Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Greatest Gift: Book Recap




After seeing a few other women reading Ann Voskamp’s December devotional, The Greatest Gift, and sharing quotes from it, I decided it was a book I wanted to pick up. Hope and Melissa Emma rocked at sharing little bits of truth on Instagram! So, although the book starts on December 1st, I joined on the 5th. Better late than never right? This book really emphasizes slowing down at Christmas, realizing the importance of the Gift, and understanding the reality of Jesus’s birth. Ann Voskamp highlights amazing relationships between the Old and New Testaments making the story of Jesus’s birth even more beautiful.

It’s a day late, but I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes from the book. Remember, Jesus doesn’t just come on Christmas day- He comes every minute of every day. All quotes are from Ann Voskamp herself unless otherwise noted. Enjoy the lingering of the holiday season and realize that the Greatest Gift is here.

“The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment.”
-Frederick Buechner

“While other creeds endeavor to get us out of the world and into heaven, in Christianity, heaven comes down and Christ comes into this world to get us.” (p. 31)

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes… and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer (p. 82)
   *We must let Jesus open the door for us.
  
“Let everything go, and kneel. Kneel here and behold only Him- the only place where you can receive the gift of acceptance, so the gods of acceptance have no hold on you.” (p. 150)

“Without repentence, our hearts will be so full of worldly things that there will be “no room in the inn” for Christ to be born again.” (p. 162)

“All worry dethrones God. All worrying makes you king and God incompetent. There is a King born in Bethlehem and on the throne. You can breathe.” (p. 170)

“YOU ARE MOST PREPARED FOR CHRISTMAS WHEN YOU ARE DONE TRYING TO MAKE YOUR PERFORMANCE INTO THE GIFT AND INSTEAD REVEL IN HIS PRESENCE AS THE GIFT.” (p. 211)



Which quote stands out most to you and why?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Remember It's Real

Mary and Joseph.
The shepherds.
The angels.
The three Wise men.
Animals. Especially a donkey.
An innkeeper.
A star.
And baby Jesus.  
These are the main characters.

The setting is a manger in Bethlehem.

Key lines: “Fear not, I bring good news that will bring great joy to all people.” “You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” –Luke 2

All of these appear at Christmas time in church pageants, on Christmas cards, in Nativity scenes. In snow globes and ornaments. In children’s books.

All are great reminders and symbols of the story of Jesus’s birth. But it’s easy to think of it as just that- just a story. But we need to remember it was real. It is real.


It’s easy to think of them as characters. But Mary was a real girl, likely younger than most people reading this. She was probably stressed- travelling pregnant, having no place to stay. Giving birth in a stable. And Joseph- wondering whether to believe the angel, to trust his soon-to-be wife. Maybe he felt a little ashamed that He couldn’t find a place for his pregnant fiancĂ© to stay. I know a lot of young men today might feel that way… The hay was probably itchy. The animals may have been a little stinky. Do you think the innkeeper was glad to have business or upset to have to turn the couple away? Do you think the Wise men were stressed about what gifts to pick out?

Thinking about their feelings helps me remember that they are all real. It’s not a story. It’s not just a picture. Jesus really came.

And He didn’t just come a long time ago- He comes “every minute, every hour, everyday” if you open your heart to Him.


*This post was inspired by Nichole Nordeman’s song “Real.”

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thankful for the Change


This has never been more true for me than it is right now.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 22, 2013

How My Answer has Changed: Thoughts on Grace and Salvation

I haven't blogged for over a month... which makes it appropriate that I am writing about grace today! No need for perfection in blogging (or anywhere for that matter), especially when this space is my own.  A space for my reflections, thoughts, and other little tidbits.

source
Anyway, I wanted to share a little something I have thought about lately. I recently began volunteering at an agency that encourages sharing the Gospel with its clients. This is something that is fairly new to me. As the agency suggested various ways to open up a conversation relating to faith, salvation, and Jesus, they suggested asking the following question:

 "If you died today and Jesus asked you, "why should I let you into Heaven?" how would you answer."

