Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fall Flavor

So I know we're all thinking about Christmas decorations now (at least I am) but I thought before I take them down, I would show you my Fall decorations.

We set aside a small amount of money to make our house cozy for Fall and I put my cheap frugal self to work using pinterest and creativity.

Here are a few things I ended up with...The quality is not blog-worthy because they are all taken from my iphone....the camera is now missing, what can I say? :-)

 I came up with this on my own. I Had the glass vase (from our wedding) and got the rocks at Wal-mart for cheap. I had bought the twine for other projects so I simply put in rocks and twine until I reached the top and tied a bow around it...easy.
 This is not a great picture of our mantel, but it's my favorite Fall spot in our house. My mom bought me the lanterns at Garden Ridge. Love!) and I had the Autumn leaves garland already. Probably bought it at Target. I got the blessings sign in the middle at Hobby Lobby for half off and the plates at Wal-mart for $2.50. I spray painted them cream as well as the pumpkins.
Here is a close-up of the pumpkins. I got the candlesticks at the Public Market for like 2 dollars a piece. Best. find. ever. I LOVE them!
 I got this sweet thing from my mom at Garden Ridge, but I think it would be totally easy to reproduce. Flower pot, fake Fall flowers, burlap, and twine. Done.
 I got this awesome rustic little basket at TJ Maxx for 7 dollars. I took some of my old paperback books, tied them together with twine and put a flower on top. SO EASY and Cheap!

 It's hard to see, but I took a frame and put Burlap in it. Then I wrote on the glass with a wipe-off marker "love is patient" This is fun because I can change out what it says whenever I want!

 Probably my least favorite. I already had the pumpkin candlesticks and the tray. I took pinecones from our yard and spray-painted them cream...
I had a lot of fun making my little Fall banner! I bought burlap and cut it into triangles. Used brown yarn to sew it to a piece of twine. I used stencils to paint the letters on the burlap. Then added the bows! I love the way it turned out!

Those are my modest Fall decorations, all fairly easy and all cheap! I hoep you like them!  I can't wait to start making things for Christmas!

Happy Fall y'all!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"The streets are not for you..."

I am taking a small break from my submission talks because I just have to share this experience.

I had the privilege of attending the Reach Them to Teach Them event on Tuesday night. Hundreds of teachers gathered to together for a night of encouragement and hope. You can read about it here.

We heard from the one and only Scott Cagle, Hallerin Hilton Hill, and Manuel Scott.

The words of all three of these men were wonderful and touched me deeply.

I was extremely moved by Manuel Scott. If you've ever seen the movie, Freedom Writers, you know part of his story. He was one of the original freedom writers in Ms. Erin Gruwell's class. His story starts off as one of pain and despair, but through people in his life, his faith, and the encouraging words of a teacher, he now has a masters degree and is working on his doctorate!

There's so much I could say about this man. I was so moved by his story. But there's something big that I took from his presentation that I will share with you.

 Just a few highlights of Mr. Scott's childhood included a father who was in jail, a stepfather who was addicted to drugs and was abusive, sexual abuse, never knowing where he would sleep, never knowing what he would eat, and gang violence all around him. This is what he carried with him as a young child.
The turning point in Mr. Scott's life came sitting on a park bench when he was 15 years old. A man who, himself had been lifted from the streets and given hope sat down next to him one day. He did not know him, but he stopped and shared his faith with him. He told him that "the streets weren't for him" He told him he was better than that. One man spoke truth into his life and it changed him forever. From that point on, things improved. he went back to school and a teacher gave him more hope. He graduated and went to college and now is a successful family man.

I can't tell you how much this moved me. All it took to get him on the right track was one person speaking the truth to him. One person!

I think of these babies that grow up with parents who don't love, provide for, or protect them. I think of these children who only know poverty and the streets. I think of sweet babies that don't get loved and see things that most of us will never see. They are not thousands of miles away. They are not hiding or difficult to find. They are right under our nose. 

My heart longs for them. What will it take for them? Who will say to them that the streets aren't for you? You are better than this! There is a God who loves you and knew you before you were born! He made you for more than jail or abuse or poverty! He made you for so much more than that! Who is going to tell them?! I pray everyday that I could speak into even one child's life that way. That I could give one person hope for the future. Just one would be enough.

So how does this apply to you? 2 ways.
1) Who around you needs to hear the truth? how can you change one person's life today? Pray that God will show you someone in your life that needs to hear this today. "The streets aren't for're better than that."

2) You don't have to be an impoverished, abused child to need hope. Maybe you need some encouragement today. What muck and mire are you engulfed in? What is it that is dragging you down and stealing your hope?

Do you tell yourself that you're not good enough because you're not like her/him? Do you tell yourself that you'll never be a good enough wife/husband or mother/father or friend or Christian? Do you think you will never be released from the pain you feel? What is it that's keeping you in the streets? 

Because I can tell you right now, you are better than that. Whatever lies the world and the enemy bombard you with, they are just that, lies. You were made for more than that! The Creator of the universe knew you before you were born! He lovingly made you with a purpose! You are better than the muck and the mire and the lies! Hear me when I tell you, "The streets are not for you." Get yourself out of the streets and walk in the life God has for you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Submission~ A dirty word? Part 2

Well folks, that's what I get for putting up a part 1 post....I have to have a part 2! I have been putting this off and putting this off (obviously) and I have so many other things I want to post about!

I was so excited about submission when I wrote that last post. I was so ready to make this a 3-4 part series! But then life happened and I think I realized that I'm not so great at this submission thing...and I kind of gave up for a while! There are so many other women I could direct you to to learn about this topic instead of me. I felt feel completely unworthy.

So I thought...I'll just skip it and go onto something else.....Well, God had other plans. :-)

I went to my quiet time this afternoon and the verse
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father through Him." Col.3:17

This concept is one that hits close to home. Lately, I have been having a lot of doubts about who I am and what God has called me to. I have struggled with bitterness over working a secular job that requires very little interaction with other people while my husband is out serving every day in ministry. I have struggled with resentment over the fact that my life revolves around our home and I am limited by the fact that we share a car. I have struggled with feelings of worthlessness that God can't really use me because I'm not gifted enough.

All of these feelings are just that, feelings. Ugly feelings. Feelings that can make you feel small and stop you from living the life God wants you to live. Moreover, they are lies from the devil that I have allowed to consume me. When I heard the words of Colossians 3 in my head, I knew it was a heavenly reminder that it doesn't matter what I do, I can do it for the Lord. I can do it with thanksgiving. I can do it with honor and joy because the truth is, I know God has me right where He wants me. (Even if I don't always understand why) may be wondering how this all relates to submission. Like I said, I was headed to my quiet time when I remembered this verse. So I thought, this must be where I turn today. I flipped over to Colossians (I'm not going to pretend like I remembered exactly where this verse was, I'm terrible at that...enter trusty keyword search on my bible iphone app) and I start reading.

I began with the beginning of chapter 3. So powerful! I encourage you to read this chapter today. God wants us to put to death ungodliness and clothe ourselves with compassion and patience and all sorts of good things. He wants us to LET the peace of Christ dwell in our hearts. Oh I could write about ten blog posts on this chapter alone!

