Category Archives: Random

Recent Readings and Reflections…

I have don’t a lot of writing recently, but I have been doing a little more reading. So, I wanted to share some articles that I’ve been reading recently. Warning: many of these are hot topics in the Christian world today, and some are uncomfortable, but in order to preach the full counsel of God, we are forced to deal with the hard topics too.

My friend Holly Stratton recently wrote, “The world is changing fast, and we need God to fill us with a love for Christ that is strong enough not to be left in the dust w/ our petty preferences. We need ministry leaders who are too driven by gospel conviction & Spirit power to be hindered by fear that they’re not honoring the preferences of others. Not leaders who don’t care what others think, but leaders who care deeply what others think. Humble leaders who care enough to boldly & confidently call for a self-forgetfulness that doesn’t allow the demanding of one’s own way. We may not like change, but we’ll dislike irrelevance even more. For the glory of God, let’s move.” (Author’s Note: “Relevant: related, pertinent, connected, applicable. The gospel is always relevant. Always. Ministries & people, however, are continually faced with decisions within the bounds of sound doctrine & biblical authority that can needlessly render them irrelevant.”)

One interesting article, along those lines, that a friend shared was “Keeping Young Fundamentalists in the Camp” by Jeff Amsbaugh. Amsbaugh writes, “My heart is not to eradicate the fundamental movement but to correct the abuses of it. These words are offered as a friend from within, not an enemy from without. But if the caricature of fundamentalism that we have presented is not replaced with an authentic model, my fear is that we will lose even more young preachers in the coming days. And though part of it may be attributable to the ‘coming apostasy,’ a good portion of it may be because of the raging lunacy. God help us to keep the baby but get rid of the bath water, for the bath water is indeed dirty.”

One of the more difficult topics I’ve been studying is homosexuality. It’s been a taboo topic for too long, and lots of young people, especially, are struggling with same sex attraction. It’s time we came alongside them, empathized as fellow sinners, and showed grace and hope for change by conformity to the Word of God. Here’s an article that gives one perspective: “When Two Lesbians Walk into a Church Seeking Trouble” (an excerpt from John Burke’s book, Mud and the Masterpiece: Seeing Yourself and Others Through the Eyes of Jesus). Burke says, “Do you realize that Jesus is not shocked by the shocking things people do?” He gives examples of Christ dealing with Zaccheus, the Samaritan woman, and Simon the Pharisee, and goes on to say, “It’s all about love! Don’t miss this very critical point Jesus makes to us all: If you truly recognize how much it cost God to forgive you, it will flood your heart with love for God and others who need more of the same;” and again, “It’s all about love! Not a love that ignores the mud and the damage that destroys God’s Masterpiece, but a love that recognizes how much loving mercy God has given a messed-up person like me! … That great love brings grace and truth together to give hope to a broken world in need of forgiveness and restoration.”

Another topic is modesty, and Jefferson Bethke wrote an interesting articled called “The Idolatry of Modesty.” Regardless of what you might think of Bethke, he makes some good points in this article. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Above that though, bring glory to God through your clothes. Dress in such a way that points to your Savior and Creator, not yourself. … Remember that clothes (and the attitude that puts on those clothes) are simply an outflow of what’s in the heart. … So, ladies, let our Savior’s grace, rather than your righteousness, be exalted through your dress.”

And yet another topic I’ve been thinking about is marriage.  I read an article called, “What You Really Need in Marriage” by Mark Altrogge. Altrogge says, “Our culture is extremely self-oriented. We are continually bombarded by messages that tell us we need greater self-esteem. We begin to think, I need to do this for me, I need to be validated, I need to feel good about myself, I need to think about my desires for a change, etc.”

Often we convince ourselves that our desires, wishes, wants, and even lusts are actually needs. It’s an easy error to make, especially in an “It’s-all-about-you” culture. But it’s important to constantly go back to the word…ground yourself…intentionally…to know what God says is really a need.

Speaking of intentionality and marriage, one couple had a brilliant idea that I read about in an article by Sarah Lang, called “A Slower Cup“: “A couple reflects on the slow and methodical brewing technique [of coffee] that allows them to spend time together and offers a relaxed start to their day.” What a great way to start the day…slow, intentional, and calm! Lang writes, “A beverage as alluring, delicious and influential as coffee should be savored.” I couldn’t agree more. And whether you take time to savor a quiet, slow cup of coffee (or tea) with your spouse or your Savior or both, make it intentional and enjoy the moment.

