Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Good morning!! And Merry, Merry Christmas!
I'm feeling extremely blessed today as I realized this morning that Neal and I are going on four years of getting up every morning extra early so that we have time together in God's word. I posted this photo this morning on instagram and was blessed by comments of friends who said that they were inspired to do the same thing from my post.
Starting your day in God's word every morning will change your life! After doing this for four years I can say that not everyday brings new insight or revelation, and man, I can still battle a hard heart, and sometimes it just feels like I'm going through the motions, or that it's just routine, BUT then there are days, like this morning, when fear would strive to take my mind and I can remember things I've learned through reading God's word that protects my heart and mind from going to the place where I'm consumed by fear. I remember that Proverbs 3:5-6 says to trust in God from the bottom of my heart; and that I don't need to figure everything out on my own. And that in reading God's word I'm learning to listen for God's voice in everything I do, and everywhere I go; that in listening to and obeying him, he will keep me on track. And then there's the verse in Psalm 91 that says "God, you're my refuge. I trust in you and I'm safe!" It also goes on to say that "His huge outstretched arms protect you- and that under them you're perfectly safe." I need to read these things and memorize these things for my daily life so that fear can never take over my life again. And it covers everything in there!! No matter what your situation, there's an answer!!! Jeremiah 29:13 says you will find him when you seek him with all of your heart.
I'm no Bible scholar. In fact, if truth be told, I'm often a mess, but if there's one thing I've learned it's that God can straighten out my head like no one else, that he protects me, that I can find shelter in him, and that he actually SEEKS to save those that are lost and are a mess like me.
This Christmas season I have to confess that I've allowed myself to get busy and preoccupied with decorating, Christmas cards, shopping, and all of those things that can take up our minds and time at Christmas. Today I want to refocus my heart and mind on the birth of my savior who would've come even if it was to only save me, even if it was to only save you. I want to STOP when the song "O Holy Night" plays on my iPad and "fall on my knees" in reverence and adoration of my king.
For many years I would dread Christmas. I would dread the spending, the debt, the trying to impress others with amazing decorations, etc. I would completely lose myself into all things that have absolutely nothing to do with the birth of my savior! I still enjoy those things but I'm learning to let them take second place to my KING who came in the form of a baby.
My friends put together this video to advertise a special service coming up at my church because, truly, I believe we're all searching for a savior, and there's peace in believing in the birth of a King. If you have nowhere to attend church this season may I invite you to come to my church. We're just a bunch of imperfect people doing the best we can, who know that our lives would be nothing without Jesus. Come hear some awesome Christmas music, especially on the evening of December 15th (I'm singing a solo) haha! So come just to giggle at my effort (or bravery), come to hear my sister belt it out (she ROCKS!), come to rest in the presence of the King!
Won't you enjoy this video? It touches me.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Happy, Happy, HAPPIEST of Thanksgivings to YOU dear readers!!!
I just want to thank all of you for your precious emails, for checking on me, and for reminding me that you're still here, wondering what I'm up to! What a bunch of sweeties you all are!! I just looked back and tomorrow it will be three months since I've posted on this here blog, that went by super fast!!! I've been a busy bee! I have started watching my niece three days a week so that my sister could return to work. I've also been extremely blessed to start a photography business which has taken a lot more time researching, planning, etc. than I could've ever dreamed. It's a complete and total GIFT from the Lord!! He has blessed me and people continue to call me for appointments and I'm incredibly grateful and humbled! I've never worked so hard in my life because my goal is to put out stellar work so I'm constantly pushing myself to learn more and more! Obviously I want every person who believes in me and supports me to be 150 percent happy with their photos, which is the goal every time! I guess I've been so absorbed in my new career that I neglected this little corner of my world. Hee hee, that feels so GOOD to say, "my career!" It makes me GIDDY!!! I have always heard the saying, "do what you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life." That quote was always one of those things that sounded to good to be true, yet here I am! Working harder than ever and loving every minute! I've had the sweetest clients, some of which I now call friends! Here is a small sampling of some of my favorite photos; it was so hard to choose!
