Love Well

Love Well.png

I am so thankful that I have a hot tub. Over the years I have had some of my deepest conversations with my family in my hot tub. I've had some of my greatest conversations with God in my hot tub. I also love to listen to sermons (you guessed it) in my hot tub. 

Last night, in my hot tub, I listened to an Andy Stanley sermon that hit me so hard that I got out of the tub, got dressed and knocked on my son's bathroom door. Here was the conversation:

Me: Quinn are you dressed?

Quinn (My 18 yr.old son): NO.

Me: Ok, I'm going to sit out here and talk because I have something to say to you and I really want you to listen.

Quinn: OK (Quinn is used to this type of  behavior from me)

Me: Quinn - I want you to get this.  Life is not just about trying to play by the rules and not mess up. It's not just about trying to not sin. My prayer for you is that you go out and you LOVE well. God's Word tells us they will know we are disciples by the way we LOVE. 

Quinn: He cracks open the door, looks down at me sitting outside his bathroom, he smiles at me and says "I got it. Thanks"

I feel like this message is so huge and last night if I could have knocked on every door in the world and shouted this to them I would  have "Go LOVE well".  

At the end of the day here's what God wants you to do - Go LOVE others.


I have a question for you. 

When you pray, what do you pray for? When you pray for yourself and others what are you asking for? I challenge you to ask God for this, "Help me (or whoever you are praying for) to see people the way You see them. Help me to LOVE better." 

God cares about the way we love others so we should care about this too. 

I remember when Quinn was little he had a bus driver who he really struggled with. He would often get off the bus and complain about her. I would say "Quinn it's easy to love those who are easy to love but we are called to love ALL people, especially those who are hard to love.".

I get it - it's tough to love some people and the truth is we can't do it on our own. We need to get ourselves so filled up with God's love that we CAN love even those who are so tough to love.

We will never punish people towards Jesus. We will never shame people towards Jesus. We've got to LOVE people in such a way that they are drawn to Jesus. 


What I learned on the corner of Colfax

I did something this weekend that I’ve never done before. I stood on the street corner in Denver with a cardboard sign. Now why in the world would I do that? Let me tell you.

I’m on the board of Seeds of Hope. We’re a group of women who have it in our hearts to connect those who are willing to serve with those in need. Over the last 7 years, we’ve made Easter baskets, served Thanksgiving dinner to refugees from Burma and young men who’ve been through the ringer. We’ve raised money so a man could go on one, last trip with his kids before ALS ended his time here on earth. We regularly cook meals and store them away in our freezers so we can bring a warm meal to someone in need. I tell you this not to say, “Oh, look at us, we’re so great,” but just to let you in on what Seeds of Hope is all about, and to set the scene for my night on the streets.

This past weekend, our group decided to partner with a ministry called, Project I See You (http://www.projectiseeyou.org) so that we could meet the human beings behind the cardboard signs and rough, sometimes dirty exteriors we so often pass by on the streets. Project I See You was started by an amazing woman named Mercy Tucker. Mercy was a missionary in the Dominican with her family for 4 years, and she shared with us that while she was down there living with the poor, she often felt God’s presence so clearly and so near that it would physically cause them to fall to the ground. When she moved back to the Denver area, her family decided they wanted to be able to continue to live and interact with those who were impoverished and overlooked, and so they decided to live in an area of Denver called Five Points. Mercy knows many of the homeless in Five Points by name—she knows their stories and she has such a strong desire to help and to love them.

This past weekend, we teamed up with Mercy and Project I See You and headed to downtown Denver with her ministry partner, Angie, and most of the Seeds of Hope board. We wanted to come face to face with the homeless. We wanted to experience what it was like for them. We wanted to hear their stories. We wanted to show them that they were seen, heard and loved by not only us, but by the creator of the universe. When we headed out to the streets that night, we were told that we were going to be standing alone on a corner, like so many homeless do, and to write something down on a cardboard sign that we would hold up.

