Friday, February 27, 2015

Freedom Friday: End It // 5 Ways You Can Help End Modern-Day Slavery

Today is Shine a Light on Slavery Day, put on by END IT, a coalition of the leading organizations in the world in the fight for freedom. Organizations such as IJM, World Vision, Not For Sale, Hagar, and more have banded together to provide awareness, prevention, rescue, and restoration in the fight against human trafficking.
So what can you do, on this day that is meant to bring awareness to the world that there are approximately 27 million people in slavery today?

1. Get the facts about modern-day slavery.
2. Give to the END IT Movement.
3. Continue to be educated and learn about how you can help. Here are some other posts I've written on modern-day slavery and ways to get involved: Stop the Candy ShopSoldIJM Eau Claire Just Us RunLove 146Human Trafficking StatsNefarious
4. Get training. If you live in the Twin Cities area (or are feeling a road-trip), come to this Anti-Trafficking 101 all-day training to learn how to be a citizen responder to trafficking. It's only $30 for a whole day of training by experts (U.S. government, Home Land Security, police officers, human trafficking survivors, etc). I'll be there. Join me?
5. Pray. Pray for rescue and healing for those trafficked, for changed hearts for the pimps and johns, for continued awareness and action to be taken against slavery, and ultimately for Jesus' love and power to be known.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Room Reveal: Guest Room

Welcome to the guest room! This is our second bedroom that is off the kitchen. When we were originally looking for apartments, we wanted something with two bedrooms so that one of them could be our office. However, since this place has the awesome sun room that we were able to use for our office space, we decided to make our second bedroom a guest/storage room. 

See that bed? It may look like a twin [because it is], but don't be fooled! It's actually two separate twin mattresses stacked on top of each other, so if a couple of people want to come visit we can separate them and wah-lah! You've either got two twin beds or a giant king bed! :)

I made the glasss-top table in ceramics class in college. You can also see it here, in the sun room, but when we got a keyboard in there we had to do some rearranging and this table made the perfect little side table for our guest bed.

Those super sweet photo frames were a handmade gift to us from our wedding planner/friend, Amanda. The photos kinda got some curling action since they were in the bathroom for awhile [steam+photos=curling], but I love them!

I keep some gift bags and tissue paper in a little crate by the dresser so I'm always prepared for the next birthday or wedding. We also just scored this tan and white rug at a pay-by-the-pound thrift store in Madison during our fiasco weekend for a couple bucks... so hey! At least something good came of it! :)

I hope you enjoyed the little tour of our guest room and I hope that it has convinced you to come visit! What good is a guest room if we never have any guests?? Shout out to the hubster's little bro for breaking in the room [besides the night before the wedding when all my bridesmaids stayed over]. So.... who's next?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Giving "Responsibly"

Loverboy and I have been talking a lot lately about the tension between extravagant generosity and wisely planning for our future. I feel like there shouldn't be a tension, like we can totally do both. We just haven't quite figured it out yet.

We really want to obey God in this area of our lives (along with all others) and just aren't sure what it looks like in real life. We know that giving generously and cheerfully is a good thing and will only be met with God's delight, but we also have a strong desire to be "financially responsible" and save for the future. But what is financial responsibility? Especially in the Kingdom of God? So many questions! So, tension.


But then I read quotes like this and think, "Yeah! That's what it's all about! Let's give, baby, let's give!"
No one has ever become poor by giving. —Anne Frank 
But then I realize there is never going to be a day when I stand before God and He looks at me and says, 'I wish you would have kept more for yourself.' I'm confident that God will take care of me. —David Platt, Radical 
Generosity is what keeps the things we own from owning us. —Eugene Cho, Overrated
But then I think about being financially responsible again, and Dave Ramsey, and being able to provide for our family, and I'm all like "ok, yes, let's give, but let's do so responsibly." Which then leads me right back to the question of what does giving "responsibly" look like?

