Sunday, January 31, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Inspiration! I really do love being busy at home, but I find many other areas to keep busy to avoid cooking. Not a good idea. Not when you’re on a budget and you have three big guys to feed. I’ve really been working hard to cook consistently for our financial, physical and emotional health. There’s nothing like family suppers to keep everybody close!
Even though I don’t love to cook, I REALLY love to eat. Yesterday I tried a recipe that satisfied my love for simple and yummy. It’s a recipe that The Queen, LeAnn Rice, sent out months ago to our team. Sweet Teri, our amazing resource coordinator, gave it to LeAnn, and the two of them “tweaked” it into something wonderful. Trust me, even if you think you don’t like sauerkraut, you have to try this!
Crock Pot Apple Pork Roast
1 large onion, chopped or thinly sliced
Pork sirloin roast, boneless—whatever size works for your family (remove string)
2 16oz. packages sauerkraut
12. oz. frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 tsp. crushed garlic
½ C. brown sugar
½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional but delicious zing)
Arrange onion in bottom of crock pot. Lay roast on top of onions. Rinse and drain sauerkraut and spread over pork roast. Pour juice over all. Spread the crushed garlic over the sauerkraut and sprinkle with the brown sugar and cayenne pepper.
Set crock pot on low and cook for 8 hours or until pork begins to fall apart.
I watched Julie and Julia several weeks ago. I don’t know if I’m up to cooking all the way through Julia Child’s, but I might make it a goal to cook all the way through LeAnn’s cook book! Tell me what your family thinks when you serve this meal.
Monday, January 25, 2010
What are you reading right now? I love a good book even more than I love a productive trip to Goodwill!
I'm reading The Magnificent Obsession by Anne Graham Lotz, and it's a wonderful read. Anne has spent years studying the life of Abraham. This book is chock full of insights that she's gained as she studied. It's very challenging, and she gets all into your business by asking probing questions.
I love this excerpt:
I want to know God...
as Mary did...in His humanity...and in His deity.
as Peter did...in His forgiveness.
as Mary Magdalene did...in His authority over demons.
as Lazarus did...in His resurrection life.
as Lazurus' sister did...in His tender compassion.
as Paul did...in the sufficiency of His grace.
I want to know God as the apostle John did...seated on the throne as the Son of God.
Summed up, I want to know God as Abraham did...as His friend. As His friend. The Bible reveals an astonishing fact when it describes Abraham as God's friend. The designation "friend" comes from God's perspective. What an achievement! It would be one thing if I told you the president of the United States was my friend. You might smile rather skeptically. But it's an entirely different matter if the president were to say, "Anne Graham Lotz is my friend."
Friendship with God....that's a good topic for a read and a great goal for a life.
Friday, January 22, 2010
So we're officially three weeks in on our New Years Resolutions. How are you doing? I thought I'd reflect a few minutes on mine.
Blogging--Blogging three times a week. Check! I will have to admit that this is hard, though. Ya'll, my mind goes a hundred miles an hour all the time, but most of it is completely uninteresting. I need to start praying for inspiration, because thinking of things to write about three times a week is a challenge. Fellow bloggers, any suggestions? I love the "Day Page" that some of you are doing.
Bible reading--This has been the greatest! It's also probably the most difficult. I didn't realize how much we are all going separate directions until we needed to all be in the same room for about an hour. We generally do meals together, but this is an addition. A blessed addition. We've missed a few days along the way, but we've been able to catch up the next day.
The boys seem to really be enjoying it too. We switched to a chronological plan so that we could focus on one passage at a time. It makes it easier for the boys to understand and follow. There have been lots of surprises for them. They don't cover those R-rated sections of Genesis in Sunday School!
Showing loved ones that I value them--This has been a delight. The only sad part is how shocked all three have been. I think that partially shows what a lousy job I've been doing at letting people know how valued they are. I'm trying simple things, but I want to break out. Unfortunately, I'm short on creativity. I need to find a website with creative ideas. Anybody know of something like that?
I'd love to hear how you're doing on your Resolutions.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I've written in the past about Barry's granddaddy and grandmama Carroll. Those two were joined at the hip early in life. In fact, Granddaddy told us that he failed a grade on purpose in high school so that he could be in Grandmama's class! Sigh...now that's love. (I'd string up my boys if they did that!)
Their 64 year marriage set quite a standard for our family, and we are the recipients of that blessing. Both sets of our parents have stayed married, too. Barry and I joke that we'd be too afraid to announce a divorce, so we'll just have to work it out.
We're in the midst of raising teenagers, and some days are just ships passing in the night. The boys stay up as late as we do, so there are no more long evenings with just Barry and me. I love the four of us being together, but sometimes I long for just two. Every stage of parenting has its challenges, but raising teens seems to making connecting in our marriage real work.
