Saturday, December 25, 2010

Advent Fulfillment

Santa Claus was always a big part of our Christmas celebrations. My faith in him was secured the year he came to my Grandma and Grandpa Russell's house on Christmas Eve to give each of us granddaughters an early gift. My three older cousins suspected that this man in the red suit was a friend of theirs from Penn Avenue Baptist, but at five, I was enamored. The best part was when Santa leaned in close to whisper in my ear. When he told me that Jesus was the reason for celebrating Christmas, I was ecstatic. Santa Claus is a Christian! That sealed the deal. I was hooked.

I have always felt that my encounter with the "real" Santa Claus that day was significant spiritually. I hear a lot of talk in Christian circles about how harmful it is to "lie" to children about Santa...or how including him in our Christmas celebrations is pagan and detracts from the true meaning of the holiday. But somehow, I never felt lied to. And when I finally put aside my affections for the man in the red suit, an even stronger faith in Jesus remained.

My mom and I were talking about this on Christmas Eve--in the kitchen, where we have so many of our heart-to-hearts--and she said that she had been thinking recently about how much the anticipation of Santa Claus parallels our waiting for Jesus. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that was just really beautiful.

And it's true--those nights when I would make myself sick thinking about Christmas morning, those Christmas Eves crammed in a double bed with my three cousins when none of us could sleep for the excitement, they really were just a foretaste of what's to come.

It's been a long time since I slept cross-ways in a bed with my cousins on Christmas Eve, but Taylor and I have carried on the tradition. Every year, she camps out in my bedroom and we read Jolly Old Santa Claus, just like our mom and her sister did when they were little girls, and just like my cousins and I used to. It's a fanciful tour of Santa's workshop that makes you feel just a little homesick for days when Santa was real and you could count on his coming. The illustrations are stunning. This year, Taylor has been going through the Advent readings, too--so we read them together after the Santa book. The parallels were incredible:

For tonight is the long last it is is the night before Christmas! You must be very quite now and hop into bed quickly, for Santa Claus is ready to leave. The stars are twinkling in the blue sky above...and all the world is hushed and still, waiting for this magical night. For tonight...yes, tonight is the night he comes! And such excitement there will be when he comes!Jolly Old Santa Claus, by Maryjane H. Tonn

Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come...He will come to save you."
Isaiah 35:4
"Shout and be glad, Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the LORD.
Zechariah 2:10

The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!"
He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Revelation 22:17, 20

Maybe it sounds sacrilegious to write about Jesus and Santa in the same post. But I really believe that Santa was a vessel God used to teach me about expectant waiting. He pointed me to the God who has come and who will come again for us. May we always cultivate longing for Him.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advent Communion

Tonight is a little sad because it is my last night in my apartment before I head to Illinois for Christmas. I know, I seems odd to bemoan going home to my parents' house for a week. And actually, I'm really excited about the time in Bloomington. It's just that I love Advent here on Greenwood Avenue so much! And once I head home, it'll be over for another year.

I've been thinking about Advent and how we cannot divorce it from Easter, mostly because we had been preparing for a Communion service for the last Sunday of Advent. As usual, Lauren Winner's words (from Girl Meets God) are gold:

“The waiting is meant to be a little anxious. I picture Jane Austen heroines. They are never quite sure if their intended will come. We Christians can be sure; we can rest easy in the promises of Scripture. But we are meant to feel a touch of that anxious, handkerchief-waving expectation all the same.

“The calendar tells us that all this culminates on December 25, but really the whole season slouches toward Easter…Even His birthplace takes us to the Last Supper: Jesus, the Bread of Life, is born in Bethlehem, bet lechem, “house of bread,” and at the Last Supper, He will break bread for us, and then on the Cross He will break His body. Nothing in Scripture, even the names of birthplace towns, is coincidence.”

Oh gosh, I just love that so much! Bethlehem, "house of bread." Rabbinical reading like that reminds us that God is the inventor of narrative and literary style.

