Love, Tuesday... We have plans!

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Love, Tuesday... We have plans!

We are excited to be so close to having home plans all done!  We have been working with the home builders and showing them our ideas and Pinterest Boards and we really think they have come up with something special.  It's been a process and I know it's just the beginning, but it's a HUGE step and all I can do is take one step at a time or I will explode! 

I was thinking that it would be very helpful to have the plans in 3D and see them like Joanna Gaines does on the show Fixer Upper.  Thinking about this and wondering if anyone else has done this?  Have you either had a mock-up of your plans in a foam 3D model or the computerized version?  Would love to hear any suggestions because I don't want to spend the money if it's not worth it, but willing to if it really is helpful.

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At the same time, we are making things all pretty at our house now and then will be putting it on the market at the beginning of May.  If anyone knows of someone moving to our area or is wanting to move,  please pass this info along to them!  I'll try to post some photos of our home as we get closer.  Today we have about 5 different workers in our home painting, putting up subway tiles (why do we always wait to make it pretty when we sell our homes? lol) and fixing little things around the house.  

We still have a long ways to go before we are ready to move and LOTS to do, but this process has taken me back to my Interior Design days in college, and I LOVE this.  We are headed to Colorado soon to go through all the details like flooring, cabinets, fireplaces, lighting, audio, etc... So I thought I would share some more photos from our Pinterest Boards to see what you think.  You all have been so helpful with your emails, comments and messages on FB!  We would love some more input on things because we really DO want something different and unique, and I don't want to end up being afraid to make those decisions!

Looking into the kitchen area and what we would like, this is pretty much the only area Lance and I differ.  I really want LOTS of different materials (I'm the girl who says "I don't like MATCHY-MATCHY" about once a week and it's really getting to him) and he's kind of the matchy-matchy guy.  So I'm trying to convince him that it's ok if the island looks different than the cabinets.  Or the counter on the island is different than the counters on the cabinets.  And if we have different wall textures, (like brick AND subway tiles) it's going to be O.K.  So here's what I'm thinking...

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The elements in this kitchen are very similar to what I love.  I would like the kitchen to have:

-White marble or quartz island countertop(not sure which one is better/easier to take care of)
-Wood island cabinetry (but darker than this one)
-Concrete or other material for countertops (Lance leans towards concrete)
-Rustic Metal hood (black or dark grey metal)
-Black or white cabinets (this is where we are not sure... would white cabinets tie in the island better??)
-Some wood or metal shelving above the cabinets (but there will be cabinets above also)
-Floors will be a dark, somewhat distressed wood.
-White subway tiles AND brick in some way (see photos below)

NOTE:  We have a little bit of a unique wall that you will walk through to get into the kitchen from the hallway and front of the house.  Because we have an open concept loft above the kitchen there will need to be a big post to hold that up.  We plan to build that out to look like a slightly arched walkway into the kitchen and that will most likely be brick that is aged or has the "German Shmear" on it. (can you hear Chip saying that? hahaha 

 

Here's some of the ideas for the kitchen we like:

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We like the darker woods for the island cabinetry and the floors.

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Love this old cabinet and we would love to find something like this to use for the island and then put a white countertop on it.

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LOVE this waterfall island.  Really love this space as well... it's so peaceful.  But then it makes me rethink EVERYTHING and that's either a good thing or not, not sure yet. 

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Love the dark subway tile. (do not like the countertops)  Contract is usually what I love, so why do I love the room above this one so much??

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Like how this has subway tile AND brick, and it also has the white island countertop.

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Ok, this brick has my heart!  It reminds us of Europe and we both LOVE it, but where do you find this kind of brick??

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This is similar to what we will have as far as a "post" in the kitchen that needs to hold up the loft above it.  Instead of just a dumb post in the way, we have been trying to look for ideas to make it something unique.  I really like how they made this into a little cabinet.

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Here's another idea where instead of a post, they made a cool little wine space out of it!

We will be SO glad when this planning stage is over and we can just give the reigns over to the homebuilders and wait for it to be done.  (yes, I know it's not THAT easy...)  It's so fun to look at all the photos on Pinterest and other places, but then when it's "go time" to actually MAKE the decisions that will be forever in your home... not so easy to nail down. 

Nevertheless, we are still just in awe of what is moving forward here.  There is so much "behind the scenes" that the Lord is working out and we daily trust that He will show us the timing of everything.  So much still needs to be worked out: We need to get a loan, we need Lance to start his new business in Colorado (and have an income again... pretty important I'd say, lol) and we need our house to sell here.  It's had me many times in tears (in a GOOD WAY) thinking about how we are totally depended on our Savior... AND, we want to be in that place! It's a hard place to let yourself rest in, (especially when there is SO. MUCH. TO. DO... ) but it is where we know He is taking us and where we desire to BE.  This could still end, or be postponed, at any moment if any one of those things I mentioned above doesn't happen.   Then we know we will need to wait, and we'd be ok with that too.  Totally opening yourselves up to God's plans for you is scary and exciting all at the same time.  I think those are the two emotions we feel most during this journey.

