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1,000 Gifts – Week #6

#36. Farm fresh eggs from Wendy, the mail carrier. You’ve never seen more glorious, bright orange yolks.

#37. Orthodox Jewish man at the park with his 8th child.

#38. Watching the faithful Jews in our neighborhood walk to synagogue. Families walking arm in arm at sundown to worship.

#39. Valentine’s breakfast made with love by my beloved husband. Heart-shaped eggs for me, and heart-shaped toast for the little guy, served up on a bright pink plate.

#40. Pink skies on a walk at dusk.

#41. Finding the perfect gift for a friend who just needs to know that God sees. Truly, it is better to give than to receive.

#42. Our business that feels more like a family than a business. So grateful to be a part of bringing peace, joy, and healing to people in our city. May His presence fill our business and may every one who enters experience His unfailing love! May the tea bring healing to all – spirit, soul, and body!

#43. Fresh veggies from our neighborhood CSA. I love having a box of wholesome goodness from a real farm, picked by real farmers, delivered to me each week!

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  • #44. That all things really do work together for my good. How would I live if I really believed this was true? Goodbye fear. Goodbye, shame. Hello, perfect love.

    #45. New eyes. His eyes. Eyes that see as He sees. Goodness all around me, all the time. His constant pursuit to remind me that it is enough for me to be simply beloved. I love this message by Graham Cooke.

    February 14, 2011   No Comments

    1,000 Gifts – Week #5

    #26. Ann Voskamp. I seriously love this woman and am on a first name basis with her in my mind. I refer to her almost on a daily basis with my husband – “Yeah, today Ann posted the most amazing thing on xyz…” If you have not done it yet, get yourself to her blog, and more importantly, buy her new book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. My copy arrived this week, and I can already tell you that I will not be lending it out. :)

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  • #27. Bible study. A new semester has begun! I never realize how much I really need to be in the company of amazing women who love God until I am with them and then I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner. I especially love learning from women who have been walking with Jesus longer than I have been alive. These are my true heroes (Psalm 16:3).

    #28. That Jesus still heals our sicknesses and diseases. Preston, Abigail, and I all got our billionth cold of the season this week. Our family is contending for authority over sickness and disease just like Jesus promised we would have, so of course we have had our fair share of illnesses this Fall. Our faith muscles have been tested and are being strengthened! Alas, Jesus came, and all three of us were healed of our colds. To Jesus be the glory, and may He continue to strengthen us to walk in divine health!

    #29. Parents who are willing to spend their Sunday hanging lights at our house and doing other “handy” jobs. I am pretty sure our walls would be mostly bare if it was not for them.

    #30. In-laws who are willing to spend their Sunday night at our house while our kids sleep so that my beloved husband and I can go on a date. Some of you are hating me now. Yes, we have both sets of parents in town. No, I have never had to hire a babysitter. Yes, I do know how blessed we are.

    #31. Blueberries. I don’t care that they are not in season and that they have traveled 2,000 miles from Chile to get to us in Texas. Giving Preston blueberries after nap time restored my sanity this week. Let’s see how long it continues.

    #32. Dreams. The kind you have at night. I don’t know what I would do if God did not speak to me in my dreams. I love hearing Him in this way. It makes me hunger for His presence more deeply and causes me to seek out the hidden treasures He is speaking in the night and at all times. Having insomnia in November and December was not only horrible because I was so tired I could not function, but I also missed the messages God would speak in the night. Thank You, Father, for restoring my sleep and blessing me with dreams from You.

    #33. Hot tea on cold winter days. I have literally been putting four tea pots in the dishwasher each day. Four. It’s a darn good thing we own a tea business because I would be spending a fortune this month on Lemon Lavender alone. I love it.

    #34. Hope. That the seasons change – there is the dying that comes in winter, the rebirth in spring, the glory of summer, and the harvest that comes in fall. Each season is necessary and productive in its own way. Something is always happening. I am finally embracing the hiddenness of winter, knowing that a deep work is happening though it is not visible. I have great hope that the seed will sprout up in its timing.

    #35. Courage. Doing something I was afraid to do, but doing it anyway. That is my definition of courage. And I did it this week. And it wasn’t nearly as terrible as I thought it was going to be. Yep. This is the year that fear will no longer be a part of my life. For me, this is the Year of Jesus. And He was not afraid. Of anything. Or anyone.

