Thursday, February 28, 2013

Malaria Outreach

In December, the tweens I work with did an outreach project to raise money for Imagine No Malaria.

They used an app for the iPad - Toontastic to create their own "PSA" that explains in their own words and drawings, the importance of supporting Imagine No Malaria.

Here's the video (a recent update fixed the glitch and now the "talk show host" is back on the screen - and not just a voice!). Be sure to look for "Millie the Mosquito" .... it's quite entertaining. Enjoy!

Making Prayer Shawls

In January, the tweens created No Sew Prayer Shawls to give out to students in need of some comfort and love.

The first step was to cut them out.....we learned that good scissors are a must. We also learned that we need to "double knot" the fleece strips - like you knot a shoestring.

After cutting them out, and tying them together, you must pray over them - for the students who will get them in the future!

And obviously, you must show them off in a cheesy picture!

Our finished prayer shawls. We ended up making 15 in the hour - at least half were precut before we started. (That helped - so some tweens started tying knots, while others cut strips.)

Original Source: Danyelle Trixler Ditmer (with modifications - aka what we learned).

- Good pair of scissors
- Yard stick
- 2 – 60”x26” pieces of fleece
(FYI - thin fleece didn't work well)
- 3”x3” cardboard template

- Lay out fleece wrong sides together (if “wrong” sides are evident)

- Match up edges
--- This is important!!!!

- Pin together to hold while you knot (I used jumbo paper clips)
--- The "big binder clips" aka what you find in the office supply store work great to hold onto the sides.

- Cut off rough edges
--- We needed to "trim" the pieces to make them even.

- Cut 3”x3” square out of each corner
--- We ended up cutting a 4x4 square - so the strips would be a bit longer for little fingers.

- Make 3” deep cuts at 1” intervals around all 4 sides
--- If you cut 4x4 squares, obviously you'll cut 4-inch strips.
Once you have all of the cuts, you need to start in one corner – Tie an overhand knot close to blanket edge – Use one strip from top fleece, one from bottom fleece – Tie second knot.
--- Tell the kids to make a double knot - like they "double knot" their shoe strings.

– Make sure the knot is tight.
--- You might have to "tighten" the knot so the pieces don't come apart.

- Knot EVERY OTHER pair of strips until you are all around the blanket one time. Turn blanket over – Knot the same way until you have tied all your knots.
--- AKA - the tweens didn't really do this step, and it went ok...

- Use your template as a guide to keep cuts even and equally deep
Keep your knot tie tension steady while tying your knots so you don’t overstretch the fleece.

- Snug knots will hold well through washing/drying.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Blog Tour: Sent (Review)

Everyone is living for something.

What if the answer you seek causes you to uproot everything you know,to follow a call God places on your life?

It might mean you sell everything the world/America tells you is necessary to be a success, and move your entire family to a Southeast Asian country recovering from the tsunami.

Would you go?

For Hilary Alan - her husband Curt - and their two teenagers, the answer is yes.

What happens, as recounted in her memoir Sent is something considered radical to some, and amazing to the Alans.

Sent is an amazing and interesting book.

It challenges you to think outside of the 2.5 kids/great job/American success paradigm.

It shows through the Alan's experiences (including the teens), how following God can be a challenge but oh, so rewarding.

I needed to hear what Alan wrote - maybe not to join the cross-cultural church planting ministry she advocates, but to simply be reminded of the things God can do in your life - when you simply follow God's call on your life.

I especially appreciated Alan's observations on her experience - and how simply living in community with her neighbors - helped spread the gospel of Jesus more effectively than any "force fed preaching."

I was surprised at a few things - including how a friend was treated after a stillbirth/miscarriage by her family, and how another person within Alan's world was forced to change career plans because of a disfiguring accident.

I think one of the things that makes this a solid book is that it 1) isn't gratuitously full of self promotion and 2) It gave me a new appreciation for some of my friends serving overseas.

In all, I give this book a solid four out of five. It's a spiritual memoir that is solid and encouraging.

