Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Power of a Name


I am in love with name meanings.  Do you know what your name means?  Both Mark and I have talked about how crazy our name meanings are - we've totally lived into them.

I like the idea of giving babies names that can be prayed into.  My name means, "consecrated to God", so my mama prayed that I would dedicate my life to the Lord.  I am praying for our friend's baby, Liam Isaac (see above), that he would grow to be a strong protector of the weak and less-fortunate, a protector of his family...that he would be full of joy and laughter, even in the midst of trials.

See how that works?  So wonderful.  

Think of how many times your name has been spoken over you throughout your lifetime.  How many times has truth and blessing been spoken over you, just by uttering your name?  I love how symbolic and prophetic names can be.  May we all be empowered in the knowledge of our names!
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Hippie-Type Praying: Stop Striving, Start Enjoying!

Hippie

What is your definition of prayer?

Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast from one of my favorite pastors.  Although I think really highly of this particular pastor, I was less-than-satisfied with his definition of prayer.  In his message, he made it seem like prayer was most often something that you did behind closed doors, in silence, that was scheduled into your day in blocks, that included a prayer list of special needs...  That prayer was offering our requests and petitions and heart's cry to the Lord.

Yes.  I agree.  Those things are true of prayer.

But, I got antsy inside, because I believe prayer is SO much MORE than that.  If prayer is just about being in a room alone presenting a grocery list of needs, I am officially bored out of my mind.  And, I don't know of very many people that have free enough (or consistent enough) schedules to make that sort of prayer lifestyle work.

Don't hear me wrong.  I applaud and respect those of you who ARE disciplined prayer warriors who HAVE set aside blocks of quiet time with the Lord to offer up your requests and petitions.  Thanks for your obedience and for your commitment!  However...

I believe that there are even more people in the world who have heard verses about prayer in the Word, who have heard their pastor encourage them to pray, who have listened to the Spirit calling them to intercede, who have obediently stepped forward in hopes of being more devoted to prayer...but who have all miserably failed.  The more they tried, the more they got bored, they got busy, they got distracted, annoyed and just plain frustrated.  They leave thinking, "Man, I am NOT a good Christian.  I suck at prayer.  I can't do this."  They continue to live in a lie, believing they will never measure up and that prayer will never be one of their strengths in their walk with the Lord.

That was me.  But, over the last five or six years, my perspective and heart for prayer has changed dramatically, by the Lord's grace.

I've gotten to know myself.  I am a free-spirit, creative and spontaneous.  I realized that the Lord loved who I was...that He created my personality for a reason, and that He could meet me in spite of and in the middle of my quirks.

I stopped locking myself in dark and silent rooms for hours.  I stopped setting the timer for an hour (that was the time I thought I should be able to pray "without ceasing" to be a good Christian).  I stopped drinking large amounts of caffeine to keep me from falling asleep in the middle of my prayers.

I stopped looking at prayer as something I had to do to be a good Christian, and I started looking at it as an ongoing relationship.  I stopped striving and started enjoying.  A walk through the park together, savoring the beauty of our surroundings.  A good conversation over a cup of coffee...  Advice from a trusted mentor.  Sharing the joy of a fun activity with my best friend.  Even, a disagreement and an apology with someone I love...  Or, just sitting and enjoying the silence with my husband.

Prayer became connecting, breathing, ongoing.

Connecting?  Breathing?  I am just re-reading what I wrote.  I am starting to sound like a new age hippie.  In the future, maybe I'll stop being so vague and write about what my hippie-type praying looks like logistically.  I promise it's not weird.  And it is FUN.

PLEASE don't believe the lies.  Prayer doesn't have to be boring.  Prayer doesn't have to be monotonous all the time.  You CAN pray.  You DON'T have to suck at it.  It CAN be enjoyable.  You CAN be a prayer warrior.  You CAN have an intimate relationship with your Creator.
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Pretty Sunny Party


Mom and Dad just finished spending some time vacaying in Florida.  For her party, I decided to bring some sunshine back to Iowa, yes, even in February.  Who says parties need to be seasonally appropriate?  It was delightful.  Well, the lemonade was a little too sour (see top left photo), but the REST was delightful. 
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Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Sunny Party in February


It might be February, but it's summer inside today!  Mom's "sunny" birthday party was a hit.  More pictures to come!

