Coffee Fest and Rob Bell

 

 

Date nights don’t happen nearly as often as they should. At this point in our lives we have two girls (one of which is an infant) and they keep us busy. Balancing work and family seems like a farfetched myth. But every so often the stars align and we are able to get away for a couple of hours.

Our most recent date night consisted on attending two events (one chosen by each of us.)

For me: We joined the Columbus Underground and attended Coffee Fest

Coffee is not just a boost of caffeine in my life; Coffee is a lifestyle.

I’m well aware of the addiction I harbor toward this brewed beverage, but I have no plans of sobriety any time soon. I live on this stuff and I absolutely loved joining other coffee fanatics in my city for this fun event. It was held at the Ohio Village, an old-fashioned, model village behind the Ohio Historical Society.

Local brewers set up stands throughout the venue and provided samples of their best coffees for those in attendance. When we entered the festival we were given a ceramic mug that served as our cup throughout the event so that they minimized trash and kept the environment of the day clean and green.

My favorite coffee that I sampled was the Ethiopian blend from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters.

After several cups of amazing coffee we visited the Food Trucks on site and enjoyed  Mikey’s Late Night Slice’s famous pizzas.

 

For Him: We attended Rob Bell’s Holy Shift Talk

Ever since Rob Bell launched his career my husband has enjoyed his work. He is a Christian author and speaker who now lives in Los Angeles, California.

Although much of his work is considered to be a bit liberal for the Christian crowd my husband has continued to support Rob Bell and his ministry. I’ve read some of his early works and I have seen almost all of his Nooma videos. It’s easy for people to form an opinion about him and protests are a regular occurrence at his speaking engagements, but overall I enjoyed listening to him and found objection to none of the elements he spoke about in this talk. It was a call to Christians to regard the holiness in the everyday and mundane events of life.

Per usual, we laughed, cried, and felt goosebumps as he revealed seven ways that he has encountered God’s holiness in his own life.

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The Ameri Brit Mom

 

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Praise: Five Minute Friday

I’m joining “my people” from Five Minute Friday today and responding to our prompt: Praise.

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One of the most difficult months in my life was September.

I felt the arrows of the enemy piercing me around every turn. Bad news surrounded me and my anxiety levels returned to a scary-high level. I was worn out, scared, and overwhelmed.

But as I turned the page to October I decided to focus on the positive things in my life. Instead of expecting the worse-case-scenarios I began expecting good. Instead of cowering in fear I embraced change. Instead of making excuses not to spend time with Lord I decided to praise Him.

After all, He has given me so much to praise Him for.

Whenever I feel the wave of anxiety course through my body I’ve tried to list 5 things for which I am thankful and that has really changed my perspective. This simple exercise has helped me to combat fear in a logical way.

Today I am praising God for:

1. My beautiful family

2. Some exciting news in my family that I’m sure I’ll be sharing soon (no, I’m not pregnant!)

3. My job where I am able to make a difference EVERY DAY

4. My church family who love and support my whole family

5. My friends who let me vent when I can’t carry my burdens on my own and who love me despite my flaws

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Share: Five Minute Friday

As I stand toe-to-toe with the weekend I am excited to finally have some time to rest. I’m looking forward to staying home, tidying the house, catching up with family, and going to church. But for the next five minutes I’m focusing on one little word. I’m joining the Five Minute Friday crew and this week our prompt is Share.

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My six year old daughter loves AWANA.

Every week she dons her bright red vest, recites her Bible verse, and heads off to join her friends at church. In the past year she’s learned so much. She’s memorizing scripture, applying it to her life, praying everyday, and talking to her friends at school about Jesus.

For over a year she’s been seeking Jesus regularly. She knows more than I ever did at her age and I’ve known for a while that she’s going to do BIG things in the name of the Lord.

But this week as we sat down to go over her verse like we always do she came with a questioning heart.

Acts 16:31– “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

What does it mean to be saved? What are we saved from? How do we become saved?

These questions all came right after her recitation. They had been sitting on her heart for days begging to be asked. And it was on Wednesday night that I got to talk through these things with my daughter. I shared the message of salvation with her. It was beautiful, yet simple conversation. And I sensed these things she’s been learning in her head transfer to heart knowledge. Knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus are two different things. That night, I saw that connection being made.

