Christmas, Family, RACK - IACL

Thankful. Inspired. Excited.

What a great time of year.  My favorite.  I love the thankfulness that Thanksgiving inspires in so many people, including myself.  Posting daily what I am thankful for wasn’t hard…it was hard to limit the amount of daily posts.  The last few months have taught me so much about what is really important in life.  It’s not about stuff.  It’s all about Jesus.  And loving others.  That’s it.  I couldn’t care less about the “American Dream.”  I don’t want my life to be spent collecting stuff.

 

 

This time of year also inspires people to be better versions of themselves.  While at times it can seem that people are just focused on consumerism and greed, there are also a lot of really inspiring acts of love and kindness.  I am sure they happen all the time (I am optimistic like that) but I think we really look for them and celebrate them at Christmas.  There is this really fantastic website that I would encourage everyone to check out.  They inspire me.  http://www.adventconspiracy.org/  And this picture brings tears to my eyes.  I cannot express just how deeply it moved me.

NYC Police Officer bending down to help this homeless man put on his new boots, a gift from the officer himself.
NYC Police Officer bending down to help this homeless man put on his new boots, a gift from the officer himself.

And I am SO very excited to start our Random Acts of Kindness Advent Season tomorrow.  I have been waiting with anticipation.  I want to share the love of my Savior in a meaningful way.  In a fun, happy way.  No pressure, just sharing His love with others.  I love seeing Fiona’s face light up when she has an idea or gets inspired.  She has such a beautiful and tender heart.  I couldn’t be more proud of her.

I will be posting here dailyish…as daily as I can!  To share our journey “in real time.”  And coming up December 9 – 15, I will be blogging for the launch of Doug Bender’s new book, Live Second:  365 to Make Jesus First.  (I will be blogging on Kupenda 127, but I will reblog them here.)  Check out I am Second for the more details.

 

Challenge

Stress Detox Challenge Part 2

This is a continuation of the Tracie Miles Stress Detox Challenge…find it at www.traciemiles.com

Day 6:  Today’s theme of refreshment is a not a foreign concept to me.  In the world of social work, especially working in domestic violence, we talk A LOT about “self-care.”  It’s meant to refresh you, recharge you, prevent burnout.  But the things that we do (manicures, bubble baths, journaling, exercise, etc) are only a temporary fix.  Jesus is the only way to have true refreshment. I have used a lot of stress relief methods — some healthy, some not.  None of them gave me true peace, they simply took my mind off of my troubles or worries for a bit.  Finding true refreshment is in our relationship with Jesus.

My goals:  more time in prayer, more time reading my Bible, better church attendance, and true surrender.  My physical pick me up?  Today it’s Christmas worship music.  My absolute fave!!

Day 7:  Forgiveness.  Such an amazing concept.  There are a lot of really good books and songs out there too.  Check out Matthew West’s song and the story behind it.  Today was a great reminder.  Forgiveness (the real stuff) is COMPLETELY letting it go.  It’s gone.  No more hurt. no more resentment or anger.  And it’s not for them, it’s really for you.  It’s such a beautiful concept and although it can be one of the hardest things that you will do, it’s worth it.

While thinking of some of the ways that I have been hurt in the past, I realized that I truly have forgiven that person.  I am however hanging on to other things and I didn’t even realize that I was doing it.  Resentment can be sneaky like that.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean that they were right or that you were not hurt. it’s letting the anger and resentment out of us though.  The beautiful thing is…I can say anything to God, vent, get it off my chest, so that I can move on.  He can give me the strength to move past the hurt, to the healing.

Day 8:  When we spend our time and energy focusing on what stresses us, instead of on Christ — we lose sight of the big picture.  While sometimes we do need to deal with our stressors and work to eliminate them (or get through them), we can clearly focus on Christ while doing it.  Using His strength to get us through.  Instead of worrying or adding stress by simply focusing on the problem we are facing. Realizing what is actually causing you stress or making you feel hopeless is the first step.  Asking God to give you guidance and help you to see things through His eyes is the next.

