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Manda’s Fight: Faith Over Fear 5k

This is so that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty…

-Joshua 4:24

Cancer.

I cannot think of a single person who has not been affected by it in some way. Even if we have not personally battled this horrendous disease, we know of someone who has: Mothers. Fathers. Husbands. Wives. Sons. Daughters. Brothers. Sisters. Grandparents. Aunts. Uncles. Cousins. Friends.

Today I want to tell you the story of an inspiring young woman who attends our church.

Her name is Manda and she is by far the strongest woman I know.

Maxwell Family

Meet Aaron, Aiden, Miley, and Manda Maxwell. Photo Credit: Narci D Photography

Manda’s first battle with cancer began when she was only five years old. She beat it.

The cancer resurfaced in 2009 and Manda went to battle once again. Only two short weeks after her son Aiden was born, Manda made the courageous decision to have her leg amputated in an attempt to contain the cancer and prevent it from spreading throughout her body. She fought hard and beat it.

Now, five years later, at the age of 33, Manda is facing cancer for the third time.

I’m going to let that sink in a little.

This is Manda’s third battle with cancer; a task that seems insurmountable.

Several weeks ago Manda found a spot on her spine and after a series of tests, later discovered she will be fighting a rare form of Sarcoma. She is currently undergoing her first round of chemotherapy. The Maxwell’s are confident that the Lord will sustain them in the difficult journey that lies up ahead, and we, as fellow brothers and sister in Christ are determined to shower them with love and support along the way.

Manda Strong 5k

If you live in the DFW area, this is one way you can make a tangible difference in the Maxwell’s life. As a community, we have decided to come together and rally behind this incredible family in the Faith over Fear 5k and 1 mile fun run that will take place Saturday December 13th at Cooper Fitness Center at Craig Ranch (located in McKinney, TX).  Proceeds will directly support the Maxwell family as Manda seeks treatment and battles for her life once again.

Click here to register.

Details

5K and 1 Mile Fun Run benefiting the Maxwell Family

Packet pickup: Friday December 12 from 1:00pm to 7:00pm at Cooper Fitness Craig Ranch

5K to start at 9:00 am
Fun Run to start at 9:30 am

Race Location: Cooper Fitness Center at Craig Ranch  7910 Collin McKinney Pkwy 75070

Bounce House, Music, Food, Vendors, etc…

Greg and I will both be participating in the 5k race and we would love, love, love to meet you!

Whether you are a competitive runner or not, you will not want to miss this race.

You can also find more information about the event, as well as receive updates on Manda’s condition at:

Faith over Fear 5k Facebook Page

Manda Strong Facebook Page

If you do not live in the DFW area and would still like to support the Maxwell family, you can make a donation here.

Maxwell Family 2

Photo courtesy of the Manda Strong Facebook page

 

There is strong.

Then there is #mandastrong

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I’ve watched several of Michael Hyatt’s Platform University videos as of late, learning from his wisdom and experience on how to grow your online influence and obtain a strong platform. In this particular video, he addresses something that has resonated with my heart on many levels at this particular time in my life– quitting before reaching a breakthrough.

I must confess something to all of you– that’s right where I’m at. I’ve been teetering back and forth between whether I should press through the frustration, the struggle, the criticism that is associated with sharing your life with the online community… or… should I hang my hat and call it good? Walk away before I invest any more time and money into this paid space on the internet.

And honestly, the only thing that is keeping me from closing up shop and shutting the blog down right now is the greater vision God has placed on my heart for this community.

Blogging is hard, y’all. Much harder than it may seem. And as I have slowly started to transition from fluffy ‘How To’ posts and weekend recaps (not that those are bad. In fact, I still intend to blend those into my writing now and then) to deeper, more thought-provoking topics, I am met with much more resistance.

It’s hard to pour your guts out in a blog post, hold your breath to see how/if people respond to your words, and then… it is nothing but the sound of crickets softly chirping in the background, or, on the flip side, you receive hateful emails from people who think you are an awful person who is close-minded because of your spiritual convictions. The emotional roller-coaster associated with blogging is not something any of the “blogging experts” prepare you for. Maybe it’s because of the particular genre my blog category falls under? I don’t know. But this journey is taxing on many emotional levels and sometimes I ask myself if it’s even worth it?

