Monday, June 27, 2016

Motown Madness: Live on Purpose

Lenny and Larry's Baked Nutrition

This is another thing that I was extra excited for because it was my last time. But it wasn't exciting that I would never get to do it again, but excited that we were ready to make the most of it. I went to my first Motown Madness in 8th grade, and have been to most of them, at least for one night, the past few years. First we stayed at Abby Hick's house, then Bella Mills's, then Cassie Meek's, last year at Patty's, and this year she hosted us seniors one last time. 
The first night of Motown is always the main food event, even though it's around 10:00 before we get started. After the first service, the churches break off and each group goes to their host home for a month-awaited-and-planned-out smorgous board. Our idea was grilled chicken salad, tons of fruit, green beans, sweet potatoes, corn, salsas, and some other trimmings. 

Friday night, session one message highlights:
Speaker:  John Nix - fun fact:  He is the pastor at Toby Mac's camps and Camp Electric, which happens to be in Nashville, TN.
Worship band:  The Neverclaim

Church isn't a museum to put on a display but a hospital for broken sinners.
No matter how good your acting skills, it does not impress God.
God's grace and mercy is not because we are deserving but because He is loving.
Passage:  Acts 17-Paul discussing Christ's suffering and dying with the men in the synagogue-Why?  Because we sin.  What's sin-"Not only bad things committed but also good things ommitted" (James 4:17 "If anyone then knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.")  And sin is bad not only becuase of what we do, but also who we do it to; all sins hurt God.
Songs that came to my mind relating to this:  "Scandal of grace, You died in my place so my soul will live" and
"What can wash away my sins?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus"
Sin is sin, and sin deserves death, but we can find redempion in Christ, and Him alone."You were dead in your transgressions and sins...but becuase of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ--it is by grace you have been saved."  Ephesians 2:1, 4-5

Saturday morning is in a tie with the awaiting and planning for great meals. Of course Motown Madness is about growing in the Lord with people from your community, but next it is also about the food. Honestly. Just ask anyone who has been involved. It's like a tradition. 
I had been in one of those energy ruts where it seems like nothing I do can recharge me. I was so exhausted. In that case, I was really looking forward to this weekend of rest and recharging for my body and spirit!
Patty was ready to fix me right up with some espresso. And some advocate spark for the afternoon. I was dead, but the artificial energy got me through!

Pancakes and pajamas are the perfect picture of comfort. I was dubbed pancake chef.
Patty was hard at work, too, up much earlier than we, making sausage, bacon, eggs, biscuits, gravy, and getting out the fruit and drinks. And her kitchen decorations are punny.
Breakfast is one of he best times to fellowship!
Acts 2:42, 46-47 The Fellowship of Believers  "They devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor.."


My pancake of choice was apple cinnamon with pumpkin spice chips, and of course fresh fruit. The other pancakes some had were chocolate chip or blueberry banana-a variety, just like our personalities and backgrounds.

Session 2, Saturday morning
Passage:  More of Acts 17 where they are having more of an understanding talk of the scriptures with the Bereans
Church is not an organization but an organism.  (We need each other working the way we should so that church can function!)
God's word is also living; as we read it, it also reads us.  ("For the Word of God is living and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."  Hebrews 4:12)
Christ is not an addition to our lives, but He is our lives.  ("For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."  Philippians 1:21)
Catching a theme for this service?  There is more to living than just life.  Life is found in following Christ.
Thanks to David Noe, one of our college-age leaders here in Morristown, Motown Madness got a Snapchat filter!  We felt special for a couple days.
It's also always an adventure to find something to do during Saturday afternoon's free time after the morning service. On weekends like this where the weather is nice, parks are packed and recreational sports are taken to the next level. Sometimes people go bowling, make crafts, visit nursing homes, go to Starbucks, have a scavenger hunt, go to the mall, etc, but this year we did it big.
 We went out of state. 
Yep. Right after that morning service we packed up the coolers and a couple ads and drove to North Carolina to picnic at Max Patch.
I had never been here before, but now it's on my list of places to go back!  Not too far into the smoky mountains is this little road with stops along the way to view nature, park, camp, picnic, whatever, and we found us a nice little spot and set up camp alongside the river!
We couldn't miss this opportunity to get some great pictures of our senior squad either.
We took literally all the leftovers we had and spread out a buffet for our picnic lunch. Fresh food, fresh air, fantastic fellowship=best picnic.

