Monday, December 31, 2012

I Resolve...








By nature, I am a planner.
I am not usually one to venture out into the unknown.
I do not take risks.
I make calculated decisions.
I am overly cautious.

But if I have learned anything over the last two years... it is that my life rarely goes as planned.

It's unpredictable.

So this year... I am throwing all of my "plans" out the window. 

I want to wake up each morning with the expectation that God is going to do something unforeseen... something that will leave me breathless... and wholly awestruck with who He is. 

There is a certain wildness about God- something that cannot be tamed- and I long to know this side of my Savior. He is drawing me out of my place of comfort and into the unknown. He is beckoning me to leave behind a life that is safe, and exchange it for something unfamiliar and mysterious. Where this adventure will take me, I do not know. But I trust the One leading the way.


What are you resolving to do in this New Year?

Friday, December 28, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things


Wow. It seems like AGES since I have posted anything on the blog! 
Okay- it has been ages. But I've had a good excuse :)
I've been busy prepping the new blog and I cannot WAIT for you to see it when I'm finally finished!

In the meantime, I thought I would appease you by posting a few of my favorites from 
our recent family photo shoot. 

 The Cousins.
From left to right: Seth, Sadie, Hayden, Rylan and Skylar


Greg was attempting to make the kids laugh while Kate was taking the pictures.
Apparently Seth did not find it funny :)

 Grandma and Grandpa with all of their grand-kids.

 Tender moments with the babies.

 Rylan's face- priceless.

 Grandpa with his boys!

 Our little family.

 Me and my man.

 Aren't we cute?!

Our photogenic child.

  

They really do love each other.

 My favorite photo of Rylan. Ever.

Be still my heart.



Which one is your favorite?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!






Today begins my final year as a twenty-something! Wow... time sure flies when you are having fun! 
I'm going to compile a list of 30 things that I would like to do this year before I turn the big 3-0, but I need your help because I'm honestly not that creative. hahaha!

So... what 30 things would you do before turning 30?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

WARNING: Flu Season in Progress



Seems about right....


With all of the coughing I have done this week, I should have a six pack by now.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

With Love


Merry Christmas!


{Photos courtesy of Kate Reynolds Photography}


With love,

Greg, Megan, Hayden, and Rylan Card

Monday, December 17, 2012

As the Nation Weeps: A Day of Silence for Newton, Connecticut


Out of respect for Newtown, Connecticut, I am participating in a day of silence.
Please, take a moment if you will, and pray for the families who will be laying their loved ones to rest this week.

May the Wonderful Counselor draw near and give them peace.




Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Place My Trust in the Rock Eternal


Tragedy...
The loss of innocence...
Grief-stricken...
A nation in mourning...
Bereft of hope...

Somehow- these words do not seem to bear the full weight of the emotions that arise from the depth of my soul, when I dwell on the events that took place in Connecticut and in China. Though I am not directly connected to either set of circumstances, my heart is in mourning for those families who have lost their loved ones. My soul is crying out in anguish, "How long, O Lord, until you avenge the innocent blood that has been shed? How long must we wait for Your return- to be liberated from this depravity?"  And in my anguished state, though it is nothing, I am sure, to those who have been torn from those they love; I have found refuge and solace in God's word. It is my hope, that you too, will be comforted.





I find great comfort in that I can press into, and lean on, the Lord's strength- especially when it seems that the world around me is spinning into utter chaos. I am grateful that I do not have to understand the events and circumstance surrounding me... that I need not rely on my own insight, as it is limited at best.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8

Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD, the LORD is the Rock eternal.
Isaiah 26:4

Praise God, that we can trust in, and be confident in, the Lord our God, for He is the Rock eternal. His ways are trustworthy; unshakable; unchangeable; and most especially- they are good. I know that in light of the events that have taken place, one could easily question God's goodness. 

But I for one, am choosing to believe that God is Who He says He is- and He is good.

Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, 
"therefore I hope in Him!"
Lamentations 3:22-24

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Deuteronomy 31:8

"God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."
Revelation 21:4-5 NKJV

May the Light of His Presence envelope you during these dark days. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Kiki La' Rue


If you follow me via Instagram or Twitter, you've already heard me talk about my love for

Their stuff is darling. It's fashionable. And best of all- it's affordable

I made my first Kiki La' Rue purchase about a month ago and it was love at first sight!
 I purchased the Lenore scarf in mustard yellow (I'm wearing it in my profile picture) and the dark grey Piko top (also worn in my profile picture, but less noticeable). 
Both are top sellers, and I can see why- they are adorable!

