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Celebrate with Me

July 7, 2015 — 6 Comments

Celebrate with Me!

No, I’m not having another baby. Gotta clear that up right away, because heaven help us.

You’ve probably heard me mention here & there that I am a part of the 500 member launch team for Jen Hatmaker’s New Book, For The LoveIn May, I briefly wrote about it in For The Love of Audacious Prayers. In that post I referenced a few things were sorta big deals. Okay, big deals for a gal whose hobbies include shopping for belts and avoiding nature at all costs.

Anywho, turns out I really, really enjoyed the advanced copy of book (thank heavens! wouldn’t that rot if you were supposed to be promoting a book and you think it sucked? shew.) One of the perks of being on the LT was the opportunity to submit a genuine (pronounced JEN-U-WINE, thank you very much) endorsement that may or may not appear in the book.

Outta 400 submissions only 20 got chosen and mine is one of them! Not only that, it’s the 2nd one on the inside cover! What the what?!?!?! Cue the girlyest, goofiest, giddiest snaughter – snort/laughter – you can think of. That’s exactly how I acted when I found out my endorsement got chosen to be in the actual, literal book. And finally I can share with you what I wrote, as if it’s going to end world hunger or something…

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Obviously, I was given a revelation from heaven.

This is only a snippet that fits in the book. My full online endorsement reads…

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{Also the way I’m acting you’d think I’d written the book myself. Geez. Y’all pray for my humanity.}

If you go to Jen’s website you can see all 400 of the real-talk, real-women endorsements. They just wouldn’t all fit in the book, but they are delightful & I hope at least a few will resonate with you enough that you’ll go buy it.*

You know what’s great about this Launch Team, it’s not all about me. It’s not even all about Jen. Y’all it’s about loving Jesus & loving each other & doing life together without fear of being who I AM created to be! It’s okay that I’m celebrating the fact that my endorsement’s in the book. The rest of the LT is celebrating it too – there’s no jealousy, no ‘poor me’, no ‘I’m chopped liver’ attitudes. It’s just all love. All the time. I don’t even understand how, but it is.

We are a very diverse group from all different backgrounds & religions & cultures. The book has brought this group of 500 weirdos (I mean this with the most sincerest of loves) together and caused us to reflect & let Christ’s love flow through us. I pray that you are able to get a copy of the book when it drops on August 18th and that it has the same impact on you.

In fact, you don’t even have to wait til August 18th. Stop the presses.

I’m as serious as a squirrel is about his nuts.

*You can go to this link, order a copy, or 5 or 10 before July 15th and get all sorts of freebies.

**PRE-ORDER HERE & NOW Jen Hatmaker’s New Book, For The Love**

The best freebie is the FREE IMMEDIATE FULL PDF DOWNLOAD OF THE ENTIRE BOOK! So stop reading this & go get your book… For The Love! Then we can actually discuss it and I can stop being all 007 secret-agent like when I talk to you about it. We can snaughter together like good friends should.

Thanks for celebrating with me!

Shine On!

Danielle 

I could not have said this better myself. These words need to be read (& heeded) not only by Evangelical Christians but Christ-followers all across America. Thank you Ed Cyzewski for this call to action & anthem of freedom. A fantastic way to put our compassion into action is through The Legacy Collective, a non-profit started by Brandon & Jen Hatmaker which is a new kind of Giving Community focused on partnering, pioneering, and funding sustainable solutions to systemic social issues locally & globally. It’s sort of brilliant.

 

The Supreme Court Just Gave American Evangelicals a Gift

 

supreme-court-same-sex-marriage

 

Evangelicals are tenacious, persistent, and driven when they want to fight for a cause. The problem is that American evangelicals have been swept up in fighting for the wrong cause for a long time.

When the Supreme Court ruled to make same sex marriage the law of the land, American evangelicals received a gift that many don’t want: official permission to fight for people in need instead of fighting against same sex marriage.

Whatever you believe about same sex marriage, the role of government, and the future of the church in America, disagreeing with same sex marriage on moral grounds does not demand a public campaign to prevent it from becoming legally sanctioned. While I remain committed to creating room for affirming and non-affirming evangelicals who unite under the common banner of saving faith in Christ, evangelicals in America should have never made legalized same sex marriage a central moral issue to fight in the courts.

While I don’t believe Matthew 25 is exhaustive in its presentation of what matters to God, we do get a glimpse of the kinds of people who have internalized and lived out the message of Jesus. They work to alleviate the most pressing needs of others in our world.