So all that to say, we still haven't come to any great solutions or had any big epiphanies... we're still just trying to figure this out. Honesty at it's finest. Thanks for letting me process!

Does anyone else struggle with this tension? How have you gone about reconciling these two ideas in your own life? Any good verses for us?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Love Does.

A couple years back I read an incredible book called Love Does by Bob Goff. And even though it's been awhile, the ideas and words from that book have really stuck with me. My favorite idea that he talks about is loving inefficiently... when it isn't convenient for you. I've collected some favorite quotes from his book, but if I were you, I would go to the library, Barnes & Noble,, or some other place of books and get it right away! You won't regret it. Pinky promise.

“...we need to stop plotting the course and instead just land the plane on our plans to make a difference by getting to the "do" part of faith. That’s because love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.” 


“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I'm more afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter.” 

“I learned that faith isn’t about knowing all of the right stuff or obeying a list of rules. It’s something more, something more costly because it being present and making a sacrifice. Perhaps that’s why Jesus is sometimes called Immanuel - “God with us.” I think that’s what God had in mind, for Jesus to be present, to just be with us. It’s also what He has in mind for us when it comes to other people.”


“Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget. Their dreams become one of those "we'll go there next time" deferrals. The sad thing is, for many there is no "next time" because passing on the chance to cross over is an overall attitude toward life rather than a single decision.” 

“Most people need love and acceptance a lot more than they need advice.” 


“I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.” 

“I think God sometimes uses the completely inexplicable events in our lives to point us toward Him. We get to decide each time whether we will lean in toward what is unfolding and say yes or back away."

“Be inefficient with your love. The more in-efficient, the better. It would have been a lot more efficient for God to not send Jesus to die for us. That was very inefficient love. But so sweet and so tender.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lessons Learned From A Weekend We Didn't Expect

This past weekend, our plans were to drive to Milwaukee for a wedding and then come back on Sunday. But, just in case you didn't check Facebook this weekend, here's a little recap of the super great weekend we ended up having:

So to sum up, we drove 4 hours, broke down, spent 4 hours at a tiny gas station trying to get a tow (thus missing the wedding), spent 40 more hours in Wisconsin waiting for our car to get fixed, found out it was a problem too big [read:expensive] to fix, rented a car, and drove 4 hours back home. Awesome. Weekend. As Bri says, it would have saved a lot of time and money if we would have just gone outside on Saturday, set his car on fire, and then gone back inside. Touché. 

However, that is not what happened, so therefore we now have this story to tell. This story that includes tears (I held it together pretty well most of the time), gas station food, an hour and a half of being on hold with Discover, sitting in a cold car while one of my dear friends walked down the aisle, losing a beloved car, missing plans with good friends, and renting a car 2 weeks before we both turn 25 (ergh!). 

But it's also a story that includes the sovereignty of our God. Our car stopped running literally a block away from a gas station (rather than the highway), the gas station attendant was super helpful and nice (even when we were basically loitering in his store for 4 hours), our friends came and saved us with their AAA (and let us crash at their place all weekend), and so many other small (and big) blessings along the way. 

So here are a few lessons we learned from our little adventure:

1. Hold your expectations loosely. I titled this post "Lessons Learned From A Weekend We Didn't Expect" because that's exactly what this past weekend was... something we didn't expect. It was a disappointment in many ways and didn't go at all how we planned. But the situation only got more frustrating as I tried to hold on to my expectations with all my might. As I felt like I had a right to the plans we had made, the disappointment only grew more strong. But when I started to let go of those plans and embrace the direction God had us on, my attitude changed drastically and I was able to enjoy the moments that were joyful.

2. Focus on the positive. Be thankful. As you can tell from my two lists above—one filled with all the sad, bad, and mad things we had to deal with, and the other filled with all the graces we encountered throughout the ordeal—perspective can really change a situation. As much as we wanted to wallow in the suckiness that was our weekend, both Bri and I made it a point to try and dwell on the positive things that were happening and be thankful for how God was so plainly providing for us. And when we did? It made all the difference.

