Archives for August 2009

Julie & Julia — An Unexpected Treat

3490772254_b7330ef1a9_zHave you seen any good movies lately? Yesterday when my friend Teri and I went to Tulsa to celebrate our August birthdays a little early, we decided to hit the theater. And what better film for a couple of footloose and fancy free gals to see than a cooking movie like Julie & Julia :)

It turned out to be everything I expected and more. What can I say — Meryl Streep delivers. Her portrayal of Julia Child leaves viewers smiling and nodding their heads in agreement at how spot-on her performance is. Without a doubt, she nails the well-loved cooking legend.

Teri and I knew it would be a treat going in. Meryl playing such a colorful figure, the history involved, and just the common-to-us-all experience of cooking — we knew we’d enjoy it. What I didn’t realize is that the movie held an unexpected treat for me. A writer’s treat.

I didn’t know I’d identify with Amy Adams’ character Julie, who just happens to start a blog and then delivers little one-line insights into the inner workings of a blogger’s mind. I’m sure I wasn’t the only blogger in the theater to giggle in acknowledgement of our lives being played out before our eyes.

And then, of course, there was Julia and her efforts to get her first cookbook published. As I remember, she poured seven or eight years of her life into the project just to get it rejected by the interested publisher. Ugh. The agony of defeat. Every writer has been there. By the end of the movie, however, we see Julia exultant over a letter from a publisher who did want to publish her book. Ah, victory! Where every writer wants to be…

So there you have it. The unexpected treat hidden within the expected. Isn’t it neat how God surprises us at times with little blessings that hit the spot for us, little things that encourage us in our situations or endeavors? What can I say — Meryl Streep’s not the only one who delivers!

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

*So how has God surprised you lately with little blessings that hit the spot? Anyone else seen Julie & Julia yet?

*Flickr photo by Mo Kaiwen 莫楷文 , Creative Commons License

Angel Tree Summer Update

4948807592_c929696d09_zDid you know that Angel Tree is not just a Christmas ministry? That’s right. Organizations like our church who host an Angel Tree program can further our influence with families of prisoners by also participating in Angel Tree Camping as well as Back-to-School and other outreaches of our choice. Exciting, huh?

One of my May posts (A New Chapter) told how I came to be our church’s Angel Tree Coordinator this summer after the sudden and untimely death of our previous coordinator, Amy, who also happened to be a dear friend of mine. I thought you might enjoy hearing how our Angel Tree program has progressed this summer. As you can imagine, it has been bittersweet to carry on without Amy. She would be so happy, though, to know that prisoners’ families are still receiving our ministry.

Amy had already made the initial contacts for Angel Tree Camping when her accident occurred. After following up with those who showed interest, only one Angel Tree child along with one of his friends were able to attend camp with the kids from our church. At first we were disappointed with only two participating, but joy soon followed as both of these boys asked Jesus to be their Savior while at camp!

Since the camping program has proven to be the most effective way to see kids make decisions for Christ as a result of Angel Tree, it is every bit as important as the Christmas outreach — maybe even more so. If you have a chance to help with Angel Tree Camping in any way, I encourage you to do so. Some in our church donated money for camp fees and others provided needed items to put in the camping backpacks. Finally, our associate pastor, Stephen, bravely acted as sponsor for the boy campers that week. Thanks, Stephen! :)

In June, I sent Father’s Day cards to our Angel Tree prisoner fathers (also a plan that I knew Amy already had in mind). I’ve received three thank-you letters in reply, and two of those men desired ongoing communication and spiritual encouragement. Since it wouldn’t be a good idea for a woman to carry on ongoing correspondence, I’ve made the need known to the men of our church, and so far have one man willing to write to and spiritually encourage one of the prisoners. Pray for him as he reaches out to Adam. Please also pray for another man to hear God’s call to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a prisoner named Bill.