That isn’t a call to relativize our sexual standards. Rather, I see Jesus pointing us toward the issues that pertain to the most basic aspects of human dignity: food, shelter, clothing, justice, and sickness:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

I was a stranger and you invited me in, 

I needed clothes and you clothed me, 

I was sick and you looked after me,

I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

We can disagree all day about same sex marriage. Heck, the majority of evangelicals will most likely continue to disagree about this issue for another 20 years until the millennials take their place in church leadership.

However, there’s no denying that millions of people around the world are suffering significantly, and Jesus wants us to focus our energies on serving them. If there was ever a group of people who should give a damn about children dying of hunger, deeply wounded people suffering in prison, and thousands upon thousands of refugees fleeing unprecedented violence in the Middle East, it should be American evangelicals.

It’s not like these massive global needs are a secret:

Over 49 million Americans and 870 million people overall in the world are going hungry (source).

750 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, leading to diseases that disproportionately kill children under age 5 who are unable to fight bacteria (source 1,source 2)

The U.S. prison system incarcerates over 2.3 million people, including a disproportionate number of African Americans (source).

Over 100 million Christians around the world face severe persecution, including the believers living in refugee camps after fleeing Syria and Iraq (source).

Over 500,000 Americans are homeless (source), but worldwide an estimated 1 billion people are living in housing that is inadequate (source).

If you care about preventing terrible things like human trafficking, rape, forced prostitution, and child soldiers, partnering with groups that empower communities to meet these basic needs will go a long way in keeping potential victims safe, healthy, and in control of their own lives.

Declarations about the collapse of civilization because of same sex marriage ring hollow when we consider that Americans toss 31.1% of our food while allowing millions to go hungry, fail to ask whether our ridiculously high incarceration rates ruin thousands of lives that could have been set right through treatment programs, and Christians in the Middle East have to flee their villages after ISIS invades, steals their women and children, and threatens to kill anyone who refuses to convert.

If God is going to condemn us over anything in America, it’s going to be our indifference and inaction when it comes to feeding people, giving out clean water, offering shelter, visiting the sick, and helping the prisoners, not a Supreme Court ruling.

It boggles the mind that evangelicals in America have long seen this ruling coming, but we have fought tooth and nail in what many suspected to be a losing cause. So many millions of dollars and hours were tossed into legal battles that were a long shot at best.

And yet, we have always had financial resources, competent charities, and passionate workers who are more than willing to travel to the ends of the earth to fulfill the very words of Jesus. If we collectively gave these most basic causes just a fraction of the time and energy that we had devoted to fighting same sex marriage, who knows how many thousands or millions of lives could have been saved.

We have been given a gift: The Supreme Court ruling means we can stop throwing our time and money into fighting same sex marriage and fulfill the words of Matthew 25.

We need not lament, lick our wounds, or bemoan the “terrible” world that our grandchildren will inherit. For millions of people around the world and even in our own neighborhoods, the worst has already happened and will continue to happen.

We need not wave the white flag of surrender on same sex marriage and pray for God’s mercy. If we’re going to take the words of Jesus seriously, know this:

God’s judgment has been upon us long before a single state allowed same sex marriage.

God’s judgment came upon us when we left people hungry, thirsty, sick, unclothed, and alone.

It’s time to stop blaming the court system. If we disagree on same sex marriage, that is our right. That doesn’t change the call of Jesus for his followers, especially American evangelicals at this time. We have our marching orders. We shouldn’t act surprised at who we’re called to serve.

We aren’t called to fight against someone. We aren’t called to litigation.

We are called to fight for everyone—especially those suffering in the most basic ways.

The longer we engage in legal fights against same sex marriage, the more apparent it becomes that we’d rather throw ourselves into any losing cause than obey the most basic commands of Jesus.

Let’s take our tenacity, energy, and resources and throw them into serving the people who are suffering the most in this world.

We may even hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant,” one day.

I’m a bit giddy over this guest blogger, y’all. I sorta have a blogger-crush on her. Andrea & I have become fast friends through the Launch Team for Jen Hatmaker’s new book, For The Love, coming out in August. We are thoroughly enjoying all aspects of this journey within the Launch Team of 496 gals & 4 guys we call the #bandoffour (bless ’em, Lord for they are indeed strong, secure men!). I’ll be talking more about all that on another post. But for now, read this incredibly insightful, inclusive & sincere post that had me saying, “ABSOLUTELY, GIRL, AMEN!” a few times. Thank you Andrea! Shine On! 

hypocrite

This morning I woke up in sort of a panic. I usually have my best ideas, most important thoughts or take care of unfinished brain business from the night before right as I wake up. This morning the unfinished brain business panicked me a little.