Then he says, whatever you do do it in the name of Jesus. (My key verse today)

Well....if you are familiar at all with Colossians, you know what comes next. Right after God lines out for us how we are supposed to live and that we are to everything for His glory, he says " Wives submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord."

Bingo! How do you live a life honoring Christ? Do everything in his name...including submitting to your husband. He has some words for husbands after that and Fathers and children and so on, but wow! This submission thing is important!

I found in Titus 2:4-5 "Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so as not to malign the word of God"

This thing is serious! You may be thinking, "Whatever, I don't agree with all that submission stuff. I mean this is 2011, my marraige is fine."

Is it? I don't have this whole thing figured out, and I'm not going to pretend to be a Susie- Homemaker -content- to- serve- my- husband- and- wear- an- apron- everyday- with- perfect- hair- and- make-up kind of girl. But I see it very clear in scripture that it is important to be submissive. I want to do everything for the Glory of God. I do not want to malign the word of God. I must learn to submit!

Maybe your marriage could be richer if you looked into this topic a little more. Pray about it and see what God shows you about submission. My goal for my next post is to talk a little more specifically about what it really means to be submissive....

Have a fantastic day! Whatever you do, do it for the Lord!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Submission~ A dirty word? Part 1

Hello all! It's been a while! We have been working on our house, celebrating our dear friends Andy and Caitlin as they tied the knot, and celebrating David's birthday with a quick visit from his family and a quick visit to Atlanta. Phew! We've been busy!

I have been very blessed lately to have a lot of opportunities to fellowship with other women at my church. I have had many interesting discussions lately mostly revolving around marriage. I can tell you that marriage was not the piece of cake I thought it would be and it seems that the longer I'm in this thing, the more I realize I need to learn!

God uses marriage to shape us and mold us and form us into what we're called to be. This can be fun and exciting at times, but also excruciating at times.

Lately I've been confronted again and again with the concept of submission.
To many women, the word submit may seem like a dirty word of sorts. I often times have had negative thoughts about this concept as well and I've been trying to figure out why.

When I first got married I thought I would have no problem with this. I could be the perfect wife right? Wrong! This idea is so much harder than I realized.

Here are a few reasons I think women choose not to submit:

1. They think submission = slavery.
            This is a false idea of submission. Submission does not mean you wait on your husband hand and foot and become his property. It means you put his needs before your own.

2.  They fear it will be abused.
             I think many women don't trust their husbands to allow them to submit without taking advantage of them. This is definitely possible, but not how God intends it. Our husbands are supposed to have our best interest at heart also. Maybe you're scared because you've witnessed firsthand submission gone wrong and this makes you resistant to it in your own life.

3. They fear they will not have a voice.
             Submitting does not mean you lose your opinion or that your opinion goes unheard. Your husband should always listen to your opinion before making decisions and his decisions should always be based on the word and the well-being of his family.

4. They are too busy keeping score.
             Submitting to your husband in order to get something in return is not servanthood at all. Too many times we get caught up in the score and forget why we're submitting in the first place. This only leads to bitterness and discontent.

I'm sure there are a lot more reasons! Please share any that you can think of! I encourage you married women out there to think about how you submit. If you don't, why don't you? Do you have negative or positive feelings associated with that word? I think it's important to analyze why we do the things we do. Take some time to think about it.

The truth is, submission does not have to be a dirty word. It is very clear in the word that God calls us to submit. Why? This topic I will tackle tomorrow. Come back for Part 2!!

I'll leave you with one verse that kind of gives you a sneak peak.

Ephesians 5: 21-24

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

It's really not about us at all...more details to come!

Your thoughts and comments are welcomed! Have a great Wednesday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Our God Story

So it has been FOREVER since I've blogged! I hate it because really the only thing holding me back has been that I don't have pictures to show you! (We lost the thingy that connects my camera to my computer in the move.)

I decided that today I would just blog anyway and at least tell you our amazing house story sans pictures.


Back in February David and I decided to start looking at houses. (We rented a cute little house off Lovell Road for our first year of marriage.)

We didn't feel like we had to make it happen, we just wanted to look and see what was out there.

Our price range was fairly modest, so we knew that looking at foreclosures was a good option for us. We weren't afraid of a little work and man I love a good deal!

Phase One: The Doubletree house

We found a house about two minutes from the church in a great neighborhood. It was a foreclosure and well within our price range. It was 4 bedrooms, big needed some cosmetic work, but other than that, it was a steal! We made our offer only to find out that it was already on the negotiating floor for someone who was buying 3 houses. (Probably a flipper) They didn't even look at our offer....

Phase Two: The Canton Hollow House

After that, we looked pretty much at only foreclosures. We were hoping for another great deal to come our way. We found a beautiful house on an acre lot that was a foreclosure and in our price range. Only was basically surrounded by mobile homes. David loved the house and wanted to make an offer, but I just never felt peace about it. We prayed about it and God changed his heart. We did not make an offer.

Phase Three: The Benington House

This is probably the longest phase! We looked and looked at new houses and nothing in our price range was really what we wanted. If I saw one more Tennessee split level home, I thought I would puke! Then our realtor called us one morning and said she had found a HUD home in a great neighborhood. We went and looked right away and loved it. It was in probably my favorite neighborhood ever. It had 4 bedrooms, a beautiful screened in porch, an acre lot, huge fenced in backyard with a pool...everything! I loved it! We bid on the house and got it! The siding was in bad shape and the carpet needed to be replaced, so we applied for an FHA construction loan to fix it up. We were still well within our price range and were convinced that this would be our home...little did we know, God had other plans. As the process went on of getting together a bid for our construction and meeting FHA guidelines, we quickly found out that there was a lot more than a few thousand dollars of work to do in this house. We found something else wrong at every turn and our loan amount kept going higher and higher....this made me very uneasy. I still loved the house and pictured raising our family there, but more and more doubt kept creeping in. We got to the very end of the process and were 3 days from closing when the huge tornado storms rolled across the South East. The wind and hail destroyed the roof of the house, the pool, the windows, and literally tore pieces of siding off the house. We found out that since the house was a HUD home, there was no insurance fairy to pay for the damages. They would simply offer it to us at a reduced price. They never put tarps over the holes and it continued to rain. It was then that we knew this was not our house. We walked away from it heavy hearted, but knowing that God had a different plan for us.

Phase Four: While I'm waiting

We slowly started the process of looking at houses again, but with much trepidation. I felt burned and didn't really have the desire to go through that whole process again. We used the house money we had saved to pay off the last of our consumer debt and with selling David's car, we found ourselves in a much better financial situation. We decided to stay in our rental house and just save money until the right thing came along.

Phase Five: Barbee Lane

No sooner had we said "OK the buying a house right now door is shut right now" then our friends Brian and Laura from church told us that the house next door to them was for sale and we should look at it. My immediate thought was...absolutely not. I was so burned out by the whole house thing that I was dreading even looking at another house and getting my hopes up again. We knew their neighborhood was nice and so I knew this house would be more expensive, but we went and looked anyway. I had a knot in my stomach the whole way there. However, the moment we pulled into the driveway I had instant peace. This house was older and needed A LOT of updating, but there was just something about it. We made an offer, but there was already a cash offer on the table that was higher than ours.....bummer! Then I was really convinced that we were not going to be buying a house. I completely let go of it.