Last Sunday in church we were learning about another "I AM" statement that Jesus talks about in the book of John:  "I AM the Good Shepard" and again, we see the Lord's perfect timing in that.  We know He is shepherding us.  We know He is a Sovereign, Good Shepard and He has all authority over our lives.  It is unbelievably peaceful to know that He knows everything about us, yet still loves us!  Isn't that awesome!?!   He is like the shepard who leave the 99 and goes after that ONE lost sheep, pursuing him with His love until he comes back into His fold. 

We know that He has a GOOD path for us and we want to yield to that and trust IN that.  That if we veer off His path, He will bring us back and get us on the right path.  My son-in-law Dany Ferrara shared some insight into Proverbs 16:9 last week at his staff meeting, which Rebecca happened to be a part of.  She shared with me how impactful that was to her, and I want to share that real quickly here.

Proverbs 16:9 says: "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."

I think most people think of this verse in some what of a negative way,  as in "well I shouldn't make my own plans, because God's plans are better and I'll wait for Him to show me..."  But what Dany felt the Lord sharing with him (when they were praying and considering leaving here to go to Austria) is that it is OK to make plans, that in fact God does want us to plan!  And that IN THAT process, the Lord will ESTABLISH these plans.  (I talked about this a while back in a post about our desires and how God gives us our desires for a REASON)  So if you feel lead to go somewhere, or do something or you feel that little "nudge"... start planning it.  Start praying about it, planning for it, researching it, talking about it, asking others about it.  That is where you will see the Lord ESTABLISHING it.  If it's not in the Lord's plan then He will shut the doors.  If it's what He is calling you to do, the doors will open and you will have peace stepping through that door. 

I love that, and I know it really touched Rebecca's heart as she shared it with me.   

I hope you know today that He is that Good Shepard in your life.  That He does want GOOD for you.(Jeremiah 29:11) But also know that there are many bad shepards out there who would like to influence your life and get you to go down the wrong path.  Who would like to use you for their purposes, who would like to confuse you about what is good and right. I think of the media and how they try to influence us, or how the world tries to shepard us in the direction they feel is right for the times.  For those of you who believe that God is real and good and true, don't let those things lead you away from Jesus Christ.  

Each day we have the choice to follow after the Good Shepard who loves us and wants to lead us down His path.  

I think of Psalm 23:

1   The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3     he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Rest in the joyful assurance that we have in Him.  

Sorry this got long and drawn out... I think only I can bring a blog post about moving and design plans around to the Lord... hahaha
 

I hope you don't think I'm always "preaching" to you, because in all truth I am preaching to myself most of all!  I fail to remember so much that comes out through these blog posts and I have so much to learn myself. So the Holy Spirit is definitely trying to get me to HEAR these words and let them sink in to my heart as well.  I hope you know that I never say what I say here to tell you what to do.  It's simply a space that I pray over and ask the Holy Spirit to bless and use, and hopefully that touches someone out there.

And if you're wondering... No, we do not have a house with a view of the Eiffel Tower! lol  The picture at the top of this post is simply a gorgeous view that we WILL get to enjoy when we bring 14 ladies to Paris this summer!   Through all this crazy planning for this move,  I've also been planning for our retreats this year.  We can't wait to have lots of FUN exploring Paris & Bruges, to create and talk about art, (this year will be a study on Rodin) and to share our deep love of Jesus!  July come quick...

Have a BEAUTIFUL Tuesday!

Hugs,

Laura

 

 

 

 

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Love, Tuesday...

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Love, Tuesday...

This Tuesday I am loving this necklace my friend gave me.  I wore it last weekend and forgot to post a picture of it.  The reason why I love it so much is because there is a STORY behind it.

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It's from Branded Collective and the reason it's so special is because a survivor of human trafficking made it.  Branded is an empowerment program where the women collaborate with local artisans to handcraft jewelry.  Each one of these pieces of jewelry contains a unique number and letter that represents one of the MILLIONS (can you believe that number??) that are trapped in this nightmare.  You can go online to their website and actually read about the girl that made your necklace or bracelet.  Not the story of their nightmare... but of their brave life going forward afterwards.  

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What my dear friend Jeanne Oliver didn't know is that my husband and I have supported a few groups in our area that help get women out this horrific situation for many years.  With three daughters it's a cause that is very close to our hearts. In fact so scary close to even imagine that my husband has had to go to the meetings/events alone.  I know that may sound so cowardly or selfish and I'm embarrassed to admit that.  As a mom raising three beautifully innocent young girls though, I had a really hard time not freaking out that that could happen to our daughters and I couldn't be that involved, or that "close" to it when our girls were younger.  Now, with the help from our church who really has taken up this battle, I can stand up and help fight for these young girls and boys and it's something that has been on my heart lately.  

So I guess this necklace came just at the right time.  

I've gone onto their website and read about the girl who made mine.  Wow, it was so wonderful to read about her brave soul.  She's CREATIVE and generous and FORGIVING!  I love her story and am praying for her.  Who knows... maybe one day we will meet.

So thank you Jeanne, it's a gift that matters, a gift that makes me think...and I love it.

If you want to give this kind of gift, go check out Branded Collective, they also have a beautiful Instagram account by the same name.  