About The Author
HILARY ALAN, a former public relations professional, is a wife and mother of two children. Hilary and her family moved to Southeast Asia in the aftermath of a tsunami that destroyed villages, homes, businesses, and hundreds of thousands of lives. Today, the Alans continue to advance the work of Christ internationally in their involvement with a church in North Carolina as they prepare for another overseas assignment.

Find this book at Amazon.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher's book review service, Blogging for Books. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lent Photo Day 14: Lift

Day 14: Lift with encouragement. 1 Thes 5:11.
Original source for photo:

Today's theme is lift.

I initially thought of encouragement for this theme.

One of my favorite verses is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 - "So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing."

(In another translation it's "lift each other up.")

One of the best things we can do for each other, is to lift each other up in prayer, encouragement and more.

How has someone lifted your spirits this week? How can you lift someone up today? Lifting is definitely a "give and take' opportunity.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Blog Tour: I Still Believe (Review)

I picked up Jeremy Camp's memoir, I Still Believe, because I love this genre of book.

I was not disappointed.

Camp's memoir is honest, open and at times, even painful, as he recounts how God has moved in his life - especially with the illness and ultimate death of his first wife, Melissa.

In fact, the story opens with Camp struggling to pick up his guitar and write music again after Melissa's death. Through the pain and healing, Camp wrote the song that became the title of his memoir - I Still Believe.

Belief is the thread that runs through this book. Through the ups and downs of his life, Camp shows how his faith has grown even amidst the trials. He weaves in the lyrics, so readers can get the "back-story" behind his songs.

The memoir also shows how God brought his wife, Adrienne, into his life, and the ups and down of that relationship - including the loss of their third child to miscarriage. It also walks through the roller coaster of his musical career.

Ultimately, Camp's story is one of hope and redemption. It doesn't show a life that's been all "rainbows and lollypops" but instead shows one that is authentic in actions, words and deeds.

I enjoyed reading this book. It encouraged me, gave me hope and truly gave me something to think about. Reading it in public, gave me an opportunity to have a candid conversation with a stranger.

Camp could have written a book that sugarcoated everything that happened in his life so far - but instead he decided to "rip off the band-aid" and write a candid account of his doubts and struggles.

Through it all, his faith shines through as a strong witness. On a scale of one to five, I give this book a solid four and a strong recommendation.

More About The Author
Christian recording artist Jeremy Camp has written songs that have touched millions of lives. His lyrics reveal a heart that’s been broken and a faith that has been tested and restored.

In I Still Believe, Jeremy shares, with unflinching candor and emotion, the extraordinary story behind his award-winning lyrics–from his impoverished childhood, rebellious teenage years, and spiritual awakening at Bible College, to the tragic loss of his first wife, Melissa, to cancer and the heart-wrenching spiritual journey that followed–a journey that reignited Jeremy’s faith, inspired some of his most beloved songs, and paved the way for a second chance at love with his second wife, Adrienne.

This memoir is a must-read for Jeremy Camp fans everywhere, and an inspiring, encouraging read for anyone who has ever experienced loss.
- See more at:

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher, Tyndale House. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Blog Tour: Dirty God (Review)

It's rare when a book - especially one written as a narrative/memoir - doesn't click with me.

But unfortunately, that was the case with Dirty God: Jesus In the Trenches.

I really tried. Author Johnnie Moore has an interesting writing style.The concept and the description captured my attention. Unfortunately, he just didn't keep me engaged.

I guess the book wasn't what I thought. I tried reading several chapters and I just didn't want to finish it.

So, here's the deal. Just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean you won't. I've read reviews. Others find Moore's writing engaging and thought provoking.I'm just not one of them - at least right now.

It might just be what you are looking for, to challenge your faith and ideas. Maybe this is the type of book you want to read with a small group - so you can digest it together. Who knows. but for now, I'm staying neutral on this book.

