Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#abcntc Day Three

Loving the sky chair out my sliding glass door,
soaking in the fresh air along with God's word.

I wanted to open this post with this picture because reading today's reading was amazing even regardless of the content of the section, simply because, well - look at that!  Beautiful.  I stepped outside of my sliding glass door in the basement where Ken (John's dad) and John had set up a comfy hanging chair for me to use while I'm living there.  It was damp/rainy recently, so the white material you see at the base of the Bible is actually a large garbage bag in which I treated as a quasi-diaper.  I poked two holes in it and slid my legs through so that my clothes wouldn't get wet or dirty.  Ha!  Love it.  But anyway, back to the good stuff - The Books of the Bible!

There was so much good stuff in here.  Wow!  I'm loving it.  Two "theme words" if you will that struck me today were - 1) sacrifice and 2) worry.  Sacrifice was touched on in various parts of today's reading, starting with the first page (page 25) when Jesus talks about leaving everything, not working, not waiting for your family to die so you can bury them, just sacrificing your earthly world to serve our heavenly father.  I also thought the imagery of sending us out like lambs among wolves was so perfect. A familiar verse with a new viewpoint - I am reminded that while I have had a nice life, we are really like lambs among wolves.  There's no woodsman to hack us out of the wolf's stomach - we're not in a Grimm fairy tale...or perhaps we are?  I dunno, I don't feel like getting into folk/literary analysis.  Haha.

So, also touching on the sacrifice, and combining it with the worry aspect, I am brought to the image of Mary and Martha.  Here's Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to his teaching.  Then there's Martha scrambling to scrub the floors (or sweep in that time perhaps), maybe checking Pinterest for some amazing recipes to make for dinner (ha, can you imagine?), lighting candles or adding some decor to the house.  And she has the nerve to complain to Jesus because her sister wasn't helping.  Mary sacrificed the cleanliness of the house, the readiness of the meal, to sit and just be in the presence of Jesus, while Martha is just a worried, hurried, mess of complaint and negativity.  Let's all put away our Martha hats and become more like Mary - sit at the feet of Jesus listening to what he's saying to us.  Amen.

It's also good to reread the Lord's prayer.  One thing that I really like that my church from home does is in the bulletin every week, they have a "prayer bookmark."  In it are the prayer requests of church members.  The really neat thing they do is that it's set up in the format of the Lord's prayer.  I wish I had a visual to show you.  It's neat, you'll just have to trust me.

The section of verses that many people know, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."  Yes!  I just need to ask, seek, and knock.  Simplistic, yet oh so valuable to be reminded of that.  And from that Jesus talks about how our father in heaven knows how to give such amazing gifts.  {mushy gushy alert} He most certainly does!  I thank God for John Patrick Lawless every day.  And obviously, for my friends and family too.  But as this summer has been a truly tough transitional season in my life, John has been nothing but wonderful, and I am so grateful for his steady, calming, encouraging, joyous presence in my life.  If you're reading this John - thanks for being so wonderful!  :)

Okay, moving on - there's so much in here, man oh man.  Umm, we are to be lights in this world of darkness.  That reminds me of I think it was either the 6th or 7th grade at Trinity growing up when Mrs. Krokker (I think? Or that other lady I can't think of her name...oops) had us singing "You are the salt of the earth" from Godspell (which if you click here you will hear this song and see it with lyrics too - youtube is a wonderful thing!).  But anyways, yes we are to be the light of the earth!  Amen!