If you want to help fight this battle,  (and it's a battle that needs people to PRAY HARD first) please make a donation or help of your time to these great organizations below.  Look at what they are fighting against:

Can you believe this statistic:  "Human trafficking earns profits of roughly $150 billion a year for traffickers."  That is HORRIFIC!  It isn't going anywhere unless we ALL do something.  

Here are some that we have worked with, supported and really want to shine a light on:

Stuart House of Santa Monica

Operation Safe House

Treasures

Polaris Project

Alabaster Jar Project

Global Center for Women & Justice - Vanguard University

VictorMarx - All Things Possible Ministries

One last thing that I will say in regards to this.  As parents of three girls it is hard to imagine something like this happening to one of our girls, or to ANY girl!  It is pure evil and is just so scary to even THINK about.  And as we have talked about this to other parents I see this desire to "stick your head in the sand" and not confront the reality of this evil.  I WAS THERE, so I KNOW!  But we must NOT do that.  We must be aware.  That includes knowing your local area and what is going on locally.  TALKING to your children about this horrible reality.  Let them see (at age appropriate times) some of the movies that are on this subject.   Priceless and Taken are two that come to mind.  Make your kids AWARE that this IS out there, and then EQUIP them with knowledge to help them discern for themselves what are not good situations to put themselves in.  Get them into self defense classes if you can.  It's not something that just happens in "bad areas" and we have to help educate our kids.  Not to scare them or shelter them... but to EMPOWER them.  To give them the "tools" they need, the skill set to do their best at being protected and NEVER have this happen to them.   

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And PRAY.  

Pray for a hedge of protection around them daily.  Pray for the evil to be overcome.  Pray for the people fighting to bring a LIGHT to this horrible darkness.  Pray to ask the Lord to show you how you can help.  (That's a scary one I am praying over, and it's something that has taken me a long time to be open or ready for)  

Pray these verses over them:

Psalm 46:1 says: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

2 Thessalonians 3:3 says: "But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one."

And put on the WHOLE ARMOR of GOD.  

"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes." Ephesians 6:11.

This is something I need to make a habit of and I don't.  I talked about it in a past blog post and will be honest with you and tell you that I don't think about this daily.... but I want to!  I was just having a conversation with one of my girls last week about this.  This is the SOLID ROCK that we can stand on, and NEED in our daily lives.  The enemy is real and wants to mess with us, there's no getting around that.  And when you are following the path God has for you, it's not going to make the enemy happy.  So reminding ourselves to put on the FULL ARMOR of GOD is GOOD. Lord, let this sink into our minds and be in our hearts daily.

One of my favorite verses GIVES US HOPE:

John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

We just went through this chapter in church last Sunday. Jesus Christ wants us to have a life ABUNDANT.  Don't stay stuck in fear or hopelessness.  Cling to the HOPE and protection that is in Christ.

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Yes and Amen!

Hugs to all,

Laura

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Walking through the Door...

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Walking through the Door...

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Good morning Monday!  

I just love doors.  I take pictures of doors all the time and I have for many years. The doors in Europe are just so beautiful that I can't get enough of them. Why don't we make our doors pretty like the one above?  In our new house in Colorado we really want to have some old doors and are searching for those now.

In church yesterday our pastor was talking about the passage in John 10 where Jesus says "He is the Door"  and here's what I wrote on IG yesterday:

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” John‬ ‭10:9‬ ‭

Learning about the “I AM” statements by Jesus in the book of John. Thank you Jesus for being a Door and not a long hallway! (as in a long list or religious “to do’s” to enter in) He’s simply wanting to let you in, and then giving you freedom to come and go. Oh how we “knock” on so many OTHER doors (trying to find peace, love, happiness, acceptance, etc...) and He’s just over here wanting to escort you in through His door. Because He loves every one of us, and wants to show you that through HIS door it is the only place you will truly find: 

1. Salvation for our souls
2. Security = freedom & refuge
3. True Satisfaction (that doesn’t depend on our circumstances) and that leads us to green pastures.

Then John 10:10 says “ the thief comes to steel and kill, but I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus Christ is the door to that abundant life. He gave His life for us to have eternal life... but also an abundant life HERE AND NOW. That’s not a life abundant of THINGS, but a life rich with HIM. (FYI it’s not a door to a church building, but to a relationship) Leading us to those green pastures, still waters and satisfaction for our SOULS. Yes and Amen... I will take some of that!

What about you?

Have you walked in through His door?

What does that green pasture or still water (ie... abundant life) look like for you? For me it’s a daily journey with Him by my side. Peace and stillness that’s not dependent on how hard my day/life may be. Showing me all that He wants to do and the adventure He has for us. And another FYI... His plans for you are SO. MUCH. BIGGER than you could ever dream up on your own. (This I know so deeply) Let Him lead you through that door and see how much more He has for you... so much MORE than any other door you’ve tried to go through, knock down, build up or manufacture.

Remember the game show “Let’s make a Deal?” Well, He’s got the BEST deal for you through His door. So choose Door #1 ~ straight to your Heavenly Father.