Photographs by Chantelle Grady

And while we’re on the topic of slowing down and being intentional, I read two articles by Leslie Ludy called, “Running on Empty and Refueling Our Souls” and “When Your Soul Needs Rest.” I’m working on being more intentional about refreshing and refueling my otherwise empty soul. Ludy says, “Taking time away to refresh and refuel should flow from a motive of becoming even stronger and more equipped to serve Jesus Christ—not simply to ‘escape’ from the responsibilities of serving and godly living. … Instead of looking to the empty allurements of the world to find the refreshment we seek, may we remember that He alone is the One who can fulfill us, revive us, and meet our every need.”

Sometimes we allow our culture to dictate our beliefs, instead of the other way around. And sometimes we allow lies to creep in. Other times, we make excuses for our sin, or expect perfection instead of the process of sanctification. I’ve been reminded over and over again recently of Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (NKJV). And the prayer of my heart is that I would focus on those three things. That I would be intentional about doing the next right thing. That I would love mercy and grace and love and truth. And that above all, I would walk humbly…not in conceit or pride or biting or devouring (Galatians 5, again), but that I would walk in reality of my depravity and the greatness of God’s saving grace that is both humbling and awe-inspiring.

Finally, I want to share two songs that have meant a lot to me recently. The first is one of my favorite songs, “Before the Throne of God Above.” It was a special part of our Baltic Musical Mission Team in 2003! Guitar, flute, and a bunch of crazy Americans singing their lungs out for Jesus on street corners and buses, in churches, schools, and hospitals, in Poland and Latvia. And it’s as powerful today as it was then.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
 
[Verse 2 from “Before the Throne of God Above“; Original Words by Charitie Lees Bancroft (1841-1892), Alternate Words and Music by Vikki Cook]

And the second song is a new favorite “Across the Lands” (Townend/Getty):

May God give you grace to live intentionally, loving Him, loving others, doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with your God. Enjoy the journey, friends, and find rest in God alone along the way.

Wedding Flowers: Of Feathers and Faux

At this past weekend’s wedding, the bride made a special request for synthetic flowers due to various familial allergy issues. And I accepted the challenge. I had several guests comment that they had to feel the flowers because they didn’t believe they weren’t real. She wanted yellow roses and white calla lilies, and since the bridesmaids were wearing teal, we pulled all the colors together with peacock feathers! Here’s a sample:

Bride and Groom

Bride and Groom

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Cake Decorations

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Up close of Cake Decor

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Reception Tables with Cake Decor

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Reception Centerpieces (the groom hand crafted and polished the wood rounds under the vases).

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A special “Grandparents’ Arrangement” to honor each grandparent who couldn’t be there.

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A closer look at the Grandparents’ Arrangement

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Tossing Bouquet (a smaller version of the bridal bouquet)

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Corsage

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Mother of the Bride’s Corsage

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Boutonnieres (the only difference for the groom’s was a silver ribbon, to match the bride’s bouquet)

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Adorable Flower Girl

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A closer look at the Flower Girl’s Basket

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Bridesmaids carried 3 simple long stem roses (the groom also handcrafted the bridesmaids’ necklaces!)

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Choir rail of greenery and dogwoods with candles

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A closer look at the choir rail at the front of the church

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Tulle Pew Hangers with glittered teal stems and peacock feathers, wrapped with a silver ribbon to coordinate with the bride and groom

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Another Corsage

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One more Corsage

If you’re in the Greenville, South Carolina area and would like more information about having customized flower arrangements created for your special day, contact us at TheArtisanHoneybee@gmail.com.

Wedding Flowers: Rustic Elegance

This weekend, I had the opportunity to do flowers for our good friends Ben & Ashley’s wedding. It was a beautiful setting at the Lodge at Table Rock State Park, and the flowers were so much fun to work with–full of natural beauty and rustic charm, just like their backdrop. So thankful that the snow and ice cleared up to make this beautiful day possible. Bryan and I were able to get some really nice pictures, so here’s a look at the day.

