Friday, November 12, 2010

fashionABLE scarves

As you can see from my post below, I've got Christmas on the brain already. From brainstorming gift ideas to downloading the new Dave Barnes Christmas album, I'm feeling the spirit already. I'm halfway tempted to put up my tree just so I can see all the sparkly ornaments in my living room. :)

However, I've gotta post this as an option for Christmas gifts. Check out this video:

I love gifts with meaning, and this is a great opportunity to give someone something that has actually helped to change a life. I found out about these great scarves that women in Ethiopia are making, and by purchasing these, you could be helping support their freedom and their life--in the truest sense of life. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, consider encouraging the life and hope these women in Ethiopia have found through Jesus by purchasing one of the scarves (named after the women) as a Christmas gift!

If you know me, you might just be getting one yourself this pretend to be surprised!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Great Ornament Exchange

Christmas time is coming!!! I know so many people who are reluctant to agree that 'tis the season until after Thanksgiving, but I disagree. Thanksgiving is just a hurdle to get through until we can begin the magical feeling that comes with Christmas. While I hate winter and the cold darkness that comes with it, Christmas time is, strangely, the light in the midst of that darkness.

And because one of the things that brings about that light to me is my sparkly, colorful, pretty Christmas tree carefully decorated with ornaments, I'm referring you to my friend Kate Andre's blog for her 2nd Great Ornament Exchange. I participated in her ornament exchange in 2008 and received TWO beautiful ornaments from the person who had my name, and I loved picking out an ornament for the person whose name I had. If you love ornaments, you should participate. Go to her blog post about it here or click on the picture above & email her if you want to be a part of it!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

the tension

So, I've had that lump in my throat all day at Catalyst...the kind that could easily turn into weeping if I were alone, and the kind that only remains a lump through which no words can escape and only a few tears make their way out of my eyes. The Spirit is moving. I'm moved. Where? How? I'm still not even sure.

After hearing a bit about narcissism a little today, I relate in this very moment reflecting on the day at Catalyst, because there's a tension in me. One part wants to get things out, written words, for my own good, and then the other part says "why do you need to put that on your blog? Is it useful for building anyone up? Is it really helping anything being at a worldwide web address rather than just inside your head or heart?"

That tension is so meager in comparison with the tension between self and Spirit, pride and humility, fear and trust, insecurity and belonging. If you were to put each of those on opposites ends of a few ropes, I'd find myself in the middle, racing around among them all, rope to rope. But as the theme of Catalyst this year captures, "the tension is good." That, it is.

In this place in the middle it seems we're more reliant on the Spirit, rather than ourselves, and that's exactly where I need to be. So while I have no clear answers for my life in any areas where there are question marks, this much I know: follow the Spirit.


There is no other answer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

13 days...

So...I'm really terrible at writing lately, but I do need to share this.

There are 13 days left to buy tickets for an upcoming event that is very near & dear to my heart for a ministry that is very near & dear to my heart: The Scarlet Hope Gala - An Evening of Hope.

On Friday, Oct. 1st, we're having a formal night at The Grand theater in downtown New Albany, IN that will include dinner, a silent auction, some great speakers, and a documentary about the life of a dancer. If you're not familiar with the ministry of Scarlet Hope, please check out this post I wrote awhile back or go to the Scarlet Hope website. We are simply taking the light of Jesus Christ into the darkness that is the sex industry in Louisville, KY. This requires some resources, and we're realizing as more and more girls are wanting to leave the industry that we need more money to help them take the next step.

This Gala isn't only a formal evening of fun, but it's truly an investment in this ministry. If you've got the night free, an old dress or suit to put on, and $75 to spare for a ticket, please join us! I'd love to have friends & family here to support this ministry for the evening--even if you make it a weekend trip to Louisville! If you're interested, please contact me ASAP or go to to purchase tickets online.

If you can't attend, please pray for this event and for those who will be attending. Pray that it will be successful in sharing the word about the ministry to others in the Louisville/Southern Indiana area so that they can not only invest financially but prayerfully & with servant hearts as a part of this ministry.