About This Book
In Dirty God: Jesus in the Trenches, Johnnie Moore draws on both Scripture and his extensive experience with other cultures and religions to show how the God of the Bible is unique in his willingness to be near us in all of our messiness. Moore outlines the central importance of the doctrine of grace while introducing readers to a humble and human Jesus who reaches out to us at our worst and pulls us up to our best.

Grace, Moore argues, is something that is both gotten and given, and the two-part structure of the book allows readers to explore both of these dynamics. By offering hope rather than condemnation and showing the practical applications of grace in today’s world, Dirty God will appeal to both the committed Christian and the spiritual seeker looking for a more authentic faith. Challenging and engaging, Dirty God is sure to establish Johnnie Moore as an emerging voice for Millennial and Gen-X evangelicals for years to come.

Find the book at Amazon

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by BookSneeze, a review division of Thomas Nelson. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried
about this detail.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Lent Photo Day 13: Cover

Lent Day 13: Cover
Today's theme reminded me of the "covering" we get when our friends pray for us.

It made me remember the prayer shawl I was given more than a year ago, when I had eye surgery.

Sometimes, you just need to wrap yourself in prayer - and this shawl is a tangible reminder of this!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Lent Photo Day 12: Vision

Day 12: Vision

This a list of things a pastor took time to write down for me, when I was a struggling junior high student.

It probably wasn't a huge deal for him - but obviously, I've been holding on to it for more than two decades.

Sometimes, I just need to pull it out and re-read the positive message.

Doing this, gives me a chance to have a clearer picture - or vision - of who God made me to be.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Lent Photo Day 11: Live

Day 11: Live.

I've heard the saying "Live, Laugh, Love."

To Live, you need to remember to laugh and love.

To love, I think you need to be surrounded by friends.

Today I'm I'm thinking about a friend who's friendship spans the years and miles.

Sometimes, I need to remember to simply live - and if I can live half of her life of faith, it will be amazing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, February 22, 2013

Lent Photo Day 10: Spirit

Lent Day 10: Spirit. Sometimes the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. #stjamesumc #rethinkchurch #40days

The words of a former professor - found in a podcast archives, the wind blowing clouds across a bright moon, a Bible verse "popping" up as the verse of the day in YouVersion.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit shows up in mysterious ways.

God Sightings is how one children's ministry curriculum labels it.

Things that happen that make you think about God in new ways.

Just a few things that happened today/as the week ended - another mile marker on the journey known as Lent.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lent Photo Day 9: Love

Lent Day 9: Love. Learning about love from my tweens. #rethinkchurch #40days #stjamesumc

Tonight, I'm thinking about God's love - thanks to a couple of podcasts from Asbury University.

I'm also thinking about what the tweens in my life teach me about love.

No major profound words tonight.

Just soaking in what God seems to be teaching me.... all while I'm trying to receive God's love.

The refining season of lent continues......

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lent Photo Day 8: Evil

Day 8: Evil. Human Trafficking.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that evil exists in this world.

I don't even need to dig up my papers/assignments from a long-ago "Problem of Evil" philosophy class from seminary.

Human Trafficking seems to be an evil that is growing larger with each passing day.

It's not just an "overseas" issue or a "big city" issue. It happens where you least expect it. Next door.

If we're called to help the widows and orphans (those who can't take care of themselves) - shouldn't those caught in the snare of Human Trafficking be included in that as well?

I want to learn more about this issue - which has been called modern day slavery.

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. - Albert Einstein

Here's to doing something about evil.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Home Run - Opens April 19

Last night, I had an opportunity - thanks to a friend - to go to a screening of Home Run.

The movie tells the story of baseball all-star Cory Brand, who must face life spiraling out of control both on and off the field due to his addiction to alcohol.

When his team suspension and a DUI sends him back to his hometown, Cory finds himself coaching his brother's youth baseball team - and spending eight weeks in the only recovery program in town, a Celebrate Recovery.

Ultimately, as Cory comes to terms with his hurts, habits and hang ups (the family he left behind, a painful past with an abusive father and an addiction to alcohol) he begins to find freedom and hope - through the redemption provided by faith in Jesus.