I have been unemployed for the last eight months and the situation gets a bit desperate at times.  I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I am cranky and irritable.  But when I remember the promises of God’s Word — that He will provide for me and realize how He has repeatedly done that over the last few months, I can rest in that.  And it works.  I have to do my part, applying for jobs and whatever, but I can trust that He will be with me every step of the way.  Holding my hand — sometimes it’s carrying me completely.  But He doesn’t ever let me down or leave me.

Day 9: Today was fantastic.  We can choose to be a victim.  We may not have chosen our circumstances, but we do not have to become victims of them.  (Sometimes we do “choose” our circumstances, maybe not intentionally but we made poor choices that have landed us here.)  We can stand with Christ and be victors over our circumstances.  What power!  What joy!  It’s not easy, but it’s possible. We have to make a committed CHOICE to be a victor and not a victim.  This does not happen naturally.  We can’t do it without God.  We must stand firm in Him.  We can choose to be joyful in all things or we can allow others to take that from us.  We hold the power.

I have a picture in my bedroom that reminds me of this.  It says, “Today I choose joy.”  Because each and every day I have to choose whether to keep or give my joy away.  And I choose joy.

Day 10: Real, true happiness is a choice.  Money can’t buy it.  No one can give it to you.  No one can “take” it from you.  You choose to be happy or not.  Life is going to be stressful, there are going to be challenges.  And we might not feel happy 100% of the time, but overall true, abiding happiness is within our reach.  And it comes from a relationship with Jesus and daily walking with Him through our struggles.  We will still have them, but how we face them is the key.  (I would highly recommend the documentary Happy.  It’s pretty amazing.)

So, I am going to crank up the radio and get to work on my huge list.  But I am also going to take time to recharge — go to bed early, chat with Fiona, and spend some time with God.  I can’t think of a better evening.  ♥

Challenge

Stress Detox Challenge Part 1

This challenge comes from the beautiful Tracie Miles.  (Check her blog out at http://traciemiles.com/.)

I love that this isn’t a “how to,” that it’s deeper and gets to the core of stress.  It isn’t about getting rid of stress by removing the stress, but how to OVERCOME stress for good.

 

 

 

Day 1:  Great start!!  Getting away from blaming stress on others or our situations and start relying completely on God for His peace and guidance.

There are a lot of things in my life that could/are causing me stress:  unemployment, health, parenting, grief, debt, money (in sooo many ways!).  They do cause me stress, sometimes more than others.  Surrendering them to God gives me courage, hope, and a fresh ability to take on the day it’s challenges — not borrowing stress of tomorrow’s.

Day 2:  Peace.  We all want peace — peace in our lives, peace in our relationships, world peace.  But today was a GREAT reminder that true peace comes from God and can be in ANY circumstance, not just when we are living without conflict or struggle.  Because we will face struggles in life, finding that peace from God will help us to maintain no matter what is going on in our lives.

My view of peace today:  a simple life.  No drama.  Just living for Christ and loving others.  When I think of peace, I think of being outside, a slight breeze, warm sun on my face, and resting in the love of Jesus for me.  I don’t have to have the physical parts of my scenario…I only need the resting in Jesus part.

Day 3:  Reclaiming our identity in Christ and not how the world sees us or how we see ourselves.  This could be life-changing for many (me included!).  I am not perfect, nor will I ever be.  And I can beat myself up over those imperfections or I can accept God’s love and forgiveness despite my shortcomings.

Today I am choosing to embrace and reclaim my identity in Christ.  I don’t have to prove my worth.  My identity has not been my identity in Christ.  It has been wrapped up in proving myself and striving for perfection.  I struggle with this more than anything else.

Day 4:  Negativity.  The old glass half full/glass half empty debate.  The beauty is that you get to choose your view.  You get to have complete control (!) over this area of your life.  You may not be able to control what happens — but you can control your reaction.