Also, just as a side note that is not at all a minor detail: we celebrated with one dancer this past weekend as she was baptized! She is on fire for Christ right now, and honestly, it's teaching me that I've lost a passion for God's Word that she seems to have. Such a great reminder to those of us who have been believers for a long time...I'm humbled by her passion & reminded of my own complacency. Praise God with us for one more life changed...she is one of at least 3 within the past 2 months or so who have accepted Christ or rededicated their lives to Christ!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bittersweet winner

Congrats to Sheri for winning the copy of Bittersweet!!! I drew your name first! :)

For the rest of you, if I had more $$, I'd buy you all a copy and send you one as well!!!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


I have a deep, deep love for Ghirardelli’s dark chocolate squares with caramel. There’s something about that little square (much too small, if you ask me) that brings bliss to the very moment I’m inhaling it…each bite cracking the outer shell until the sweet caramel comes oozing out the edges. In that instant dark chocolate meets caramel, and bitter meets sweet. Shauna Niequist's newest release, appropriately titled Bittersweet, is all about those moments in life when bitter and sweet embrace.

Just as I consume those Ghirardelli squares, I have devoured and savored every bite of Bittersweet. Shauna’s openness and honesty about loss and chang
e and strain in her life make me feel like I’ve joined her at her amazing Crate & Barrel dining room table eating risotto and warm crusty bread partnered with a glass of sparkling wine. I find myself laughing out loud, tearing up, and in other moments wanting to shout out “ME TOO!”

Shauna writes with vulnerability about real, raw events in her life: tension in her marriage, traumatic miscarriages that left her feeling empt
y, and seasons that felt cold, lonely, and disorienting. Yet out of that vulnerability she exposes a deep sense of grace and gratitude for what has come through the cloudy seasons. Shauna articulates the blessing that comes after, even amidst, the bitter moments. She writes, “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” Also, “the question is not, will my life be easy or will my heart break? But rather, when my heart breaks, will I choose to grow?

Recently I keep finding the idea of a “beautiful ex
change” in an assortment of channels: the new Hillsong album, lyrics to other songs, and now Shauna’s words in this literary treasure. They all point back to the beautiful exchange that IS the gospel. There’s a line on singer/songwriter Audrey Assad’s new album that says, “I’ve watched you carve streets of gold from the sin and gravel. I gave you brokenness; you gave me innocence, and now this road leads to glory.” There’s something about that line and Shauna’s words and my life that all string together like a handcrafted necklace I’d like to wear around, proudly displaying the grace and truth and forgiveness and growth and redemption that have become evident in my life through each change, each heartbreak, each loss.

Shauna writes that,
We really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, earthy.
They say that dark chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, is better for you anyway. So it is with life.

While some of my own experiences haven’t been easy, they’ve made me become more deeply rooted, more sure of who God is. I’d give anything for
my dad to be alive again, and I hate that my heart is afraid to love and be loved, and I hate that I’m sometimes paralyzed by irrational fears like the phobia of throwing up. Different hurts, pains, sins, and fears in my life can drown you if you let them, but they can also color in the waters that you’re wading through. God might not part the ocean for you to walk through on dry land, but He will be there to pick you up when you’ve been anchored by a difficult season.

Our stories—in good seasons and in bad—tell the greater story of who God is. When the bitter mixes in with the sweet, the gospel comes alive again in the reality of death and rebirth for humankind. Bittersweet is a refreshingly candid way that Shauna shares with her readers that greater story of hope. Her essays will inspire and c
onfront you, give you hope in the darkness, and prove that beauty can come out of disarray.

Chances are good you’ll find very few writers like Shauna with whom you’ll resonate so closely. She’ll leave you hungry not only for food with her re
lentless culinary passion, but with each essay you’ll be hungry for more of her authentic and well-threaded words. If you’re new to Shauna’s writing, I’d highly suggest you go ahead and just order both of her books, Cold Tangerines and this new release, Bittersweet. You might as well, because you’ll get free shipping with orders over $25 on Amazon anyway, right? And I promise you’ll thank me later, but no need to send notes.

Also, Zondervan is allowing me to choose a winner to rece
ive a free copy of Bittersweet. So here’s how I’m deciding: post a comment (include your email address) with your favorite song lyric—one that’s speaking to you, one that makes you laugh, one that tells your story—and I’ll put all the names in a hat and choose randomly. (If you don’t have a resonating song lyric right now, it’s ok!) I’ll contact you for your address if you’re the winner, and Zondervan will mail you your free book!