Here's the exciting part! Not more than a week and a half later, we got a call that the other offer had fallen through! David and I prayed separately about a fair number to offer and both came back with the exact same number.....and that is what we got the house for! We got the house!

Everything about our closing and inspections went so smoothly.
This house is more expensive than the last, but because we are out of debt now and got a much lower interest rate so our monthly payment is actually lower than what it would have been in the foreclosure.

The house is beautiful and we love it! It is beyond what we ever imagined. God is so good to us! His timing is perfect! I could never have orchestrated everything the way He did.

We definitely have work to do on the house, but little by little we are making it our home!

This is the house BEFORE we moved in. We have since removed the security door, trimmed the hedges, painted the door and shutters and changed the light fixture.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Same's been a while. Sorry about that! We've been kind of busy because.....we bought a house!!!! Yay!!!

Not only did we buy a house, but we painted a house and moved into a house over the past week and a half. Needless to say, we've been pretty exhausted.

I have been waiting to post so I could put before and after pictures of all the rooms we've painted and things we've replaced, but I have lost the little thingy that connects my camera to my computer and don't know how to get the pics on here. :-(

Hopefully I can figure that out this week.

In the meantime, I wanted to share something with you all that will hopefully encourage you.

Last night we had a tiny life group so we spent the time in prayer. We talked about how blessed we all are and how perfect God's timing is (all three couples represented have bought a house in the past few months and we all have cool God stories about how it happened....I'll share mine with you when I post pictures.)

We also talked about one of our own who was in a terrible jetski accident. Chris and Sedina have been coming to our lifegroup for a few months now and are so hungry for the Lord. Chris and his brother crashed jetskis and Chris was pretty seriously injured. At this point he still has not regained consciousness. He has some brain injuries and his body just won't let him wake up. If you can, send up a word of prayer for Chris and Sedina. We need the Lord to move in a miraculous way so only He can get the credit.

During our prayer time, one of our friends was praying for Chris. He said "God you are the same. We know that you can heal Chris because you are the same God."

This insight into God's character truly struck me. It made me think of the verse in Hebrews 13 that says. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

What comfort we can take in that! The same God who performed miracles in the bible and raised people from the dead is the same God we serve and who lives in us. The same God that we pray to and ask for healing from.

God has promised that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. If you are facing something and don't know how God can help you, look to the scriptures, talk to fellow believers. God's abilities and promises do not change, he just sometimes changes the packaging. :-)

He can heal you. He can heal me. He can heal Chris. And I'm believing that He will.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One Year

Today is July 16th, 2011. One year ago today I was marrying David Thomas Vogel in Acworth, GA.

I will never forget my excitement as I walked down the aisle. I could not wait to begin my life as Mrs. Vogel.

It was one of the few times in my life that I have been so utterly confident that I was following God's will for my life. David and I both felt that marrying each other actually brought us closer to God. Our wedding and marriage was one of the most powerful acts of worship I've ever participated in.

I can't believe a whole year has gone by, and let me tell you, it's been quite a year!
We have had our ups and downs, but I can tell you that I love him more than ever and can't wait to see what the next year and many more years bring.

In a year, we have...
Been to several dear friends weddings.
Bought a car together.
Sold a car together.
Gotten completely out of consumer debt.
Gotten a puppy.
Watched our church grow exponentially.
Faced 6 months of no job for me.
Rejoiced when God provided me a part-time, work from home job.
Bought a house!

God has been so good to us!

As I look back on this year and forward to the next, I am challenged to continue to grow and change. Being a wife is not as easy as I thought it would be. Being a good wife is incredibly hard. I have so many areas that I need to improve to be a "princess worth waiting for" as Rapunzel is referred to in the movie Tangled. (We watched it last it!)

More than that, I want to be a "wife of noble character" as it states in Proverbs 31. I try to read this often just to see how I stack up so to speak and let me tell you, I have a long way to go!

Here are just a few things that popped out at me when I read it today. I encourage you to read it on your own. For women, it is a beautiful picture of what a Godly wife should be. For men, it is a beautiful picture of what you should encourage your wife to be or look for in a mate.

~ "Her husband has full confidence in her." I struggle to even be confident in myself sometimes.
~"She brings him good not harm."
~"She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family" Is it still dark at 9:00? :-)
~"She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." I've got to get to the gym...
~"She opens her arms to the poor..." Desperately want to do this better...
~"She makes linen garments and sells them..." I did just get my mom's old sewing machine!!!
And the most important thing of all "charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

I think it all starts with that last one. If you have a dynamic relationship with the Lord and seek Him first, everything else will fall into place. It's as simple as that. My first priority to my husband is to be close to the Father.

Happy Anniversary David! I love you more than I can say. We'll see what the Lord brings this next year!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jersey Vacation!

David and I are so blessed to have just completed a very long, much needed vacation!

David's family owns a cottage in Sea Isle City, New Jersey and we got to stay there over 4th of July weekend and this week. It was so fun to get away and just relax!  Oh and eat a TON of amazing food!

Here are a few of my favorite photos from the trip!

Monday, June 27, 2011


What a weekend!

My very dear friend from college, Meredith McKinney, came to visit me on Saturday. I love this girl so much! We have been through a ton together and I hadn't seen her for over a year! It was such a blessing that she gave up her Saturday to come to Knoxville and hang out with me. We got to catch up quite a bit and it just made me realize how much I miss spending time with her and my other girls from college. I also got to talk to my friend, Shanna, for a long time Saturday night which was awesome.

I love my husband and I love being married, but I'm beginning to see just how important girl friends are. He can't fulfill every part of my need for friendship, and let's face it, he's a guy and guys don't get about 90% of what we go through!

The lesson for our preschoolers this week was about David and Jonathan. We talked about how important it is to be a good friend and that's what I want to be. 

One question that was asked of the kids was "Have you ever had someone decide they don't want to be friends with you anymore?" Every child raised their hand because that's what kids do. They get mad and say "you're not my friend anymore!" They do this because they know it's the ultimate weapon. They know they're going to get you by saying that because friendship is a pretty valuable commodity when you're 4 or 5 or 6 or any age really.

Unfortunately, there are still adults that act like this. I have had friends walk away from me and say they don't want to have a friendship anymore. Pretty hurtful...pretty sad...However, the good thing about a true friend is that no matter how much time has passed or miles are between you or hurt has been had, they still welcome you with open arms and still love you and still stand by you. I am very blessed to have some of those true friends in my life, and hopefully will make more here in Knoxville.

After this weekend, I am going to try harder to be a better friend just like Jonathan was to David. I am attempting to communicate better and reach out a little more.

I hope everyone has a great week! Reconnect with an old friend this week. You'll be glad you did. :-)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's been a while

Well blogging world friends, it's been a while since my last post. I have some great God things going on in my life and I need to share them with you!

This past weekend David and I went to Atlanta for my friend Lindsay's wedding. This was a really special wedding. I met Lindsay the summer before I met David. I had started going to Prime at First Baptist Woodstock which is a worship service for young adults. I was seeking community like crazy because I had just broken up with an ex and was needing more community than what my church could offer. I reconnected with my friend, Julie, from high school and went to Prime with her where I met Lindsay and a sweet girl named Ashley.

