Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Spirit of the Law

Nothing is more stressful than LA traffic in the morning. And there is no greater place to learn spiritual lessons such as patience and grace than the 134 or the 5 at 8 a.m. This week was no exception. I pulled onto the second of six lanes on the 405 going north bound to the hospital the other morning, ramped up my speed to a cruising 72 miles per hour. Other work travelers whizzed by me on the left and right, happily flying on clear lanes. All of a sudden, I started seeing break lights and lane changes in front of me. Up ahead, a police officer had pulled into traffic. The morning commuters quickly changed their frantic 80 mile and hour road rage into a law abiding 65 mile and hour parade...A parade that obediently followed at a cautious distance behind the police officer. It was obviously that the cop wasn't patrolling, just trying to get to work. He had his foot on the gas, going from 68-75...and so did his little duckling group of cars. It was fascinating to watch, really. All the cars around were matching his speed, never going faster or attempting to pass. And then the one came on the road. A white pick up truck. He was on a mission and didn't care who was on the road. He played the game for a while, eyeballing the cop and determining what he was up to. And then he did what no one else had the courage to do. He passed the patrol car on the left going at least 76.

I started thinking about it. How often do we as Christians play this same game in the church? We think God is out there like a great cop, with these rules and laws that are meant to impede us from getting where we're going. We follow behind them out of fear and obligation, thinking if we break the rules and laws he is going to punish us or spoil our fun, or worse give us a ticket that well have to pay for.

God is not a great punisher. Yes, He disciplines us, but like a father disciplines a child, for protection and growth and good. But discipline and punishment are not the same thing. The rules in His book are not to steal our joy or keep us from getting where we're going. He sent his son to give us freedom and life abundantly. Some times we just need to shift gears our mindset.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Holy Sh*ft

This post is a long time coming. I realize so much has happened in my life since my last blog post. I really need to get back into blogging. So here goes.  For those of you who need the social update, a little over a year ago I had a massive life shift. When I moved back from the mission field, I couldn't find work in the Midwest, so I took a job in sunny California where the weather was more agreeable and the lifestyle still very much missional. I went back to work full time at a child development center as a speech therapist. But I soon realized this was not the area of the field that I wanted to be in. My heart was still in the hospital setting and especially with neonatal babies. I was having a grand old time socially and spiritually. I was making new friends and getting very involved in ad outside of church. But I was not happy in my career.

In January of 2014 I decided to start looking for work in the hospital acute care setting. I talked to my own boss about it and there was still no availability at my current hospital (when I had originally interviewed they were going to let me work a few hours a week in their acute care setting, but as time went on they told me there wasn't any work over there and I was needed full time in the outpatient pediatric clinic). I ended up with an interview in Ventura County, about an hour away from LA, that a former co-worker had told me about. When they offered me the position it was the highest salary bid I knew I could possibly see in my career in LA. I was elated and told them I would sign a contract that week. And devastated. The hospital would be an hour commute from where I was living in Simi Valley and if I were to move closer to work, it would be over an hour and a half or more from where my community and church were. I decided to pray and I told God that if this was the right opportunity I would take it, but if He didn't want me to work there I would need another job interview STAT. I had been applying to job but hadn't heard so much as a "Thank you, no thank you" in weeks. The very next day I got a call from the Children's Hospital of LA where I had put in an application almost a month before. They wanted to interview me. WHAT?!?! Coincidence? I think not. I went in and it was the most intense interview I had ever been on. A nine person panel interview where they basically threw out challenging case studies and asked what I would do in each scenario. I felt I did well and they said they I was a high contender due to my experience, but they would let me know the following week after several other interviews: the week AFTER I had told Ventura I would sign a contract with them. Crap! What was I to do? Sign a contract at a hospital where I could potentially make the most money I would ever make in my career but be really far away from my new friends and community, or throw it all to the wind on a much lower paying job that I had no idea if I would actually get it or not but would be in the area of the city I actually wanted to live in. I went back to my prayer chair, this time in pure supplication: WHAT THE HECK DO I DO?!?!??! I felt God smile warmly at me and ask one simple question: "What does your heart want?" WHAT? God, that sounds so Disney. What does my heart want? What does that even mean? Aren't you supposed to have this big master plan where you have my whole life mapped out and I just connect the dots? And He just smiled at me again and asked again, "What does your heart want?"

Now this was blowing my theological box a bit. There are two very opposing theories in the Christian world: predestination and free will. I remember learning lots of theories and theologies back in my good old Calvin College days. For centuries people have built camps around one verse or another about whether or not God has every single day of your life preordained and if you mess it up you're screwed versus you have complete freedom of choice to do whatever you want and God just wants to come along for the ride (exaggerated, but you get the point.) I had always been more in the camp that God had a perfect plan, Jeremiah 29:11 and all that stuff, and I just had to seek His face long enough and he would reveal the next steps on the yellow brick road. But here was God asking ME what I wanted. So as DHT sings so perfectly, I Listened To My Heart and it told me that I didn't want to be in Ventura at all. It was not at all where my heart was (which is in Los Angeles). So I turned down the sure fire job and put all my chips on a high stakes gamble. I decided in my heart that if I got the job, Praise be to God and if I didn't get the job, Praise be to God.