Even His birthplace takes us to the Last Supper. And so it seems fitting that we would take Communion at Christmastime, which is what we did at the 6:30 service this past Sunday. At the Lord's Table, we remember that Jesus was flesh and blood for us and that He shall come again. We remember that we are family, united by that blood, which pulsed through His tiny body in the manger and poured out of Him on the Cross. We remember that Christmas is not about presents and feasting and jollity, but about a King who came to die in order that His Kingdom might be ushered in.

As I've thought on these things, the Christmas hymns that mention the Cross have become so precious to me. Not many of them do, when you really stop to listen. But I've been loving "What Child is This" the past couple of days (particularly Sarah Story's rendition--you can get it for free from, as well as one that's new to me from Red Mountain Church--it's called "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent." It's particularly poignant in thinking about the Lord's Supper.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

This Christmas, may you rejoice in the One who came and died a real, fleshly death for you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent Love

It's the third Sunday of Advent, and so tonight at Walnut Hill's 6:30 service, we lit the third Advent candle. I am slightly confused, as I thought that the third Sunday was supposed to be about joy--but no matter. Tonight we lit the candle representing love, and Clay preached on "Loving Fully."

The Advent candle for love reminds us that God's love isn't stingy--it holds nothing back. So, too, should our love overflow in generosity.

I was particularly challenged by Clay's exposition of Philippians 2:3-8. He asked us to think about what each of us tries to grasp. I know for me, those things at which I grasp become such idols in my life, competing with my love for Christ and others. Grasping keeps me from loving fully.

But what does it mean to imitate that selfless, un-grasping love modeled for us in Christ? In an essay in Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus, J.I. Packer indicts Christians (and I am so guilty of this!) who misunderstand the point that Love has come:

"We talk glibly of the 'Christmas spirit,' rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity on a family basis...It ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas."

He continues: "Nor is it the spirit of those Christians--alas, they are many--whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the sub-middle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves. The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob."

Am I the only one totally convicted by that? So much of the time I'm more concerned with decorating my house and buying presents for family and making sure I have the right holiday ensemble to wear to all of the Christmas parties than I am with giving generously to those in need. I am a Christian snob, for sure.

Thankfully, as tonight's Advent Scriptures remind us, we find in the Incarnation a remedy for our snobbery and our grasping. King David writes, "Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion" (Psalm 103:2-4).

Praying that the crown of love and compassion might come to be the mark my life!

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent Treasure

Isn't it amazing what riches are stored up for us in the character of God and in Scripture?

I'm marveling tonight, once again, at the miracle of the Incarnation and what it means for us.

Tonight it was Augustine who opened up the storehouse to me. In an adaptation for Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus (do I quote this book enough?!), he wonders at the the "Word made flesh" (John 1:14), quoting 1 Peter 1:24-25: "all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever."

Interpreting that text, he writes, "What is 'the Word became flesh?' The gold became grass. It became grass for to be burned; the grass was burned, but the gold remained."

It's an incredible allegory, isn't it? And straight from Scripture, no less. I love the picture of our Jesus, who "was with God in the beginning" (John 1:1), who was and is God, humbling Himself to be flesh, making Himself grass for us. Or as Paul puts it in Philippians 2:7, he "made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant." The Greek word is ekenosen, which means "he emptied himself" (or poured himself out). And yet we know, and Augustine reminds us, he could not cease being God. The grass was burned, but the gold remained.

May we never forget to marvel at this holy wonder, the gold made grass, the Word made flesh. Everything else hinges upon it, and every promise through it is fulfilled.

For no matter how many promises God has spoken, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through Him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 1:20

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Resource

I've talked to lots of families at Walnut Hill who are interested in doing something together that will restore some of the meaning to Christmas this year. Our prayer ministry has published an amazing resource for Advent called Nativity: Praying to be like the characters of Christmas. Since I helped one of my coworkers publish it to the WHCC website today via my Scribd account, I thought I'd share it here as well. It's really a beautiful set of prayer prompts with accompanying graphics. I hope you'll be blessed as you pray through it!