The Bride and Groom

Bridal Bouquet

Bridal Bouquet with Burlap and Lace – Blush Spray Roses, Pink and Plum Ranunculus, Lavender Stems, Waxflowers, Button Mums, White Hydrangea, Summer Pinks, Silver Brunia, Pink Astilbe, Purple Stock and Snapdragons, Blush Larkspur, White Alstromeria, Globe Thistles, and Heather

Bridal Crown of Waxflowers and Summer Pinks

Bridal Crown of Waxflowers and Summer Pinks

The Beautiful Bride, Ashley

The Beautiful Bride, Ashley with a closer look at her bouquet and crown – she could not have been more beautiful (or more happy) – some even said she looked “as gorgeous as an elven princess” – and I agree*

Congratulations, Ben & Ashley!

Congratulations, Ben & Ashley! What a beautiful wedding! God has truly done an amazing work in and through each of you, and I can’t wait to see how He will use you together as a couple for His glory in the days and years to come! We love you!*

The Lodge at Table Rock

Guestbook arrangements

Guestbook table arrangements of White Hydrangea and Lavender Sprigs

The Ceremony

The Ceremony (one of Ashley’s friends did the tulle and arrangement over the fireplace, as well as the reception hall decorations)*

The Bridal Party

Bouquets

Lovely ladies with their lovely bouquets on the bridge outside the lodge*

Bridesmaid's Bouquet

Bridesmaid’s Bouquet – White Hydrangea, Cream and Blush Spray Roses, Pink Astilbe, Heather, Purple Stock and Snapdragons, Plum Button Mums, Globe Thistles and Sprigs of Lavender, wrapped in burlap

Bridal Party at Table Rock State Park

Bridal Party at Table Rock State Park*

Boutonnieres and Corsages

Grandma's Corsage

Corsage of White Larkspur, Blush Spray Roses, Plum Ranunculus, White Alstromeria, Waxflower and Sprigs of Lavender

Boutonnieres

The Boutonnieres for the guys featured Globe Thistles, Silver Brunia, Lavender, and Fresh Mint and Sage Leaves, wrapped in burlap*

Mother of the Groom's Corsage

Mother of the Groom’s Corsage – Plum Ranunculus, White Alstromeria, Cream Spray Roses, Waxflower and Sprigs of Lavender

Mother of the Bride's Corsage

Mother of the Bride’s Corsage – Pink Ranunculus, Cream Spray Roses, White Alstromeria, Waxflower and Sprigs of Lavender with Burlap

Another corsage

Corsage of Plum Ranunculus, White Alstromeria, Waxflower and Lavender Sprigs

The Reception

The bride made this beautiful banner and garland, and I brought some extra flowers for her friend that decorations on site to fill in the garland.

The bride made this beautiful banner and garland, and I brought some extra flowers for her friend that did decorations on site to fill in the garland.*

Reception Food Tables

Reception Food Tables – arrangements featured White Hydrangea, Blush Spray Roses, Silver Brunia, White Alstromeria, Waxflower and Sprigs of Lavender

And, My Favorite, The Cake

Cake Swag and a Cloud of Baby's Breath

Last but certainly not least, a Floral Cake Swag and a Cloud Base of Baby’s Breath – featuring Pink and Plum Ranunculus, Blush Larkspur, Cream Spray Roses, Purple Stock and Snapdragons, Lavender Button Mums, Heather, Summer Pinks, White Alstromeria, Lavender Sprigs, and Fresh Mint and Sage Leaves*

If you are in the Greenville, South Carolina area and would like more information about floral arrangements for your next event, contact me at theartisanhoneybee@gmail.com.

(*Note: Pictures with an asterisk were taken by Bryan McKinnon; other pictures taken by Melissa McKinnon. All copyrights reserved.)

Random Musings from My Snow Days…

Yesterday and today have been official snow days for us. It’s been beautiful! And we’re loving sitting in the new room we finished this fall and staring out the big windows at the squirrels and cardinals, bluebirds and tufted titmouses, gathering food and playing in the winter wonderland that is South Carolina right now. And they’re not the only ones playing; the neighborhood children have been sledding on any flat surface they can get their hands on. And since no one’s driving out there, they’re sledding right down the middle of the road, giggling and guffawing.