Ahh, and touching back on the worry piece that I mentioned earlier - Jesus goes into talking about sparrows and how five sparrows are sold for two pennies, and we are worth so much more than many sparrows.  Yes!  I know that birds are super trendy right now, I even have two doves tattooed on my right ankle, with a cross in the middle there, but, we are worth way more than they are - so much so that the very hairs on our head are all numbered (although my number sure seems to be decreasing rapidly every time I wash/brush my hair!).  But yes, then later Jesus goes on to talk even more about worry and how we are just not to do it.  He uses ravens (again with the birds, love it!) and the flowers, and the grass of the field to demonstrate just how important we are to God, and to remind us not to worry.  I love this too "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom."  Amazing.  Simply amazing.  Beautiful imagery - little flock.  :)

I love reading "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  That's good to read to remind myself to reevaluate where my treasure truly is.  And lastly, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."  I'm not saying I have tons of stuff, I'm definitely not living in the lap of luxury as far as material possessions go, but I have truly been blessed with the people that God has placed in my life, and the lessons I have learned from/through them.  So to me this verse reminds me that since I have been given wisdom and life lessons from others, I am to use that knowledge to help others as best as I can and know how.  And that's part of why I feel like social work is such a good fit for me...now just to find a job in the field - ha - but that's another story.  :)

Onto the questions!  (number one was covered in the above response)

2.  What questions did you have?
--I have always wondered about the part where it says "anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."  I suppose what I'm looking for is a really good/solid definition of blasphemy so that I can understand that verse better.  Also, another question I have is when Jesus appointed the 72 others and sent them out two by two, and he says not to greet anyone on the road - I'm curious what that was all about?  Is that more of a cultural thing?  A safety thing?  Hmm...I have absolutely no idea.  

3.  What did you learn about God?
--I learned that, while obviously God knows us, God really knows me.  He knows that I am feeling worried lately and that I needed to read and soak in those verses about not worrying.  Because I am worth more than a sparrow.  I am more valuable than a raven.  I have ample clothes like the wild flowers and grasses in the field.  While right now I feel like a homeless gypsy wandering from place to place, not sure where my next meal is coming from, or how I'm going to put gas in my car - I need not worry - because God will take care of me.  Hands down, no questions asked.  Best life insurance I've ever had and will ever need.  Can I get an amen?!

4.  What did you learn about yourself?
--Piggybacking off question 3, I learned that I am indeed a worrier.  I knew this before, but now am reminded that I should make every effort not to be.

5.  How might this change the way you live?
--Hopefully, based off of questions 3 and 4, I will be less of a worrier, and live life with less anxiety and frustration.  And be more joyful.  I can't wait until we get into Philippians in this challenge.  :)  I've always liked Philippians.

See you guys at the next blog post!  Until then, adiĆ³s mis amigos!

One of my favorite Shel Silverstein poems.  :)

#abcntc Day Two (a day late!)

Hello hello!  Sorry this is a day late.  Somehow yesterday seemed to fill up and before I knew it, my eyes were heavy and I was falling asleep in my onesie (yes I have and wear a onesie from time to time!).  So I decided to postpone yesterday's reading and do it today, and later in the day I will do today's reading.  But anyway...

There was a lot of good stuff in here as there was from the day before's reading.  I underlined a lot of familiar things to me, but some of the things I read were unfamiliar, and some of the familiar things hit me in a new light.

The first underlined section I only noticed because it was written about by Union leader Brad Holmes in his blog response to yesterday's reading (which can be read by clicking here!) in which he discusses Simon's mother-in-law who had a high fever, was healed by Jesus, and then got up immediately and began to wait on her guests.  What a neat thing!  Now I understand there might be feminists out there who hate this because she's playing the traditional "female-role" blah-blah-blah.  I understand feminism to a degree, but this is way bigger than that.  It shows the power of God and how we are to respond - by passing along his care to others!  Amazing.

I also like this- "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."  I definitely need to do that more often and more intentionally.  To step aside from the day's busy and hectic schedules and to do lists, to be alone and pray and be in relationship with our heavenly father?  What a noble and important thing that I must be more intentional about doing.  Even taking a walk on the river trail, without my prayer journal, spending time with God would do my soul so much good.

