Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Living in the Grace of God

I just finished reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, an eye-opener of a book. The gist of the book is living in the grace of God because we are objects of God's unfailing love. Not a light subject, but a rather simple one. The final chapter, "A Touch of Folly" might be the one that hit me the hardest.

I am still processing all the questions that Manning poses. They are questions that we, as Christ-followers, cannot ignore. Questions that we need to consider. Questions that we need to come face-to-face with. I want to share them with you. Do with them what you wish. My prayer is that you would take time to think, write, pray, seek answers to each question.

We live in a world that is pining for us. We live in a world that wants to pull us away from God. We live in a world where the focus is solely on "me" and what "I" can get. We live in a world where there is a battle for souls. The time is now to think about and respond to God and the call He has put on each of us...."Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Do you live each day in the blessed assurance that you have been saved by the unique grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?

After falling flat on your face, are you still firmly convinced that the fundamental structure of reality is not works but grace?

Are you moody and melancholy because you are still striving for the perfection that comes from your own efforts and not from faith in Jesus Christ?

Are you shocked and horrified when you fail?

Are you really aware that you don't have to change, grow, or be good to be loved?

Are you as certain of the triumph of good over evil as the fermentation of dough by yeast?

Though on a given day you may be more depressed than anything else, is the general orientation of you life toward peace and joy?

Are you diminished by other people's perception of you or your own definition of yourself?

Do you possess that touch of folly to transcend doubt, fear, and self-hatred and accept that you are accepted?

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts. More than that, I would love to know that these questions stirred you up. I would love to know that they made you dig deep into God's word, that you sought HIM out in a new way, that you found peace in the unfailing love of Abba.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Baby Changes Everything...

I have a new favorite Christmas tune.

Faith Hill's A Baby Changes Everything

Teenage girl, much too young

Unprepared for what's to come

A baby changes everything

Not a ring

On her hand

All her dreams and all her plans

A baby changes everything

A baby changes everything

The man she loves, she's never touched

How will she keep his trust

A baby changes everything

A baby changes everything

And she cries, ohh, she cries

She has to leave, go far away

Heaven knows she can't stay

A baby changes everything

She can feel, it's coming soon

There's no place, there's no room

A baby changes everything

A baby changes everything

And she cries, ohh, she cries

The shepherds all gather 'round

Up above the star shines down

A baby changes everythiing

Choir of angels sing

Glory to the new born King

A baby changes everything

A baby changes everything



My whole life has turned around

I was lost but now I'm found

A baby changes everything

A baby changes everything

I hope that today you got what you were wanting under the tree. But more than that I hope that you are surrounded with people that you love, remembering and standing in awe once again of THE baby that changed everything. Allow Him to be the center of your day. Praise God for changing the world with a tiny precious baby. What an amazing Father!

Merry Christmas! We love you!
Holy God,
Thank you for who you are and thank you for sending Baby Jesus! I am awestruck at your amazing and flawless plan. Thank you for using Mary to show us that sometimes faith is WAY outside the box, dangerous, scary and incredibly rewarding. Her faithfullness is an indescribable example. Help me today to remember what this day is really all about. Oh yeah, and hey Jesus, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I love you! Ahmen

Thursday, December 24, 2009

He Came

I want to remind you all this Christmas season that Jesus came. It is very real. He came to this earth as a child, grew to be a man, and died on a cross so that each of us can experience heaven. Below is an excerpt from the book of Luke...the account of the birth of Jesus. May you be blessed this Christmas season. May you praise Jesus for the blessings you have. May you be surrounded by those who love you and care for you deeply. And may you remember the TRUE reason that we celebrate.

The Birth of Jesus

1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Greatest Story Ever Told!

Christmas. It's coming, fast.
I don't feel like it though.

*There is no snow - which I am actually happy about.

*I don't have a tree up at home - not there enough to spend the time putting it up/taking it down.

*I haven't bought any presents and I only have one to get - Dave Ramsey tells me I am not allowed. Don't know who Dave is? He controls my financial life...well actually he is teaching me how to control my own financial life. Check him out

*I didn't send out any Christmas cards - Dave's fault again.

*I haven't seen any promotions for A Christmas Story on TV yet. This is my all time favorite Christmas movie and also an incredible memory as my family and I spend hours upon hours watching this movie on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day...we have been known to schedule various events on these days based on what parts of the movie we have seen the most! I probably haven't seen the commercials because since we don't have cable anymore I get two NBC channels and a CBS...

As I thought about all of these things,
I thought,
yeah, ok, Monica, so what?