A painfully slow week went by when I finally got the call: "You were such a great candidate with many qualities we're looking for, but we decided to hire internally" Crap. Really? This isn't playing out how I thought it would. Ok, Praise be to God. Then something strange happened. Every time I would go into the bathroom at work and look in the mirror, I would hear this voice in my head that would say, "Just quit your job." I know that voice. It's the voice that also told me to follow my heart. "Really?!?" I would say back. "But you haven't given me another job yet. I'm applying and putting myself out there and interviewing and nothing is coming up" "Just quit your job" is all I would hear back. For three months I kept hearing "Just quit your job" and for three months I would say back "But you haven't given me another job yet. At least let some one call me back!".

To make a long story short, I lead a missions trip back to Costa Rica with my Simi Valley Vineyard that March and it tipped me over the edge. It reminded me about my goals in life and pieces of myself that I was putting on the back burner. So when I got back from the trip, I literally just went into work one day and did what the voice in the bathroom was encouraging me to do. I quit my job. With no back up plan but big faith that everything would be ok. Because I knew who the voice belonged to. And then something cool happened. My boss came to me the very next day and told me they actually did need me in the acute care. As an on call therapist. Would I be willing to work there when they needed a therapist? WHAT?!?! That's the job I've been wanting! Of course! There would be no guarantee in how many hours I would get each week, but I could start right away. Sign me up.

So that began a crazy journey over the past year. I moved in with my best friend in North Hollywood to be closer to church and my new community of friends.  I started working on call at Simi Valley and was set up by my boss to work on call at our sister hospital in Glendale. A few months later I got a third on call job at another local hospital only 15 minutes from my house. Every day is different. I schedule with the hospitals up to three months in advance to cover vacations, but some weeks I still never know what days I'll work or at which facility. I could be scheduled and called off if the patient census is low, or I could be called in that morning to come in for a few hours. It's unpredictable and varied. I'm actually at two acute care hospitals working with medically fragile adults and at one outpatient pediatric clinic acting as their primary evaluator and fill-in therapist. While it's unpredictable, between the three facilities I have always had enough work each month to pay my bills and the schedule has given me the flexibility to continue doing missions work both here in the Valley and overseas. 

This whole experience has taught me several important lessons. The first is that I should not put God  in a box. This is an obvious one, but I some times forget it. My constructed theology that I create based on prior experiences and the reality of the season I am in may clash. This is a faith journey and not a faith paint by numbers. I really believe God is calling us to listen to His voice daily and be obedient in the moment instead of trying to hold on to what He told us ten years ago. I also learned that I need to know what's in my heart because my desires actually matter to God. God wants the BEST for me and every good and perfect thing in life comes from HIM any way. When we have the desires of our hearts fulfilled, He actually gets the glory from it. The testimony of how awesome He is and how He is working in our lives is such an encouragement, not only in our own lives but to other people as well.  Finally, taking a leap of faith into the unknown is scary. There is always a risk of falling flat on your face. But some times taking that leap means flying into fun and adventure. I will chose the risk every time. #worthit

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Essential Recipes for a Healthy Lifestyle

It's finally here!! I stopped posting recipes even though they were really popular because I wanted to put them all into one place. After several months of work, the compilation of all of my recipes are all in one place!! This October I am traveling with the New Life Church of Gahanna, Ohio to Uganda, Africa. I decided for a fundraiser I would finally get my cookbook written. If you ever came on a short term trip to Los Anonos, Costa Rica, you were the beneficiary of many of these recipes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!! You can buy the cookbook here:



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Essential Oil Recipes

I LOVE using my dōTERRA essential oils. Not only have I stayed healthy while working at a pediatric clinic, but I have more energy to do what I want outside of work.
Here are some new recipes I wanted to pass along.
You can get these oils any time at:
Or if you want a personal wellness consultation via phone, email, or Skype,
feel free to shoot me a message at:

The King of the Oils

This is an amazing video describing the powerful benefits of Frankincense. The first 26 minutes describe the historical uses of the essential oil, the various types of Frankincense, and how it is harvested. Starting at minute 27, Dr. Hill describes the medicinal uses of the oil. This oil has powerful healing properties for cleaning the body, repairing cells throughout the body, and destroying cancer cells. It is worth the watch!