Day two's section definitely has a lot of good stuff in there.  I love when Jesus says "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance."  And also what most Bible call the Beatitudes is in this section too.  It's so good to be rereading it with fresh eyes in more of a love letter format.  The section though after that, or perhaps it's even part of the Beatitudes, where it says "But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.  Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.  Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets."  I don't really remember reading this before, though I know I have.  It makes me feel that I'm not allowed to laugh, or have people speak well of me.  I don't know what I'm supposed to be learning from this section, except maybe perhaps that we are to live for our heavenly world and future, not our world here on earth.  Hmm...

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you..."  Amazing reminders.  And for those who know me a bit more personally know that next week is going to be a hard week for me.  It's a three year mark.  Wow.  So much has changed since then.  I need to remember to love my enemies, do good to those who hate me, to bless those who curse me, and to definitely pray for those who mistreat me.  I might have to remember to reread that next week.

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned."  This speaks to me because in my life I have definitely felt judged, and I am sure others have felt judged by me.  I need to remember to just not do that!

"For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."  What is my heart full of?  I suppose I should listen to myself and find out.

Ahh - the section where the sinful woman came to Jesus, wiped his feet with her tears, kissed his feet, and poured perfume all over them.  For some reason, this section made me get a bit choked up today.  I am definitely a sinful woman.  I have a huge debt that God has forgiven and continues to forgive.  I need and want to show my faithfulness to him with acts of gratefulness, thankfulness, and complete devotion.  I need to wipe Jesus' feet with my tears, kiss them, and pour perfume all over them.  What a beautiful image.

"Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace."  I yearn for the time and hope and pray for the time when my faith will heal me from my demons - and when I can go in peace.

It's good to be reminded that I must deny myself and take up my cross daily and follow Christ.  I must not be ashamed to proclaim the Son of God!

Okay- so there's my regurgitation of some verses as well as some of my thoughts on them.  Now I'm going to jump into the discussion questions.

1.  What was new or compelling to you?
---All that I wrote about pretty much.  :)

2.  What questions did you have?
---Again, I wondered about the "woe" verses - "woe to you who laugh now" - I'm curious about that, and hope that I can keep watching Parks and Rec, and New Girl because man those shows make me laugh!  (And Community too - can't wait for the next season!).

3.  What did you learn about God?
---I learned that I serve an awesome God.  I mean, I knew that before, but it's just so refreshing to be reminded of just how awesome he is.  I'm digging this New Testament Challenge.  I know I am going to grow and that God is going to challenge me and use this to really shape me more into the woman he wants me to be.

4.  What did you learn about yourself?
---I learned that I need to live and serve more whole-heartedly, with more devotion, and faith.

5.  How might this change the way you live?
---Similar to question number four, I am going to be more intentional.  That seems to be my buzzword.  I am going to be more intentional.

Alright, that's it for me for now.  Please feel free to comment if you have any comments!  Or questions. Or answers!  :)  Hope you are all having a great day and that you truly feel God's love and joy in your day today.

I sure hope I'm allowed to laugh, because these things crack me up!

(This following verse will speak to me even more next week - especially as it is permanently inked on my ankle - but I'm going to use it today too.)

I love you, oh Lord, my strength.
[Psalm 18:1]

Monday, September 24, 2012

#abcntc Day One

Today is the start of Ada Bible Church's New Testament Challenge.  I wrote about it briefly yesterday to kind of introduce the challenge.  Basically- Ada is challenging the congregation to read through the entire New Testament in 8 weeks and grow together as a congregation through the experience as well as through small group discussion and messages at services during those 8 weeks.  They're encouraging everyone to read a version of the Bible in NIV entitled "The Books of the Bible."  Basically this group "revamped" the Bible and put it in a different, more chronological/make sense kind of order, took out chapter and verse markings, and made it more of the love letter that was its original design (check out the video I linked in yesterday's post).  I just completed reading day one and really wanna talk about it, so here I go!

