Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent/Upcoming Adventures

We just got a hold of a rockin Advent resource from Urban Skye Publishing. Are you familiar with Advent? I really am not. I've never had an advent experience before but I am challenged and really anticipating how this daily routine will keep our eyes focused on Christ during the Christmas season. The first day starts tomorrow, December 1st, so please join us in our advent adventure whether you use this resource or another!

It’s not a question of whether you find Christmas enjoyable or frantic or irrelevant or sentimental. The question is: do you experience Christmas as a spiritual time?

- From the introduction to THIN PLACES, an Urban Skye Advent Guide

In other news, we leave in about 72 hours for our big trip to "South Asia" (Oh ministry vaguness...we're flying to the country where the Taj Mahal is located and where Mother Teresa served in ministry...subtle, I know.)

There are a lot of plans for this trip like growing partnerships, campus ministry, training students, team connection etc but the two things I find my thoughts really settling on are:

1. Time ministering to women in brothels and who are currently in slavery of the sex traffic system as well as loving on young ladies aged 9-17 who have been RESCUED from sex trafficking. Wow. Two very different experiences but truly waiting upon Jesus to show up and strengthen us.

Generous friends and supporters donated over 500 chapsticks, 200 nail polishes, dozens of candy canes, as well as bags of clothes and shoes to bless these sweet girls with! All through a several Facebook status requests!

2. I am also really looking forward to serving in Mother Teresa's Home for the Dying. This facility was set up by Mother Teresa as a place where those of the lowest caste system, the dalits could die with dignity and the feel the blessing of human touch:

dalit: a designation for a group of people traditionally regarded as Untouchable

Here they experience care in their finals months or moments. Our daily goals include changing bed pans, holding sick hands, clipping toenails, cleaning rooms, or serving in anyway needed. If I'm honest this will probably expose some really ugly sides of my self-comfort and selfish weakness. We are prayerfully considering and begging for motives to serve to reflect the gospel of Jesus and see His kingdom come even for a few hours in this home.

So that is what we are up to these next few weeks. After the 10 day trip as a staff team Ryan and I get to stay back in India for 3 more days to just explore the country and be together. I'm anticipating tremendous amounts of chai tea, good reading, and needed reflection in those days. Updates and stories to come!

He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

2 Samuel 22:20


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Ry and I are supper giddy to have our families over for Thanksgiving Day tomorrow!! This will be our first time hosting, for our first thanksgiving together in America, in our first house, roasting our first turkey, with our first dog there for all the action. So many firsts! And it is Rilyn's (our niece) first Thanksgiving of life! We secretly hope she comes dressed as a turkey...

We're keeping it simple and doing everything potluck style-we'll provide the bird, cranberry sauce, house, and football and everyone is bringing their specialty side dish. I'm convinced this is the way to go so we don't loose our minds with stress. Ryan is all about brining the turkey this year (shout out to Tyler!) while I have my heart set on a beautiful table and cozy atmosphere. So looking forward to tomorrow and celebrating!

Since Thanksgiving is on the 24th here are 24 things we are feeling thankful for this Thanksgiving...

1. Jesus!
2. Our marriage and friendship
3. This blessing of a Golden home
4. Decker & Nelson Families
5. Sweet friends
6. Rilyn Decker...so in love with that baby girl!
7. Work to accomplish
8. Days off after Thanksgiving
9. Reconnection times on Sunday mornings
10. Quilts and candles
11. The gospel (John 3:16)
12. Parents who bless us endlessly
13. KOSI 101.1 non-stop Christmas music
14. ESV Journaling Bible
15. A garage to park in
16. Good food to enjoy tomorrow
17. Reminders to be thankful
18. Times of sifting and pruning
19. Ability to be thankful in ALL circumstances (1 Thes. 5:18)
20. Yankee Candle Christmas scents
21. Harpo Thor, our new sweet golden pooch
22. Skyping with far away friends
23. Long walks around our neighborhood
24. Festivities tomorrow!

