Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween



You're thinking this is a previous Halloween picture, right, because today is Halloween? 

Nope!

This, dear readers, is simply two sisters, about 4 years ago, having some good, clean fun on a Saturday night. (And, yes, I'm wearing a wig.)

I went hunting through my computer files to find an old picture of either me or David trick-or-treating as a kid to share, but when I stumbled upon this one first, I knew it was a winner worthy of sharing. 

Growing up north of Atlanta, everyone participated in Halloween. In the safety of our subdivisions, Halloween was simply a community gathering. All adults would get home early enough to park their cars before the sun went down so children could have free reign of the roads to run from house to house trick-or-treating. Meanwhile, parents would walk behind their children through the neighborhood, on the way bumping into neighbors they hadn't visited with since the last neighborhood swim meet over 4th of July. 

However, I recognize that for many people, Halloween doesn't conjure up such happy feelings. For some, Halloween is truly scary because of the violence that occurs in their communities that night every year. For others, Halloween is confusing since there are people who've used the holiday as an excuse to worship Satan. 

One of my favorite opinions on Halloween comes from Ray Comfort. In his article on Living Waters.com, he challenges believers to, "Make the most evil night of the year into the most evangelistic." 

Halloween reminds me that almost everyone has a fascination with the spiritual realm. Whether it's the un-dead or ghosts or zombies or exorcisms, just take a look at modern entertainment. The television networks and movie studios keep rolling out tv shows and movies about topics that involve the "darker side" of the spiritual realm. People eagerly watch them because they are curious about death and evil. And here we have a day on our calendars where it's socially considered "okay" to dress up like or watch a scary movie about these things. Furthermore, it's all expected to be done publicly. Not in secret. Halloween is an out-on-the-street holiday.

Honestly, I can't help but laugh and wonder if Satan realizes his failures with October 31st...

He thought he could claim just one day for himself to be honored. That on that one day he could squelch the joy and peace of Jesus by confusing people and instilling fear.

That if the weather was eery (like it is in North Little Rock today) people might jump at the shadows or believe the creaks in their attack are ghosts coming to haunt them because they're fearful and confused.

He thought, in their state of confusion and loneliness, people would seek him out, but instead, on this holiday, lonely people will be visited by children. There are people tonight who never get visitors and never receive special deliveries, but tonight, eager children will knock on their doors with big smiles.

And most excitedly, because of all the hype Halloween and evil gets this week, our neighbors who are walking up and down the street are primed to talk about spiritual things they're curious about.

Our God can take the most horrific thing and turn it into something beautiful. 2000 years ago, to look upon a crucifix was gruesome. Today, we wear them as beautiful pieces of jewelry reminding us of the glory of God's grace.

Today and tonight, many neighborhoods and subdivisions and churches and communities will choose to use something Satan tried to claim for himself as a platform to shine the light of truth.

When the sun goes down, and the wind picks up, turn on the lights in your home. Remind your community that not only is there a light in the darkness, it's shining right there in their communities.

Don't let Satan have this day. Use it as the day God made it for, not the day Satan wants it to be.

A couple other Christian opinions on Halloween:
Christianity Today - "Matters of Opinion: Hallowing Halloween"
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association - "Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?"

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Who You Are" - TheAnimaSeries

Yesterday morning, my Mary Kay Exec. Senior Sales Director, Gerri Anne, shared this video with her team. 

It took me a whole day to carve out 3.5 minutes to watch it, but I'm so glad I did! 

So, here's 3.5 minutes of encouragement to the women who visit our blog...


And, we couldn't leave out the guys. So, this one is for the men!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sharing

A little over a week ago, David and I started a new business... I became an Independent Beauty Consultant with Mary Kay! I have known about Mary Kay since I was old enough to say Mary Kay. My mom was an Independent Beauty Consultant when I was just a toddler, and I can remember playing with her burgundy, accordion style file-folder that was always stuffed with samples of eye shadow and blush. Little did I realize that one day I'd be adding "accordion style file-folders" to my shopping list for my own Mary Kay business.

This past week, I've spent every spare moment absorbing everything I could about the Mary Kay company and their amazing products.