Love is work. Whether you're a friend, a wife or a mom (or all three), you know that love--real connectedness--is work. Scripture describes God as long-suffering, patient, kind, compassionate. Those are love words that describe intention and character.
On Monday I posted about Wendy Blight's interviews. I listened to the first two as I got ready for work yesterday. Tears poured down my face as I listened to the story of my friend's sexual assault in the first session. The second show became one of the most beautiful statements of sacrificial love that I've heard. Please don't miss listening to that session. Wendy's husband made a statement in his proposal that every couple should beginning their marriage with.
Valentine's day is coming. The card and balloons are out. The shelves are stacked with cute stuffed animals, and there's candy out the wazoo. I have a different suggestion for Valentine's Day if you're married. Melanie Chitwood has just released the companion book to What A Husband Needs from His Wife. It's appropriately titled What A Wife Needs from Her Husband. Yahoo! I'm sure Melanie knows that's the one we've all been waiting for! :)
I was thinking about how our husbands might feel if we all run out and buy the second book for Valentines. Even if we wrap it up real pretty and smile our sweetest smile as we open it, he might take it the wrong way, huh? But what if we bought both books, wrapped then up in beautiful paper and smiled our brightest smiles as he opened both? Love work. What a Valentine's present! If we're both working to out love, out serve and out work the other, what a gift that would be!
I hope you all have a LOVE-ly day!!
Monday, January 18, 2010
Today I want to give you an opportunity to address something that I think we all struggle with at one time or another: fear.
My amazing friend, Wendy Blight, published her book last year called Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner. It's a story of how God set her free from fear after a brutal rape. If you've experienced sexual assault, this is for you. Even if you've never experience that particular trauma, Wendy has such a testimony of hope in the power of God that everyone has something to learn from her.
Here are the links to the broadcasts:
Day 1: The Horrors of Sexual Assault
Day 2: Casting Out Fear
Day 3: Hope in a Dark Corner
You can also listen to it on 106.7 The Light if you live in the Charlotte area. It airs at 10:00 this morning on Family Life Today.
Friday, January 15, 2010
As I sat in church on Sunday, this finding my niche business was still hanging around the edges of my mind. Not only am I struggling with my professional calling, but I'm working on a new bio sheet. A bio sheet is what speakers use to communicate their life and message to people considering them for events.
I find working on this project excruciating--but useful. I've done it before, but I'm liking it better this time around. The first time it just felt like tooting my own horn. Here's what I've done--blah, blah, blah. The hilarious thing was that I hadn't done much. Whereas some of my sweet friends had their publications, radio shows, tv appearances, etc to tell about, I added some lines about my dog for filler. :)
This time, however, I've gotten some excellent training that says that people aren't as interested in what I've done as in what I can do for them. So true. I've gotten this sage advice along with the command, "Identify your niche!" (Not those exactly words but the boiled down version.)
Here are the two most helpful things I've done to identify my niche:
1. Ask Other People--I have observed along the way that most of us have huge blind-spots about ourselves. We have trouble seeing ourselves as we actually are and are often clueless to how others perceive us. It has become one of my life-values to have people around me who will tell me the truth about me.
I value friends who will confront me with the bad and ugly and encourage me with the good. So I asked some people, "What do you think my niche is?" I asked my sweet hubby, who God is using to speak through a lot right now. I asked my women's ministry director (and dear friend). I asked another friend who is doing life with me.
They all said the same thing--mentoring. If you've read my blog for long, you know I speak often of the mentors God has placed in my life. I believe it is not only biblical (whether you call it mentoring or discipleship is tomaato/tomato in my book) but also my niche.
2. Ask God--Now obviously these are not listed in the order of priority. I've been asking God for a long time, but He really spoke to me right through my distraction in Sunday's service. As my pastor preached from I Thessalonians 2, it hit me right between the eyes. There was a verse, a verse that is underlined in my Bible and always makes my heart beat fast. There it was written by Paul's hand through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us." (I Thess. 2:8) Mentoring AND connecting people's lives to the gospel. That's my niche. Right there in black and white.
From the comments, emails and Facebook posts I've gotten this week, I'm not the only one struggling to find my niche. I'm praying for each one of you that I've heard from, and I'd ask that you pray for me too as I seek God how to live out what He's showing me.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Before I start on topic, I have a question--Anybody want to meet me in Greensboro, NC? My friend Luann Prater who hosts the Encouragement Cafe radio show is hosting Encouragement Extreme. You can click on the link for all the details, but it's coming up on January 29-30. I can't wait to go! My friend Carol Davis who is also speaking at the conference keeps hinting at lots of extreme surprises, but she won't tell me anything! It's piquing my interest for what's to come!!! If you decide to go, let me know so that I can meet you in person.