With all of that said, I plead with you for your own good, you m
ust read this book. It’s as necessary as a Ghirardelli dark chocolate square with caramel at the end of a long day!

Just to entice you, click on this picture:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Scarlet Hope

I've got a lot of things on my mind lately concerning the Holy Spirit, especially after reading Frances Chan's book Forgotten God. But I'm not even sure where I'd begin sharing some of that, so I'm going somewhere else with this post...because I feel like the Spirit's leading that way anyway, and it's heavy on my heart.

Some of you know I've been serving with a ministry here in Louisville called Scarlet Hope. We are reaching out to women in the sex industry to share with them the love of Jesus...not just to see them leave their job, but more importantly to see the gospel transform their lives entirely. If they leave the sex industry, obviously that's a win.

Right now we're aware of numerous girls who are looking for other jobs and are desperate to leave the industry and find work elsewhere. But it's not so easy: some have felonies against them, some have drug & alcohol addictions, and needless to say, many employers just won't hire someone with stripping on their resume. It's just not easy.

There is so much that goes into seeing these girls' lives get turned around. Obviously, it starts with Jesus. But there are realistic needs with many of them needing rehab from drug use, counseling to cope with issues of rape & abuse, housing, food, childcare, education, and the list goes on and on... The approximate cost for helping a girl leave the industry is about $5,000. And we're just a team of girls who are trying to love these dancers...

The more girls that go into the clubs on our team, the more relationships that are built, and the more we're becoming aware of girls who want to leave the industry. We're in desperate need of funding to assist these girls in changing their lives. We need partners who can fund this ministry, people to create/find jobs or employers that will hire our girls, someone who can write grants as a passionate partner with this ministry. I'm writing because this is heavy on my heart today after going into the clubs last night, and we're getting to the point where it's almost overwhelming the needs we're seeing.

I don't even know how many people read this, but I feel like the Holy Spirit is asking me to write and share about this ministry. There are so many ways God is working through Scarlet Hope right now, and we're seeking His wisdom as we follow His lead in the clubs and in our friendships with the girls.

I left last night heartbroken. Weekly I notice these little menus in plastic stands that sit on the tables displaying options from a $15 lap dance ranging to a $250 VIP room. I hate that these girls' bodies are listed like a daily special at a restaurant, and I hate that there is a monetary value placed on them. And they deal with rejection, on top of that, when men turn them down for just a $15 dance. I just want them to realize that they're valued so much more than that...that Jesus gave His life for them, and there's no monetary cost that can show how much they're worth.

If you're reading this, please pray for the girls we encounter in the clubs each week. I can't share specifics here, but trust me when I say that they have more hurt and pain in their lives than many of us can imagine. Please pray on Thursday nights as we literally go into the darkness. Pray for people to give and partner with this ministry in the ways we need. Pray for opportunities to share about Jesus with them, and pray for open hearts and ears to hear.

If there is any way you'd like to find out more about the ministry, donate, find other ways to help, or even start a similar ministry in your city, check out

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I'm spending this week on a team retreat in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, TN with the rest of the student ministry team at Southeast. Above is our view from the cabin. It's pretty incredible having meetings overlooking that! We're planning, brainstorming, vision-casting, dreaming, scheduling, laughing, resting, and renewing. It's much needed for everyone on this trip (there are 16 of us).

While I'd love to share more, I just have to say that I had some great moments today sitting on a big rock in the middle of some rushing waters underneath me. I spent some much needed time in the Word, reflected on the weight and responsibility of ministry, and just prayed for vision in my own life.

For a few moments I paused, noticing the frigid waters and how swiftly they were moving. Compelled by a force from somewhere beyond, they were unstoppable, moving from one source to another. No rock, no stone of any size can hinder their current, and I couldn't help but pray the same for my life.