But most of the time,  this is my struggle: I wonder if anyone is reading my words? If what I am writing is making even the slightest difference in someone’s life?

I think of you, my readers, with every word I write. I care about you. I care about what is going on in your world. I care about what God is teaching you, how He is revealing Himself to you. I pray for you, daily. I pray over each blog post I write– that first and foremost, God would be honored and glorified in my writing, and second, that my words would resonate with some of you and that you would leave my blog feeling hopeful, encouraged, or perhaps challenged to dig deeper into Scripture.

I think I care too much at times.  I want this space to be a place where you feel encouraged; but not only that, I want this to be a place where we feel the freedom to challenge and push one another to pursue the deeper mysteries of Christ.

I’m not writing this as a passive attempt at gaining your encouragement or sympathy. That’s not my heart at all. From the beginning, I have desired to be nothing but honest with all of you. So this is me, sharing with all of you, where I’m struggling right now.

I’m writing these words because I feel like I need to press on– to march forward holding nothing but God’s commission in my hands and the vision He has placed in my heart; but I’m lacking the courage and the motivation to do so. A big part of me wants to quit. And it’s hard to admit that to all of you. Really hard. I don’t want to be one of those people who give up on the cusp of a breakthrough. I really don’t. But it’s tempting. Oh, so, tempting.

So, all of that to say, please pray for me and I wrestle through these feelings. Pray for clarity and purpose. Pray for vision. Pray that I will wholeheartedly pursue God’s will for my life, regardless of what that may look like. And thank you. Thank you for allowing me into your life, even if it is only a small part of your time. I am humbled and immensely grateful for all of you.

 

 

20 Verses to Read When You Feel Rushed

Perhaps you are like me and you feel that you are caught up in the perpetual rat race called ‘life’. You are constantly rushing from one event to the next; barely stopping long enough to shove that glorious spicy Chick-fil-A sandwich in your mouth as you pull up into the car pick up line at the elementary school mid-afternoon. You have been running ragged since your feet hit the floor this morning. Scrubbing the kitchen floors, sanitizing bathrooms, vacuuming, dusting, making beds, and tackling that endless pile of laundry. You have been so busy you even forgot to shower. For the third day in a row. Moms are a disgusting breed. Okay, maybe it’s just me. But surely I can’t be the only one, right?

I feel like I can’t keep up with the demands. I get up early so I can spend time with my sweet Jesus and you know what happens? I get distracted by my never-ending to-do list and cut our time short. I long to spend hours sitting at His feet and here lately I’m lucky to get in a good 10 minutes, at best. Today the Lord gifted me with some extra time in the middle of my day and lo and behold, guess which topic He addressed? My tendency to rush through my day. The following verses both convicted me and left me encouraged. I wanted to share them with you. It is my hope that they encourage you as well.

 

rushed

 

… God is not a God of disorder but of peace. – 1 Corinthians 14:33

“Certainly, man walks about like a mere shadow. Indeed, they frantically rush around in vain, gathering possessions without knowing who will get them. Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.” – Psalm 39:6-7

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:34

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

Yes, Yahweh, we wait for You in the path of Your judgments. Our desire is for Your name and renown. – Isaiah 26:8

I will wait for Yahweh; I will wait and put my hope in His word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning- more than watchmen for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord. For there is faithful love with the Lord, and with Him is redemption in abundance.                    – Psalm 130:5-7

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; I wait for You all day long. – Psalm 25:5

We wait for Yahweh; He is our help and shield.- Psalm 33:20

Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the man who carries out evil plans. – Psalm 37:7

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. – Proverbs 12:25

I will praise You forever for what You have done. In the presence of Your faithful people, I will put my hope in Your name, for it is good.               – Psalm 52:9

Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him. – Psalm 62:5

Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord. – Psalm 27:14

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.               – Philippians 4:6

Endurance produces proven character, proven character produces hope. – Romans 5:4

I waited patiently for the Lord, and He turned to me and heard my cry for help. – Psalm 40:1

Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God. All who wait patiently for Him are happy. – Isaiah 30:18

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him; to the person who seeks Him. – Lamentations 3:26

But I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. -Micah 7:7

And here is a bonus because I absolutely love the picture of God’s providence in this passage:

Lord, Your faithful love reaches to heaven, Your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains; Your judgments, like the deepest sea. Lord, Your preserve man and beast. God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They are filled from the abundance of Your house; You let them drink from Your refreshing stream, for with You is life’s fountain. In You we will see light. Spread Your faithful love over those who know You, and Your righteousness over the upright in heart. – Psalm 36:5-10

Which passages of Scripture do you turn to when you feel hurried or stressed?

