Extravagant Grace

What an amazing time we had at our women’s retreat last weekend! The weather was beautiful, the lessons were awesome and God was in the HOUSE! I can’t even begin to describe it all – and frankly, I won’t because some of those reading might be planning a Chocolate Boutique retreat and I don’t want to give anything away! I will say that the overriding theme was the extravagance of God’s grace…and that can simply blow you away when you sit down and truly THINK about it.

Besides the lessons, crafts and activities, I really have to say the best part of the retreat was two-fold – getting to know some of the women at church better but also how we all were one. It’s really very hard to explain, I guess, unless you were there. But everyone came with an open heart and an open mind, ready to spend time getting to know and love the other women in our church. There are so many more I wish had come; I feel like they really missed out on something wonderful last weekend. Hopefully, they’ll join us next year – I’m already planning it, riding my wave of excitement from this one.

Our campfire Friday night…

…which we sat around on swings…SWINGS, people! It doesn’t get much better than that!

Astounded by my complete lack of marshmallow toasting ability, Trish offers me her perfectly browned ones. What a pal!

Trish & Nancy enjoying themselves by the fire

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things I Would Like to Make into Habits

1. Getting to bed at a reasonable time.
2. Exercising…whatever shape or form that might be…regularly.
3. Menu planning.
4. Eating healthier meals.
5. Packing my lunch for work.
6. Getting up earlier.
7. Getting up at the same time every day.
8. Cleaning the house – setting up certain chores for certain days and actually completing them all the way…
9. Working on my Beth Moore Bible study
10. Flossing (!)
11. Reading each night before bed (I generally do do this but sometimes I end up watching tv instead or going on the computer, and that is just bad.
12. Deciding what I am going to wear the night before. Sounds silly but saves time!
13. Taking my medicine like I am supposed to instead of waiting until I desperately need it.

I know, that wasn’t a terribly exciting Thirteen. I have some things to blog about but need to get the photos downloaded to do so. Hopefully this weekend!

Fall Into Reading Challenge Update

Hard to believe, but I’ve actually finished three of the books on my Fall Into Reading list! I’ve read:

Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. This was a wonderful book. I had “borrowed” it from Nancy a few years ago – probably quite a few, now (but she had another copy, so it’s not like I’m THAT terrible of a friend). I’m sure I picked it up and put it down many times, but had never truly began to read it. Now that I have, I understand why. I don’t think I would have gotten as much out of it when I was younger – before this season in my life. She speaks so much to how women go through the various seasons of life and the ups and downs that come along with them. And I could truly understand now, when I’m sure years ago I would have dismissed it all. It’s amazing to me that she wrote this originally in 1955, updated it in 1975, and it is all still so true and so real.

I’m Not Wonder Woman But God Made Me Wonderful by Sheila Walsh. Oh, how I love Sheila Walsh! She is such a real and honest woman – it is amazing to me how openly she shares her struggles with depression. I picked this book up at Women of Faith and began it the same night…and finished two nights later. She talks about the unrealistic expectations we have for ourselves and how to change our thinking in that regard. Great read! I also HIGHLY recommend her book, The Heartache that No One Sees for anyone who is dealing with depression or has a loved one who is depressed.

Last night, I finished Inside My Heart by Robin McGraw. I applaud her honesty in this book about her life and the struggles she has faced. She is truly a purpose-driven woman; strong and dedicated to her marriage and her family. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!

Today I started God at Your Wit’s End by Marilyn Meberg today. This is another one I’ve had for a while (actually borrowed it from Trish over a year ago and took it on a business trip – where my makeup exploded all over it in my luggage!! So I bought her a new one and kept this one) but for whatever reason haven’t read it. Maybe it’s another one that wouldn’t have applied as much a year ago…who knows! We shall see.

I also picked up Family by Karen Kingsbury and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. So many of you were singing the praises of Redeeming Love I added it to my list…and what a hoot! The cashier at the bookstore literally gasped when she picked it up and said, “Have you read this??! It is WONDERFUL.” Another ringing endorsement – can’t wait to get to it!