This is my gospel gang, and we're here to proclaim The Name.  #GospelGang #NoShame

"I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you.  I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles, my joy knows no bounds."  2 Corinthians 7:4
When I can't express my feelings, God knows.
After eating we hit the road, but still not headed home!  There is more to see of Max Patch than this!  Up and up and round and round, you finally get to an opening at this here sign. Now for the hike. It's not that long, but it sure is steep!  But like all difficult things in life, the view from the top is worth it.
Though it was cloudy, it was still beautiful. It even snowed on us a little bit!  You could see forever from up there. It was amazing to see Gods work in a weekend full of Him to begin with.

Morgan, Roxanna, me, Julia, and Patty with the background views
Sunday school squad for life. 
Also thanks to Jack Tyler for letting me borrow his hoodie and blanket; without it, I would've died. My feet were numb and I was shivering even with all that.


I peeked in the perfect photobomb
This time next year, we will be all spread out at our respective colleges, but we've already been thinking about plans of how to meet up at times. Through high school, I have come to know and appreciate these girls so much. We are so different, but that's how we love each other and are able to keep each other accountable and pray for each other for any and everything.
And what are we to do with all that we have learned through life? --- "Go into all the world and make disciples..."  Matthew 28:19
"You will recieve power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jersalem [Morristown], Judea and Samaria [TN and America], and to the ends of the earth."  Acts 1:8
Session 3, Saturday night
It's not worship, preaching, then leave church into the rest of life; it's all worship.
We must be careful to worship the Creator, not creation.  ("They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised."  Romans 1:25)
You know how we get so pumped sometimes at the end of something that we chant for an encore?  (concerts, my team joking at speed workouts, "one more! one more!", etc)  Well, what if we were so pumped when we were reading the Bible that we chanted "One more verse!"  That's what John's kids started doing.  Funny, but what a great thought!
***One of those crazy things that God works out also happened during this message!  Something John said reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 and then in the prayer that was a few minutes later, he reference the same scripture.  God never ceases to amaze me.
Another thing to think on:  we like to make certain things known about us, our association with certain brands or people or activities.  What brand do you make the most known?  When people see you, what do they think of?  (Questioning myself here, as well.)

  Saturday night is the last session, and after a funny chain of events including a road being closed and a detour in the opposite direction, we barely made it back in time!  But we did, and that's what counts. We had a blast!
The Starnes family also has two dogs, Jake and Sam, and as you can see, they are quite friendly.  Good thing I'm used to it from my own pets at home.  The banana pajamas were just too much, though!

To end, I'll share one last thought that is really challenging, even to those who may seem to have it all together.
 We can have all the right answeres without being right with God.
Yep.  Like the first message, putting on a display in the museum.
Life can look all prim and proper on the outside, like you love life and serving and are honestly living for the Lord.  Sometimes it's even easy to fool people, even fool ourselves.  (Ever heard the saying, "fake it til ya feel it"?)  We can read the Bible, go to church, fellowship with other believers, know just the right things to say and ways to act, but if our heart isn't right, God sees right through all that even when others don't.
It doesn't matter if we look like we're on track with God if we aren't on the inside.  God knows.  God is the One who saves.  If your heart is hard or you're set on your own ways of living, don't fool yourself or others.
Don't just live the religion, be real-real love, real life.
Live on purpose.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Unique Holidays: April



I can't celebrate them all, and some I took of my list becuase they were just completely irrelevant, but here is what I did throughout the month of April!


April 1st

April 2nd

  • National Ferret Day
  • National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day
  • When I was little, it was peanut butter or it was jelly, never together, but now I have decided that it is a great taste!  I even made a pancake topped with PB & J one day.
  • National Reconciliation Day
  • All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting the world's sins against them.  And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ's behalf:  Be reconciled to God."  2 Corinthians 5:18-20
  • "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death fo His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!  Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation."  Romans 5:10-11
  • "Through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross."  Colossians 1:20
  • National Love Our Children Day – First Saturday In April
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."  Ephesians 6:4

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him."  Proverbs 13:24

"The Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son."  Hebrews 12:6

April 3rd

April 4th

·         April 5th

·         National Caramel Day

One of the best flavors ever!  Caramel! 
Here I made caramel and chocolate sprinkle pancakes
Two of the many, many caramel ice creams I love.  But only so many can fit in the freezer at one time.

·         National Deep Dish Pizza Day

Whenever it's a special occasion, this is what mom wants.  Deep Dish Little Caesar's.
·         National Go For Broke Day


·         National Raisin and Spice Bar Day

Two of the best kind of bars like this that I've had!  Clif kidz iced oatmeal cookie and Meta Health spiced oatmeal raisin

·         National Read a Road Map Day

·         April 6th

·         National Caramel Popcorn Day
I am hooked on flavored popcorn lately!  I've found so many flavors and just keep buying them...caramel is one of the original, though. I got this kind at Target.


