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Archive for January, 2011

So often I find myself in this horrific cycle of white-knuckle Christianity. I can keep myself from the sins of murder and adultery (do-the-right-thing sins), but go down in flames on the insecurity, jealousy, and pride in my mind. Is there a way to truly change your own thoughts? Are Christians doomed to have it all together on the outside, but be shamed by the deepest closets of our hearts with the secret sins of our minds?

Two weeks ago at North, I was standing in the back of the room during worship available to pray with anyone who desired it. A young girl I’d never met before rushed up to me in a panic and asked,
“I have to know, what is joy? How do I even know if I have joy?”

This is a question that David and I have really been talking about. We started a series on joy at North, and I find myself wondering is joy possible? It’s hard to be different, to do the right things, and especially to think the right things. And let’s be honest, you are what you think. What you think about determines the kind of life you live.

As Christians we tend to stop there. We enter the battle of the mind, struggle through our thoughts, and fight until we are weary. But what I am beginning to believe is that we need to unearthed an even deeper problem. We need to stop treating the symptom and find out the problem.

The problem is our joy.

You see, we will ultimately spend our time thinking about the very thing we think we will give us ultimate joy. This means that ultimately we aren’t led by our thoughts; we are truly led by our desires. So I guess the question is, What do you REALLY believe will give you joy? (success, comfort, safety, accomplishment, beauty, perfection…ect?) Those things drive all of your thoughts and ultimately your actions: good and bad.

Once you’ve made that assessment, there are 4 things you need to know about your answer.

1. That thing or person will let you down and ultimately fail you.

2. Because you believe that thing or person will give you what you want (joy), it has control over your happiness, thoughts, and ultimately your actions.

3. Because it has control over your happiness, thoughts, and actions, you have a spiritual worship of that thing or person.

4. You will never be able to experience true and lasting joy. (1 John 2:15-17)

When you think about the pain and suffering of the world, when you face hardships and trials and loneliness, and finding out that true and lasting joy is unattainable can make life feel worthless, pointless, and bleak. As Christians, we have Christ as our example. And luckily, He was well acquainted with grief, loneliness, pain, hardship, abandonment, and ultimately a horrific death. Unbelievably, He did it all with joy. How?

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus laid aside everything and went to the cross for the JOY. What is that joy? His love for His Father and His love for you. Ultimately Jesus could do the difficult work of the cross and face every hardship in this life, because His mind was fixed on His joy. His mind was fixed on His love for you.

Proverbs 10:24 “What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted.”

It’s time that we make right the desires of our heart. It’s time we make Jesus the desire of our heart and pour out our love and affection on Him, who is so deserving. He will never fail you or control you. Only He will give you true and ultimate joy.

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Scripture Meditation:

Psalm 37:4
“Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

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Book Recommendation:

Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional” by Jim Belcher

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Check out the first 2 sermons on JOY! These are so great to hear and helpful for your heart!

“Joy For The Lonely”

“Joy For The Fearful”

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Question:

How has Jesus given you joy?

My answer:
“My Secret Battle”

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Joseph and Melissa Schlabs, are dear friends of David and me and part of our North Leadership Team. Beyond just being our amazing friends, they have an amazing photography business. They are truly talented! Please check out their work, and if you ever need photos taken their prices are extremely reasonable!

Click these links to see!

Joseph Elliott Photography (portraits, photography)

Cinderella Photography (engagements, weddings)

In October, David and I went to New York City on a vacation with three other couples of our dear friends. Joseph and Melissa were one of the couples that went with us. Here are some photos they took of David and me while we were in New York City.


Go check out their website! KR:)

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Great Article on how to effectively defend your pro-life beliefs in our current world. A must read article!

Clarity Not Gadgetry: Pro-Life Apologetics for the Next Generation.

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Now that you’ve entered the conversation and started a great blog, you need to know HOW to write a great blog post. Let’s face it, it’s not really worth taking the time to write a blog if no one is going to read it! There are simple tips that can help you along your way. And if you follow these tips, you can be sure that your blog traffic will increase.

Try these out, and let me know if they work for you like that worked for me!

1. Be brief. Always be brief.
I hated this rule at first, but I’ve learned to live by it. No one has time to read even a great blog longer than 500 words. Stick to between 100 to 500 maximum. The purpose of a blog is conversation; keep it at that. If you stick to this rule, people will come back and read again!

2. If you can’t be brief, you’re writing about too many topics or thoughts in one post.
You may have a lot to say, and that’s OK, just split your ideas into separate blogs. Keep each blog about one idea. Ideally you should write a series of blogs on one topic with each post talking about one idea.