Nativity Prayer Directive

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent Strength

I hung a little sign in my kitchen for the holidays that says "Comfort and Joy." I love that phrase because it's cute and it seems sort of kitchen-y (you know, like comfort food). But as I was washing dishes the other day, I realized that there's a lot more weight to those words than the cute, jolly meaning we attach to them when we slap them on a little wooden sign.

In Hebrew, the word for comfort, nacham, is translated "strength." Comfort is more than just some feel-good emotion, more substantial than a bowl of mac and cheese or twice-baked potatoes. Comfort is strength from the Lord.

Dr. Eakin was the first to define the word for me in these terms. He did so in our Hebrew Prophets class, when we talked about Isaiah 40: "'Comfort, comfort, my people,' says your God...He gives strength to the weary" (vv. 1, 29). That was years ago, my junior year at Richmond. But this Christmas, the idea of "comfort (strength) and joy" has special significance.

It's been a hard year for our family. With Grandma Russell's passing in October and Grandpa Russell's chaotic bout of kidney cancer and his passing in August, there have been so many tears and so much grief. When I was home for Thanksgiving, I was struck by how different things feel, and that's tough, especially around the holidays. My mom, in particular, is just now fully able to grieve. As I thought about all of that, I did a little word search (how I love thee,!) for "comfort and joy."

In Jeremiah 31:13, the Lord declares, "I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow." What a promise! I'm claiming it for my family this Christmas.

The beautiful thing about Isaiah 40 and Jeremiah 31 is that both point undeniably to the coming of Jesus. He, God incarnate, is the ultimate source of strength. In Isaiah 40, the prophet declares the word of the Lord: "Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her...that her sin has been paid for" (v.2). Then he proclaims the words that John the Baptist will fulfill, "A voice of one calling: 'In the desert prepare the way for the LORD'" (v.3). And Jeremiah 31 is one of the most significant passages in Hebrew Scripture, in which God promises to make a new covenant, to write the Law on his people's hearts (vv. 31-33). Obviously, this is a promise that can only be fulfilled by Jesus, the Word (Heb. "Law"--See my October 2008 post on Simchat Torah for more on how modern Messianic Jews understand this connection.) In the Incarnation, we find a resource to help us face every hardship.

As we sat by my Christmas tree over wine and good conversation Thursday night, some friends encouraged me to let the tears come this Christmas, to sit in the grief for a while, to put aside any expectations of how Christmas is supposed to be--all happy and jolly and light. This verse lends the encouragement needed for that different kind of Christmas, a Christmas where I may cry and be sad. I don't have to manufacture joy or strength--God has promised them to me, in His timing. In Jesus, He will turn my mourning into gladness.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Card

Swirling Ornaments Christmas Card
Make a statement with Shutterfly Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

I couldn't resist sending Christmas cards to a few faraway friends who I don't often get to see! If I see you all the time, I'm still praying that "the God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him" (Romans 15:13).

Joy and peace to you!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent Anticipation

Here in New England, I often tell people there there are only two things I love about winter: Christmas and patterned tights. I should include Advent as well.

After several mishaps with my Stew Leonard's Christmas tree--and a rather chaotic evening trying to put it up and get ready to go out with friends all at once--my house is finally decorated. This Advent season will be even more chaotic than most, between all the WHCC craziness plus two weddings, one of them in Indianapolis. So, I need to make the most of the time I have to enjoy cozy evenings by my tree.

One of the things I've loved most about "nesting" and making my own home here in Connecticut is forming my own traditions and little daily rhythms, which are the most pronounced at Advent. I know it sounds unlike me to crave solitude, but I so SO look forward to coming home on chilly December nights, grabbing my Bible and an Advent book, and curling up on my couch next to the tree. Amidst the madness of full-time ministry at Christmastime, that place of rest and reflection is the sweetest blessing. For me, that's the real Christmas--drawing near to Christ and taking time to quietly anticipate His coming again.

If you'd like to do this year's Advent readings along with me, you can find them via my Scribd account below. I'm digging into the riches of Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus again this year, too--such a wonderful read! If anyone has any other suggested Advent readings, please let me know!