We all went to Rita's after Prime one night and spent hours talking about how much we wanted Godly guys in our life. Julie was dating someone and Ashley was I think talking with someone, but we all were just sharing how much we wanted to be wives and have great partners. Lindsay and I clicked that night and started hanging out quite a bit. Both being teachers, we spent some summer days by the pool and shared all of our dating woes, stories, and frustrations. We have a lot in common and were in the same place...Ready to find our man!

Well, here's how God fulfills the desires of our hearts.

Julie married the guy she had been dating last summer a few weeks before my wedding. They have a sweet little baby boy now!

David and I got married last July after dating/being engaged for 10 months.

Lindsay met an amazing guy through her next door neighbor. One of their first dates was my wedding! They just got married this weekend and I am so happy for them!

Ashley is engaged and will get married in October!

It is just incredible to me how God hears our cries and sustains us until it's time for our dreams to come true. I can't tell you how many times I thought that I would just never get married because I wasn't good enough or thin enough or something enough. I can't tell you how many times I cried out to God in frustration because there just wasn't a Godly guy in sight and I was so tired of being alone! But then God brought me a man who would love me despite my flaws. God brought Lindsay an amazing man who has vowed to protect her and care for her, and I know he will.

If you are reading this and you are single and wish you weren't (A stage in life I know very well) take heart. I know it seems hopeless, but God hears your cry. He will provide for you because that's what He's promised to do. I could write a whole book on this topic....maybe I will someday...

Here are a few pics from the wedding. Unfortunately I only have a picture of Lindsay on my phone and don't know how to make it appear here. But here are some of David and I.

We also got to meet my sweet new cousins Hailey and Cole on Friday! So precious! The Lord is so good! He healed little Hailey and now she is doing just great! Thank you Lord!

                                                                    Tiny Cole!
                                                             Sweet Haley!
I'll put more pics on facebook...

Oh and one other minor detail from the weekend....We are buying a house! I'll post that story later...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Rescuer

Sooooo....I want my blog to be super cute...and I'm working on it, but I've been swamped with work lately and haven't had much time. I promise I will be improving it this weekend!! Or at least will try!

I had to post today because I feel like God has been bringing a common theme into my heart for the past few weeks and it's about time I shared it. Hopefully it will encourage you today.

God is our Rescuer.

There it is. Plain and simple. This is a truth that you probably know and would say, "Um yeah of course He is."

Side note: The word rescue inevitably makes me think of the show Rescue 911. I used to watch it when I was younger and LOVED it! Anyways, back on track.

Here's where it started. Last Saturday I read Jeremiah 1. (Pastor Scott is reading through Jeremiah while he is away and challenged us to do the same.)

The opening of the chapter is beautiful and can't be overlooked. The first message God gives to Jeremiah in verse 5 is:
"I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations"

How special and encouraging is that! God knew Jeremiah would be insecure so He affirmed him first before He asked anything of him. What a loving God we serve. We used this verse with our preschoolers to teach them how much God loves them and the same applies to you, but that's another post for another day :-)

The first thing Jeremiah does though is give excuses. He says that he is too young and can't speak for God. It's a little encouraging to know that other people are just as insecure as we are right? ;-)

Here's the part that caught me a little off guard though. To encourage Jeremiah, the Lord said, " not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you."

God doesn't say, "everything's gonna be all right Jerry. I'm not going to let anything bad happen to you."  He doesn't say, "I will keep you from all harm." 

No. He says, "I will rescue you."

In other words, you're going to struggle and you're going to face harm, but I will rescue you from it.

To give God the title of RESCUER, we are implying that we need rescued.

This life is hard and people face all types of hardships. But when you are a child of God, His promise to you is that he is with you and will rescue you.

After reading this passage, the very next day in church we sang the song, Rescue.

"I called, you answered and you came to my rescue and I wanna be where you are."

God has brought that word up a million times over the last week in my heart. What do you need rescued from today?

Is it a job situation? A bad relationship? A financial crisis? A crisis of faith? Maybe you need rescued from yourself. The negative thoughts just take over all the time.

If I can give you one truth to take away today it's this: You will face trouble in this world, but you have a God in heaven who is with you and will rescue every time. All you have to do is ask Him.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sin Seeps In

So I'm wondering if anyone can relate to this scenario...

I did something wrong...My husband called me out...I denied it...Then reluctantly confessed...Then got mad at him and loudly brought up some of his past mistakes...then felt awful...then finally apologized for my double maybe even triple sin.

What is the deal? I let sin enter one tiny little part of my world and it seeped into everything! It's like when shampoo spills in your suitcase. You think you have it taken care of, but really end up cleaning up shampoo for days! You wish you had never put the shampoo in your bag in the first place, or listened to your mom and put it in a ziplock bag like she said!

Sin seeps in! The thing I did could have easily been taken care of, but my pride got the best of me. My defenses turned on too quickly and I acted like a fool. This is not the woman I want to be.

We are supposed to guard our heart against sin. We are supposed to flee from sin. God knows that if we let in just a little will take over and sin leads to death.

In Romans, Paul talks about the inner struggle that we all face. He says, "So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law, but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin within me." Romans 7:21-23

I feel pretty crumby about my sin, pretty much all the time. Paul goes on to say, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" Have you ever felt that way? I have! Why do I struggle so much with sin? Because it is a war we all are fighting. If you let the enemy have one tiny piece of your life, he will gladly seep in and take over and your war is lost.

But take heart! We have a rescuer, praise the Lord! "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:25

God loves me in spite of my shortcomings last night. He wants to rescue me from my sin and set me high upon a rock, away from the battle! He is my forgiver and deliverer and He believes in me despie my track record with sin. Thank you Lord!

So guard yourself today against the shampoo seeping sin that is lurking around your life. Take precautions. Don't let sin seep into your will take over. And if you fall to sin's sword, get back up again because you have a rescuer in Jesus Christ that will clean you off and hand you a Ziplock baggie for next time.

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Thankful List

I truly have so much in my life to be thankful for. I want to just share some of those things today and "Give thanks with a grateful heart." God is so faithful....

1. My husband. David is a strong man who makes me laugh all the time. I am so thankful God brought us together and allowed me to be a wife.
2. My family, old and new. I am blessed with people who love me and care about me.
3. My job. Even though I still don't completely understand God's timing on this one, I am thankful that I can contribute to my family and earn money while working from home. It's been a difficult adjustment to not have a classroom anymore, but I am thankful for the flexibility and favor of my employers.
4. Our financial situation! We paid off the credit card and are officially out of consumer debt. We have a little money in savings and the ability to save more. We should be able to pay off my car and school debt soon and save for another car. God has blessed us so much and we are very thankful for the financial place we are in now. I love that David is trying so hard to take care of our family this way. Dave Ramsey would be so proud of us! :-)
5. Our house. As hard as it was to say goodbye to our house we were going to buy, I am so thankful that we have our sweet little rental house. It is a great price in a great location and we are so blessed. Who knows when we will buy  house, but we will be more than fine until then.
6. My church family and pastor. We started the June preschool activities last night and I just love having a church that is s invested in kids. Sarah Coleman and Linda Kennedy are rockstars and work so hard. Pastor Scott is away on sabbatical for a month and is desperately seeking God's voice for a new vision for Northstar. I think it's so wonderful that our pastor isn't just going through the motions, but wanting God's will for our church above all else. You can follow his adventures here.
7. I'm very thankful for summer and the chance to go on vacation in a few weeks! So excited!
8. Last but not least, I am thankful for my friends who have stuck by me even when I'm really bad at communicating with them.

