Refresh

Last week, I left work behind and set off with my family for upper Michigan. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to leave this on the desk at home and walk away.

leaving work behind

Michigan with my family is a reoccurring breath of fresh air that lingers – full of laughter, picturesque scenery and miles of beach to walk.

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In such beauty, it is not hard to find yourself refreshed. With each photograph, I was reminded of the art of creation, the unmatched beauty of nature – and my thankfulness for a family that loves well and a laughs plenty.

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Life is blessed and so good, full of promise, joy and purpose. And standing at the edge of a lighthouse at sunset, I remembered that.
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In Every Conversation

We hosted a fun 4th of July party with some great friends, and some not-so-familiar faces too. Memories were made around tables with good food, fun and late night conversations. And that trend continued over the whole weekend – new faces and the opportunity for many conversations. And I wondered… am I building the kingdom up? Am I showing others Jesus in how I present myself and how I treat or talk about others? (Honestly, as I write this, I just cringe a little, knowing how often I fail at this.)

Do I leave people with a desire to know Jesus? Not a religious tout that’s shoved down someone’s throat. The Gospel is never spread that way. But do I leave people with a longing to have their own personal relationship with Him because they see the joy and wellspring of life flowing out of me and blessing them? As I contemplate my weekend and all those opportunities… I wonder how many are missed ones.

(via ibreakps3andinternet-deactivate)

(via ibreakps3andinternet-deactivate)

I don’t have any great answers for how to live this out consistently, but I did read a great message from the book Upended by Jedd Medefind and Erik Lokkesmoe last night that I think fits well.

“The vision of the kingdom provides the definition of success to guide our apprenticeship. For Jesus’ apprentice, truly great communication is found in serving others well through our communication. In God’s kingdom – where much of what our broken world prizes is flipped on its head - true greatness is found not in glittering success, but in meeting the concrete needs of others.

You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave of all.

That is our barometer, the measure of triumph. Have we met others’ needs through our presence and words? Have we built them up? Have we nourished and encouraged and spurred them forward to love and good deeds? Are they better for the brief encounter, stronger for that conversation, empowered by what we have said and done?”

I don’t think I’m alone in this desire and tension to spread God’s love and joy. I’d love to hear from some of you… do you feel this tug too? How do you live out your faith in every conversation? How do you draw others to Jesus?

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Lost in Translation

These get funnier as you read through them, but it says a lot about our need to contextualize things and make sure we know what we’re saying before we speak cross-culturally. :)

  • Found in a Tokyo car rental shop: “When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.”
  • Majorcan shop: “English well talking. Here speeching American.”
  • Bucharest hotel: “The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.”
  • Moscow hotel: “You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursday.”
  • In an East African newspaper: “A new swimming pool is rapidly taking shape since the contractors have thrown in the bulk of their workers.”
  • In a Rhodes tailor shop: “Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.”
  • Outside a Hong Kong tailor shop: “Ladies may have a fit upstairs.”
  • The Coca-Cola® name in China was first read as “Kekoukela,” meaning “Bit the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax,” depending upon the dialect. Coke® then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent “kokou kole,” translating into “happiness in the mouth.”
  • In a Copenhagen airline ticket office: “We take your bags and send them in all directions.”
  • When KFC® entered the Chinese market, they discovered that their slogan “finger lickin’ good” was translated as “eat your fingers off.”
  • When Gerber® started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the United States, with the smiling baby on the label. Later, they learned that in Africa, companies put the pictures on the labels of what’s inside since many people can’t read.
  • Detour sign in Kyushi, Japan: “Stop: Drive sideways.”1

*taken from TESOLS learning course material.

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Vin et Fromage Partie

Javon and I hosted our first wine and cheese party last night with some friends, which turned into a classy, relaxed evening sampling new things, laughing and sharing old and new memories with old and new friends.

Although I totally missed getting pictures with our guests (fail!), the table was well photographed :)

Vin Et Fromage  - Wine and Cheese

The table setting was super fun to put together. We borrowed some display stands and slate for chalkboard style signs…
Wine and Cheese Table

I discovered chalk pens (which are now my new favorite thing) for clean labels on chalkboards. We set it on craft paper as the table cloth, which allowed us to draw and label everything and note which pairings went together.

Bucherondin Traditional Goat Cheese Every Wine had a specific cheese paired with it

Every guest brought their own wine and cheese pairing. It was so fun seeing people’s favorites and what complimented each other the best.
And it was mapped out to show what went with what

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We also had some other finger foods: apples, grapes, figs, jams, reduced balsamic vinegar, yuzu (candied fruit from Japan) and pistachios.