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Last week I shared about the I AM statement "I am the Light of the World" and how that reminded me of Billy Graham's life.  This journal page I did above kind of came out of that blog post and I wanted to share that with you.  Also, our pastors wife wrote a great little devotional last week about the topic and I thought I'd share it with you here:

"I AM The Light of the World"~written by staff member Kelly Bell “You are the light of the world..." Matthew 5:14

When I go out every morning for a run, it’s still completely dark. I know, not the smartest thing to do, but it’s a 40 year routine! Can’t teach old dogs new tricks, right? After tripping over things multiple times, I finally began wearing a headlamp. What a difference it makes when you can see where you’re going! I don’t trip over rocks, fall off curbs, or run into hydrants! In John 8:12 Jesus calls Himself the Light of the world. When we follow Him, our path is illuminated! He shows us where to place our next step, what obstacles to avoid, and what dangers are ahead. No longer do we have to wander around in darkness and “hope” we can find our way. And because Jesus tells us that now WE are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), we can illuminate the way for others. His light shines through us to show others the way to life. He’s our headlamp in this dark world!

Are you "wearing" your light?  Have you turned on your light?

Have a great week ahead everyone.

Hugs,

Laura

 

 

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Billy Graham...

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Billy Graham...

Lately I have been thinking a lot about Billy Graham. He's had a huge impact on so many lives.  I remember listening to him on the old TV in our den. (that didn't have a remote back then and you had to actually GET UP off the couch to change the channel... yes I'm THAT old ;) I can't remember if I actually went to a Crusade, I think we did, but I know my parents went a couple times. But I was thinking about him the day before we all heard the news of his passing. (Which may be when he DID pass... that's kind of strange now that I think about it)  The reason he's been on my mind is because I have been really struggling with what my WORDS and my heart SPEAK forth.  This verse in Ecclesiastes 5:2 is what I honestly have to check myself ALL the time on:  "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart."  I think of Billy Graham as someone who had this as his prayer.  

This morning I watched as Billy Graham was honored by our President in the Capital Rotunda and I heard the story that started it all.  It moved be beyond tears because it was all about the POWER of Prayer.

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You see in 1934 Billy Graham's father let a group of business men from their town in NC use part of their farm (I'm going to believe it was their barn) as a GATHERING PLACE to come together for a day of prayer.  These business men prayed for their town, their businesses,

AND...

They prayed a powerful prayer that was an unbelievably BOLD prayer.

They prayed that the Lord would raise up someone to preach the GOSPEL to the ENDS OF THE WORLD from their town!!  

Wow.

Billy Graham was only 15 years old at that time.  

But it is safe to say that prayer was answered in a BIG way, through the son of the man who allowed that day of prayer to take place in a GATHERING PLACE on his land.

That may not get your waterworks going, but it does BIG TIME for me.

As you well know by now, if you come to my blog, we as a family are "pulling up roots" and moving to Colorado because we feel the Lord has called us to build a Gathering Place.  I can't help but hear that story and get on my knees. To pray that we pray BOLD prayers like that for this next generation! I WANT prayers spoken, lives moved, and hearts drawn near to the Lord on our land!

Let me back track a little though and be an open book with you.  I've been having little doubts creep in along the way about us moving.  How are we going to DO THIS? How are we going to AFFORD THIS? What is this really going to LOOK LIKE?

Yes,  we have definitely heard the voice of God through His Word, through people, through promptings.  Yes, doors have been opening all along the way.  It has been an INCREDIBLE time of hearing and seeing signs.  So I KNOW that He is truly moving us.  I guess I'm just having doubts about what this is supposed to look like?  What is this Gathering Place all about...

So what are these fears about? I'm not sure but I think I'm seeing that there are two reasons for these doubts.

#1 is FEAR.

The doubt is not that I think it's not the right path for us going forward.  It's the fear of rejection, the fear of failure, the fear of the unknown.  Yes, if I'm laying it all out there to see, it's fear that comes in and messes with me.

#2 is the enemy.

He doesn't want this to happen.  Plain and simple.  When we step out in faith to do the will of God, he doesn't like that. I'll share more on these two things in a coming blog post, so I will leave this here for now.   And as a side note:  If you have any words to speak on this I'd love to hear them.  I could use wisdom here...

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Lately I've been caught up on WORDS.  Oh... you already know that though... :)

It's just that in this social media day and age... words are everywhere!  Words of wisdom, words of hate.  Words of encouragement, words of pride.  More words that we can digest.  And in all of that, I wonder what are MY words saying? Will I follow the crowd, will I be fearful to  speak up for what I believe?  Will I hurt someone with my words or will I be an encourager?  

The last couple weeks we have been going through the "I AM" statements in church. It's made me think:

Do we follow the crowd or do we follow Jesus? 

John 6:68 says: "To whom shall we go?  You have the WORDS of eternal life."Like Peter says to Jesus... You are LIFE.  Why would we want to go anywhere else?  Why would we want to follow anyone else? Your WORDS are life. 

And it makes me think about Billy Graham.  The morning I found out about his passing I wrote this in my journal:

"Yesterday Billy Graham was called home.  What a giant of the faith and yet the most humble of men.  It reminds me of Jesus' words in Mark 10 where Jesus talks about serving others. "Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as ransom for many."  