You can order these oils at any time at www.mydoterra.com/julieaherrmann

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Resurrection Power

Yesterday was not the day I wanted it to be. What  was supposed to be my first full day of rest, at home after ending my full time job, the day where Jesus and I drank smoothies by the pool and listened to David Crowder Band together, turned into a no-showed ministry appointment in Glendale and car shopping in the valley with a desperate friends who's car was totaled on Sunday.  While the morning worked itself out exactly how it was supposed to, it was not meeting my expectations. So I went over to my bestie's in North Hollywood. It was well past my lunch time and my energy tank was beyond empty.  There's this AMAZING pizzeria there called PizzaRev where we decided to go for lunch. The day was looking up.

We were walking back to the car in a plaza parking lot when I noticed a frazzled little old lady staring diffidently under the propped up hood of a very dead car. Sarah and I had been yapping as only bff's do, but upon my going unusually quiet, Sarah wondered what I was thinking about. I pointed out the lady and said I was thinking that we needed to go over and help her. As we got closer, we noticed her equally unnerved husband sitting in the driver's seat trying all sorts of buttons and gears with no success. The elderly couple reminded me SO much of my own grandparents I couldn't NOT stop to help. I asked her what was going on. She said the car just wouldn't start and she didn't know what to do. I told her we were missionaries and asked if we could pray and ask Jesus to start the engine. Her name was Rallie, and she got all excited, telling us she was a Sunday school teacher, but could prayer work for that? Sure! Of course!! We told her. We had seen it happen before. So we held hands, spoke a really quick 2 second prayer, and asked Jesus to use his resurrection power to make the car engine go. Rallie's husband, Bill, got back in the driver's seat, turned the key. VOILA!! It started purring like a kitten. Rallie's face lit up like rays of sunshine after a rain storm. "WOW!" she exclaimed, "God is SO good!! I had no idea He would do that! Do you have to have more than one person to pray like that or could I have done that by myself, too?" "Nope," we affirmed. "Anyone can pray like that at any time." We exchanged hugs and she asked if we would stay to make sure she safely got out of the parking lot, which she did.

Sarah and I made our way back to my car. I was blown away. God can move any where, any time, even when we think we're having a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day" (an exaggeration of my day, since it really wasn't bad, just unexpected) if we are just willing to focus on what's going on around us instead of on our own situation. It's also interesting that even though Rallie was a Sunday school teacher, she had a misperception of the power of prayer and what we could pray about. I have no doubt that she is the type who prays faithfully for every single member of her family and blesses every meal.  But she had no idea Jesus could instantly answer a prayer of desperation in a parking lot.

How many times in life do we all feel like we're stuck in a parking lot with a dead battery? How many stressful situations pop up every single day that we think we need to handle on our own or try to fix when we really have no idea what the heck is wrong or even how to go about in the fixing? It is a good reminder that Jesus meets us in every parking lot and he knows how to fix any situation. All we need to do is ask.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Zumba: Some one's gotta lead

I love Zumba. When I was in the middle of my big weight loss, I started doing Zumba at the local gym. Over the years, I have taken Zumba from all kinds of instructors. From the 60-year-old hippie who patiently instructed tentative dancers to just keep moving to the hoochie-cutter-yoga-body-dancer Brazilian model in California who flaunts as much as teaches. But regardless of teaching style, there is always a teacher. How else could you get 20 random women from all walks of life and ranges of stages of fitness to move to the rhythm of the heart and not run into each other? PS The following is pretty much how reality works:

Anyway, back to my thought. So the other night I was in a Zumba class at my local gym when said Brazilian-those-boobs-could-not-be-real-in-a-sports-bra instructor suddenly leapt off the stage and yelled for someone to take over, shouting something about too much café and not enough food. Stunned, as the thunderous pulse of a salsa blared out of the speakers, the whole class just started at each other, the swirling disco lights making even more confusion in the room. Take over? Who would take over? Some women started making up their own moves, others trying to copy but failing miserably. Other women just completely stopped moving and stared at the door, as if they couldn't move at all without a step-by-step. A few others looked as if they were trying to remember the routine, but after a minute or two just kept repeating the same 3 moves. It was not pretty.
And then it hit me. This is exactly how my life feels right now.  For me, the instructor represents a goal or focus in my life. There were the college years when the goal was a degree and the steps were classes, study groups, tests, and homework. There were the work years where the goal was learning my field, growing in my clinical skills, and learning how to live the life of a responsible adult. Next came the goal of living a mission-minded lifestyle, with steps of growing a community and a church, and discovering who I am and what I bring to the world. There was a brief water break before I moved out to LA where the goal became reintegrating into the North American dance. But I found I no longer knew the steps as well as I did before. They seemed foreign. I had changed. My muscles changed. My taste in music and rhythm and movement had changed. It was like the "goal" instructor of my life took a break and left me to figure it out for myself. And I think I have discovered I like not following the goals of others; I don't need to follow the steps of everyone else around me.
SOOOOOOOO, here's the big update. I have decided to put the 9-5 job on hold. Again.  (Although I am staying on-call at the hospital). And do what I've always known I should do: missions and ministry and a bunch of other dabblings. I am going back to Costa Rica for a few weeks in June. Not permanently, but for a much needed trip. I am going to stay in LA for now. It feels the most comfortable. I am going to write my long-awaited cook book. I will continue making and selling art. I would love to teach art and sewing and woman skills-type classes. And finally, I am educating the masses on natural health and nutrition, both through my 100 pound weight loss story and through the benefits of essential oils. I have discovered the health and wellness benefits of DoTerra essential oils and am THRILLED to share them with anyone who is willing to listen :)
So if you would like any of my art (featured below). Or if you would like to have me come host a class for you (you pick the topic! Art, sewing, essential oils, weight loss), let me know :) My woman skills are now available for rent.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wait, I thought we only had 5 senses....