I do think this may be a little bit of an intimidating question for some people so I think it should be used with discretion, but thinking about my own answer to this question and how it has changed over the years reveals to me some ways that I have grown. Some ways my understanding has changed. And I am grateful that God has allowed this growth in me. 

Up until not too long ago, I would have answered this way: 

"I have said the prayer to accept Jesus into my heart. I have asked forgiveness for the things I can remember (probably only noticing major sins, not those that deal with the status of my heart). I try to pray often, I try to pray every night. I try to avoid doing the wrong thing." 

Basically, my answer was all about me, not much about Jesus. All about what I was trying to do, nothing about what He has done. Now I have learned that it's more about Jesus than it is about me. Actually it's all about Jesus. All I have to do is believe and accept


So my answer has changed into this:

"God, I honestly don't deserve Heaven. I have sinned and no matter how hard I try to avoid sin, I am fallen. But I believe in Jesus, the One You sent to save me. I recognize that I desperately need Him. Not just as a one time prayer and free ticket into Heaven, but everyday. All day. I am thankful for Your grace and Your gift of Jesus, who You sent to save and redeem me."

I also notice that when I make it about me, I use the word "try" many times. It's as if my salvation is tentative, and I am unsure. When we recognize that our salvation is more about Jesus and His gift, we can be assured and confident that our future is filled with hope. 


"Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence." -Ephesians 3:12 (NLT)

"Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary." -Hebrews 6:18-19 (NLT)

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"And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life... I have written this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. And we know that the Son of God has come and that He has given us understanding so that we can know the true God because we live in fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God and He is eternal life." -1 John 5:11-13; 20 (NLT)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Reading, Wondering, Hoping... A Post About What's Happening!

A fun little exercise I saw on LittleMissMomma! What’s currently happening in your life?

Enjoying: The cool autumn air and sunshine!

source


Listening: to some new [to me] songs- “I Can Just Be Me” (Laura Story), “Live and Breathe” (More than Rubies), all songs by Tricia (Superchick singer gone solo), Holly Starr, Jamie Grace

Cooking: pancakes… It has taken practice but I am getting there.

Drinking: good old H2O. And coffee with milk J

Reading: textbooks, textbooks, research articles, and textbooks! But I’m also in the middle of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, and Grace Eventually by Anne Lamott.

Looking: at job postings, even though I don’t graduate until May.

Wasting: some of my headspace on worries

Sewing: a t-shirt quilt. It’s been in progress for two years.

Wishing: I made more time for crafting

Liking: yoga

Loving: random supportive texts from my mom <3

Wondering: which weekend we gain an hour of sleep with day light savings.

Hoping: that graduation comes sooner rather than later. But…

Marveling: at how fast time goes!

Needing: a creative spark

image via Pinterest
Tried to locate the original source, no luck...
Smelling: cinnamon hazelnut coffee- best.smell.ever.

Wearing: Scarves and jackets! It’s that time of year again!

Forever 21

Following: Pinterest boards full of lovely lettering

Thinking: about the possibilities of the future

Focusing: on the here and now. Well, trying…

Bookmarking: The Purdue OWL APA Writing Style guide!

Learning: to crochet! I keep missing stitches and making triangles.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Things I Learned in August

I can't believe it's September already! But here are some reflections from August. The idea from this post came from Emily Freeman- hop over to her blog to read what she and others learned in August!

.    The bubble umbrella is an amazing invention. After three years of college, and probably three umbrellas, I have realized that they don’t work for me right now. I recently purchased a bubble umbrella from Target and it works like a charm! It doesn’t catch the wind, and not only does it keep me dry, it covers my backpack, too!

from Target!

2.    I am very much a morning person. I don’t have class until 10 a.m. But instead of sleeping in, I still set my alarm for 6 a.m. Yes, sometimes “snooze” wins, but for the most part, I get up and accomplish the most between 6 and 9 a.m. Not the typical college schedule, but it works for me.

3.    There are a LOT of movies I haven’t seen. With one of my roommates came two whole bookshelves of DVDs… The majority of which I have not seen. So far I have watched The Backup Plan, Post Grad, and Silver Linings Playbook. Three down, hundreds to go.

