Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Who God Says I Am

The end of 2011 brought lots of self doubt to my mind. November was the month I applied for a job – the first time I have done that since 2003. It was also the month of my foot surgery, which threw me for a loop physically. I became much more dependent on people than I normally am, and it forced me to slow down through the month of December. I also had interviews for the job I applied for, and Satan used my self-doubt to speak some really loud and ugly lies into my head. It’s almost February and I am still trying to get him to JUST. SHUT. UP.

January is my birth month, so I decided to go back to the basics and counterattack Satan’s insidious ways. I wanted to spend my birth month with the focus on who God says I am, not the lies Satan whispers in my head. I scoured my Bible for all the truths God has spoken to His beloved for millennia. I spent each day of January with one truth in mind. I updated my Facebook status with that truth. I also texted it to a group of people I’m blessed to encourage.

Finally, I used those Scriptures to create word art so I never forget who God says I am.

As I fell asleep last night, on my 38th birthday, I was hanging on the edge of anxiety again. Desperately, I started calling out truths in my head, and the anxiety subsided. It doesn’t happen easily; I had to *literally* force myself to turn away from the lies and focus on these words. Satan’s lies are powerful, but God’s truth is even stronger.

My prayer is this: on the days when you feel unlovable and ugly and you doubt why anyone would want you… those days when you feel like a failure as a mom or a wife… the days when you can’t get your finances in order and your checkbook just won’t balance… the days when your past slinks up beside you and reminds you of people who have hated you or laughed at you… the days when your friends have stopped calling or are too busy to notice you… the days when someone does something horrible to you and takes advantage of you… or the nights when you can’t sleep because you don’t know what tomorrow brings and you’re afraid of really screwing up…

On those days? Come back to these truths. Read them out loud if you have to, no matter how silly you feel doing so. Remind yourself that your worth does NOT lie in your friends or your finances or your marriage or your past. You are worthy of being loved just because of His love for you. Above all else, you are His. Never forget.Subway Art

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


IMGP7966a About two years ago,  I started getting this little longing in my heart. I squashed it for a bit, sure that it was totally unattainable and never going to happen. But it didn’t go away. I decided to let it settle in and burrow into my heart. Eventually, I let it become a dream.

I prayed over that little dream, and those prayers became the water and sunlight my dream needed to take root. The longing-turned-dream quickly became a plan I worked out in my heart. I became a little more courageous, and shared the dream with Dan and a close friend. When they didn’t scoff at my dream, I got a little more confidence and realized the dream might one day become a reality.

So I started telling God exactly how I wanted that dream to take shape. In short, I stopped praying and started demanding. All of a sudden my dream was a great idea, and I had the timing all worked out so God could make my dream come true. Then I felt Him pulling the reins a bit, tugging me back and settling me down. “Woah, horsey!” I realized He wasn’t killing my dream; He was simply tempering my passion until it aligned with His purpose.

And finally, today, that purpose and passion are being united. I am starting a new job, working at my church. It’s a longing that has become reality. I feel so humbled – and overwhelmed at the same time – to see how God has taken that little longing and used it to change my life.

I could write a never-ending paragraph full of one-word sentences describing the mix of emotions I feel: excited. Scared. Amazed. Self conscious. Unsure. Awed. But none of those solitary words come close to crystallizing what I am feeling. The only one that slightly does it justice is this:


The fact that God loves me enough to listen to my longings (which I know He placed in my heart to begin with!), soothe my fears, redeem my unworthiness, and make me someone who can be useful in His kingdom… WOW. How do I respond to something like that?

You, my Father, are a prize worthy of every struggle and loss I’ve ever endured. Your love is soothing and tender and covers my insecurities. I think back on all those years I spent not knowing about this kind of love, and wish I hadn’t been such a fool to waste Your precious light. Yet, I know those years were not without purpose. You used them to bring me back home to You. Thank You for pursuing me, for never giving up on me, and for wanting to dance with me. Stay beside me, walk close to me, lead me! …as I start this new chapter of my life. Show me how to worship You in new ways. It’s all for You, Jesus. You  make me worthy and lovable and usable. Thank You for making FINALLY happen.