My Snow Day Spot

My Snow Day Spot

Yesterday, we started the day by making Eggs Benedict–Bryan’s practicing his Hollandaise Sauce for his mid-terms. I read An Introduction to the Chinese Mainland Soul. It’s a short book, but worth the read, and a fascinating cultural insight into the Asian culture and mindset.  Today I’m reading Teaching in a Distant Classroom: Crossing Borders for Global Transformation. And while I don’t plan on teaching overseas anytime soon, it’s always good to open your eyes to other cultures and how to relate to people who see the world differently than you might.

We made a batch of tomato soup and griddled sandwiches for supper last night. And I did take a slight break from my television fast yesterday, but only after having read for several hours and listening to music with Bryan for a while too.  In addition to the books, here are a few of the articles I’ve read recently:

  • Listening to Lies by FancyNonsense.com (Such a practical and convicting article; and it’s for everyone–married or not. It talks about listening to what people are saying–not what you think they’re saying; and repenting of being a “me monster”–in a culture that tells you to believe “It’s all about me.”
  • Friendship and Marriage by Jay Younts (“Romance that flows from friendship will have a sure foundation.” This article mentions Timothy Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage; and it reminds me of Gary Inrig’s Quality Friendship, a book that Bryan and I read while we were dating that talks about being friends first and then deciding to be friends forever.)
  • To Live or Die (a new hymn by Chris Anderson of ChurchWorksMedia.com)

Now, it’s back to reading for me. Enjoy these last few hours of glorious white powder, as I hear the sun is coming out today to melt it all away. And maybe read one of the articles listed above–you won’t regret it.

Happy Birthday to My Dad: My Dad is Still My Hero!

The first one makes me laugh and cry all at the same time. The second one is just hilarious…and special because the dad has two girls and a boy, like in our family growing up.

Happy Birthday, Dad! Thanks for teaching me to love God and love others. Thanks for providing and protecting, for counseling and guiding, and for always knowing how to make me laugh…even if I didn’t always understand your humor. I love you! And you’re still my hero!

Writer’s Block Over: Reclaiming the Time

It has been forever since I actually sat down and intentionally wrote a blog post. I’ve written a dozen or more articles in my head, but they’ve never made it onto paper…let alone the blog. It’s felt like writer’s block, and for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s been an incredibly busy season in our lives–between work, school and church schedules; holidays and family time; and finishing up the back room project, on top of a water main breaking.
  2. We’ve had a season of sickness–about six weeks each during the holidays. (We’re both finally feeling better!)
  3. This particular season at work is recruiting and conference planning season, so it’s been especially busy; and when you add the general busyness to this, along with the lack of sleep from being sick, I was too tired to even think about writing.
  4. I think the fatigue and overall winter gloom made me lethargic; when I got home from work, the only thing I felt I had energy to do was watch TV, and that’s what I did.

So, though the season of busyness is not over yet, the sickness and fatigue is waining, and I’ve had more energy to want to think creatively again. Plus, I’ve been asked to write emails, manuals, and some ads at work recently, so I want to make sure I don’t lose my craft. And the only ways to do that are reading and writing.

I went to a book party last night, and it really encouraged me to start reading again. The last few novels I’ve picked up to read have kind of been flops that I’ve abandoned towards the beginning, so I was happy to get a highly recommended book to break the rut.

And if I want to have time to read and write, something else has got to go. So, as I talked with Bryan last night, I decided the thing that was getting the boot (for me) was television–at least for the month of February! That means watching on the TV, over the internet, Netflix, sports, movies, everything–it’s got to go if I’m going to reclaim my time! And Bryan’s promised to help me. 

I’ve been thinking about pulling the plug on television for a while now. It started with an interview our pastor did of a dear lady who turned 100 last year! She said one of the best decisions she made to improve her prayer life was not watching TV–and she doesn’t feel like she’s missed anything! I haven’t been able to shake that thought. Then our shepherding group leaders have been talking a lot recently about getting rid of everything that’s a non-essential: whether that means eliminating daily distractions or even as drastic as downsizing their home to give them more time to serve and less time working on a big, beautiful yard. Don’t get me wrong, God can use your time in the yard for His glory and He can show you the beauty of His creation through your work in it, but there’s a time and season for everything, and they have some good points.

So, I’m going to do my best to break the couch potato habit; and I’m not promising I’ll write every day, but I am promising that I will either read or write (or maybe a little of both) for at least a little while each evening. I’m also hoping that this will be an encouragement to my soul (as opposed to the needless drama of fictional characters and lack of edification on most shows these days).