With joy because our King has come--and will come again!
Advent Readings 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What I Love About New England Autumn

As the trees shed their leaves and temperatures drop, I'm starting to recall that it's COLD here in the winter! Thinking about that--and remembering that we serve a God who "never slumbers nor sleeps" (Psalm 121:4), a God who's heart never grows cold toward us--I'm reminded that despite the long, cold winter ahead, this is a wonderful place to live and serve.

Here's a quickie recap of why I have LOVED fall this year:

Greenwich Polo: a favorite late summer/early fall sport (and a great excuse to wear lots of Lilly!)

Apple picking: classic New England fall.

Gorgeous fall days at Shallow Brook with my boy, Aiden Magee.

Planting (and enjoying) fall flowers on my front porch.

Fall Boston getaway: visiting Naomi, exploring the city, and catching up with Tri Delt sisters!

As usual, I'm relishing words from Caedmon's Call and finding them poignant in my life:

As my heart draws close to the close of autumn, Your love abounds.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

At Home on Greenwood Ave (or, Nesting for Single Chicks)

Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

Just a little more than a year ago I moved into my apartment on Greenwood Avenue. It may sound shallow, but this little home has been one of the blessings I've taken the most delight in this past year. There is something so sweet about this spot God has carved out for me.

Before I moved to New England, I always said that I'd NEVER live alone (kind of like I said I'd NEVER live North of the Mason-Dixon Line again--God must really get a kick out of disproving my bold statements!). But living alone has honestly been such a good thing for me here in Connecticut. It has meant that I'm able to come home from 12-hour days of ministry and really rest. It has meant that I can easily host Bible studies and small groups in my home. And it has meant that I can make my home a safe haven for girlfriends who need a spot to land for an afternoon or for the night.

I'm kind of amazed at how far I've come in "nesting" in just a year. Sometimes it freaks me out a "ohmigosh, what am I doing buying furniture and hanging pictures and settling in?" I'm a single girl, after all, with lots more adventures to be had before I get tied down to a house full of stuff. But I think it's important to nest, to create a space that feels like home, a place where one can offer hospitality.

The passage I've claimed over and again in seasons of singleness is from Isaiah 54:

"...more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband," says the LORD. "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left."
Isaiah 54:1-3

I want this little home to be a tent where the curtains are stretched wide and many can be blessed! I'm learning that hospitality like that has to be practiced, as Romans 12:13 suggests. Sometimes it means cleaning multiple days per week, or doing extra dishes, or being more thoughtful about how I stock my pantry. Sometimes practicing hospitality means saying "Come on!" (that's a Southernism that just exudes gracious hospitality) when I'm tired and I just want to put on my PJs.

So I'm strengthening my stakes here. And if it's only for a little while, well then, that's a good reminder that this life is just a shadow of Home anyway.

Here's a virtual tour for those of you who live far away:
Front porch (facing Greenwood Ave.), circa summer 2010.
Kept the plans alive all summer, only to over-water the fern upon bringing it inside for the winter. RIP, love fern!

I love my Charlotte chest from Pottery was delivered the week before my Grandma (Charlotte) Russell went on to that true Home.
Much of my bedroom decor (including bed linens, below) came from my favorite boutique in Franklin, Tenn. I heart Lulu! The bird-themed shadow box above my nightstand holds a picture of my late grandparents and me at a wedding.
It only took three trips to CT for Mom to help me get my built-in bookshelf wallpapered! Didn't she do an amazing job?! I love it!
Have I mentioned I'm obsessed--OBSESSED--with my bedding? Made by Taylor Linens and purchased in Nashville. A total splurge, but worth every penny!
My living room is the hub for lots of girls' ministry events!
Probably my favorite piece of furniture. Tons of surface area, perfect for writing/studying, plus a huge drawer with cute little compartments!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nassau Recap Part I: MMF Article

So I'm a little late posting update on the trip to Nassau. And by a little, I mean three months late!

