Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are you a Christian One-Upper?

So, can I just share with you a little pet peeve of mine? Since moving to Nashville this tiny irritation has been magnified.

One-upping each other.

What? You don't know what I'm talking about? Let me explain.

Okay, so we're new to the church here which means we're new to our small group who meets bi-monthly, and new to our adult Sunday school class, and I'm new to the women's Bible study each Thursday morning.

Being new means there's been loads of introductions. I couldn't begin to remember names if I tried. Manners in these parts are on steroids so when I say lots of introductions, I mean LOTS.

Here's how the average introduction goes:

Stranger: "Hey, I haven't met you. I'm Margory McButterpants."

Me: "So nice to meet you, Margory. I'm Joanne Kraft. We're new to the area."

Stranger: "You're new? Where are you from? You know, we've been attending church here for nine years now. I was here when the podium caught fire during the women's Christmas tea."

Me: "That's nice?"

No matter where we are, people in church feel the need to mark their holy territory by one-upping each other with how long they've been attending or how much better they know the pastor than you ever will.

As a matter of fact,when I speak at a women's conference, I can't begin to tell you how many women introduce themselves to me this way. They share their first name and then include some unholy snippet, like it's their last name.

"Hi, I'm Gloria...been going here for fifteen years."

One of these days I'm going to answer: "Nice to meet you Gloria Beengoinghereforfifteenyears, You wouldn't happen to be related to Sharon Mydaughterismarriedtothepastorsson? No? So sorry, I'm probably confusing you with Jean Mysonleadsworshiphere."

Your God-Adventure

What scares you? Is there something you won't risk? Something that makes you anxious just thinking about it?

Here's the truth: all God-ordained adventures include a few knee-knocking moments.

 The circumstances of life will either shrink or stretch your faith. - James McDonald

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt after a slew of heart thumping miracles their God-adventure began. I can just imagine the hoots and hollering of a people free at last. What incredible joy! What explosive excitement! Can you just see them all dancing and laughing, maybe even a few emotional gals like me bursting out in tears? As millions gathered to march out of bondage into their promised land, the buzz in the air of continual celebration was felt by all.

Then the Red Sea happened...

God's chosen people, the apple of His eye, went from a mountain top high to a deep valley low. I can just hear them now, "Really, God? Are you serious? You saved us for this?" Their joy quickly snuffed out as they faced a sea they couldn't cross. Yet, here's where a God-adventure and our faith journey really begins...when we lean "again" on the very God who brought us out of slavery.

With the Egyptians close on the Israelites heels, their reliance would be fully and wholly on God to rescue them - again.

What impossibility has God brought you out of? Better yet, what impossibility has He brought you to? God loves to use ordinary people like you and me to do extraordinary things. His glory shines brightest through humble hearts in a posture of holy neediness that can only be filled by His son Jesus Christ.

Great faith believes in God even when He plays His hand close to His vest, never showing all His cards. He has His reason for doing so. He wants to increase your "measure of faith". He does this whenever He conceals a matter and you trust Him nevertheless. - Joni Erickson Tada

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Do you dare to dream anymore?

Can you still remember that one thing you always wanted to do or be?

Has life crowded your dreams out?

Tomorrow morning my interview with Focus on the Family is going to air. To say I'm a bit nervous is a teensy bit of an understatement. I'm not just nervous. I'm I-feel-like-throwing up-nervous. Each time I feel a bit queasy  I turn my anxiety into a reminder to pray for every busy mom who might turn on her radio in between filling her dishwasher or driving to work.

So, what's my greatest dream? Encouraging women.

I just had no idea God would make my dream a reality, turn it into a book and launch it out to the world. 

I shared with Paul, "I still can't wrap my head around the fact that I'm going to be on Focus on the Family tomorrow."

"Why not?"

"It's just such a big deal to me. I never thought my little book would get this far. I never even prayed those kinds of prayers. It was a dream I never thought would happen, so I didn't even ask for it." I smiled.

"You don't dream big enough. Apparently, you've forgotten how big God is.." He smiled back.

What about you? Do you dream big enough? Do you realize just how BIG your God is?

If you're thoughts are filled with lots of Not me. I can't. It's too hard. It will never happen. kinds of thoughts then you have most definitely forgotten.

Today is the day. Take out a piece of paper and start writing down your dreams. It's about time you see with your own eyes just what it is God might have in store for you.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lonely at Christmas?