    January 24, 2011   1 Comment

    Pearl earrings

    A few weeks ago I had a dream – one that I almost wrote off as a nothing dream, until Something prompted me to share it with my husband over breakfast, the way we do every morning. It was a simple dream – short, low on intensity, and not necessarily “spiritual” – at least at first glance. It went like this:

    I dreamed that one of my pearl earrings broke and that I was taking it to get repaired. The repair shop was in Houston and normally would take a long time to get it back since I would have to wait for it to be sent to Austin. It turned out, however, that we were going to be traveling to Houston and would be able to pick them up instead. I felt very glad in the dream that I was going to receive my pearls back quickly. End of dream.

    Silly dream, right? Means nothing. That’s what I thought too after I first woke up. Then I thought, “No, God has used pearls to speak to me in the past. This must mean something more. I think I’ll look into this.” So I pulled out one of my newest favorite books called “The Divinity Code: The Keys to Decoding your Dreams and Visions.” I first went to earrings, sensing that earrings would speak something about hearing God or listening to him. As it turns out, that is exactly what earrings represent, “Hearing.” There were detailed interpretations for different types of earrings included as well. Next, I looked up pearls. This was the best part. Pearls represent, “Jesus Christ”; “Revelations of God’s Word (spiritual treasure); and “The Kingdom,” along with a few definitions that didn’t apply. Putting it all together, I now understood that the speedy repair of my broken pearl earring was packed with promise and blessing! God was going to mend the communication lines between Him and me, and bring great spiritual treasure as I listen for His voice. It was already happening.

    This dream has been life-changing. I have felt like communication with Him has been broken for the past few years. I haven’t received spiritual treasures from His Word in the past few years the way I did in seasons past. And I desperately wanted to. I wonder if He has been communicating these subtle messages over the past few years, but my heart was too distracted to seek them out (or I was too sleep-deprived to notice with two babies). Regardless, my heart is awake now, and I am looking for Him to speak to me constantly. Waking or sleeping, reading His Word or even a magazine, through every man, woman, or child – believer or not- seeking messages of His truth and love, His heart to mine. And boy is He speaking a lot. And as He does, my joy just keeps growing. Just as He promises in Psalm 16:11, “In His presence there is fullness of joy and in His right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” As I seek His presence in everything, He shows me His pursuit of me – His constant, fervent, lavish pursuit of me. And I become convinced that I am His favorite, the apple of His eye. And my cup runs over and joy overtakes me. And I never want to go back to broken pearl earrings. I haven’t even wanted to wear any other earrings in my jewelry collection because the pearls remind me that I am seeking greater treasure – His voice of love over me. This is where I want to live.

    So, I wonder what subtle messages God has been sending your way to woo you, thrill you, and fill your heart with joy. There is no doubt that He is speaking, only sometimes His messages are hidden so that we will seek further. For “it is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” (Proverbs 25:2) My friends, won’t you join me in this adventure of seeking after treasure?

    January 22, 2011   1 Comment

    1,000 Gifts – Week #4 – A year later

    #20. My sweet ladybug, Abigail Ann. Born 3 weeks early, this little lady has been a restorer of life to my soul. Her joyful smiles, peaceful presence, and contagious laughs have changed our lives forever. Our cups runneth over.

    #21. A big Texas Summer thunderstorm. Takes me immediately back to my childhood – watching the storms come in after a day at the pool. The perfect excuse for a mid-day nap.

    #22. September. Knowing that the consecutive hundred-plus degree days of August are behind us for another year brings great hope to my heart.

    #23. Truth. On days when things are uncertain and not the way we want them to be, it is Truth that we stand on. He is the same yesterday, today, and yes, forever. Amen.

    #24. Pasta night. The Buratti family’s (my mom’s Italian side) scrumptious recipe. Garlic, garlic, and more garlic. We like the pasta, sure, but we’re not above eating the sauce as if it were soup.

    #25. Looking to the ancient paths. I have been devouring Edith Schaeffer’s book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking. Though it is not “ancient,” some of the concepts that she presents feel very ancient in our culture. I am inspired, encouraged, and ready to discover the hidden arts of homemaking (yes, homemaking!) that lie within me. Grieved in some ways for the time I have spent “on the sidelines” due to fear, shame, and bad teaching, but GRATEFUL that this truth was revealed to me now. It’s never too late. Let’s go beat some bread!