Our Thanksgiving last year looked very different but it's good for us to reflect on where the Lord took us, where he has brought us, and give thanks for different seasons of life.

{Ryan at Thanksgiving 2010 with now far-away friends}

{I'm sure his face will look no different this year when dessert is served!}

{Last year we used a GROCERY CART to push our Thanksgiving dishes about 3/4 mile to the hosts house. Only in Saudi Arabia!}

...Give thanks in
all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Week...Is Not About Me

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Harpo Thor Decker

What did we do this Sunday? Oh yeah, got a dog.

WHAT?!?!

We officially have joined the long-lasting tradition of the Deckers and Nelsons who love dogs. Harpo Thor Decker (Ryan named him) joined our family today and we just love the little guy already. He is super polite minus the two times he jumped on my white couches with his muddy paws but hey, he's new around these parts. I remind him that he doesn't own the place. He doesn't really listen.

Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies set us up with Harpo and we really dig what they are about. A super legit organization to put older pups in good homes.

We're excited for this new adventure of doggy ownership. There is a definite release of rights, freedom, and finances that comes with Harpo. On the other hand we gain a (sweet and cute) security system which was the main motivation for this step. But also an exercise buddy for Ryan and it will be smart to have a dog home with me during the day. Plus he's adorable.

So enjoy these pics of Harpo Thor-our 40 lb golden retriever mix who loves his tennis ball, likes sleeping on Ryan's feet, and is thank the Lord potty-trained!





[Let Us Sing Songs of Praise] Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Psalm 95:1-2

Monday, November 14, 2011

Holidays...Are Not About Me

Oh man I am loving November! There is so much happening around us and as Thanksgiving approaches I love to start seeing even more of things like...

Gorgeous Indian Corn and pumpkins

Fires and autumn mantels

Boys building fires

Tending to the fire and building it up...
...and in the midst of it there, I get to catch a simple reminder from these indicators of the approaching season that the holidays not about me.

Thanksgiving gives me an opportunity to remember...
  • God's goodness
  • His provisions
  • A husband I thank Him for
  • Family and friends I rejoice over
  • All good and difficult blessings
  • What a gift such a relaxed holiday it is to enjoy people and good food
Christmas gives me an opportunity to remember...
  • Jesus' sweet birth
  • The rescuing and radical news of the gospel
  • Times with family and friends to celebrate
  • Joys of the season
  • A challenge to put Christ central instead of the world
The holidays, Thanksgiving or Christmas, are not about me and surprise...are about the Lord! They reveal His goodness and blessing over and over. We are anticipating and expectant of this holiday season in Colorado and trusting God to make us less concerned with ourselves and more concerned with Him!

In other news our life lately has been filled with...

*Dominion (new favorite board game) *Fires *Coffee from the Espresso machine Y-lo got me! *Ryan practicing guitar *Enjoying this house every day *Friends and family over *Fun/challenging times with students *Reading *Preparing for Thanksgiving *Challenges and blessings in marriage *Budgeting with the envelope system *Winter weddings *Processing big life decisions *Conflict and resolution *Learning about our church *Exploring and loving Golden more *Meeting neighbors *Brainstorming how to serve our neighborhood

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.

Mark 8:35

P.S. Shout out to Casey! Hope work is rocking today and thanks for being our #1 faithful reader. You probably like our blog more than our moms.

Beholding Glory

Friday, November 11, 2011

Beautiful Creations...Are Not About Me

{This morning's sunset picture from the end of our driveway}

Whispering Carly: Husband, do you want to come see the sunset?
Groggy Ryan: Uhhh...no thanks babe (as we wakes up from his sound sleep).
Whispering Carly: But it's so pretty and a beautiful red!
Groggy Ryan: I'll just look at the picture you take (back to sleep in 3 seconds).

Oh spouse! That's ok, it was a lot to ask that he get out of bed at 6:12 am to see what I saw. Poor guy.