My mom likes to remind (nag) me in this area.  She is consistent in reminding me to have a positive outlook.  I am blessed to have her to quickly reshape my attitude (even when it annoys me or I want to wallow in my own pity).  Negative attitudes = stress, positive attitudes = peace.  No matter what the circumstances are.

Day 5:  Trained to be stressed.  Fed lies about productivity and accomplishments being the measure of our worth.  Our society has programmed us to believe that it’s every man for himself, we must be the most productive, most accomplished, most successful to be significant or have worth.  That’s not Biblical, that’s not what God says about our worth or our value to Him.

Spending time with Jesus gives us strength and yet so often, we don’t spend time with Him because we don’t “have time.”  (Being a Martha, not a Mary.)  So relevant to really readjust our priorities and see what we define as being more important than our time with Jesus.  We need to follow God’s leading as we seek to redefine what activities we participate in and what our priorities should be.  Being in the middle of God’s will brings peace and comfort.

Part 2 coming soon!!  And I encourage you to sign up and do this challenge too!  It has been AMAZING.  God bless!!

Christmas, Fiona, RACK - IACL

Random Acts of Kindness 2012 Edition

 

I cannot wait.  I wish it started today!!  But instead, I am getting each day ready.

I have decided not to call it a random act — because it isn’t.  It’s intentional.  Planned.  Prayed about.

And it isn’t about kindness, although *hopefully* people feel kindness…it’s about sharing Jesus’ love with people.  We love Jesus and that’s why we are doing this.  We want others to experience the amazing, radical, crazy love of Jesus.

So get ready…we are almost there!  We have 25 days of awesome activities planned to bless those around us — people we know and people we don’t.

And it’s going to be AMAZING.

Book Review

Book Review: Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis

Basic Info…

Title: Kisses From Katie

Author: Katie Davis

Publisher: Howard Books

ISBN-10: 1451612095

ISBN-13: 978-1451612095

My thoughts….

Probably the best book I have read in years.  I literally could not put it down.  My conversations have been littered with…Katie Davis said…and in the Kisses From Katie book…and so on.  When I was thinking about what I would write about the book, I picked up it and again….could not put it down.  I could re-read it again and again, learning and growing each time.

After finishing the book and through reading Katie’s blog, she really writes honestly and transparently.  It leaves you feeling like you are her friend.  Like she is writing to you, to tell you about this amazing adventure.

I already had a soft spot in my heart for Uganda and their people, but this book really took that to a whole other level.  I long to be in Uganda and serving the people.  The overwhelming theme of the book is love.  Loving people, loving God.

Katie talks about saying yes.  Saying yes to what is in front of you and just being available.  For such a young woman, just out of high school, her bravery and dedication was pretty incredible.  She definitely did not give up when things got hard or challenging.  She pushed through the bad days, relying completely on God.  She didn’t have family or friends nearby, she didn’t pack up and head home.  She just dug in and relied on God even more.  Her faith was refreshing, her resolve inspiring.  She definitely made me look at life with a different perspective.  A part of my heart lives in Africa, in Uganda, and someday I hope that I have the privilege of visiting Katie Davis and Amazima Ministries.  That has officially been added to my Bucket List.

If you want to be challenged, if you want to fall in love with people half a world away, if you want to be moved in a way that is unexplainable…read this book.  It literally changed my life.

Challenge, Christmas, Family

Challenges.

I love challenges.  I constantly sign up for new e-mail challenges, Christmas, stress-busters, health, you name it.  And that was just this month.  I don’t know if it’s the challenge themselves, just to prove I “can” do it or something else.  I think it’s probably a mix, a desire to better myself and to push myself.

letitgo5daysemailheader

http://www.karenehman.com/

I would encourage you to check out Karen’s blog and challenge.

Here’s a few things I learned from it:

Day 1:  I didn’t necessarily learn this entirely today, but it does apply.  I am a control freak.  Holidays, especially Christmas, included.  It’s not specific items I want to control, but mainly, I don’t want my important things forgotten.

