what do i do after i share the gospel?

Of all the hard things God has been teaching me, this topic was less of a hard lesson to learn and more of reminder to be thankful for such a blessing:

Currently, my main ministry is high school kids.

I started youth ministry with a handful of 7th graders. Most of them stared at me while I talked their ears off and pretended to communicate. We had an unspoken exchange of favors: I got them out of their house, or helped them avoid taking the bus home by picking them up from school, and they pretended to listen to me. Sometimes, I think they actually did listen to me, and that sweetened the deal for me a little bit.

Youth Ministry has been a really great ministry for me to be in for several reasons, but one in particular being that I am more well-suited to people coming to me to hear about God. (I'm just being honest, here-and I'm always going to have something wrong with me, so judge me and move on, ok? :)

Anyway, after almost four years, I'm now leading mostly sophomores (I've known some of my girls since 7th grade) and I feel like I'm a decent small group leader. I really like it at least. I really love hanging out with all of my girls. I love getting to know their worlds, their friends, their point of views. It's amazing.

Due to my involvement with high schoolers, I've been thinking a lot lately about the answer to the title of the this post: discipleship. If I don't have any talent at all in evangelism as I implied above, I do think God has given me a heart to disciple.

Mostly, I love discipling students because I myself am learning so much about how to live with Jesus as my Lord and these kinds of lessons naturally want to overflow from my talkative mouth. Another aspect I love is that there are very few ways to mess it up. All you have to do is live life with them, challenge them (and be challenged by them), and love them.

The rewards are wonderful, amazing even, to watch a kid blossom each day, week, month, year.

Watching the light bulb above someone's head flick on is so fun. But in discipleship, I get to see that so often, all while my own light bulbs are flicking on.

Thanks, God, for blessing me with such an amazing group of girls to love: Anna, Katey, Sirena, Hana, Ellen, Kayla & Shelby. *oh crap, here come the tears* I'm REALLY going to miss all of them when we move to Iowa City. But I'm very thankful we have eachother now.

Click here for all the other links to my thoughts on what God has been teaching me.


What's your review?

I just read this review about The Anthem Band. Anthem originated at our home church, Cornerstone Church of Ames and Bryan plays a mean bass guitar in the band. For the last few years, they've been writing original songs and last May recorded a live album. They were recently featured in Relevant Magazine (check out the ad on page 6). And NOW they're popular enough to have a review on a Christian Blog.

The only bummer is, it wasn't exactly a great review (Click here to read it).

When it comes to music, I'm not much of a reviewer. I don't know anything about the musical technicalities or the tone of the instruments, or the correct ebb and flow of a good album. All I know about music is:

When I like it, I like it.

I may not know anything about anything when it comes to music, but I know that I can hear music and clearly define whether I like it or not.

And I will say this:

I like this album.


grilled paninis

This is a fun little meal I kind-of made up when I didn't want to cook a full out dinner after a big grocery shopping trip. Unlike most of my culinary creations, this one actually got rave reviews from my husband! YUM!

(dinner for 2)
  • 2 thin Chicken Breasts (or one sliced in half the long way)
  • 1/4 cup Italian Dressing
  • 4 slices Pumpernickel Rye Bread (or a yummy bread of your choice)
  • Butter
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Red Onion
  • Romaine Lettuce Leaves
  1. Marinade chicken in dressing for 30-45 minutes
  2. Place chicken and remaining dressing in pan, cook completely
  3. While chicken is still in hot pan, place cheese and onion on top
  4. Butter one side of each piece of bread
  5. Put chicken on UNbuttered side of bread, top with lettuce and another slice of bread, buttered side up.
  6. Place sandwich on a hot griddle, in a hot pan (preferable not the one with chicken juice in it), or if you're really fancy you could put it in an actual panini press (a george foreman grill works fine as well)
  7. Cook both sides for about a minute or two, remove and enjoy!
The sandwiches are pretty filling, but they go great with a salad or chips and dip if you're extra hungry!


this life is hard, suck it up and get to work!

Have you ever felt at war with yourself? Maybe something like this:

"So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? " -Romans 7:21-24

Let me just say it:

It's not easy to be a Christian.

There. It's out there. Why isn't easy?