·         National Sorry Charlie Day

·         National Student-Athlete Day

This has been such an exciting year as we have had so many students decide to continue their sports into college!  This was from Katlyn's signing to Milligan.  I will brag on my best friend.  Full ride academic and athletic to run cross country and track.

·         National Walking Day – First Wednesday in April

Our fun activity from Abide girls retreat this year was a walk and a game at Seven Islands bird sanctuary!  It was great to be on some trails again, but this time slower and with different people. I really enjoyed taking in nature with my youth group girls!
This weekend was a great time to get to know some of the younger ones a bit better!  I can't believe how much bigger and older they seem now!

·         April 7th

·         National Coffee Cake Day

I haven't had coffee cake lately, but I've had coffee, and I've had cake, so that counts, right?

·         National No Housework Day

 Feeling tired on this day?  Don't want to clean.  Don't.  You have an excuse.

·         April 8th

This is a description of my childhood. I have always been an animal-lover. The zoo was one of my favorite summer outings, and I dreamed of being a zoologist. Those career plans have changed, but I still love the wild animals. This is a picture of a drawing I made for my Grandmother, as she was the one who took me on my favorite summer excursions, including the zoo. 

·         April 10th

·         National Cinnamon Crescent Day

"As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."  Acts 4:20
Obviously I love to write. That's why I have this blog and billions of journals stacked up in my room. It's just a great way to express yourself and reflect on all the blessings that God has given us. Even if it's just occasionally, I encourage you to put some things down to paper to help get it engrained in your mind.
·         National Farm Animals Day

Farm animals are my favorite!  They're just so cute and sweet!  And they tend to taste good. My favorite farm animal is obviously goats, but I also think cows, baby ducks and chicks, piglets, as more are also precious. (That was one of my school folders. Didn't match a thing except for my personality.)
·         National Siblings Day

·          Hah!  I have none!  I used to always pray for one, but now I know that God not wanting any more children in this family is totally for the best. I love our family the way it is. 
I consider my teammates and church family to be my siblings. 
"What love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God; and that we are!"  1 John 3:1

"As it is, there are many parts, but one body."  1 Corinthians 12:20

"Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters."  Hebrews 13:1

·         April 11th

·         National Pet Day

Mom loves the pets more than she loves me I think. They don't talk. Ignore the look on her face; that was aimed at me taking her picture, not the cat and dog!
I don't typically want to see movies, but this one looks so cute and funny!  My family is always watching animal videos, thanks to Dad, so a whole funny movie would be perfect for us. 

·         April 12th

·         National Library Workers Day – Tuesday of National Library Week

·         April 13th

·         National Peach Cobbler Day
Pulled his one out of my creative bank!  Homemade peach cobbler using a few random things at home: nectarines (all the peaches at the store were moldy), peach yogurt, vanilla frozen yogurt, cool whip, granola, chopped dates, etc. 

·         National Scrabble Day

·         April 14th

·         National Dolphin Day
·         April 16th

·         National Eggs Benedict Day

 Too bad I don't work. But I do "work" on things here at home in my pajamas all the time!
·         April 17th

·         National Haiku Poetry Day

·          I wanted to write
But I totally forgot
Oh, look, a haiku!
(See what I did there, pulled that one out of thin air just now)

·         April 18th

·         National Animal Crackers Day
I was so excited to find these new "animal crackers" when my friend Maggie brought some to lunch!  How cute are these Annie's Bunny Graham's?  I chose the flavor based on the packaging, and that turned out to be the best deal, too, because it included, honey, chocolate, and chocolate chip, so I could use them with anything!

·         National Columnists’ Day
Maybe I'll be one of these one day?
No comment.
·         April 19th

·         National Amaretto Day
No I don't drink anything alcoholic, but sometimes the flavor makes things quite tasty!  One of my flavors of pb lean featured that with chocolate hazelnut. Marble slab amaretto ice cream is also top notch.
·         National Garlic Day
My love for flavor is broad and celebrated daily. 

·         National Hanging Out Day
Sometimes you just need to hang out with a bunch of people. Post run TCBY party!and abide weekend free time!  Fun, relaxing, all with wonderful people.

·         April 20th

·         National Lima Bean Respect Day
You bet I respect the Lima beans.
·         National Look Alike Day
Who do you think I look like?
Many say my dad, many say my mom. 
Mrs. Bowen says Shalane Flanagan. 
What's your opinion?

Life is already crazy enough as it is so I don't need the upside down cake. Just give me (and mom) some pineapple. It's addicting.      