My next purchase was the Kenzie dress, which I am modeling in the pictures below.
{Please excuse my poor modeling skills. I've been running on only a few hours of sleep each night, taking care of a sick kiddo}
Becka just added some more items last night that I am dying to get my hands on! 
But... I was reminded that I have a birthday coming up next week, as well as Christmas. 
So I must be patient. Haha!






So, what do you think? 
What boutiques are you currently crushing on right now?!?


*This is NOT a sponsored post. I was not asked to write a review for Kiki La' Rue. I just really love their stuff and wanted to give Becka the shout out she deserves!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pain Too Deep For Words



I apologize for my extended absence from the blog as of late.
My first-born has the flu, so naturally, taking care of him is my first priority.
***

As I write this, the news coming out of Newtown, Connecticut is alarming.
I cannot seem to catch my breath... my heart is aching so badly for this community.
As a parent of a Kindergartner, I have no words to describe the pain that I am feeling for those parents who have just lost their babies. I so desperately want to wrap my arms around them and mourn with them.

This should not happen.
School is supposed to be a safe environment for our children.
These young ones should not be fearful of going to school.
They should not walk their halls with the knowledge that this too, could happen to them. 

We live in a fallen and corrupt world.
Though I cannot wrap my head around this- though I cannot fathom what would drive a young man to do such a thing- I know that my God is Sovereign... even over tragedies such as these. So I will continue to groan along with all of creation for Jesus to return and liberate us from this depravity. 

Please join me in praying for all who are involved. 
And if you are a parent... hold your little ones a little tighter tonight.

"... for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for the saints with groanings too deep for words."
Romans 8:26 (emphasis mine)


Monday, December 10, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Preparing for 2013



Just a heads up- I will be taking the remainder of the week off from writing in order to pray and seek God's direction for the blog in 2013.

Fingers crossed, I will have the new blog/blog domain up and running by January, but I will definitely let all of you know if it looks like that may change. Designing and transferring content over to a new space without the assistance of an expert is challenging, so I will keep you all posted in regards to its progress.

God has been stirring some things up in my heart and I want to be sure that I am in the center of God's will regarding the best use of my little corner of the blog-sphere. If you are a prayer warrior, would you mind praying for me during this transition? God has put some BIG dreams on my heart and the blog is a crucial component. I want more than anything to start off the new year trekking in the right direction. Know what I mean? 

Thank you in advance! I truly appreciate you! 

I tell everyone all of the time that I really do have the best readers on the face of this earth.
Y'all have greatly blessed me. More than you may ever know.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Card Family Photo Shoot: Sneak Peek!


If you are in the Texarkana, Texas area, I HIGHLY recommend Kate Reynolds Photography!
Here is a sneak peek of our recent photo shoot.



Aren't my Mother-n-law and two nieces adorable?!
And don't get me started on the picture of all the cousins together. Precious!
Swoon...


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Symptoms of those Wonderstruck by God


Margaret recently posted a great warning on her site that those who have read Wonderstruck 
display the following characteristics



And from what I've seen, they’re all true! 
How do you plan to #livewonderstruck? 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Homemade Brown Sugar Scrub


I had originally planned to post this recipe after Christmas (as I intend to give these as gifts this year). However, after mentioning it on Twitter, I had several people request a blog post because they too would like to use it as gifts. So, I caved and posted it early. Ask and you shall receive.

For the guys who read my blog: If you are on a tight budget this year, but still desire that jaw dropping, high-pitched squeal of delight from your wife/girlfriend/Mom/Grandmother... this is for you! It's easy, budget friendly, and will only take a few minutes of your time. And if you really want to impress her... tell her that you made it yourself-just for her. Guaranteed hit, my friend. Trust.Me.

And lastly, if you are a close friend or family member, and you want to act be surprised when you open your present, I would stop reading. Don't say I didn't warn you! Haha! 


Homemade Brown Sugar Scrub




Ingredients:

Glass jar
(I re-purposed a small pickle jar because I'm cheap like that. But you could use a mason jar or small decorative glass jar found at Michael's, Hobby Lobby or Jo Ann's for around $1 a piece.)
3 cups of brown sugar
1 cup of organic coconut oil
(I use coconut oil on a daily basis for it's varied health benefits and recommend the brand Spectrum. If you do not have any coconut oil on hand, you can substitute it with extra virgin olive oil.)
2-3 Tbsp of local organic honey
1 tsp of vanilla extract (you may also substitute the vanilla extract with a few drops of your favorite essential oil)

Tip- Feel free to change up the measurements in order to achieve your desired consistency and texture. Personally, I add an additional 1/2 cup of coconut oil to mine, but this is a great starting point-especially if it is your first time to make it.