Hopefully tonight or tomorrow I am completely revamping my blog. Get excited!

Monday, May 30, 2011

I pledge

Wow, it's been a while! I have about 10 posts backed up in my brain that I'd like to write, but I simply can't blog all the time! Here's one that's been simmering for a while.

In light of Memorial Day, I have been thinking a lot about patriotism. I was born and raised in the South, love fireworks on the Fourth and know the Star Spangled Banner by heart. I get choked up when an American wins a gold medal at the Olympics or when a fallen soldier is honored with the playing of "taps."
I have a certain amount of pride in my country like most Americans do. However, I know very little about politics and I despise war of any kind really. The purpose of this post, however, is not to discuss politics or war. It's to discuss allegiance.

Every day of my school career, both before and after I attended college, started off by saying the pledge.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

When I was a student at Milligan, a speaker came and shared at one of our chapel services a startling message about this practice. I couldn't even tell you his name (because I am terrible with details) but I remember the heart of his message. He shared that our allegiance should not be to our country but to God. He didn't believe in saying the pledge because his pledge and devotion was to God. Controversial, I know!

Then just recently, I was listening to a song by Derek Webb, the rebel of Christian music! Here are the words to his song, King and a Kingdom.

(vs. 1)
who's your brother, who's your sister
you just walked passed him
i think you missed her
as we're all migrating to the place where our father lives
'cause we married in to a family of immigrants

my first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it's to a king & a kingdom

(vs. 2)
there are two great lies that i’ve heard:
“the day you eat of the fruit of that tree, you will not surely die”
and that Jesus Christ was a white, middle-class republican
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be like Him


but nothing unifies like a common enemy
and we’ve got one,
but he may be living in your house
he may be raising up your kids
he may be sleeping with your wife
oh no, he may not look like you think

Now, hear me when I say that I'm not against the pledge or our country. I am patriotic and I am thankful for the men that have given up so much for this country. But I do think there's a valid point in here. We are supposed to be Kingdom people. This country is great and I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am to all the people that are much braver than I will ever be that have fought for my right to even write this blog. I am very aware of the sacrifice and the gravity of America's fight for freedom. But my first allegiance is to my King and to the Kingdom.

I will proudly say the pledge and wave the flag because I do pledge my allegiance to this country. I am blessed to be a part of it. However, it is my secondary pledge. My first devotion is to the Lord and I serve Him first.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Seeking God's Face

So I know I said I would post this two days ago, but I just haven't had the time between working and organizing and spending time with my husband on his day off.

The point of this blog is for me to share what God is doing in my heart and let me tell you, it's a lot! I feel like I have been on a journey now for a while of learning more about the Holy Spirit. For much of my life, I could tell you very little about the Holy Spirit. There were several things that led me to become more aware...

~A trip to Mexico where Chris Canote shared about the power of God we have inside of us that we don't give credit to. Did you know that if you are a Christian, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is inside you? What are you doing with it?
~Reading Francis Chan's book Forgotten God with my small group at Northwest Christian Church before I got married. This book is a GREAT resource for anyone. It kind of helped me see that I had been missing out on something for a while.

~Weekly prayer time with Edna at my school. She helped me learn how to communicate better with God.
~Becoming a member of Northstar Church. I feel like God truly moves in that place, differently than I've ever seen before. The power of Corporate prayer is a focus, the worship is on fire, and Scott Cagle is a leader who tries desperately to be obedient to the Holy Spirit in all that he does. It's a beautiful place to be. Northstar Church

~Becoming a part of the Vogel family and spending time with them this past weekend. The conference was great and many one of the speakers talked about listening for God's voice. I will be honest and say that it was a different environment than I have ever been in before, but to be surrounded by people seeking God's Face was inspiring.

So what have I learned from all of these great experinces? Desperation. I am desperate for the Holy Spirit and you should be too. The Holy Spirit is a person. He's part of the trinity. He's not scary or out of control. He's our counselor and God sent Him to us so we wouldn't be alone here on earth.

Mark Driscoll says that too many Christian's trinity is "Father, Son, and Holy Bible" instead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Why do we ignore the Holy Spirit in our life?

Here's the truth, friends. There's a lot that I do not understand and maybe never will. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there's more to being a Christian than just reading the bible, going to church, and being a good person. I desire to be sensitive tot he Holy Spirit. I do not want to make a move without being led. I do not want to be a Christian who becomes stagnant. I want to always be growing closer to God and learning more about how to communicate with Him.  I want to seek His face NO MATTER what that means, and I am excited about this season in my life.

Hopefully you understand my heart in this post and are encouraged by it. Just seek God's face today whatever that means for you!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Well friends, it's been a little while because there's been so much going on, I didn't know where to start!

God has been teaching me about 1,000 things over the past week and I am just trying to process it all.

Here's a quick update with some lessons I've learned thrown in...

1. House- The update on the house is an interesting one. As many of you know, for the last 3 months we've been under contract to buy a HUD foreclosure in an amazing neighborhood. The plan was to get a renovation loan and fix up the place and make it our comfy little nest and make a really good investment with our money. Well, as always, God had other plans. Literally one thing after another kept turning up as problems on the house and our budget kept getting higher and higher. Then the tornadoes hit and brought baseball-size hail with them. Even more damage was done to the house and then no one took care of it so all the rain that followed has leaked into the house through the destroyed roof and siding. HUD said they would lower the price significantly, but they still have not communicated with us, so we are cancelling our contract. It's sad, but here's what I am thankful for.

~The storm happened before we moved in or did any work. How frustrating would it have been to do all that renovating and then have to pay our insurance deductable and do it all over again?
~God protected us from possibly getting in WAY over our heads in work load and finances.
~Because of the way we cut back and set up our finances to afford the house, we will probably be able to get completely out of debt much sooner than we thought now that we won't be adding a mortgage on to our monthly expenses!

God is good. I still want to nest, but my desire to go where God calls me and do what God asks of me far outweighs it.

2. Weekend! David and I traveled up to PA to lead worship at his parent's prophetic conference. We got to stay from Thursday to Monday and had a great time. Not only did we get to spend some quality time with his family, but were blessed by the conference. There is so much I experienced that was new for me, and I think I'll need to devote a whole post to it! Shout out to Michelle and Sierra for reading my blog! Love it!

3. Lifestyle! I am committed to instilling discipline in my life! I have not consistently worked out since our wedding and we're coming up on a year here before too long! I am going to start working out and eating healthier. There are a lot of areas in my life that need discipline...
~ Working out (First time today!)
~ Cooking healthy meals
~ Daily prayer time
~ Training my crazy dog
~ Reading more
~ Organizing my house
~ Couponing and saving our family money

These are all things that David and I decided to do at the beginning of the year but have not done a spectacular job.
I'm reinstating our quote of the year: "The pain of discipline is nothing compared to the pain of regret."

Lots of things going on! I have so many thoughts rolling around my head right now. I plan on posting tomorrow about what I learned this weekend!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Mom I Hope to be ... someday

I know this is quite late, but my new work schedule has been making it difficult for me to find time to blog. I'll go more into that later.