Moving to Tennessee has had it's ups and downs. The upside? Kind people. Incredible fall colors. Considerate drivers. Teenagers who say ma'am and hold open doors. A deeply rooted civil war history. A community that LOVES our US military.

The downside? The unfamiliar. Everywhere I go. Everyone I meet. Everything I see is unfamiliar. It's frustrating when I don't know the short cut when a passing train holds our car hostage, or which grocery store has the "best deals" or which neighborhoods have the prettiest Christmas lights.

Me and Jesus have had lots of quality time here. It's been so sweet. But, I admit, I'm lonely for some face-to-face friend time. Relationships are my specialty. My batteries are recharged after visits to tiny little coffee shops and long conversations with friends. Sadly, coffee shops are not a Tennessee specialty and I'm grieving my sweet Caffe Santoro's and Peet's frothy mugs of heaven.

Still, I know God is up to something. My little light of hope is flickering but not out. I refuse to let loneliness win today. I'm heading out this morning to sit in a live taping at Lifeway. Priscilla Shirer is teaching and I can't wait.

If you happen to be there too, I'll be the gal in the cute black boots talking to perfect strangers and yapping about anything and everything.

Get behind me loneliness! Me and God have a date in Nashville today.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bella Rustica - Shabby Vintage LOVE

If you can't tell by the adorable country chair in my header or my Pinterest boards - I LOVE vintage things. Words like old, broken down, chipped and worn out become refurnished, shabby chic and cottage-worthy in my eyes.

Maybe it's because I look at something tired and broken down and want to know who owned it and what's the story behind it. I don't know, maybe I think too much.

Since our move here to Tennessee I've discovered lots of little treasures. One of them was Bella Rustica - an annual vintage barn sale about thirty miles from my home.

It was incredible.

Enough of my jibber-jabbering. Let's just let my pictures do the talking.

Barn sale is right. We stepped inside and the hay covered the floor.
Each of the stalls was a room set aside for a vintage vendor.
Fall decorations were everywhere. These jack o' lanterns were painted glass jars.
 I wanted them ALL.
I LOVED the ornate frames with the chicken wire and colorful material. Perfect for hanging earrings or necklaces. But, there's some things I know I can make on my own.
Candlesticks look great in groupings like this. Wow.
My parents put a basket like this on my bicycle when I was a kid.
 Apparently, they didn't care about my "cool" factor.
This pillow was adorable. Scroll down for a better peek.
"Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world."
Almost makes me want to jump rope again...almost.
I just had to get a pair of these candlesticks. Mine have French words scrolled alongside them. Some had musical notes. ADORABLE. I have one out right now on my fireplace in our family room.
Flower box on a car? Makes sense to me.
"Vintage Junky" the reason I was there. LOVE her blog. Michelle lives in my area, yay! This gal is gifted. Wish my phone-camera was better. Her booth was packed with shabby chic awesomeness and LOTS of customers. I bought two vintage windows from her (see below). Can't wait to show you what I do with them.
The best part of this whole Bella Rustica-morning?
Telling my kids, "Let's go back and check out ALL the booths one more time!"

Monday, July 2, 2012

Nashville Update

Well, we've survived the hottest temps in Nashville history. Impressive for us weather-pampered Californians, huh?

What's even more impressive? We're surviving in a 400 square foot hotel room - all FIVE of us. Making LOTS of family memories, that's for sure.

The kids are enjoying the hotel pool and being able to watch more TV than we've ever let them before.

Just hearing iCarly's voice sets my teeth on edge.

We had our first Sunday church service in Franklin, yesterday. One of their large churches. When a police officer is handling traffic control in and out of the church parking lot, that's usually a sign they're pretty big. Nice people. But, we're not much for light shows and mist machines. I know some people love that sort of thing, I try to enjoy those extras at Broadway shows. So, next Sunday we'll try again.

Paul and I took a nice drive into Leiper's Fork after dinner at Puckett's Grocery Store and Restaurant. The drive was beautiful. Lots of green hills and lazy creeks meandering through...what you'd expect a country drive to be. It smelled delicious outside, like warm cut grass and a light scent of flowers.  This here is a picture of two special greeters along our travels.