“It’s amazing in the blink of an eye, you finally see the light.” (Aerosmith, “Amazing”)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On My Mind

I sat down at least three times in the last few days, intending to write and simply catch my blog up on life in our house. For some reason, I don’t know where to start so I just don’t start at all. That’s silly, because it means I might miss the life that takes place every day. So, I’m just gonna start writing and see where it takes me. Here are the things on my mind.

First, my computer is making blogging hard for me lately. I think my memory is getting full, and the computer is slow to respond. I think it’s time for a routine checkup. Ugh.

I decided not to have a new year resolution this year. Instead, I have a goal of taking twelve photos (one a month) that will push me to try new techniques. One of the first tasks on my Photography Bucket List is to take a photo of a snowflake. I was inspired by this post on Candelions that I read last year. When it snowed here a week ago, I had my first attempt at a snowflake photo. I learned a few things and want to try again for a better photo, but so far this isn’t too bad:_MDS3742-

These are snowflakes that fell on my car’s bumper. Next time, I have a better plan in mind._MDS3758-

In December each year, my cousin sends a potted amaryllis to me and my sister. It’s something our mom used to do for us, and our cousin has assumed the responsibility of doing it now. My amaryllis has bloomed twice already. I got out my new macro lens filter (isn’t it pretty?)…_MDS3770

…and tried some close up photos of the amaryllis. The white flower looked lovely in the afternoon light._MDS3808

I also got close to a droplet I spied after watering the plant. It looked like a glass marble to me._MDS3799

When I bought my first digital SLR camera, I had no idea how much photography would speak to my soul. It still makes me laugh that I can take 37 photos of the same exact water droplet, and get such joy in it.

This next photo gives me lots of joy too. I found this scrap of paper in Katie’s backpack, and it makes me laugh to read it again. It says:

The Secret Snow Day Ceremony:
1. Put your pj's on backward.
2. Put white socks on your hands.
3. Wave your socky hands up high and chant: "Snow, snow do not stop. Pretty please with whip cream on top."
4. Throw your pillow and try to catch it with your head 3 times.
5. Go to sleep upside down.IMG_0688

I love watching Katie’s imagination and pure innocence take shape. When I asked her about the scrap of paper, she said she read about the ceremony in a book. I haven’t caught her doing a “socky hand chant” yet, but you better believe I’m going to try and videotape it if I do!

There are a few other things rolling around in my head, but they’re going to have to wait until I can dedicate an entire blog post to them. Big changes are on the way… and they deserve a devoted post! Let’s hope I can find time to do it right. But for now, it’s late and I have a DANuary commitment to uphold. Good night!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Doubting Myself

Fantastic news (that I can’t yet share publicly) has brought incredible joy AND FEAR to the last 24 hours. I am so very afraid, and full of doubts about myself and my abilities to perform and be valuable. I could hardly fall asleep last night, trying to work through the logistics in my head. Today, I have spent literally every other minute questioning and wondering and doubting some more.

I am in a constant fight to STOP listening to the voice in my head. Notice I said “stop listening,” not silence. There’s a reason why: I know that voice isn’t going to shut up anytime soon. Call it insecurity or Satan (aren’t they one in the same anyway?), but it’s on continual replay. My job – and my prayer – is to stop listening to it and turn my attention on the One who makes me who I am.

Jesus. I am calling on Him today, saying his name out loud and asking for His protection. And I know for a fact He hears me.

At the breakfast table, I picked up the Our Daily Bread devotional booklet and the day’s reading is about what kind of skill set we bring to the jobs in our lives. This quote was written specifically for me, specifically for TODAY: “If God has something He wants to accomplish and that you feel He is calling you to do, He will provide what you need to complete the task.” (Cindy Hess Kasper)

Trust that, Elizabeth. Know that He is providing for you even when you think you’re at a dead end. You are more than enough, child, because you don’t accomplish anything on your own. When you fall short, He makes the payment for you. Always, ALWAYS. Rejoice in that, rejoice in new beginnings, and trust His will for your life.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Laura’s Wedding

My friend from church, Laura, got married on New Year’s Eve. She asked me to photograph the wedding and I agreed. Sometimes I question my own judgment, especially when I take on something as momentous as a wedding. I stressed a lot leading up to it, bought a new piece of gear to try and assure success, then prayed before it started and left it in God’s hands.