And then there has been Angel Tree Back-to-School. I knew I needed someone to take the reins on this one because much of it needed to be done in July, already a busy time for me since Don is on break that month. I asked my friend (and loyal blog reader!) Lisa if she would be willing to coordinate this project, and she gladly said “yes”. (Thanks, Lisa!) She has done a marvelous job contacting the families, enlisting volunteers to provide backpacks and school supplies, and making sure the children get the appropriate items. Just one more opportunity to touch these special kids with the love of Jesus.

One of the great things about Angel Tree is seeing the church pull together to reach out to hurting families. I plan to enlist major help for the Christmas outreach, so, fellow church members, many more opportunities to serve are ahead. And for those of you who aren’t local, you can help with your prayers. Consider yourselves asked! :)

Any other churches represented out there who participate in Angel Tree? Any doing summer outreaches? Fill us in — let us rejoice with you and pray for you, too!

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow… For we are God’s fellow workers…” 1 Corinthians 3:6, 9a

*Flickr photo by meddygarnet, Creative Commons License

Early Morning Worship

I think it may take awhile to get the mountains out of my system. Our trip to Colorado a few weeks ago, after an absence of many years, reminded me how much I love being in the mountains. The forests, the rushing streams and waterfalls, and especially the mighty mountains themselves feed my soul and refresh my spirit in a way that stays with me for a long time.

The view above is what I saw first thing each morning from the bedroom window of our rented condo — and of course, this is just a portion of the view. It was enough to make a gal want to wake up early each day, even on vacation.

In fact, I cherished those early morning moments in the mountains before everyone else was up and the activities of the day began. One morning, I fixed my eyes on the mountain above, so strong and beautiful, while I ever so quietly sang “Shout to the Lord” (songwriter Darlene Zschech). In that moment, it struck me how much God is like the mountain I saw — “my comfort, my shelter, tower of refuge and strength.” And yes, I worshiped Him. I shouted to Him — well, quietly in my spirit so as not to wake anyone up :)

What’s more, the song goes on to say “mountains bow down, and the seas will roar at the sound of Your name”. As I stood looking at these amazing, awe-inspiring, and powerful mountains, the words of the song took on new significance for me.

As great and mighty as these mountains are, our God is greater. So much more than I can comprehend. More worthy of praise and honor and glory. Ever worthy of my early-morning worship — whether in the mountains or here at home.

I still think of this scene from time to time in my early morning worship of God. Truth be told, I don’t want to get the mountains out of my system. I want to revisit them occasionally for a fresh feeding and refreshing. In between times, though, God’s wonders abound right here in Kansas. They help keep my eyes fixed on Him. They help keep me worshiping Him.

What about you? Do you have a place where you particularly enjoy early morning moments of worship? What things feed your soul and refresh your spirit? Go ahead — revisit them!

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:2

p.s. Can you tell from the picture that some of the trees look dead? This is being caused in that area by trouble with the pine beetle. So sad!

Second Chance Giveaway!

4586068240_d7cac2ba48If this picture looks familiar, it’s because it is. I first teased you with it a few months ago when I announced my “To Die For” Giveaway. Some of you may still be bummed that you didn’t win that time, but good news — I’m giving you a second chance!

Since August is my birthday month and I thought it would be fun to offer such yumminess again, the Second Chance Giveaway is now officially underway. If you’d like a chance to win a $15 gift card to Cheesecake Factory, just leave a comment on this post by noon CST on August 16th, my birthday. Tell me when your birthday is (you don’t have to include the year), and we’ll see if any of us celebrate on the same day. If I don’t know you personally, be sure to include your email address in your comment.

Part of my birthday fun will be drawing a name and announcing that evening who the lucky winner of the Second Chance Giveaway is. It’s my pleasure to offer you all another opportunity for this particular (and possibly chocolate!) blessing :)

You know who else delights in offering second chances? In fact, He specializes in it. That’s right — our heavenly Father. And He doesn’t even stop with second chances. He offers His forgiveness and love again and again. His mercies are new every morning. Best of all, they are available to all, not just one lucky winner.

In need of a second chance? Call on Him. He will choose you — and you don’t even have to wait till my birthday to hear the good news! Have a blessed week!

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” Lamentations 3:22-23a

*Flickr photo by adrian8_8 , Creative Commons License