hands dirty. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

| 31 Days | A Woman Who Does Good

She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. - Proverbs 31: 11

Just what exactly does it mean to be good? It is a word we throw around frequently, as we use it to describe food, music, television, and behavior. However, the actual definition may surprise you, as it did me. The noun form of good is defined as 1) that which is morally right; righteousness, and 2) benefit or advantage to someone or something. 

When I read this verse in the light of the definition of what is good, my understanding deepens, and the word takes on a new meaning. To do good for someone means that you act on their behalf. As a teacher, I see my kids in various lights as they interact with one another through each day. I sometimes am so frustrated when they do not get along with one another and treat each other with kindness. Other times I am so encouraged as I watch them get out of each other's way and consider one another. To do good to another means that we take the time to forget about our own needs and recognize theirs. It means that we allow their needs to supersede ours. 

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Philippians 2:3-4

This consideration of others' needs is not natural for us. We want to please ourselves. We want to look out for our own interests. But a woman who does good does not only take care of herself, but of others. A woman who takes care of others is valuable because she takes the time to get out of her own world in order to step into another's world. Isn't that someone you'd like to be?  In order to be that woman, we've got to trust God to be in us what we cannot be. Only He can open our eyes to the needs of others around us. Let's trust Him to do so. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

|31 Days| The Value of Trust


The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. - Proverbs 31:11

When I was younger, I had a problem with lying. My dad used to tell me "you lie like a rug." It started out with little things and quickly escalated to tales I weaved about pretty big things. I had a hard time keeping up with my stories and often felt trapped. It was as though I had convinced myself that my lies were actually the truth. Each time I lied, my heart was just sink inside me, knowing that I was not staying true to who I knew I was in Christ. It took years for me to be able to regain the trust of my parents again.

This verse is heavy with an important truth. While I am not married, I know the importance of trust in any relationship. It is the very foundation. My heart breaks when I have students in my class who struggle with honesty, knowing exactly how they feel. Most liars lie out of fear- I know it well. Trust is a key element to becoming a Proverbs 31 woman. Without trust, we cannot come to God with our hearts, and He cannot change us and renew us. When we put our trust in Him, He transforms us, making us able to trust others and allowing others to trust us, too.

Our deepest fears often lie in the dark places where we've been misunderstood in the past and have now built up walls. The Lord wants something so much greater for us, though. He wants us to love without abandon and know that we can trust others. There is so much intimacy and goodness within relationships where trust is great and love is unconditional. Married friends, I pray that you find that within your marriage, and if not, that you pray for reconciliation or vulnerability where it is necessary. Single friends, I pray you "get real" with the Lord and allow Him to speak into your dark places and ask him to help you build healthy relationships with established trust. He's so good, and He loves to give us good gifts. May we trust Him to do so.

When I think about what it is to be known and walk in complete trust, I think of the story of the woman at the well in John 4:4-42. In a nutshell, Jesus approaches an outcast at a well, and the chains fall down. She places her trust in Him, which moves her to tell others and bring them to Him. I've posted about that story before, but I wanted to include this video again for new readers. To be known by Him frees us to know others. Let's jump into that together, ladies.

Friday, October 3, 2014

|31 Days| More Precious Than Jewels


An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. Proverbs 31:10 

The above photo was something I taped in my Bible as a high school girl. I loved that the image provided a contrast between the beauty of a woman versus the beauty of jewels and worldly treasures. One thing that you may not know about this special passage of Scripture that we now refer to as the Proverbs 31 woman is that it is an acrostic. This part of the Bible was written in Hebrew, and my footnotes say that it was most likely written as an alphabet acrostic in order to "show that this woman's character runs the whole range of excellence." {ESV Study Bible} The successive use of the alphabet's letters would have been something that the original readers would immediately notice. They understood the Scriptures and knew that each word was intentional and useful for teaching. 

As a single woman, a natural temptation would be to read this verse and think that it does not apply to me. I mean, it says an excellent wife. And I'm not even a girlfriend. Huh. But the thing is that this verse is, in fact, meant for all women. When we read this verse, we are not to become frustrated, thinking that we cannot live up to this woman, but rather encouraged to pursue the virtues of one incredible gal.

As a self-proclaimed grammar nerd, the adjectives are what jump out to me here. Excellent means outstanding, a cut above the rest. Precious describes something that is of great value. Another definition states that it is a "term of address used to a beloved person." Sisters, regardless of our marital status, we are precious in the sight of the Lord. He made us and loves us. Every day He is in the process of redeeming us. And He wants us to know that when we seek Him above all else, we are made more and more like Him. In being made like Him, we are ascribed greater value to His kingdom. 

In this you rejoice, though now for a while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 
- 1 Peter 1:6-7

For my single and married friends alike, know that whatever you are going through right now is of use to the Father. He can use anything to make us precious like jewels. He gives treasures out of darkness and works to redeem even the ugliest of paths. So whether you feel excellent or precious, know that He is working on your behalf to do what only He can do-bring good out of the mess. We often do not feel excellent or precious, because when life takes a different turn, we doubt the goodness of who God is. But His path is always better-even when it is full of fire. A genuine gold is only proved genuine when the fire strips away the impurities and reveals the true beauty of the metal. So our faith is only proved genuine when the Lord takes away all things that keep us from Him. 

So, friends, are we willing to go through the fire and be proved genuine before Him? Do we have what it takes to be made into that excellent and precious woman? Lord, let it be so.


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