"Home Run reminds us of the power of forgiveness, the richness of redemption, and the wisdom of trusting God to revive us." - Max Lucado.

I found Home Run to be a powerful movie. It held my attention. It made me want to tell a friend who is establishing a new CR ministry all about it.

Just like Lucado said, the movie is full of redemption and hope. Ultimately, through an intense struggle, Cory learns to deal with his past in a way that brings about restoration in a variety of ways.

As a side note, the recovery group - Celebrate Recovery - was portrayed in an accurate and honest way. The layers of faith were appropriate to the story. It was not overwhelming or gratuitous. The testimonies given (by both men and women) during the worship setting were powerful. The scenes during the open share group gave the story another layer of authenticity.

This is not a "preachy" movie. It's a movie that accurately portrays faith in a honest, engaging way. It is instead, a story that is strong, well written and has a powerful message.

On the scale of one to five, it's definitely a four. The movie will leave you thinking. It will hopefully introduce people not only to Celebrate Recovery, but to the redeeming power of Jesus' love.

Find out more about the movie, and Celebrate Recovery (and other national sponsors) at

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Lent Photo Day 7: Wonder

Day 7: Wonder.

Tuesday's photo for ReThink Church focused on Wonder.

I decided to keep it simple.

I found this quote in a book I've been digesting in the last few days "Sent" a memoir of how a family sold everything, and spent three years in a Southeast Asian country, living among Muslims.

The author closed the book - which details her family's experiences - with this powerful quote from Jim Elliot, a missionary who lost his life serving God.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot
keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
Jim Elliot (Oct. 8, 1927 to Jan. 8, 1956)

I guess today's prompt simply caused me to look for the wonder the family found in serving God in an amazing, and unexpected way.

Original Source for image:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lent Photo Day 6: World

Day 6: World. Thinking about friends serving around the world. #rethinkchurch #stjamesumc #40days #lentphotoaday (original source for image:

Today's theme: World, was interesting.

First off, it made me think of my friends, serving overseas.

People who are serving as missionaries or pastors in non-American settings (especially a friend who just arrived in South Africa, as well as a good friend serving in Germany).

It helps remind me of how big this world is, and how much of it exists outside of my midwestern perspective.

Secondly, it made stop and take stock of my "current" world.

--Watching two little girls help each other learn a Bible verse.
--Wearing a crazy pair of glasses to make a kidlet smile.
--Writing (and focusing) at Starbucks (Earl Gray tea is my friend right now).
--Digesting a new sermon series that makes me think.

Ultimately, today's photo made me realize that I need a double perspective when it comes to my world.

I need to remember why I do what I do and who I am.

I also need to remember that no matter what I "see" in front of me, there truly is a larger world out there.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12 NLT)
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Blog Tour: Rebekah (Review)

Jill Eileen Smith has a rare talent.

She can not only write solid novels, but she uses Biblical knowledge and facts, to help her readers dive into the lives of her subjects.

In her newest book, Rebekah, Smith continues the "Wives of the Patriarchs" series, telling the love story of Isaac and Rebekah in a new way.

The novel opens with Rebekah, living as a young woman in her father's house. It spans the years - including her romance with Isaac (and how she ended up in his household) to her numerous years of infertility.

You'll laugh, cry and identify with Rebekah in a new way - especially as you see her change as the mother of Jacob and Esau.

Smith's talent is such, that you'll find yourself diving into the Bible to read along with her narrative. Yes, ultimately, her tale is fiction - but it is Biblical sound and a joy to read.

On the scale of one to five, I give her books a solid three. I've had several opportunities to read Smith's books, and honestly, each are a joy. I can't wait to see what is next in this series.

More About The Novel
Can love heal the rift between two souls?

When her beloved father dies and she is left in the care of her conniving brother Laban, Rebekah knows her life has changed forever. Though she should be married by now, it’s clear that Laban is dragging his feet, waiting for a higher bride-price to line his pockets. But then Rebekah is given a chance to leave her home to marry Isaac, a cousin she has never even seen, and her hope for the future is restored. Little does she know what a wondrous and heart-wrenching journey she is beginning.