It's easy to lie; it's easy to steal; it's easy to take pride; it's easy to focus all of your attention on yourself; it's easy to _______________. It's NOT easy to NOT do these things.

My life as a Christian has been the hardest it's ever been. I've been more sinful than ever before; the war is waging and it's at one of it peeks.

Some things that are "hard" about this life (for me):

Selfishness. At some point in the last year, I decided that I was just going to do what is best for me. When something was proposed for me to make a choice in, I asked, "What is best for ME?" and did that. Ew. Gross. That sounds and looks so unattractive when compared to Christ.

Moodiness. Somewhat related to selfishness is being controlled by my emotions. This has been happening A LOT lately, my poor husband. I've been incredibly negative, having a bad attitude about the littlest things. Here's the kicker, almost every moment, I can feel the Holy Spirit fighting my flesh on this. I know what the right response is, but I snap anyway. It's a definite battle.

Overbearing Behavior. This is probably my absolute WORST attribute as a Christ-follower. G.R.O.S.S. I don't trust anyone to do anything as well as I'd do it yet I get bitter because no one wants to help me.

These are the hard things in my life. But as the title infers, I'm going to suck it up and get to work!

Click here for all the other links to my thoughts on what God has been teaching me.


2/3 of a year, that's what eight months is.

I just want to clear the air and say that I am totally guilty of back-dating this post (among others) to match the correct anniversary date. Whatevs.

I'm deeming this past month as the month in which God has faithfully answered ALL of our prayers. Seriously, every single one. So that's the kind-of update you're getting today.

Prayer #1
Please please please, God, help Bryan get into Stat 226.
started 11/13/2009
answered 1/12/2010

Basically it's a pre-requisite for EVERY business class and he couldn't really take much (at U of I) until he had this class under his belt. However, as a transfer student, he had a late registration date, and all classes were full by the time he got things straightened out with the Admissions office. So we checked and checked and checked but no one dropped the class prematurely. So Bryan ended up just going to class on the first day and asking the Professor if he could join. By the end of the week, he was in! Yay!

Prayer #2
God, I need a job in Iowa City that will provide for us while Bryan is in school. But I want to have a ministry with women my own age. I don't really want to work with 100% males (as I do now) or with Old ladies in a Clerical Position. Show me what you want for me.
started 11/30/2009
answered 1/15/2010

See this post for more details!

Prayer #3
God, we know we're going to take a pay cut by moving to Iowa City, but we still want to try to stay completely out of debt through college. Show us what you will do.
started 11/30/2009
partially answered sometime after that, partially answered 1/18/2010

God has really softened my heart towards Student Loans. They're not evil and I need to be thankful that we are out of debt now, and not be upset if we don't get through college with no loans. After all, we'll have very little debt even if we do have to take out a few loans. Well, not only has God provided a job for me in Iowa City, but He provide a pretty sizable tax return as well! After we receive our refund, we'll be putting about 1/2 of this Fall's Semester Tuition in the bank! Hooray!

Prayer #4
God, we want to say, "yes" to whatever you have for us, give us opportunities here in Ames to say "yes" to.
started 1/1/2010
answered all the time

We've had so many more opportunities to hang out with friends and new people and people that don't know Christ than we've ever had before in our marriage! We're busier and more actively seeking out relationships and connections so that we can invest in the people in the here and now. This is something we really hope to apply easily in Iowa City as well!


the Holy Spirit actually works!

This book is on my list.

Ok, so way back in November, when I wrote that I was going to write about the Holy Spirit, He was doing a whirlwind of stuff. I saw Him working in many of my high schooler's lives when they went on the retreat.

Consistently, I would hear the Spirit and do what He asked. It was awesome. Unfortunately, I didn't write much of it down, so I've got nothing for you.

BUT, I'm really excited to read this book by Francis Chan and learn all the more.

Click here for all the other links to my thoughts on what God has been teaching me.


...and the job hunt ends.

Last Wednesday, I started looking for jobs in Iowa City. Yesterday, an amazing job fell into my lap. That's the way I roll!

Last Friday, January 15th, my bosses and I were discussing possible candidates to take over my position, when Darrell said, "What if you just worked from Iowa City?"