·         April 21st

Got creative with this one, too. The Feed had a great deal going on some of the Clif products, so I stocked up on a new kind, Kit's. These cashew ones were great!  Even better in pieces covered in dark chocolate, chilled. 

·         National Kindergarten Day
The good ole days when we finger painted, had snacks, parties, colored, and took naps, and played on the playground. Now they have to take standardized tests and hate their lives and go home in tears. My heart aches for these kids. 

·         National High Five Day – Third Thursday in April
Show someone that you think they've done a great job!  This doesn't even require words! 

·         April 22nd

·         National Earth Day
"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it."  Psalm 24:1
(Picture from enjoying some nature at Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge and Birding Park in Kodak, TN)

·         National Jelly Bean Day
I don't like candy, but I have friends who are obsessed, so I buy jelly beans and then give them to them.

·         April 23rd

·         National Picnic Day
Motown madness was the best picnic day even if it was cold!  I could not have asked for a better day with this group. We drove out to Max Patch during Saturday's free time and took literally all the leftovers front the night before and had a wonderful time eating, fellow shipping, and taking some senior girls group pictures. Thanks Patty, for hosting and driving us around one more weekend!

·         National Take a Chance Day
Some motivational quotes here:
"You can't steal second with your foot on first." -Pat Summitt
"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." -Various Christian leaders
"God loves us just the way we are, but refuses to leave us that way."
·         April 25th

·         National Zucchini Bread Day

This is a throwback to a homemade loaf I made a couple summers ago with zucchini fresh from my neighbor's garden. They don't have any plants anymore, so this is in honor of all the veggies they have given me before!  (I also used Gail's recipe as a guide for mine)

·         April 26th

·         National Kids and Pets Day
Pets are such a gift from God. They're not just for children, but for adults, too. Their innocent spirits, company, and silliness bring out the child in everyone. These two have been around most of my life now, and we are both getting so much older. But what great memories and cute pictures of good times we have had!  
Sophie, Frisco, and Kenzie, the Jones children

·         National Pretzel Day
·         April 27th

·         National Prime Rib Day
Not something my family typically fixes, but we get it occasionally at dinners we get invited to (mother's day at Regency with Granannie, sports or academic honors banquets, etc)

·         National Tell a Story Day

Do I need a day for this?  
Every day is an opportunity to share your story, no matter what it is. God has a special story written out for each of us, and He wants us to share what we have learned along the way.  
"He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'"  Mark 16:15 
·         April 28th

·         National Blueberry Pie Day
I've never actually had this, but I want to...blueberries are just wonderful, so warm them up with something like graham cracker and top with something cold and sweet?  Good idea. 

I know it that I'm not a poet, but someone out there is.
·         April 29th

·         National Arbor Day – Last Friday in April

Trees!  Nature!  Air!
Metaphors from the Bible!

·         April 30th

Sophie was adopted from the Morristown animal shelter for my moms birthday several years ago.
·         National Bugs Bunny Day
When I was little, my dad used to love to draw Bugs Bunny sketches for me. He didn't think anything about it, but I am impressed with his ability.
·         National Honesty Day
"Kings take pleasure in honest lips, they value the one who speaks what is right." Proverbs 16:13

"An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips."  Proverbs 24:26

·         National Oatmeal Cookie Day
Homemade wins again!  I got this recipe from a Christmas magazine (pictured above, but if you can't read it and want details, just ask me for them!), and baked a batch for school. 
In addition to typical oatmeal raisin ingredients was maple syrup and honey, church kept them moist and even sweeter!

·         National Raisin Day
Raisins go best with things like oatmeal and sweet potatoes. In my opinion at least.
All month long...

Good thought, tough task...

Yes I was creepily taking a picture of my neighbor mowing his year, but he didn't notice. Little did he know that he was helping me participate in some monthly celebrations. 

These poor things had been in their Christmas clothes since November, so I finally just forced myself to stop putting it off and change them into their spring outfits. 

Celery doesn't have much flavor, but I love how it adds a crunch to my meals!
Favorite use: Dad's spaghetti

Mom was caught in action, too. She works so hard to keep our grass and flowers in shape!

Humor needs no month. We should be happy and laughing every chance we can!  Life is great, and even unfortunate things can be funny if we just go with the flow. 

I was going to post a poem I had previously written, but I found this one in the comics, it; it speaks for itself.

Stress Awareness Month
Some of my favorite Bible verses are ones that I look to specifically for anti-stress!  There are so many, and God's peace so huge, but I'll just list a couple.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:6-7

"So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless."  Ecclesiastes 11:10

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."  1 Peter 5:7
Man, do I feel better just reading those three!  And I wasn't even stressed in the first place! 
April showers, May flowers, June bugs...July is almost here!