Alaska bound | a quick recap

Hello dear reader! Remember me? I used to write on this blog a tad bit more often than once a month. I bet you thought we got lost somewhere on the side of a lonely highway with no Internet.

Good news, we are not lost, we know exactly where we are!

Allow me to give you a quick recap of the last few months and bring you up to speed on our current adventure: Alaska! (Heads up: every link in this post will bring you to a corresponding YouTube video.)

Our February exit out of Southern California into the Pacific Northwest allowed us to successfully catch winter’s tail and enjoy the dramatic contrast between Death Valley and Northern Idaho. Trent vlogged our interaction within the two beautifully opposing climates of Death Valley and Northern Idaho.

For the last four months, we’ve tucked ourselves into the folds of the Idaho mountains and breathed the pine scent deep into our lungs.

Continue reading “Alaska bound | a quick recap”

are you hiding your gifts?

are you hiding your gifts?

“A gift, of course, is meant to be given, which is why it’s so brutal when we can’t figure out what ours is, or when we know what it is, but we’re too lame to act on it: here we have the perfect gift to share with the world, just bursting to be opened, and we keep it sitting there, wrapped tightly in a box, growing old and gathering dust. Oh the waste! The agony!

Every single person is born with unique and valuable gifts to share with the world. Once we figure out what ours are, and decide to live our lives putting them to use, that’s when, and only when, the real party begins. Living a life on purpose is available to everyone.” ~Jen Sincero

One of my favorite questions to ask people when I’m first getting to know them is what gifts they have. The sad truth, however, is that the response is typically a bumbling, him-haw, blushing, “Gosh, I don’t know” kind of answer.

WHY DON’T WE EVEN KNOW OURSELVES?

Sometimes, I interpret that to mean they honestly haven’t ever taken the time to properly self-reflect. Other times I think it is an attempt to appear appropriately modest and humble.

If it’s the former, I want to shake them a little bit and say, “Hey, you need to know this stuff! It’s time to figure it out—it’s important! The rest of us are suffering the fate of not getting what you have to give, so get on it already!” Maybe this means some prayerful soul-searching or test taking or just getting over ourselves and asking our friends, “Hey, what do you see in me that I maybe don’t see in myself?Continue reading “are you hiding your gifts?”

what am I most interested in?

Wow. Powerful words, right? So often when we find ourselves in a place of pain or feel powerless, we don’t ask the question, “What can I learn from this situation?” Yet, there is so much wisdom to be gained from that position of humility.

10 years ago I sat in a dark room with the glow of a still ultrasound monitor projecting my changed reality—The baby I planned to give birth to in 3 weeks would not arrive in the way I had envisioned.

This began a new opportunity to lean into pain and ask the hard questions, “God, what can I learn from this?”

The answers came. Not answers to why our sweet Saywer died, but the answers of what we could learn. They continue to come even now, 10 years later.

 

Friends, there are many questions we will never know the answers to in this broken world, but I have learned that God will never fail to redeem and restore His broken children. And I have also learned, that there is still so. much. more. to. learn.

What are you learning today?

perfect weakness

He could have done anything. He was made new after all. Resurrected—a new body, a plan fulfilled, finished. Everything that needed to be done was completed. Redemption realized. Death defeated. Forgiveness extended. Grace fully poured out.

Yet, at the conclusion of His glorious act of love, He makes a radical choice in His perfect resurrection—He retains His scars.

His hands, His side, marked by pain; they remain marred, unchanged.

This goes against my plumb line perception of perfection, does it yours?

Why does our perfect savior retain His scars? While I can’t know His reasons, I can look to His example.

POWERFUL TOOLS

Instead of covering His scars, He used them to uncover the doubt of who He was. Rather than showing weakness, they displayed His power over sin and death and became a powerful tool in His ministry. Where He could have sought physical flawlessness, He focused on relational restoration.

perfect weakness

What does His example mean for our painful past? Could our deepest wounds accomplish this? Is it possible for our scars to be a tool that uncovers doubt about who Christ is? If so, are we willing to use our weaknesses for Christ’s glory? Are we willing to trust that in our weakness, Christ becomes our strength? If His stripes healed us, if He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3), will we embrace that healing? Instead of trying to cover the scars, do we dare to put them on display?

 

Satan whispers,

Hide.

Cover.

Cower.

Deflect.

Deny.

Retreat.

Recoil.

 

Scripture claims,

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 5:15, 16)

Confidence.

Grace.

Mercy.

Help.

Let us be a people who embrace our Savior’s example. In displaying our scars may we find these words, first given to Paul, ringing true for us, “My power is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

What scars do you bare? Are you hiding them or using them?

Audible vs. Scribd: why I’m dumping one for the other

Yes, you read that title correctly. Book lovers rejoice, if you love ebooks and audiobooks, the tapestry of your literary world is about to become richer (and cheaper)! I recently stumbled upon a goldmine of a resource: Scribd. In fact, I was so excited that I stayed up until 1:00 AM perusing this online treasure trove. The following night I crawled into bed at a more reasonable hour only to enter a dream in which I was telling a room of strangers about my new digital discovery and why they would love it too! I woke up realizing that I need to share my excitement with you. Perhaps in the process, I can clear my mental cache and move forward into other important areas of life. So without further ado let me introduce you to my latest online crush, Scribd, and explain why it is going to replace my audible account.

WHAT IS SCRIBD?

Think of it as a Netflix for books. Scribd offers thousands of ebooks and audiobooks at your disposal with no limits for just $8 a month. Let that last part sink in a bit. No limits. $8 a month.

That no limits part is brand new so if you’ve been tempted in the past by Scribd’s “3 ebooks and 1 audiobook” per month option—those days are gone and the Scribd future looks unlimitedly awesome.

Audible vs. Scribd

HOW DOES SCRIBD COMPARE WITH AUDIBLE?

MY AUDIBLE BACKSTORY:

I’ve been an audible member since February 2015. In those three years, I’ve built up a pretty impressive library of 165 books! I found ways to get the most out of my audible subscription by starting out with a “Discount Gold” Monthly subscription (which you have to specifically ask for as it is not advertised) paying $7.49/month for the first 3 book credits. Then, I’ve transitioned to the (also unadvertised) “Silver Plan” paying $14.95/month for one book credit every other month.

Finally, when I’d bought all the books we could hope to listen to, I downgraded to an Audible “ListenerLight” membership for $9.95/year allowing me to continue purchasing books at their member discount price if desired but halting the book credits. Meanwhile, I watched the daily deals and occasional sales, snatching up good books in the $3-$4 price range and I paired free kindle books with the discounted whispersync audiobook option on several occasions. (Click over to this post for more details on all of these options).

Audible vs. Scribd

However, as you can imagine, even calculating the most conservative numbers possible (if I’m purchasing most of my audiobooks at a sale price of $3-$4), I’ve spent at least $500 for my audible listening library! At $8 a month, it would take me a little over 5 years to equal that price with a Scribd subscription. Continue reading “Audible vs. Scribd: why I’m dumping one for the other”