Todd and I thought he wasn't serious, so we moved on, but he persisted. We started talking about it, confirmed some of the details yesterday and I'm not really sure how it all happened, but I have a job!

Not only that, but I have the same job, with a few less duties, for 30 hours a week, from home.

Is this a dream come true?

No, just an answered prayer.

God is so stinking good!


what does the Sabbath look like for me?

When I was a kid, my brothers told me that I couldn't take more than 10 steps on Sundays because it was against the Sabbath rules. I remember thinking that everyone I knew was blatantly disobeying God's commands but nobody cared.

At one point I assumed that the Sabbath was only about church, and if you didn't go to church on Sunday, that was bad.

Saturday night service was always anti-sabbath to me, until my thoughts were challenged in high school by a friend who belonged to a church/sect that is completely dedicated to the belief that the actual Sabbath should be from sundown on Friday evening to sundown on Saturday evening. That encounter really made me wonder if I was totally disrespecting God with my actions of going out of my house on Friday nights and doing homework on Saturdays.

So, I've already misinterpreted the Sabbath many times in my life, and now I'm trying to interpret it correctly. So here's what God has been teaching me:

This cartoon is actually a really good picture of what the Sabbath feels like to me. In one word, it feels selfish. Just like this kid shows, the Sabbath kind-of sounds like an excuse to not do what you should do.

I'm reading a book right now called Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life. The author references her idea of "Sabbath Simplicity" a lot in it, which explains why I'm reading it. I like the book; it's as good as any other Christian how-to book. But every suggestion she makes reads as selfishness. I can't seem to shake my opinion and learn with an open mind.

Let me re-phrase: To me, the very idea of taking a whole day to rest seems lazy. I instantly consider the question, "but what would I do?"

There are two reasons I think this a natural reaction for me:

One: If there have been busy-bodies in every generation, my generation has reached new heights. We've developed any and every way to simply keep busy. And not just my generation, but my nation is the hardest working nation, and I don't mean that as a compliment. Breaks are for losers in America! So if I'm going to rest, I'd like to accomplish something while I'm at it!

Two: The amount of stuff to do that has no impact on the real working world is astounding. It's disgusting actually. I can "do" so much and accomplish so little these days. So if I'm going to rest, I'd rather not kill brain cells by watching TV all day or the like.

So, because I was raised to work hard, rest seems like laziness or like I'm shirking my responsibilities. And because I was raised with pile of technology that accomplishes nothing as you use it, laziness reaches new levels.

I want to actively follow all of God's commands to us, including this one, but I just don't want to be lazy!

Ok, I need to start bullet-pointing. Enough about how I feel about the Sabbath, here's what I'm applying to my life:
  • I just can't be convinced that the Sabbath has to be on a particular day of the week. Sunday, Saturday, the debate will go one but if that Sabbath is about having a day of rest and not work, do Pastors ever get a Sabbath? Exactly. So for me, it made sense to make the Sabbath the most free day for me anyway: Sunday. Although it could have been Thursday or Monday for all I think it matters.
  • Anything that drains me is work in my opinion. So I'm trying not to do anything that drains me on Sundays. What drains me? Still working on that list.
  • I'm trying NOT to do things that are simply time-wasters. Being on facebook all day, or sleeping all day, or watching tv allll day are not my idea of a Sabbath. These things usually make me more tired and lazy, rather than bringing rest.
  • I think I'm going to make Sunday's about doing things that I like doing in contrast to what drains me. Spending time with Bryan, creating things, hanging out with my easiest friends, enjoying the Lord.
  • I do want to prepare my soul and life for the week to come. I feel rested when I feel prepared, so I'm also going to spend some time on Sunday figuring out my goals for the week and preparing.
  • Last, but certainly not least, I definitely don't want the Sabbath to focus around me and my rest, but around the Lord, and accessing His restful peace in a sort-of fresh way.
I'm sorry if you were expecting more from me, especially after waiting so long to read this (yes, I have resorted to back-dating my posts...). But this area is still a little foggy for me and I have the feeling it will take more than a few months to learn.

Click here for all the other links to my thoughts on what God has been teaching me.


and the job hunt begins...

My goal was to have my resume complete by the end of January, and begin searching for jobs in Iowa City after that.

But after perusing Craigslist and getting excited about the many job opportunities there are in my field, I jumped on it.

