About Me

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I'm a wife, a mom, a singer/songwriter, an author, a public speaker, an abolitionist, an encourager & freedom coach, a seminary student, a worship leader, a lover of life and joy, and most importantly, a follower of Jesus Christ.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Freedom Friday: Jealous God

When it's time for Freedom Friday, I will be out of town for the death of a family member. I will be 20 country miles from the closest Starbucks, with no access to WiFi.

So I'm going to leave you with a few classic posts that are on my heart.

He is Jealous for me
This theme is so heavy on my heart. This used to make me feel as if I needed to shape up and behave better. Now I recognize all His jealousy requires of me is that I open my heart fully to Him and allow His fire to consume all of me.

Do You Really Know God?
This was the top viewed post of 2011. I ask this question: how do you envision God? Who do you imagine Him to be?

“Talitha koum!" Expelling the Laughers
Is anyone discouraging you in your journey of freedom, telling you that your goals are not possible? This post is for you.

I'll be back next week :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Freedom Friday: Are Your Dreams Asleep?

"Once upon a time there was a funny dog named Crispin's Crispian. He was named Crispin's Crispian because - he belonged to himself."

This is the beginning of one of our favorite children's stories, Mister Dog: The Dog Who Belonged to Himself.

My husband discovered this book at the grocery store when my oldest was just a toddler. My kids loves this book. Love it. Ideally, they would like for me to read it 15 times a day.

In the book, Crispin's Crispian meets a little boy in his travels. They cook dinner together and the boy moves into Crispian's little house.

The final pages of the book describe them cleaning up after dinner and heading to bed. "He [Mr. Dog] curled up in a warm little heap and went to sleep. And he dreamed his own dreams."

I couldn't help but think of Mr. Dog as I watched Bob Hamp's "A Kingdom Parable" teaching this week. He tells the story of how a young man discovers who God created him to be (he's an acrobat). At the end of the parable, Bob describes how people react to seeing this young man's acrobatic feat.

He describes the audience as people whose hearts have gone to sleep, and are coming alive as they witness someone who is stepping into exactly who they were made to be. The people go home, and tie ropes to trees. They pick up those music lessons that have been forgotten for too long. Others simply go back to what they used to do when their dreams were still alive.

Has this ever happened to you?

Sometimes, I go to a show, I hear good music, and it inspires me to write. I've written some of my most honest and powerful songs this way. Other times, I hear an inspirational speaker talk about something that exhilarates me, and I go home and write a blog post.

I walked away from this Bob Hamp teaching and felt God put a question on my heart.

Are your dreams asleep? Is your heart asleep?

In the acrobat parable, the young man's father says to him something that struck me as a profound truth. There are some things hidden in your heart that you will never discover if you don't push yourself enough to find it.

I've written elsewhere on how to keep your dreams alive. I've also written about how God refines us and gives us the desires of our hearts. Those posts might be helpful resources.

Part of learning to walk in freedom, part of learning to become the person God created you to be is fanning those dreams that He has given you. It's infusing hope into them when there is no visible reason to hope.

"He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding." Ephesians 1:7-8 (NLT)

Ask yourself today: are my dreams asleep? What dreams are hidden in my heart, things I've seen glimpses of, but have been afraid to dig deeper and discover their fullness? Have I, or the enemy, squelched and buried the dreams and hopes God had conceived in us? Is it because they seem too big, too wild, too unrealistic?

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

Do I believe that God is able? Do I believe that God is not only able, but willing? Not just willing, but that He has a deep desire to bless me and love on me and see my dreams come true?

Unlike Mr. Dog, we do not belong to ourselves. We belong to God. And we find out who we are by staring into His eyes and seeing ourselves reflected in Him. We discern who He created us to be by diving into His heart and resting in Him. We discover the power to keep our dreams alive in His presence.

Wake up your dreams today. Get out your journal and remind yourself of what they are. Position yourself in a warm little heap in God's lap and allow Him to redeposit those dreams into your heart (I envision this involving hot cocoa with marshmallows for some reason).

"Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires." Psalm 37:4 (NLT)

Two resources that might be helpful in assisting you in this exercise: The Kiss of Heaven by Darlene Zschech and Holy Discontent by Bill Hybels.

Dream your own dreams, the ones God has given you. You are dear to God, and your dreams are His gift to you. Nurture those dreams as you would care for delicate gift from a dear loved one.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Freedom Friday: Remember Your Motivation

In 2011, I wrote a booklet entitled Learning to Walk in Freedom. It's basically been finished for months, but I needed to sit down and read it all in one sitting to check for continuity and last-minute changes.

One of my goals for 2012 is to finish this booklet and get it published as an eBook. At the end of 2011, I kept putting the booklet aside. I had reviewed the edits from the two folks who gave them to me, and implemented those changes. But I just hadn't made the time to sit and do the final read-through.

Everything else felt more pressing.

I began to ask myself why I wanted to wrote this booklet. What motivated me to write it in the first place?