Directions:

Mix together coconut oil, honey, and vanilla extract. Blend well. Slowly add in the brown sugar to the mixture until you achieve your desired consistency. Add contents to glass jar. Enjoy!

You can use this brown sugar scrub daily. It makes your skin feel luxurious and smells heavenly!

Note: The oil in this scrub will cause your bath/shower to become slippery. Use caution when getting out. We don't want any injuries! Also, if you choose to use the coconut oil, it will cause your skin to feel oily when you first get out of the bath/shower. Simply pat down your body to dry off and massage the oil into your skin (like you would do with lotion). The coconut oil leaves your skin feeling as soft as a newborn! And if you are a fibromyalgia sufferer like I am, the coconut oil helps sooth my pain as well.

Easy-peasy. Enjoy, my friends! 
Are you making homemade gifts this year? If so, what are you making?!


Are you Wonderstruck by God?





As you've heard, my dear friend, Margaret Feinberg, has a new book and 7-session Bible study entitled Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God  that releases Christmas day. I have been profoundly impacted my Margaret's writing and her desire to encounter God- to literally savor, caress, even capture Him so to speak- in all of His glory. Margaret's work is refreshing and will challenge you to reshape your image of God based on Biblical principles.


Wonderstruck will help you:

·         Recognize the presence of God in the midst of your routine
·         Unearth extraordinary moments on ordinary days
·         Develop a renewed passion for God
·         Identify what’s holding you back in prayer
·         Discover joy in knowing you’re wildly loved

If you will permit me, I'd like to share a personal story of how I have been recently wonderstruck by God.

Essential background information crucial to our story:

The fuel indicator sensor on our Trailblazer has been faulty for months. Whenever we fill the car with gasoline-no matter how much we put into the tank- the fuel indicator inevitably falls to empty as soon as we pull away from the gas station. The rate at which the indicator moves from its correct standing on the gas gauge to empty varies. Though Greg has been clever enough to come up with a system to read the gas gauge  so that we do not wind up stranded on the side of the road- truthfully, the sensor needs to be replaced.

The natural follow up question would be, "Well, then why don't you just get it replaced?"

It's $400.

Now, $400 may not seem like much to some of you, but to Greg and I- in our current financial standing- it might as well be $4,000. We simply do not have the additional funds in our bank account to cover the cost of repairing the sensor. So while it is not an ideal scenario, we have learned to make do.

Fast-forward to the present:

I have recently been re-reading Believing God by Beth Moore alongside of my advanced copy of Wonderstruck: Awake to the Nearness of God by Margaret Feinberg. So it seems that God has had an immense desire to orchestrate circumstances in my life that will not only strengthen my faith, but will allow me to truly stand in awe of Who He is. Hence- the faulty fuel indicator sensor, among many other things.

Last Tuesday, as I was on my way home from dropping the kids off at school, I stopped by the gas station nearest our house to put $30 worth of gasoline in the car. It was all we had left in our bank account without causing it to overdraw and I praised God that payday was but a few days away. We only own one vehicle at this time, so $30 worth of gasoline will only last us for two-maybe three-days (if we are extra conservative with our driving).

A worrier by nature, I was tempted to break down in tears right there at the gas station, overwhelmed with the knowledge that there was no way we were going to be able to stretch this supply of gasoline out over the course of the week, judging by all of the demands currently placed on our schedule. But I firmly believe that God is Who He says He is and His word tells me that He is my Provider; so I earnestly prayed that He would multiply the supply of gasoline in our gas tank to sustain us until payday.

 He did. And then some.

What should have only lasted us two or three days turned into six! This seemingly small, miraculous act of God, has awaken my soul in ways that I cannot seem to adequately articulate. I have searched for days to find the proper word or phrase that could describe to you the transformation my faith has undergone in such as short amount of time. This has shaken me to the very core of my being.

I am unashamedly, wildly, irrevocably wonderstruck by God.


I realize that this post is growing dangerously long, so I will leave you with this final question to ponder- where have you seen the wonder of God in your life? 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

With an Open Heart Giveaway Winner


And the winner is....





Congratulations, Julie T!! An email requesting your mailing information will be sent to you shortly, so please be on the look out for it. Thank you to all who participated in the giveaway! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Xenon Helicopter Giveaway Winner is....



And the winner is....




Congratulations, Kendra K! An email requesting your mailing address was sent to you this morning, so be on the lookout for it. Thank you to all who participated!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Unfailing Love...






