Something’s Brewing.

04/08/11

Reading as a child or even throughout all my schooling was not a desire AT ALL! Actually in my english classes or really any class that required me to read a story or book, I didn’t. I did my best to make my grades balance towards the positive by doing really well on the other aspects of the class so that me totally bombing the reading assignment wouldn’t hurt too bad. HA! Today is a different story though. There is a lot on my brain these days as I have been reading more than I ever have imagined.

I have learned that if I am really interested in the subject, I can read it. If it’s just a fictional book or something random, I just can’t muster up enough attention to consume it. These days my eyes feed on as much of these two deeply intriguing topics as possible. Books about Missional Living for Christ and Homebrewing. Books about doing something. To read and not apply or really gain anything is just kind of foolish, a waste of time. So now I continue to ask, “What am I to do with this knowledge?” Proverbs 8 is all about how we should seek wisdom as it is of extreme value. Therfore I diligently seek wisdom.

05/05/10

Interestingly enough, I began this post less than one month ago not knowing wether to post it or not, it sat in my “draft” column. Since then some crazy opportunities have begun to develop. Some seriously awesome things and wonderfully orchestrated communication. Stay tuned!

Let me be loud & clear.

Mile Markers The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run – by Kristen Armstrong. I am about halfway through reading this book and am absolutely loving it. It motivates me so much! I have always enjoyed reading Kristen’s blog on Runner’s World ever since my Dad told me about it. He loved reading it too and often times sent me links of her posts. Her writing is so inspirational to me. She is not only a runner, but also a mom and someone who likes to live life to the fullest. I love hearing her stories about parenting, early morning runs with friends, races she’s done, and just life in general. It’s a great book thus far and I feel certain I will finish it within the next week or two.

As I sat outside on the patio today soaking up the sun, I read chapter 12 called “Confidence”. Good stuff about what she feels makes for a confident woman and how it starts on the inside. I came across this line and it stuck with me. She was talking specifically about how our influence and own self-confidence affects our children. I read it, reread it, and then knew I had to come in and post this blog.

“If our lips are moving but our actions don’t match, we become a badly dubbed foreign film, without the benefit of subtitles.”

How true is that?! And very biblical. If we say one thing and do another, it just doesn’t make any sense. To our kids or to anyone else for that matter. How confusing is it to a child for you to say “do this” or “do that” and then you don’t follow up your talk with your walk and do those very things? Very confusing. A bunch of jibber jabber. A waste of time.

This goes along well with what we’ve been talking about in or community group lately – we have to be who we want our kids to be. We have to be genuine and real by letting them see who we are, which is honestly scary & motivating at the same time. I can’t tell Addi to use kind words and be patient to Kam if I don’t exhibit patience and kindness to her when they are pushing all of my buttons. I can’t tell people I am a runner, if I don’t actually get out and make time to run. I can’t say I love Jesus, but then snuff the poor and needy right here in our community. I can’t say you’re my friend and then not be there for you to cry on my shoulder while you are struggling. It just doesn’t (shouldn’t) work that way. It’s not just lip service.

I don’t want my life to be badly dubbed without subtitles. I want it to be loud and clear. I want people, especially my kids, to know who I am, who I love, what I stand for, what I do, and what’s most important to me. I want them to see momma get sweaty and push myself to finish a run. I want them to see me make mistakes and apologize for them. I want them to see me show love to a stranger. I want them to see me make dating Ryan a priority. I want them to see me worship the Lord with all that I am. I want them to see me strive to be better in all things. I want to be confident in who I am, inside and out, and be content in my own skin- even through all my imperfections– so they will learn to be confident women themselves one day. That, my friends, will make for a beautiful film!

The Forgotten God. By Francis Chan.

About a year ago Traci and I read Crazy Love with our community group at Grace. That book has radically changed our perspective on so many things, specifically missional living and living below our expected means. I just finished The Forgotten God. Another great eye opener.

[Never mind the goofy smile. I laugh at myself often.]

This book is very insightful about the Holy Spirit and the lack of our acknowledgment of Him in the modern church. In typical Francis Chan fashion he was helpful to bring common, overlooked Christian circle issues into the light. Instead of boring you with my opinions and nonsense I thought I’d let the book speak for itself. Here are a couple of excerpts I found helpful:

Jesus Himself said to His disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7). So Jesus is basically telling His disciples, “Yes, I was with you for three and a half years, but it is better that I leave you and the Holy Spirit comes to you.”

I don’t want to keep crawling when I have the ability to fly.

I think the fear of God failing us leads us to “cover for God.” This means that we ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more.

Do you believe you exist not for your own pleasure but to help people know the love of Jesus and to come fully alive in Him? If so, then that will shape how you live your life in the place where you are.

Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?

I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And because of this reality, stress and tiredness and impatience do not have to define my day.