I started this blog just a few days ago and am feeling a bit insecure about it all. I’m writing stuff here that I know is true, but I woke up wondering if I really believe it… if I really live it. You know those people you live with who really see you ALL the time and then read what you write or listen to what you say and shake their heads wondering who you are because you’re not the same person they know? You know those people?

Well, that’s how I felt this morning. Like a big ol’ smeared mascara-eyed, bed-headed hypocrite. Because… well… I am one. So I felt like I needed to put this out there for anyone reading. Well, if anyone is reading, I try not to write what I don’t live out or at least try really hard to live out. I try to tell a part of my story, what’s going on inside of me, and it not seem like I have it together and or know it all because I certainly don’t. Just ask the people I live with. They’ll be happy to tell you I don’t have it all together. On second thought, maybe don’t ask them… just take my word for it.

I’m a professional mask wearer at times and in certain situations. I rarely let my guard down. My vulnerability braveness level is incredibly low. I’m a perfectionist in a lot of areas and wearing my mask is one I quite competently excel at with very little effort. Most of us do. Isn’t that what a hypocrite is? The word hypocrite comes partly from the Greek word, hypokritḗs, referring to a stage actor, hence one who pretends to be what she is not. Oh, did I step on some toes there? Yeah, mine hurt too.

A former pastor, who shepherded us so well in our early years and who we still love dearly, has given us some of our best quotes and sayings over the years. One time he was preaching about being called a hypocrite and he boldly said in his Texan accent, “Well, we’re all hypocrites! And I’d rather be in heaven with ’em than in hell with ’em!”

Let’s face it (pun intended), we’re all hypocrites. It’s a human condition for which there is no cure this side of heaven. Thank you, Eve… We’re all fig leaf wearin’ fakes. Hiding behind something. Not wanting to be seen or fully known. But wanting so desperately to be seen and fully known at the same time. Yeah, thank you, Eve… Some of us have our masks plastered on so tight that it would take a high-pressure power washer to get it off. So… if we’re going to do it, let’s do it together. Let’s be hypocrites together, shall we? Authentic, call it like we see it, mask wearin’ hypocrites.

But let’s at least be hypocrites who try. Hypocrites who love other hypocrites. Hypocrites who love Jesus. Kind hypocrites… always kind! I’ll write what’s on my heart. It will all be as true as I know it to be. I will try to live it out as best as I can and I hope that you will too. If you catch me being a hypocrite, point it out to me in love but expect that I’ll do the same for you because after all, it takes one to know one. Oops… did I get your toes again?

On wearing masks… I recently started reading a book by Jamie George, Love Well. He wrote this in the introduction,

“Stuck, unsure, and without direction, we live out a masquerade, hoping desperately that someone will love us and accept us when we pull the mask off.

Until we tell the story of the mask, we will never take it off.

Until we find someone who is fully present, who listens to understand, we will keep hiding.

When we tell our stories, and when we are truly heard, we begin to clean out the compost of our souls. We then begin a journey of subtraction. We courageously begin to take off the emotional armor that we have collected until we can find childlike wonder again.”  ~Love Well, Jamie George 

If we are going to be hypocrites, if we are going to wear masks, then we are still better together. But let’s also work towards pulling them off. Together. Let’s empty our plates and tell our stories. I think, no I know, that there are hearts out there that need a fill-up. I know this because mine is one of them.

Empty. Fill. Repeat.

~Andrea

Please read more from Andrea here —> Empty Plate Full Heart

In light of recent public events surrounding the Duggar family, I encourage you to also read this beautiful, gracious post by Andrea’s daughter. These girls can WRITE! —> Grace and Social Media

 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. Romans 3:10

andreastunzI’ve been a wife for 26 years. My husband, Tommy, and I did some of our best work in our 3 amazing gifts from God. I’m a mother in law of 2 stellar humans beings and a Gimi of one adorable little dude. I’m a homemaker, a traveler, a seeker, a writer, a pilgrim. I love cooking and sharing good food with others who love good food. I take pictures that tell a story, my story, God’s story. An almost empty nester. A fellow struggler. A fellow stumbler. In need of God’s grace. Oh, and coffee. Grace and coffee. Then I’m good. Oh, and a sunrise. Grace, coffee and a sunrise. THEN I’m good. Oh, and my grandson. Grace, coffee, a sunrise and my grandson. … you get the picture. 🙂 I have many favorite scriptures but my “go to” scripture which seems to encompass all I may be stumbling through or rejoicing in is always this: “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

 

 

 

If you’ve been human for not very long, you’ve experienced some or all of this.