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Duplicity of Heart

I started my morning with a crappy attitude. Can I say “crap” on the blog? Well, I just did. If you are offended, I’m sorry, but it’s the God-honest truth. My attitude sucked. Why? Because quite frankly, I’m tired. I’m worn out. I’m ready to tap out. I’m done. I have spent ten looooong years swinging from one trial to the next and I woke up this morning tempted to shake my fist at God and demand, “Where is my fairy-tale, God?” “What on earth did I do to deserve this, God?” “How much longer must I suffer, God?” “Are you even listening to me?”

I’m so glad God is patient with me and my moody self and doesn’t give me the spiritual spanking my poor attitude clearly deserves. As I sat in my favorite spot on the couch, drinking my coffee, I reluctantly grabbed my Bible. I didn’t want to commune with God this morning. I really  didn’t. I wanted to be angry with Him. I wanted Him to know how much I didn’t appreciate all of the junk I have had to endure lately. I wanted Him to know that my broken heart cannot bear the weight of any more suffering. I wanted Him to know that I needed a break– that I need something to go right for once.

Waah. Waah. Waah. My pity party train was on a roll. Next stop… Humbleville.

I opened my journal, flipping through the pages in search of my last entry, when the following words from my September 10th entry caught my attention.

We want God’s mercy without His justice.

We want God’s grace without His holiness.

We want God’s favor without His skillful pruning.

We want God’s goodness without His discipline.

We want God’s blessings without the accompanied suffering.

We desire our independence and scorn any measure of dependence.

We want the presents of God far more than we want the presence of God.

We want the resurrection without the death.

We praise God’s faithfulness when our bank accounts are padded, our retirement fund secure, our health is in tact, and our futures seem bright. The moment we come face to face with loss of any kind, we place God Almighty on the witness stand and call into question His very being. How could such a loving God allow me to suffer like this? We begin to question His Sovereignty. We question His goodness. We question His undying love for us. We question His grace. We question His mercy. He question His faithfulness. 

The moment we are stripped of all that we cling to and expose the idols of our worship, we begin to unveil a duplicity of heart.

We cannot possibly fathom God’s use of suffering for our benefit. It’s not in our nature. We want nothing to do with it. And the moment God approaches you with pruning shears, you run in the opposite direction. I know I do. It takes a surrendered heart to willingly sit through God’s pruning. But take heart, dear one, suffering, when placed in the tender, skillful hands of the Father, produces fruitfulness.

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

John 15: 1-2 [emphasis added]

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Galatians 5: 22-24

So, if you find yourself in a season of pruning, like me, and you are tempted to shake your fist in anger because you cannot understand why it is you are suffering, know that it is not in vain. God delicately cuts away all that is not of Him, so that what is left, over time, bears the image of Christ Jesus. Don’t be discouraged if  you are left feeling sparse, raw, and exposed. It’s part of the process. Trust it. It’s for your good, even though you may not be able to see it yet. A time is coming when you will blossom into a radiant image of Jesus, full of His glory, set apart for His purpose.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

God, help me to willingly submit myself to Your pruning shears. It’s a hard, yet necessary, process to becoming more like You. Help me to view suffering as both a gift and a blessing (Philippians 1:29), used to produce a fruitful harvest that is pleasing in Your sight. Help me to not grow weary, but to rest in the fullness of Your presence. Give me strength for today, as I have none. Fill me with Your Spirit that I may be broken and poured out for Your glory and Your kingdom purposes. Amen.

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31 Days of Silliness

Amidst fits of giggles and laughter that provoked tears, Hayden wiped his face and shook his head, evidently dumbfounded at what he was seeing, and stated, “Mommy, I had no idea you could be this silly!”