I think a lot of us need to forget about “God’s will for my life.” God care more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year… It’s easy to use the phrase “God’s will for my life” as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience”

Some people encounter Jesus and say, “Sweet! Jesus, do You want to join the party of my life with this sin, that addiction, this destructive relationship, and we’ll just coexist together?” But repentance means saying, “Sweet Jesus, You are the best thing that has ever happened to me! I wan to turn from all the sin and selfishness that rules me. Help me to walk away from the enslaving, worthless things of life.”

I don’t believe God wants me (or any of His children) to live in a way that makes sense from the world’s perspective, a way that I know I can “manage.” I believe that He is calling me to- and all of us- to depend on Him for living in a way that cannot be mimicked or forged.

While it is true that we are humans like everyone else, it is also true that we are humans with the Spirit of God dwelling in us. Yet, whether consciously or not, we essentially say to God, “I know You raised Christ form the dead; but the fact is my problems are just too much for You and I need to deal with them by myself.”

…it is a profound reminder that God delights in showing up when His people are in desperate need of Him, because that means no one else can steal His glory.

As for me, I am tired of talking about what we are going to do. I am sick of talking about ways we can be radical and make sacrifices. I don’t wan to merely talk anymore. Life is too short. I don’t want to speak about Jesus; I want to know Jesus. I wan to be Jesus to people. I don’t want to write about the Holy Spirit; I want to experience His presence in my life in a profound way.

The Search for God and Guinness.

I recently  finished a great book titled The Search for God and Guinness. It was recommended (thanks Jordan!) to me as a great look into the history of beer and the faith and generosity of the Guinness family. I love both topics (obviously God more than beer) and to find them both in the same title, I had to check it out.

Stephen Mansfield’s (author) primary objective was to explore Arthur Guinness, the Guinness family tree and what motivated their philanthropic tendencies. With 3 main branches of this family, broken down by profession, brewing, banking, and ministry, he expands on how they made such significant impacts on their world and circle of influence. In a nutshell, the Guinness family were faith driven, very giving and sensitive to the needs that they saw in their peers, their country (Ireland), and ultimately their world. Doers of the Word, not just hearers. Really it’s an amazing story of overcoming overwhelming adversity by going above and beyond to selflessly help those in need for now over two and one-half centuries. Read it! Be inspired.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the book, and the point of this post, was the history of beer and it’s support by the church.

Hold on, WHAT?!

Yes, beer, it’s brewing and social celebration was supported throughout history by Christian people! I don’t remember any flannel-graph beer mugs in my Sunday school lessons! Mind you, drunkenness was not nor has been supported in scripture, but the responsible consumption of fermented goodness, yes. Really, not until the 1920’s and America’s short vindication of all alcohol with the act of prohibition, did the church begin it’s no tolerance mission. Much changed in the church during this and the preceding decades in the way of legalism and is still suffering through this sickness today. Not enough room to go there in this post.

From it’s beginnings in ancient Egypt, to the early church, the reformation and beyond, beer has been an integral part of the social scene for God’s people. Jesus’ first miracle was in creating 180 gallons (900 bottles) of the best wine ever, out of water, for the attendees of a wedding TO ENJOY. Um, hello?

Many famous godly men including the legendary Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards and other spiritual giants of the past were advocates for beer. In fact, they constantly thanked God for the provision of the frothy brew and likened it to one of His richest blessings. Pints were shared in taverns while discussing theology and the mercy of God. Kegs of beer were sent as gifts and stipends to preachers of the Word.

When questioned for his freedom in Christ displayed in his acceptance of beer and wine by the strict rulers in the Roman Catholic faith, Martin Luther (who by-the-way is one of the sole reasons you and I have a Bible today) responded, “Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then abolish and prohibit women?” Love it! Christ did not save us for a life of religious regulations, He saved us from a life of religious regulations.

So much more to the book than this, so much. Get it already! Read it! Be inspired.

The Spirit of God, some end-of-year self-motivation and this book have inspired me in so many ways; here are three.

1. One of our goals this year is to be more philanthropic (giving) of our time and resources. It’s a shame to fathom the amount of time and money we waste on ourselves and I’m burdened by this reality in our own lives. The Guinness brewery was the highest paying employer in Dublin in times of the countries greatest depressions. Their company benefits out-weighed what Google, Microsoft, and Apple can provide to their employees today without doubt. With the generous support of the Guinness board and the vision of the brewery’s doctor to eradicate sub-par living conditions, they were successful in providing healthy dwellings, education, and quality social activities for not only the thousands of Guinness workers but changed the whole city for the good. All with the heart of a servant for the betterment of humanity. As Jesus states in Luke 12, “To whom much has been given, much is required.” I have been given TONS (not financially per se) and it’s my turn.