After our conversation she asked me if it was okay to pray and ask Jesus into her heart because she believed and wanted to be saved. With tears in my eyes I listened as my six year old girl prayed to God and in the most natural way asked Jesus to live in her heart and make her into a Child of God.

I wanted to share this with all of you. First of all because I am so proud of my beautiful daughter and the decision she has made to follow Jesus, but also because she asked me to share it with you.

When I dropped her off at AWANA she was bounding with joy. She couldn’t wait to tell the world.

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The Ameri Brit Mom

Potential: Five Minute Friday

Every week I like to jump in on the prompted fun over at Five Minute Friday. It is here that I am able to link-up and meet other Christian writers from the blog-o-sphere. Every week our host, Kate Motaung, gives a prompted challenge and each of us that choose to participate must write for five minutes on that topic. The final post is to be unedited and a raw account of your writing. This week the prompt is Potential. Here is my post:


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I have the potential to do a lot of damage with my words.

The things I choose to pass from the dormant floor of my mind to the living world through the passage of my lips can destroy others quicker than it took those words to form on my tongue.

I possess a tool that when used just right can pierce the heart of another.

And it is because of the great danger that lurks within me that I must keep my focus on the good.

That same mind that births the dagger of words can also produce life-giving fruit.

The place where those words are shaped mirrors the condition of my heart.

When I’m seeking the right things like beauty, encouragement, and goodness then the objects of my pursuit come out in my words.

But when I choose  to sulk in the darkness and give my mind permission to linger in the negative the things that spill from my mouth are not good.

Whenever I cross paths with another they will be affected by the shape of my heart.

Lord, may I never forget that the impact I make with my words is a direct reflection of what is going on inside of me.

May I always be aware of the influence my heart possesses.

For there is life in the words of the faithful.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Complete: Five Minute Friday

I’m really looking forward to this week’s link-up with Five Minute Friday. I’ve had a tough week and knowing that I can plug in with a family of positive writers is exactly what my soul needs. Every Friday we gather at Five Minute Friday and create short posts on the same topic. This week the topic is Complete. It’s a hard one when I’m feeling fractured in so many places this week.

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The road before me is so unclear.

I tread each step with strength and fear.

The fog surrounds me as I drop to my knees.

It’s only there where I am complete.

 

I’m worn out from pushing through.

It’s not easy to talk to you.

But if I’m honest it’s what I need.

Lord, help me pray. Make me complete.

 

My heart is aching.

My hands are reaching.

I’m in need of healing now.

There’s so much hurting.

And it all surrounds me.

I want to help, Lord, show me how.

Rush: Five Minute Friday

It’s been two weeks since I last crafted a post for the Five Minute Friday link-up. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, so it is really only fitting that today’s prompt is Rush. I try to join in every week with the link-up where writers all over the world free write for five minutes on the same prompt. I love linking up and reading the unique posts that come from the same inspiration. So here is my post:

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Three weeks ago we stepped off the plane and have been rushing around ever since!

The long, relaxing trip to England cut us all off from the overloaded schedules and chores back home. There were no meetings, practices, or expectations while we stayed with my in-laws. There was only taking life slowly and enjoying the time we shared with people we love.

It’s been three weeks, but something about the lifestyle we lead while overseas appeals so greatly that I miss it already. It’s caused me to question certain aspects of my life back home. I’ll leave you with some of the questions I’ve been wrestling with lately…

Why do we fill up so much of our time?

Living rushed is the American way, but is it really a healthy lifestyle?

In creating full schedules are we remembering to pencil-in time for ourselves?

In the midst of all the rushing are we taking time to notice all the miracles, blessings, and beauty around us?

The Ameri Brit Mom

Clinging to Promises

Romans 8:18-30 (NIV)

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified he also glorified.”

Wow! That’s a lot of great text. It’s scripture penned and gift wrapped by Paul. The promise of glory and the blessed hope we all can possess really got me through some of the hardest months of my life. At times I felt like I was sinking. All I could really do was cling to the promises in this passage. Promises like:

-our suffering now does not compare to the glory we will one day see

-liberation from bondage

-redemption of our bodies

-hope

-the Spirit intercedes for us

-God works for our good

All of these promises of God became mantras for my soul. Whenever the darkness crept in I sang these words or repeated them over and over to myself. And it is by the grace of God that I am able to stand on and claim those promises instead of letting despair have the last word.