Allow the weight of God's unfailing love for you permeate into every crevice of your heart.
Meditate on His words. 
Let the richness of this truth wash over you as a tidal wave washes over the shore.


For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-Romans 8:38-39 (emphasis mine)

 Nothing in heaven, on earth, or under the earth can keep you from God's reach.
Nothing.
No sin-past-present-or future, is too great that it cannot be covered by the redemptive blood of Christ.

You are dearly loved.

And He sees you- right where you are.

You have not escaped His notice.

He sees your hurt... and your pain.
He sees the tears that you have cried in secret.
He knows of your bitter disappointments.
He is aware that your heart is broken and He longs to mend it.

It is easy, in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, to believe that God has forgotten you.
Dear one, I am here to attest to His goodness- to His unfailing love.
He desperately desires to be your Comforter; your Healer; your Provider; your Refuge and Strength; your Prince of Peace. But He is also gracious enough to give you a choice. 

It is your choice whether or not to surrender your doubt, your fear, and your pain over to Him. 

I can testify that laying my burdens down at the feet of Jesus, is difficult at times- excruciating even; but it is worth it. My prayer for you today, is that you will experience the freedom that comes with a life that is fully surrendered to Him. 



Will you allow yourself to be overwhelmed by God's unfailing love for you?
How can I be praying specifically for you, today?

Feel free to leave a comment below, or send me an email at megan.card@gmail.com
I would love to connect with you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Help One Now: Legacy Project



You all are aware of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but allow me to introduce you to a day that I can fully put my stamp of approval on: Giving Tuesday.

Bill Gates, along with 1,000 charities, community organizations and business, are urging people to give back. It is their heartfelt desire to that this too, will become part of the "rhythm of the holiday season."

And what better way could I introduce you to the Legacy Project?!


In a nutshell, y'all, the poverty in Haiti is among the worst in the world. The 2010 earthquake ravished this poor country and left thousands of children orphaned, malnourished, and with a grim future at best. But there is a glimmer of hope found in Petionville, where Pastor Gaetan has taken in 30 orphans and 120 children from their local community,and provided them with an immeasurable gift: education. 

haitiblog_mollie_233

Countries such as Haiti cannot expect to rise above their poverty stricken state when the vast majority of their children never attend school.

Haiti Blogger Trip-72.jpg

But this does not have to be their fate.

haitiblog_mollie_270

On this Giving Tuesday, will you choose to give these children a hope and a future by means of education?

It doesn't take much.

$25 will provide a (virtual) brick that will transform into a school- that will provide children with an education- which will transform their entire future- which will therefore transform an entire country.

$25- that's 4 Venti White Chocolate Mochas from Starbucks that you could go without in order to help fund this project. It's the cost of a night out for a family of 4. It's forgoing that cute blouse that you really wanted to purchase for your upcoming Christmas party. It's that the cost of that new drill you have had your eyes on for months.

Will you be a part of something bigger this holiday season? Will you give back?

Click on the "Back this Project" to support Pastor Gaetan and the Help One Now: Legacy Project



Monday, November 26, 2012

Wonderstruck: Interview with Margaret Feinberg







My friend, Margaret Feinberg, has a new book and 7-session DVD Bible study called Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God  (releasing Christmas Day)—a personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life.




As you may or may not know, I've been a fan of Margaret Feinberg and her books for the last few years. I recently received the insider’s scoop about Margaret’s new book. Here are some highlights from the interview:

Where did the inspiration for the Wonderstruck book and Bible study come from?

Have you ever had one of those seasons where everything goes wrong, and when you think it can’t get worse, it somehow finds a way? Most people who have worked in ministry have experienced those seasons—some may be in one right now.

My husband, Leif, and I had just gone through one of the roughest years of our lives. In the aftermath, as we processed the pain and loss, I had an unexplainable desire in my heart. I began praying for the wonder of God. In essence, I said, “God reveal yourself, your whole self to me. I want to know you as Wonderful. I want to know you as I’ve never known you before and see you in places I’ve never recognized you before.”

God did not disappoint.

What do you mean by “the wonder of God”?

Sometimes talking or writing about wonder feels like tying kite strings to clouds. It’s ethereal, and you can never quite get a grip on it. But if you look in the dictionary, the two main definitions of wonder are: “being filled with admiration, amazement, or awe” and “to think or speculate curiously.”

Those definitions come together beautifully in our relationship with God. That’s why I define the wonder of God as those moments of spiritual awakening that create a desire to know God more.

In other words, the wonder of God isn't about an emotional experience or having some cool story to tell your friends, but the wonder of God makes us want more of God—to go deeper and further than we've ever been before.

Why are you calling people to #LIVEWONDERSTRUCK?