We all know that we have 5 senses: taste, touch, smell, vision, and hearing. And some people have to claim a 6th sense, which is usually something ridiculous like knowing when something is about to happen or about the weather or if some one is a decent human being or not. That's really not a sense, that's more like discernment and wisdom. BUT I just learned something new at a recent therapy conference I went to.....

So I am working at a child development center where we see a ton of different, unique kids with a multitude of skills and abilities. One of the challenges we are seeing more kids dealing with is called sensory integration disorders. Basically, their bodies and brains get easily overloaded with all the sensory input that the world around them is constantly trying to hit them with. Have you ever been in a candle shop that started to make you nauseous from the over powering smell? Or been at a rock concert where the volume was a little too loud and you just wanted to close your ears? Tried to try tapioca pudding but just couldn't get over the frog-egg texture? Shopped in Walmart?  These are just teeny, tiny examples of what a child with a  sensory integration disorder deals with 24/7. In order to help therapists understand what it's like to be one of these kids, several of my co-workers taught a mini conference on it this fall. It was a blast. Basically we put fully grown, neurologically "typical" adults into sensory overload and then gave them various strategies to cope and regulate their brains and bodies. Ever wonder why you chew copious amounts of gum when you're trying to focus on that difficult task? Why listening to classical music takes you to that happy place? Why that lavender bubble bath is just so darn relaxing? It's a way of using your sensory system to bring yourself back to "normal".

Here's the kicker, though. We don't have 5 senses. We have SEVEN. Yup. There are two other sensory systems that are integral in being a human being. Number six is called proprioception. It's the one that tells your brain where your body is in space, what your limbs are doing and where they are at any given time as well as the amount of strength and force you need to move your muscles to do what you want to do. Know some one who is super klutzy and trips over invisible rocks on the sidewalk? They probably don't have the best sense of proprioception. They're always bumping into things and not too coordinated. The lucky sense number seven is related to the vestibular system, which contributes to balance and your sense of spatial orientation to gravity as well as movement and balance. This sense tells us which way is up and helps keep us on our feet. If you've ever been swept away in a ginormous wave in the ocean and found yourself swimming endlessly looking for air but you just can't seem to locate the surface, this sense has just been messed with.

In the therapeutic world, this information helps us work with children by focusing on the systems that may be interfering with learning. In the spiritual world, this has huge implications. The Bible tells use that we are made up of three parts: the body, soul, and spirit. Our bodies are obvious, that's our physical, living, breathing, organic matter. Our souls are our thoughts and emotions. Our spirits are what separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom and connect us to the Kingdom through the Holy Spirit. (That is a basic explanation, maybe one day I'll write a whole blog on that, but for now if you have questions let me know). How else are we supposed to wear the armor mentioned in Ephesians? Anyway, long story short, not only do our physical bodies have 7 senses in the natural, but we also have 7 senses in our spiritual bodies. Think about it. Jesus uses this language all the time. Not only was he constantly "seeing" what the Father was doing, but he was telling us to as well. He was perpetually telling the Pharisees that whoever had eyes should see and ears should hear. He wasn't suggesting they were all blind mutes. The other senses are referenced throughout the Bible, too. Psalm 38 says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." And we are to eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus.  There are plenty of references to the typical 5 senses. But what if we had all 7 senses in the spirit as well? A proprioception to know where we are in relation to the rest of the Body, where our spiritual "muscles" are, and how they're flexed. A vestibular system that tells us where we are in relation to the Holy Spirit (who is our center), our movement in the spirit, which direction we need to go, and whether or not we are in balance. Ponder it for a while. Makes sense.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Hey, everyone!! I am settling into life in California and am so glad the Tupperware is all unpacked!! Woot woot!! As most of you know who follow my blog or facebook, I have settled in and am starting to make new friends and community out here. When I moved in to Simi Valley, I found a Vineyard church plant that meets not too far from where I live. The church is an amazing group of people that already feel like family. So you can imagine how thrilled I am that they wanted to go on a missions trip back to Costa Rica with me in March!!  We're packing out bags and getting our hearts ready for working in Los Anonos!! I am going to be raising funds for this trip. I have set up a special website for fundraising. Please check out the link below (click on the picture or the link directly below it) if you're interested in continuing your support of my trip!! If you have any questions, feel free to email, call, or facebook!!! THANKS!!!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Love, Love, Love

Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is love. Ok, I always think about love. But I've been thinking about how often we actually state our love.   In English we tend to overuse the same word regardless of what is the object of our affection. I love my kitten, my cappuccino and world peace, my mom, that painting over there and my spouse, too.  And yet while we flippantly say "That was the best movie I've ever seen! I LOVED it!!", we typically reserve saying "I love you" directly to others in only the deepest of most intimate types of relationships: Fathers to sons, nieces to beloved aunts, committed boyfriends to girlfriends after many serious DTR's. In our society there is a stigma and a whole set of unwritten rules of behavior for what accompanies those three words. Which makes it really difficult and confusing when we talk about wanting to love our neighbor and our enemy while maintaining health boundaries. I mean in our culture it can be really hard to say that to somebody without it getting really awkward really fast. A woman can say to another woman "Luv u!" and society says they are just good friends. If that same woman says it to a man survey says they better be in a relationship. It has a stigma that are attached to it. So instead of saying it, we're afraid of it and keep it locked away for special occasions.

Saying I love you in a language that has multiple verbs is so much easier than in English. In Greek, for instance, there are 4 different types of love. It' so much easier to clarify your intentions when you say "I philia you" (which is the brotherly type) versus "I eros you" (which means you're horny for them). I feel-e-yah there, too, buddy. If you haven't heard a sermon on the 4 Greek words for love, you should go to church more often (just teasing!!). You can look them up online to see what they are.

Just look at the passage in John 21 when Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. In English he asks Peter the same question 3 times. When I lived in Costa Rica and read this passage for the first time, I realized that in Spanish there is a verb change. And I later found out it's the same in the Greek. The first two times, Jesus asks Peter if he AGAPE loves him, and Peter responds he PHILIA loves him. So the third time Jesus lowers his love standard to Peter's level and asks him is he PHILIA loves him. This is when Peter gets offended. Hasn't he already been saying that? But no, Peter was offering Jesus a lower kind of love than Jesus was looking for. This point was overlooked in sermons I heard for YEARS. There was a distinction in the kind of love Jesus was looking for that one word could not capture.
What I've been thinking about on our word "love" mostly relates back to another post I recently wrote on the power of our words. How powerful is it to hear someone say they love you. And how much more powerful is it for you to say it back? It is a challenge for us where our word is nebulous and can mean anything from hopeless infatuation, intense like, preference, or in favor of. Regardless, we have been called to love. Love God. Love ourselves. Love our neighbors. Love our enemies. We should stop worrying about what others will think and start saying how much we care. And I will start. I love you. I love you a lot. If you need to hear it and not just see it, give me a call. I will tell you. Because it's true. I love you. And you are my favorite.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The landfill

I think this is such a perfect picture for our lives in Christ. He takes the trash from the landfill in our hearts and turns it into a beautiful instrument that we can use for praise and worship. We have a choice to join in to the beautiful thing God is creating in our lives in the midst of sorrow, poverty, and pain.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Expression 58 | School of Ministry

                                                                                                                                                                    So a few posts back I mentioned that I felt called to LA to be a new kind of missionary. I have been going to a church just outside of downtown LA called Expression 58 since I moved here. It's a church plant out of the Bethel Church (in Redding, CA) and the International House of Prayer (IHOP/Kansas City). It also has some loose connections to the Vineyard church (mostly because of it's charismatic nature, in my eyes). In September a school of ministry was launched from the church. I was asked to join in the school as a leader during the small group breakout sessions which happen every Thursday night for the next 8 months. This is just an update for my missions followers on what I'm doing as part of my new mission of discipleship here in LA. If it's too much written info, just watch the video ;) The blurb on the school is taken directly from their website. If you're interested in attending, check out expression58.org/schoolofministry.

Expression58 established the School of Ministry to be a supernatural training center to instruct, activate and empower a generation of world changers to pursue and captivate their God-given spheres of influence. The DNA convergence of Love, Creativity and Justice are core pillars of our curriculum. E58 believes in the marriage of the arts & entertainment with social justice initiatives that will transform culture. 

Expression58 is dedicated to the belief that God is in a good mood, fully engaging and equipping His followers with tools to demonstrate the goodness of His nature. E58 uses the life of Jesus as a model for ministry:
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I’ve done and even greater works, because I’m going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
Expression 58 School of Ministry focuses on assimilating the core values of the Kingdom into the heart of the Believer and establishing God’s Royal identity in the mind of each student. Students will also learn leadership principles to gain an understanding on how to lead people and establish the Kingdom in every realm of society. You are invited on an adventure of discovering your role in stewarding this current “Kingdom Renaissance” from merely echoing a message to becoming a message and re-presenting Christ to this generation.