I polished my first ever resumé today and sent it off to a few companies.

I was surprised to see that many of the position offer similar or higher pay at the start! It would be an incredible blessing to make a similar income to mine now, but maybe even higher than that? Wow. That would be cool.

I'm asking God to show me His plans for me.


for those that are staying...

"Pray for us, that word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one."
-II Thessalonians 3:1-3 (ESV)


study vs. passion & the Word of God

This will mark the halfway point for this little "series." God continues to teach me so much, even as I'm still mulling over what He started teaching me months ago. I has been extremely healthy for me to write through my thoughts, it helps the revelations stick a little better in my mind!

So far, I've written about:
Staying Excited about Salvation

Being Vulnerable vs. Being a Pushover
My Thoughts on the world of Christian Women

My goal is to move a little faster and get through all of my thoughts by the end of the month, so here we go:

Study vs. Passion

Let me start off with a little disclaimer here: It's not really a competition. Both are valuable. Both are necessary. There are also not opposites. Passion is often spurred by study, and study often increases passion. I've just been considering that there may be a time for one or the other to be more prominent.


For about a year and a half, I was in a Bible Study. Not a small group, a connection group or an accountability group, but a straight-up Bible Study, where we studied the Bible hardcore. We outlined every book, then we went back and looked at the details of each one. We didn't get through a ton of the Bible over that year and half, mostly because we worked so arduously on each book, but we got through over half of the Old Testament. It was intense, hard work, and I loved it.

While at that time I was learning so much about God, His Word, His character and His purpose in creating the earth, I can't say that "study" helped me connect with God personally. Everything I was learning was so...educational. It was if I was in a history class, granted it was the most impacting history class ever.

I once heard a very wise speaker (I can't remember his name) while taking some Junior Higher's on a Student Life Retreat. He taught us how to study the word of God, asking us to study God's word everyday. He recommended having a Bible Dictionary by your side while you, each day, looked deeply into the context of the Scriptures. His method was simple and effective and, after applying it to my own daily routine, I found myself getting a lot more out of the Bible.

I love studying the Bible. In fact, I highly recommend it.


Do you know that word? It starts with a "d..." Ah, yes, discipline. Well, I'm going to be the first to admit how little discipline I have when it comes to the study of the Word of God. I'm awful. I put it off, make excuses, you know the drill.

It's always been hard for me. And frankly, at least in the last few months, the thought of waking up early so that I can research and study the Bible just doesn't motivate me very well. I'm a horrible person. A horrible Christian!

So, I've been trying this new thing. Every morning, I attempt to read one chapter of scripture and just listen. And I've heard so much.

I have felt so much more passion about His word. It has been absolutely wonderful to hear His voice so often. I just don't get that when I read the Bible like it's a history book.

Eventually, I hope to find a balance between the two, because I love both equally. But for now, I'm in a season where instead of studying Him, I simply need to dialogue with God, talk to Him, and hear from Him.


where have you been the last three years?

Loving life, loving you.

There's more!
If you think I might be crazy for being in love with a phone, let me just explain that I've been waiting three years for a new one. For the last two years, I've have to carry around a phone charger with me, because I couldn't have a phone conversation lasting longer than three minutes without the battery dying. Yes, I got a new battery once. It lasted about a month and started the same cycle over.

So, yes, I'm in love with my new phone.

It's name is Bertha. Because Bertha is the type of name you don't mess with.


2010 Theme

My theme for 2010 is simply this:

be diligent

I stumbled upon this amazing word when I was "designing" my daily to-do list. I was trying to think of something to inspire me to get things done, in a smart way. I thought of the word, "diligent" but I went to look it up to see if it really described what I needed to see everyday.

diligent [dil-i-juh nt] - adj.
1. constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything: a diligent student.
2. done or pursued with persevering attention; painstaking: a diligent search of the files.

Yep, that's exactly what I was looking for. I just love that first line, "constant effort to accomplish something."

At first glance, it may look like my new goal is to be a busybody, I can see you're point: She wants to constantly be doing things?