Tuttorosso’s Cooking Spoon Sweepstakes Ends Today

Tuttorosso just sent me a beautiful wooden spoon with their new slogan: “The most important ingredient is you.” Enter to win a new wooden spoon–or the grand prize of a Le Creuset cookware set!

How to enter? Visit Tuttorusso’s Facebook page and click on the “Cooking Spoon Sweepstakes” tab. (Note: commenting on this post will not increase your odds of winning nor enter you into the sweepstakes.)

Tuttorosso is Italian for “all red.” They’ve been creating 100% all natural tomato products since 1929, with the goal “to produce the freshest, best tasting tomato products in the world.” See their full product line and several recipes at http://www.redgold.com/tuttorosso.

 

Journey Journal: Days 88-91

Day 88: Friday, March 29, 2013

An amazing Good Friday service tonight at church, beginning the celebration of our Great Savior Jesus Christ! So thankful that my sins–all of them–have been nailed to the cross!

Day 89: Saturday, March 30, 2013

Left early for our drive to Ohio to spend Easter weekend with my family. Thank goodness for granola bars, bananas, nuts, and…Starbucks. Of course, the real reason for the trip was to meet my newest niece…who is so sweet and adorable, especially when she coos!

Day 90: Sunday, March 31, 2013

Went to church with my brother and his family, then shared Easter dinner with the whole family (except for my brother in law). Mom made a delicious ham topped with cherry jam, mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and pecans, butter-dill red potatoes, and a beautiful mixed greens salad. After dinner, dad pulled out the projector and old slides and we had some good, nostalgic laughs from the 80s and 90s. Finished up with some coffee and pie.

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Easter Dinner

Day 91: Monday, April 1, 2013

Bryan and I had breakfast with mom and dad at Bob Evans. I spent the morning with my mom and sister, while Bryan graciously watched the nephews. Then spent the afternoon with my sister in law and her new baby! Dinner with my folks, sister and her family, followed by more time with my brother and his family in the evening. I’m thankful for the time to get to know my sister in law better.

Late Skate: Charity Event for Todd Lurtey TONIGHT

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 8.27.32 PMThis event is to raise money for the Lurtey family to help with expenses incurred as a result of Todd Lurtey’s Battle with cancer.

Todd and his family are active members of our church and an amazing testimony of God’s strength and hope. Todd turns 16 next week and has been battling cancer since early fall 2012. Tonight’s activities is at the Pavilion Recreation Complex in Taylors, South Carolina, and will include Ice Skating, Bounce House, Indoor Soccer and more! Family friendly.

Video created by Todd’s cousin Quinn.

$10 at the Door (suggested donation per person)

  • 80% of the proceeds from this event will go to the Lurtey Family.
  • 20% will be donated to cancer related beneficiaries in Todd’s name.

If you are unable to join the late skate, there is still an option to assist with expenses by either mailing a check or donating online. Checks may be made payable to: Lurtey Family Fund, 2502-B Wade Hampton Blvd., Greenville, SC 29615. For additional information regarding the event or donating online, please see the event website: http://drumcreative.com/toddlurtey.

One of Praying for Todd Lurtey‘s friends has made a generous offer to go along with the Late Skate: Charity Event for Todd Lurtey. “Pledge to give $40 or more and receive a pound of this special ‘Beans on a Mission’ blend.” For more information please see Jonathan Pait’s link: http://www.idoitfor.org/toddlurtey/.

Micah Pretlove wrote a prayer guide for the Lurtey family:

  1. Todd personally
    1. Healing – IF it is God’s will
    2. Pain – that there won’t be much
    3. Comfort/peace – that he would really feel it
  2. His family
    1. Understanding – to know God’s will
    2. Rest – they’re exhausted
    3. Endurance – they will get through this
  3. Together as a family
    1. Closeness – continued bonding
    2. Fun
    3. Continued examples of Christlikeness

Todd got to be on Your Carolina this week, with his cousin and uncle, promoting this Late Skate Charity Event! Check it out here: http://www.yourcarolina.tv/video/entry/late_skate/. What a sweet testimony of God’s grace during extremely difficult times!

What If Wild Animals Ate Fast Food…

Saw this humorous, satirical cartoon above and was reminded of the documentary Super Size Me that I watched a couple of years ago. Thankfully, we rarely eat out, and when we do, we try to avoid fast food at all costs.