God was good to me and I was blessed to have Dan as my second shooter. Yippee! Here are some of my favorite photos from the night. Yes, I know there are a lot of diamond ring photos, but I couldn’t get over how gorgeous her ring is!_MDS3186-2

The bride and groom met on a church mission trip to Russian. This nesting doll with the ring on her head is a nod to that._MDS3207-2

I loved Laura’s deep red roses._MDS3266

They were a beautiful contrast to her white dress and the bridesmaids’ black dresses._MDS3274-2

Laura and her husband also have a passion for motorcycles. Like the mini wheel I used under the rings?_MDS3365

This mustache is a sort of inside joke from the team we work on together at our church. I HAD to bring it for Laura to use at her wedding!_MDS3346

The church has beautiful windows and architecture. Laura’s silhouette was perfectly framed._MDS3277

The sanctuary was stunning with the stained glass windows and Christmas decorations._MDS3390

My wonderful second shooter captured this from the balcony.IMGP5383

The bride and groom were glowing._MDS3457 (2)-2

I love a bride and groom who will put on their motorcycle gear for a photo!_MDS3653

Yummy cookies after the wedding! A sweet ending…_MDS3667

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


The month of Danuary has returned to our house! And, no, that isn’t a typo. It’s really Danuary with a “D” because it’s a month I like to devote to my husband Dan.

As best as I can recollect, this was an idea I started for our anniversary in December 2008. I have always tried to be creative with the anniversary gifts I select for Dan, but it’s hard for two reasons: 1) He’s a guy and guys don’t get typical gifts like diamond anniversary bands, and 2) Our anniversary is two days before Christmas, for Pete’s sake!

In the past, Dan has given me a one-size-fits-all anniversary gift idea. He said I should just buy some lingerie and, well… you know. (This IS a family blog, y’all!) So in 2008, my brilliant idea was to give him thirty days of, well… you know. (I’ve never discussed this on the blog, and probably never will again. But it DOES serve a purpose right now, besides embarrassing my sweet husband.)

We quickly dubbed the thirty days “Danuary,” since it would encompass the month following our anniversary. It stuck, and has become a repeat present four years in a row.

HALT! Before you go getting all “ewww” and all “THIRTY days for FOUR years in a row?!!!”, let me explain. The original Danuary was wonderful and all (that’s the only detail I will ever publish), but we learned a lesson from it the following year: sometimes spontaneous is better. Our goal for 2009 was two weeks, but it didn’t go as well as the first year.

In 2010, I changed it up a bit. I had gotten a laptop and was becoming more attached to it than I was to Dan in the evenings. I would (and often still do) stay up after he went to bed, surfing the Internets and wasting time while the man I loved went to bed alone. For a girl who once looked forward to marriage simply so I could have someone to sleep beside, this routine needed to change. So for our anniversary in December 2010, I promised to spend Danuary 2011 unplugged. That was defined as: 1) Not using the computer when Dan was home (evenings and weekends), and 2) Go to bed when Dan did. It was a hard – but wonderful! – month; hard to get my computer work done when he wasn’t home, but a wonderful way to spend Danuary and to honor our marriage with a sweet anniversary gift.

With all that explanation out of the way, I know you’re wondering what the anniversary gift was this past December. And now I’ll tell you!

Dan and I went to dinner at our new favorite restaurant (The Tavern Kitchen and Bar – if you live in St. Louis, you should GO!), and I gave him three gifts.

The first was a three ring binder, with all the ticket stubs we’ve collected over the years organized into chronological order. I love having a visual reminder of so many fun times we’ve shared. It’s also cool to see the ticket stubs where we started doing things with our kids._MDS3673

The first ticket in the binder is from the second concert I ever attended: Aerosmith in 1988. Yes, I know this ticket wasn’t from an event I attended WITH Dan. But it’s still part of the fabric of our lives, so every ticket stub I found was included in the binder. (And, yes, those are the ticket stubs from when I saw Rain Man, The Land Before Time, and Dream Team. Ha!)_MDS3675

Night LightThe second gift I gave him was a book. It’s called Night Light, and it’s a devotional for couples to read together (written by a couple too). I started reading it out loud to Dan at bedtime this week, and it’s been nice to make time for each other. Of course, this means I have to go to bed when he does, so that’s the second part of Danuary.