3. Have a sense of humor. Don't take things too seriously. Be against the problem, not each other. It was really easy to get wound up in this stressful, time-sensitive situation, and then take that out on each other. But after awhile, I think we both realized that it wasn't the end of the world, and that if we had a sense of humor about it, everything would feel much less heavy. I joked that this weekend was a test of our marriage and we passed, but really, it was a test of how well we handle stress and "emergency" situations. 

Bonus Lesson: Emergency funds are good. This whole situation is SO much less stressful since we aren't freaking out about finances. For now, we've decided to try out the whole one-car family deal, and so far the first couple days have gone well! But we are aware that we will probably want to replace that car eventually (maybe before next winter), and it's so nice to not have to wonder where it's coming from. Thanks Dave Ramsey!

So hopefully you had a less disastrous weekend then we did, and can instead learn these lessons second-hand. You're welcome. :)

Friday, February 13, 2015

My Husband Is The Best [5 Months]

My husband is the best. No, seriously. He loves me in ways that no other human being ever will be able to. I mean, the man has to live with me 24/7 for the rest of his life. 24/7, you guys. [Those of you who have lived with me for any amount of time know how daunting of a task that is.]

But he really is the best. He warms up the sheets for me before I get in bed. He turns the heat up for me before I wake up. He makes me popcorn—the good way—whenever I want it. He cleans my hair out of the shower drain (bless him). He touches the raw meat. And he does all this because he loves me and knows it will bless me.

But he also reminds me to pray. He asks me hard questions. He calls me out when my sassiness is approaching meanness. He challenges me. And he does all this because he loves me and knows it will bless me.

This month has been pretty normal-life-busy. Nothing too extraordinary. Which makes me even more thankful for these little things that are actually really big things that my BEST husband does to bless my heart.

So thank you, boo, for being you. [A little bit o' cheese for your Valentine's weekend!]

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Attributes of God // Sovereign

I recently joined a Titus 2 Group at my church—basically a small group of young women being mentored by one or two older women. We meet once a month to discuss a book, and the group I joined is reading The Attributes of God by Arthur Pink. Our first meeting was last night, and beforehand we were given this quote and asked if we agreed with it or not, and if so, why.

“An unknown God can neither be trusted, served, nor worshipped.” —Arthur Pink


I agree. But why? Why is it so important to know the God that we claim to trust, serve, and worship? If we don't know Him, who He is, His character and ways, then we have ...

+ No grounds to trust
+ No motivation to serve
+ No reason to worship

Even looking at one of the countless characteristics of God brings us to a place where we have something to stand on when it comes to relating to Him. We know a piece of Him [even it it is a teeny tiny piece!] and therefore have grounds to trust Him, motivation to serve Him, and reason to worship Him.

For example, I love that God is sovereign because it means that God is in control. He has the final say in what happens and has the complete power to make it happen. He knows what's going to happen before it does, and despite our efforts to control situations, He is the one that ultimately decides how things are going to go. Thinking on this makes me love God more. It helps me trust Him because I know He is in control, I am motivated to serve Him because I know that my future is safe in His hands, and ultimately, these truths give me reason to worship Him!

[Side note: As I think on God's sovereignty, a little part of my brain questions "But what about free will?? What about us getting to make our own choices?" And I don't really have an answer to that or really know how God's sovereignty exists within the same reality that free will does, but I do know that it does. And that's enough for me. It might not be enough for those of you who like lengthy explanations, thorough research, and facts to back it up, but for me, it's enough. It's enough to know that, yes, I do have choices, but that ultimately my life is in the hands of my Creator. That brings me peace.]

As we get to know God better, as He reveals more of His character, we come to love Him more. As we love Him more, we can then trust, serve, and worship Him.