But isn't it gorgeous?! The actual colors were this deep red and insane indigo. My photo taking skills are not even all great but I feel like this sunrise spoke for itself.

Enjoying what is beautiful is so much about God! He created all of it. This fiery sunset is created to sing to God and point us back to Him...

Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Psalm 148:3-4

Appreciating beautiful creation isn't just for nature though. We are going to Estes Park this evening for a weekend-long marriage conference called Weekend To Remember.

Weekend to Remember is not a large counseling session, and you will not be asked to participate in small groups. Rather, you will receive marriage-changing principles that you can take home and apply to your daily lives that will strengthen your marriage.
-Website

We're really excited about it and the chance to learn more about God's intention for marriage, for us, and be a better steward of something so beautiful. And do you know where we get to stay?

{Our adorable accommodations: Chickadee Cottage. So serene and relaxing!}

{And here! It's the end of the autumn season in Estes Park}

This morning I'm thinking about how big God's creation is. More than enough to remind me that whether I enjoy it or notice it, it's not about me. It's about Him and seeing His voice in beauty.

Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!

Psalm 148:7-10

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Friends & Brisket...Are Not About Me

Tonight we get to host dinner for four of our very best friends and both couples are newlyweds! We sure love them and always look forward to time that we can have together.

I'm really gaining an awareness lately that my friendships are not about me. With an attitude of selfishness or an expectation to receive something (approval, interest, love, perfection) from our relationship I will be disappointed every time. That points me right back to the Lord because I need his heart to want to love people and grace for every time I idolize any relationship.

It is beyond freeing to realize Jesus created friendships to be enjoyed but he was the ultimate model of just loving for the heck of it!

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

John 13:1

So cool and a great reminder for me to keep Jesus #1 and everything else in it's rightful place. We are grateful today for overflowing relationships and a biblical model to do it right.

As for the menu...we are having Beef Brisket tonight! This is honestly the MOST delicious, simple, and absolute crowd favorite that I have ever made. It takes literally 10 minutes to prep and then just let it roast away in the oven all afternoon. Try it out, it's a yummy fall dish.

Texas Oven-Roasted Beef Brisket


Prep Time:10 min
Cook Time:4 hr 0 min
Level:Easy
Serves:10 servings

Ingredients

• 2 tablespoons chili powder

• 2 tablespoons salt

• 1 tablespoon garlic powder

• 1 tablespoon onion powder

• 1 tablespoon ground black pepper

• 1 tablespoon sugar

• 2 teaspoons dry mustard

• 1 bay leaf, crushed

• 4 pounds beef brisket, trimmed

• 1 1/2 cups beef stock

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make a dry rub by combining chili powder, salt, garlic and onion powders, black pepper, sugar,
dry mustard, and bay leaf. Season the raw brisket on both sides with the rub. Place in a roasting
pan and roast, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Add beef stock and enough water to yield about 1/2 inch of liquid in the roasting pan. Lower
oven to 300 degrees F, cover pan tightly and continue cooking for 3 hours, or until fork-tender.

Trim the fat and slice meat thinly across the grain. Top with juice from the pan.

{Rachelle, Ali, Carly + Rings from our hubs!}

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,

2 Thessalonians 2:16

Beholding Glory

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Traveling...Is Not About Me

I am totally thrilled by the excitement and newness of travel. But guess what? Even that is not about me!

This time last year we were in China and our hearts grew tremendously for that country. We have several good friends from China which is a sweet personal connection but add on the mountains, openness to Jesus, and exciting culture and we were hooked!

{The view from our hotel room Nov 2010}

{Ry and I in front of the the sweet mountains...like Avatar no?}

The reason this topic came up is because we are on another adventure in about 3 weeks. We are PUMPED to travel to South Asia for a DenverCru trip next month. I am already anticipating everything that traveling brings. A chance to serve, the ability to know a new place, connections with new friends, comfort challenges, exposed weaknesses, and definitely travel hiccups that inevitably happen in international travel.