As Rebekah experiences the joy of young love and the bitterness of misunderstanding and betrayal, her resolve is tested. When the rift between Isaac and her grows so wide it is surely too great to be mended, can she trust the God of Isaac’s father Abraham to bridge the gap?

About The Author
Jill Eileen Smith is the author of the bestselling Michal, Abigail, and Bathsheba, all part of The Wives of King David series, and of Sarai, book 1 in the Wives of the Patriarchs series.

Her writing has garnered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of biblical women has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Online Resources
Buy it online
Download reader resources, find out more here!

Special Opportunity
Jill Eileen Smith will be the featured guest during a LIVE Interactive Video Chat Session sponsored by "Shindig" at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 19, (EST). It's free. Participants will have a chance to meet Jill and ask questions!

Join best-selling author Jill Eileen Smith as she presents ten facts and/or possibilities you might not know about the Patriarch Isaac's wife Rebekah. Do you have a question about the people in the Bible you've always wanted to ask? Jill will take questions about biblical characters, biblical fiction, and about any of her books in the Wives of the Patriarchs or Wives of King David series. So please, plan to join us!

Go here:  to find out more and to RSVP for the event.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Blog Tour: Love Finds You In Glacier Bay, Alaska (Review)

Have you ever read a book, that makes you want to visit another place?

Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska did that for me.

As I read the novel, written by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss, I was suddenly transported to Alaska and the land where Ginny Marshall discovered the key to her heart.

Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska isn't a typical "mind candy" romance. Yes, boy and girl meet again, and rekindle a lost romance, but the layers Goyer and Fleiss add to the text make it stand out.

It was a sweet read, with meaning. It will make you think about things - including how we follow our dreams - and what happens when you seek out and find healing and love.

The wee bit of historical story, woven into the tale, was an added bonus. I also loved how they talked about written letters - and how they can be deeply meaningful for years to come.

Ultimately, this would be a fun, read on a rainy, blustery day book - sitting in front of a fire with hot chocolate (ah, bliss). It's a delightful escape from the world, with a touch of romance, faith and more.

I know one thing - it's painted an amazing picture of Alaska, that someday, I would like to see in person.

On a scale of one to five, I give it a solid three. Once again, Tricia Goyer (along with her writing partner) succeed in creating a novel that speaks volumes.

More About The Book
Singer Ginny Marshall is one signature away from the recording contract of her dreams-a deal that would guarantee success for the former foster child, who still struggles to bury the memories of her painful childhood.

But Ginny needs advice from the one person who will look out for her best interests-her former fiancé, Brett Miller. She travels to the remote town of Glacier Bay, Alaska, where the town's colorful characters and stunning scenery provide respite from LA's pressures.

In Glacier Bay, Ginny discovers a box of old letters and is swept up in the love story between Clay, an early missionary to Alaska Territory, and Ellie, the woman who traveled there to be his children's governess. When Ginny is reunited with Brett in Glacier Bay, will she discover-as Ellie did-that healing and love are sometimes found in the most unexpected places?

More About The Authors
 Tricia Goyer is the award winning author of over thirty books including Beside Still Waters, Remembering You, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. Goyer is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences and is the host of Living Inspired. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

Find out more about Tricia at

Ocieanna Fleiss is a published author and editor. She lives with her husband and their four children in the Seattle area.

Find out more about Ocieanna at

Online Resources
Buy this book online:
Check out other reviews here: 

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book (or my friendship with Tricia Goyer) - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lent Photo Day 5: Settle

Day 5: Settle.

I thought a lot about what to take for this picture.

Actually, this entire list is making me stop, ponder and struggle with each day's theme.

It feels like I'm diving into the thought process behind every word, stopping and examining what the theme might mean in my life.

To say that it has started to make this a very unique Lenten journey, is well, an understatement.