I think of how Billy lived his life... it's exactly what I've been trying to understand... How to live like THAT?  A humble servant of the Lord, going about the "business" of sharing God's LOVE:

TO ALL.  

My thoughts lately have been struggling with this... how do you speak God's truth to all?  How do you speak God's truths with love... without judgement?  How do you speak God's truths and show grace to people who have such opposing ideas/views on life?  How do you show kindness to those who laugh and mock you for your beliefs?

Billy Graham was able to do all those things!  He had the answer...

And I think I finally figured it out too. Luke 9 says it.  In verses 23-26 is says: "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses himself?"  We have to fight this FEAR (that is not from God) and live a life that IS only for God. Simply for Jesus.  I am not ashamed of the gospel.  So if we live without fear of rejection, fear of hate or fear of loss, we move into a space that says: "God has given us the answer to LIFE... through His Word and the Holy Spirit."  Why would we NOT want to help heal a hurting world?  Like Kathy Lee Gifford said this morning, "Would you keep the cure to cancer hidden if you found it?  No!  Then if we as believers have the answer to life everlasting, why would we keep it hidden?"

That I think is how Billy Graham was able to keep the foundation of a faithful life.  He didn't care if the people he humbly and simply shared his faith with were rich or poor, democrats or republicans, red, yellow, black or white, or even what religion they were raised up in.  

He had a cure for death... and it was simply Jesus and the Gospel message! 

Because it is such GOOD NEWS.

Last week was "I am the Light of the World" in our series at church.  There is SO much in that statement and it was so interesting to realize that God's first words spoken to man are about light. (Gen. 1:1-5 "Let there be Light")  All the way through the Bible is talks about the Light vs. the darkness.  It is a battle... Good vs. Evil.  (Just like all those movies we see with the superhero's saving the world)  All through the Bible we see God bringing Light into the darkness, Jesus coming to save us from the darkness.  Jesus BEING the Light of the World, and then calling those who believe to be the light of the world.  And then even to the very end in Revelations 21:23 where is says: "for the glory of God gives light..." 

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God's LOVE brings LIGHT to the whole WORLD.

John 3:16 "For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him."

God LOVES you.  He sent His SON because of LOVE.  Not to condemn... but to show just how great and wide His LOVE is.

I hope you feel that today.  I hope you KNOW that today.  If not, please email me or message me because that's what I want to make sure you "get" from this blog post today! We have victory over the darkness in this world through Jesus, and we are called to shine that light.

It may be a tiny ember that you have...or a tiny mustard seed... and that is OK.  Like our pastor said at the end of the service, "Even if you're a tiny little ember, God is over here willing to stoke that fire and grow your flame." I love that.

So I guess all this has answered my questions.  (and I have to remind myself of this when the enemy tries to confuse me or tries to diminish what God is calling us to do)

Our GATHERING PLACE is to be a light to the world about the GOOD NEWS...

that God LOVES You.

Look at this barn below.  It's the beautiful barn that sits on Billy Graham's land.  I wonder how many BOLD prayers have been prayed right there?  How many people have been raised up to go spread the GOOD NEWS to the ends of the world...

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Look at this barn.  It's the beautiful barn that sits on Billy Graham's land.  I wonder how many BOLD prayers have been prayed right there?  How many people have been raised up to go spread the GOOD NEWS to the ends of the world...

Love the cross as a window to bring in the LIGHT.  

It reminds me of the stained glass you see in church windows letting the light in. Our pastor put it this way:

Jesus is like that light.  When He is inside of us we are like that stained glass and His beautiful glory shines through us.

We may need to have a stained glass window in our barn... 

I hope you have a great day and know how much God loves you.  Would love to hear any of your Billy Graham stories.  I'm sure he has impacted your life in some way.  And if not... go listen to him preach and then you will see why he touched so many lives.  I'm sure there's some on YouTube or you can find them here.

Hugs,

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Love, Tuesday...

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Love, Tuesday...

I wanted to let you know that my daughter Victoria and her husband Dany Ferrara are returning to the mission field soon. We love their hearts to serve the Lord and we ask that you pray for them as they desire to do God's will for their lives.  If you would like to support them financially as well, you can go to their GoFundMe page HERE.  

May God be glorified!

Here is there letter to everyone:

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Hello Everyone,

by God's grace Victoria (my wife) and I are able to go back on the mission field once more, and we couldn't be more excited.

We are going back to Austria! Whoohoo!

We will be spending 4 and a half months at the Calvary Chapel Conference Center, also known as "The Castle".
Why "The Castle" you ask? Glad you asked. Well, because it's a 100+ years old actual Castle. Here is a photo:

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Believe us, we know, It's gorgeous.
Anyway, We will be serving God's people in very practical ways, as well as helping youth that will come to serve for the summer grow closer to God and guide them through practical serving.

Our desire is to see souls saved, lives changed, relationships restored once more.

If you have known us for even the smallest of time, you have probably heard us talk about Austria. I (Dany) lived there for about 4 years in the past. Victoria has also lived there for about 6 months just before we moved to the United States and got married. And now after much prayer, God has open a door for us to go back and rejoin the team at The Castle.