    September 3, 2010   No Comments

    1,000 Gifts – Week #3

    #13. The second trimester. Energy back, nausea gone, mood swings diminished. Well, mostly. :)

    #14. Surprise gifts. New slippers arrived in the mail from my Beloved Husband. Looking forward to weather cool enough to warrant them.

    #15. The head of the year. Every September a shift takes place and we leave the old behind and enter into the new. I love new beginnings. May this Yom Kippur leave you encouraged as you leave behind offenses and make reconciliation a reality in your life. Praise the Lamb, who takes away the sins.

    #16. Small beginnings. We don’t always know the end of the story, but we do trust that if we plant seeds, surely we will reap. We plant. We plant. And we plant some more. He is faithful to cause the growth.

    #17. Adding value. New paint, trimmed trees, a fresh mum on the porch. Improving our peaceful home one project at a time. It feels good.

    #18. Getting away – just the two of us. What a joy to spend a day enjoying time together, away from the day-to-day routine. Even better that both the little one and the grandparents loved their time together too. Oh, and still better that we got to visit my newly married sister and brother-in-law in their new home.

    #19. Fresh revelation on a familiar scripture. For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE…He loved, so He gave. Still enjoying the beauty of this truth. Father, may Your extravagant love for people be seen through me through extravagant generosity.

    September 28, 2009   No Comments

    1,000 Gifts – Week #2

    I skipped last week, but boy was I busy counting the gifts. I am hooked. Thanks for joining me in this gift of remembering our gifts.

    #6. Positive outcomes. Early Spring will be a busy and exceedingly joyful time as we welcome our second miracle.

    Yes, that is a plus sign! We are overjoyed that Baby #2 will join our wild household at the end of March.

    Yes, that is a plus sign! We are overjoyed that Baby #2 will join our wild household at the end of March.

    #7. Longings fulfilled.

    My sister and best friend, Shelly, is at last joined with her perfect match, Thomas. It is true - those who wait for the Lord shall not be disappointed. Have you ever seen a more beautiful, radiant bride?

    My sister and best friend, Shelly, is at last joined with her perfect match, Thomas. It is true - those who wait for the Lord shall not be disappointed. Have you ever seen a more beautiful, radiant bride?

    #8. Nausea, fatigue, and all the other parts of morning sickness. A healthy baby is growing. Thanks, God, for the Saltines!

    An essential for trimester one. God definitely invented Saltines.

    An essential for trimester one. God definitely invented Saltines.

    #9. Fruit bowls delivered right before bed and the moment I awake by Beloved Husband. Helps with #8. At least it did with Baby #1. This one is different! I eat it anyway.

    Even better than the fruit, is the heart behind it. Thank You, Father, for love and faith lived out through Your beloved Jonathan. Thank You for daily kisses from You through him. My heart overflows.

    Even better than the fruit, is the heart behind it. Thank You, Father, for love and faith lived out through Your beloved Jonathan. Thank You for daily kisses from You through him. My heart overflows.

    #10. Sleeping in until 8 am. Doesn’t happen often, but when it does I savor it more than a massage. It feels down right indulgent!

    #11. Worshipping to the sounds of angels. Follow this link to hear two of God’s beloveds usher a captured audience into His presence at my sister’s wedding.

    #12. Having the opportunity to raise up a future leader and world changer, who, by God’s grace, will point others to truth, justice, and above all, Love Himself.

    A budding Constitutionalist, Preston, reads mama's pocket sized version. Oh that he would be armed with the Word in one hand and the Constitution in the other.

    A budding Constitutionalist, Preston, reads mama's pocket sized version. Oh that he would be armed with the Word in one hand and the Constitution in the other.

    August 25, 2009   1 Comment

    Getting the body ready for baby

    It’s that time, though I can hardly believe it. Seems like yesterday I gave birth to our little joy-ball in the bathtub at the Austin Area Birthing Center. In reality, it was over fifteen months ago! Time flies, and alas, we are ready to get started with Baby #2. I had a near perfect pregnancy the first time, and while most of that was simply grace (thank You, God!), I do believe that my diet and habits played a significant part. Many women interested in having a natural (drug-free) childbirth have since then asked me what I did for my “perfect pregnancy.” So I thought I would give some simple steps to help you so that you can provide the best possible physical environment (I’ll cover the spirit and soul/mind in later posts) for your baby to develop. These are a great refresher for me too as I get this body ready!