Since Mother's Day was this last weekend, I wanted to blog about Moms. I happen to have an incredible mother and mother-in-law. I also happen to be surrounded by amazing moms at my church. Ever since I was tiny, I have dreamed of becoming a mom myself. You can ask my mother! I used to play house and carry my dolls around everywhere. I even used to stuff pillows under my shirt to pretend like I was pregnant. NO I am not pregnant now. nor will I be any time soon if we have anything to say about it, but I am closer now to being a Mommy than I ever have been and I think a lot about the type of Mommy I want to be. Soooooo I decided to make a list. These traits and qualities were inspired by all the amazing Mommies I know as well as God's word.

I want to be the kind of mommy that...
1. ...teaches her children about the Lord.
2. ...prays daily with her children so they learn how to pray.
3. ...reads the bible with her babies every night.
4. ...feeds the homeless and helps those in need with her children.
5. ...always works hard to provide for her family, no matter what her job may be.
6. ... LAUGHs with and at her children as much as possible.
7. ...cooks with her children and feeds them healthy food.
8. ...always listens to their problems and is Patient.
9.  ...lets her kids wear pajamas to church on Wednesday night.
10. ...loves and respects her husband.
11. ...makes family traditions that they will always remember.
12. ...teaches them to love others more than themselves.
13. ...wipes tears and fixes boo-boos.
14. ...handles anything that comes her way with grace!
15. ...makes sacrifices for her family.

This list could go on and on. I definitely have to work on a lot of these things in order to be successful when the time comes. I am so blessed by all the mothers in my life. I guess for now I will practice on the puppies!

Happy Mother's day very late!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Hope for the Hopeless

So....there's so much I could update you on and I will....however, I think it's important for me to focus on one particular thing today.

Yesterday David and I had the privilege of going downtown to Water Angels Church. ( I wanted to link you to their ministry website, but it's not working right now.)

This is a ministry that began when a mom and her young daughters were doing a service project for their girl scout troop. They decided to pass out water to homeless people in downtown Knoxville. The more they went, the more they connected with people, and everyone started calling them the "water angels." This small act of service has led to an entire church and ministry to homeless people.

Every Sunday they have a church service in the afternoon that various local churches help put together. Northstar helps out I believe once a month. They serve lunch to them afterwards. There are bible studies thorughout the week and various outings they go on. They also help them get food, clothing, shelter, and other needs. (For example, they are going together this week to help people get ID's that don't have one)

I have helped out in ministires similar to this before, but I am so completely moved by what God is doing in this place.

Not only am I completely humbled that people who have nothing can praise the Lord and say how good He is when I complain about everything, but I was moved by the work of the Lord to deliver these people from the captivity of sin.

There were people who had abused drugs for YEARS who are clean now and are serving the Lord. One woman was a nurse and lost her license because of drugs, went to jail, and abused drugs for years. Then she was saved and asked God to deliver her. Not only is she clean now, but because of her testimony and character has earned her nursing certificate back! How amazing is our God!?! There were so many similar stories of God restoring people who were considered "hopeless" by our standards.

This is what I learned yesterday. People that we look at and say in our hearts "there's no hope for them" CAN be delivered!! Our God can do so much more than we give Him credit for. No one is hopeless to God. There is ALWAYS hope!

I want so desperately to show God to hurting people. If God can deliver a prostitute or a drug dealer, don't you think he can deliver you? What do you need to be delivered from today? What is holding you back? What has your heart hostage?

I'll leave you with the precious prayer of one of the little girls at Water Angels church. This child is probably 10 years old. I don't know if she's homeless or just from a poor family. I don't even remember her name. But I will never forget her prayer.

"God you are the light of my world. Lord you are the healer of my heart."

Recognize today that you can pray this same prayer to our Father. He IS the healer of hearts.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Easter is such a sweet time. I remember when I was little and could not wait to pick out my new Easter dress! We'd wake up on Easter morning and look in our Easter baskets and hunt for candy around the house. (The best part was that we'd invariably miss an egg or too, and it was my household chore to dust, so I usually would find a bonus egg a week or two later!) We'd get all dressed up and go to church with my whole family. Then back to Granny's house for chocolate bunnies and a bit more lucrative egg hunt. (Granny put quarters in her eggs!) Then a big dinner complete with hm, homemade rolls and so many other delicious things!

Easter has taken somewhat of a different shape in my life as I've grown older, but I still love it. I don't get an Easter dress anymore, but I get to see the little ones at church all dolled up! I don't get an Easter basket, but Granny still gives us a chocolate bunny every year! I don't go on any Easter egg hunts, but I get to hide eggs for pre-schoolers. And every once in a while, I still get to have that big Easter dinner with my family. I was so blessed that my husband as willing to drive to Atlanta after leading 3 services in a row on Sunday so we could be with my family. Everyone was there and it felt so good to be there, even though it was short-lived. We even took the traditional family Easter photos!

As I think about Easter, I am so amazed at this thing God did for us. His son rose from the dead.

I sang in the choir and then taught my preschoolers on Sunday for two services and then got recruited to hold babies during the third service so I didn't get a chance to hear Scott's sermon. But I did get to share the miracle of Christ with 4 and 5 year olds which was completely precious. It was so awesome to tell them that Jesus died but He's not dead anymore! Jesus conquered death just so you and I could spend eternity with Him!

One song we sang this week that seemed to touch everyone in the room has these words:

"Living He loved me. Dieing He saved me. Buried He carried my sins far away. Rising He justified. Freely forever. One day He's coming O glorious day."

Beautiful. Easter is such a blessed time because people who don't think about God that often on a normal basis remember what He's done. Facebook was lit up with scripture and positive messages this weekend. Praise the Lord! Even if it's just for one day, at least people recognize the sacrifice that was made for them. Now will you live for Him each day? That's the question!

I'm truly blessed this Easter. the only problem is that I have to wait a while before I can eat another cadbury egg. :-(

Happy Easter everyone! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Where's the Joy?

Joy is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately.

I have been a Christian my whole life basically. I accepted Christ when I was 8 years old and was baptized. I grew up going to church and despite trials in my life, have never truly turned my back on the faith I was raised with.

All this being said, I have struggled more times than I'd like to admit with the concept of joy. I know the gospel inside and out. God created the world and sent his son to be born of a virgin, die on the cross, and rise again in three days all so I could spend eternity in heaven with him. This is very good news. This is the kind of news that should cause great joy within the hearts of those that believe it. So why do I struggle with joy?

I tend to get caught up with the things of this world and forget that I not only have been saved from eternal separation from my God, but have a responsibility to tell others about it! How sad that I would let things like laundry and shopping and hurt feelings and arguments steal my joy and make me forget about my place on this earth! To be consumed with the things of the world makes me no better than an unbeliever. Joy is what distinguishes the saved from the unsaved because we have a hope that others don't have. How can I have this hope and walk around with no joy in my life? It's crazy!

David and I listened to an incredibly powerful sermon by Mark Driscoll on Heaven and Hell this weekend. You can listen to it here. After listening to this sermon, I am extrememly aware of just how lost some people are, and just how lost I have allowed myself to be at times.

There is a place called heaven where we will eternally worship our King after we die. And there is a place called Hell where people who chose to not have a relationship with Jesus will suffer anquish and torment apart from their Father.