Travel is not about me because the Lord's heart is for the nations and he thought of it first:

"The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations." (Psalm 98:2)

He loves when we can travel to gain a wider perspective of his vast love and how unique His creation is beyond familiar borders. He also commands travel to people in relationship with Him:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." (Matthew 28:19)

That is so cool to me! I'm grateful for something like travel that could so quickly become about me but thankfully is easily pointed back to God. It is about Him because He loves the world, God is totally adventurous and wild so He sends us out, and there is much to learn in new places. It stirs me up and gives me a new reliance on the Lord!

{Picture from a previous trip to Asia from another Cru staffer}




But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.

Leviticus 26:45

Beholding Glory

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What I Have...Is Not About Me

We have been given SO incredibly and abundantly much! Our resources seem endless to me sometimes and what we have is overflowing. Have you ever just thought about all the resources entrusted to you? Here are a few of mine and it rocks my world...

-Time
-Money
-A job
-Friendships and joyful relationships
-A full pantry/fridge
-A home
-Driver's license
-A car
-A godly husband and marriage
-A college education
-Knowledge
-Spiritual gifts
-Health and energy


But here is what is so unique about all of it: it is ALL about Him! It has nothing to do with me, whether I was given more or God took it all away. Whatever I have or know or do, any resource, is a gift from the Lord intended to behold Him and give Him more glory.

My challenge is to intentionally think about how to use these resources to point back to God more often. The Lord asks of us generosity and to hold what we have with open hands (Hebrews 13:5). Doing so puts more trust in God than the material stuff we have or relying on our own abilities like education, a job, or a relationship for example.

I find it difficult to hold any of the resources listed above open handed most of the times. My temptation is to believe that I earned these or that perhaps I even deserve them and should hold them selfishly. The real truth is that God is in charge of it all and He did so on purpose to draw us more closely to Him and to know the Giver of these blessing more intimately.

I'm excited to see this November how God will change me, loosen my grips on the resources I currently have, and make what I do have all about Him!!

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.

2 Corinthians 9:11

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share...

1 Timothy 6:18

Beholding Glory

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Marriage...Is Not About Me

I'm linking up with BeholdingGlory.com for the "It's Not About Me November Challenge"!!

One thing I have learned in marriage, though I often resist like a crazy person, is that marriage is NOT about me. Huh...are you sure?

That feels uncomfortable to say since I know I often walk out marriage like it really is about me. But the truth is the Lord has a lot to say about marriage and how it is truly all about Him.

  • Marriage is for the sole purpose of bringing glory to God, whatever we're up to it's meant to behold and show off the Lord! (1 Corinthians 10:31)

  • Our marriage should rightfully be all about Him because we NEED the Lord to live out the kind of love he digs. 1 Corinthians 13 talks about a patient, kind, never jealous, humble, selfless, slowly-angered love that could only come from such a source, the Lord! When there is love like that in our marriage, I know it's not because it came from me, but from the giver of such a remarkable thing. It's all about HIM!

  • Marriage is meant to be a real (and not so easy) practice for us to lay down our "rights" and live more sacrificially for each other; the way Christ did for his Bride, the church. Marriage gets my eyes off myself and onto the unique character of God through this union. Not only that but then our hearts are fixed on getting to follow Jesus as our source (Ephesians 5:22-23)

This isn't a long post, although it could be, but this November challenge has kicked off with a reminder about how even marriage is not about me. It's about a reliance on God the giver of life. It's about God's character and heart as he develops us in this union. It's about our eyes fixed on the sacrifice that Jesus offered on the cross and our model of that in this marriage.

If it really is all about Him, then we should be decreasing big time and He should be increasing to the max!! (John 3:30).


Here is my sweet husband on our wedding day washing my feet to demonstrate that his heart is to serve in our marriage. What a neat way to get our eyes off ourselves and onto Jesus and His heart to serve.

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
-Jesus
(John 13:14)


Beholding Glory

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