Two weeks after giving birth to Aleah I started getting out and moving around. My c-section healed nicely, and I went to the doctor and was cleared to do most activities. The day of my first venture out of the house I remember thinking how blessed I had been with this delivery. Things went fairly smoothly and Aleah was as healthy as could be. When I awoke that morning my leg was a bit sore, but I didn’t think too much about it because I had been almost sedentary for two weeks.

Fast forward to the night time.

The girls were both finally asleep and my husband and I were settling into bed ourselves. Out of no where I had this feeling that something just wasn’t right. Yes, my leg was sore, but it just seemed like a charley horse…nothing serious. I turned out the lights and tried to sleep. But the tossing and turning I experienced I realize now was the Spirit trying to get my attention. After a bit my leg hurt more and more and I decided I needed to get to the hospital. Quickly!

Sure that I was over-reacting I told my husband to stay home with the girls and I phoned my mother to take me into the Emergency Room. I kissed him good-bye and thought I’d be home a few hours later with nothing but a diagnosis of paranoia.

I presented my symptoms to the nurses who felt my leg. There was no visible symptoms, but they decided since I was two weeks out from surgery that they would run a couple of tests. They skipped the d-dimer test which usually is the first step in diagnosing a blood clot, because my c-section would certainly cause that test to show positive. A CT scan was run and a couple of blood tests.

After nearly an hour my doctor (who minutes before was talking about discharging me) came into the room and started with, “Don’t shoot the messenger…” (a very odd way to deliver a diagnosis I must add)

What I felt in my leg was in fact a blood clot, but it had broken off at least in part and traveled to my lungs. My diagnosis was a Pulmonary Embolism, a life threatening condition. I was admitted and almost immediately started on heparin, a blood thinner. In that time I was so thankful for my mother. From the moment I found out about the clot until about three days later I was in shock. The fact I had this clot and was only two weeks past delivery really messed with my hormones and mental stability. I barely spoke for days and my mind went to a fairly bleak place.

I let fear in as I tried to cope. I saw the doom and darkness over the redemption I had been given. I tried to have a heart of gratitude that the Spirit had gotten me the help I needed in time, but in all honesty I couldn’t do much but tremble with fear. I thought about how my family would be taken care of if I wasn’t there…and let me tell you–those are not happy thoughts. I was messed up, my spirit was broken. But through it all I called out to God.

A few days after I came home a friend shared the scripture above on Facebook. I remember crying as I read it, because I needed it. I hadn’t really spoken much yet and I didn’t even really know what to say, but I was comforted by the words, “the Spirit intercedes for us,” and “all things work for good.” This spoke to me because when I sat trembling at the hospital I sensed the presence of God there. At the time I didn’t know what to pray, but I know the Spirit interceded for me. The Spirit knew my heart and God answered my terrified prayers.

The more that time passed the more I began to see this situation as a miracle. Not everyone with this diagnosis lives. In fact, a third of them don’t. My symptoms were not typical, and when I first entered the ER the nurses and doctors thought everything was fine.

Six months later I am hoping to glorify God with my testimony.

I am clinging to the promises of Romans 8:28. God has saved my soul and my body to live according to His purpose. Knowing His Word and reading it daily has equipped me to overcome the struggle.

I can’t tell you how many times I sang, prayed, and quoted scripture in those days. Being immersed in His words gave me the strength I needed to make it through and it is continuing to help me move forward. I am encouraged to share what he’s done for me, but it all starts with the time I spend with Him everyday.

The next three months I took blood thinners and was on a first-name basis with the receptionist at the doctor’s office because I visited so frequently. I ran the gamut of tests, but in the end I was cleared! I prayed that all blood tests would come back normal, and they did. No blood disorders! And I am now at no-elevated risk for recurrent clots and I am no longer on blood thinners. The clot was likely caused by the combination of surgery and heightened estrogen levels post-partum. No matter the cause or the purpose I know that my God is good and He works everything out according to His good will.

