There isn’t a loss on earth that can ever rob us of the riches our Lord has saved us for in Him.

Ann Voskamp

I am Living Proof of God's Love Because... banner from KLOVE

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One of my mother-helpers always turns on KLOVE on iTunes when she’s over here helping me with the girls. I like KLOVE, I used to listen to it when I taught my Red Cross classes in the evenings and on weekends when I was driving all over town (literally!), but hadn’t listened to it much since then because it doesn’t come in well in the car near where I live.

Today I heard a promo for this “Living Proof” contest of sorts, and it sounded fun…the prize is to go with 3 of your friends to a Beth Moore conference in Lubbock, TX. I don’t know that I’ve studied anything Beth Moore has written, but a number of the ladies in my bible study have and speak highly of her. And I’ve never been to Lubbock…can’t say that it’s at the top of my list because I get to travel so little these days outside the upper Midwest, but I’m always up for visiting new places!

I looked at the entries so far, and I was like, there’s no way I could win, some of the people have survived abuse, addiction, a TORNADO, etc., etc. But I had already realized the impact this “contest” had on my life, because it’s getting me back to this project after a nearly 4 month hiatus. And I was thinking this evening about what my next 2 items on my list here would be and I came up with them pretty quickly, things that aren’t on the running list I have on paper, so that’s huge progress as well!

Answering the statement “I’m living proof of God’s love because…” also reaffirmed my life and it’s purpose, which I always appreciate because I’m good at forgetting or minimizing it. I’ll share how I finished that statement in a bit, but it’s something I’ve already shared on this blog, as well. It’s also amazing to read how people completed that sentence–very inspiring to get a little snapshot of God’s work in people’s lives.

Oh, and I read the fine print and discovered that they pick the winner by drawing out of all entries received, so I think it’s safe to say that God will have a hand in this and whomever wins needs it the most–and no matter the outcome, I realized, as I stated above, that this has gotten me “back in the saddle again” here so to speak, and that’s really great.

I need to take care of myself by getting to bed at a decent hour tonight, but you’ll hear more from me soon.

PS Every time I hear or think of the phrase, “Back in the Saddle Again” I’m reminded of where I first really heard that song/phrase–in the soundtrack for the movie Sleepless in Seattle…anyone remember that?

PPS  Here’s my full answer, and tired, sun-worn, makeup gone, hair not styled, me :-):

My answer to the question "I am Living Proof of God's Love because..."

The number 5 on a green background, formed by the absence on the caroony grasshoppers that surround the 5.“5Things” is a regular feature here on Finding 300 each Tuesday. Sara and I had the serendipitous fortune that her husband and mine grew up together–going to grade school, high school & college together, and remaining in contact long after–and therefore gave us the opportunity to become friends, and for her friendship, I am very grateful! And to top it off, her very adorable daughter, who just turned 3, is very enamored with my girls. Totally cute stuff! Oh, and appropriately enough, today’s her birthday! Here are Sara’s 5Things:

Without Jesus, or more correctly, without the faith in Jesus that was given me through my baptism, I am a failure. I am a negative. I’m a dissolving lump of protoplasm, destined to feed worms. I am a Servant of Satan. Without Jesus the Christ, I am a No!

1) But with Christ Jesus, I am something altogether different.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10)

2) With Jesus and his Holy Spirit in me, I am the light of the world. That is to say, I am part of the only Good left on earth.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

3) I cannot be destroyed by the troubles of this silly, sad, and death-bound plane because Jesus lives in me.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (2 Corinthians 4:7-12)

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My journey to 300, at least on the posting front, has been a bit stalled…

I thought I was getting over being sick, but just got nailed again by what might be the same bug but it moved to a different part of my body. Last week, it was a head cold, and now it’s a chest thingy that makes breathing really difficult, at least without coughing my head off.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t admit that I’m having a little trouble. I think part of it might be my perfectionist tendencies (if I can’t do it really well then don’t do it), and part of it is not believing that my justification/examples that back up one of the 300 make the thing worthy enough, which also relates to my perfectionist tendencies. For example, I think I have a pretty great decorating sense. People have even said this, both before and after I started this project. But I look around my house, and because I haven’t done things like hang pictures the way I want to (it just hasn’t happened, period–we moved while I was on bedrest, a month before the twins were born, and then the twins took over our lives, in all the right ways!), and I see these shortcomings that make me doubt. But! I need to remember that one of the prefaces I set up is that these are innate qualities, that don’t necessarily rely on my doing something to show them. And since this is a journey that is about my strengths instead of my shortcomings, I need to remember to get over myself and get on with it!

Red 5 on glass planks“5Things” is a regular feature here on Finding 300 each Tuesday. Jennifer is my longest friend, because we’ve known each other since she was born (our parents became friends back in high school and are still close). When she was a freshman and I was a sophomore in high school, we discovered that we weren’t just family-friends, but soul sisters…although there are times when we’ve gone quite a while between connecting, we can always pick up right where are and not miss a beat.

When I was asked to describe five things that I like about myself, I’d like to be modest and say it was difficult, but the words sort of poured right out of me.  I hope that doesn’t sound vain. The truth is that I am pretty comfortable with who I’ve become. I’m in my 30’s now, and even though there are still some things I’d like to work on, I am quite pleased with myself. It wasn’t always that way. It was a journey of self-discovery that was filled with ups and downs. Here are my five things…

1. I am filled with empathy for others. Empathy is the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes to understand their point of view, even when you don’t think the same way they do. This is one of my favorite qualities about myself. Because of my empathy, I am a good listener and a good friend. Empathy also allows me to excel as a marketer.

2. I am highly creative. I am a “right brain-left brain person” with a tilt toward the right brain. Creativity oozes out of me in so many ways. There are the more obvious forms, like the creativity I demonstrate through my scrapbooks or my writing, and the less obvious forms, like creative problem solving on the fly – both at home and at work! I like to look at a situation and then look again – thinking differently about something is key.  So call it open-mindedness or call it creativity, I have it and I am happy to use it for good!

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I am a good writer.

As my friend Heidi put it, I’m “clear and compelling.”

I’ve loved to write from an early age, and despite my struggles with properly identifying grammar, I know when to use what parts of the English language to make things work. Thankfully, I had a teacher in 7th and 8th grade that understood this and encouraged me to keep writing, despite my so-so grades during grammar quarter of the year. I may not know what a gerund is, but I know how to use it!

When I was in high school, I wrote 30 articles for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, mostly movie and concert reviews, interviews with artists and other teens on various topics, and other lifestyle pieces. I also blogged for for a year, 3 posts a day, 5 days a week. Unplggd is an Apartment Therapy site, focused on home technology, and we had to come up with the topic, research it, find the related picture and links in addition to writing the posts. Writing for Unplggd was on top of a demanding full-time job.

I have done it for pay, but it’s also part of my nature. I believe that if you have the ability to write, you have a way of managing life in all of its great and small times. Writing gives you the ability to reflect, to process and to bring clarity.

I have also used my writing to sort through what really matters in my life, often as a written prayer. If it isn’t worthy of writing down in a prayer, it’s not worthy of my energy outside of the prayer either.

Writing has opened many doors for me, and turning a phrase into the perfect prose to match its intention is truly urbane and uplifting.

Pic by the trial, found on flickr.

Posted on Craig Bode’s Facebook page:

Don’t be bashful, apologetic or stingy with the skills and abilities that God has given you. They are gifts God has given you to display His glory as you boldly employ them to express to the world who God made you to be. Jesus tells us to do exactly that: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16 — NIV)

It is when we fully exercise and engage our skills and abilities that others receive value from us and our lives have a lasting and eternal impact.