4.    When I don’t have the Internet, there are PLENTY of other things I enjoy to fill my time. My roommates and I were without Wi-Fi for several days. I read, and cooked, and crafted. It was a nice break. However, I must say, that once classes start, Internet access is pretty much essential for college.

5.    It’s okay to change your mind. I don’t have much to say about this except that I changed my plan in terms of part-time employment this semester and the world didn’t end. It’s okay to change your plan. It isn’t my plan anyway… It’s His.
One of my new favorite reminders! (source)
6.    The freezer is an incredible invention and is saving me from wasting a lot of food. I live with four other girls, but we all cook our own meals. There are certain things I like to have on hand but I don’t eat them quickly enough. Sometimes meat goes bad faster than I eat it. I like to cook extra grains to have ready for a quick meal. So lately I have been freezing meat. And grains. And fruit. And veggies. And it’s so nice to know that I am not wasting them!

7.    Crayola created a crayon called “courage.” It’s in the red family and they made it for the St. Jude’s Special Edition box. I think the name is awesome. Patients, doctors, nurses, and parents certainly all have courage.

"I was used in the St. Jude's Special Edition Box in 2008."

8.    Easton, PA is a really cute town. This month I travelled there to visit The Crayola Factory/The Crayola Experience for a birthday and graduation celebration. Preschool graduation? No. College. 5th birthday? No. 22nd! Achievements of my friend Becca! We travelled with our moms and the town Crayola was nestled in was so cute!

9.    Sometimes usually, relationships are more important than my to-do list. As school starts, it is easy to get caught up in what I need to get done. Tasks, papers, reading, studying, cleaning, etc. My planner is much fuller than it was in the summer. But as school begins, I have also experienced a new set of roommates coming to live with me as well as one roommate who stayed. Fall also means lots of sorority events and meetings. I often let my list of tasks to accomplish get in the way of letting myself enjoy social relationships. Yes, there are school and work deadlines, but there is always time for people. Sometimes it’s even the five-minute conversations that mean the most. Make time for people- they matter.
What's the greatest lesson you've learned lately?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Garlic Avocado Barley Risotto

Leftover barley, part of an avocado to use, lemons in the fridge... I decided to experiment...

Here's what I came up with:



GARLIC AVOCADO BARLEY RISOTTO
The following recipe serves 1. Quantities easily multiplied.

Ingredients
1 c. cooked barley
1/4 avocado
1 clove of garlic (minced- fresh or in a jar)
lemon
1/4 c. cottage cheese
salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions
Blend avocado, garlic, and lemon juice in a small food processor. I used the juice from 1/4 of the lemon but it was a little too lemony and I recommend less for one serving. 

Add cottage cheese and continue to blend. 

When smooth, mix with cooked barley in a bowl and top with lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Reasons I Blog

The blogging honeymoon is over. It was a fun start, I had lots of ideas, and I experimented with redesigning the basic Blogger template. As the novelty starts to wear off, I thought about shutting down the blog, or at least just not posting. But I had been thinking about blogging for a long time. Maybe I shouldn't give up on it too fast. So I decided to take a look at reasons I want to blog.

Here's what I came up with:


1. Writing has been a constant for me through many seasons of my life. I have journaled consistently ranging from writing about my day to writing of deep feelings. My journal is always with me, and blogging gives me a new platform to write on.

2. I want to begin to share my thoughts. I used to think I had to have my life together in order to share with others. I had to have my exact words planned before I could speak for fear of being misunderstood or saying the wrong thing. But some, or even most, of the best conversations are unplanned. You never know which stumbled-over words are going to have a big impact. 

3. To build relationships with like minded people. Yes, I have many like-minded people in my life and I don't want my blogging relationships to come at the expense of real, in-person relationships. But we have been given the internet and almost unlimited ability to connect with others. We should use it. 

4. To explore a new creative avenue. A new outlet. Design and more writing. 

5. To read other people's perspectives in hopes of broadening my own. 

6. To continue to find my authentic voice and learn more about myself. 



Why do you blog? What keeps you reading blogs?