3. Always have a picture in your post.
Let’s face it, we like pictures. It’s important that your picture is quality, simple, easy to see, and helps the reader imagine the most basic thesis to your post.

4. Always think “simple.”
This may seem redundant, but its so, SO important. Simplify everything, be direct, and be to the point; this will help you keep your posts short. This can even just be an aesthetic thing, sometimes this problem can be solved by merely keeping your paragraphs short and spaced out. It looks cleaner and simpler to the reader.

5. Always get readers to respond.
Blogging is all about starting a discussion. Readers will visit blogs again if they feel valued and important. Ask them questions. Get people to respond to you, and they will come back again.

6. Tell stories.
Good writers are great storytellers. A lesson I learned from my dad, everyone can relate to a story. Stories will convey the point of your post, while helping readers feel understood. Every post doesn’t have to be a story, but many should be.

7. Do book reviews.
Book reviews make great posts that readers will read. They are personal, stories, relatable, and convey information. Make sure your blog includes some book reviews that revolve around your blog’s focus.

8. Find a way for readers to participate.
Respond to the comments on your posts. Post and quote your readers. Get people to be Guest Authors. Pull in your readers, and make their voices heard. They will respect you and your blog.

9. Do “How to’s”
“How to posts” are great because they are real and direct. For some reason in the same way that “Do it yourself” TV and reality TV do well, “How to posts” always get great blog traffic.

10. If you are controversial, be controversial.
Readers love bloggers who take a stand for something. This is part of being true to the focus and purpose of your blog. So remember your focus and purpose, and write about the opinions you obviously have about those things. If nothing else, a conversation will begin.

11. Put links to more information.
This is just being thorough and legitamate. No good teacher, writer, or communicator spouts off ideas and theories without citation or options if people want to read more. It’s just a good thing to do.

12. Stay in your brand and in your focus.
Yes, I will say it again, and it goes for every post.

13. Be real.
Maybe this is just my pet peeve, but be real. A blog is not a place to be egotistical or self-promoting. A blog is one of the most popular ways that our generation in this day has conversation with the world, so don’t be someone you aren’t. Be yourself, and you’ll do great! Good luck!!

A White Stone Blog’s Most POPULAR POSTS of 2010.

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I would like to wish a Happy Birthday to my husband, David! In a world where men look to each other, their jobs, their status, and their money for identity and validation, you look to our God. Because of Him, you are the most amazing, loving, and mighty man that I know. And I love you with all my heart. – KR:)

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January is the magically month for beginning things. Millions of people are joining the conversation and starting their very own blog. The wonderful thing about the World Wide Web is that everyone has equal playing ground here. Maybe you are one of those people looking for your voice in the world, but you don’t know how to get started.

Here are some simple tips to starting your very own blog in 2011.

1. Start by evaluating your input.
In my opinion, you should have at least 5x’s more input than output. This means read a lot, and I’m not talking about just facebook statuses. (fiction, theology, pop culture, news) Stay current. Stay reading. It will help you find your voice and always have things to write about.

2. Think about your brand.
Focus is one of the most important things about being a good blogger and communicator. For example, A White Stone Blog, has a tag line: meditations on womanhood, romance, and pursuing Christ. That tag line is the extent of my focus; it is my brand. All of my blogs will be about being a Godly woman in love with her husband and Jesus Christ. If I stray too far from my brand, my blog will die.

3. Educate yourself.
Stay up on your input, but also stay current in the blog world. You need to consistently read blogs about blogging. If you are using WordPress, read their notices on how to make your blog easier to read or better. Keep learning how to make your blog better.
To get you started…
WordPress Help
Michael Hyatt
TentBlogger

4. Have purpose.
Even if your blog has focus, if it doesn’t not have purpose, no focus is the world will matter. As you write your posts ask yourself these questions:
– Does this matter to me?
– Will this matter to anyone else? Why will it matter?
There needs to be conviction, excitement, and passion behind these answers, or there is no point in sharing.

5. Be personal.
No one wants to read a blog that sounds like a lecture. Imagine your blog posts in real life situations. Do you sound like a person who enters the room, shares some random facts, and then promptly leaves? No! You want to share your life, your opinions, and interact with your readers…or at least prompt them to want to ask you or themselves questions. Blogs are discussions.

6. Don’t be too personal.
No one outside of fourth grade wants to read another person’s diary. Believe it or not, no one’s life is interesting enough to keep readers coming back over a long period of time. So be personal, share opinions, and share stories, BUT always write for your readers NOT for yourself. Ask yourself, “Why should people care about what I am saying.” Then tell your readers why they should care.