Our words have power

I've heard about studies like this. There was once one done by a scientist where he took a batch of white rice and split it into two containers. Over one container he spoke only words of love and affirmation. Over the other container he spoke hateful, spiteful words. Within even a few days the difference was noticeable. The rice over which he spoke love was still as white and clean as the day it was put in the container, but the rice that had hateful words spoken over it was molding and had black spots on it. To check it out, google some combination of experiment with rice and words. A ton of people have copied it and it seems to hold pretty true. Or try it yourself.

This is not a new concept. It's a very old one, actually. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit." This experiment is just the proof of it.

So here's what I was thinking. How often do I speak negatively over myself? I hate my thighs. I wish I wasn't so giraffe-like tall. I wish I had an amazing voice. How much is my words actually impacting how I am? OK, so I can't change my height by speaking it over myself, but I could change how I stand in my height, or how I view myself because of my height. How often do I speak negatively over my situation? I'm tired of being single. I hate living alone. LA traffic sucks. What if I started speaking out positively over myself and the world around me? Would it have the same effect as on the rice? Would the world actually be less moldy? I'm gonna give it a try. Here's your challenge, all you readers out there, will you try it too? Pick one feature that you have never liked about yourself. Look at it either in the mirror or on your body and every day for a whole week speak only loving, encouraging words about it. I dare you. See what happens. Pick a situation in your life that has you down. Speak  only positive message about it. Out loud. Note the change. Let me know how it goes!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Love Languages

A few months ago when I was at the Vineyard Church National Conference, I attended a worship workshop lead by Dan Wilt. He is a phenomenal musician and worship leader. To start off the session, he had us campfire style the room, i.e., get in a big round circle. There were about 150-200 worship leaders in the room from all over the country. It was a bit awkward with all the chairs set up for a lecture, but we made it work. Then Dan stood in the middle and lead us in a very old, very simple worship song. The kind of song that EVERYBODY knows, with really simple words and a basic melody. And then it happened. Everyone started singing in harmony. Everyone started singing in unity. And Everyone could feel a shift in the atmosphere. Like Heaven was not only listening but joining in. It was the kind of moment where all the little hairs on the back of your head stand on end and there's a vibrant electricity in the room that makes you want to cry and pause time so that it lasts forever. 

It was in that moment that I heard the Lord speak. Do you know what the love languages are? I felt him nudge. Yes. Of course. As most of you have probably heard of them, there are 5 "love languages", or ways that we receive and give love. Quality time, acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation, and physical touch. while we as humans typically like to give and receive love through 1 or 2 of the 5 love languages, God "speaks" all 5 languages all the time. When we as true worshipers gather to worship in spirit and in truth, that type of worship actually represents all 5 languages at once. We give Him the words of affirmation He deserves through the lyrics we chose to sing. They tell of his attributes and remind him of what he's done for us. We are spending the best quality time with Him. We set aside all other tasks and chores to just gather together and focus our hearts and our minds on him. We are having the act of service of the sacrifice of praise. We give Him the gift of ourselves, completely and totally, our minds, bodies, souls, and spirits. And by its very nature, worship at its roots means to kiss, so our worship itself acts to physically touch God in the most intimate of ways.

So the next time you're in worship at church and you feel your mind start to wander about the list of things to do later, just remember that what you're doing is speaking directly to all of God's love languages. 

Divine Appointments

Yesterday I had the most delightful time dress shopping with one of my best friends in the world, Sarah. We were on the hunt for the perfect gown for the Justice Ball that we'll be going to on Tuesday. While usually I love to leisurely peruse the racks and try on everything in sight, we only had an hour and a half due to some other commitments later that afternoon. So we were on a mission: I've never seen two girls cross the mall so far (and in heels!). Dresses flying, racks tumbling over in the quest, baby carriages pushed out of the way, Cinnabons flying through the air as we dashed about!! (Ok, that's a major exaggeration, but it makes for good story telling). We finally found the most stunning gown in the world!! (At the opposite end of the mall from where we parked, of course). And we were late. We flew back through the department stores only to realize the escalator down to the parking garage was broken. Where are the stairs? Those are never convenient in the mall. It's like they're afraid you won't see their merchandise if you're not slowly moving through the middle of the store at a pace that makes you look around at all the wonders that beckon to find a new home. Fine, the elevator will do just fine and it's right behind the escaltors.