Today's theme is Settle.

This word and the quote I found in #rethinkchurch's accompanying meditation ran through my brain most of today:

"It may even be that this is the year you'll say, Yes, God, I hear you calling. What will you have me be and do?....Where is your wandering and journeying leading you to settle down?"

Who ever said one word can't have a lot of power or meaning was flat out wrong.

What does it mean to be "settled."

Does it mean a perfect job, 2.5 kids, a house, husband and more?

Or does it mean stepping out in faith all while living out a calling given to me by God.

It may also mean having a faith like the song writer Horatio Stafford, who penned "It Is Well, With My Soul" - a "praise God, in the hallways" type of song.

Stafford wrote it the song at sea, as his own ship passed the spot his daughters perished in an earlier accident. Only his wife survived that tragedy. This of course, came after his family suffered tremendous setbacks and loses.

Through the song, Stafford chose to say, no matter what happens, or no matter the circumstance, it was well with his soul.

So, today, I'm "settling" taking a moment to stop, breathe and simply soak in the peace that comes from God, because it truly is well with my soul.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lent Photo Day 4: Injustice

Day 4: Injustice. Dunking Out Malaria at St. James UMC Upward.
Today's photo started out being difficult.

I mean, I live in the first world, and by many standards, in a pretty WASP part of Little Rock.

Not much injustice in my "everyday" life.

Then I started thinking about things I'm trying to teach the tweens (and other students) in the children's ministry.

To think of others - instead of themselves.

Several ideas poured into my brain, but the one that stuck out, is this "set" of photos.

It shows one of my kidlets "dunking" change into the basket - to "Dunk Out" Malaria. It's part of the Imagine No Malaria awareness/campaign we added to Upward this year.

You can see some more images from today here:

$10 saves 1 life.

Isn't a life worth that?

Think about it this way.

You can spend $10 at Starbucks (my vice) or McDonalds or... (insert favorite vice) or the same $10 and save a life.

Which lives out the intent of this verse:
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NLT)

Just something to think about this Lenten season.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Standing in the hallway

I came across this today on Facebook and this image has stuck with me.

(I assume the original source is the T-shirt company whose logo is across the bottom.)

It's challenged me.

I praise God when doors open, but do I praise him when standing in the hallway waiting?

For yes or no.
Or not yet. (The hardest answer).

Do I praise God at all times?
Maybe that's a better question.

Or at least what has been bouncing around in my thoughts.

So for all my friends standing with me in the hall. May The Lord bless us and give us peace - as we praise our hearts out.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lent Photo Day 3: See (Expanded Vs.)

In December, Delaney gave me a really cool gift.

A poem she wrote about me.


It made her brothers giggle, because it made me cry.

I think my favorite line was "is the fried chicken on my mashed potatoes."

It's kind of cool to know you've made a difference in the life of a student.



Anyway, I asked her if I could share the poem. She agreed, so I'm finally posting it on my blog.

Here's to students who know when you need encouragement - and do it in crazy ways.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Lent Photo Day 3: See

Day 3: See v. 1 to 4. (From upper left, clockwise) 1) Seeing Eucharist through the music of U2 - a U2Charist at First UMC Downtown. 2) I once was blind (literally) but now I see - more than a year from scary eye surgery. 3) I want to see Jesus thru the eyes of a child - looking at him from eye line of the child in the statue outside the sanctuary and 4) I want to see myself as others see me - Delaney and her Christmas poem about me. #rethinkchurch #stjamesumc

I know. I was supposed to only take one photo today.

I was an overachiever.

I started by focusing on the pic of Delaney, then added the pics of the statue and my eyes.

Ended by taking the photo of the candles that caught my eye during the U2Charist.


Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! (Psalms 34:8 NLT)

May I see God in a new way.
May I see myself, as God and others see me.
May I simply see.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lenten Photo Day 2: Return

Day 2: Return. Giving dreams back to God. Jeremiah 29:11 #stjamesumc #rethinkchurch

It took me hours to come up with a photo to make today's theme work.