    1. Begin eating a diet based on whole, real foods. If you do only one thing, stop eating “foods” with chemicals. Look for these ingredients specifically and eliminate them completely from your diet: high fructose corn syrup, anything “hydrogenated,” Nutrasweet (that means no Diet Coke, ladies), pretty much anything you can’t pronounce. Remember, simple is better, and God made our food with everything we need in it. If He didn’t put it there in the first place, we probably don’t need it. I wholeheartedly recommend Real Food for Mother and Baby: The Fertility Diet, Eating for Two, and Baby’s First Foods. This book was written by a real mom and has a real easy-to-read style. If you buy only one book for your pregnancy, make it this one!

    Note: If you have been eating a diet full of chemicals and processed foods, would you consider doing a de-tox or “cleanse” before you get pregnant? My favorite cleanse has been the Standard Process 21-day cleanse. It is whole foods based, organic, and completely natural. It is also one of the more balanced cleanses, and has had long-term results for me. It will help you find your ideal weight and will break your food addictions.

    2. Water, water, drink more water. Get in the habit now. My beloved husband must have brought me a glass of water every 20 minutes when I was pregnant. Part of what kept my weight down was the fact that I was running to the bathroom every five minutes! This is not necessarily something you will want to do. Do it anyway.

    3. Walk! It’s one of the few exercises you can do the entire pregnancy. We walked almost everyday of my pregnancy, literally. During the first few weeks, I ran into a woman who had delivered both of her boys without drugs. She said the first birth was much easier than the second because she had prepared by walking all the time. I took her words as if they were from God Himself and I made it my goal to walk all the time. Since I was determined to have a drug-free birth, I basically pretended that I was training for a marathon and kept a painfully regimented schedule. It really helps if you have a partner to do this with – like your husband! :)

    4. Stretch! Boy, do I need to be writing this. I have not been diligent about stretching post-partum, but that is about to change. We had a few sets of exercises that we (I) did each night to help me maintain flexibility. I was determined not to swell and knew that I needed to keep good circulation. It worked! Stretching. Key. You could also do prenatal yoga. I kept it simple and just bought a video rather than going to classes. If you are like me and only want to buy one video, I’d go with this one: Prenatal Yoga. Once I had watched it a few times I just did the exercises that I liked the best so that I didn’t have to sit through too much mumbo jumbo. No offense. :)

    5. Take prenatal vitamins. I am passionate about my prenatals. If you are a skeptic and think all brands are the same, trust me, they are not! You want a whole food-based vitamin (that means you are eating actual foods, not synthetic garbage!), preferably organic. Again, I wholeheartedly recommend Perfect Prenatal. Go ahead and buy the big one. You’ll be pregnant a while and you’ll still want to take them when you’re nursing all the time.

    6. Rest, relax, and get in the habit of taking naps. You need lots of sleep. My beloved husband stroked my arm until I fell asleep every night since it was sometimes hard for me to get relaxed. This was great practice for labor since relaxation can help the labor process go much more smoothly. Watching a movie was also like taking a sleeping pill. Whatever works for you, get some sleep.

    This list is by no means exhaustive, but I am sure you already have a stack of books to tell you everything else. The point was to keep it simple. It’s not all about the body either, so stay tuned for future posts about getting your mind and spirit ready for a perfect pregnancy, labor and delivery, and baby!

    August 11, 2009   1 Comment

    1,000 Gifts

    Joining blog-heroine, poet, brave mother of six, Ann Voskamp, at www.aholyexperience.com in giving thanks. Today starts my official list of 1,000. Planning on going way past that. Won’t you join me?

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  • #1. Unexpected rain showers that water the earth. Even just a quick drink refreshes body and soul.

    Soaked after a surprise rain storm in Latvia

    Soaked after a surprise rain storm in Latvia

    #2. Pancakes on the weekends. No sugar, made with honey instead by my super-chef husband.

    A breakfast made from the heart by beloved husband

    A breakfast made from the heart by beloved husband

    #3. Our BWB – Big White Bed.

    Snuggled up in the BWB

    Snuggled up in the BWB

    #4. Awaking every morning to cheerful babbling down the hall. Beloved husband and I linger in the BWB, hoping to get just a few extra minutes of quiet rest.

    Morning smiles

    Morning smiles

    #5. Being married to my best friend. Still amazed that dreams really do come true.