If you look in the Gospels, what you’ll discover is that those who encountered Jesus were constantly left in wild amazement. They were awestruck by the teachings of Christ, the healings of Christ, the mind-bending miracles of Christ. Within the Gospel of Luke we see words like “awe” and “wonder” and “marvel” at every turn. If this is the natural response to encountering Christ, how much more should it be for you and I—who are invited to live in relationship with Christ as sons and daughters of our God Most High?  We even created a free PDF that looks at some of these Scriptures. For a free copy, email us at wonderstruck@margaretfeinberg.com and we’ll send you one.



Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on Twitter , Facebook , or her blog . You can learn more about this great book by visiting www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck where she’s offering some crazy promos right now with up to $300 of free stuff. I have thoroughly enjoyed Wonderstruck and the reminder to live in awe and wonder of my Creator. Thank you, Margaret, for sharing your heart with us today!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Transition


I am starting to make the slow transition over to the new blog/blog design, which will explain the temporary changes that have been made to the sidebar. Thank you for your patience and your understanding while the transition takes place!

With love,

Megan

Friday, November 23, 2012

Define Necessity



I told myself that I wasn't going to post this.
I told myself that I wasn't going to show my readers how much I despise Black Friday.

I try to avoid social media and television as much as possible around the Thanksgiving holiday because I find the excessive consumerism grotesque and disturbing. 

There is a disconnect and it grows at an alarming rate with each passing year.
Why do we feel that it is necessary to bless and already blessed nation?



I wrestle with this year after year.

On one hand, I thoroughly enjoy giving gifts to those I love. It's one of my love languages. I take great delight in watching the joy on the faces of my sons and my nieces and nephew as they open their gifts on Christmas morning. 
To me- that is a gift in itself. 

At the same time however, I struggle with the excess. Though we are a modest middle class family- living on one income, driving one car, dependent on hand-me-downs and the generosity of others... at times I still feel like we have too much stuff. 

I am not here to condemn those who are out shopping at this very moment. I am not here to say that it is wrong to buy gifts for your loved ones this holiday season- because I plan to either buy or make gifts for my own family. 

I am simply here to say that I, Megan Card, personally struggle with American consumerism. 

And I know that I cannot possibly be the only one. I struggle to find the proper balance between blessing my family simply because I love them- and living out the missional lifestyle we see throughout Scripture.

 How do you balance the Christmas conundrum? 
Do you feel that American consumerism is a growing problem or do you error on the side of wanting to bless your loved ones by means of gift giving?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!



And because I love you all dearly, I am including the recipe for one of my favorite holiday side dishes.
This is my grandmother's recipe and I get asked for it many times every year.
Enjoy!

Coca Cola Salad

Ingredients:
1 large package of Black Cherry Jello
1 large can of crushed pineapples
1 Cup of chopped nuts (we are fans of pecans)
1 (12 oz) bottle of Coca Cola
1 large can of Black Cherries (Dark Sweet)
1 package of cream cheese (cut into small cubes)

Directions:
Drain juice from both the pineapple and black cherries and put into a saucepan. Bring juice to a boil and add in the jello until fully dissolved (approximately 2 minutes). Slowly add in the coca cola. Add in the pineapples, cherries, nuts and cubed cream cheese. Put into a dish and refrigerate until firm (approximately 4-6 hours).


I hope that you enjoy your time with those you love!
Happy Thanksgiving! 
I am incredibly grateful for all of you and have been truly blessed to know you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Disciple Now Recap



Wow- it seems like FOREVER since I have posted on the blog! I sure did miss all of you. I want to thank Megan, April, Sarah and Ruth once again for guest posting for me while I was away. I appreciate y'all so very much.

It's Wednesday, and I feel as though I am now arousing from my Disciple Now induced coma. Spending an entire weekend with eight freshmen really took it out of me-and as expected- my fibromyalgia is in a full blown flare up. But I love pouring my heart out to these teenagers and teaching them God's word, so no amount of pain or suffering will keep me from participating each year. I do hope that you forgive me for my absence on the blog for the last couple of days, but I needed the extra time to rest and recover before the holidays {and another round of craziness} begin.

For those of you who were praying for me during DNow- THANK YOU!!!! God did some incredible things and I am excited to share that one the girls in my group came to a saving knowledge of who Jesus Christ is and asked that He come into her heart and take up residence there. Please keep praying for Taylor because the first few weeks are both the most exciting and spiritually challenging as a new believer  The enemy will do whatever he can to cast doubt in her mind, so please join me in praying that the Lord will guard her heart and strengthen her with His Presence. 