That's just my nature. Even in nursing school, one of my professors had commented on how detail-oriented I am when I was reciting memorized drug information back to her.

I just responded, "If I'm going to give it (i.e. a medication), I want to know all about it!"

As I began to entertain the idea of starting this new business, I knew I would have a lot of research to do before I ever offered a sample of a Mary Kay product to anyone.

Last night, one of our sweet neighbors dropped by to play with the Mary Kay starter kit I'd received in the mail. I gave her the disclaimer that I didn't know everything about all of the products yet. I was still learning. She comfortably sat down at our kitchen table and shrugged, "That's okay. Let's play!"

And so we did. In between cleansers, moisturizers, foundation, and mascara, we talked about our opinions on the American food industry, nursing, and how social media seems to be our biggest distraction in our walk with the Lord.

I realized after she left with her bag full of samples that it didn't matter that I didn't know everything about every product, what mattered was meeting my friend where she was in her skin care regimen and my attitude about sharing what I did know about the Mary Kay products I had.

Reflecting on my little revelation reminded me of another time I'd humbly met another woman where she was... It was in Destin, FL on a family vacation the summer I was 17. One night, a few of us had walked down to a pier overlooking the ocean. Boats and helicopters were searching the dark water with bright lights. The waves had been rough that day, and a teenage boy had never returned back to shore...

My family and the other tourists on the pier all just stood against the wooden rail in silence watching the search. No one wanted to say what they were thinking, "I hope he's not dead."

I noticed the woman I was standing closest to as she whispered to a man next to her. I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to speak with her about death. I knew I didn't have the answers to every philosophical question she could potentially ask me, but I did know who Jesus is and why we need him. So, as my family started to head back to the vacation home, I gave my dad a reassuring nod and remained leaned against the railing. "I hope he's not dead," I murmured.

The woman looked at me with a soft smile, her coarse blonde hair blowing up against the side of her suntanned face, "Yeah, me too."

And so there it was... The common ground. Two women hoping a boy wasn't dead. So, I asked her, "Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," she replied.

"If you were to die today, where do you think you'd go?"

I don't remember how the conversation ended. But, I remember being surprised walking back to the vacation home that she actually didn't ask any questions I didn't have answers to. That the tough questions (and answers) didn't seem to matter. What mattered was my attitude. I didn't want to sell her anything. I just wanted to share the basic information I did have. And, even though I didn't know everything, just offering to humbly share the little bit I did know was enough to have a conversation.

So, today I feel a little more confident to start introducing the Mary Kay products to women, even though I don't know everything, yet. And, I feel a little more convicted to share the solution to the death problem with more people than I currently am.

Mary Kay was founded on the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (Matthew 7:12)

If someone else knew something really great that could benefit/save my life, I'd sure want them to share it with me!

Maybe it's the right color foundation or the Gospel of Salvation.. Either way, let's start sharing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Peach Sweater

This morning I carefully folded our laundry, like I do almost every morning. When I came to my white and blue stripped cardigan, the one I'd worn on my wedding day, I smiled. I was grateful the butternut squash soup from yesterday hadn't left a stain. I hung it over a hanger and placed it next to my most beautiful sweater of all. The peach one I'd bought this summer.

The one with delicate fabric. The one I'd paid more for than I had planned on when going on my shopping endeavor to find something warm to wear to a wedding in Colorado. It was so beautiful, and I knew it would go with everything. I adore that sweater, and I'm glad I bought it. It is beautiful and soft and really does go with everything.

However, this morning, in horror, I noticed it's shoulders had been stretched out by the hanger it was hanging off of. And as I looked closer, I saw a hole right there in the shoulder.

I quickly grabbed my sewing kit from the closet and found a light gold spool of thread... I didn't have peach, so gold would have to do. Carefully, I examined the seems and determined the best way to pull them back together.

Carefully, I tended to my beautiful sweater. I'm not proficient enough to do it quickly. So, I took my time. I carefully folded the fabric over to check my line; to make sure it's straight.

I finished mending the hole in the shoulder and noticed the tag was pulling at the delicate fabric. I wished I hadn't accidentally put it in the dryer that one day. I knew the damage I was fixing was a consequence of my negligence in the past.