2. I am impressed by how Arthur’s family was so missional minded. He began, his children followed, many lives were changed as a result. Modeled behavior at its finest. One of the greatest evangelists in history was Henry Guinness (a grandson of Arthur), who influenced more great men like Charles Spurgeon, Dwight Moody and William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army). I have been blessed with great Christian legacies and intend to pass that on as far as my influence goes. Both Traci and I come from grandfathers then fathers in ministry. Radically, I want to fan this flame and inspire others for Christ. I am blessed to lead my family in this quest. Now more than ever, radical is right.

3. I enjoy great beer and wine and am saddened by the dark stigma that surrounds the topic. To be grouped into the “drinkers” category in reference to those who abuse it, saddens me. I am free in Christ and am so thankful for ALL of His blessings. All things God creates are sacred. I love Dr. Pepper but only drink it on occasion, mainly because as they have so many empty calories. Likewise, beer is a special and restricted treat. [Side-note, dark beer has been proven over and over again that it’s actually great for your health “Guinness is good for you.” when consumed in moderation, Dr. Pepper however isn’t.] From this point forward, “Ryan drinks beer and wine.” is not a secret. By the way, I homebrew and am looking into hosting fellowship opportunities involving deep Bible studies and brewing. ;) To God be the glory.

In celebration of finishing the book and the revelations gained, there was only one thing that had to be done to properly finalize the impartation. I got out a tall glass. Rinsed it with cold water. Pried open a Guinness Extra Stout. Poured the beautiful, rich, dark-stout-goodness into the glass and let the micro-bubble carbonation rise while forming the tan colored, cream-textured head at the top. I brought the glass of Guinness to my mouth, parted my lips, tilted it and partook. Yum! Espresso and dark chocolate flavors accompanied by berry like bitterness from the English hops surround my tongue with a touch of dust-like dryness that developed through the swallow [smile]. All in honor my great Creator, his man, his faith, his likeminded family and their amazing influence.

Cheers to my God and to Guinness!

The Kissing Hand.

Have you ever read or seen the children’s book called The Kissing Hand? It really is such a sweet, touching little book.

In a nutshell, the book is about a baby raccoon that is getting ready to start school and is somewhat nervous about it. Separation anxiety in a time of transition. So, the mommy raccoon gives him a pep talk. She tells him about this “kissing hand” which helps him to  feel better about going off to school alone, without her. She kisses the inside of his little paw and tells him that whenever he feels sad or misses her, he could open his hand and put it on his cheek and get a kiss from his mommy and know that she’s always there with him. The kiss would never wash off and would always be there. Wherever he goes, her love is right there with him.

At the end of the book there is a page of heart kissing hand stickers. When we read this book to our girls, we always kiss their hands and then let them put one of the stickers on their hands. Well, the other day I was cleaning up the girls room and I saw this pic that has been on their dresser for the past several months, but noticed something different about it and my heart just melted. I asked the girls who put the sticker there with tears in my eyes and Addi said, “I did! Because I love Poppy.” There are no words to describe how significant and genuinely sweet this is.

Wherever we go, whenever we feel sad – we think of his love and know that he is with us in our hearts.

Story time.

On the flight home from Boston, I finished the book A Millions Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. It was GREAT, I loved it. The book is simply a collection of stories in Donald’s life. He is a writer and realizes through the course of turning one of his books into a movie, that he had spent a big majority of his life writing stories – but not actually living them which made him incredibly sad and feel empty. So, he decides to get off the couch, turn the TV off, and start making his own stories – start experiencing life for himself. Stop taking the easy road and creating moments that matter. He ends up with some awesome, very inspirational stories to share. The book is eye-opening on many levels.

For me, it challenged me to really live in the moment. In one section of the book, he talks about how he and some friends were driving down a road as the sun was setting on some open fields. One of the girls said she loved running across fields like that when she was a child. He pulled the car over and they all got out and high-tailed it, running into the sunset. Such a beautiful picture of experiencing life and taking time to fully engage in the moments God gives us.

Yesterday, the girls and I had to drive out to the lake to take care of a few work-related things at Brown’s Landing. On the drive home, Kamryn rolled her window down a smidge on accident when her foot hit the button. I instantly rolled it up and turned on the child safety locks, without even thinking. I caught myself…this is an opportunity. I quickly pushed the safetly lock off, rolled down not only Kam’s window but all four windows in the car. It was then I noticed how beautiful the day was! The laughter that came from the backseat was like music to my ears. The girls loved how their hair flew crazily around them and they smiled and giggled the rest of the way home. We created a story. A small, short, but sweet little story and I loved it.

When I come to the end of life, I want my life to be overflowing with stories. As a child of God, I desire to have stories of how He worked in my life and used me in ways that only He could make possible. As a spouse, I want to have adventures to share about living life with my love. As a mom, I want to have “memory makers” galore with my children. The ups and downs of life can all be part of a story. Even the hard, sad, or difficult times can create a good story, if you let them. After all, God is the author. And He is perfect. You just have to submit and embrace each moment He gives you!