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Illness.

Job loss.

Car accident.

Unexpected expenses.

Family Tragedy.

Relationships falling apart.

On their own, each of these life-altering events are exhausting & painful. However, when they rush over your life like tidal waves, barely giving you time to come up for breath until the next one engulfs you, the burden it seems you must bear feels impossible.

We’ve had a few of these monsoons in our own family, so I know what I’m talking about. And let me tell you, it isn’t pretty. I’ve found myself questioning many times, ‘God, what the hell is going on? Why is this all happening at once? I can’t DO this!’

I grew up thinking if I was good & tried to please God, my life would be blessed with peace & abundance. I would somehow escape life’s difficulties. I really did think that. Imagine my utter amazement when true peace & abundance showed up, not in spite of difficulties but in the midst of them.

We should also know where the ‘hell’ is coming from. It’s coming from well, hell itself.

John 10:10 sums it up. “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I {Jesus} have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

The reality is humanity has an enemy who has ONE goal: to keep us separated from God. In truth, because of Jesus’ death & resurrection, we no longer have to be separated from God. But we can be tricked & distracted if we aren’t vigilant. The Bible describes Satan as the father of lies. We put him in his place by exalting God, especially when hell seems to be breaking loose against us.

The thief is banking on you having so much turmoil in your life that you start believing God doesn’t give a flip about you. Instead of letting tragedy draw us closer to God, it seems pretty natural to blame the Lord, doesn’t it? I mean, why doesn’t He choose to just get us out of the mess? He’s God, isn’t He?

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” I hear Jesus saying, “Oh yes! The world is full of difficulty & pain that doesn’t make sense. But don’t forget I’m with you. And in the end, WE win.”

I’ll share with you 3 things I’ve learned through experiencing tragedies. They’ve become pillars by which I attempt to measure my life & faith. Mantras, if you will. I repeatedly write them in my journal as a reminder to myself & to God, knowing He sees & cares for every detail.

My faith is stirred in God when I remember…

  1. God is in the interruptions. Interruptions in our plans are a way He gets us where we need to be; or even save us from where we were heading. This can be life-altering events but also little, daily interruptions like traffic jams & unexpected mishaps. I say to my kids, ‘Boys, we sure are getting the opportunity to develop patience today, aren’t we?’ I know they love me so much for reminding them of that fact. I do not believe God smites us or punishes us to try to prove His love. Cause… when has fear-based, forced love ever worked? Um, no. Difficulties, however, do have a way of refining & defining us, don’t they?

God is very near in tragedy & destruction because He is near to the broken-hearted. It’s easy to look at the difficulty itself. But if we look for Him, we will find His love, comfort & compassion in the faces, hands & care of other people. It brings unmatched joy and trust in the firm foundation of Christ’s solid hold on us. And it’s a beautiful thing, y’all.

  1. He is working behind & above the scenes… and He loves to surprise His children when it looks like all hope has been lost. So while you may not see God in your crumbling world, He is there.

Shackled in prison Paul & Silas, who were arrested for preaching the Gospel, should’ve had no hope for release. But instead they chose to see God was still God even in what seemed like certain death. They sang praises to God for all to hear… And SURPRISE! God showed up in the midnight hour! (Acts 16)

We can put great trust (yes, it may even seem foolish to some) in knowing that our God WILL come through for us, as & when He sees fit in order to bring the best possible outcome for His eternal kingdom whose foundation is Love for all. If we are willing to go through the dark hours, without wavering, His Light & Love can break forth for all to see & glorify Him.

  1. This is NOT the end of my story! As a Christ-follower, I firmly believe our stories are eternal. Even when our bodies perish, our spirits are forever alive in Christ. And furthermore, I believe our legacy lives on in those we touch here on the Earth. Even through, or especially through tragedy, we leave a permanent imprint on the world by how we respond. And our response should only be authenticity (honesty & realness) in light of knowing God is creating what may very well be a signpost pointing others to Christ. In other words, don’t pretend you’re fine when you’re not. We are much more approachable when we don’t ‘fake it til we make it’. Trusting God doesn’t equal pretending everything is okay, it’s just acknowledging God is bigger than the hell you’re facing.

What if your story, so filled with highs & lows, tragedies & triumphs, is what it takes for someone to see God can help them get through their own mess? To me, this defines the prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

I’ll leave you with a famous quote of Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, by all means, keep going!” When all hell breaks loose in your life, look inward & onward because God is ready to create beauty & hope from the ashes!