I do find it a bit challenging to give up all control of the holidays to my ten year old.  (The challenge is backing off on making any holiday decision.)  But I can commit to backing off of some and including her more, backing off completely at time.  Part two of the challenge, I did include having Fiona’s input on our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness — and I changed some of them to better suit her.  I want her to enjoy it, so she should be in on the planning and this year I will let her do it her way.;  🙂

Day 2:  Today was a good one for me!!  I think it was a good reminder of what’s really important!  The holidays (any holiday) doesn’t have to be “perfect.”  Especially when our standard of perfect comes from HGTV, a magazine, or Pinterest.  Sometimes imperfection makes the best memories…sometimes way better memories than the “perfect” ones.  Change your focus from the external to the internal.

Christmas at my actual home has never been perfect, rarely ever lived up to my expectations.  And in the past, that’s always made me sad/frustrated/discouraged.  This year, thanks to the challenge, I hope to resolve that.  Instead of the old standard, this year we will focus on others.  Our “measuring stick” will be the joy that we see.  In the big picture — and really, truly, the important Eternity picture — nothing else matters.  It’s about loving family and celebrating Jesus’ birth. It is not about gifts, lights, decorations, food, or whatever.  And refocusing makes all the difference in the world.

Day 3:  Ooh!  I love the Bible.  Today’s verse really hit me — Mark 7:8.  Check it out.  Traditions are a funny thing.  We really stuck to them more when I was a kid, then the last few years have been this weird in-flux time in our lives.  A couple things have remained, but not really a lot of our traditions.  I did have a family meeting with Fiona and we together decided what this would look like for our family this year.

The tradition that knocks me out is the amount of gifts.  Too much money, too much time shopping, too much wrapping.  It’s just too much.  This year we are downsizing.  And grabbing a new perspective?  Done.  Love others.  Seek peace.  Don’t worry.  Love this…I am enjoying this Christmas more already!!

Day 4:  Ah, family…what would Christmas be without them?  And I am lucky to have one pretty amazing family.  Not perfect.  But perfect for me.  However, that being said…our holidays have often been overshadowed by conflict and a lot of tears.  Today reminded how often I should be praying (constantly!) about interacting with challenging people.  Another good reminder — I can’t control everyone’s actions and responses, but I can control mine.  My reactions and actions.  I can make sure that my actions are not hurtful or cruel, that they are pleasing to God.
I won’t name names on who my difficult family members are, wouldn’t that be hurtful?  But I can remind them, as well as the other members of my family that Jesus loves them unconditionally — and I do too.  Even when they hurt me or betray me, not just because they are in my family — because I want to love like Jesus does.
Day 5:  Loved today!  Loved it!!  You see, I LOVE to buy gifts for people.  One of my favorite things to do…give someone a gift.  But today, really helped remind me of something — give purposefully.  It’s not about quantity, but about the thought and love behind the giving.
The challenge today was to do one act of kindness for someone in need, but one of the things that we have decided to continue as a tradition is our Advent Calendar — Random/intentional acts of kindness from Dec 1 to Dec 25.  It’s about making ourselves focus on other’s throughout the holiday season.  And it’s FUN.
Thanks for letting me share about this challenge and how it influenced me…I hope you sign up and then let me know what you think.  🙂
God bless…Katie
Family

It’s been awhile…

So, I had good intentions when I started this blog…but it just didn’t happen.  I also happen to blog at Kupenda127.wordpress.com about my work in orphan care, however I felt like my more personal, non-orphan care related blogs belonged somewhere else…like here.  🙂  So, I am back and recommitted to this blog.

It’s been a year since I wrote and lots of things have changed in our lives!  I left my job at the YWCA of Spokane in March 2012.  Also in March, Fiona started homeschooling.  She still loves to draw, sing, read, dance, and all other things that tween girls enjoy.  She lights up my life and brings me so much joy!  She has the most precious and tender heart!

So much, much more to come!

I thought I would add a “recent” family pic…I love my fam!

Love,

Katie