There was also one boy in my group who is not a believer and his heart is very hard to the gospel at this time. Please keep this young man in your prayers. It breaks my heart that I do not live closer so that I could continue to build upon the truths that were taught this weekend- but God has placed several of the students that were in my group at his school and they have all taken it upon themselves to continue to speak truth into this young man's life.

With the Thanksgiving holiday quickly approaching {I cannot believe it's tomorrow!!} I will not be blogging as frequently this week. We will resume the normal schedule next week. I hope that y'all have a very Happy Thanksgiving!! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Guest Post: Learning {One Day At A Time}



One of the things I love most about blogging, is connecting and building relationships with people from around the world. Ruth resides in the UK and we "met" through another Christian blogger and fast became friends. Our conversations on Twitter are always positive and uplifting and I eagerly look forward to her blog posts because she is a gifted writer. Ruth writes with a certain vulnerability that is absolutely beautiful. So, without further ado, I lovingly hand my blog over to Ruth.

***

My name is Ruth, I'm 26 years old and married with two children.  I had a difficult childhood and became a mum at 16, but God has never relaxed His hold on me. He is taking me on a journey of faith, and through my blog, I'm sharing what I learn along the way.

Let’s set the scene.  That day, Jesus had taken one boy’s small offering of five loaves and two small fish and had turned them into enough food to feed five thousand.  An astounding miracle, causing an excited crowd to realise that this was the Messiah.  But refusing to be made ‘a king by force’; to assume worldly titles; Jesus withdrew from the crowd and went to be by himself (see John 6:15).

‘That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him.  But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum.’  John 6:16-17

While it was light, they waited – but as darkness fell, they jumped in a boat and headed off without Him.  Maybe they were afraid; maybe just impatient and eager to reach their destination.  The accounts in Matthew and Mark indicate that Jesus may have actually told them to go on ahead.  But either way, they had left Him behind.  How many times in our own lives do we stop waiting on God and jump in the boat without Him?  It’s growing darker where we are and we’re desperate to get to where we’re going, so we set out alone and hope for the best.

‘Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough.  They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat.  They were terrified.’  John 6:18-19

To be alone in a storm is unnerving.  To be alone in a boat, in the dark, in a storm – then to see someone walking towards you on water?  Terrifying.  When we find ourselves caught up in storms, we may struggle to recognize God in the midst of it.  At times like this it’s hard not to fall overboard – but thankfully, God never abandons us (see Hebrews 13:5).

‘But he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!”‘  John 6:20

They set off without Him, but still He came.  And Jesus was not merely reassuring His disciples here, He was reminding them who He was.  The Greek here translates to: ‘I Am. Stop being frightened’,  just as God told Moses: ‘I AM who I am.  Tell them I Am has sent you’ (see Exodus 3:14).  Jesus was telling them that He is God and they must not be afraid.  ‘I Am’.  They would be safe now.

‘Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!’  John 6:21

Frightened by the storm, but now calmed by His presence, they now welcomed Jesus on board.  When this incident is described the gospels of Matthew and Mark, we see that Jesus calmed the storm.  In John, we see that He took them out of it – instantly, they arrived at that place which they had been unsuccessfully trying to reach by their own efforts.  They were so close to their destination – they just needed to allow Jesus into the boat.

As hard as it when our lives are at their darkest and we are afraid, we must keep seeking God in the midst of our storms.  When we have set off without Him, it is not too late to invite him on board.  And when we are in that difficult period of waiting on Him, eager to take the next step; becoming discouraged as the dark sets in; we must continue to trust in His perfect timing.  In the midst of the storm, be still and know that He is God. ‘I Am’.

***

Thank you, Ruth, for these beautiful words! 

In the midst of the storms of life, have you encountered the Great 'I AM?'
What was that experience like?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Guest Post: Notice the Dirt

To say that I am grateful that God allowed my path to cross with Sarah's is an understatement. I have absolutely loved getting to know Sarah over the course of this year and I am determined to meet her in real life! She is intelligent, witty, and a tremendous source of encouragement. 
It is an honor to turn the blog over to you today, my friend!


***

Hi!  I'm Sarah, and I blog at Notice the Dirt where I'm inspired by this C.S. Lewis Quote: "It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence."  Megan and I “met” as part of a blogging workshop and both quickly realized two things we had in common:  loving Jesus and training for long distance races.  It’s been so fun to follow her progress on both fronts and I can say without reservation that Megan runs the race well!