After thinking about it for a while, I decided to write, “This Could Be You”. I didn’t know when I wrote those words how much more deeply they would resonate in my heart only a few hours later.

When I stood alone on that corner, tired and cold, I went through an array of emotions. First being just how incredibly uncomfortable I felt—so much so that it almost made me nauseous. That feeling eventually gave way to something new—this feeling of being completely invisible. As the cars continued to stream by, it was like they couldn’t see me or my sign. It was like I’d disappeared off the face of the earth. After a while of that, I couldn’t help but start praying for the people in the cars because I wanted them to understand that this really could be them. That, had their lives been different—had their parents been less supportive or had their spouses died or had they served and fought in the war and turned to drugs to make the pain stop—this really could have been them.

At one point in the night, someone finally stopped.

In fact, they almost got into an accident trying to stop! A well-dressed young man pulled into a parking lot and made such an effort to run over and give me some money. It was one of the kindest and most compassionate things I’d ever experienced. I didn’t need his money, but what I did need (that I didn’t even know in that moment) was to feel like someone cared. He looked me in the eye when he put the money into my hand, and I felt seen for the first time that night. I felt like I mattered to him. Maybe he had once been that person on the corner, and maybe my sign “This Could Be You” touched him. I don’t know why he stopped, but it really moved me. 

The rest of our weekend was spent walking the streets of Denver and hearing the stories of the homeless we met there. We spent some time in a shelter where I got to sit with a few women and hear their stories and learn more about the challenges they face on a daily basis—challenges we might not even think twice about! It was such a powerful experience and one that I really wish everyone could be a part of.

I couldn’t help but walk away from this whole experience feeling so grateful for the family I grew up in. We weren’t perfect, in fact my dad died when I was 3 (he was only 36), but I was so loved and deeply cared for. I was encouraged and told often by my mom, “If anyone can do it Michelle, you can do it”. I was able to go to college and then start a career and support myself. Growing up I was able to learn important life skills like cooking and laundry, I was taught to look people in the eye when speaking to them and to treat people with love and respect. I’ve always known that if life got too tough, I was always welcome in my parent’s or sisters’ home.

I would never be homeless because I had people in my life who would gladly take me and my family in.

But this, we must realize, is a luxury many do not have. For many Americans, if they mess up, if they lose a job, if something goes wrong…then that’s just it. There’s not a back up plan. There’s no one there to bail them out. The people I met on the streets and in the shelter experienced a much different upbringing than the one I had. Many of them grew up with abuse and drugs. Some of the people we met shared that they would watch their parent having sex with different people, and how at young ages they were forced to take care of the drug-addicted parent. No role models. No life lessons being taught. No homes to take them in if life got too tough.

No love.

The more I talked to these people in the shelter and one the streets, the more I realized that the sign I created at the beginning of the day—“This could be you”—was more true than even I’d realized.

Mercy and her team at Project I See You are hoping to turn a home in Denver into a transitional home for women. It would be a safe place that they could stay in for up to 3 months. Not only would they have a consistent bed to sleep in, but they’d have the opportunity to learn some of the basic life skills they might have missed out on. They’d learn to cook, practice interviewing for jobs and holding themselves with confidence and so much more—but most importantly, they would live in a home with people who see and hear them. They won’t be invisible anymore. Love has a way of doing that, doesn’t it? Even the smallest of actions, if done with love, can make the largest of impacts. Love has this way of saying, “I see you,” and being seen really can change everything.

I share this story with you all because I really want us as the Faithful Workouts’ community to come to know and love the poor in a new way—in a Jesus kind of way. There are so many verses in the Bible about the poor and impoverished and how we’re to care for them. How we shouldn’t respond to their situations with judgment or disgust, and how we cannot treat them like they are invisible just to assuage our own guilt or validate our pre-conceived notions about how they ended up there.