Shine On!

Danielle 

 

Love Day!

February 13, 2012 — Leave a comment

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

I pray today you are surprised by someone who goes out of their way to show their love for YOU! Of course, no amount of human love can compare with how captivated & adored you are by your Creator. What I find amazing about His love is that it can not be earned and it can not be stolen! His Love is perfectly eternal and ever-present.

Romans 8:37-39  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I want to remind you about Love4Lunch that is happening TODAY! What better day to spread the love of God all the way across the world!

Skip your lunch today and instead give those few bucks so that our Bheveni Carepoint children can return to school for the year. Children’s HopeChest has made online giving even easier than before. Just follow this link – NO CODE is needed at this link!

Love4Lunch QuickGive Page

(no code necessary here)

Thank you my lovely friends & readers!

Shine On!

Danielle

 

Love4Lunch Hysteria

February 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

Hysteria is a stretch. Hysterical is not! I’m just so in awe of what’s happening that I keep catching myself giggling about it & can’t stop talking about it! Ask my husband, I’ve not shut up for several weeks now. I’m sure it’s not so hysterical to him.

As you may know, so much of what I love to do is done through Facebook. I see God changing lives, especially mine. The community of children we pray for & support from a distance through Children’s HopeChest is solely connected through Facebook. I often talk about the Bheveni Carepoint kids on my blog, but rarely do I talk about the community that loves them like family.

Children’s HopeChest has several “Connect Communities” each an online group advocating for children at a specific carepoint in Africa, but of course, ours is THE BEST – filled with the most amazing, gifted, funny, snarky, chatty, tag-happy, generous, and excitable group of people I’ve never met.

Everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, they bravely wield the sword of their hand (their mouse) to harness the power of the world (the internet), to share a contagious passion that God has given them for a group of children most of them have never met. Through stories, pictures, videos, etc we have all become one big happy Bheveni family, hearts fully connected with each other and with the 160+ children we love so dearly. Only God could’ve knit our hearts together like this!

What I love about our online community is that they aren’t just sittin’ on their bums talking about how things ‘should’ change. They are making change happen. Changing lives in their local towns. Changing lives across the world. 

Don’t believe me? (Of course you do, but humor me.) I’m gonna prove my case.

Through the amazing dedication and teamwork of local Swazis, Adventures in Missions, Children’s HopeChest & sponsors, the children who are coming to Bheveni Carepoint have security knowing that their basic needs for a warm meal, clean water, basic medical care & abundant love are being met. But like any child, the goal isn’t just survival – we want them to THRIVE and be given opportunities to soar! But first their roots must be planted in a solid foundation known as education! 

In Swaziland, all children must pay tuition to go to school. On average it costs about $250 per year, per child to receive an education. Every. Child.

CLICK THIS LINK – GIVE LOVE!

Their school year started in January, and already children are being turned away from the school houses simply because they don’t have money.

I’d been asking God if there’s anything we should do to help. That’s where He & our Bheveni Family step up.

About two weeks ago I came across an awareness event that a missionary friend in Guatemala was doing on Feb. 3rd called One Day/One Lunch. LIGHTBULB!!! This gracious missionary said we could most certainly adopt her idea to raise awareness & funds for the Bheveni kids who were turned away from school.

Here’s the fork in the road. Some of you will think I’ve gone coo-coo for cocoa puffs, while others will think I’m suddenly somehow closer to God.

I assure you neither of those paths will explain what happened. While reading about One Day/One Lunch, the Lord opened my eyes to see exactly how to adapt it for our community of kids. The name – Love4Lunch, the date to do it, the concept for finding “Cupids” willing to take the idea into their offices, churches & local communities. All within like 10 minutes. For realz.

All God’s big idea. I’m just not that crazy and definitely not that smart.

My sole responsibility in this is to SPREAD the word. God is responsible for the results.  Shew! So I can do this! (Yes another fundraiser!) I can do this because I’m not responsible for how it turns out! If it’s a colossal failure, it’s not because of me! If it’s a success, it’s not because of me! SWEET!!!

So WHAT in the blazes am I talking about?

CLICK THIS LINK – GIVE LOVE!

LOVE4LUNCH!!!! L4L events are popping up all over the place thanks to God & our Bheveni community (you know, the ones who are chatty & amazing & yada yada yada…)!

– Here in Minnesota at least 3 local schools are giving their staff the opportunity to Love4Lunch.

-In Louisiana, a grass-roots fashion entrepreneur who is pregnant & really should be resting, is selling tickets to a noon hour fashion show at a fancy lakeside restaurant!