I pray that I will be like these swift waters, rushing toward the Source of all things...seeking only to know Him, being stopped or swayed by nothing. Sometimes I get stopped up on little rocks here and there, wondering where to go next, how to get there, assessing every little move, and I just felt the Holy Spirit saying today "Just keep moving!" I know we all get caught up by distractions, valid fears, problems, and situations in our lives that slow our current down, but I pray we'll be unstoppable. There is a force behind us, the power of the Holy Spirit, that moves us toward a goal-a Kingdom, actually-that is worth moving for.

I pray we'll move.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Springtime makes me want to do cartwheels.

"Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime." -Martin Luther

This makes me happy.
And not only happy, but joyful.

I pray we won't get lost in Easter eggs and baskets this year but that we'll keep the newness of life in Christ and His life in us alive.

(Also, I realize I haven't written much in a long time, nor do I write very often lately. I'd like to say that will change, but I can't make any promises. I do hope to write/share pics from my recent trip to the D.R., but it will be a few days.)

For now, I'm going to go run around outside. Literally. Because it's that beautiful out there.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

sacred moments in the Psalms

I've been moved by the Psalms these days. As a lover of songs and words and music, the Psalms have always been my favorite. But it's like I just rediscovered their beauty again recently.

My church, Sojourn, has been going through the Old Testament for over a year, and they just finished up with the Psalms. Sunday morning I had some extra time before the 11:15 service (a rarity, this is, because I typically sleep as late as possible!), so I sat and read through some random Psalms to sort of "prepare my heart" for the morning. Sitting in my living room, I read them out loud to myself.

When I was reading one of them (I actually don't remember which Psalm), something moved me...I found my eyes actually welling up with a few tears, and I was a little choked up as I read out loud to myself. I'm not sure that had ever happened to me before. Typically I've relied on experiences to move me emotionally, and I was so moved by the Word alone that it surprised me, caught me completely empty-handed & unprepared. It was only for a few seconds, mind you, but I was moved, nonetheless. I don't discount the Holy Spirit's power at work in the Word.

At the worship time at Sojourn Gathered that morning, all the parents were asked to retrieve their kids from childrens church and bring them in to worship with us. After all, children looove to sing and dance, and they can teach us how to do it with an undignified heart. We worshiped and sang about how "He turned our mourning into dancing," and I was moved again. I remembered how somehow 3 years ago, even in the midst of mourning the loss of my Dad, I somehow can still find hope and joy in this life. And again, I think I held back a few tears while I was singing. The kiddos were rejoicing beautifully, some clueless why they were in the midst of boring adults, but they participated all the same. It was another beautiful moment in the Psalms.

This morning, I was reading Psalm 33, and yet again found such great beauty in this: the same God whose hands arranged the starry skies and could gather all the waters of the seas into jars also forms our hearts! I also notice now the word "forms" is in present tense rather than past. He is still forming our hearts. This is encouraging to me. (If anyone out there is a Hebrew scholar, I'd actually love to know if this is true in the original Hebrew writing...unfortunately I didn't take Hebrew in Bible College...)

I thought I'd simply share Psalm 33 and hope that you are moved by the beauty of the God who deserves all our praise. May we put our hope in Him.

1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

2 Praise the LORD with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.

4 For the word of the LORD is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.

5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.

6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
he puts the deep into storehouses.

8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the people of the world revere him.

9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance.

13 From heaven the LORD looks down
and sees all mankind;

14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth-

15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.

17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.

18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.

21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.

22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"The story takes care of the rest..."

I had to stop reading and get these words out in front of me.

I just started to read Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years a few days ago, and I'm already halfway through it. If I'd really wanted to, I could have finished it by now. I just like to read a little more slowly, almost as if to savor the words, when I really like a book. His words are an easy read, and mostly because he's simply telling a story about telling your story. He's telling his story and figuring out how to live his story. Have I said story enough?

I had to stop and think about my life for a moment when I read these words:
"...the story is what changes the character, not the inciting incident."
"The inciting incident is how you get them to do something," Ben said. "It's the doorway through which they can't return, you know. The story takes care of the rest."

"Robert McKee says humans naturally seek comfort and stability. Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they won't enter into a story. They have to get fired from their job or be forced to sign up for a marathon. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen."
I'm still processing how I'm living out my story, or God's story, really. Half the time I'm not sure how I'm making the choices I'm making, sometimes aware, sometimes unaware, and I'm probably not seeking the great Writer's vision for the story nearly enough. I can't imagine His frustration with us, His characters, as we go our own ways and take the plot wherever we wish.