Actually, before I start processing my own thoughts and questions, I wanted to quote the blog that Ada is running throughout these 8 weeks.  I really liked what Anne Ferris, Children's Ministry Worship leader, said in her response to the reading this morning (Click here to read the entire post):

"I think it can be so easy to plan our lives around our own dreams, even our families' dreams.  We can organize every detail and schedule every moment.  What is harder to remember is it doesn't matter how carefully we choreograph, God's plan is not like ours."
[Anne Ferris]

Amazing.  And so true!

So my experience was pretty much blissful.  I know that might sound cheesy, but read on.  I'm curled up in my bright pink cozy pajama pants, a warm fuzzy zip-up hooded sweatshirt; I have a ginormous fleece blanket wrapping me up like a burrito, and I'm sipping a piping hot cup of Folger's Columbian, that I turned into "Maple Spice" coffee (coffee + cinnamon + maple syrup + cream & sugar = amazing) and turn the pages to page 1, the invitation to Luke Acts.  Luke Acts?  To be honest, I'm not sure how they put together Luke Acts, whether they took different pieces from both and mashed them together, or what.  I'm sure they explained it and I must have somehow missed it.  Hmm...I'll have to look back into that.  But anyway...

So scanning through the reading, and looking simply at what I underlined, this section truly spoke to me!  There is so much in these verses, so much wisdom and knowledge, it's amazing!  My first underlined chunk was Mary when she said "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant."  Wow.  Okay that is cool.  What a good reminder that God is taking good care of us.  I definitely needed to be reminded of that as I sometimes forget in all of life's busy-ness, that there is a plan and God's in control.

The next section I underlined, to be honest, is a familiar and well-known verse, that I don't 100% know why I underlined.  It's again referring to Mary and it says "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."  I guess, now, after rereading, to me that's an excellent reminder to treasure things and ponder them.  I know that might seem simplistic, but how often do you treasure things and ponder them?  And in this case, she is treasuring and pondering her encounter with the shepherds who spread the word of Jesus' arrival.

Next is the quote saying "She (Anna, daughter of Penuel) never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying."  This was so convicting for me.  I so often get caught up in life's crazy schedules and endless to do lists and I think, man how am I gonna find time to write in my prayer journal today?  But Anna never left the temple, worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.  That is amazing.  What a solid reminder and amazing encouragement for me in my life.

These next few chunks are things John said while traveling around and baptizing folk.  He said "The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."  Yikes.  Okay - that is helpful for me in that I need to truly look at what kind of fruit I am producing on a day to day, moment to moment basis.  Hmm.

John also said "Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same."  Hello social work!  Love this reminder of helping our brothers and sisters in need.

This verse I don't know that I have ever really thought about, or remember reading.  It's probably not even an entire verse, but John says "be content with your pay."  Wow.  Wow!  I work part time at Biggby Coffee, I have student loans up the wazoo and bills to pay on top of that.  What a good reminder.  God always has and always will provide everything that I need, so why shouldn't I be content with my pay?  I should!  I should be content with my pay, and I am definitely going to work on that.  That is a very convicting five words for me personally.

The last few things I underlined are things Jesus said that were written in the Old Testament.  One) "Man shall not live on bread alone."  Two) "Worship the Lord your God and serve him only." Three) "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."  These remind me that yes, even Jesus was tempted (Jesus quoted these things when the devil was with him in the wilderness), Jesus did not sin and also was really amazing at quoting scripture.  Yes we here on earth need food to eat, but we need so much more than that - we need the grace of God!  Also, what a good reminder to serve God alone.  I spend a lot of my time pursuing various hobbies and interests, but God is my number one and needs to remain that way always.  And not testing God.  What's that Bible story about the sheep's wool getting dew on it or something?  Well, I'm not setting up elaborate ways to test God or anything, but in my own way, I do test him.  I need to be more aware of that, and then just not do it.  God will take care of me - that's all I need to know and remember.