-In Texas, a company is offering a matching grant simply because their best employee asked!!!

-In Tennessee, H.O.S.T. (Helping Others by Serving Together) led by a woman who MUST be the granddaughter of E.F. Hutton. (Seriously, she talks, people listen!!!) is sponsoring a pancake breakfast, auction and even a blood drive on Tuesday!

-In Mississippi, Washington, Colorado, South Carolina families are skipping a meal together!

…and the list goes on! It’s happening! Individual people are giving up lunch & inspiring others to do the same, so life can be a bit sweeter for children most have never met.

How about you?

On Tuesday will you skip lunch & give the money instead towards the education of children who have EVERYTHING working against them, except God! Your lunch may cost ya $3.00 or maybe even $10 if you & a buddy head to Chipotle for a Barbacoa (which weighs about the size of a chubby newborn). Skip it JUST once!

If you don’t have a local event, you can give online quite easily.

CLICK THIS LINK – GIVE LOVE!

So I just wanted to share the love & enthusiasm that a G0d-inspired idea is creating!

Here’s to NOT having lunch together on Tuesday! XOXOXO

Shine On! 

Danielle

ps. There’s still time for you to ask your peeps to join you. Click this link to find out even more about how to spread L4L to your community of friends & co-workers. Love4Lunch Page

 

THE BIG DEAL!

November 27, 2011 — Leave a comment

Today is Cyber Monday. The internet’s version of Black Friday.

This just screams Christmas, doesn't it?

I’m willing to bet your morning inbox is filled with subject lines like this:

—>ONE DAY ONLY: Save 65% on a Burnt Chocolate Candle your Grandma will pretend to love

—>CLEARANCE!!! Imported handmade by a 6 year old in India knit scarf specially priced at $42.50

—>FREE SHIPPING!!! Don’t miss anyone on your list – Bulk order gifts to stuff everyone’s stockings!!!*

wowzer.

what.a.deal.

You can ask anyone who knows me, I love a good deal! I love the feeling that I’m getting something for nothing, especially at Christmastime. In fact there’s an adrenaline rush that goes along with it. Perhaps that’s why we Americans go ga-ga for 3a.m. Black Friday sales & Cyber Monday extravaganzas… we love getting a deal even more than we love giving the gift! 

I found a deal even better than all of this – the deal of the millennium!

You can give a gift that will be forgotten before New Year’s or…

You have the chance to change a child’s life forever!

Use Cyber Monday to Change the Story for a child in Swaziland, Africa and do it in honor of one of your family members!

Instead of spending $$$ to give Grandma the sweet smell of burnt chocolate, give her a gift that gives life. Spend the $$$ HERE, then write Grandma a festive note saying her Christmas gift is extra special this year, it’s bringing life & education to orphaned and at-risk children in Swaziland!**

All joking aside, if we as Christians truly believe Jesus is the Reason for the Season, if we truly believe heaven is for real, and that we are the Body of Christ here on earth, we will ACT on those eternal truths, we will GIVE as Christ has commanded… and we’ll do it with JOY!!!!

Learn to do right; Take up the cause of the fatherless

“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because

   I was hungry and you gave me no meal, 
   I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 
   I was homeless and you gave me no bed, 
   I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, 
   Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’ Matthew 25:37-40

Do you see Jesus in her eyes?

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. Matthew 6:20-21

As you will read if you click HERE, as a family, we are each giving up one Christmas present this year and instead putting that money to better, eternal use by participating in Change Their Story. As much as I want my children to love the holiday season, I don’t want them to love the greedy, commercialized version. Giving up one Christmas gift so that a child across the world can have a better life seems like a great way to celebrate Jesus’ birthday! I challenge you & your family to do the same – to Give it UP! You may be surprised how willing they are to put Christ back into Christmas!

Shine On!!!!

Danielle

—>> How are you making Christmas more meaningful & Christ-centered for your family this year? I’d love to hear your ideas & insights! <<—

*fine print: Hello Kitty bookmarks sold in bulk quantities only – must spend $200 to get free shipping offer.

**BONUS: Not only will you save & protect childrens’ lives, trust me, you’ll totally be Gma’s new favorite grandkid! Now THAT’s a deal!!!

You Are The Weakest Link

November 13, 2011 — 2 Comments

You ARE the weakest link!

There’s been very few times in my life that I’ve been more aware of how weak I am.

I can’t say I ever walk around uber-confident or super close to God… but the past few weeks, faced with people & situations that seem beyond ‘fixable’ I am more acutely aware of how frail I am.