There are loads of pictures and stories I want to share, but for now, an article I wrote about one of the residents at the AIDS clinic some students and I visited will have to suffice.

The AIDS issue of myMISSIONfulfilled was scheduled to come out in August, the deadline falling just after my return from the Bahamas. My assignment was to write about the missionaries who run the camp, but summer schedules and some tension with the camp owners prevented them from speaking into the story. As I thought about my time at the camp, another missionary stood out to me as the perfect subject, even though I hadn't actually interviewed her.

Read it here.

You've gotta love this girl! Her exuberant pose mimics one I used to strike with two other bold girls I love. The first summer I lived in Nashville, Emily and her mom and I would make this pose in their kitchen whenever one of us had something difficult to do. Emily's mom had the Willowtree Angel of Courage in her closet to remind her that she could do anything--and Em and I loved it! (They purchased the courage angle for me that summer and it has a prominent spot on a shelf in my bedroom.) So here's to three amazing women of courage!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Aiden MaGee Moves to CT! (lessons in loving the Giver)

I'm starting a new chapter in my life in Connecticut this week. Our family horse, Aiden, made a 24+ hour trek from Carlock, IL to Bridgewater, CT...and I suddenly find myself a full-time horse momma after six years off the job! (Taylor has been in the momma role these past six years, but now she's a college girl and it's my turn again.)

My dad sent us the sweetest e-mail regarding the move. Here's a little excerpt of what he wrote:

Aiden left Hunter Oaks at 10:40 a.m. in good spirits and in a box stall. I said goodbye to him with apples yesterday, treats today, told him that we all love him, that Chels will see him soon, and the rest of us before long. It was a bittersweet time for me. Chelsea and Taylor, I have lots of fond memories of time with you at Hunter Oaks and watching you ride lesson and leased horses and then, Scottie and Aiden. I am sad to see this time end and can only imagine what it is like for both of you when you left Scottie and Aiden behind. Sweet, because I am choosing Taylor's outlook, " I am happy that he will be with Chels and have a good home."

How great is my dad?! There's a quote from a Focus on the Family article that we used to repeat when I was young: "the best way to love your daughter is to love her guinea pig." I happened to have a series of guinea pigs, so it was very practical advice for my parents. I think the same wisdom applies to loving whatever your daughter's pet happens to be!

Here's a picture of Taylor and me with MaGeester shortly after we adopted him from our friends in Virginia, the Knopps. (A family from the same barn had purchased my other horse, Scottie, from us a year earlier, so it's been a neat relationship of buying and loving one another's horses!)

All of us have grown up a lot since then! As Taylor thoughtfully said tonight while we chatted on the phone, "I think Aiden's matured a lot." Read: she has done a fantastic job with him--hope her out-of-practice big sister doesn't mess him up! Here's a picture of Aiden and me when I (sort of) knew what I was doing:


Waking up today felt like Christmas morning. I was giddy with excitement to see my boy! But driving out to the barn this evening to meet him, I had a profound sense that God is after something here: I'm meant to love the Giver more than the gift.

In vulnerability, can I just admit that I struggle with that?! Anyone else want to fess up? It's such an easy trap...we find ourselves with beautiful friendships, dazzling possessions, or some exciting new adventure...and suddenly we "want the Father's gifts more than the Father," as Tim Keller has succinctly put it. The opposite can be true, too, at least for me. In moments when I feel deprived of something, I can start to imagine that the something will fill me more than God can. I "feast" on it, as Sarah describes the tendency. How foolish to love His creation more than I love Him, the Creator! Crass idolatry.

So I was really praying about this whole thing tonight, and as I read from Valley of Vision, I came across a prayer for worship. Here's my favorite part in light of how God has been directing me tonight:

Crowns to give I have none,
but what thou hast given I return,
content to feel that everything is mine when it is thine,
and the more fully mine when I have yielded it to thee.

I love that! Along this journey of figuring out the logistics of Aiden's cross-country move, I've felt that this horse business is significant. I moved to New England to know people outside the Church. To engage in the culture. To be obedient to the Lord and let Him use me as a worker in the Harvest. Building relationships at the barn seems like a strategic way to do that.