Now to niches...My biggest problem in finding my niche is being all over the place. It's not that I think that I'm good at everything, the real root of all the scatteredness (is that a word?) is that I have a problem with the word "no".
I was really challenged with an email that my friend Marybeth sent out. She explained that God had given her three areas of focus this year. If she received a request to do something outside of those three things, she would know that it was an instant "no". Is it really that easy? I think it's supposed to be.
I Corinthians 12:17-20 says, "If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body."
How God must laugh when I try to be an ear, an eye, an arm, a leg, a pinky, a big toe....
Focus. That's what I'm working toward.
So yesterday I dug out a vision casting exercise that I got several years ago from my friend Rita Hartman. I need to work back through some helpful questions that she gave me to help me find focus.
- List your strengths and weaknesses. Be specific. Include both professional and personality traits. Remember, God created you with certain abilities, talents, and skills--all designed for a specific purpose that He predestined you for even before you were born.
- List all of the things that are very important to you; the things you love the most; the things you love to do. What are your passions? What brings you the most joy when you are doing it? Once your list is written, go back and prioritize in the order in which they are most important to you.
- List your dreams; all of them. Again, be specific. Dream BIG. List personal dreams, professional dreams and even relational dreams.
Rita follows with goal setting exercises which are great. This is such a big start, though.
I'm not saying that God only uses us in places that we like or feel comfortable in, but I am saying that those places are a great place to start in finding our niche.
Years ago, my pastor asked me if I'd join a group to go on a missions trip to India. I told him that I'd have to pray about it since my instant impulse was "yes". I needed to check my motives and make sure it was God.
He responded with something I'll never forget, "Amy, have you ever thought that God wired you to say 'yes' to travel and adventure so that He could use you that way? Most people are uninterested or afraid. Maybe God created you to desire to go so that you WILL go."
Hmmm...much food for thought. I want to challenge you to use these three questions to do some deep soul digging. Sit down in some quite and write down your answers. I'm going to revisit my answers and see what's changed in the last few years. I'd love to know what God shows you!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Instead of writing a post about finding our niche last night, I was helping take care of a tragic science fair project accident. Barry was helping Nolan cut acrylic when he cut his finger. A couple hours and 5 stitches later, he was all fixed up.
More about finding your niche tomorrow and Friday!
Monday, January 11, 2010
Do any of you find yourself as an adult wondering what you’re going to be when you grow up? I’m a little bit in that space, and I find it very disconcerting.
When I was a tiny girl, I decided that I wanted to be a teacher, and I confidently followed that path until I was. I taught with conviction. I taught with passion. I taught with love…and then I had my own children and began living a new dream.
I became a mostly-stay-at-home mom. After a short stint in child care, I went to work teaching adult education at the local community college. It was crazy perfect for our family. I taught from 6-8am and then switched with Barry when he went to teach. I was continuing to get to teach while still being home all day with my little guys.
Flash forward to what you may know about me now. I’m teaching again part time, but my passion has transferred to teaching scripture and nurturing women.
So I’m floundering a little, but I’m feeling more and more of a leading to develop and work to grow my speaking ministry. This week I want to share a little about the journey that I’m on. It includes spiritual growth as well as practical steps. On Wednesday I’ll share some scripture and thought provoking questions that are helping me sort through some confusion.
Anybody else in transition and wondering what’s next?
Friday, January 8, 2010
OK...before the actual post explaining my last resolution, I have to tell why I'm late. I'm not breaking my first resolution of posting 3 times a week yet! We had a NC snow day today.
For those of you that don't live in our beloved state, let me explain how this works. Weather people begin mentioning snow in their forecasts a week ahead. It becomes the instant most popular topic of conversation everywhere. Excitement begins to build.
The day before the forecasted snow, all N. Carolinians make a trip to the grocery store to buy bread, milk and eggs. (As a friend of mine from NYC used to say, "What are they all doing? Making French toast?!")
At around 7:00 pm the day before, school systems begin delaying or cancelling school. Yes, before one snowflake falls. If any of my mid-western sisters are reading this, I can imagine the incredulous look on your faces. In defense of my southern-self let me just say that this is a very good idea. We southerners have no idea how to drive in snow, and there really is imminent danger.
Today, we got a 2-hour delay of school (YEAH!!) and not one single itty-bitty snowflake (BOOO!!) Anyway, I'm writing my post late because of hypothetical snow.
Now to the real topic--my last resolution. My last resolution was inspired by a comment I heard second-hand. It was a treasured friend of mine who told a mutual friend that she felt less than treasured, and it hurt my heart.
I began thinking about what it means to feel valued and how Satan lies to us constantly to make us feel "less than". My resolution is to be intentional about doing something once a week to let a person that I love know that I treasure them.