Okay, next comes the discussion questions.  Ada has provided five discussion questions to think about and discuss following each day's reading.  I feel like I might have already worked through some of them, but let's have a go anyway.

1.  What was new or compelling to you?
---I think pretty much what I underlined was new and or compelling.  The one that I think seems to be sticking with me the most at the moment is being content with my pay.  I think that might prove to be a challenge, but it was definitely new and compelling for me.

2.  What questions did you have?
---I am curious about how this version of the New Testament spliced together Luke and Acts.  I might just have to find someone at church this next weekend and ask, or google search it or something.  But other than that, no questions are coming to mind at the moment.  Or, well, I guess I'd like to know more about Anna and her story.  I'm not familiar with much information about her.  That intrigues me a bit.

3.  What did you learn about God?
---I learned that our God, my God, is awesome.  Simply put - he is awesome.  There is so much in just those short eleven pages that I learned today and that is in God's love letter to me!  How many religions and beliefs have a whole love letter written directly to them?  None that I'm aware of.  I am so refreshed from the reading today about how amazing my God is, and I definitely needed to be reminded of that in this season of seemingly endless transition, the land between.

4.  What did you learn about yourself?
---I learned that I need to get into the word more, and more often.  And I learned that apparently, writing about it really helps me process, and helps whatever I have read, sink in.  Perhaps the endless essays they have students write in school, really do have a purpose!  :)

5.  How might this change the way you live?
---All the things I have read today, been thinking about and processing, have changed the way I live in that I am going to try and be more intentional about spending time in the word.  I am fairly decent at adding prayer time to my daily to do list, but for some reason, spending time in the word makes it on that list waaaay less frequently.  So yes, today has given me new resolve and new encouragement to be more intentional about spending time with God's love letter to me.

Okay!  That's it for today.  Another novel so it seems as I scroll through.  Haha.  Good thing I'm a relatively fast typer, and hopefully you are a relatively fast reader.  Until next time!

A homemade Clay Carlson mug next to the best love letter ever written.
Two gifts from the best father's I have ever known, and ever will know.


"God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies grey and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage.  Flood the path with light, run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to your honour and glory.
[Augustine]

4 Months of Fun + Premier + California Planning + Biggby Barista-ing + #abcntc + A Million Other Things = one busy girl!

Hello there readers who are few and far between (possibly non-existent even!) - hello!

Since there are few, if any of you, I am going to use this as a way to unload some thoughts.  More of a journal that I won't be able to lose to process some of the past months changes.  Love it.

Since I last wrote, much has changed, and when I say much, I mean preeettty much everything in my life.  It's almost kind of weird.

So April ended with John and I celebrating our one year, which I wrote about, and me graduating with my Masters of Social Work.  Since then I filled out the paperwork and am now a "Limited License Master Social Worker" - or Emily Carlson, LLMSW.  You can even see the proof of it on the licensing website by clicking the following link and searching my name - Click here! - pretty neat, huh?  Love it.  So since then I have been trying to study for my licensing exam, and trying to find a social work job - both of which have so far proved to be pretty unsuccessful, but there's still time.  :)

In the meantime, I continued to live with my girls in Grand Rapids until the end of May, and then I packed up and moved to quaint little Portland, Michigan - where I am currently living.  John's parent's graciously offered me a spot to live for some time in their basement which has been such a blessing.  It made such a world of difference for me and John too, from living 45 minutes away, to literally a block away from each other.  I think we've become a bit spoiled.  Actually - today marks 1 year and 5 months of dating!  Pretty neat, huh?  ;)

However, John's parents (Ken & Cindy) are currently in the process of selling their house, which means I'm in the process of finding a new place to lay my head.  At this point I'm still kinda perusing my options before I make any decisions and move any furniture.  We'll see where I end up!  Always an adventure.