Greg and I were in Kansas for a dear friend’s wedding and decided to Facetime the boys in between all of the festivities. Apparently we were slightly delirious after our long day of traveling and instead of helping Nana get the boys calmed down for bed, initiated an epic battle of who could make the silliest faces.

“What do you mean?” I laughed, although somewhat stunned by his assessment. “Mommy can be silly, too!”

Still attempting to control his giggles, he simply shrugged his shoulders and grinned, “You’re just not very silly most of the time, Mom. You’re always so serious.”

I glanced at Greg and he nodded his head. “Hayden’s got a point, babe.”

We blew kisses and said “I love you” a thousand times and ushered the boys off to bed.

I threw myself onto the mound of pillows and stared blankly at the ceiling. I was supposed to be getting dressed to meet the rest of the bridal party in the hotel lobby but I couldn’t get Hayden’s words out of my head. “You’re always so serious.”

It was time to make a change.

Photo Credit: brightdrops.com

Photo Credit: brightdrops.com

 

Hayden is absolutely right. I’m not very silly. It doesn’t come naturally to me. At.all. And while I appreciate the beauty in other’s acts of silliness, I rarely initiate random acts of silliness myself. But I desire to change that. My struggle is in that for most of my life, I have cared way too much about the opinion’s of others. I’ve placed too much emphasis on gaining the approval of everyone around me that I have missed the power that comes in looking silly.

Photo credit: buzzfeed.com

Photo credit: buzzfeed.com

Who cares if I look ridiculous? Who cares if I am misunderstood? Who cares if I am no longer living up to someone else’s expectations of what a responsible adult is supposed to look like? Because you know what I’ve learned? People will formulate their own opinions about you regardless of how hard you try to please them.

Life is too short to constantly worry about what other people think of you. So go on… be silly!

31 days of silliness

31 Days of Silliness Blog Challenge

 

Over the next 31 days I plan to commit at least one act of silliness with my family.

You can follow along on Instagram by using the hashtag #31daysofsillinesschallenge, or better yet, join me in the fun!

31 Days of Silliness Challenge

Y’all, I am not good at this whole “silliness” thing.

I’m going to need your help!

What are some ways I can incorporate random acts of silliness into my day?

 

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Five Killer Fall Crock-Pot Recipes Your Family Will Fall In Love With

My friends over at Red Gold Tomatoes contacted me a few weeks ago offering me an opportunity to test several of their products and help them promote their 2 a Day Crock-Pot giveaway featured right now on their Facebook page. Being a lover of crock-pot recipes myself, of course I said yes!

Red Gold giveaway

*Disclaimer- This is a sponsored post. Red Gold Tomatoes graciously provided me with a package of products to try out and review on my blog. All opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own.

I’ve never used Red Gold products until now. I’m not entirely sure why. I’ve seen their products on the shelf at the grocery store and have been tempted a time or two to purchase them, but I am a creature of habit and have religiously stuck to what I’ve always used. So I was giddy when I opened my box of Red Gold products and eager to put them to the test.

The first recipe I am sharing with you is a long-time family favorite. It’s quick and easy, full of flavor, and the most delicious taco soup on the planet! I substituted Red Gold tomatoes for Rotel and Hunt’s tomato sauce and I will not go back. It was 1,000 times better with the Red Gold products. Like, slap your mama good. My mouth is watering just typing this post. So. Good. I want to make another batch. Like, now.

Taco Soup recipe

Taco Soup featuring Red Gold tomatoes

Hayden enjoying taco soup featuring Red Gold tomatoes

 

I thought Hayden was going to fall out of his chair during dinner. He was bouncing around like he had tacks on his seat cushion, shouting, “It’s SOOOOO awesome!!!” It kinda reminded me of Agnes from Despicable Me when she encountered the fluffy unicorn at the fair. It was hilarious.

Its so fluffy

Source

The next recipe is another all-time favorite in the Card household. Texas Chili. You can’t live in Texas and not like chili. You just can’t.

Once again, I substituted my usual Rotel for Red Gold, this time using their Petite Diced tomatoes with green chilies. Mmmm…. it was so. good. y’all. So. Good. I think the next time I make it I will also include a can of their lime and cilantro diced tomatoes. Just for fun.