I walked away realizing that I have been given so much, and I want to step out, each day, knowing that God can use me in huge ways to help others. I want to give away what has been so abundantly given to me. In some cases, that may be finances. In some cases, a hot meal. In others, a listening ear or a hug or a smile. Give away what you’ve got, because in God’s kingdom, there’s always enough.

#finishstrong

This past weekend I attended a Halftime event in FL. Halftime (www.halftime.org) is the ministry that my husband works for. I LOVE attending Halftime events because they are so inspiring. I wish you could hear all the stories that were shared because I know they would move you like they did me. 

On the final night of the conference Tim Tebow spoke to our group. He shared his heart with us by telling stories of things he has seen or experienced. He finished his session and left the room to a standing ovation. Wow, what a focused guy - focused on spreading the love and truth of Jesus.

We had all settled back into our chairs and were listening to the worship band when Tim Tebow walked back in. Tim got up to speak again. He told us he had been in his car driving to the airport when he felt like God was telling him to turn around and share one more story. Here’s what he felt our group needed to hear, and what I believe the whole world needs to hear. 

He told us that when he was the quarterback at the University of Florida they made their motto“finish strong”.  The year they won the national championship they were committed to “finish strong”.  They won the championship because each practice they committed to “finish strong” and each game they promised to “finish strong”.  He went on to talk about what it looks like to “finish strong” and that it’s not something that will just happen unless you commit to it on daily basis. 

Here’s my question to you - When you look out into the future and you picture your life if you “finished strong” - what does it look like? What does finishing strong mean to you? For Tim Tebow and his teammates it meant winning the National Championship. They had their eye on the prize. If you don’t know what you are aiming for, you probably won’t achieve it. 

The Bible talks about the importance of“finishing strong” 

“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

“Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!” 1 Corinthians 9:24

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

So…. I ask you again, what does it mean to“finish strong”? What can you do today, tomorrow, the day after that ….. to make sure you finish strong?

In Every Season....


“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding…” -Daniel 2:21

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” –Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” –Genesis 8:22


Recently, I had what felt like a big revelation.

I’m in what you might call a “winter” season right now. It’s full of constant health problems and financial struggles and questions about the future. It’s full of waiting and waiting and waiting for promises that feel long overdue. It’s full of questions, and, at times, fear. It’s cold, it’s gray, and it seems like it will go on forever.

We’ve all had these winter season in life—where the outlook is bleak, where the diagnosis is certain, where the money is short, or where there just isn’t enough time. Winter seasons which, in that moment, leave us certain we’ll never see spring again.

I was listening to a testimony from a worship leader the other day, and she talked about how God was speaking to her about her own winter season. She was sitting and looking out into the barren, winter woods in her backyard, feeling sorry for herself, when God whispered to her, “Don’t you love how far you can see, with the leaves fallen from the trees? Don’t you love the clarity that winter brings? Do the trees feel anxious that they’ll never have leaves again? That spring will never come?”

Just think about that for a second.

Do you have to run up to all the trees in your backyard or flowers in your garden and continuously reassure them that spring will come? That they’ll bloom again? Of course not! But then why do our winter seasons feel so different? Why are they accompanied by so much fear and anxiety, and why do all our prayers seem to focus on God getting us out of them as soon as possible?

Maybe you all won’t agree with me on this, but I think there’s just as much beauty to be found in winter as there is in the spring or summer or fall. Sure, in winter, things take more work. Things are harder. Putting on heavy layers and ensuring the kids are bundled up and waking up early to scrap the frost of our car in the morning… All of that takes more work and preparation and awareness. But is there anything quite as lovely and peaceful as waking up to a fresh snowfall? Or enjoying a hot cup of cocoa and a book in front of the fire?

When we refuse to embrace the season God has us in, we (unknowingly) reject any of the beauty or awe or personal growth that might come with it. Because the thing is, we will all have those winter seasons. God said it. Seasons where things are harder, and where everything seems to take more effort. But what I want you to know is this—spring always comes. Always. You will bloom once again.

