Tuesday, October 28, 2014

For My Busy Bees

by Kendal Craig

There is an art these days to being busy. It seems as if the "my schedule is packed" lifestyle has become something that is glorified. Nowadays when I ask people how they are, they say things like "Oh I have been crazy busy," and "just super busy with work and school." It is almost a game trying to figure out whose life is more jam packed. Busy gives you bragging rights! If you do not have a plan for each day, then that is supposedly a reflection of your laziness and lack of motivation. 

When did it become embarrassing to have a day to just be still? This world has become all about production, progression, and persistence. However, we have forgotten about relaxation, restoration, and relationships. We have been compromising our days of rest; making them seem less important than our days of activity. 

We are such busy bees! So busy, in fact, that we have forgotten what it's like to taste the honey. When have we last been able to rest and enjoy the sweet side of life? We need rest! It is essential to our overall well-being and sanity. It's not about being one or the other, busy or restful, it's about finding a healthy balance! 

Here are a few tips to help you find rest and taste the honey.

It is OK to say "No"

I remember when I was transitioning into my Freshman year of college, I had the "I'm-going-to-join all-clubs" attitude. I said yes to everything: job offers, babysitting opportunities, hosting small groups, and taking on leadership positions. All of a sudden I found myself having somewhere to be almost every hour of the day. Sometimes if you take on too many tasks you are not doing anything well, just a lot of things mediocre. If you truly want to honor yourself and others, consider not overriding yourself with activities that are not necessary. 

Pick a day every week as your designated "nothing" day

In Genesis 2:2, the Bible says, "And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh." God rested. He rested! The Maker of all the Heavens and all the Earth took.a.break. Why are we not taking breaks? Why are we not taking our Sabbaths? I am so guilty of not allowing myself to rest. The discipline of sleeping is essentially an act of surrender. It helps remind us that we are not God and we cannot function without letting our bodies be restored every day. If we let ourselves rest, we will receive the energy we need to do God's work to the best of our abilities while we are awake. 

Rest, really rest

When you have a break, take a break! So often we have down time but we spend it scrolling through Instagram, checking photos on Facebook, and pinning that last cute craft on Pinterest. We make phone calls, check emails, respond to texts. When you have a chance to take a break, spend it doing things that you wish you had time for! For goodness sakes, a nap here and there is OK! When you are working, work and when you are resting, rest. 

Do you find it a challenge to be still and rest? What are your tips for restoration and rest?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Don't Edit Your Story

by Christina Stolass

I have something to say; it’s been on my heart for a long time. But, before I could say it, I had to live it, really live it.  I am old enough to know that talk with a life that doesn’t follow is only senseless chatter. You and I live in a world of continuous editing; everything is public and likewise everything is edited to make it a little better. We battle constantly to be a little better then others, a little better then reality, a little better then what we feel is expected of us. We photoshop pictures, smooth blemishes, add filters, and enhance colors. Our Facebook statuses and twitters remarks are typed with awareness and consideration of what our audience will think. How many times daily are we guilty of exaggerating the good and minimizing the bad?

And those of us who are writers, my goodness, we like editing. We cut lines, paragraphs and repetitive words. We use thesaurus to make our words sound more intelligent. We go through great lengths to make written words effective; to make our writing profoundly impactful. We edit because the rough drafts are messy, lengthy, and the reality is, rough drafts aren’t ready to be published.

And somehow, that’s what this messy life feels like on most days doesn’t it? Like it’s not ready to be published. We see our rough draft life; laden with mistakes, mishaps, and failures. We see weeks, months or even years that need to be deleted. But-- that’s a lie. Far too often our stories are so meticulously edited and cleaned up that they are rendered ineffective because they are no longer real. And sometimes, our stories are never told; because we feel they are never finished or never ready.

The truth is, this voluntarily silence, this continuous editing of our lives is one of the largest hinderances to the gospel in our world today. When we pretend we have it all together, when we wear masks and hide our failures, we damage more then ourselves. We actually hinder God’s work in all those around us.  God promises that He works in all things, in all things there is purpose. (Romans 8:28) But what happens when we delete some of “those things” from our story? When our editing attempts rewrite our story we minimize the power of God and cheat Him of the glory He deserves.

Believe it or not, you have a story that is uniquely yours. It may be one of heartache, broken dreams, and continuous struggle. It may be one of hope, redemption and restoration. It may be a story in progress with unexpected twists and turns painfully being scribbled into paper one day at a time. I don’t know your story; but I know you have one. I know there is a dying world that needs to hear it. 

As hard as this may be to believe, as hard as this is to hear, you need to know that if you are in Christ-- God has a purpose for your story. The unedited version. Are you willing to discard the attempts of cleaning up your story and display the rough draft instead? Rough drafts bring glory to God whereas edited stories bring glory to the person.

What have you been trying to edit out of your story? When we surrender to God the desire for the approval of others we get the privilege of God displaying His extravagant grace in our life. Every Believer can trace the fingerprints of God in their life, in the moments of triumph, but even more-so in the moments of despair. Don’t wipe away the Lord’s sovereign fingerprints with your attempts to beautify your story. The most beautiful tales are those where God’s grace is the cord that runs thick, His relentless grace connecting every page, grace headlining every chapter. And those stories are so relevant, those stories draw people to the gospel, because aren’t we all broken people who find it impossible to rescue ourselves? Yes. And there is a Savior, who gently whispers that we can stop trying to clean up our stories; the righteousness has already been purchased for us through His precious blood. We can stop the editing and tell our beautiful stories fearlessly; for the ending is predictable and glorious. He redeems all. He gives us beauty for ashes. He turns our mourning into dancing. He wins.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Christina Stolaas is an energetic mom to four adorable young kids. In her free time, she enjoys writing, training for roads races, and passionately pursuing a deeper walk with Jesus. Through a rough childhood, she has learned to earnestly trust in the Sovereignty of God and seek to be "fruitful in suffering" as God continues to mold her to His likeness and bring beauty for ashes! (Isaiah 61:3)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Introducing Parker Clay

by Allie Marie Smith

I'm so excited to introduce my dear friends Brittany and Ian's new venture to you girls: Parker ClayBack in 2008 Parker Clay founders, Ian and Brittany Bentley, were moved by number of orphans living in the world. Some statistics place the numbers at 163 million orphans worldwide. While those statistics are alarming, Ian and Brittany looked at these numbers and said, “What if that was Parker or Clayton” their two biological children. From that moment, the journey to Ethiopia started and in 2011 the Bentley’s brought home their newest addition, Selah who was 5 months old at the time. While in Ethiopia the Bentley’s spent time with a number of organizations looking for ways to address some of the root causes to poverty and the disruption of family. It was soon after this that the Bentley’s packed up their lives and moved to Ethiopia to help with development work centered around job creation and capacity development with vulnerable women. 

About the products
While living and working in Ethiopia, they founded Parker Clay, a beautiful line of Ethiopian made leather goods. Each product is individually numbered to make each purchase unique and at the end of each series we will be sending funds back to Ethiopia to go towards addressing a specific need.  This means you will be 1 of 300 to help provide urgent medial care, job training, or start-up capital to a person in Ethiopia.  This way every time you see your edition number you can be reminded that you're part of a global community committed to helping lift a specific person out of a cycle of desperation and poverty.

Their first partnership is with Woman at Risk here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and they will be funding women to go through the rehabilitation program as well as contributing to a prevention program of high school and college students.  They will also be contributing to the employment of 100's around Ethiopia, mostly women, because of the products they are producing.  From farmers, to factory workers, these products will make a lasting impact on the economy of Ethiopia and while creating world class products.  

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