This is our first step to test the waters once more. Full time ministry has always been in our hearts and we have always prayed that God would allow us, according to His will, to be back in mission field.

First, we ask that you would support us in prayer as we step out in faith. Pray that God would guide and lead us, that He would reveal to us more of Himself, and teach us. Pray that we will be attentive to His voice and understand our next step.

Second, we ask that you would prayerfully consider to support us financially. The money that will be raised here will go towards our travel expense, which are our flights getting there and coming back, expenses we will have while we are in Italy getting Victoria's visa, and other expenses that we will need to cover while we are there, like our heath insurance, etc. etc.

We know that there is power in prayer, and we are so thankful that you will be praying for us. And we are beyond grateful that you will help us financially.

From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU!

Here a few verses that God gave us:

"A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps." - Proverbs 16:9

"You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." - Psalm 16:11

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." - Ephesians 3:20

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If you're wondering... YES, we are going to miss them like crazy!  I myself have had to wrestle with the Lord over letting my kids "go" and I imagine it's not easy for any parent.  I'm in that "middle life" that Sheila Atchley is talking about in our retreat this fall (if you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the last blog post...) and I am in NEED of some WORDS to calm my heart.  I know they are only ours for a time... but why does that time have to go by so fast?  With two out of the house now and one entering High School in the Fall it is a pretty quiet house.  But I am so blessed by our children and what the Lord is doing through their lives.  It's what we as parents are called to do... train them up in the way that they should GO...

You can go see there GoFundMe Page here.

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Italy in the Fall...

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Italy in the Fall...

Let me introduce you to my beautiful friend Sheila Atchley.  Then I want to invite you to spend a week with us in Italy... because I know the Lord is going to show up during this week, and show us BIG things.  Below are Sheila's words (and if you follow me on IG or read my blog, you know I'm all about WORDS lately, and these words from Sheila got me...)

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"This October, in Bellagio, Italy, I will be bringing a word for those of us “in the middle”. While we are smack-dab in the middle of some of the most beautiful gardens in the world, ablaze with autumn glory, we will play with the idea of an Autumn Planting.

Gardeners do it all the time.  Cold weather crops may need a little extra nurturing, and a little different mindset, but cold weather crops are some of the best.

It is never too late to plant something new and different.

God can take what you plant, right now in this middle-season of your life, even what feels like “late in the season”, and give you a “winter crop” that will knock your socks off and bless you all your days.  

Through words and art, we will play with this and other “in the middle” themes, surrounded by the beauty that is Bellagio.

He makes all things new.  He does all things well.

No one reaches the middle without a few regrets.  Nevertheless (I love that word), we don’t have to settle for our present mid-life harvest, if it is even a little less than we hoped for.  We can plant again, for a future harvest.  Because our God makes and does, we don’t have to “make do” with what is.  Such grace!

Come away for a little while, and let God restore your capacity to play, to dream new dreams and to plant new things."

~ Sheila

Beautiful, right?

Well here is a sample of one of the classes she is teaching that she just sent me.  

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We are praying the Lord moves in the hearts of those that need to be at this retreat.  So pray about it and see if that's YOU.  

We can't wait to meet you in Italy this Fall!

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Find out more details here.  Or Sign up HERE.

Hugs to all,

Laura

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Life is so precious...

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Life is so precious...

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Life IS so precious.  

I really don't know how to wrap my brain around all that is LIFE.  My heart is so heavy this week.  There is so much pain, there is so much hate, there is so much death.  This week has been tough and I'm just being honest with you... because if you're like me, you may have a hard time processing things as well.

My hubby & I were just talking about this on our walk yesterday.  How do you balance wanting to keep your kids safe (In a little bubble that is probably too overprotective) and letting them “go” and trusting the Lord will protect them and they will make wise decisions.  Also... balancing the fact that when it’s their time to go there’s nothing we can do to change the date.

My daughter just lost a friend in an accident on Valentine's Day. She was just talking to him on campus before he left, and he never came back.  They were pretty good friends and he was such a godly young man that loved the Lord, his family and others.  How do you wrestle with understanding that a great young man is gone in a blink?  I don’t have that answer.  All I can do is pray & cry and pray & cry. I can NOT imagine getting a phone call like his parents have gotten, and I pray I never do.

We don’t understand any of life’s tragedies, and it breaks our hearts.  Looking at the news this week and seeing tragedy everywhere, and people spewing hate everywhere, it is so upsetting. We live in a broken, sin-filled world that will never see complete peace and perfection until the Lord's return.  (Revelations 21:4-5 "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.  And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”)

One of my friends posted on IG "You can lock up every gun and medicate every person with mental illness, but if we don't get out of our comfort zones enough to minister to the hurting, isolated and marginalized and help heal hurting hearts... hurt people will continue to hurt people."  I love that from my friend Erin.  That is true.   My mind keeps going back to Mark 12:31 where is says: " And the second is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these."  Ok, how do we do that practically?  Because that is not easy to do... but that is exactly what we NEED to do.  The 1st commandment before that... "and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy thought and with all thy strength: this is the principal commandment." 