So why not grab your Bible and a journal and think about an attribute of God that you are grateful for. Think about some characteristic of God that makes you love Him more. Something that brings you to trust, serve, and worship Him. Explore it. Then revel in the awesomeness of our God. He is mighty, trustworthy, faithful, powerful, loving, just, merciful, wise, holy, infinite, gracious, righteous, unchanging, good, self-sufficient, jealous, all-knowing, compassionate, and so much more! What attribute of God is most precious to you right now?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

5 Unique Valentine's Day Date Ideas

So, in case you are unaware, this weekend is Valentine's Day! [Men... don't panic, you still have a few days to pull something together for your sweetie!] I love Valentine's Day because 1) I love love 2) It's an excuse to be cheesy romantic 3) It's a day set apart to express your love for others. What's not to love? Even if you don't have a special someone in your life, why not grab a friend and have a Galentine's Day date? 

If you're not quite sure what to do this Valentine's Day, then read on for 5 fun, unique date ideas!

1. Dinner & Games at Dave & Busters
If you've never been to a Dave & Busters, I'd highly recommend it for an action-packed, competitive date night! Loverboy had a blast flying planes, riding motorcycles, shooting the bad guys, and more at this Adult "Chuck E. Cheese." We did the "Eat & Play" combo which allowed us to choose from a large selection of entrees and then gave us each a $10 play card for the arcade area. Such an awesome date night that both of us will remember for awhile.

2. Have a TV Show Themed Dinner
Loverboy and I adore the show Parks & Recreation. Recently, the last season premiered, so we decided to make a date out of it and make a breakfast for dinner that Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson would be proud of. Waffles and bacon, people. Waffles and bacon. Why not choose your favorite TV show or movie and make a themed night out of it, complete with the characters' favorite foods?

3. Visit the St. Paul Cathedral
Or, ya know, find some similar place in your city. The cathedral is free and open to visitors, and is a fun way to pass an hour or two. We checked out a little diner nearby for lunch on MLK day, then headed to the Cathedral to take in the incredible architecture. Plus, it was fun to have to be sneaky quiet while we were hyped up on a day off.

4. Go iceskating
A Classic winter date. BUT, made so much better when it's a couple blocks from your house at a free park that provides free skates, popcorn, hot cocoa, and s'mores! Not even joking! Check out this schedule to find parks near you in the Cities and when they are open for what type of skating. In case you're curious, Windom Park is where we went with all the awesome amenities.

5. Dinner out at a new restaurant
This is what we'll be doing for Valentine's Day. Well, technically one of my besties is getting married on V Day, so we're datin' it up on Friday. We will be checking out Masu Sushi, which is in NE Minneapolis and was voted best Sushi in the Cities! 

Obviously, all of these dates would be awesome for any day, not just Valentine's Day, so why not put some of them on the calendar, or better yet, surprise your love?

What are your Valentine's Day plans? 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

3 Steps to Stop Being a Good Christian

1. Read this article.

2. Listen to this song:
[soak in the lyrics... especially those last lines "Maybe do's and don'ts were made to show how much we do and don't ever make it"]

3. Repent. Stop trying. Enjoy freedom and true life in Jesus' love. Live loved.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

5 Creative Shelving Solutions

Hello friends! Hope your week is off to a good start! Today I'm going to share with you 5 creative ways to incorporate shelving into your home... and one of them that we just put in our home! Read on!

1. Stack some old crates to corral your entry way necessities. 


2. Fill a whole wall with shelves and color code your books. Perfect for the OCD-type, maybe not so practical when you're looking for that specific book title.


4. Hang some funky small shelves for an interesting design element.


3. Paint a bookcase different colors in the inside and on the outside for a fun pop!


5. Last, but certainly not least, hang an old fruit crate for extra wall storage when you're tight on floor space. We just hung this in our bedroom this last weekend. There used to be a small bookshelf next to the mirror to hold all my "getting ready" stuff, but since rearranging the bedroom it was kind of getting in the way. Our solution—get that up off the floor and hang it instead!

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