Umm, what else?  Oh!  John and I have embarked on a fun mission that I have dubbed "Four Months of Fun!"  Our goal is to go on four fun dates a month for the last four months of the year 2012.  So far for the month of September we have gone to a drive in movie (the Getty Drive-In in Muskegon where we saw Hit and Run, but got rained out for the next movie of The Bourne Legacy, unfortunately).  Then the next weekend we were able to squeeze in a trip to Grand Rapids amidst a busy weekend where John was a best man in a friend from high school's wedding, to visit the Eastown Street Fair!  It was fun to walk around and stop by the little booths and grab some good food, of which I spilled most of it on the street because I'm just a wee bit clumsy.  :)  I got to make a button, I also picked up a cute tie-dyed headband, and a journal made out of a repurposed children's book!  Neat!  Then our latest date for the month of September was 8 weeks in the making!  John and I participated and competed in the Dunes Duathlon in Saugatuck.  Unfortunately, due to weather, they cancelled the biking portion, but we were still able to complete the 5 mile trail/dune run in the wind and rain!  Hooray!  Haha.  We had been training for 8 weeks, working out about 5 days a week, plus we gave up pop and fast food - and we were able to finish it without walking one step of it!  (Although we both had to stop at various points to tie our shoes - mental note - double knots).  So yes, we have both lost a bit of weight, and have had fun bonding over sweat and scraped knees (okay, so that was just me when I fell off my bike on a hill once, ha!) throughout the whole training period.  My legs are quite sore today, but I'm feeling good.  And after our race, we treated ourselves to fast food, me to Taco Bell, and John to McDonalds.  Yum!  Oh and here's a funny side note, I won a trophy for my division!  I got 2nd place in the female 20-24 age range.  Although I think there might have been only two of us to begin with.  I'll have to get back to you on that one though.  :)  They're posting times within the next week or so, online.  :)  Okay----phew that was a long section - next!

So four months of fun, what else has been going on?  Today I had my training show to become a Premier Jeweler.  Premier is so cool.  It's a company that was started in 1985 I believe, by a retired married couple who wanted to continue to support missions while in retirement.  So they started Premier.  Premier is a home based jewelry show party selling thing.  Basically I (as a jeweler) would come to your house and help you host a party and also help you earn free Premier jewelry!  It's a win-win.  So I had my training show today that my mom so graciously hosted (too bad only two people could make it since it was thrown together last minute!), but it ended up being a smash success.  I think everyone had a ton of fun, and really got to enjoy each other's company because of the small number.  We drank good coffee, ate some snacks, and got to try on some fun pieces.  If you are reading this, and think "hey, I could use some free jewelry for myself, or to give away as Christmas gifts" or "I love Emily, she's awesome - I'd love to help her get started in this new business venture" - then please, by all means, please feel free to contact me!  My email is emily.a.carlson@gmail.com.  I'd love to hear from you!

California planning.  On October 5th, which is next week already, I fly out from Detroit to LAX to spend some time in California!  Hooray!  I am so excited I cannot even express to you.  Lo (Lauren), my roommate from the dorms, and housemate/roommate for a total of 6 years, is going home to visit her family and friends, and has invited us girls to join her!  Nikki and I will be going out there and hanging out enjoying the sights and having adventures.  I can't wait!  I fly out the 5th and get to spend some time with my cousin Brook, hanging out at Disneyland, and going to a 1920's themed party, and then I'll change gears to meet up with Nik and Lo and her family and friends until the 17th when I fly back!  :D  At this point all I know is that we're camping and spending time at the ocean.  Other than that, and hopefully hanging out with a college friend Nehemiah who also lives in California, there aren't a whole lot of concrete plans that I know of.  I am beyond excited.  Woo-hoo!