Fruit platter
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Asian Pear and Humbolt Fog aged goat milk cheeseI contributed an Asian Pear fruit wine with two types of goat cheese: Humbolt Fog Aged Goat Milk Cheese and Bucherondin Traditional Goat Cheese (since sweet whites and goat cheeses are my favorites.) I was pleasantly surprised to love all of the other samples though – and even find some new favorites!
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Maybe it’s a love for trying new things, but I think we all agreed this night was a hit. We’re excited for the next Vin et Fromage Partie!

What kind of fun parties have you been a part of? 

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Weaving Threads

David Platt talks about this concept of weaving threads of the Gospel into everyday conversations. He first heard it as he spent time with a group of missionaries working in a closed Muslim context. They couldn’t openly talk about Jesus or they risked losing their business and being kicked out of the country. But what they could do was talk about the Gospel in little threads – weaving tantalizing pieces of their faith into everyday conversations with their co-workers. And as they lived faithfully, talking and living out their faith, a full tapestry begins to take shape. It opened the doors for deeper conversations. Muslims all across the area started coming to faith in Jesus Christ!

Basically, weaving Gospel threads into everyday conversation just means talking about God, his presence and active work in my life and what He means to me. So instead of just saying, “Wow, look at that sunset!” I can point it back to the Creator. “Wow, I bet God just loves painting the sky every night. Isn’t He incredible? Just think about the awesomeness of God who created the sky and universe!”

Those conversations, over time, create an atmosphere of praise and intimate relationship with God that is clear and evident. When it’s backed up by how we respond to everyday struggles and joys in our lives, people want to know more. It sets Christians apart with a joy and beauty that is noticeable! 

That’s the power of the Gospel anyway, right? It transforms everything about who we were and makes us new creatures. We live differently, we react differently, and we should see things differently. Those moments of praise should work their way out of our mouths too. And as that tapestry weaves together, threads that individually wouldn’t mean much, suddenly become pieces of the Gospel story.

Check out the sermon series here: Threads

I pray these inspire you and reshape the way you think about personal evangelism too. To me, this seems so much more practical and natural… and I’m actively looking for opportunities to speak His name into everyday conversations.

Tell me how it goes for you! Does this open more conversations to talk about Jesus? 

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Acknowledging Unexpectedness

Although I’d still like to note that I’m “far” from leaving my 20s, I loved this article: “What if your 20′s weren’t what you Expected?” // The Gospel Coalition // Jackie Knapp. She brought out three points that echo so many conversations I’ve had with friends over the years…

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Found on un-amore-per-sempre.tumblr.com

1. When We Want to Change the World

Somewhere between an overload of world news and a heavy dose of idealism, many of us have come to believe we can change the world. And I think it’s a GREAT and POWERFUL idea. But with that, we need to be realistic – to know that we aren’t the Savior, that we can’t go it alone, and that we have to focus. When we make a difference in the life of one child, one community or one people group – we are a part of that change. Changing the world is a powerful ideal that brings with it great purpose. But if we’re to survive the throws of that work, we need to take an honest look at what that will cost us and keep perspective.

2. Dealing with Disappointments

Inevitably, life will disappoint us – often on that pursuit to change the world – or at least change our own. But what if those same dreams that didn’t pan out lead us to something better? As a Christian, I believe that God is leading me on a path to bring His name glory. And if I am seeking and running this race for Him, accepting the path that twists and turns differently than I anticipate is part of that.

3. Understanding the Role of the Church

Mentors, godly friends and supportive small groups (often found within the church) are some of the best places to be plugged in to when you’re working through shattered dreams. These same people will likely know how to encourage you to pick back and up and try something new.

The Church is also full of people who are trying to live out Christ’s teachings too. And if we’re on a mission to change the world, we can certainly accomplish far more together than we can apart. Plugging into the body of Christ (both locally and globally) can change things.

I love conversations like this – mostly because they challenge so many of my immediate reactions to situations. They challenge me to live better, respond well and find grace today. I hope it does the same for you.

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Stop & Seek the Beauty

“When you seek beauty in all people, and in all things, you will not only find it, you will become it.”

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Some things, like these lilacs on my table, are not hard to see the beauty in. Others, through the haze of my crazy schedules, selfish aims and constant distraction are harder to find. This week’s mission: stop and smell the “lilacs.” And may it make us all a bit more beautiful.

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