I guess you could say that I've got a ton to be grateful for this Thanksgiving!! I feel incredibly blessed and overjoyed to be doing what I do! Thank you so much for checking in, each and every one of you!! You're precious to me!!! If you want to see more of Lissa Whitlock Photography click HERE!
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Earlier this summer I sat at the beach surrounded by a group of close friends as we pondered the deep things of life. I'm not a small talk person, in fact, I stink at it preferring to get right to the "meat" if you know what I mean. At this gathering sat a friend of mine who is a passionate fireball for the Lord and it's proved contagious on many occasions. As we sat there with our feet in the sand I wanted to know where he found such a passion for God, so I asked how it started.
What he shared was simple yet so profound. He said when he was younger he felt like there had to be more to being a christian than just going to church so he grabbed his Bible and started to read all the red words. In case you're unfamiliar, the red words are simply the words that Jesus said during his life here on earth.
That night while the sun set in the background he told us that, "THE RED WORDS CHANGED HIS LIFE."
I found this fascinating! Just the red words changed a man's life?! I couldn't help but wonder, "could it do the same for me?" So a few weeks ago I started searching out the red words in the book of Matthew to see where it would take me and it's doing the EXACT SAME THING in my own heart.
Fast forward to this morning. I found myself reading a small section in Matthew 18 over and over again trying to wrap my brain around what Jesus was saying. The title of the chapter is "whoever becomes simple again." Being a girl who loves the word "simple" and all that implies I wanted to know more but I was having a hard time getting to the root of it so I asked Neal to read it and then tell me what it meant to him. He pointed out the part where Jesus said, "I'm telling you once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me." It continues on to talk about simple trust (childlike faith).
Neal pointed me towards this photo of Emma as she fully trusts when she leaps into the arms of her daddy. If you look at the photo you'll notice that her feet are BEHIND her, not under her in case her daddy doesn't catch her. She has childlike trust and has thrown herself into the arms of her father. I posted this photo on facebook a few days ago and my mom commented, "oh, to have TOTAL trust like Emma!" As I read her comment it brought tears to my eyes! What could life look like if we were willing to just throw ourselves into the arms of our heavenly Father as a child! What could happen?? Where could it take us? I can only imagine the adventure!
So today I take Emma's lead and I'm leaping into the arms of my heavenly Father in total trust. I'm pretty sure that life isn't going to look like I thought but I'm confident that he who began a good work in me will carry it onto completion until the day that Christ returns.
And I'm pretty freaking excited about this!!
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
If you had told me 4 years ago that I would become a girl that camps I would've never believed you. I didn't grow up camping and it always sounded like lots of work and dirty to me; I had no intention of ever going. This all changed three years ago when I was literally dragged to my first camping trip, which was miserable! Do you remember that funny post I wrote years back about how much I detested camping?? It rained the entire time, I slept in a pool of water, and ate a gritty burger that had fallen into a mole hill. YUCK!
I've gotten better at camping since then. My husband rents a pop-up trailer for us now which has made all the difference in the world! I wake up dry and have my coffee maker in the kitchenette (I use that term loosely). I've learned to share a site with my friends who are seasoned campers and they have all the gear! Plus she's a great cook and I gained about 5 pounds on this latest trip; no more mole burgers for me. We eat like kings now! Pancakes, biscuits and gravy, kimchi fried rice, kalbi ribs, and anything else that you can put on a grill, we literally feast.
My favorite memory from this camping trip starts at 4am. We literally were driven out of bed in an extreme hurry as a huge storm blew in and we rushed out to gather all our belongings and cover everything up! After all the excitement no one could go back to sleep so we huddled under one of our friends shelters and put 2 pots of coffee on. We sat in the pouring rain drinking coffee and laughing our heads off. It always seems to go that the best memories are the unplanned ones.
The sun shined brightly the next day so we dried everything out in order to stay another night. I woke up around 12:30am and walked to the bathroom. Lightning was lighting the sky, such a sight to see! The air was so still and calm as I walked back to the trailer. The MINUTE I closed the trailer door behind me the biggest guest of wind you've ever heard shook our trailer from side to side. My husband said it sounded like a freight train was headed towards us! This was the biggest storm I've ever experienced and I was afraid at times. Our friends rushed out to check their tent stakes and we watched one tent come flying through the field towards my brother's tent, luckily it barely hit them! It felt like we were on a movie set! Tree branches were falling everywhere and we prayed for safety over our friends in their tents. As we prayed we were reminded separately of the storm when Jesus was sleeping in the boat while all of his disciples were afraid. Jesus was surprised at their fear because he was with them and had control over the winds and the waves. He reminded them that they were safe and under his protection. He spoke the same words to us that night and it calmed my fears and I knew that everyone was going to be alright. The next morning we found out that he had spoken the exact same thing to some of our other friends as they prayed in their tents; so comforting.
The next morning the storm had passed and once again it was bright and sunny. We packed up our belongings and prepared for the drive home. It turned out that the storm had caused several mud slides over the mountain pass which was our direct route home and they turned us back to where we started. In fact, the slides were so bad they said on the news this morning that the pass is closed indefinitely. All of our friends decided we should caravan together as we headed the much, much longer way home through another mountain pass. What was supposed to be a 3 1/2 hour drive turned into a 9 hour trip. We stopped for lunch together and kept each other entertained during the long line of terrible traffic texting "99 bottles of beer on the wall" to each other and other such car songs.
What I've learned through this experience is God is always in control. I'm more thankful for my friends than ever!! And you can ALWAYS make the best of a yucky situation.
Until next time...
Thursday, August 1, 2013
This is my very favorite picture of my sister and I taken at the beach earlier this summer, it's framed on my desk and is my profile picture on Facebook. Besides my husband and kids she is always my very first choice to hang out with. There are few people I can be more completely myself with than her. She makes me laugh harder than anyone on the planet and there are so many times when I've wished I was as cool as her. We are ten years apart so when I moved out she was only 9 years old, so hard to believe! She was my maid of honor in my wedding and sang "I'm gonna love you like nobody's loved you come rain or come shine" at only 14 years of age. As we've grown up we've developed a very strong sister bond and through tough times she was so strong for me.
I share this with you so that you'll hopefully understand how deeply I love her and how strongly I hold her in my heart.
Last night I woke up from a very vidid dream of which I remember every single detail. I've woken from dreams before only to forget them the next morning but I find that I can still recall the whole thing. In my dream I was sitting in Stefie's car, she was in the drivers seat. While in the car she had the gas peddle pushed to the floor and was breaking the law so, naturally, we were stopped by the police. Instead of going to the driver's window he came to mine and took MY information. I remember thinking, "why is he talking to me? I am not the one who broke the law" and sat there as I received a hefty fine for the disturbance. As I stayed in the car waiting for the officer to give me my fine I remember deciding not to tell him that Stefie was actually the one who broke the law knowing that she couldn't possibly afford the ticket. Because I love her so deeply I accepted the punishment as if I was the one who messed up so that I could save her from the consequences. And I would totally do this for her because she's my favorite.
I'm sure you already know where I'm going with this but laying quietly in the dark last night I knew that The Lord was reminding me how deep his love is for me, that when he died on the cross he had done nothing wrong but took the punishment for me because I'm his favorite; and he feels the same way about YOU. We're the one in the drivers seat with our pedals pushed to the floor but not only did he take on our fine, he died. It's so hard to grasp that kind of love because we know how undeserving we are. I guess that is why legalism has been such a successful tactic of the enemy, he knows that in our minds we need some way to be able to accept the fact the Christ would love us.
Lately I've been reading Galatians over and over again waiting for the reality of the freedom I have in Christ to sink in so that I can be completely set free from the bondage of rules. I don't want religion, I WANT JESUS!