What else, what else?  Oh yeah, I'm a Biggby barista!  I love it.  To be honest though, it's a bit weird to be a barista.  Here's why- my last two years in high school I worked at Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins in St. Joe making coffee.  Now six years later, post college, post grad school, where am I?  Making coffee.  It seems kind of silly.  But I just have to remind myself that I will not be making coffee forever. I mean, not for a job anyway.  Haha.  It's a temporary, gotta pay my student loans, kinda gig.  And I'm enjoying it for the most part.  I don't like the drama that comes along with certain types of workplaces, but I'm learning to deal with it, and I enjoy the regulars and the ever present smell of coffee is pretty fantastic as well, so it's pretty much a good thing.

Oh man, how could I forget the main reason for writing this blog post?!  #abcntc  You might be wondering what that's all about!  Well, don't worry - I'm going to tell you!  I love Ada Bible Church.  It's the church I went to in college, in grad school, and I try to make it to GR when I can even now while living in Portland.  I love it.  It has fed me in so many ways over the years, with the financial ministry, their mentoring program, volunteering with the kiddos, Union (young adult group), and great worship/messages!  Well starting tomorrow (Monday September 24th), Jeff (one of the pastors) is challenging the entire congregation, middle schoolers on up, to read the entire new testament in 8 weeks (#abcntc = Ada Bible Church New Testament Challenge).  I opened up my blog to document that experience as well as to kinda keep myself accountable for reading and processing the experience.  What's even cooler about it is that they're using an NIV translation that has been "revamped."  Don't be too skeptical.  Click the following hyperlink and scroll down a little ways to watch the video and learn more: Click me! So did you watch it?  Pretty cool huh?  I'm excited.  They're having us read about 12 pages a day, 5 days a week.  I wanted to join one of the small groups to discuss it, but being gone for about 2 weeks in California, and living quite a ways away from GR, didn't make much sense.  But John is going to do the challenge with me, so hopefully we will be able to get some good discussion in about it, with just the two of us.  So yeah, I'm hoping to document bits of my journey, either when I have questions or thoughts, or just plain ole have time to post about it!  :)  I'm excited for this journey!

Umm...I'm trying to think if there's anything I have missed.  But I am guessing that at this point this post is probably quite long.  If you think of it, I'd appreciate some prayer as I try to study for my social work licensing exam.  That's coming up pretty soon here.  I am looking forward to that being done, provided I pass.  Haha.

Actually why don't I just have a whole prayer request section, in the off chance that anyone is still reading this:

--For wisdom of where to live next
--For a social work job to work out and be an excellent fit, in a great location, as well as high paying!
--For Premier to start well, for me to network well, enjoy it, and earn some loan repayment money
--For John and my relationship to continue to grow and strengthen as it has the past year and five months
--For travels and time spent in California to be fun, refreshing, and overall just a great time, as well as that I am safe whilst traveling
--For God to really use the #abcntc to grow and challenge me and my relationship with him as well as a way to witness to others as I post about it on this blog
--For God to use me at Biggby in the lives of people I work with as well as serve those who happen to want a cup of coffee that day
--For me to carve out time to study, soak in the material, and pass the exam!
--For God to continue to shape me into the woman that he wants me to be as I struggle in this time of what seems to be endless transition, for him to teach me great lessons and impart much wisdom, for me to truly learn the meaning of trust as I feel like a gypsy moving from place to place, not knowing how I'm going to pay my next bill, or put gas in my car, and just kinda feeling like I don't have a "home base" anymore...
--For all the other either requests somewhere in my head and heart, or the requests that are on my list for loved ones, family, friends, coworkers, old classmates, customers at Biggby, passersby looking downtrodden, I ask for prayer for comfort, healing, direction, endless joy!, freedom, encouragement, strength, admonishment, amongst a multitude of other things..

Thank you!  Thank you for reading all this way.  I appreciate you.  You are awesome.  You are truly awesome!  Remember that when your day gets crazy, or stressful, or busy, or whatever is making you not remember the joy of the Lord!

Here's a picture that brings me joy-

John and I having fun with jumping poses late one night at Crystal Lake!

Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.
[Psalm 47:1]