Texas Chili featuring Red Gold Tomatores

If you’ve never made queso in a crock-pot, you’re missing out. It’s the best thing, ever, and my family gobbles it up faster than a pack of ravenous wolves. This recipe is courtesy of Red Gold. I usually just combine a package of Velveeta cheese into my crock-pot, add a can or two of Rotel (sorry Rotel, I think you may have lost your spot in my grocery cart) and about a pound of ground beef (already seasoned and cooked), stirring occasionally until the Velveeta is melted. I really like the recipe below. It has a few more steps, but it’s packed full of flavor.

dip-and-can

1 can of Red Gold Diced Tomatoes with Lim Juice and Cilantro, drained.

1 can of Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies

1/2 pound of ground beef (I used 1 lb.)

12 American processed cheese singles (I used 1 pkg of Velveeta, cut into cubes)

1 clove of garlic, mined

3 Tbsps whipping cream

salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients into a crock-pot and cook for about 20 minutes on high. Serve with Frito Lay Tostitos scoops.

slow-cooker-BBQ-Pork-Recipes

I cannot claim the rights to this next slow cooker favorite. I found it on Pinterest and it was mind-blowing. Definitely worth checking out. For sure!

I don’t have any pictures of this next fall favorite because it was stored on my previous cell phone and I lost all of it’s content when it went to cell phone heaven last week. So you’ll just have to use your imaginations and trust me when I say that this pot roast is to die for. Trust me. Just do it.

Ingredients:

1 3- lb chuck roast

1 pkg dry Ranch seasoning mix

1 pkg dry au jus gravy mix

1 pkg McCormick pot roast seasoning

1 12 oz bottle of Samuel Adam’s Boston Lager

6 tbsp of butter

5-6 pepperoncini

Instructions:

Pour half of the Boston Lager at the bottom of your crock-pot and then place the chuck roast on top.

Next, add the dry Ranch mix, dry au jus gravy mix, and pot roast seasoning on top of the roast. Add the remaining Boston Lager and place the pepperoncini along the side of the roast. Top with butter.

Cook on low for 8 hours, shred, and ta-da! You now have the best pot roast in all the land.

I like to serve my pot roast with creamy mashed potatoes, fresh vegetables, and a dinner roll. It’s the bomb.

So what do you think?! These recipes are ah-maz-ing, right?!

Again, special thanks to my friends at Red Gold Tomatoes for providing the delicious tomatoes and an excuse to make some of my favorite fall slow cooker meals even though it currently feels nothing like fall in Texas. The struggle is real, y’all.

Be sure to head over to their Facebook page and enter to win a brand new crock-pot! They are generously giving away 2 crock-pots every day until October 8th. I mean, who doesn’t like a chance to win free stuff?

And speaking of free stuff, have you entered my current Facebook giveaway? I’m giving one fan a chance to win a customer necklace from The Vintage Pearl. Check it out!

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From My Heart to Yours, With Love

I want to take a moment to interrupt your day to say the following: “I love y’all”.

 

I do. I really do.

We have accomplished something I NEVER DREAMED would happen when I first started blogging. We have reached over 3,000 subscribers. This milestone leaves me feeling a number of things: dumbfounded, grateful, in awe of your continued support, humble… to name a few.

As a way of saying “THANK YOU!” I have sacrificed and saved up my money to offer one of my readers an opportunity to win a custom necklace from one of my favorite sites, The Vintage Pearl. More details on how to enter the giveaway can be found on my Facebook page.

Vintage Pearl Giveaway

If jewelry isn’t your thing, stick around. I am partnering with Red Gold later in the week and I will share with you how you can enter to win a brand new crock-pot, along with some rockin’ recipes just in time for Fall. You won’t want to miss it. :)

What are some of your favorite crock-pot recipes? Maybe I will feature yours in my next blog post?!

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Confronting One of My Greatest Fears

My computer sits idly on my kitchen table, humming softly, calling me to awaken it with the subtle tapping of my fingers on the keys. I walk past it, determined not to look, for fear that if I should look, I will have to face the inevitable—writing.