Our waitress, Chelsea Oren, at Puckett's last night is from our neck of the woods. An adorable country gal who served us our delecious pulled pork sliders, and fantastic sweet potatoe fries. She's a cutie pie who is working hard at country music and song writing. Make sure to click on the link and "Like" her Facebook page. She was a doll. Great talent, too!

And, if you're interested, the blackberry cobbler there was to die for! Seriously. It was slap-your-mama-good.

I'm starting to really get the hang of this country life. Paul likes to tell everyone that I dropped my first "Ya'll" yesterday afternoon while talking with a gentleman from these parts.

Oh boy, I swore I'd never compromise the King's English.

If you feel like reading more, I've included a little devotional ditty about FAITH over on my website.

Last but not least, my adorable daughter, Meghan has her very own blog now. Make sure to stop by her place and become one of her newest "Followers". She's a pretty incredible writer. (I'm biased but honest!)

I can't tell you how much it does this mama's heart good to know my little girl is doing well on the west coast. I miss her alot. Seeing pictures she's posted from our home ties my stomach in knots. Can't wait until we find a home to live in and she's out for a visit.

Must be something in a mother's DNA that wants her baby's all in one little nest.

In honor of my daughter's Music Monday's I've included a song that has held Paul and I up and encouraged us this week.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Brilliant Moments

"Where are you moving?"


"Do you have family there?"


"Is there a job that's moving you there?"

No, actually my husband can't even practice law there.

This is usually where I envision my kids and I living in a van down by the river.

For months, my conversations have gone like this. With a shake of their head and usually much laughter, many say: "Wow. You're going on an adventure. Good for you!"

Which I take to mean: Good for you, you crazy fools.

We picked up our oldest from the airport last night. She's home for the weekend to help us pack and to cheer her brother on at the county fair this morning.

His pig; Kevin Bacon, will be auctioned off in a few hours.

So, why are we moving? My husband would tell you it's for economical reasons. He knows too much about the fiscal future here. If you read a local paper or two, you'll discover my beautiful home-state of California is drowning in a sea of legislative failure.

Just like my great-grandmother one hundred years before me got on a boat and left her precious loved ones in Yugoslavia- I too, want to adventure to a land where my children can have a better chance at getting through college in four years for less than $120,000.00 and where my sons will learn saying yes ma'am and no sir is common.

I won't over-spiritualize our decision. The longer I'm a Christian, the more I know He expects me to walk by faith not by sight. Yet, I believe God has put this on our hearts, given us His word to hang on to and asked like He asks each one of lay down our lives for Him.

Tough to do when you just remodeled your kitchen.

Oswald Chambers said, "We are not made for brilliant moments, but we have to walk in them in ordinary ways."

I want those brilliant moments. I crave those mountain-top morsels. Will my grandchildren talk about their California born and bred granny moving 2300 miles away from everyone she loves for better opportunities for them?

Brilliant moments come when you ignore fear, refuse comfort and trudge through the ordinary.

Today, I'll ignore the fears of not knowing what's in store for us. I'll continue to wrap my life in bubble wrap and newspaper and pray for His peace.

Dear Jesus, help me to show my children adventures aren't to be feared. Keep my eyes off of all that I have here.

I'm ready Lord, send me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Six Twinkies in a Ding Dong World

Apparently, I won't need this in Nashville.
In 9 days we're moving.

Our family thinks we're crazy. Some of our friends think we've lost our mind.

After two years of wondering, thinking, researching and praying about it -we're taking a leap of faith, stuffing everything in a trailer and moving south to Tennessee.

For now, I will keep my blog public, but in the next couple months I may go private. So make sure to follow along on my sidebar or through my RSS feed.

Why so exclusive?

I want to be able to share more intimately with all of my family and friends (blog friends, too!) what moving 2300 miles away with no job, no family, and no home to meet us there looks like. Care to join us for the adventure of our lives?

Oh, sweet blog friends...I've missed you so!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Are You a Writer? What Are You Waiting For?

Walking towards me, I sized up the assistant manager. Skinny jeans, lip ring, black circular tattoos nicely framing his elbows.

“Hi, I’m Barrett” He reached his hand out, “You need some help?”

“Nice to meet you, I’m Joanne Kraft. I live in the area and have a parenting book coming out in a few weeks; Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical. I want to make sure the Border’s in my hometown has copies on hand before my book launch party.” I smiled, handing him one of the 1,000 colorful marketing postcards my publishing house sent me.