On a larger scale, money is tight here in Fairfield County, where the cost of living is extremely high. In his lesson on giving for our high schoolers last Sunday, an adult leader said, "Let me un-confuse you--giving is not just about money." Well put, I thought.

I know that I need to grow in my willingness to give generously out of my limited finances, but I also know that God is calling me to leverage other gifts in His service (namely, my apartment, which He's blessed me to be able to afford, and this horse, provided by my generous mom and dad).

Is it just me, or is there something profoundly relevant about Proverbs 3:9-10 here?

"Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine."

Many use these verses to preach the health and wealth gospel, which of course I think is a heinous interpretation. The point of the passage, I think, is that we're blessed to bless others. Just like in the Parable of the Talents, when we are responsible with that which God entrusts to us, He blesses us with more--so that our generosity can increase. I so want to excel in that art of giving!

So, Lord, in the sweetness of this blessing, I yield all I have and all I am to You.


Home sweet home! The folks who were out at the barn tonight couldn't believe how quickly Aiden settled in. He even felt at home enough to make a quick escape while I was feeding him apples--he wandered across the aisle into his neighbor's empty stall...just to check out the grain bucket, you know!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Colleeege! or, "I love InterVarsity"

My baby sister started college this week (!!), which means two things: 1.) that I am feeling really old and lamenting the fact that I'm NOT a college girl any longer a little more than usual, and 2.) that I'm beyond thrilled to live vicariously through her! For those of you who know sweet Taylor, she's doing great. And I'm planning a visit to Birmingham at the end of October :)

Meanwhile, I've been praising God for a full summer of exciting happenings on the New England college front! Truly, I'm just blown away by all that God has been up to. A little background is needed here:

During my senior year at Richmond, I seriously considered being on full-time staff with Greek InterVarsity. It's such an amazing ministry, and I had been so tremendously blessed by my staffworkers, Goodie and Carolyn, and by the support I received as a college girl who really wanted to see her chapter transformed by the gospel. In the end, I decided that as much as I loved college ministry, being on a college campus full time would limit my capacity to work with high school students. It was a tough choice because there is such a huge place in my heart for Greek ministry! Several of the jobs I applied for last year entailed some contact with college students--an exciting prospect. But when I took the job at Walnut Hill, I really didn't expect to be involved with college ministry beyond coordinating communications.

It's been such a huge perk of my job that I have gotten to spend time with the college crew. I love working with high school girls, but it's so refreshing to hang out with college girls. They're so wise and so much fun!

Okay, so here are the things I want to update you on:

1. Walnut Hill is partnering with IV!!
I still almost can't contain my excitement over this--a church I love (and happen to work for) is partnering with a ministry I love! It's beautiful. Our new college pastor is on full-time staff with IV, pioneering a chapter at WestConn. I just know it's going to be amazing to watch as IV lends its many resources to a ministry that has been growing in significant ways over the past few years. New England campuses are under-resourced, so it's exciting to think about how Mike's ministry at WestConn could influence other New England schools, specifically those in Connecticut!

2. Another small-world connection...
Maybe it's just because I'm such a social creature, but few things excite me more than small-world connections. I just love it when worlds collide! That happened in a really cool way this past month. Matt had mentioned a couple of months ago that one of his buddies from our church in Nashville, West End CC, was a WestConn grad. It seemed random, but I didn't think about it much beyond that conversation. More recently, he mentioned the guy again...and the following week, while our team was praying for one another, Mike shared a request for some more supporters. As I was praying for him, Matt's friend Pete came to mind and I thought, "I've really got to connect these two." I wasn't thinking of it as a financial solution so much, but more a potentially encouraging relationship for both Pete and Mike, two guys who care deeply about the spiritual condition of their alma mater's campus. So I asked Matt to help make it happen, and he called Pete almost immediately. Unbeknownst to Matt, Pete was in Connecticut at the time! And he told Matt he had planned to attend Walnut Hill that Sunday! The rest is history. We connected in the Fellowship Mall, I introduced him to Mike, and now he's on a mission to help Mike raise support for the ministry. (You can ask my sister how giddy I was on the day this all unfolded, since she was visiting that weekend.)