Maybe you have also let your heart forget that it's not about decorations, or presents, or movies (although I am pretty sure that Jesus watches A Christmas Story all day, as part of his Birthday Party of course), or cards, or anything other earthly thing you could imagine. It's about

We are amidst the season where we get to celebrate because God sent His Son as a tiny infant, to save the world. I am so thankful for this reminder today.
Praise God for who He is and that He sent His Son!
Thanks for the awakening in my heart today. I am so excited to Celebrate the love story that you wrote for all of us thousands of years ago. Jesus, the Birthday Countdown is on! Help me keep focused on what this season really means for me! Ahmen

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I told you last week that I would give you more on what's going on with me. Nothing major, first of all. No catastrophes or major life changes. I've just been going through an interesting season. And I think I can label it Trust.

If you would have asked me a year ago. I would have told you that I'm a very trusting person. I would have told you that I know who I can trust and that I am good at trusting. I would have probably told you that 6 months ago. But ... I think I was wrong. I think I am only trully beginning to learn what trust means and how to give that trust.

So I'm basically still a newlywed (yes, you can roll your eyes, or say aawww here). What that means for me, after being single for 30 years is that I'm used to doing things my way, and making my own decisions. I consulted others, yes. I spent time praying about my choices, yes, but when all was said and done the decisions were mine. Now? Now I'm half of a whole. That means that we make decisions together and that I have to trust that we will come to the best conclusions together. I also believe that my husband is the head of our house and that my job is to support him. (no, I'm not belittling my position or telling you that everything he says goes, but I do believe that's what God's plan is for marriage). Sometimes our husbands need us to trust them. I believe they need us to let them know that we believe in them, that they are doing the best they can for our family and that we fully support them.

That's the tricky part for me. Maybe it's the giving of myself. Maybe it's the feeling of losing control but ultimately it's trust. Do I trust my husband enough that he will take care of us? Do I trust that he has our best interests in mind?

As I've been considering this lately, I've realized that it's not trusting in me, or my husband, but it comes down to trusting in God. Do I trust that God has a plan for me/us? When something comes up that shakes (even just a little) my comfortable life, do I trust that He has a plan that will see me through? A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend about this and she basically laid it out for me. She told me that I'm not trusting in the one who has given all for me. Wow, that's an eye opener! I don't know about you but I don't like to be told things like.. well, like that. I want to think that I'm always doing things that are pleasing to my Father. I want to think that I do trust him and that whenever something happens I'll go to him and walk in faith.

Here's what I'm learning. I would do that if it was a major thing. If it was a point where I had no where to turn but to Him. But when it comes to day to day life, I like to keep that in my own hands. that's where I'm sorely lacking. If you'd like to know how that's going for me- the keeping life in my own hands (but pretending that I'm giving it to God)... not so well. I'm falling hard. It's not fun. But I'm learning!

"trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight" Prov 3:5-6

That's pretty basic and easy right? I've been working on even just breathing that silent prayer.. God I trust in you. I know He's hearing my prayers and I know in my head that He will walk me through everything, so now I'm working on moving it to my heart.

My friends. I am thankful for you. I'm going to take the Christmas holidays off as well, but I'll ask that you pray for me. Pray that I'll continue to learn what it means to trust in the Lord with all of my heart.... And I'll be praying for you and thanking God for all of you!

Merry Christmas siestas. :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Wish You a Merry Christmas......and a Happy New Year!

I have decided to take a few weeks off of blogging during the holidays but I will be back in January! My wish for you is for a relaxing, memory-filled time with family and friends, and that you make time to reflect on the awesome gift that God has given to us.... Jesus!!

One of my favorite Christmas songs is "O Holy Night". I leave you with its words (the second and third verses I did not know, but love them!)... how it reminds me of just what Jesus came do for us and how much we need him! Merry Christmas!!!

O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear savior's birth. Long live the world in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees! Hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born! O night, o night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming, with glowing hearts by his cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, Here come the wise men of Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger, in all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger. Behold your king! Before Him lowly bend! Behold your king, behold your king.

Truly he taught us to love one another, his law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother, and in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His Holy Name.

Christ is the Lord, Praise His name Forever!
His power and glory evermore proclaim, His power and glory evermore proclaim!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Waking Up

"...there is only one thing God asks of us - that we be men and women of prayer, people who live close to God, people for whom God is everything and for whom God is enough."
Brennan Manning, "The Ragamuffin Gospel"

Have you ever noticed that the more you read about Christ, immerse yourself in daily prayer, and study the Word of God that you catch yourself waking up? This has happened to me several times throughout my 12 year walk with the Lord. Each time it is like I am waking up with an even clearer picture of the ugliness and evil that swarms this world.