I duck my head, keeping my eyes focused solely on my feet and quickly enter the kitchen, briskly walk the extra five steps it takes to reach the washer and dryer, and begin the process of pulling wet clothes from the washer and placing them in the dryer. This task takes me all of two minutes to complete and I am left standing before my washing machine, drumming my thumbs rhythmically on its lid as I make feeble attempts to steady my heart rate.

I exhale sharply, “This is stupid.”

I gather enough courage to slowly make an about face, and march resolutely into the kitchen toward the computer, only to by-pass it and make my way to the master bedroom where I crumble to the floor and sob.

Why am I so afraid to write a blog post these days? What has gotten into me lately?

Fear.

What if I take what God has entrusted to me and somehow destroy it? What if no one reads the words I have written? What if I’m not good enough? What if misspeak and misrepresent God? What if someone preys on my vulnerability and attacks my reputation or my character? What if I fail?

What if… what if… what if…

God whispers softly into my frantic soul, “What if your words bring glory to My name? What if your story brings about healing and restoration in the lives of your readers? What if your words shine a light into dark places and souls are released from captivity? What if your words offer hope to the hopeless? Dear One, do not deny others of your gift simply because you are afraid of failure.”

During my (unintended) sabbatical of sorts from blogging over the summer, God made it inescapably clear that I am to shift my focus. He has placed upon my life a call to write—to share stories that deeply touch His heart, stories meant to challenge and convict us, stories meant to bring us to repentance, stories pleading for a call to action, stories of redemption and restoration. He is calling me to share my story, your stories, and the stories of those around the world who fear they have no voice- no one to advocate on their behalf. These stories, when woven together, share the greater story of God’s majesty and glory, and the weight of such a task leaves me feeling equally breathless and terrified.

I don’t exactly know why I am sharing all of this with you, only that I find the vulnerability of sharing my fears with you oddly liberating; that, and it is my hope that you will be gracious as I awkwardly find my footing in this new role. I don’t know how this shift in focus will transpire on the blog. I really don’t. All I know is that I am called. And as an act of obedience answer, “Yes, Lord.”

God has invited me to wade into water far deeper than I am accustomed to, without the security of the shoreline at my back should I begin to sink. Calling me deeper. Calling me to Himself. And as wave after wave of insecurity and fear and doubt wash over me, it is replaced with strength and courage. Not my strength, but His.

It’s exhilarating.

I’m still afraid, but I feel that with each blog post I write, with each small act of obedience, fear will be replaced with boldness; insecurity replaced with confidence; and doubt replaced with assurance in the One who appointed me to this task.

I refuse to allow my fear of failure keep me living a life of obedience. I refuse to allow my fear of failure to steal the beauty I was destined to create.

 

Has God ever called you to step out in faith, only your fear of failure kept you from acting in obedience? How did you face your fear? What was the result of your obedience?

 

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It’s Coming…

It’s my favorite time of the year!

School’s in session. The weather is growing steadily cooler. Leaves are changing into radiant shades of gold, blazing reds, and tantalizing oranges. And though it may be a stifling 100 degrees outside here in Texas, I’ve got a pot of taco soup simmering right now in my crock pot.

Red-autumn-morningSource

Autumn is approaching in all of its glorious splendor and this can only mean one thing… football season, hay rides, pumpkin patches, boots, chunky sweaters… and scarves!

Meg's 2nd Annual Scarf Swap

 

Last year we kicked off our first scarf swap with amazing results!

This is one of my favorite things to do on the blog for two reasons:

1. Scarves. Duh!

2. The friendships I have seen blossom as a result of this scarf swap melts my heart. I have always said that I have the kindest, most generous readers, and the scarf swap puts these attributes on full display. Many of you go above and beyond just sending your partner a new scarf– you send care packages. Wow! I’m totally impressed, y’all. You never cease to blow me away with your tenderness toward others.

For those of you who are new to the blog, allow me to explain the “rules” of the swap.

The rules are simple.

If you are interested in participating, in a comment below, please leave your First and Last Name along with the following:

current email address 
Blog address (optional)
Twitter handle (optional)
Instagram (optional)
Blog Facebook page (optional)
Pinterest (optional)

This way we can all go check out your social media sites and follow along because this is, after all, all about building community. We love supporting one another on this ‘ol blog. And I promise, you will meet some of the most incredible friends if you should join us!