Back in October, 2010, my leadership team for the ministry I direct and I all wrote personal purpose statements. Here was mine:

To see the Church & its individuals learn to walk in the fullness of freedom that is available to every believer in & follower of Jesus Christ, finding healing in the context of community, seeing themselves reflected in the image of God and the cross.

It's still a work in progress, but I would tweak it a bit now to say something more like this:
To see the Church & its individuals learn to walk in the fullness of freedom that is available to every believer in & follower of Jesus Christ, by discovering who God truly is, and who God created them. This is done through study of the Word, through the transformation of the Holy Spirit, and through the healing context of community.

This is what drives me. More than anything, I desire to see people walking in the freedom that Jesus died to give them. This inspires me to write when I'd rather be watching the DVD's of my favorite show I received for Christmas. It motivates me to get up ridiculously early and study God's Word, talk to Him, and write about Him.

What motivated you to create your goal? As Michael Hyatt would say, what's at stake if I don't finish this goal? What will happen if you don't reach that goal? What will happen if you do complete the goal?

Are you beginning the race with the end in mind?

"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14 (NASB)

You can apply this principle way beyond goal-setting.

Why did you join that recovery group?
Why do you want to gain some control over that bad habit?
Why did you start counseling?
What initially motivated you to choose this goal in the first place?

Remembering your motivation can also help provide you with a reality check: was my heart in the right place when I chose this goal? Hashing it out with a friend or through writing a pros & cons list can also help you assess what is discouraging you and how to press through that discouragement.

I finished the final final edits of my booklet this week. Now, it simply needs footnotes added and the cover art created.

What goal are you working toward this week? Ask yourself: what is motivating me? What's at stake?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Focus Roles, Goals, Dreams & Priorities for 2012

With my youngest at a conference in North Carolina this summer

I'm sharing with you today my focus roles for 2012, and the goals, dreams and priorities that have been born out of those roles.

Focus Roles:
Keeper of my home: Cleaning, Mealplanning, Meal prepping, Decluttering, Organizing, Playing with kids, Homeschooling
Runner/Healthy eater: Improving my running and overall fitness, eating better & more whole foods
Minister/Author, Speaker: Refilling, Writing, Praying, Soaking Up God

Keeper of my home: I'm not a very good housekeeper. I basically do the bare minimum of what needs to be done so the main rooms don't look like a disaster area. I've always blamed this on being a homeschooling mom who works from home and has little kids with food sensitivities (i.e. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, as well as shopping at numerous grocery stores). I'd like to get more organized so I can see what I'm actually able to accomplish.

Runner/Healthy eater: As I stated, I'd like to improve my overall fitness. Also, in an effort to save money this year, I bought some foods that I normally would avoid, due to being highly processed. I have seen the negatives effects of that and am reverting back to a healthier eating plan. This goes hand-in-hand with the first role because this means I will need to do more meal prep and planning.

Minister/Author, Speaker: I've noticed when I come home from traveling, both for ministry and personal life, I struggle to get back into our routine. I also wrestle with feeling depleted. I would also like to write more and refine my vision for what God desires of me as a ministry director, author and speaker.

Out of those focus roles, I came up with the following priorities and goals.

1. Spend more time focusing on keeping my home, including interacting with my kids, decluttering, meal-planning and spending wisely.
2. Spend less time on the internet and on my phone. This is my escape, but it's not necessarily helpful or healthy.
3. Continue running and work on improving overall fitness.
4. Improve family eating habits, cooking more and making whole foods more available, including snacks.

1. Keep my iPhone inbox below 50 emails (that's 50 total for 5 email addresses).
2. Cut out food dyes, corn syrup, dairy & wheat from our diets (dairy & wheat is just for me since the boys already don't eat it), as well as most pre-packaged, processed foods. Cut down on grains.
3. Run 100 miles per month through the winter. Consider what other races I should do, including aiming for a new 5K & 10K PR.
4. Run a half marathon at a :30/mile faster pace than my 1st half marathon, which I ran in 2:12:34 with a 10:08 pace.
5. Create a plan for traveling for ministry and family, which includes refilling on both ends of the trip. Figure out what my needs are in that regard.
6. Finish the booklet, “Learning to Walk in Freedom” & publish it.
7. Create a 4 week meal plan every month and follow it.
8. Make a plan for keeping my house tidy and for decluttering.
9. Continue daily Bible reading. 2 days a week, get up at running time to read the Bible, pray, journal & be silent.
10. Consider 1 other type of cardio fitness (a class at a gym or swimming).
11. Strengthen arms & core, specifically to prevent back injuries.
12. Read & finish 25-30 books in 2012. That's just over 2 books a month. This includes books I've started and not yet finished.
13. Incorporate more raw & fermented foods into our diets, as well as broth. Specifically, keep a good supply of dilly green beans and dilly carrots for the kids.
14. Do a study on Mephibosheth.
15. Come up with a short stretching routine for after running.