I have found myself making time for the Lord every day, INTENTIONALLY making time. Sure this seems like something that one does as a believer and follower of Jesus, but it takes work. Some of my close friends have asked, "why is it so easy all of the sudden?" My answer is that it is necessary.

As the day of rejoicing the coming of Jesus as a man to this earth approaches, I feel the enemy angering and attacking more ferociously than ever before. AND for the first time in my life I am connecting with God daily because I feel it completely, 100% necessary for protection. I find myself needing to be studying, learning, on my face in prayer, and connecting with other believers in order to build myself up in the Lord.

I want to close with a prayer. Paul writes this prayer for Ephesians in Chapter 3. It is my prayer for believers everywhere as we are facing a spiritual battle every day that we walk on this earth. May it strengthen you and remind you that you are not alone in your walk.

14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Friday, December 11, 2009


I spent a good part of today outside for WSBT's 22 Ways to LIVE UNITED event. It was freezing! So cold, a really good time but did I mention yet that it was cold. I crawled under the covers as soon as I got home and I am still curled up under the blankets trying to get completely warm.

As I drove to South Bend this morning I was thinking about the people that are served by United Way in our community. There are many people this year who aren't able to make ends meet and something can't get paid, sometimes that's the heat bill and sometimes it's buying groceries, and the list goes on. I don't know about you but even with my very strict Dave Ramsey dictated budget, I have EVERYTHING I could possibly need. Sure, like many of us, I want different things but there is really nothing that I need. As I stood outside today I just kept counting down to when I would be able to come home and get all toasty warm.

Some people don't have that release.
Can you imagine?
I can't believe that some people have to live outside during this type of weather. I am praying tonight and thanking God for choosing to bless me with everything I need. And I am praying for those who aren't as fortunate, that they can still feel the presence of God.
You know my heart. I thank you and praise you for who you are. And for who I am in you. Bless those in need this day, and especially this Holiday season. Amen

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A challenge

This post goes along with Kristi's. How do we keep the real meaning of Christmas alive? Have you thought about it?

I was talking with a girlfriend yesterday about this and she shared a wonderful idea. She went to a cookie exchange with her sister in law. We all know the idea of a cookie exchange... go there with some of your own and leave with lots of different kinds. This was the same with a little twist. Instead of each of the ladies bringing home a ton of cookies, they each were able to fill two tins and also a plate. The idea of the tins was that they were to give them to someone who needed some holiday cheer, but more specifically needed to know the reason we celebrate Christmas was because God loved enough enough to send His Son. It was the beginning of everything. So in addition to a pretty tin of cookies, they included a note that specifically shared this amazing truth. It was beautifully written and so very loving and clear in explanation.

I love that idea. So much that I tried to think of how we could all meet and do it! Unfortunately I think my Christmas plans are about maxed out. So instead I'm challenging YOU! Can you be purposeful about sharing the reason we celebrate Christmas? I make a lot of Christmas goodies for family and friends but I often only share them with those I just mentioned. When I heard about this idea, two or three families came to mind. I am going to make just a little extra to share with them this year but that's not where I'm going to stop. I am also going to write them a little note just like my friend's. Giving cookies is wonderful, giving hope and joy is even better.

Have you already done this? Can you think of a way to share God's blessing? If you do, please share with us. We can all encourage each other!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Not Becoming Clark Griswold

I have to admit that "Christmas Vacation" is one of my favorite movies this time of year, despite its sometimes, can I say inappropriate? sense of humor. My husband goes around quoting cousin Eddie, "Nice Clark, Reeeallll Nice...." I love it because all Clark wants is a perfect Christmas for his family. He tries so hard (can you say a gazillion lights on the house!) and nothing seems to go his way. Okay, if you haven't seen the movie, none of this is funny to you... but if you have, you know what I mean!

Anyway, it is so hard in this world of crazy, sensational Christmas idealogy to stay focused on the true reason of this holiday. Like Clark, we want Christmas to be an unforgettable time for those we love. We get sucked into buying more and more gifts as a way of making it the best Christmas ever! As a parent it is a challenge to raise children who don't fixate on Santa and their mile-long list of toys they want from him. Our family follows tradition and we do have Santa visit our house, but we do our best to keep redirecting our kids to the birth of Christ as the reason for our celebration. I am trying my best not to overschedule this season with too many activities so we can enjoy time together at home, making cookies and delivering them to neighbors, playing games, listening to music. We are doing an advent calendar devotion every day (thanks Amy!) and the kids absolutely love it. It is taking the time to sit down and cherish those moments with the kids I don't want to become like Clark, so busy trying to make everyone happy that I forget to stop, take time and just enjoy being together. Like Clark when he gets locked in the attic, dresses up in old clothes and watches old home videos, I want to remember the time I spent with my loved ones celebrating the birth of Christ, not the gifts I gave them or they gave me.