So, if we say we LOVE the Lord and believe in a God of love and mercy and grace, that is THE CONSTANT here.  

God doesn’t change.  

Life changes for sure...  It's gone in a blink, it's filled with tragedy, it hurts... and yet it's also beautiful and filled with lots of joy. So my only answer is FAITH in God.  That is who & where we go to, to find the peace and love that only He can give us. 

I see tragic stories like what we've seen this week and what gives me HOPE is the families who through their tragedies share about the peace they have felt that DOES pass all understanding!  That they still can rejoice and say that God is GOOD.

That is powerful.

Rebecca shared that her friends family flew in yesterday to the campus and today there was a memorial service for Jeff.  It was so hard for everyone, but one thing she said was that it was such a blessing to see how the Lord comforts, the Lord heals and He even gives strength to PRAISE Him through such tragedy.  That his family could PRAISE God in this memorial service, this tragedy only a day old, it's incredible.

That is again what I am in awe of!

You hear these stories again and again and it truly amazes me.  To me it is PROOF that we have a GOD who loves us!  Who through it all is there to comfort us, and one day He WILL take away all of the pain and tears.  And in the meantime, He HELPS US THROUGH...

Psalm 34:17-18 "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."

This is the verse my daughter posted yesterday.  We can CLING to these words in all circumstances if we believe in God.  This is why I believe we see these stories of such strong faith like I mentioned above.

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Colossians 3:14 "And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."

I did this Bible Journaling page last week after our church.  I do believe as Christ followers, this is what SHOULD separate us.

LOVE.

It is certainly not easy though.  But it IS I think what my friend Erin was saying in her IG post and what we need to try more of.  And I'm certainly not saying we don't call out evil, but I am saying life is broken and we need to:

Stop hating, stop bullying, stop saying rude things...

Show kindness, give of ourselves, encourage others...

Help out, serve others, go out of your way...

Get out of our bubble, see the world, see the needs and do something...

Speak WORDS of LOVE.

I think this may be my new "to-do" list to concentrate on.  Believe me... this isn't easy and I'm the first to admit I don't live my life in this way.  But I want to.  I think this week taught me more than I realized it would...

I made the top Bible Journaling page just a little bit ago, in all my thoughts and mess of emotions.  My heart is full, but I want my life to go forward with this verse as my story because I think it probably encompasses that list above.

Psalm 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

We all have a story that we are meant to live.  Let's LIVE it to the fullest, with a heart set on the Lord's purpose for having us here.

Big HUGS today,

Laura

 

P.S.  I know these are MY beliefs and not everyone shares them.  But let's try to be kind and not leave any comments if you disagree. 

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Interview with Women of Noble Character...

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Interview with Women of Noble Character...

Happy Valentine's Day!

I wanted to let you know that there is a wonderful website that is called Women of Noble Character that invited me to do an interview with the owner, Susan Nelson about a month ago.  It is LIVE today and there's a fun GIVEAWAY as well!  (some past class kits from Italy and a BIG DISCOUNT as well)  We talk about all kinds of things that I think you will enjoy. I don't like to see my video's or listen to my voice (does everybody's voice sound SO different to them when it's recorded?) so I'll just take any feedback from you on the video... hahaha

I know you may be a little busy today with your loved ones,  but you can check it out HERE when you have a chance.  Don't forget to enter the GIVEAWAY while you are there too!

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Have a beautiful day,

Laura

 

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Rumblings...

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Rumblings...

Rumblings: an early indication or rumor of dissatisfaction or incipient change.

That's what is going on inside of me lately, (the incipient change part)  Yet I am so busy that it's there in the background, trying to get my attention... and I wish I could "be still" for it to come to the foreground.  This change that is about to happen encompasses our whole lives and right now trying to figure out what steps to take and what to do next is daunting.

Right now we are going forward in the early stages of the plans for the home and the gathering place.  Looking at so many home plans can make you delirious, but working through this process is so important to the future our our lives in Colorado.

I was thinking this week about WORDS and talked about that on my last blog post below.  I was just talking to Lance about taking some time to think about the words we want our home to embody. It's important to me because I truly believe we are being called to a place that the Lord has established ahead of us and therefore a place that when people come (and we live in daily) it speaks to us... and those who will come and be a part of this with us.  

I know GATHER is kind of the "it" word right now.  I see it everywhere... on pillows, signs, etc. But when I first felt the Lord directing us to GATHER people, He lead me to Hebrews 10:22-25: 

22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts purified from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water;

23 let us hold fast the profession of our hope without wavering (for he is faithful that promised).

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto charity and unto good works,

25 not forsaking our gathering together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another and so much the more, when ye see that day approaching.

I love how the Message Bible translates Hebrews 10-:22-25 Listen to this version:

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

Let's see how INVENTIVE and ENCOURAGING we can be!

I so adore that.  Just like my last post talks about how words can speak life or crush a spirit, I want my home and our Gathering Place to be a place of CREATIVENESS and ENCOURAGEMENT.