Walking over to a computer, Barrett found my book and confirmed that they already knew about it and even shared where it was going to be placed in their store, “General parenting section, right over there.” Sticking out his arm he pointed. He went on to explain how they were willing to accommodate a local writer; book signings, book placement in the store, etc.

While hip-bookstore-guy was mid sentence, I had this pressing feeling to ask him a question. “Are you a writer?” I asked.

Looking surprised he answered, “Yes, actually I am.” We went on to talk about favorite authors, his was John Irving. He shared the type of writing he loved and his manuscript left undone and forgotten, a tombstone somewhere on his Mac at home representing his dead work.

“So, what are you waiting for?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” He replied.

“Barrett, you work here around millions of books and sell other writer’s work - some of which I’d venture to guess you’re not all that impressed with. It must be like living out some Twilight Zone-writer-hell.”

He laughed. “Yeah, actually it is difficult. I’m shocked at what sells sometimes.” He reminisced. “I have thought about taking out my manuscript and working on it again, maybe while my daughter is asleep, but then I think that maybe I need to go back to college and get an accelerated writing degree and…”

Forgetting my manners, I interrupted, “Look at me.” I smiled, recapturing his attention. “I have diagnosed you’re problem, you suffer from analysis paralysis!”

Looking down and focusing on some unseen object, he agreed. “Yes, I think you’re right. What am I waiting for?”

For the next few minutes we laughed and talked the way writers do, the love of the written word a deep common bond to share. So, what about you? What are you waiting for?

  • Do you suffer from analysis paralysis? Do you over analyze every writer-blog, fiction technique, and social marketing plan? Stop watching everyone else and take the plunge.

  • What is holding you back from your next publishing step? Is your greatest fear a magazine article, query letter, or book proposal? Every writer has experienced the anxiety of all of the above, so what makes them so special? Why are they published? Answer: They follow through.

  • What tombstones of your work are lying forgotten on your hard drive between your resume and your child's book report on President Lincoln? Give them new life, dust them off and send them out.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Grow Up Church!

If you don't feel like listening to a bit of frustrated ranting and raving, move along. You've been warned. For those of you who like a bit of sass with your morning coffee put your feet up and stay awhile.

While visiting a church recently I about fell out of my chair. The pastor was getting ready to teach when he told the congregation, "I'm not going to put any of you on the spot if you haven't brought your Bible this morning."

Was he kidding? I had barely noticed anyone carrying Bibles...and this was the encouragement from the pulpit?

Attempting to befriend every person in the audience, this pastor went on to explain, "I believe pastors shame their congregation when they ask them to raise their hands for a Bible before a Sunday teaching."

I was floored. Shame us? What shame is there in raising your hand for a Bible in church? If we were taking a math class we'd bring our math books. Would a math teacher be shaming his student by loaning him a math book before a lesson?

My girlfriend leads a woman's Bible study and shared with me how the majority of the women don't bring their Bibles to study with them and how she is going to have to address this at their next gathering.


Ministry leaders listen up: what we draw them with we draw them to. Stop trying to please people in your pews with shiny lights, silly whistles and pretty bells and start pleasing God by expecting more from your congregation. Here's a tip: Bringing a Bible to church is a good place to start.

The church is standing on very dangerous ground when they attempt to bring God to the people without His Word instead of bringing the people to God with His Word.

If you find yourself coming to church without your Bible and attending for the sole purpose of benefits such as friends, business contacts, and free donuts, join a club instead.

There is NEVER shame in bringing a Bible anywhere. God's Word convicts the comfortable and comforts the convicted. As much as we all enjoy an entertaining speaker during a Sunday service, only the supernatural Word of God will be an anchor for a person during storms that inevitably come. When a life shatters upon the rocks and despair sets in, they won't be hanging onto a funny punch line or witty retort as their lifesaver.

Grow up church! My own children have never known hunger or thirst. Yet, if they behaved like they were entitled to the gifts I give them it would infuriate me. The same feelings erupt when I see believers take their salvation and freedom of religion lightly. Children of God remember this - you have been saved by grace - undeserved, unmerited favor. Stop whining and crying for your one Sunday feeding, just to return your gratefulness by leaving your Bible behind each week.

With your tummies now full, you retreat to your long winters nap of self-centered, me-me-me spiritual mediocrity.

How very sad.

I think somebody needs a spanking.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 1Peter 2:2-3


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