I've been a runner off and on for most of my life.  In elementary school, I loved nothing more than time spent racing my classmates on our school’s track.  Y’all, I was fast.  I won fitness day races and was amazed at my own speed.  In middle and high school I was in to running “suicides” and sprints since I’d become a huge fan of playing basketball.  In college I tried jogging for regular exercise but it never really stuck.  I was physically active otherwise, as a member of our school’s color guard and a regular visitor to the gym, so the freshman 15 never appeared and I was too busy having fun to add more exercise to my day.


It wasn't until my early twenties that running became a necessity.  I absolutely had to do something to relieve work- and life-related stress.  I found myself working 60 and 70 hour weeks while also trying complete graduate school and my physical and psychological health were coming unraveled.  As time went on, I finished grad school but my work life was more chaotic and my personal life suffered.  As I neared 30, I was working from home and putting in more hours than ever.  I felt isolated, exhausted and hopeless.
I had begun jogging on the treadmill at my apartment complex gym and while I was pounding the stress out with my feet, an important relationship was budding.  My immense stress had begun to manifest as despair, depression.  As I ran, my mind would wander to my circumstances and as I’d feel more and more discouraged, I’d start to talk to God.
“Why is life like this?  What did I do wrong? Why have you doomed me, God?”
My prayers weren't healthy – they were accusatory, angry – but they were prayers.  I would get so lost in these prayers, I would forget that I was running, and the number of miles I could complete kept ticking up.  On especially bad or stressful days, I’d set my treadmill to an impossible speed and angrily sprint away, and as always, I was talking to God.
A few years ago, after telling a friend that I didn't like to run with a buddy, I realized that was because the spot had already been filled.  God had been my running partner all along.  He’d endured mile after mile of complaining and griping and had never turned around to go home early.  Like the best of friends, He’d just listened. 
I felt guilty for all my whining and knew I had to change the conversation.
These days, as I run around my new island town in Hawaii, I look at the scenery and thank God that I've got such a pretty “gym”.  I thank God for my husband who sometimes waits along my route with a bottle of water and encouraging words.  I thank God for giving me strong legs and a stubborn personality – the perfect mix for completing long distance runs.  I ask God for strength.  I tell Him that I can’t finish the race unless He keeps running with me, and of course, He always does. 
God calls us to a real and personal relationship with Him, and I’m forever blessed that in our relationship, God is my running buddy.

Do you share your hobbies with God?

***

Thank you for sharing with us, Sarah! You run the race well, my friend! Keep it up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Guest Post: Red-Dirt-Mama


Do y'all miss me as much as I miss you?!
 I am excited to introduce this next guest blogger, as she is a very special friend of mine .

April is a real life friend from our college days at ETBU. Though we live hours away from each other now, it has been fun keeping up with her and her sweet family via her blog. (Isn't technology wonderful?!)

When it comes to blogging, April is apart of my "inner circle" because she not only knows me as writer at {All Things New} but she knows me in real life as well. And because I desire authenticity in my writing, I look to April to help keep me accountable to that goal. I love her dearly and I am sure you will too!


*** 

HI! My name is April and I blog over at Red Dirt Mama. I write about my life, crafts, faith, and food on my blog. This may be a little more private than something I would usually write for a guest post, but this was laid on my heart. Thank you, Megan, for letting me share this with your friends!

 When I found out I was pregnant with Bluebelle, it was the most terrifying day of my life. Minutes before I took that test -- the one that blinked "Pregnant" in mere seconds -- I was printing a letter announcing my resignation. The situation was dire enough that I didn't think I could remain, no matter how mournful I was over leaving some of the most cherished people in my life. Then I took that test. What were we going to do? How would we survive? How could I bring a child into this world this way? Two weeks later, I was no longer employed, and this time it was not of my own choosing. A month later we were living in a terrible housing situation. Two months after that, I was home in my grandparents' house, seeking humility and assistance and feeling lower than the lowest creature on the earth. I was terrified at a time that I was angry with God. I felt lost. Abandoned. Forgotten. When I first held Bluebelle in my arms, I realized I had not been forgotten. He gave her to me. To us. This perfect, sweet little bundle of joy, the culmination of all our hopes and fears wrapped up in a package more perfect that I could have ever imagined. I look back on that time, now in the realm of being years ago, and I see how we were being carried through. I don't remember having anything more than a weak faith, but I remember the fear. I remember the reassurance after we had passed through it, and we learned so much about ourselves in the process. I've learned to try to not take anything for granted. I try to remember that every day. Lately I've been reminding myself of these times. I have fears, I really do. They are almost crippling to me. However, at this stage in my life I am trying to see the faith in the midst of the fear. I am remembering past promises and clinging to them with the hope and knowledge that He has gotten me through things before and He will be there again. I believe that God is with us even when our faith is weak. I am thankful that He loves us and carries us even when we can't see anything more than the smallest glimmer of hope. For the past several years my favorite passage has been the entirety of Philippians 4. Below are verses 10-13.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
I spent many years visually burnt out on Philippians 4:13, but I believe today that the verse is far more powerful in context than it ever is alone. Paul is saying that he can do anything in Christ, but only in the light of having both NOTHING and EVERYTHING. God can work through us in the midst of terrible loss. He is there when we have nothing of the world's value. God is God of the blessings, as well as the times of great need. Recognizing His sovereignty in every situation brings peace and contentment in any circumstance. I am so thankful for His peace. When I remember these things - His past faithfulness, His truth -- I have faith no matter how afraid I am. It doesn't stop the waves of fear from hitting me unexpectedly, but I can give those moments away to Him and experience His peace and know that I will be okay, even if I don't know what lies ahead. Faith in the presence of fear. It's a powerful thing.