1. On September 14th I will take the names of those who would like to participate, put them in a hat, and pair you up with someone awesomeOn September 15th I will email all participants and reveal the scarf swap partners.

2. Once you have been paired up with someone, you have two weeks to get to know your scarf swap partner and purchase a scarf for your new friend. Try and have all scarves in the mail and at your partner’s doorstep by September 27th.

3. We will link up here (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram) on Tuesday September 30th to show off pictures of your new scarf!

4. The suggested price of the scarf is $20. It can be more or less depending on your budget, but this is just a good starting point. Also, many of you have asked in the past if you could send your partner other goodies along with the scarf. I think this is an absolutely wonderful idea and I am sure your partner would love it! I do want to be mindful of those who are on a strict budget, so this is not required to participate in the swap. I would suggest talking it over with your scarf swap partner first so you can decide together if that is something you would like to do.

5. Share this with your friends and family! The more the merrier in my opinion!

6. Use the following hashtag #Megsfallscarfswap when chatting about the swap online.

***Disclaimer***

In fairness, if you are not 100% certain that you will follow through with the scarf swap, please do not sign up. I want everyone to have fun and would hate for someone’s partner to not follow through on their commitment at the last-minute. Thank you for understanding!

I scored these two beauties last year!

from jessie

from casey

We would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for you to join us this year!

We’re Already Crazy. Let’s Just Own It.

It all started four years ago.

I was sitting at my desk, a fresh copy of ‘Interrupted’ in one hand, a highlighter in the other. I had a few minutes before my next staff meeting and my soul was frantically grasping at anything that would stifle the voices in my head. Voices that caused me to doubt the current trajectory my life was taking. Voices that beckoned a response to the following questions, “Is there more to this life? Am I missing the point?” My soul was parched, and for whatever reason, I thought Jen Hatmaker could relate to the inner dialogue I was experiencing and offer me some guidance.

If I wanted the voices in my head to subside, I seriously should have reconsidered my choice in reading material, because little did I know, God was about to take a wrecking ball to my present view of the gospel, the least of these, and my role in His greater story.

After reading a few pages, I bowed my head and prayed, “God, break my heart for the least of these. Grant me the ability to see the poor, the widowed, the fatherless, the homeless the way You see them. Help me to love them as You love them. Raise up in me a pure and holy passion for Your people.” Or something dumb like that. (In all seriousness, be careful what you pray. God just may answer said prayer and wreck your life in the process.) I closed the book and walked out the door to my meeting, not realizing that my life was about to be forever changed.

Raise Up In Me A Holy Passion

 

If ever there were a book that accurately reflected the condition of my soul, it would be this one.

 

One day, while studying John 21,  Jen recalls the following encounter with Jesus:

Nothing could have prepared me for what came next. I told Him, “I thought I was feeding Your sheep, but I’ll try harder.”

And from the depths of heaven, this is what I heard: “You do feed souls, but twenty-four thousand of my sheep will die today because no one fed their bellies; eighteen thousand of them are my youngest lambs, starving today in a world with plenty of food to go around. If you truly love Me, you will feed My lambs. My people are crumbling and dying and starving, and you’re blessing blessed people and dreaming about your next house.”

I couldn’t have been more floored if I’d come home to find Jesus Himself making homemade salsa in my kitchen. I did a little checking, and those statistics are spot-on. It dawned on me that Jesus was asking me not to do more of the same but to engage a different charge altogether. He was enlisting me in the cause of my generation, the mission of God’s true church.

All of a sudden, I saw my exact reflection in Peter: devoted but selfish, committed but misguided. And that is not going to be enough. It won’t suffice to claim good intentions. Saying, “I meant well” is not going to cut it. Not with God screaming, begging, pleading, urging us to love mercy and justice, to feed the poor and the orphaned, to care for the last and least in nearly every book of the Bible. It will not be enough one day to stand before Jesus and say, “Oh? Were You serious about all that?

-Excerpt from ‘Interrupted’ by Jen Hatmarker, emphasis mine.