I'm going to leave them as is without explaining them, but if you have a question, let me know! I will return at least monthly and let you know how it's going.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Freedom Friday: Are Goals Necessary?

Happy Freedom Friday to all my readers!

I was asked yesterday when I began Freedom Friday. October 29, 2010: What is Freedom, Part 1. We've been seeking God and learning to walk in freedom together for over 15 months now!

Freedom Friday is a toddler. Aw :)

I'm going to be doing a series of posts to encourage you as you pursue your priorities and goals based on your focus roles for 2012. Today, we'll be examining whether or not goals are really necessary in the journey toward freedom.

This may seem like an odd question after last week's post. Here's why I started pondering this question.

I read something yesterday that was very anti-setting goals called How to Have the Best Year of Your Life (without Setting a Single Goal). The author implies that setting goals is setting yourself up to fail. In fact, he goes so far as to say "Resolutions are pipe dreams, and goals are a waste of time."

In some ways, I agree.

As I mentioned previously, I have been setting goals for years. Years. Many of them had to do with time management, weight management, health, fitness, and Bible reading. Most years, I didn't even accomplish half of those goals.

I had to ask myself why? What has been the difference in those years when I did accomplish my goals?

One thing I could agree on with the article was that goals really need to be about developing new disciplines. If the goal alone is what is motivating you, then you may be setting yourself up to fail.

Saying, "I want to lose 50 lbs" is likely not good enough. Why? Why do you want to lose weight? And what disciplines are you planning on developing to accomplish that goal? If this is a recurring goal in your life, what have you done in the past that has worked and what hasn't worked?

I started running seriously because I lost a significant amount of weight and wanted to keep it off. This was only motivating for a short time. I continued running because I wanted to see how far I could go and how hard I could push myself. I now run not only for the physical exercise, but for the mental clarity I gain while running.

One of my goals for 2012 is to run through the winter (something I've never done), even when it's wicked cold. I hit one level of that goal this week, when it was 8 degrees, feels like -7. I ran 8 miles.

Notice the frost covering my whole head and the icicles on my eyelashes.

Keeping the weight off is not enough of a motivator to drag myself out of bed at 5 AM and run 8 miles in the freezing cold. I do it because I'm headed toward a goal, the goal being not only to train myself to run in the wicked cold, but also to shave 30 seconds off my half-marathon pace.

I frequently discuss having SMART goals. Creating SMART goals gives you a destination to reach and a way to measure whether or not you've reached it.

The ironic thing is that many of my goals & priorities this year are not SMART. The ones related to running that I shared here are, but many of the rest (which I will share in a future post) are not. They are not measurable. They cannot be timed. And they really aren't very specific. Rather, they are focused on making some small adjustments in the way I live and how I spend my time that I hope will have a great impact in refining some areas of my life.

This is where I can agree with the article above about creating new disciplines.

A 2012 goal is to read and complete 25 books. This is a means to an end. The end is not being able to say "I read 25 books"; the end is that I want to spend less time on my computer and my iPhone. I also have a pile of half-finished books I want to complete, as well as a mammoth stack of books I've gotten off of Paperback Swap (fantastic resource, by the way!) that I genuinely want to read but have not made the time for.

These two factors together, I have books I want to read and I want to limit my internet time, are both motivators to read those books and create a new discipline of reading regularly, something I've struggled with since having kids.

So, are goals necessary? Maybe not for everyone. I like to have priorities to focus on with a few specific goals mixed in. I can't completely agree that goals are a waste of time, but I can absolutely agree that one way to shape your goals and choose them is by focusing on who you want to become. Creating good, sustainable habits as well as shaping new disciplines that you enjoy is a step in this direction.

On that note, here is a blog post about six keys to achieving big goals from one of my favorite bloggers, Michael Hyatt (I've mentioned him before). And here's a post of his on How To Make New Year's Resolutions Stick which discusses the importance of having SMART goals.

And a close-up of the partially defrosted eyelashes after they had been inside for a few minutes:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012, Living Unveiled Readers!

It's officially 2012! What are you doing to ring in the New Year?

One great way to ring in the New Year would be to do a refresher course on learning to walk in freedom series.

Also, if you have come up with focus roles and some goals, I encourage you to read through the tags (called "Topics to Explore" in the right navigation of my blog) and click on any that resonate with your focus roles for the year.

Again, happy new year! I'm praying for you as you continue to grow into the person God created you to be.

The "Learning to Walk in Freedom" series in order

If you click on the "Learning to Walk in Freedom" tag in my right navigation, it lists the post in reverse order, so I am creating this post to make reading the series easier to navigate.

Intro: What is Freedom? Part 1 & Part 2

1. Spend Time with the Freedom Giver: Part 1 & Part 2

2. Spend Time with Freedom Seekers

3. Act Like a Free Person, part 1 & part 2

4. Embrace Grace, part 1, part 2 & part 3

5. Think Like a Free Person, part 1 & part 2

Learning to Walk in Freedom wrap-up