When the knots were tied and the thread cut, and I held up the sweater to assess it's condition, I happily realized my work would suffice. My sewing skills were satisfactory. No one will notice anything had ever been wrong with the sweater.

But, I can't help but wonder, how would the designer of this sweater have fixed it? Of course, she never would have accidentally put the sweater in the dryer, so she wouldn't have had this problem to begin with. But, if I knew her, and could ask her to repair my damaged sweater, what would she had done differently?

She would have used the right color thread. And her lines would have been perfect, because she knew exactly how they were supposed to be to begin with. She would have considered more than I did. How will her repair hold up during future wear? Will her repair affect the purpose of the sweater? Will it still be beautiful?

I was just trying to fix a hole so no one would know it had ever been there.

She would have considered more. She would have considered the whole picture.

A realm I do not understand, because I know so little about sewing and fashion design.

But she would know everything. And my sweater would be in better hands if they were her's and not mine.

Isn't this our life? We have so many holes as a result of our negligence, or shortcomings, or weaknesses, and we try to patch them and fill them, all by ourselves, so no one will know we ever had anything wrong with us.

Some of us might do okay, for a while. We might even be able to convince others that the holes are fashionable. But, inside, we know that wasn't how it was designed to be. And we know we don't have the skills, or knowledge, or strength to keep fixing and filling anymore.

So let's stop trying to do something we're not equipped to do.

Let's give it back to the Designer.

He'll repair the holes. He knows the best way how. The method of stitching might hurt a little. But, when He's finished, we'll be whole again.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Lindsay's Top 5 Tips for Selling on eBay

I've had several people ask me questions about my experiences selling on eBay lately, so I thought I might share a few pointers and hopefully, get a few back from you!


So here they are....

Lindsay's Top 5 Tips For SELLING on eBay:

1. Buy something off eBay before you start selling on eBay. If you're going to be successful selling anything on eBay, you need to understand the process from the buyer's perspective. Every item I choose to sell from our home is evaluated based on whether or not I would purchase it as a buyer. To evaluate the item, I ask these two questions: What kind of condition is this item in? Will it ship easily? As a buyer, answers to both of these questions take top priority before cost is even considered. (Don't understand my point? Then you probably have never bought anything off eBay. So go buy something, and you'll see what I mean!)

2. A picture's worth a thousand words .... So make the most of your free 12! eBay allows sellers to upload up to 12 pictures per listing for free to help showcase their item. Use your photo opportunities to show off everything there is about your item, including it's faults. It's a lot easier for your buyer to understand what any flaws are if there's a good picture of them rather than trying to decipher through your description. If there are no flaws, be sure to take pictures showing off your item's excellent condition. Take those pictures from every angle with good lighting in front of a neutral back drop.

3. Understand your personal settings. If you don't want to ship an item out of the country, don't get caught off guard when someone from Indonesia is the winning bidder. You can adjust your seller preferences as to where you'll ship items to AND who can see your listing. I have all of my listings set to "buyer restrictions." This means no one who lives in a country I don't ship to can bid on my listed item. This saves me the headache of going through the translation service to explain to my buyer that they violated the terms of the listing, attempting to reach a resolution, usually failing at reaching a resolution, and then terminating the sale. (Can you tell I've done this before?)

4. Save on shipping! Shipping can make or break your sale AND profit. I've gone negative on sales because I wasn't smart about how I shipped the item. When listing your item, consider shipping from the get-go. Do you want to offer free shipping to attract more buyers? Will you still make a profit? If you elect for the buyer to pay for shipping, which shipping service are you going to use? Do you have boxes/padded envelopes/packing supplies already, or will you need to buy them? eBay has a handy calculator that makes it easier to figure out how much your item will cost to ship. You can also print a shipping label right off of your computer. This tool usually saves me money if I already have all of my shipping supplies at home. Don't loose your profit because you spent it on shipping!