Jesus CallingThe last gift I gave him was one I wanted to write about in this post about voice recordings, but couldn’t spoil the surprise for Dan. Now that he’s received it, I can spill the beans! I recorded the entire month of January from Jesus Calling for him on a cassette. I recited each day’s devotion into my cheapo cassette recorder, and personalized it by adding Dan’s name to whatever Jesus is saying to him that day. This gift is a way for Dan to commune with Jesus, as well as hear my voice to encourage him each morning while he commutes to work.

You know our family is 100% invested in the Advent Conspiracy movement, but it’s so much more than a Christmas thing for me. Changing how we do Christmas (especially the gift-giving) has changed how I look at gifts the rest of the year. I want to give gifts of presenCE, even for my anniversary. I hope this inspires you to do something similar. And I hope each of you have a wonderful and blessed DANuary too!

P.S. Feel free to change it up a bit. A friend of mine, whose husband is named Larry, gave the gift of FebruLARRY one year. I’ve also heard of MARKch from another friend. Let me know if you come up with your own!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Back

It’s impossible for me to start a new year without taking a moment to pause and look back at the path that got me here. In planning for the coming year at Six Golden Coins, I have taken a look back at the changes that I’ve chronicled through this blog. I want to show you a visual representation of those changes.

First, we started the blog with this header in 2008:FAMILY - Six Golden Coins 2008

This was the header I used through part of 2009 and 2010:FAMILY - Six Golden Coins 2009 with quote

You will recognize this header because it’s the one I used up until today:Family with SGC and quote b&w

And, ta-da! Here’s the new header for 2012:FAMILY & quote 

Since 2005, I’ve started the new year by selecting a verse from scripture. I use that verse to mediate on and guide me throughout the year. Here are the verses from the past years. I underlined the parts that I worked to inscribe on my heart that year.

  • 2005: “God does all these things to a man—twice, even three times— to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him. Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. If you have anything to say, answer me; speak up, for I want you to be cleared. But if not, then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.” (Job 33:29-33)
  • 2006: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
  • 2007: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)
  • 2008: “The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me. You prepare a banquet for me, where all my enemies can see me; you welcome me as an honored guest and fill my cup to the brim. I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life; and your house will be my home as long as I live.” (Psalm 23:1, GNT)
  • 2009: “The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue. Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
  • 2010: “On your feet now - applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence. Know this: God is God, and God, God. He made us; we didn't make him. We're his people, his well-tended sheep. Enter with the password: ‘Thank you!’ Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.” (Psalm 100:1-5, MSG)
  • 2011: “He existed before everything and holds everything together.” (Colossians 1:17)

In selecting my verse for 2012, I wasn’t sure where to start. In years past, it’s been a crap shoot on how I select a verse. In 2005, I challenged God to speak directly to me and flipped through the Bible with my eyes closed. Whatever verse my finger landed on was the verse I knew He wanted me to hold dear that year. I had just completed 2004, the year my mother died, and knew that 2005 might bring my father’s death as well. When my finger fell on Job 33, I knew God was telling me that it wouldn’t be long until Dad died. But I also knew God was telling me He would stay beside me, and His light would shine even when the darkness of grief descended on me. He was faithful, and 2005 was a dark year – full of Light.

This year, I didn’t do the crap shoot of sticking my finger randomly in the Bible. Instead, I went through a list of verses I’ve been texting daily to a group of people, and found 2 Corinthians 5:7. It says, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” After seeing the miracles of baptism that happened in my family’s lives this past year, I felt like this verse was a good guide for 2012. I included it on my blog header, and I am praying God will whisper it to me throughout the year.

When the highs and lows and dark days happen in 2012, I pray He will remind me to live by what my heart believes and not by what my eyes see.

I would *love* for you to take a moment and leave a comment for me. Please tell me what Scripture speaks directly to you and why. Is it a verse that might guide you this year, or one that has guided you in years past? Thanks for sharing it with me.


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