His plan is pretty genius: Publicize WestConn as a mission field to Southern Christians with lots of resources. It's brilliant, really. (And it's giving me some other ideas, which I'll write about in another post.) As Matt said, "there are two things the Church in the South has plenty of: people and money." And really, if there are two things the Church in New England is lacking, it's those! So we'll see what happens. But I'm overwhelmed at how good God is to arrange for these seemingly random meetings. I guess when your God is big, the world is always pretty small :)

3. Greek Conference
Last semester, I was really burdened for the many, many girls who were going to be coming home from school for the summer. I began praying about how we as a church could help them to feel connected while they were home and about how we could bridge relationships between WestConn students and Walnut Hill students from other schools. We ended up having a girls' small group at my house before the Gathering (our summer college group) every week. It was such a sweet time of eating together and building relationships--one of the highlights of my summer, for sure! There were lots of neat relationships and conversations that came out of the summer, and all my girls went back to school leaving me VERY encouraged that there are passionate, incarnational Christian women on college campuses all over the Northeast.

One especially cool thing, though, was meeting a couple of girls who are involved in the Greek system at their schools (both in AXO)! It's been awesome to connect with them over something that's been so significant in my own life...and to know that God is using them in their chapters in amazing ways! One of them had been to Greek Conference in Charlotte (the same conference I went to in college) and shared a buzz she heard about IV possibly adding a New York location this year. She told me today that the buzz is for real--Greek Conference is coming up this way in October! So, I'm hoping to rally a group of Greek girls to go--and to volunteer that weekend as a leader.

If that weren't enough, Mike shared with me that an IV couple is pioneering the ministry at UConn this year--the guy will be working primarily with the undergrad chapter, and the girl will be starting a Greek chapter! As we talked, I started to put together that I met this girl--Alyssa--three years ago when I went to Orlando for a prospective staff weekend with Greek IV (yet another small-world connection)! At the time, she was pioneering a Greek chapter at UNH. I immediately loved her for her willingness to do ministry in New England. (Of course I never dreamed that God would eventually call me here! He's funny like that, you know.) But how cool is it that we have not only two undergraduate IV chapters in Connecticut, but now a Greek chapter as well?!

God is definitely up to something around here!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Recent Freelance Work

Even though I've taken an unintentional hiatus from blogging recently, I've still been writing! Here are the links to recent articles on myMISSIONfulfilled. As always, if you know of women in their 20s and 30s who might have interest in reading this missions-based online publication, please spread the word!

This is a How-to article about finding one's calling that I wrote for the college section of the site.

Read "Exploring Your God-Given Calling" here.

And this is a two-part missional Bible study about the Good Samaritan. I focused on the way this parable challenges our expectations about God, His Kingdom, and what He requires of His people. I'm indebted to Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, a sage professor at Vanderbilt's Divinity school and a good friend of my own beloved Jewish Studies professor, Dr. Frank Eakin, at U of R. I heard Dr. Levine when Dr. Eakin (who calls her "A.J.") invited her to speak on this parable at Richmond as part of the Weinstein lecture series. I never got to hear her speak while I lived in Nashville, but I've enjoyed her book "The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus." Our theological persuasions may differ, but she is a brilliant woman who has greatly impacted my understanding of Jesus as a Palestinian Jew.

Read Part I: "More Than You Expected to Give" here.

Read Part II: "The One You'd Least Expect" here.

Thanks for reading!

p.s. Stay tuned for some news about contract work I did with LifeWay recently! I'm working on a way to include the spread here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I know it's August, but it feels like a new year to me! Today/tomorrow is my one year anniversary of moving to Connecticut/starting at Walnut Hill. What faithfulness God has shown me this past year!