5. Re-list! If an item you listed doesn't sell, re-list it! However, you might want to consider a few factors before you republish the listing. Is your starting bid to high? Do you need to upload better pictures? Is this a seasonal item? It never hurts to re-list, and you never know, this might be the week your buyer gets on eBay looking for your item. I re-listed a broken iPod stereo (for parts) five times. The fifth time I re-listed it, I lowered the price by a dollar. It ended up going for MORE than I had originally listed it in the weeks prior after all of the bidding was over!

If you have any tips to selling on eBay, please share them below! Happy eBaying!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Autumn

This is Autumn Gwaltney, and this afternoon she is boarding a plane for Newcastle, Australia to partner with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). While in Newcastle, she'll receive ministry training and then will be assigned to an unknown location where she will enter full time ministry as a missionary, most likely working in the realm of Human Trafficking


I've known Autumn for a very long time, and at this moment words escape me to explain to you just how special she is to me and David. We see the Lord's fingerprints all over her life and feel truly honored to have been able to be a small part of her teenage years. We both consider Autumn to be family. I call her sister. 

Autumn's heart has always been for loving her Maker by seeking the Lost. 

I can remember multiple times over the years watching Autumn's heart as it broke for those who didn't understand the Lord's love for them. Even in the midst of going through hard, dark times personally, she never failed to share the love of Christ with those around her. She knows who she belongs to. She knows her purpose. She's selfless and loving. The way she loves others challenges me. 

This opportunity to partner with YWAM, while exciting, has truly been a step of obedience for her. It hasn't been the easy road getting to this day. She's definitely encountered a good bit of spiritual warfare up to this point. We thank the Lord that today is here. And, we anxiously await to hear that she's arrived to Australia safely. 

Will you join us as we partner with her? Will you please pray for our sister-in-Christ, Autumn? 

Pray for protection, pray for good health, pray for luggage to make it to Newcastle, pray for team unity, pray for overwhelming financial support, pray against loneliness, pray against transportation problems, pray against fear, pray against the enemy.

If you're interested in getting more information about what Autumn's up to, please follow her adventure on her blog, YWAM Journey.

Thank you for your prayers and your support. 

Blessings, 

David & Lindsay

"How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" Romans 10:15

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

No Quick Fixes

"It's viral, and you're infectious. You can't go to work for at least another 48 hours. Antibiotics won't help. You just need to rest."

"And suffer!!" I thought to myself. I'd been fighting through this cold for 4 days. The way I do colds, by day #4, I'm better! But, this was day #4, and I was the WORST I'd been.

I had remembered the consequences I'd endured last Christmas when I stubbornly refused to see a doctor while suffering similar symptoms - a full blown sinus infection, a trip to an urgent care, and missing one of my best friend's baby showers.

I wasn't going to be stubborn again. We have a lot going on this week. I couldn't afford to be sick. This time, I'd be a good patient and go to the doctor.... And what happens? He tells me there is nothing I can do but "rest" and "lay low" and "push fluids." All the stuff I'd already been doing...

Where are the meds? Where's the smile and little piece of paper with the chicken scratch on it with the affirming sentence, "Fill this and you'll start feeling much better by tomorrow."

But instead, nothing. Not even a prescription for Zofran.

In my mind, I stomped my foot and clenched my fists while on the outside I forced a smile and said "Thank you, doctor."

This morning, after a night of tossing and turning, I stuck a straw in my breakfast smoothie and slowly let the cold matter slide down my sore throat.

"Why do I have to go through this?"

Last weekend, David was sick with a milder version of this plague. Since starting law school, every time one of us has been sick, I've always said, "I'd rather be sick than David." Last weekend I'd murmured, "I wish it was me, not you."

While carefully drinking my breakfast, I remembered the way Christ willingly took on our punishment. There wasn't a quick fix there. He knew what He was going to suffer in order for restoration to be available to the world. He even asked God to make another way. But, He was The Way. So, He suffered. And, now we're free because of it.

I rinse out the green plastic cup I'd been drinking from and place it in the dishwasher and wish I had the energy to do a quick run through our home with some lysol. But, that wouldn't exactly be resting. There's only way to shake this thing, there are no quick fixes.

So, I sit. I rest. And I thank God for using my current state of suffering to remind me of the suffering I'll never have to endure.

Tissue box in hand, I make my way back to bed, and rest.