The ONLY way to get to heaven is through Jesus!! You will NOT go to Heaven unless you have a personal relationship with Him and choose to live your life for Him instead of the world. It's that simple. There's no way around it. Jesus says " The only way to get to the Father is through me."

It does not count if you go to church occasionally or are a good person or do nice things. The only thing that counts is if you know who Jesus is and run after Him. Period. End of story.

It breaks my heart to think of the many people around me that could stand before the Father when they die and hear Him say "depart from me I never knew you." Good people, church going people, people who have done great works on this earth. People who are loved dearly.

(If you are reading this and want to talk to me more about having a relationship with God PLEASE feel free to message me! I would love to talk to you!)

Where is the joy? If you know that you are going to heaven, you should be joyful. I should be joyful. we should be sharing this joy with others so they can know Jesus too and walk with us into heaven.

Don't let the things of this world steal your joy and make you ineffective for the kingdom. There are too many lost people out there to walk around with no joy!

"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy."  Psalm 30: 11

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blessed Beyond Measure

So God did some amazing things in my life this weekend that I'd like to share with you.

We made one of the harder decisions we've ever made. We sold David's car. We sold it not because we had to, but because we felt called to do so. It's just something that will help us make progress and focus our money and attention on bigger and better things for our family.

I am so proud of my husband. That car was his baby and he was willing to give it up for our family without shedding a tear.  I, on the other hand, was an emotional wreck! I literally could not stop crying on Friday. I just know how much David loved that car. It was our first big purchase together.

When I start to worry about how we will survive with one car though, I just remember that I am truly blessed to be a part of a one-car family. I am so glad God has provided me with that, and am continuing to trust him to meet our needs. From the mouth of my husband, "obedience is better than sacrifice."

On Saturday I got to do the best thing you can do in a situation like this, serve. I got to help Serve Knoxville as one with Operation Inasmuch on Saturday. David and I helped paint house numbers on curbs so emergency vehicles can easily identify houses. I'll let you guess who was better at this job, him or me. :-) We also got to spend some time with our dear friends Todd and Marisa Lykins afterwards. Love them! That night I had a romantic date with my husband. :-) So sweet!

The weekend just got sweeter on Sunday. I got to teach my little class of pre-schoolers about the Last supper and wash their feet. The coolest part, however, was the discussion we had about prayer.

We talked about how when you pray you can just tell God what you're thinking and feeling. I gave them each an opportunity to pray to God, and when they did it was so sweet. They put their faces to the ground and talked to God. These little ones were in complete surrender and had a conversation with God. We had conversations about new houses, riding their scooters, their dad mowing the grass, and lots of prayers of gratitude for moms, dads, and friends. 

What a beautiful picture of what prayer should be. I did not tell them to get on their faces before the Lord, they just did it, and I was touched.

Then I went into one of the more powerful worship experiences I've ever had. God's presence was so evident and I felt Him moving through my church. Pastor Scott's message was amazing and I can't wait for Easter to come!

To end the weekend, I got to go see my dear friend Sarah Benton's senior art show at Appalachian Center for Craft. I had a fun time hanging with friends from Northstar and came home to my sweet husband cooking me dinner.

All I can say is "my cup overflows." I am truly blessed and hope I don't forget it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

God's Story

I have neglected to blog in a while and I hate that because I wanted to be consistent, but hopefully this week I will do better!

Well the first thing I'll say is that my husband is a rockstar! He led worship for three different conferences in the last 2 weeks. I got to be right there with him, which was really incredible.

Not this past weekend, but the weekend before, David led for the Esther conference. I got to go through the experience and it was absolutely wonderful. I feel like God spoke to me in such sweet ways.

There are countless things that I took from that weekend, but one that I want to share right now is a point Pat Wade made in the very first session.

The reason why the story of Esther is so beautiful is because of the bigger picture. God used an ordinary woman to redeem an entire nation, the nation that would eventually produce the Messiah!

One of the first things Pat said was too many times we get so infatuated with our own little story that we miss the big story of what God is doing in our lives. This really spoke to me.

I am a pretty emotional person and have a tendency to see the glass half empty instead of half full. I have struggled with my self-image my whole life and if I'm not careful, I can become discontented very easily and spend more time wishing my life was different instead of doing something about it.

I've focused so much on my story; establishing my career, finding my husband, buying a house, building my family, fitting into all the "rules" of being a young Christian woman in America. When things haven't gone my way, I get frustrated with God and whine and complain about my story, when really, my story is part of the big story of God redeeming this nation! I'm sure Esther had other plans besides joining King Xerxes's harem, but she followed the Lord's plan and He was glorified because of it.

"Don't you know that there is nothing touching your life that has not first been sifted through the hands of the Father?" Everything we face is part of God's big, grand, glorious plan.

"If we're not careful, we can think this whole thing is about us." Your life is important and your trials and complaints are important to the Lord, but I would encourage you today to take your mind off of your story and focus on God's story. Your trials may be just the thing that will help redeem a nation!

I'll leave you with this thought via Pat Wade.

On Palm Sunday Jesus rode into the city on a donkey and the people praised him and shouted out "Hosanna!" (Only to crucify Him a week later)

"Don't you know that the donkey thought all the Hosannas were for him?" ~Pat Wade

Don't think like the donkey, friends! Focus on God's story today!

Friday, March 25, 2011

ReFreshed...or trying to be!

This weekend is a crazy one in the Vogel household. Yesterday my husband led worship for and I attended the ReFresh conference here in Knoxville for Pastors and their wives.

It was a really great day.
Jim Cymbala from the Brooklyn Tabernacle was there with his team. It was definitely an encouraging day. I'm just starting into this life of ministry, but I can already tell we have some tough times ahead of us.

I love how his ministry is focused on prayer. The point was made yesterday that we pray but don't really pray. Just like you can sing without worshipping, you can pray without being connected to the Holy Spirit. A huge part of this problem stems from the church! We don't teach people how to pray and then expect them to have rockin prayer lives. Everything we do in a church service should be to build up and strengthen the church. I think a lot of churches are not this intentional with their practices unfortunately. We all fall into traditions and ruts, but God wants us to seek His face every time we meet together.

Northstar makes a huge effort to pray corporately, and I think that is a huge part of it. Scott is always saying, "we are a church that believes in the power or corporate prayer to change things..." and it's true. There's not a Sunday that goes by that we don't pray together. This is huge and I'd like to see this grow even more.

We need to be teaching our children not just that prayer is important, but how to pray. I help teach the preschoolers and I think we ned to be starting that young! At least the foundation! Prayer is such an important part of our life and I know I have spent too many years in boring prayers. It's time to change that!

Check out Jim Cymbala and some of his books. we got some at the conference and I can't wait to read them. If you are a pastor or know of one, check out his 6:4 Fellowship. Really neat stuff.

Now it's on to Asheville for the Esther Experience conference. I think it's going to be a great weekend. David is leading worship and I'll be attending the conference. Crazy weekend, but hopefully I'll be changed afterwards. I'm praying that God does some things in my heart this weekend and helps me feel closer to Him. Pray that everything goes well!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I love communion.
Really, I do. It's one of my favorite acts of worship. For some reason it has just always been a practice that is close to my heart. It makes me feel connected to my church family and to my Father in a different way than anything else does.