But in the mean time? Take a look around you, and ask God to give you the eyes to appreciate all that winter brings.

Ditch the Valentines' Day Chocolate and try this instead!

First of all, Happy Valentine's Day! From where I stand, Valentines' Day is all about love, and if you really love someone, you don't want to pump them full of sugary chocolate and cookies, right? You don't want to make them feel sick, so don't! But how can I show this person I love them without chocolate, you ask? Well, let me tell you - you make them this instead. Delicious and nutritious. How's that for an I love you?

Today, we're bringing you some Strawberry Crisp!!


Ingredients:

3 cups sliced strawberries

1 banana Sliced

2 tblsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce

3/4 cup almond, coconut or whole wheat flour 

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

½ tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Put diced strawberries and bananas in a 8 x 8 pan. Pour vinegar over them and stir. Combine coconut oil, apple sauce, flour, flaxseed and cinnamon together. Crumble this mixture over strawberries. Bake in preheated oven at 375 for approximately 40 minutes.

Serves 4

I'm not a runner

I'm not a runner, never have been and most likely never will be BUT I did work the finish line of a marathon.

Today, as I listened to a sermon I was reminded of that day. That day I greeted hundreds of runners who had given it their all. They persevered and finished the race. When they crossed the line they were greeted by cheers and I wrapped them in a little blanket and told them "YOU DID IT!!"

What keeps me moving, gives me tons of excitement, motivates me when I don't feel like going the course is this - When I cross the finish line of life I will be greeted by Jesus and my hope is He looks at me and says, "YOU DID IT. Let me show you how, because you kept your eyes on me, you changed the eternity of that person over there and see that lady over there - yep she heard you that one day, even though you didn't think she was listening" and then He will wrap his loving arms around me and say, "Well done my good and faithful servant"

If I'm just being honest I want you to know I have tears flowing down my face because I want this for YOU too. I want you to live this amazing life filled with joy, peace, and purpose and when you cross the finish line of life I want you to see Jesus smiling to greet you. 

Why not open your heart to Jesus and by that I mean just try talking to him. Open that old Bible and read what Jesus said in the books of Matthew, Mark. Luke and John. I'm praying for all who read this.

World's Best Sweet Potato Fries

Preheat over to 400°.  Peal 2 large sweet potatoes. You can see this sweet potato isn't orange like you'd expect. There are different varieties and I love the pale colored ones like this the best. 

Slice potatoes into the shape and size of fries.

Cut up fresh rosemary and squeeze 1/2 large lemon.  Place fries on clean cookie sheet and add 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, lemon juice, 1/4 cup avocado oil (great for high heat cookie but can use olive oil too) and salt and pepper to taste. Stir so all fries are covered with oil. 

Place in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put in hot oven. In 15 minutes use a spatula to flip the fries if they aren't browning evenly on both sides. 

IMG_4288.jpg

Cook for additional 15 minutes (about 30 minutes total cooking time). Pull out and enjoy! Makes about 4 servings. 

Need a healthy & delicious appetizer for your holiday party?

With New Year's quickly approaching, you might have a party you're excited to attend, but what to bring? Well, regardless if you're staying home or going out, these Asparagus Roll-Ups are always a huge hit! Healthy, tasty, and super easy - the perfect appetizer! 


Asparagus Roll-Ups

Servings: 12 Appetizers

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 Slices of Turkey
  • 1 Large Avocado
  • 12 Asparagus Spears
  • 1/3 Cup Hummus (if you can find Lemon Hummus, it's my favorite for this recipe)

DIRECTIONS

Bring a pot of water to a low boil. Cut off bottom 1/4 of asparagus spears. Put asparagus in simmering water. Cook for about 5 min. or until crisp tender. Immediately, rinse asparagus in cold water to stop cooking process. Spread a thin layer of hummus over turkey. Slice avocado into 12 pieces. Place asparagus spear and avocado slice on top of turkey and roll. Push toothpick through turkey to hold in place. 

Enjoy!

 

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