I find myself wanting to run away from the daily struggles that remind me of my frailty; to escape the magnifying glass of challenges, mistakes and failures…

I see my husband’s heart for orphaned and at-risk children, and join him in his desire to do more, to give our plans, our lives to answer the call of Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do right, seek justice; Defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

We’re both sick of life as usual and spending our time doing things that don’t have eternal significance. Yet the doors just haven’t opened for us to give our full-time attention to it so we sit with this desire for ‘more’, trying to be content where we are and faithful at our current jobs. Waiting is not our speciality.

The expanse between where we are and where we want to be seems too wide and too deep. The battle between reality & desire rages on and it has taken a toll on all of our relationships. It’s in these battles that I want to retreat and RUN for comfort and peace anywhere I can find it… usually into the arms of Facebook and chocolate.

Then I see my ten year old son, who was diagnosed with a form of autism called Aspergers Syndrome (AS), being left out & bullied at school because he’s weird and literally doesn’t know how to be a friend. Our family of four often walks on pins & needles not knowing when or where the chaos of AS will explode. I long to protect him not just from others, but from himself.

I’ve put off getting him the help he needs outside of school for several reasons, but mostly because I’ve been in denial & not willing to invest money I don’t have for the tools of therapy and other things he needs. I think to get him the help he truly needs, it will take every ounce of my time & strength and that there will be nothing left of me.

Someone slap me!  How selfish!

I seriously don’t think anyone can understand unless they have a child with special needs, how heartbreaking & lonely it can be for the entire family as they discover how to adapt and live so their child can learn and thrive.

I guess I just poured out my guts to you because I want to be vulnerable and stop denying that I am too weak to handle life’s curve balls. Don’t you ever get sick of pretending you’re okay?

The past three days especially, I’ve wanted to r.u.n. But unlike the days before, I’ve r.a.n. to Jesus. I’ve been crying out, “God!!!! I suck!!!!! I can’t get it together!!!!” (I think God likes it when we talk to Him as a friend, and not try to impress Him with religious vocabulary.) And do you know what God says? Well, nothing audible at this point, but I’ve been drawn more to the Word – to read His love letters to me

…to rest in Him

…to seek Him (not His plan)

…to fall in love with Him again (and not settle for phony fixes).

He’s reminding me that I am supposed to be weak. When I’m weak and I run TO Him, He takes that weakness, that humility that says “I can’t do it without You, God” and He infuses His peace, His comfort, and His strength to get through what life brings. This is what I want my husband and sons to see – Christ’s strength working through my weak hands & faint heart to pour His love through to them and others.

So instead of running away & hiding our weaknesses, lets all step back and realize God isn’t keeping score on how well we hold it all together. He’s waiting (with open arms) for us to run to Him, acknowledging our brokenness, surrendering our definition of strength, and trust Him for the journey and the outcome.

Has life gotten messy & confusing for you too? Are you waiting for a door of opportunity to open? Where do you run to when you are at your weakest?

 

 

 

 

Light The Way

January 13, 2011 — Leave a comment

He’s talented in many areas. At the forefront of his talents is the way he loves his family. But the dude’s got such a way with words… be inspired, be encouraged, and be moved. Oh yeah and after you read this, be sure to visit his blog for more insightful posts. Mike Brower’s Blog

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Do you ever wonder where you are, how you got here, or where to go from here? I do. Some days…All. The. Time! I seem to have this internal curiosity that goes unfulfilled with the answers I come up with. While helping my sons to get ready for school this morning, I happened upon a bit of insight that I believe will help.

In the midst of lunch making, snow boots finding, and a bit of yelling, I shared a Bible verse with my boys. In sharing with them, I received a new revelation on this simple text. The verse:

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet,

and a light to my path.”

This verse has been a long time companion for me. I fondly recall knowing that this was my mom’s “favorite verse” from the Bible. When I was a young boy, my dad created a wall plaque of this verse from a simple board and routed letters – he and I “made” it together! I remember this verse hanging by the front door of our home, most visible when going out into the world.

...and a light unto my path

I’ve often thought of the verse and prayed that it’s truth would be real in my life. I’ve thought of the verse’s meaning and interpreted it to mean that God’s word will show me where I am, and show me where I’m going.

This morning as I was reading to the boys and talking a bit about these concepts, a new light shone on this passage. It was a welcome insight to start the day.

Not only does God’s word show us where we are in this life, his word reveals the path to travel on. There’s a subtle difference here. The focus is no longer on where I am going. The focus is on where I am supposed to go!