Some of the words that are flowing out of these verses and our thought process are:

Inviting

Creative

Fellowship

Rest

Encouragement

Revival

Love

So the question becomes:

How do you go forward in the process of building THESE words into a place that embodies that?? That is what I am trying to figure out and now is the time.  When we are in the process of designing WALLS and SPACES and LIGHTING... all of that!

So I want to share with you some of these elements that will make our home (and gathering place eventually) and see what YOU think.  If will indulge me a little I want to show you some photos and ask if those words above would intermix with these designs.  Sound fun?

When have a vision for our land that goes way beyond our comfort zone as far as design and what we are used to.  So when you see these pictures don't FREAK OUT.  hahaha  

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Even though these all have different styles (don't worry about that right now), they all encompass the elements we want:  

1. An open floor plan
2. Stairs as a design element IN the room
3. A loft visible from this "Great Room."

We really think we want the stairs to be a focal point of this part of the home.  It shows movement, to me it is inviting you to explore and it certainly is creative!

The next element we really want in our home is a Sun Room. Maybe it's just because we are moving from California where it is currently 80 degrees in February... but we truly want a small space that is off the kitchen that is enclosed but open to view the outdoors and feel like your are almost IN the outdoors...

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The first sun room makes my heart go "pitter patter" like nothing else!  I fell in LOVE with this picture on Pinterest instantly.  I just don't know if Colorado sun will be too strong to have the ceiling like that or version #2 would be better?  But oh how I am in love with dreaming about my mornings out here with my bible, Jesus and of course COFFEE... duh 

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Outdoor space.  As you probably have seen, we LOVE our outdoor space... and I've already cried a few times thinking about the day I can no longer be out there in the mornings doing my devotions or the times we have enjoyed with family and friends out there that will forever be treasured. SO... that means we really want to try and create a space outside that is going to be a place for FELLOWSHIP.  Yes, the barn will be that as well and so much more.  But that may not come for a while and is not where we will live our daily lives.

With the way our home will be set up, there will be a walk out basement below the main level.  We are not used to this concept but trying to understand it.  What makes sense it to have a deck off the main level (from the kitchen & great room) that will be a place to relax, unwind and enjoy with friends and family.  What do you think about these spaces above?  I'd love to have a fireplace again outside but now sure it will be a real one or not.

So there's the beginning stages of our home plans. 

I'd LOVE to hear what you think and see if you would feel those words I mentioned above in those spaces?  You can leave a comment on here or via my contact page.  

I'll share more next week of the kitchen and other areas, but that great room/open floor plan is where we want to put the most thought in and create a beautiful place for life with our family and friends.

Have a GREAT weekend,

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh and if you want to see more of what we are thinking about, you can follow me on Pinterest at Laura McCollough and go to my Laura's Wish List for Colorado.  

 

 

 

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Words have power...

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Words have power...

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Today I want to use as few words as possible.  

See I've always been the person who speaks before she thinks.. and goes on and on. (You should know that by now if you've read my LONG blog posts... hahaha)

Growing up I remember being the one that would speak for my friends.  My best friend wasn't shy, per say... but if we had to make a phone call or talk to some adult I was the one speaking for us.  My mom was also very scared to speak truth to people, which lead to people walking all over her.  I didn't like that and would tell her to stand up for herself and say what she wanted to say.   Which is such a strange dichotomy because I HATE to speak up in big groups...public speaking frightens me!  If I'm in a big group of people I'm usually the one listening instead of talking.  But I guess I have more "chutzpah" one-on-one. lol

Anyways, I think lately I am realizing how important our WORDS are.  

 I certainly don't want to have a flippant attitude in what I say to others!  I hope my words are spoken with love and truth...  But I can't say that they always are.  This past weekend I read a devotional from Our Daily Bread that kind of kicked me in the gut.  Then of course the Lord seems to always bring things up multiple times when He's trying to tell me something... and this topic came up quite a bit.  I heard the song by Toby Mac "Speak Life" and again I realized:

Words can speak LIFE or crush a spirit...

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Proverbs 16:24 says: "Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."

I love that verse.  How beautiful to have our words be like sweet honey!  I want that to be what comes forth from my lips.  Words of encouragement, words of love, gentle words.  

My prayer as a wife, mother and friend is that I am forgiven for the words I have spoken without thought of their impact.  That I can go forward THINKING before I speak and asking the Lord to guide my words and let them be spoken in LOVE.

Psalm 19:14 says:

"Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

 

What a wonderful verse and prayer of our heart to start our days...

Have a beautiful day everyone!  May you feel the love and grace that comes from a God who is showing us day by day what love and wisdom He has for us. That it may go deep down into our hearts and in turn impact the people around us, through our sweet words.

If you want to read the devotional from Our Daily Bread, you can read it here.

Love collecting type letters... so I took this picture because it makes me think about all the choices we have with a little 26 letter alphabet. 

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What will our words say today?

Hugs,

Laura

P.S. Next week Wednesday I will be sharing a link to a video interview I did a few weeks back.  It was completely stepping out of my comfort zone, but it was a blessing to share my heart with another creative soul who loves the Lord.  There's also a fun GIVEAWAY that will be along with that interview so check back for more details soon.

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