    One of our last photos as a family of two, taken on my due date (and 31st birthday). He came 13 days later.

    One of our last photos as a family of two, taken on my due date (and 31st birthday). He came 13 days later.

    August 10, 2009   7 Comments

    The blue egg hunt

    It all began with my beloved husband’s wedding gift to me – to redecorate his our house however God inspired me. Yes, every woman’s dream. Given the lavishness of this gift, I took it very seriously and went to the Master Creator for inspiration and some type of roadmap. It had been awhile since I had felt creative in that way. One morning while journaling before our wedding, I saw a clear picture in my imagination of how our living room was to look – bright, clean, simple – a ledge next to the window with three small bud vases, white flowers in each vase, and a bowl full of robin blue stone eggs. The blue eggs were the striking part. Where was I to find these eggs? As clear as day, His voice said to my heart, “You’ll find them on your honeymoon.” 

    journal.blue.eggs.bright

    Exhilarated, I ran to my beloved and told him what we had to look forward to on our honeymoon – a blue egg hunt – led by our wild Heavenly Father who happens to take great joy in decorating. My beloved was as thrilled as I was. An adventure to come! The magical wedding day came and went, and our first honeymoon began. Jackson Hole. We took in the bright blue skies, the purple mountains’ splendor, and the sparkling lakes, but there was not a bright blue stone egg in sight. 5 days later, we left Jackson Hole without blue eggs, and the hope that honeymoon #2 would bring the promised gift. 

    Along came honeymoon #2 – two weeks later – a 14-day Baltic Sea cruise with my beloved husband’s family – parents, brothers, and sister-in-law. My mother-in-law wanted to visit the place of her roots – Lithuania – and wanted her sons to experience it with her. Though we spent most of the time in our luxury room (it had a balcony!) – wink, wink – we managed to make it off the ship to visit the ports of call (barely). We scoured Stockholm, Riga, Helsinki, and St. Petersburg to no avail. That we did not find the blue eggs in St. Petersburg was somewhat of a miracle since they are ubiquitous, and practically have a status as a national symbol! Nope, not there. The hunt continued…

    Finally we arrive in Lithuania – the place of my mother-in-law’s roots. We looked, and looked, and looked, just knowing our eggs were somewhere in that quaint city. Almost ready to give up, we stumbled upon what was the largest, liveliest arts-and-crafts festival I have ever seen. Tens of thousands of Scandinavians descended on Klaipeda that weekend for the festival. Thinking the same thoughts, beloved husband and I looked at each other and said, “They’re there, let’s go!”. Off we went -booth by booth – looking, leaving, looking again. I said to him, “Oh, these look like what I saw in my vision, but they were…” – I paused, looked again, there it was – “…blue. This is it! This is what I saw!” They were there. What I had prayerfully imagined was made manifest right before my eyes. We screamed, jumped up and down, embraced, and danced, right there outside of that tiny booth. We bought all she had – 3 blue stone eggs. There must be more. Let’s keep looking! We went to every booth in that massive festival that day, two giddy, overflowing-with-joy children of God, searching for treasures with our Heavenly Father. As He would have it, He brought us two other brilliant blue stone eggs, making a grand total of five. We skipped back to ship, brimming with joy over this promise fulfilled. And still…

    blue eggs in new home


    Five. Why not seven? He brought five. The number of grace and favor.  There may be many reasons, but the one I like the best is that those five eggs remind me that it is all His grace. His grace put the vision of those eggs in my imagination, His grace gave me the faith to believe that He “could bring something out of nothing,” His grace took us on an amazing trip where we could search for those eggs, His grace ordered our steps that led us to those exact booths to find those exact blue eggs, His grace gave us the money to pay for those blue eggs, and His grace brought them safely to our beautiful home where they sit as the centerpiece in our living room where life happens daily. And favor. During that time, I really believed that God favored me enough to tell me exactly how to decorate my house, and then provide all the details. Disappointments, discouragement, and busyness seem to have diminished that childlike faith during these past several months. Was that just a season that ended? Or, is He still willing? Oh, I hear Him say that He “is more than willing.” Does He really speak that way? Oh yes, and so much more. He is wild, extravagant, and lavish. He does more than we can ask for or imagine. More than. These blue eggs are just the beginning. If only I will seek. If only I will ask. If only I will believe.

    Will you?

    August 9, 2009   No Comments

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