The Ameri Brit Mom

PS-This picture was taken the day of my PE…just goes to show that everything looked fine, but before long I would learn that it definitely wasn’t. Also…can you see the baby I’m wearing? I was trying to figure out the holds for a newborn and snapped this picture to show that I got it wrong, so don’t worry I didn’t carry her around all day like that!

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Good

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Some days are worse than others.

Some nights seem like they will never end.

Some breaths are heavy.

Some worries are dark.

But through the fog of anxiety I can see a flicker of light. If I focus hard enough I can see illumination. Like a lighthouse, God’s Word calls my heart home. There are moments of paralyzing fear, but they are followed by moments of remembering. I remember that I am a Child of God. I remember that I am His and so there is no need to fear. I remember that HE IS GOOD.

I may not understand all of the pain, but I can rest in knowing that God’s will is perfect and His purpose is good. I pray for beauty to come from this season and for light to overcome darkness. Through it all, the Lord is good!

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Loved: Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday and I’m joining my usual Friday link-up with the other writers at Five Minute Friday. Every week we gather as a Christian writer community and craft short posts all centered around a common topic. This week our topic is Loved. Below is my unedited five minute post.

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This week has been exhausting.

I made my return to the classroom after a seven month maternity leave, my oldest started kindergarten, my baby went to her first sitter, and I am still a little jet lagged from a month abroad. Everyday we’ve taken naps as a family when we get home. All four of us are experiencing the “first week drag.” But in the midst of the fatigue I must say that I feel loved.

I feel loved that so many people have been praying for me or checking on me during this time of transition. I feel loved that so many have offered to help. I feel loved that our daughter was welcomed into school by amazing teachers and friends. I feel loved that the Lord would call me to educate the next generation in my classroom.

As the school year began the prayer I kept repeating was, “Lord, help my students to feel loved this year.”

I am praying for energy and strength to love even the most difficult student. I am praying that my classroom is a place of peace and refuge. I am praying that during the 180 days that I am given with this group of kids that each of them encounter God’s love in some way. As a public school teacher I may not be able to speak it, but I have every right to live it.

I pray that every student feels loved in my classroom this year.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Is Fair Trade a Spiritual Issue?

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While attending church this week in England I was personally challenged by the idea that our consumption has direct impact on the lives of thousands. The speaker went through examples of interactions most people have over the course of the day and how everything connects us to the world beyond our local market. For example, when you eat breakfast you are supporting farmers, factories, and workers worldwide. When you go to work you are in direct or indirect contact with clients, suppliers, adults, children, or any variation of that list. Every decision we make for ourselves no matter how small has an influence on the life of others.

So how does that relate to our spirituality?

In Psalm 33:5 the author states, “The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the Earth is full of his unfailing love.”

I won’t pretend to have much knowledge about fair trade. I have found the website for the Fairtrade Foundation to be helpful, but to be honest I never really thought much about the impact being a fair trade consumer can have on the world around me. By choosing to support small farms with our shopping we give farmers a voice in their market. The business world is focused on large brands and companies that receive large profits and in many cases their workers face harsh conditions and minimal pay.

I’ve never really looked at grocery shopping in this way. But one way I can contribute to the marginalized is to pay the extra fee to choose fair trade products whenever necessary. And why should I do this? Because God calls us to care for the poor, sick, injured, and those too weak to stand up for themselves. With the knowledge about fair trade options I cannot in good conscience continue to support businesses who treat their employees as less than the value they deserve. The right choice is always one that speaks love and hope. Giving small farms an opportunity to thrive is doing my part to foster justice in business.

I know it isn’t always possible, and there are times when we prefer products put out by the tycoons, but the more you investigate the issue the more disgusted you will become with the practices of some well known companies.

Once our eyes are opened to this kind of suffering in the world we can’t stand by and do nothing.

I am challenging myself this week to find one way that I can adjust my habits to support fair trade. For me, that starts with coffee–something I consume on a daily basis and one of the most abused markets for farmers. I plan to spend time researching coffee brands that I tend to purchase and make informed decisions moving forward about where and how to get my coffee fix. I know that research will really open my eyes and if you have insight into the coffee market specifically please feel free to offer your experiences. As time goes on I plan to expand my fair trade choices.

The treatment and livelihood of others rests in my choices. What costs me a little can save others so much.

Anyone else out there passionate about fair trade?

The Ameri Brit Mom