7. Speak up…Find your voice.
Your blog should sound like you. You should never try and be someone you are not in your writing style, just like you would never decide to start speaking in proper English or a British accent. With that said, write with good grammar, proper spelling, and punctuation. It’s just annoying if you write your blogs in T9 or never spell check. People will stop reading.

8. Be consistent.
Believe it or not, being consistent is almost as important as your content. There is a direct correlation between how much blog traffic you get and how consistent you are. Find the groove that works with your life, once a week, is the bare minimum.

9. Write a good “About” page.
This is a very important part to starting your new blog. If your “About” page isn’t written in first person, you won’t sound like a real person. Tell a little about yourself: past and present. Answer the “Why this is this blog important to the reader” question. And share your “brand.”

10. Pictures are a MUST.
No one likes to read a book with out pictures. (Or maybe that’s just me!) Your readers want to be able to imagine who you are and what you are talking about. So, get some pictures up on your blog. If you are writing a “How To..” blog, take some step by step pictures. Regardless, don’t go crazy on your posts, each post can only handle about one great picture.

Need a little bit more?
My next post will be: “Simple Tips For Writing Great Posts.”

Now, go start a blog! And comment below with your blog’s address!

KR:)

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“I’m Nanny,” she said, “And we haven’t been properly introduced yet. You go get you a cup of hot tea and sit down and talk to us for a while.”

I wasn’t going to disobey an order like that. I love wisdom, and I love hot tea. I wiped my hands on my apron and put the last of the dishes and teapots to soak in the hot soapy water. I grabbed the pear out of my purse and poured myself some Earl Grey. An extra chair had already been pulled up to Nanny’s table, and I sat down.

Nanny and her daughter (who happened to be about the same age as my mom) never skipped a beat. Listening to the way they talked was like watching a slinky roll down a set of stairs. One started speaking and the other finished the sentence, and before I could interject they were on to another topic. The flow between made me never quite sure when one story ended and another began.

Abruptly the conversation and their eyes turned to me. The younger woman (who has known me for a few months now) told me she was going to buy me some “Ezekiel” bread at the health food store. She was sure that its five grains and no preservatives would be good for my stomach. This transition sent us down our next set of stairs in the conversation, and Nanny led the way.

“Let me tell you something, girl. I know a little secret to grocery shopping,” said Nanny.

Nanny’s Advice #1
Always shop at the edges of the grocery store, and never go down the aisles. Produce, meat, and dairy are on the edges. Sweets, preservatives, and everything bad down the aisles. “You don’t have any business going down the aisles.”

Nanny told me she was eighty-one years old. To which I responded, she didn’t look a day over sixty. I found out from a coworker later she makes her own face cream. It must be good stuff because there was barely a wrinkle on her face.

“And while I’m at it,” Nanny continued with a sparkle in her eye, “Let me tell you something about being healthy.”

Nanny’s Advice #2
God made your body one in the same. Your body is connected to your soul is connected to your emotions is connected to your spirit- its one body. And if you are a Christian the Spirit of Jesus lives inside of you, your body must submit itself to God just like your spirit has. Every single day, wake up and say, “Body I command you to come under the control of Jesus Christ and work the way you were made to.” Nanny promises it works.

When the younger woman got up to use the restroom, Nanny drew close and looked me in the eyes. And in her eyes, I could see her sweet spirit, and I could see that she worship the same God with her life as me. With much kindness and compassion she finished with this:

Nanny’s Advise #3
Get rid of any unforgiveness and bitterness, anything that isn’t from God in your life. Don’t tolerate it. Not only will it hurt your heart, but also it will come out in your body. It will make your body hurt. It will make your body sick. And that’s not how our good God intended you to be.

I know that not all the sickness in the world comes from something like that, but in that moment, looking in the eyes a precious, healthy, beautiful woman of God I knew she was right. What a wonderful reminder that God is good and desires us to be healthy and happy in Him.

What has been your most influential advice for health and happiness? Share your beauty secrets below!

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A prize winner has been chosen for the A White Stone Blog 1st Birthday Giveaway!

Congrats David Ramos and thank you so much for reading A White Stone! David and his wife won $20 free to Starbucks and a free cause tshirt.

Here is their story…

“In 2010, my wife and I quit our jobs, sold all of our stuff to attend Dallas’ Christ for the Nations Institute! We were broke all year, almost lost our last vehicle, and other things, but we would not trade it for THE WORLD! God really molded, shaped and transformed our lives throught that experience. Our first year of marriage was quite a journey! We want to minister together like you and your husband.”

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