We get on only to have it go, that's right, up instead of down. Sheesh. Can't the elves hoisting this tin can up and down see that we're running later? Who pushed the up button?? We go up. And about a dozen people get on, including 2 elderly women speaking what sounded like Russian hurriedly try to shove on an ancient woman with a walker into the cramped elevator. As the doors shut leaving us very little wiggle room, I find myself toe to toe with the petite babushka. And the elevator decides to go up again. I look down, waaaaaay down, into her scarf-framed, angelic face and she looks us at me and she does something unexpected in a crowded elevator. She grabs my hand. She grabs my hand in her weathered, frail hand and, with eyes full of great-grandmotherly twinkle,  starts speaking, knowing  that I will probably have no idea what she's saying. But what was lacking in intelligible words was abundantly clear in feeling and tone. It was as if she was blessing me. So I did the only sensible thing one can do in a crammed elevator with no place to go and no where to be. I placed my hand on top of the one holding my other one and started blessing her back, knowing full well she would probably have no idea what I was saying. Knowing that what I wouldn't be able to communicate in intelligible word would be felt through the eyes and tone of love.

When the elevator doors opened, we were not only in a different place, but so was I. I was no longer hurried. Something changed when she grabbed my hand. It reminded me that no matter how busy we get, we should never be too busy to stop and love the one in front of us. Even if it is only for the three minute ride in a crammed elevator.

Who is right in front of you today? Who will you love well in the little moments?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Birthdays, dreams, and truth.

Friday night I had a dream about snakes. Six snakes, to be exact. In a sewer where I was searching for diamonds. Actually, I only saw one snake as it came down the drain pipe, but I knew there were a total of six in the murky, swampy water that pooled at the bottom of the cave where I was mining. It was one of those dreams where you wake up and you aren't afraid, but you are curious. It was one of those dreams that leaves you pondering for days about the meaning.

Tonight is Monday. Well, only for a few more minutes. Tonight is also one of my dearest friend, Sarah's, birthday. So in true LA style, several of us got on our hottest dresses, our highest heels, and hit the town to celebrate our lovely Princess!! We went to this amazing cocktail lounge on the 35th floor that has the most spectacular view, because it is constantly changing. The entire lounge actually slowly, almost not perceptively rotates, so if you stay there long enough you get a 365 degree view of downtown LA. AMAZING!!!
A partial view of the lounge

While we were there, one of the girls brought up a dream that she had a recently. We love sharing and figuring out what our dreams mean together. It's fascinating what goes on in our minds in the night. So she shared her dream and another friend told her what she thought it meant. Then I shared my dream about the snakes. Lies. Snake in dreams usually represent lies. Lies while searching for truth that shine like diamonds in the dark places. Yup. Sounds about right.

Then Sarah asked us to each share a single word that summed up what we were hoping this next season in our lives would bring. We each went around and shared. Rest. Transformation. Family.  And so forth. We poured out our hearts about how we were looking forward in hope to what we felt was missing in our lives. Then it hit me smack in the face. There were six of us. Six lovely women ready to break forth into the next season of their lives but feeling stuck. And in our own ways believing little lies from the enemy about our destinies and keeping us from fully hoping in the promises that we knew should be ours. So we all agreed and said enough is enough to the lies!

So what do you hope for in this next season of your life? Healing? Victory? A pay increase? A job that you actually like? Love? Peace and quiet? What lie are you believing that is causing friction with hope? That you're not worthy to be healed? That it's your cross to bear? That you're a loser? That you don't deserve any better? That's not the truth. So stop agreeing with it. It's time to walk into your destiny in Christ!!
  We were missing one in this photo op....another picture of all of us to follow....

Monday, September 2, 2013

Unlikely Mission Field

Yesterday was monumental. I didn't even realize it until about half way through the day. I went out to lunch after church with some new friends and we were sitting outside of a little restaurant talking natural health and essential oils when some one mentioned it was official September. Wow. September 1. Monumental. That marked to the date 6 months since I moved from Grand Rapids to California and one year to the day that I moved home from Costa Rica. Coincidence? I think not, yet this is not at ALL where I expected to be a year ago. In looking back through my prayer journal, my notes from my time in the "cave" in Michigan, and my blog, I honestly never thought I would actually be living just outside of LA.

Jessie and I one year ago to the day, Sept. 1, 2012. The passing of the torch.

Six months ago to the day, landing in California

When I moved back stateside, it was out of obedience to what I felt God was telling me. Rodney and Cindy had asked me to consider staying a third year, and I would have been happy to do so. But I had absolutely no peace about it. I knew in my heart it was time to move home, but to what I had no idea. So I made the faith step and moved back to Michigan. As most of you know, it was a difficult transition, but God gave me so much grace and favor in that season. I went through severe reverse culture shock. I am so thankful for the friends that surrounded me and helped me through. (Thanks, Tany for putting me to work cleaning bathrooms, Lynelle for the frequent coffee dates, and Sue Golder for the family dinners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You all have no idea how essential those moments were!!!).