Now that you know this, you can imagine my excitement when I found out we were having communion this Sunday at NorthStar! I have been attending this church for almost a year and a half and we have only done communion 3 times.

I grew up in a Nondenominational Christian Church and we took communion every week. I honestly didn't know that other churches didn't do that until I went to college. I thought everybody took communion every week out of trays with tiny juice cups and chicklet looking bread.

When I went to Milligan, I learned about other ways to do communion and grew to love it even more. We did communion all the time in Vespers and sometimes in Chapel and it didn't always look the same. Communion was always a very present part of our worship.

It was so strange to me to come to Northstar and find out they only do it a few times a year!

Some people think that taking it every week makes it less special, but I have to disagree. We don't pray just once a month because it would be less special if we did it all the time. We don't sing worship songs a few times a year to keep them special. Communion is an act of worship. It's a time to be joined in community with the people around you and remember the sacrifice of our Father. It is one of my favorite things in the whole world.
However, My experience this week helped me to see that it can be a good thing to not have it every week. Now I look forward to it with greater anticipation. You can bet I'm not going to miss a communion Sunday at NorthStar! It is nice to eagerly look forward to that meeting with my Father and my church over the Lord's table. It may be a while before I can partake in it again, but I'll have plenty of time to prepare my heart for it and I am thankful for that.

I can't tell you all the arguments behind how often you do communion or all the ins and outs of the scripture, but I can tell you that no matter how often you do it, communion is a powerful thing!

To end on a light note, I will share some of my favortie communion memories:

1. The first time I took communion was the day I was baptized. I was 8 years old and my baptism was part of the service so when I came back I realized I had missed my chance that Sunday and thought I'd have to wait. Thouroughly disappointed, I looked up and saw Mr. Houk with a juice and chicklet on a silver plate. I was so excited! He prayed with me and talked to me about why we take communion. I will never forget that moment!

2. My mom used to keep mints in her purse and every week after communion would pass them down the row so we wouldn't have bad breath. Just looking out for her family I guess! We still call that kind of mint, communion mints!

3. In high school one time we were on a retreat and our youth minister wanted us to understand that the Lord's supper was just that, a supper. So we had turkey sandwiches and grape soda for communion!

4. In college, I attended Grandview Christian Church where we took communion every week. They had servers who stood in the front, held a plate of delicious bread and a cup of juice. You tore off a piece, dipped it in the cup, ate it and returned to your seat. Well a teenage boy was holding the cup I went to one week and when I got up there I saw the biggest HORSEFLY in the world swimming in the juice. The look on this kids face was so funny because he had no clue what to do! I naturally did not dip and just ate my bread, but then watched the people in line behind me. The faces people made were hilarious, and even funnier were the people that missed the fly and dipped funny!

That's all the communion ramblings I have for now! I hope you all have a great day!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Do not let your heart be troubled

Today's been an interesting day. We finally got a signed contract for our house! So now we move towards closing. Pray the home inspection goes as it should next week!

I read John 14 this morning. Such a great chapter. It's one of the last conversations Jesus has with his disciples before he is betrayed. It's great because Jesus is trying to explain to them that even though He's leaving, He'll still be with them. He talks about being the Way and the truth and the life and about how the Father is sending the Holy Spirit as our advocate. Great stuff!

The thing that spoke to me the most though, was the very end of the passage.

"I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me."

Satan has no hold over us. Jesus had absolutely no fear of Satan. He was not intimidated by him in the slightest! He says that Satan's purpose is to show the world that Jesus loved and was obedient to his Father!

How does that relate to our lives? Satan is not someone to be feared! The only reason he's here is for us to show the world that we are obedient to our Father. We resist the Prince of the world to show our love to the Father. 

Don't fear the world, don't fear the prince of the world. See worldly temptation as an opportunity to show your love and obedience to your Father.

That's all for now. :-)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Remain in Me

So I attend an amazing church. It's definitely not perfect, but all I know is that my pastor, Scott Cagle, allows the Holy Spirit to speak through him and a word of truth is given out every single week. The worship is intense and powerful and God is definitely there. (And the worship pastor is pretty cute) :-)

On Sunday, Scott gave a message taken from John 15 where Jesus talks about how He is the true vine. It really struck a chord with me.

When I think of that passage, I often think about the song "His banner over me is love" that I used to sing as a child. One of the verses says "He is the vine and we are the branches, His banner over me is love."

Though I've heard this concept a million times in my Christian life, I've never truly understood it until this Sunday.

John 15:1 says that "I am the true vine and my Father is the Gardener." I just always thought this to be a happy little analogy of God's family, but do you get what this means? A gardener prunes away the branches that don't help the plant. He throws them to the fire! Why wouldn't he?

If we are the branches, it looks like we have two choices. We either remain on the vine and bear fruit, or we pinch ourselves off and get thrown into the fire! I choose option 1 please!

The only way to bear good fruit in this life, to do anything of value as a Christian, is to remain connected to the vine. The vine is our source of nourishment. How do we stay connected? The word, fellowship with other believers, and daily chats with our gardener.

If you do not allow God's love to flow through you, if you do not make life decisions based on His word then you are useless to the whole vine and you will be cut off.

I truly believe that there will be a ton of people on judgement day that claim to be Christians and even attended church every once in a while but chose to be connected to the world and the world's standards instead of the vine that will be sorely dissappointed. This breaks my heart.

This challenges me to improve my connection. I have definitely allowed myself to become somewhat lazy in my walk at times and I fear being pruned away because I'm not producing fruit. I want my life to count for the kingdom, and more than anything, I want the love of God to flow through me and be evident to the people around me.

Remain in the word. Remain in the vine. Remain in God's love. The vine doesn't move, only I do, and I choose to stay.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Here we go...

I have tried blogging before and have been pretty unsuccessful with it. However, I am in a new phase of my life and I spend a lot of time on my computer. I figured it might be nice to have an outlet for my thoughts and feelings and ideas. We'll see how it goes!

So quick update...I got married on July 16th, 2010...

I left my dear friends and second graders at Davis Elementary, my family, and church home and moved myself and my sweet Bonnie to the great state of Tennessee!

Much to our dismay, I did not get a teaching job in Knoxville in the Fall and so I began subbing in September....Pretty interesting experience for me, but of course God grew me A LOT during that time. I got to spend a lot of quality time with my new husband and I learned a lot about being a teacher.

Just like he always does, God surprised me with a different plan. In mid-December I was offered a job writing curriculum for a digital school. Families who home school or private schools can purchase curriculum from I write the math lessons for third grade students for this curriculum. They will launch the third grade component in the Fall. I am a contract worker and I work from home. 

In the same week, I was offered a tutoring job at Amherst Elementary. I work with a small group of Kindergarteners three days a week.

I am so grateful for this opportunity and God's provision, but there has been a lot of adjusting that I've had to do.

I almost forgot our newest addition, little Chloe Reese.

So rebellious...

Lots of new things on the horizon. We are under contract on a house here in Knoxville and will probably be moving and doing a lot of fixing up in May! I am trying very hard to become a "couponer" and better cook.

I am not nearly as creative as I want to be, so I stressed about a name for this blog. I finally chose "One Step at a Time" because that is my husband's favorite thing to say. No matter what happens or how stressed we get, he always reminds me to just take it one step at a time. :-)

Lots to come....I'll keep you posted ;-)