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My Mom's Birthday


Yesterday, my mama turned 57.

Just kidding.  She is only 51.  

I'm spending time at home celebrating.  I think I've mentioned that birthdays are a big deal in my family, right?  

My mom is the craziest mom I know.  Some highlights include: 

  • Watching her try to wakeboard last summer.  Let's just say that even getting out of the boat and into the water was quite the adventure.
  • Skipping school to stay at home and have fun together.  Mom would tell the office we were "out of town" because we technically were.  We lived in the country.
  • Her grounding me from the curling iron when I sassed her.  It is awfully embarrassing to go to school with ugly hair in junior high.
  • Her reading Foxes Book of Martyrs to us around the dinner table for devotions.
  • Some crazy awesome theme parties.  She is queen of decorating for parties!
  • Feeding my college friends and I pop-tarts, all while reading the book I'll Love You Forever to us all.
  • Countless days digging through garage sales, thrift stores and garbage cans for cheap treasures.
  • Even more countless emergency bathroom stops (or should I say "squats"?).  When she has to "go", she HAS to GO.
  • Making up songs in the car about driving to grandma's house.  Ask me about our top hit "I've Got My Hand on My Buckle".
  • Decorating every apartment I've ever lived in with nickles and dimes.
  • Setting up tents in our living room and making "nests".
She is funny and silly and gets the giggles often.  She is always up for a dare and will probably never act her age.  She loves Jesus and made sure we all knew about Him at an early age.  She made being a stay-at-home mom seem cool.  She is artsy and creative and the life of the party.

Happy 58 years, Mom!

...oh, I mean 51.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

On Snow and Leadership


Sand and sun.  They're long gone.  We're in the middle of a snowstorm, folks.  I am not mad about the snow.  I have waited the whole season for a storm like this.  So, even though my wonderful prayer meeting is cancelled, and even though I had to drive an hour and a half through ice and slush and crazy semi trucks, I am loving the cozy and snuggly feeling that comes with big snow flakes, warm blankets and a cup of hot tea. After a day like today, I needed some down time.

In leading a ministry, there are many days that are joy-filled and delightful...full of the Lord's presence in a tangible and electric sort of way.  Today, though, was a day that felt heavy and confusing and a little overwhelming.  Am I really leading in the right direction?  Am I really hearing the Lord's voice?  Sometimes it is tough to have so many people looking at you for direction and for answers when you're not even sure of yourself some days.

Though my leadership is inconsistent and messy and full of mistakes, the Lord's leadership is perfect and good and right.  When I've veered off course, He's been so good about pulling me back onto the right path.  And, when I've messed up, the community I work with in ministry has been gracious and loving.  Praise God for His faithfulness.  Praise Him for instilling so much mercy in my ministry family.  I am blessed!

Thanks, Sara D., for a wonderful chat!  You were a bright spot in my day!  Thanks, Tawni, for your happy Facebook message.  You are the sweetest.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cute Packages


More ELLE JAY packages are on their way!  Did you know that everything from the shop comes in pretty packaging?  Presentation is important, folks.  

Join us in supporting Young Life Camp by purchasing some pretties from the ELLE JAY store!  Don't forget to message me before ordering if you live near me.  I delete all shipping costs!  
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Junior High Blogging

Can you believe I changed my blog template AGAIN?  Yikes.  This is probably the 20th time I've changed the look of my blog in the past three years.  And, this is the 5th time I've decided that I hate all the photos in my Etsy shop and am tempted to retake all of them.

I am in a junior high stage with my blog and Etsy shop.

My awkward junior high spurt began in about 5th grade.  WHO let me wear a Yogi Bear hat with a t-shirt big enough for my dad?  Yikes.  There are no shortcuts in the process of self-discovery.

So...for the next six or seven years I experimented a bit.  A lot.  Short hair?  Long hair?  Matchy matchy clothes?  Alternative rocker clothes?  Plaid hats?  Funny?  Quiet?  Sarcastic?  Rebel?  Teacher's pet?

It took me years to settle and get comfy.