An image came to my mind’s eye. Picture midnight in a Narnian woods, or perhaps the spooky woods from the Wizard of Oz. I was alone in that dark wood, my lantern in hand, I could see a few feet out. I knew where I was at. The air was black, heavy, and a bit spooky. As I looked about for direction there was none to be found. I could not see anything beyond the light of my lamp and all signs of direction were gone.

As I pondered the verse, something began to appear in the woods of my mind. A path way extending from the edge of my lamp’s light woven out into the darkened grove. Slowly the glow grew out before me and I became aware, not only of where I was, but where I was to go.

God’s word is available to us to reveal our current condition, and to show us where to go.

I was encouraged by this simple adjustment. So often we wonder if we are focused where we’re supposed to be. Are we headed in the right direction? Are we following Jesus in the way that he’s called us to? We ask, “How do I know God’s will and plan for my life?”

Today this little verse near the center of the Bible reminded me that we’ve been given a letter that answers our question. The path has already been illuminated. We need to intentionally see it.

Blessings to you in your quest!

 

 

Africa.

I knew two things about it as a kid.

{And I use the word “knew” loosely!}

1. It was big &  had millions of hungry kids who never heard about God. (Remember me telling you how my dad would cry when we watched the “Feed the Children” infomercials?)

2. I should never go there. I mean, there is even a song written & performed by Scott Wesley Brown called Please Don’t Send Me To Africa! Here’s part of the song.

Please don’t send me to Africa

I don’t think I’ve got what it takes

I’m just a man, I’m not a Tarzan

Don’t like lions, gorillas or snakes

I’ll serve You here in suburbia

In my comfortable middle class life

But please don’t send me out into the bush

Where the natives are restless at night

……

I’ll see the money is gathered

I’ll see that the money is sent

I’ll wash and stack communion cups

I’ll tithe eleven percent!

I’ll volunteer for the nursery

I’ll go on the youth group retreat

I’ll usher, I’ll deacon, I’ll go door-to-door

Just let me keep warming this seat!

It was all done in good fun, but Africa was clearly a difficult place that only the flakes would dare go (that had no sense at all!)

Know what? I have no sense at all.

I even remember journaling something like, “Lord, I’ll be the crazy one to go to Africa if that’s where you want me.” I wanted so badly to serve God & do whatever He wanted. And “if Africa is the worst place on earth where they don’t know about God, well, I’ll go anyway!”

At age 13, I laid on my pink pillow, on my pink bed, in my pink room, and I begged God, “Lord, Here am I! Send me!” just like Isaiah the prophet. Of course I had NO IDEA what I was saying – only that I wanted to make a difference.

Know what? Until about a year ago, I did not remember this. I was reminded of my prayers when I read Tom Davis’ book, Red Letters, that opened my eyes to the TRUE Africa. Uh-oh! So God had taken me seriously all those years ago, “I’ll EVEN go to Africa, God!” Who knew!

He still hasn’t come through on the ‘don’t let me get fat’ prayer. 🙂

Here is the Africa I now long for. In less than three weeks, my prayers to go to the ends of the earth will be answered! And God orchestrated it all. I am humbled & so thankful.

“Africa is amazing. Africa is a million and one things. It is a land of contradictions, and a land of great controversy. Africa is more diverse than any other place on the planet. It has experienced the greatest combination of foreign thievery and foreign goodwill. It is plagued with individuals who are hurting, dirty, and dying. It is plagued with rich leaders. It is strong, joyful and resilient. Africa is filled to the brim with song, dance and soccer. It fills your lungs with life with every burnt breath. It fills your eyes with tears with every sight. The sun blazes, the rain pours. It has more sky than your eyes could possibly take in. Africa is humbling. Africa rips the heart out of your chest and buries it in the rich red soil, knowing that you will someday return, to see the growth. And there is no doubt it will grow. Africa is dangerous, welcoming, and addictive. It is prosperous. It is poor. It is all too overwhelming. Africa knows the value of friendship. Time is not money in Africa. And money goes a long way. Africa holds a mirror up to your soul – letting you see all your selfish desires, and not letting go, until you’re completely broken.” Unknown!!!

So Moms, don’t let go of the things God put in your heart long ago! Recall those innocent prayers of doing whatever, whenever God wanted. And listen to your kids’ desires & dreams – my parents never once told me I wouldn’t go to Africa. They let me dream until I moved onto my next big idea.

Of course, our children’s’ lives will take many turns, but I encourage you to stir up those innocent dreams in yourself & your children – even if it takes you half way around the world!

Nothing is too big for God – not even Africa!

SOS! Shine On Sisters!