If anything, this Lenten challenge, by ReThink Church is doing just that....making me think about Lent, and how I respond to the 40 days leading up to Easter.

Today's theme: Return.

I am struggling to remember that I need to surrender my dreams back to God.

God has a plan. It says so in Jeremiah 29:11.

I just have to have faith, pray and surrender.


For I know the plans I have for you,” says The Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

Note: This is my attempt at following the Lenten Photo A Day Challenge by ReThink Church. You can find out about the project here

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent Photo Day 1: Who Am I

It's Day 1 of the reThink Church Lenten Photo A Day challenge.

Today's theme is "Who Am I".

I struggled with this challenge.

Who am I?

Sometimes I feel like a scrappy quilt.

Lots of pieces, that create the whole.

So I'm a person who:
Likes to read.
Cries when a friend surprises me with flowers - a day before Valentine's Day.
Is A Writer & Photographer (Let's face it, once a journalist, always a journalist.
Is creative. (Praying in Color, putting sermons into images)
Wrangles kidlets.
A follower of Jesus.
Someone who asks questions - especially about faith issues.
A friend.

So here's to the first day of the challenge. It's making me think about Lent in a different way. Which is, a good thing.


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Blog Tour: The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow (Review)

Sometimes I get a book to review, and well, between my life and things going on in my head, we just don't "click."

Unfortunately, that was the sad case for my attempt to read The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow.

I tried. Really, I did.

Nothing against the novel - it's well written, and it's a period piece - think "Downton Abbey" Meets Chicago.

I wanted to read it. I wanted it to click, be enjoyable and well, give me something to recommend to my friends.

I can still do that - and I plan to pass the book on to a friend at church, who I think, will fall in love with the storyline.

Sometimes books don't take. Life gets in the way.

This is one of those times. (Confession time) I haven't been able to sit down long enough to watch the first season of Downton Abbey, even though I want to. Truly.

I can tell you this. The novel is written well. The author has an intriguing plot, and if you like "upstairs/downstairs" storyline - I have a suspicion you will LOVE this book. Don't let my "fail" keep you from discovering a new author.

More About This Book
The whole world is coming to Chicago. Charlotte’s whole world is coming down around her.
While the rest of Chicago focuses on the enormous spectacle of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Charlotte Farrow’s attentions are entirely on one small boy-her boy-whom she has kept a secret from her wealthy employers for nearly a year.

When the woman who has been caring for her son abruptly returns him to the opulent Banning home, Charlotte must decide whether to come clean and face dismissal or keep her secret while the Bannings decide the child’s fate. Can she face the truth of her past and open her heart to a future of her own? Or will life’s struggles determine her path?

This compelling story of courage, strength, and tender romance captures the tension between the glittering wealthy class and the hardworking servants who made their lives comfortable.

More About The Author
Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. Her husband and two adult children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books.

She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

Online Resources
Read more at the publisher
Find it on Amazon

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Lenten Photo Challenge

Lent starts tomorrow on Wednesday, Feb. 13 - It's Ash Wednesday on the church calendar.
It's a season of reflection, as we move towards Holy Week and Easter.

Some years during this time, I "give up" something as part of my Lenten fast. 

Last year, to the delight of the tweens I work with, I gave up Starbucks. 
It was a long Lent 2012.

This year, I've decided to "add something" - I'm going to pick up the Lent Photo A Day challenge, sponsored by ReThink Church, a ministry of the United Methodist Church.

I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to snap tomorrow.

Basically, I'm taking my "photo a day" (I've snapped a photo a day for the past 14 months) and giving it a Lenten twist.

I love this description given by ReThink Church:
"You don't have to be a great photographer. This project is hopefully more about the practice of paying attention and being intentional, than it is being the best photographer [though we encourage you to get creative!]."

You can engage with this project online here:

Twitter [#rethinkchurch #40days]
Instagram [#rethinkchurch #40days] (St. James Folks also use #stjamesumc)
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