***

Thank you for sharing your heart with us April. I praise God that He is Faithful despite our doubt and fear and that He chooses to reward us for even the smallest steps of faith! 
What an encouragement you are to me!

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when God blew you away with His faithfulness?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Guest Post: Just a Small Town Girl


I am incredibly thankful to have several blog {and real life} friends that I can call on to guest post for me while I am away. Our first guest post comes from a sweet blog friend of mine, Megan, who blogs over at Just a Small Town Girl. You have heard me mention Megan before, as I frequently share her passion for helping families who are currently adopting through her fundraiser, Ornaments for Adoption. If you haven't done so, go check out her work! The ornaments are adorable!! 

So, without further ado, I am going to turn the blog over to Megan.

***

Hello {All Things New} readers!
I am Megan and I blog over at Just a Small Town Girl and that's what I am-a girl from a small town in Alabama who is now living in a bigger city in North Carolina. I basically blog about my life and the things I think, create, and do along the way. I am so excited to be sharing with you today.

Archery has become a very popular sport thanks to a little book turned movie called The Hunger Games.
 
 
Haha...seriously. I've always thought archery was cool.

My hubby loves to bow hunt.



He's always trying to convince me to get one of those fancy hunting bows. I'm not interested. I'd love to just have a plain long bow.

But I'm getting off topic here. So, why all this archery talk?
The point of shooting a bow is to hit a target.
You can also hit a target with a gun and since my hubby doesn't think I need a long bow, this is the only target picture I have.
If you're like me, you are off the mark more than you are on target.

In the same way, we miss the target of God's standard in our lives.
God calls us to be holy and perfect.
for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
-1 Peter 1:16
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
-Matthew 5:48

I am not holy or perfect. I fail every day and so do you.
  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
-Romans 3:23

Hamartano is a Greek word which means to miss the mark. In the same way that an archer can miss the target, we miss the mark of the target of God's standard for our life.

Related to the word, hamartano, is another Greek word, hamartia, which is translated into English as sin.

hamartia=sin
sin=missing the mark of God's standard

I don't know about you, but this makes it so clear to me. When we sin, we are falling short of the way God has called us to live.

Because of this sin, we deserve to die.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins
-Ephesians 2:1

But wait, there's good news! God did not leave us in this dead state. He has made a way for us to hit the target.
The way comes from another Greek word. This word is my favorite.
The word is charis and it means undeserved gift (grace).
God gave us an undeserved gift in that He sent His son, Jesus to die for our sin, for our hamartia, for all those times we missed the mark.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
-Ephesians 2:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
-Romans 5:8

Now when we accept God's gift, does this mean that we suddenly become "perfect archers" and hit the target every time?
No! We will continue to sin. We will continue to miss the mark.
But Jesus' blood is now covering us and covering that sin.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
-Romans 8:1
Isn't that beautiful? 
Despite the fact that we continuously miss the mark, God gives us an undeserved gift. He adopts us into His family where we can experience His forgiveness and love. 
I hope you haven't let yourself get defeated by missing the mark. I hope you have found God's free gift. If you have any questions, I would love to talk with you or pray for you {and I'm sure Megan would as well}. 
Thanks to Megan for allowing me to guest post today and thank you to her wonderful followers for reading! 


***

Thank you, Megan, for sharing with us! And yes, I would absolutely love to talk or pray over any of you if you are struggling with accepting God's free gift of salvation. I know it can be difficult at times to wrap your head around the depth of such love. 

If you would like to talk, or desire to share a prayer request with me so I can pray over you, 
email me at megan {dot} card {at} gmail {dot} com