In the past year, however, He wrote into my story an inciting incident that has clearly changed the story for me. Maybe a series of inciting incidents... (I must first clarify that Miller's filmwriting friends define this "inciting incident" as some kind of "explosion" in the character's life.) These incidents in my own life may not have been a major explosion, but they were small enough contributors to the fire--emotional breakdowns, conversations that left me in tears, a feeling of being unfulfilled, ungodly discontentment, and very obviously doors that closed and opened at just the right times. Each of these was its own match that lit the fire of urgency in me to do something.

My life had reached a plateau, in a way. I was ready for a next step, and now looking back, these incidents led me to a choice: to move my entire life, all by myself, to Louisville. So I did it. It was my "doorway through which I couldn't return." I'm so unbelievably thankful I walked through that doorway.

My life, the story, God's story, is taking shape more and more each day. I'm so much more content. Circumstances are no longer stealing my joy. I love life. And while it is never perfect, I'm fulfilled by His promises and a community that is ever-growing me in my walk with Him. Never before had I imagined I'd be where I am...and I'm thankful.

I look forward to living out how this story is written. I hope to be a participatory character rather than one who sits around doing nothing. I've jumped into discomfort, into newness, into fear. And I've found that it's a good place. So I think I'll keep jumping in.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help Heal Haiti...

So hard to believe I took this photo almost 7 years ago of the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and today it looks like this:

I'm not even completely sure what to pray today after seeing these pictures, but if it's not very real to you, these pictures will make it that way. I just keep thinking about how shameful it is for us as Americans, as Christians, as humans to overlook great need until a time of devastation or tragedy hits. And then when it does, we focus our attention on it again and become people of prayer once more. When the shock value wears off, we go back to our normal lives and forget again...until another tragedy strikes.

Columbine was this way.
September 11th.
the VA Tech shooting.
Hurricane Katrina.
personal loss or the loss of someone else's loved one...

We forget how much sorrow lives on unless we're closely connected to it.

In a mass email from Keren Dongo, the Community Engagement Manager for the campaign, I was struck with the reality of these words:
Haiti’s long struggle against poverty is now exacerbated, its needs now magnified, and the vulnerability of the Haitian people more greatly exposed.
This is what is most heartbreaking of all. Haiti is a country whose needs were more desperate than we could ever imagine, and now they are magnified. The people's vulnerability is exposed by the news stories, cameras flashing, and Americans who thrive on the story itself. Those who were already hurting and in great need are at a point of desperation.

I'm thankful we serve a God who offers forgiveness. I've been so convicted today that my heart has become hardened to the needs of the world until tragedy strikes. Awareness really is the first step, but there must be steps taken beyond that. Join me, if you will, in pleading for forgiveness for our selfish, forgetful hearts, and in praying that the Lord's sovereignty be made known around the world because of this tragedy.

He is sovereign.
He will heal.
He offers hope.
And He can use us to be vessels of that hope.

Will you carry it?

If you're looking for a tangible way to help, there are a million ways to do so. But here are a few organizations that you can check out for starters:
GO Ministries
Compassion International
World Vision
Haitian Christian Outreach (this is the organization through which I went to Port-au-Prince in 2002)
Haitian Christian Mission
Northwest Haiti Christian Mission
Help Heal Haiti

Saturday, January 02, 2010

10 Words for 2010...

"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."
~T.S. Eliot
(via Christine's blog...loved the quote so much I had to use it!)

There are a million things I want to do in 2010. Projects I want to start and finish, accomplishments I'd like to make, relationships I want to build upon, decisions I hope to make, dreams I want to dream, and more discoveries to make. But aside from those "things" or "goals" there are virtues or qualities I've decided to make my "10 Words for 2010."

My friend Faith and I spent some time reflecting upon the past year and looking forward to this new year with hope for growth in this new year. We had a conversation about how Benjamin Franklin lived by 13 virtues, so we decided to choose 10 words for 2010. So as I look forward with great motivation, I'm choosing these words.

This is who I hope to be, how I hope to live: