Googling Church

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As I sit in a cozy local coffee shop in the heart of Augusta, having moved here almost 5 months ago, I think about all the times we’ve moved.

Since we’ve been married, 6+ years, we’ve moved quite a bit.  Our stories and our moves have not all been our design, but we know that God writes beautiful stories. Ones that will help us be more of who He wants us to be.

And each church that has been a part of our journey in these 6 years of marriage and family life, has indeed had a lasting impact on my soul.

And if you are a church leader or even just a church member who loves their local church, you want new comers – new city dwellers to be able to find your church, so your church can be a tool that God can use to leave a lasting impact in individual’s lives and family’s lives (like mine.

And when we moved to our new home, we had connections.  Coming from the ministry world, two seminary degrees under our belt, we knew people.  But, what do you do if you don’t know anyone.  Do you just google “church near me?”

Church leaders – do you want the unchurched to find your church?  They may not come first to a great event near you – if they do, how will they hear about the event?  Maybe they will hear about it from the neighbor who lives down the street?  Maybe they won’t live near anyone who attends your church.

My friend William Wright has thought a lot about these questions: about church, church life and community, reaching the lost, how the digital age can be a help not a hindrance to your church, how your website speaks a lot for who you are as a church.

As a church in the 21st century, almost a complete digital age (really who uses the yellow pages anymore?) this is what William says: “Unfortunately, churches lag behind many times when it comes to technology. Many churches today do NOT understand that their front door has changed locations. When ANY person has ANY question on ANY subject they simply “Google it”. The same is true when it comes to looking for a new church home.”

We need to be ready to use tools that are within our reach – to reach out to the lost.  Yes, relationships matter.  And yes digital technology matters.

Digital Rocket is a great resource that you need to avail yourself to.  Learn how “google it” can work for you.

The King’s Locket

posted in: Books | 0

I’m always eager to get good books in my boys’ hands.  And for boys, I can’t anticipate that they will love Anne of Green Gables and Little Women.  Though they might.  And I will read those books to them (or have them watch the movie.)

But, as they get older, they probably would like stories that contained adventure, battles, journeys, animals, and heroic tales.

The King’s Locket I think would be really good for young boys, a short chapter book that is an analogy of the themes in the Gospel story.

The story of a family dwelling in perfection.

The Fall of someone who wanted everything for himself.

The adoption of those outside the family.

The betrayal and hurt of going outside the realm of good.

The rescue that the Prince had to engage in to defeat the sinful presence.

The welcoming home celebration.

And even the groaning of all creation under the weight of the sin that crept into everything.

I loved the conclusion of this book: adoption, wholeness, celebration, glory, beauty, friendship.  Just what the Heavenly Father anticipates for His adopted children.  These things we may not experience here, especially in their fullness, but we can anticipate.  And wait with eagerness.  And teach our kids how to anticipate well.

Thanks to Jacob for passing this book to me.  Your kids will like it – especially as a read aloud. It gives you opportunity to talk to your kids about biblical themes from a short chapter book filled with lovely illustrations.  It would be good for a family read aloud and would capture even young readers.

A Few of My Favorite Things for Creatives

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I’m definitely a creative person – in lots of areas.  So, just in time for Christmas, I wanted to share some things on my list for these different areas of creativity!  Enjoy, and I’d love to hear what’s on your list!

In the Kitchen:

These spoons – so amazing. I have one of his bowls which I love.  Great for food photography

Anything LeCreuset pans – especially in this color!

These cutting boards.  I have two of them – beautiful and all hand formed.

For the letterer:

This book on teaching the hand-drawing of florals.

These pens.  Love them.

For the stationery lover:

This illustrator is new to me, but I’ve loved what I’ve seen so far.  Getting my first order in the mail soon

If you need business cards, social media cards, gift tags, etc, these are fabulous

For the photographer:

Food Photo: these cake plates and aprons, oh and everything on their site

For the branding photographer: These backdrops.  Totally want a few for my photography

For the writer:

This journal – I love these for so many reasons, but I love this pattern.

A gift card is wonderful – especially to this place – where you can find books on writing and journals to write in.

 

Sacred Ordinary Days

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My story with church began before I was born.  Yup, I’m one of those.  Lifers.

I went to the same church until high school.  Then I went to another church for those years.

Then in college I went to one church all 4 years and stayed to work on staff even after I graduated before I went to seminary.

Once I got to seminary though things kinda were more irregular.  I went to a few churches in seminary, then went to one church after seminary.  Then in Louisville I went to a few, then came to work on one in Raleigh.  Then I got married.  And we’ve been to 4 different churches since being married.

One thing that being a part of so many churches has taught me is that the church is so much bigger than just the congregation I’m a part of.  Yes, I totally think the local church is important.

But, I also think the Church as a whole is important.

And that’s what drew me to Sacred Ordinary Days.  Their planners are based on the liturgical calendar.  It is basically the calendar that the church goes by: like Lent, Advent, Good Friday, Pentecost, etc.

Each day there is a reading of Scripture (and isn’t it neat to know that so many other Christians might be reading that same Scripture on the same day)!  Then you have space to put just a few things – which might help you narrow down your to-do list.  I mean, I know mine can get really long!  And then it has space for you to do what you need to do.  Letter the verse (which mine usually is), write out a prayer, jot down gratitude.

And some technical things: I love the mint green color, (and the one I have is on sale now at a great price). I love the size of it because there is plenty of room to write, and I am very thankful that Sacred Ordinary Days sent me one so I could share it with yall.

How am I going to use my planner in 2018?  I’m going to use it with my Power Sheets and my own Bullet Journal.  I love the readings so I’ll be concentrating on those.

And they also have a book journal for all your readers out there!

I’m Not A Scaredy-Cat

posted in: Books | 2

Seriously, a book with a donut on the cover?  Yes, give me that book!

My kids loved this right away for the very same reason.  And because we ate donuts while reading it for the first time.

I’m definitely a Max Lucado fan, and have been ever since high school when I started reading his books.  He encouraged me in my faith so much during those first years of really growing in the Word.

And, raising boys, I think my boys need this book.

Boys need to be brave to grow into men.

Boys need to be brave to fight injustice in the world with the justice of God

Boys need to be brave to stick up for their siblings on the playground, or that boy who is getting picked on, or that girl who is getting teased.

Boys need to be brave when its not cool to do the right thing.

Boys need to be brave to work hard when it is more popular to be lazy.

Of when they are afraid of the dark and want their door cracked at night.

And this cat in the book reminds us, and our children of great truths:

God is good – always. (Our older son’s life verse says this very thing)

God is near – so good to know that.  When we pray we acknowledge that.

God is here – part of his perfect character.

And that He loves you.

If you’d like to win a copy of this book for your favorite little person – makes a great Christmas gift – then just leave a comment telling me your favorite kind of donut.

Thanks to Tommy Nelson Mommies for this book and the giveaway book!

 

As Kingfisher’s Catch Fire

posted in: Books | 0

Some preachers have a way of writing that gets deep into your soul and changes the way you read Scripture or understand Scripture.

There have been multiple pastors for me over the years, both personally and from afar, who have done that for me.  Who have made my eyes be more open to the truth and life of God’s Word.

Eugene Peterson is one of them.  And his new book, a collection of sorts of his writings/sermons, has caused me to think on certain passages in a new way.  I am still reading his new book, As Kingfisher’s Catch Fire, and will continue to do so.

As with the Message, I don’t read it as my main Bible version, and neither will I used these sermons as my main source of commentary.  But, I love how he brings new things to light in the reading of Scripture.

You will be challenged if you read this book.  You may not agree with everything he says, but as you process, take all to the Word and with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for this book and Russell Moore for recommending it.

Coffee With: Asheritah CiuCiu

posted in: Books, Coffee with..., Uncategorized | 0

Advent starts this weekend.  And one of the books out there for you to read, by yourself or with your family, is Unwrapping the Names of Jesus.  And today, I get to share with you some fun thoughts from the author, Asheritah.  Asheritah and I wrote for the same blog a few years ago and her writing has been a continual source of encouragement for me.

I hope you enjoy the interview.

  1. So what some people might want some help with is how to pronounce your name.  And can you give us a little bit of your background: like your family, what you do, etc?

Sure! My name looks intimidating at first, but it’s easier than it looks. Asheritah, my first name, is pronounced like “margarita” and my last name, Ciuciu, is pronounced choo-choo like the train. It sounds like a silly way to explain pronunciation, but my name has deep significance. My father made it as a compound name, based on Asher, to mean “God is my happiness.” And that’s been the guiding light of my life ever since, and it’s the foundation of One Thing Alone Ministries as well, as we strive to help women find joy in Jesus.

 

I grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and met my husband in sixth grade summer camp. It took eleven years for us to eventually marry, but I’m so blessed to have him as my husband. We have two spunky little girls and currently live in Northeast Ohio.

 

  1. With all the Christmas books out there – why this one? Why now?  What compelled you to write an Advent book?

Believe it or not, I didn’t really enjoy Christmas growing up. Even into young adulthood, the Christmas season brought more anxiety than anticipation, and when I was expecting my first daughter, a mentor of mine encouraged me to begin new traditions for my own family. As I began praying, asking the Lord to help me rediscover the meaning and joy of Christmas, He pointed me to the names of Jesus.

 

If we really believe that Jesus is the greatest gift of all, wouldn’t it make sense that we would want to learn more about Him? What does it mean that He is the Lion of Judah? The Lord of Lords? The Alpha and Omega? Each name is a promise, a unique identity that reveals a facet of His character, and when we unwrap them one at a time, we discover the beauty of Jesus, Son of God, made man for us.

 

My desire with Unwrapping the Names of Jesus is to help readers rediscover the joy of Christmas by growing deeper in their knowledge and love of Jesus, learning to worship Him with all their hearts, so that when Christmas morning rolls around, we’ll all join in to sing, “O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”

 

  1. Can you share a special holiday memory that you have?

One of my favorite Christmas gifts was a box of English books my dad managed to secure for me in Romania. English books were so hard to find, and he hid a treasure trove under my bed one year, and instructed me to take out only one at a time. Oh, the anticipation of each new book made me both excited to read the next book and also slow down to relish each book I held in my hands. In a way, this special gift inspired the format of Unwrapping the Names of Jesus, as I want readers to have that same experience: excited to read the next day’s name, but also slowing down to relish the beauty of who Jesus is today.

 

  1. You graduated Cedarville.  What was the best part about being at a Christian university?

So much goodness! Cedarville was where I learned to think for myself, to hold up my own beliefs to inspection and really own my faith. But it also taught me the importance of defending my faith with gentleness and respect, something I struggled with as a teenager. I loved having a safe place to wrestle with the difficult parts of my Christian faith, and I still look back with fondness at many of the late nights spent debating transubstantiation, amillenialism, and arminianism, debates I don’t touch much today, but conversations that laid a foundation for my desire to help women dig deeper into the truth found only in Jesus.

 

  1. Being a mom to spunky children, do you ever wonder how you do it?  What about parenting and being in ministry (outside the home)?

Oh, this is a challenge, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder or climbing the lego-strewn stairs, there’s always more tugs on your time and body than there is energy to do it all. I think it’s important to enlist the help of others, especially those whose strengths fill in the gaps of your weaknesses.

 

I’m blessed to be surrounded by a community that supports me in life and ministry. From my husband (who is my biggest champion and a huge support in the technical part of running our ministry), to my mom and mother-in-law (who take turns babysitting our girls), to my team of assistants around the world (from South Africa to San Diego and everywhere in between), to the countless women who respond to my SOS prayer texts before I jump on a radio interview or when I’m facing a book deadline, I am blessed with so much help. Seriously, I couldn’t do this all by myself, nor would I want to even try.

 

  1. Out of all the names of Jesus that you unwrap in your advent book, which has been the dearest to you?

This is the hardest question of all, because I don’t really have a favorite. Instead, I’ve found that different names take on new meaning in different situations in life. Just today, I got an email with some bad news, and for a few moments I panicked. But then the Spirit reminded me that Jesus is the Lord of Lords, and that means He’s in control of this situation too. His Names are either true all the time or they’re not true at any time, and it’s moments like those that require us to live out what we say we believe. (BTW, everything turned out ok in the end, because Jesus really can handle our crises, can’t He?)

 

  1. This blog series is called Coffee With…so if we were sitting down having coffee somewhere, where would we be and what would you get?

Easy. We’d be sitting at the copper-topped tables at Artisan Coffee Shop, where you can find me most weeks working on some new project. And I’d probably be sipping on a Dark Chocolate Orangeman, which is part of the secret menu, but if you wanted to try one, I’d order it for you too. 🙂

The Guerra Girls in Augusta

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Friendships are super important to me.  I love keeping in touch with people and I’m very glad for social media for that reason.

This friend in particular, we’ve spent most of our friendship apart from each other.  We got to know each other while she was across the globe serving as a missionary.  We shared stories of Jesus and the Gospel and health and weight loss.  We’ve been together in NC some, sharing stories of engagement, marriage, loss, struggles.

Bonnie asked me to take her and Chuy’s engagement photos and it was so much fun.

They’ve gotten married, we’ve moved away, they’ve had two beautiful little girls, and now are preparing to move cross country to serve our country in the Air Force.

B – girl, our friendship has survived and thrived over the years.  Thanks for visiting me and bringing the girls. And bringing the owls, and the Pete the Cat books, and your love for conversations! Here’s to a trip to NM!

World View

posted in: Books, World Events | 0

Are you ever confused by everything you see on the news?  On your Facebook feed?  In the your Twitter feed?

Do you ever wonder how you are supposed to respond to all the happenings that take over everyone’s conversation?

New Growth Publishers and Marvin Olasky have put together a book of short writings that will help you know how to think with a Gospel-centered world view.  And there is nothing new under the sun.  So, while these essays will eventually not be headliners – the problems they talk about will just happen in a new way.  With new people.  In a new country or city.

Sin affects everything in our world.  And the entire world is groaning for the return of its Maker.  And Olasky helps us think rightly about the events happening in our world.  This is definitely one to read and discuss – or at least keep a journal on.  It is not a quick read – even though the articles are quite readable in length.  But, if you care about the world and how sin and the gospel impact our world, then you will want to read and digest the articles in here.

Thanks to Litfuse for this book.  All opinions are my own.

Giving Tuesday: Advent Download

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As a Mom one of the character traits I want to instill in my boys is generosity.  That means: toys, TV time, food, special treats, clothes, etc.  In their little world, sharing the Paw Patrol fruit snacks is hard.  But, God calls us to a life of generosity.

So, today, being Giving Tuesday, I want to help you help me give.  I handlettered a Names of Jesus Advent print.  It has 20 names of Jesus taken from a new book, Unwrapping the Names of Jesus.  It is in gold and black.  It will help you focus on the true meaning of this holiday season.

And 50% of the proceeds of this print will go to a missionary family that serves with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Thank you for helping me give,