Now, I know that it is better to wear shirts that actually fit.  Yogi Bear hats and really short hair is never a good idea.  I know that I will always need to part my hair on the side.  I know that I am a good mix of creative rebel and predictable teacher's pet.  Brown is better than blonde.  Cute skirts are better than short shorts.  Toms, Reefs and knock-off Uggs are staples.  Introvertedness is okay.  Patterns are great, but only if they're simple.  Under eye concealer is my best friend.  I will always love vanilla ice cream.  I am comfortable relying on Target for 99% of my trendiness and style, and most of my apartment will probably always be decorated with thrift store finds.

I've settled into a good mix of quirks and regular sorts of things, splashes of color and dusty gray, predictability with some spontaneous moments.  And...it feels AWESOME.  I love that I am almost 30.  29 is WAY better than 12.

Sadly, my blog and my Etsy shop are still in 7th grade.  It will be a while until they find themselves and settle into their own special vibe and personality.  In the meantime, expect experimentation and discovery.  My logo and color scheme and the products in the shop might change another 14 times, but you know what?  Who cares.  I'm enjoying the creative journey a TON and trusting I'll end up at the right destination when I'm good and ready.
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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Islands of Adventure



Another adventurous day began at Universal's Islands of Adventure..


My first taste of Butterbeer outside of the Hog's Head.  FYI - It's awesome.  Imagine Root Beer with butterscotch foam on the top!



Hogwarts as the sun started to go down.


Dr. Seuss!  I had One Fish memorized as a kid.  They even had Trufulla Trees and a Green Eggs and Ham food shop. 


Jurassic Park was kind of a let down.


Islandy scenery was delightful.


Lunch in an underwater cave. 


Our favorite ride with Poseidon! 

I did not take any decent pictures at the Super Hero Island.  I blame the Hulk roller coaster.  I almost lost my underwater cave lunch.
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sea World


Mark and I were ready to attend a night of Young Life All Staff Conference general sessions on Wednesday.  Denny Ryberg, the YL president, took the stage and opened with four words: "We've got Sea World."  The park closed to the public, and we, with all of the Young Life staff from across the world had Sea World to ourselves.  It was awesome.  We saw the dolphins, Shamu, and Jeff Foxworthy came for the night's entertainment.  They even topped the night off with fireworks.  Only in Young Life!

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Hollywood Studios


Young Life gave us a free day while we were at the conference in Florida.  We spent the day at Hollywood Studios!  We cruised through the Tower of Terror, Space Tours, the Little Mermaid musical, the Studio Backlot Tours, saw some car stunts, and met some Toy Story friends.  



Boba Fett and I.  


Toy Story friends!


Speeding through the forest moon of Endor.


An AT-AT almost stepped on me.


Mark had a Godzilla moment.


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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cute Earrings & Young Life Camp!

  Serenity Earrings

My wonderful friend, Kristin, at Treasures Untold made some beautiful earrings to donate to Young Life camp!  They are so cute.

100% of the money you spend on the earrings will go towards supporting high school kids in Sioux Falls going to a Young Life camp this summer.  We're set to go from July 17-24...this week will likely be the best week of their lives.  There's so much adventure and fun, and they will hear the message of God's love for them in terms they can understand.

Adults from Sioux Falls will attend camp with the high school students, so that they are able to deepen relationships that have started over this past year.  They'll experience the same things together, side-by-side, and then come home and continue to "do life" side-by-side in the future.  The high school students will come home having heard about Jesus in powerful ways and they will have a caring adult (or two!) ready to support, bless and encourage the kids through their years of adolescence.

Many of our kids won't be able to afford the cost of camp.  That's where you come in!  My friends and I are crafting for this special purpose, and YOU can spend a little extra cash for a special purpose.  Buy something pretty for yourself or for a friend and know that you've helped make it possible for one of our high school friends to experience the best week of their life.



Click on my Etsy shop on the right hand sidebar of this blog to view and purchase some pretties!  You can also view the shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/byellejay 

Visit Timberwolf Lake Camp's website here: http://sites.younglife.org/camps/TimberWolf/default.aspx

PS - If you live in Sioux Center or Sioux Falls, message me at ldeyounge@gmail.com BEFORE you purchase anything.  I will set up a custom listing MINUS all postage costs!
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

II Corinthians 1:3-7

In my suffering, in my affliction, the Lord has been my God of Comfort and Father of Mercies.