During my processing time, I wrote out a list of the 4 directions I was open to trying. Number one was obviously staying in Grand Rapids, finding a job, and settling back into the life I had been living pre-Rica. This was the option I really, really, really wanted. Number two was moving to an adjoining mid-western state where I had a network of friends or family, finding a job, and settling back into life as I knew it. Number three was literally selling everything I owned and moving back on the mission field to Costa Rica. All in. No looking back. For life. I told God if He didn't give me work by Christmas that was the option I was going with by default. Number four, which was actually just an addendum tacked on the bottom to fill out the rest of the paper literally said, "Move to LA with Sarah to do ministry and go all crazy." Seriously? I still can't believe I actually wrote that, but it's there in black and white. Must have been the altitude change. Note to self, in the future when writing things out to put before the Lord, include even crazier things like, "Have rich benefactor offer to buy me a mansion to house orphans", "Allow a dealership to lend me a new sports car every month to advertise their company", and "Win the lotto, spend the money on world missions trips." Seriously. I need to start dreaming bigger with God. Still,the point was in the core of my being, I was ready to go where ever God sent me.

So I guess we all know which option was God's option. I wondered what the purpose was for me moving out here. LA is so different from Grand Rapids. Most people sojourn here hoping to realize a dream. They are desperate to make it in "The Industry". Acting, fashion, modeling, film making.  They struggle and starve to make it, to find the right connections, and break into the false reality where fame and fortune are the goals of life. And most leave shattered in less than a year after their funds run out. I am a pediatric speech therapist. I work at a child development center and spend most of my waking work hours hanging out in the ball pit with two-year-olds. What the heck am I doing here?

When I moved out here, I felt like God was bringing me into a Jeremiah 29 season. Not just verse 11, though. We get too caught up in just that verse. Have you ever read verses 1-10?  Basically God's people were taken from the promised land and exiled to Babylon, the most pagan nation, like, ever. And God told them to stay there, to build houses, set up shop, have parties, eat food, get married and have babies. To pray for the land they were inhabiting, because if it prospered, they would prosper. Because God knew the plans He had for his people. To prosper them, to give them a hope and a future. And if they prayed to God, he would hear them and listen and answer them. I totally commiserate with the Israelites. Like God was taking me from my home land and planting me squat in the middle of Babylon. Did you know that's actually what they call a major section of Hollywood? Coincidence? What do you think. I feel like God wanted the Isrealites to be a model of what Godly living looked like in the middle of the pagan nation. Like missionaries sent to model and demonstrate family, community, and upright living in a foreign country with foreign practices. Did you know that Daniel (like the whole book of Daniel) was written during this season in history? Daniel was one of those exiles taken to Babylon during the Jeremiah 29 season. He was meant to be a missional model in the royal palace of not bending to cultural norms and values. He stood out, was different, was persecuted for his faith, but ultimately had divine favor on his life and is a hero of the faith for ALL ETERNITY.

So basically what I'm saying is I am still a missionary. Instead of going to the countries of the world, the Lord has brought them to me, all in one place in one of the biggest melting pots of the globe. And it is one big mission field!! There are so many people here who are hungry for the things of God. I have also become highly involved in a church out here in Glendale called Expression 58 (based off of Isaiah 58). Starting next week I am going to be helping as a revival group leader in their new school of ministry. Check out their website at http://expression58.org/ to learn more about what they're about. And what I'm going to ask for is your continued prayer support. I moved back into the country, but I haven't left the mission field. I need all of your prayer cover as I continue to model community, family, and healthy living in a part of the country whose reputation precedes it. Thank you for all your support and love!!!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

THE Essential Lemon Cornmeal Cookie

I love baking. Period. There really needs to be not other introduction. I started experimenting with gluten-free cakes and cookies to take to church. There is always a table set up afterwards for coffee hour and one day it was announced that there were treats each week after service. One of my friends, who is on a strict diet for severe health reasons, snarked under her breath that she would have to wait for the day they offered gluten-free and sugar-free in the schmear. Darn it, everyone should be able to eat at our table, especially at church!! So, here began my experimentation. Here is my following creation, which I feel is the best one yet!!

Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Lemon Cornmeal Cookies!!!!  AKA Pure Awesomeness

1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Baking Flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
scant 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup Truvia
1 tsp Agave nectar
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1 egg
5-6 drops DoTerra Lemon essential oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line making sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Combine the first 5 ingredients and wisk together with a wire wisk.  Combine sugar and butter and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy (yes, it gets fluffy), scraping the sides of the bowl as you go along, approx. 5 minutes. Or whenever you get tired of standing there mixing sugar and butter. Add the egg to the sugar mixture and beat well, scraping to make sure you beat it all. Sing the Michael Jackson song "Beat It" to pass the time. Great song. Add in the lemon oil and continue beating. Add the flour mixture at this point and beat just until blended. Drop in cookie sized balls onto the parchment paper, using appropriate spacing between cookies so they don't bicker in the oven. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12 minutes. When you start to smell the lemon they're almost done!!! YUM!!!