I have some people around me that naturally have this gift. They are very intune to the people around them, sense needs and do practical things to meet those needs. My mom is the sweetest note-writer in the world. My friend LeAnn does incredible things like cooking meals or making beautiful crystal boxes filled with personalized scripture. My friend Julie, who is on my prayer team, makes sure to come talk to me and encourage me every Sunday before church. These are thoughtful women who are a huge blessing to all around them.
I have some other gifts, but this brand of practical thoughtfulness is not one of them. It's not an excuse though. I could say forever, "That's just not my personality," while robbing myself of the joy of becoming made more into the image of Jesus.
So today I'm going to post a note with two questions on my bathroom mirror: Who around you is feeling unloved and undervalued? What have you done about it?
I've already done one intentional thing this week, and I cannot begin to express what joy it has brought. I've walked around with perma-grin all week because of this person's reaction. It must be just a fraction of what God feels when He pours out His lavish love and His abundant blessings!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Lord, change me! That is the cry of my heart in this new year of 2010. As I reread the devotion that I wrote months ago that is running today, I realized that this is a great time to start.
I shared on Monday that I am reluctant to make New Year’s resolutions. After all, I’ve broken so many! God is so good to light a fire under me, though. He refuses to leave me alone. His desire is that I would be as close to His Son Jesus as possible and as close as to the true Amy that He created me to be.
We live in a fallen world, and isn’t the pull of it strong? Sometimes the draw toward sin feels as inevitable as the force of gravity, but God is BIGGER.
So ---beginning again today, I will strive to be the woman today that I want to be tomorrow. I’ll ask God to shine His piercing light into my heart and reveal everything that needs dealt with. I’ll pray for the strength to be ruthless with my own sin and tireless in my pursuit of Him.
The second resolution that my hubby initiated is key to my desire to change. He is leading our family in reading the Bible through in a year. (It’s the stuff that makes a wife’s heart pitter pat with love and respect, huh?)
Knowledge of God’s Word internalized is the key element to any true and lasting change. God’s standards are to be our plumb line. Have you ever hung wall paper without a plumb line? I have, and let’s just say it’s all pretty crooked in the end. It’s the same with my life. Without the “true North” of His Word leading us, we will always end up at a lesser destination.
I know many of you are resolving to prioritize reading your Bible this year. I celebrate and join you! Here’s the thing…it’s exciting in the beginning, but I know it’s going to take true, long-term commitment. Any advice from those who have made this commitment in the past? All of us who are reading our Bibles through this year are waiting to read your wisdom!
Sunday, January 3, 2010
'Tis the season for New Year's Resolutions. I've been so inspired reading some of the resolutions on my friend's blogs. My friend Melissa has a particularly challenging and wonderful list.
I have to admit that I've become pretty negative about resolutions just because I've failed so miserably in the past. I just stopped making them, but this year some "strong ideas" keep hanging around begging to be resolutions. The Holy Spirit is very sweet but can be bossy at times! :)
The first two resolutions actually came from my hubby (via the Holy Spirit!). I'll share one a day this week in this post, Wednesday and Friday. That format is actually one of my resolutions. I'm resolved to blog on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There...I put it in print so now I have to do it.
The reason for blogging more often is not because I'm convinced that I'm all that fascinating. I laughingly tell my new friends, "So, if you wake up in the morning thinking, 'I wonder what Amy Carroll is thinking about today', I blog." I'm positive that nobody wakes up thinking that, but I'm thankful that some of you read my ramblings anyway.
I really am committed to writing more, because I really want to write more. God is growing this dream in my heart to be a real-life, bonifide writer, and I was talking to Barry about it yesterday. He very pragmatically reminded me that I have a space to "publish" and practice--my blog--and encouraged me to blog more regularly. Thank you, Honey, for a much-needed push in a positive direction (yes, our conversation was more a whining session about the difficulties of getting published!).
I was getting lesson plans ready this afternoon, and read Madelaine L'Engle's Newberry acceptance speech for A Wrinkle in Time. She said something that so applies to my first resolution:
"Most of what is best in writing isn’t done deliberately. Do I mean, then, that an author should sit around like a phony Zen Buddhist in his pad, drinking endless cups of espresso coffee and waiting for inspiration to descend upon him? That isn’t the way the writer works, either. I heard a famous author say once that the hardest part of writing a book was making yourself sit down at the typewriter. I know what he meant. Unless a writer works constantly to improve and refine the tools of his trade they will be useless instruments if and when the moment of inspiration, of revelation, does come. This is the moment when a writer is spoken through, the moment that a writer must accept with gratitude and humility, and then attempt, as best he can, to communicate to others."
So I'm going to sit down at my "typewriter" three times a week. I feel so blessed to be able to do it in a format that lets me build friendships and interact with you.
I'd love to hear about your resolutions!