How do you stay grounded during the Christmas season? Do you have any family traditions? I would love to hear about them!

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in a manger. when they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told to them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all the things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:16-20

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Lights

I love this time of year! I love that Jesus is mentioned every time someone says CHRISTmas! I love the time with my family and friends who come home for the holidays. I love the smells of cookies, pine, and cold.

One of my favorite things are the lights that people put up! I will drive around neighborhoods just to look at Christmas lights on people's houses. (If you want to see some good ones, go to Columbia City....just east of town close to the softball park.) I don't have an explanation for why, but seeing those lights just gives me warm fuzzies.

For my family, this is the season that we spend TONS of time together. We hang out to watch football. We get together for Christmas. We try to find that "perfect gift" for one another. We just enjoy our time together.

I don't really have anything profound or deep spiritually, I just wanted to share some of my favorite things about the holiday season. I will leave you some hilarious Christmas lights pictures. The first one was sent to me by a friend. The second is my nephew. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


To most of us, this word means "something higher", to others of us it means something completely different. To me this word brings back many fond memories because of UPWARD basketball and cheerleading. I was the director of this sports oriented, Christ-centered ministry at my church for a few years. It was a beast to plan, execute and man with volunteers but so worth it!

For those of you who don't know, UPWARD is a athletic program developed for church's to use as an outreach to their community. They have multiple different sports available but being from Indiana...of course we do basketball! We have done this for probably 6 or 7 years, and if you can't tell by now...I LOVE IT!

This year I am looking forward to just coaching! I say :just: because it will be my only responsibility...a big one, but the only one I will have to this season. 9 little kindergarten and 1st grade super stars are going to make up a great little team, The Boilers! :)

I am so excited to start the season; our first practice is a week from tonight. Mike, my dad and Mike, my boyfriend are going to coach with me and I am SO pumped to get started. I am looking forward to meeting my Jordan Juniors, building relationships with their parents and family, reading and learning the Word with them, praying with and for them, inviting them to church, sharing devotions with them, oh yeah, and teaching them about basketball.

Now, if you know me at all, you might find that last bit a little funny. While I have watched a lot of basketball in my life, I am no good at it. (As long as you exclude the time that my much more athletic and basketball talented siblings and I played around the world in the driveway, AND I WON! IT WAS AWESOME! *side note, it was like 5 years ago) I am hoping that since I might actually be taller than a 5,6 or 7 year old and hopefully have a little more skill, maybe I will fool them into thinking I was in the WNBA!

One thing I know I won't be kidding about?
At the end of the season I promise that every kid on my team will understand what it feels like to be unconditionally loved with the love of Christ. I promise that they will have been individually, purposefully, and lovingly asked about considering to let God be the King of their Heart.
Whether they score every time down the court OR they can't hit the broad side of a barn.
I will love them.
Whether they can dribble with both hands OR they can't dribble to save their precious little life.
I will love them.
Whether they guard their opponent well on defense OR offense (I saw it once, cutest thing ever).
I will love them.
I am sure I will have some Upward stories to share with you over the next few months. Will you join me right now in praying for this league. What an incredible opportunity the volunteers in this program to show Christ.
We thank you for ministries like Upward. They challenge us to reach others. I know God that you are just as, if not more, excited about this upcoming season of Upward. After all you already know the outcome. God today we just pray that you would be with all the volunteers in this league. That they would be in a close relationship with you and in tune to your voice; that they are open to the opportunities given to them to reach people for you. God we thank you for the athletes and their families. Some coming from home churches, relationships with you: may they be blessed. Some coming from really tough places, where it seems to them that you are no where to be found. I know you are there with them God. May they too be blessed. I am amazed that you have picked me to help them see you. Move me out of the way, forgive my sins, give me your grace, mercy and love. Let me be your hands, feet, words and heart. I want to show others the redemption that they can find in you. Pour your perfect love into my imperfect heart. All the glory be unto you, my God. Bless us, Love us, Reveal yourself to us. Amen

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

For You

I'm working on incorporating more verses into my prayer/quiet time.. I read this one today and wanted to share it with you... I'll share more next week about this...

"You are my witnesses," declares, the LORD
and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
I, even I, am the LORD
and apart from me there is no savior
I have revealed and saved and proclaimed-
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "that I am God."
Isaiah 43:10-12