The statistics are alarming

 

  • Of the six billion people on planet Earth, about 1.2 billion live on twenty-three cents a day.
  • Half of the world lives on less than two dollars and fifty cents a day.
  • The wealthiest one billion people average seventy dollars a day. (This places you and me in the upper, upper, upper percentages of the global population.)
  • If you make thirty-five thousand dollars annually, you are in the top 4 percent.
  • If you make fifty thousand dollars annually, the top 1 percent.
  • Someone dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds.
  • Last year twenty-two million children and adults are trapped in slavery (sex slaves, labor slaves, child soldiers, and child slaves) because of economic crisis. More slaves exist today than ever before in human history.
  • More than 143 million children in the developing world have been orphaned (equivalent to more than half the population of the United States).
  • In the last hour:

-Over 1,625 children are forced to the streets by the death or abuse of an adult.

-Over 115 children become prostitutes

-Over 66 children under the age of fifteen were infected by HIV.

  • Roughly 1 billion people in the world do not have suitable housing, and 100 million are entirely homeless.
  • 780 million people lack basic water sanitation, which results in disease, death, wastewater for drinking, and loss of immunity.

-Americans consume twenty-six billion liters of bottled water a year.

  • We spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on all goods combined.
  • Fifty-seven million children worldwide work every day instead of go to school.

-Four out of five Americans are high school graduates.

  • The poorest one-fifth of the world owns 1 percent of the world’s cars.

-The richest one-fifth of the world owns 87 percent of the world’s cars.

  • Roughly forty million people (the equivalent of about seven Jewish Holocausts) die annually from starvation, disease, and malnutrition.

-69 percent of US adults and 18 percent of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

*If you are interested in the sources behind these statistics, email me at megan.card@gmail.com and I will send them to you. Or better yet, buy Jen’s book.

 

Feed My Lambs

There it was, the source of my spiritual anemia, staring straight at me in the face- I was blessing blessed people and growing apathetic to the condition of the poor and the least of these, not only around the world, but in my own backyard. I came back from my meeting, head swimming, and full of questions. I pulled the door to my office closed, fell to my knees, and wept. I was on staff at a church for crying out loud. How could this possibly happen? I was immersed in Scripture daily. I lead Bible studies. I taught on passages like Luke 18:18-34 (that would be the one where Jesus confronts the rich young ruler and tells the young man that unless he sell all of his possessions, he cannot follow Him.)  How could I have possibly missed something so fundamental to the gospel as tending to the needs of the poor? And not just tending to their souls, but their physical and emotional and economic needs as well.

 I began to talk about what I was discovering with anyone who would listen. Friends, family, co-workers, people at church. Each time I was met with, “You’re crazy, Meg. We’re busy doing enough as it is, and here you are, wanting to add trips downtown to feed the homeless, and orphan care ministries, and mission trips to Africa to our agenda. Can’t we just send them some money instead?” My soul was restless and I knew God was calling me to do more than just teach the latest Beth Moore Bible study (I’m not knocking Beth. I love her and her Bible studies.) He was obviously leading me in a new direction and few were willing to join me on this new journey.

Four Years Later

I’m still met with the same dumbfounded, “You’re crazy, Meg” look when I bring up the concepts behind ‘Interrupted’ and ‘7’ with friends and family, and my growing struggle with excessive materialism and the overindulgent lifestyle marked by the majority of Americans. I’m just learning to embrace it.

Here’s the thing- God’s heart beats for the broken, the wounded, the misunderstood. It beats for the outcast, the homeless, the marginalized. It beats for the lonely, the diseased, the helpless. It beats for the hungry, the captives, and those without hope. It beats for the widowed, the fatherless, and the poor. And He was serious when He said that meeting the needs of the least of these is non-negotiable if you are to be counted as one of His followers.

Truly I [Jesus] say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.

Matthew 25: 45, emphasis mine.

We are to care for the least of these out of love for our Savior and obedience to the calling that He has placed on our lives. It’s as simple as that. If I claim to love Jesus, I need care about the marginalized. I need to care about the poor and the afflicted. Because He cares about those things.

 

In closing, Jen, if you should ever read this, I want to thank you for allowing yourself to be used by God to wake me from my slumber. Thank you for not ignoring the restlessness of your heart and for pressing further into the Presence of Christ to ignite a passion for the least of these in our generation. Thank you for wrecking my comfortable Christianity.

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