It's funny how such a simple dream has brought new understanding to me of what Christ has done for me. I love my sister so much and would not hesitate to stand in the way of her and her punishment if it meant I would save her, it's a no brainer and that doesn't even touch the surface of Christ's love for you or I.
I feel so blessed this morning, don't you?
For my part, I am gong to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, SET FREE from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can't you see the central issue in all this? It's not what you and I do- submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It's what GOD is doing, and he's creating something totally new, A FREE LIFE!
And He TOTALLY did this for you because you're his favorite!
Monday, July 29, 2013
Continuing with our theme of easy meals to have on hand so that we can feed people who arrive on our doorstep I'm adding gluten free caprese pasta to the mix. This is super easy to make and uses ingredients that are available at any grocery store. My kids love it and it's become a family favorite!
Roasting tomatoes brings out a sweetness in the flavor that makes them so delicious! You won't believe how easy it is to do! I probably used a pint and a half of fresh tomatoes from the market but any amount will do; the roasting process will be the same.
1-2 pints of cherry tomatoes (or any other small tomato)
freshly cracked pepper.
Place the tomatoes on a sheet pan in a single layer and drizzle olive oil over the top. With your fingers toss the tomatoes around in the oil until they're evenly coated. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Roast for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees until tomatoes begin to caramelize. Let cool.
1 package of brown rice spiral pasta cooked according to package directions.
1 large bunch of fresh basil torn into pieces
fresh mozzarella balls (cherry size)
freshly ground black pepper.
Toss pasta, mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes together in a medium sized bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.
That's it! Easy as that! Hope you enjoy serving it to the people you love!!
Saturday, July 27, 2013
My sister wrote the most amazing post this week about God taking ordinary people and using them to do extraordinary things. She writes that she used to fear being ordinary as if it meant she wasn't extraordinary.
I know exactly what she means...
and I think you might too.
I have watched the Lord do AMAZING things this week! He is BLOWING MY MIND! The care he will take for ONE SINGLE individual. We may feel ordinary but what I'm seeing lately is that his love for us is anything but; He loves us with an extraordinary love.
Lately I have felt a little stuck waiting for something big that I could do for the Lord. Somehow I felt that my little life was too small and that if I wanted to be radical for God I needed to be bigger. All that did was completely paralyze me to where I was doing nothing at all.
Then my sister sent me a podcast by Bob Goff which I've listened to three times so far. Basically he just says take what you love to do and just go do that for the Lord.
I love to feed people.
I love to encourage people.
That's my heart.
So you know what I did? I went to Trader Joes, Costco, the market and I filled my fridge. I came up with some simple meal and snack ideas that I can easily keep on hand so that when people come to our doorstep I can welcome them in, feed them, and treat them as family.
Once my fridge was full I basically laid it before the Father and said, "my fridge is full so if there's anyone that I can offer hope to at my table please bring them to my door."
I also talked this over with my husband and we agreed that if the Lord does this we will stop everything, get out a bit of food and have a sit. We are SO ready to pour our lives out for others. We really know what it is to be down and we are living proof that God can turn everything around to be even better than your wildest dreams if you don't give up and put in the hard work. We also know how stinking difficult it is while you're going through it and that's why we have such a deep desire to lift others up who are walking through the valley.
So here I was last night with a full fridge when my sister and her husband showed up at 8:45pm asking to sit on the deck and watch the sunset with me. Silly me, my first thought was, "oh, but I wanted to finish my book tonight." Right then and there the Lord reminded me, "I thought this is what you asked for!" And I thought, oh yeah, you're right as I got out the popcorn to cook on the stovetop with oil, real butter, and salt.
Once the popcorn was ready we all went outside and enjoyed each others company. It's almost as if this was a test from the Lord to see if I'd really drop everything.
So here I am with a few meal and snack ideas ready to go and waiting for the Lord to send someone to me and I'm pretty sure he will.
Here's some easy ideas.
Guacamole and tortilla chips
a simple pasta salad
caprese salad and a simple cheese tray
chocolate chip cookies