Five for Five Meme

I’ve seen this going around the blogosphere for a while now and wanted to play:

Five minutes to yourself. How would you spend them ideally?
1. My first thought is sleep. But I need a whole lot more than 5 minutes!
2. Straightening up some patch of clutter in my house (yay, Flylady! Too bad I don’t follow her advice, as it is good!)
3. Writing out a card I’ve been meaning to write but haven’t gotten around to yet.
4. Snuggling with Norm.
5. Being still.

Five dollars to spend right now. How or where would you spend it?
1. Buy a few things for my Operation Christmas Child shoebox
2. Buy a Starbuck’s double chocolate chip blended creme.
3. Or a chai tea latte.
4. Put it towards the new Karen Kingsbury book, “Family” that just came out.
5. Buy scrapbook materials…paper, stickers…something

Five items in your house you could part with right now?
1. My old cell phones.
2. Junk mail.
3. My bathroom scale.
4. The stuff in the basement that I’ve been “meaning” to take to the thrift store.
5. Can’t think of a 5th…does that make me a pack rat? Probably!

Five items in your house you absolutely, positively could never part with?
1. My spotbot
2. My carpet steam cleaner
3. My DVR
4. My books
5. My pillow

Five words or phrases you love?
“I love you”
“Yo T, where you be?” (always makes me laugh)
“Cold stone creamery”
“Trish the Dish”
“Do you want to come for dinner?” (ah, such sweet words!)

I tag anyone who wants to be tagged!

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Reasons I Am Enjoying My New Job

1. I’m actually busy! I am one of those people who cannot stand to sit around and do nothing when I feel like I SHOULD be doing something – such as in a situation in which someone is paying me to do a job.
2. I’m learning a lot. I’m familiar with the type of projects we’re doing but my role was much more focused in previous employment. This is allowing me an opportunity to utilize a whole new set of skills.
3. It’s a 20 minute commute. This is a such a beautiful thing since my last two jobs took almost an hour.
4. It’s a small office, so it is easy to remember everyone’s names.
5. On my first day, two women took me out to lunch. It was very nice and gave me an opportunity to start out getting to know some people right off the bat.
6. The subject matter is much more diverse than my previous jobs, so in that way too I’m going to learn a lot.
7. That diversity (and the kind in #2) will definitely benefit me in the long run.
8. Did I mention the 20 minute commute?
9. My office is very conveniently located…there are a lot of eateries (ha – I was going to write “restaurants” but they are not all what I would consider a restaurant)and shopping nearby
10. I can get a lot of my weekend errands done during the week now on my lunch hour
11. It is also near my friend Nancy’s house and she has invited me over for lunch one day – how nice!
12. I got my first paycheck today and that was a lovely thing (really, it’s kind of stretch to put that on the list since OF COURSE they’ll be paying me – I’d hope anyway – but it was nice to receive it today!
13. I’ve already started to make some friends. I know more about several people that I work with now than anyone I worked for 10 months with at my previous job. And I think the same is true vice versa. This makes me immensely happy!

The quote from yesterday is one I came across in my Beth Moore study and it really resonated with me. So often I hear people say things like “I’m not good a memorizing” or “I’m not good at sharing my faith” and so on. And I’ll admit that I have been one of them more times than I can count. But it is God alone that makes us competent. He makes us able to handle the things we never could otherwise – certainly not by our own power.

Last week, a friend was telling me of her hectic schedule and she said something to the effect of, “I was thinking about how busy I was and then I thought of YOU. I don’t know how you do it.”

I don’t know either.

Really, I don’t.

But I truly believe that God gives you what you need – whether that be skills or time or words – in his perfect timing. In the last few years as I’ve become increasingly more busy with ministry obligations along with a full-time job and some semblance of a social life, I’ve often simply prayed in times where I felt paralyzed by my to-do lists, “Lord, please just help me to accomplish what YOU want me to accomplish today.” And he has. Sometimes the things I accomplish aren’t what I had planned or necessarily felt I needed to but in the end, it has always worked out just as it should.