I don't necessarily know why I suffered.  I don't really understand all of the reasons behind my afflictions and struggles.  What I DO know, is that God continues to redeem my pain and use it for Good purposes.

He has such a funny way of bringing other people into my life who have struggled and suffered in similar ways as I.  Then, having received His comfort and mercy, I've been able to pass it along to someone else in need.

Every single time those glorious redeeming moments come around, I walk away thinking, "Take THAT, Satan! What you intended for evil purposes...  What you hoped would bring me despair and destruction just turned around and bit you in the butt."

Someone has been blessed, encouraged and given hope.  

I'm remembering that I can't pass on what I haven't already found.  I can't give what I haven't already received.

If you are suffering, know that someday, somehow, the Lord will redeem your pain.  My buddy Louie Giglio says that your own brokenness will become the bow that launches the arrows of the Lord's healing.  

If I am afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation.  If I am comforted, it is for your comfort.

Share in each other's sufferings.  Share in each other's comfort.  Share in each other's healing.

(a II Corinthians 1:3-7 remix)

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

FLORIDA: Part 1


Florida was great!  We joined about 4,000 other full-time Young Life staff from across the world at the Young Life All-Staff Conference in Orlando.  We traded in a foot of snow for palm trees, sun and 78 degree weather.



Our hotel.  Most of the staff stayed at the Marriot World Center, but we were part of the overflow in the Caribe.  It worked out well for us.  The Caribe was way less busy and chill.  And I liked their font.  So, I'm happen to be obsessed with fonts.  Oh well.



Mark showing off in the hotel lobby.  Hel-LO palm trees!


On the way to the Marriot to attend General Sessions.  We loved hearing from our buddies Francis Chan and Tim Keller.  


Every afternoon, we had free time.  We decided to be lazy losers and hang out by the pool every day.  I made a pretty big dent in Ted Dekker's book Green.  Heart.




 We were the obvious South Dakotans by the pool.  Fluorescent white skin and toenails UNpainted.  We rocked it.  I decided to edit the last couple of photos a bit to spare you from the fluorescent-ness.  You are so welcome!


 Mark is naturally crazy good looking.  I married up.  Praise the Lord!


 
More pics to come!


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Friday, February 3, 2012

My Dad's Aeropuerto ...that means airport.


Did you know that I fly spray planes in my spare time?

Just kidding.

My dad is a pilot and airplane mechanic and runs his own aviation business.  He is a pretty cool guy.  


We grew up bringing our friends home for airplane rides, visiting aircraft museums, baking pilots cookies, watching huge National Guard Chinook helicopters land in our backyard, flying home from college, begging dad to turn really sharp in the airplane to give our tummies the roller-coaster feelings, quizzing each other on the Military Alphabet, and mowing around big yellow cones on our grass runway.  ...Not to mention all the fun times we had riding junk yard ATVs and duct taped cars and snowmobiles.  He is so handy.  We are proud of him.

Anyway, I have always wanted to fly with a fighter or aerobatics pilot to do barrel rolls and other fun things, but haven't had the guts or the willingness to shuck out the money yet...  I would have settled for flying with a spray plane, since they do exciting things, but they only have one seat.  Dang.

While I was home for a week, we visited my dad's airport and shop and, what do you know, he was fixing a spray plane.  I took the opportunity to snoop a bit.  Unfortunately, my dad would not clear me for takeoff.


I also realized that I wore my yellow scarf that day, which just happens to match the yellow plane.  Who knew I could be so accidentally stylish?
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Home Sweet Home



There's no place like home.  I'm so glad to be back!

I had an awesome week in Iowa with my family, and then another awesome week in Florida.  BUT...

I am so loving my own bed and shower and closet and apartment and job and LIFE at home.

I am not loving the huge To-Do List that built up while I was away, though.  I'm going to check a few more things off the list today and tomorrow, and I will post some fun pictures soon.

Stay tuned!
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