On the contrary, I want constant accomplishments. This year, I don't want to just get things done, I want all my work to reach toward a higher goal, an accomplishment if you will. While my tasks for the day may simply be making a meal, doing the laundry or organizing the bathroom cabinet, my accomplishment for the day is serving my husband. While another set of tasks may be to call an old friend, text a few high school kids, and hang out with my little sister, my accomplishment is encouraging people I love.

As a woman who know the wonders of the Word of God, I searched for the word diligent in the Bible. I found these fitting verses:

"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life an your doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." -I Timothy 4:15-16

What a beautiful mantra for my life!

So that's my theme for 2010!

This is what my Daily Task List looks like, you can click the picture to view it full-size.
(You'll notice the definition and the verse in the top box)

2010 Financial Goals

Bryan and I have pretty simple financial goals for this year, much like last year. We were, by God's grace, able to succeed in all of our financial endeavors in 2009! It's especially fun for me to start the New Year with NEW goals, rather then continuing with the old.

Primary Goal: Fully fund our Emergency Fund
We'd love to have 6 months worth of living expenses in our savings account by the end of June 2010. Why June? Because we hope to move to Iowa City in July or August. We've decided to move regardless of whether we find jobs right away or not, so that cash will certainly come in handy if we are unemployed for any amount of time. Also, I really think we can do it in six months! I guess we'll find out!

Side Goal: Pay Cash for College
I married an amazing man who has worked his way through college thus far. He's never had a student loan. We'd like to keep it that way and that's our goal for now. We have enough saved to pay for Bryan's next semester at Iowa State! As a side note, God has really softened my heart towards student loan with regards to Iowa City. It's very possible that the one expense we won't be able to completely cover will be Tuition when we move. I'm asking God to provide and maybe He'll provide enough to pay for tuition as well, or maybe not. We'll see.

LisaGrace's Personal Financial Goal: Saving the Money I'm Saving
I'm not a saver in the most conservative way. I like saving money so that I can spend it. As soon as humanly possible. While I love quickly spending that money, especially after I've worked hard to cut our costs down, it usually ends up being a little disappointing. Because we don't have a huge income, my savings can seem very minimal at the end of the month. I may have been $20 below budget on groceries one month, but $20 flies out of my hands so fast I usually can't remember what happened to it!

Just for fun, here are the ways I'm currently making or saving a tiny amount of money every month:

Coupons: I'm not a huge coupon cutter to be honest, but I take advantage of the sales and pay enough attention to get some great deals using coupons and store sales. I've been consistently under budget on my groceries for the last 3 months or so!

E-Bates: I really do love this website, it's such a great idea! Before I order anything online, I go on E-Bates first. I find the website I'm looking at, click on the link that takes me directly to the exact same website and order as usual. I've received up to 8% back on my purchase less shipping. It's a small amount, but it's fun to see that account grow with completely free money. Click on the link below to sign up:

I take surveys for a company called Pinecone Research. I get paid $3 for an approximate 15 minutes of my time reviewing different products. I take 4-8 surveys per month, which isn't really a lot of cash, but it always adds up more quickly then I realize!

Swagbucks: Oh how I love swagbucks! Swagbucks is a search engine that gives you "bucks" for searching through them. I've received 1-4 swagbucks everyday that I've searched through them. It only take 45 swagbucks to get a $5 amazon.com giftcard, which is my prize of choice! Since June 2009, I cashed in for $25 worth of amazon.com giftcards! I'm going to save up all of my swagbucks in 2010, we'll see how many I get! Click on the link below to sign up:

Rebates: Separate from the aforementioned E-bates, I love taking advantage of rebates! It is usually pretty easy for me to work the deals into our budget, making the rebate check feel like free money! But those great rebates deals don't come around too often and in the meantime, we have an easy way to get cash back for our purchases: a rewards credit card. I've mentioned this before, but I continue to maintain it as a great tool. On our rewards card, we receive 5% back on all of our fuel expenses, 2% back on all travel/entertainment expenses, and 1% back on everything else. In 2009, we received over $175 back in cash!

The Change Jar: I want to fill this baby up!

: I would love to be as stuff-less as possible before we move across the state and one way I've been doing that is by selling books on Half.com. It's super easy! I also want to take more clothes to the consignment shop.

So, basically, my goal is to save up all those little odds and ends and see what my total is at the end of the year, my hope is to have around $300. We'll see!