As the year mark has been approaching, I've been taking inventory of my life. I'm realizing that in my zeal to connect at Walnut Hill and to thrive in the ministry God's given me there, I have become one of those one-dimensional people; I'm not honing many interests outside of my life at work. I've sort of subsisted this past year on a pattern of ::work at Walnut Hill, eat with people from Walnut Hill, invest in people at Walnut Hill, socialize with people from Walnut Hill, sleep, repeat.:: When did I become that girl?! I'm realizing that I need to--have to!--take better care of myself physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. No buts about it. I love my job, but I need some balance in my life.

On my way home from Illinois two weeks ago, I made a list of things I want to prioritize this year. Like I said, I had been thinking of them as New Year's resolutions of sorts. So when I haphazardly flipped to a New Year's prayer in Valley of Vision (a collection of Puritan prayers I've been reading through) the following day, I took it as a kind of confirmation from the Lord that this is a new year and a new season. I just love the words:

O Lord,

Length of days does not profit me,

except the days are passed in thy presence

in thy service, to thy glory.

Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides,

sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,

that I may not be one moment apart from thee,

but may rely on thy Spirit to supply every thought,

speak in every word,

direct every step,

prosper every work,

build up every mote of faith,

and give me a desire to show forth thy praise;

` testify thy love,

advance thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,

with thee, O Father, as my harbour,

thee, O Son, at my helm

thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,

my lamp burning,

my ear open to thy calls,

my heart full of love,

my soul free.

Give me thy grace to sanctify me,

thy comforts to cheer,

thy wisdom to teach,

thy right hand to guide,

thy counsel to instruct,

thy law to judge,

thy presence to stabilize.

May thy fear be my awe,

thy triumphs my joy.

So as I "launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year," I desire extra measures of grace and a deepening to take place in my heart as this prayer suggests. And seeking to be a whole person with diverse interests, here are the other things I've committed to pursue as God directs and allows:

Taking care of myself...

-I will make more time for Sabbath rest, committing to pray seriously (and listen) about how to cut back hours at Williams-Sonoma or quit altogether.
-I will manage my hours at Walnut Hill.
-I will seek "the solitary place," as a part of my daily routine, not just rushing through my Bible reading, but relishing time alone with the Lord.

-I will go to doctors' appointments NO MATTER WHAT.
-I will not allow lack of time to keep me from the gym. Lifting for a few minutes or doing a little cardio is better than not going at all.
-I will eat healthier; I will not let busyness be an excuse for noshing on junk!

-Recognizing that God has blessed me tremendously with amazing friends at church, I will also seek relationships outside of Walnut Hill.
-I will find a hobby! I will move forward on getting Aiden to Connecticut, unless God should close the door. I will look for a barn where I can enjoy my horse and also build fun friendships.
-I will connect with my local Tri Delta alumni chapter :)
-I will make time each week to maintain old friendships across the miles.
-I will intentionally seek a mentor.

-I will seek a way to get back in school to work on my M.Div. I will finish my Gordon-Conwell application.
-I will explore areas of theological interest and will read more (and watch the Bachelorette less!).

So there you go. If you consider yourself part of my community, feel free to hold me accountable when I'm letting passion for my job and my church overtake everything else in my life.

Here's to the start of Year Two in Connecticut!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lessons from a French Monk

As I write this, my first post in months, I'm just beginning to grieve the passing of my Grandpa Russell. It seems surreal: we only lost Grandma a few months ago, and now the tears, the funerals in Champaign, IL and Evansville, IN, the whirlwind of emotions, will all be repeated. As I was leaving the office today, dressed in black but basking for a moment in the perfect Connecticut summer sun, my mind drifted to a plane ride from Chicago to Zurich about this time four years ago.

I was headed to Perugia, Italy via Switzerland and then Rome when I met a man who shamed me in my understanding of death and dying.

He was dressed in a grey burlap robe that touched the floor, and his navy baseball cap looked out of place perched atop his shaven head. At first he struck me as Middle Eastern. It took me a moment to notice the rosary beads and cross draped around his waste in a belt-like fashion. As he slung his bag into the storage compartment, he smiled and made a joke about the small seats, indicating that he would need to get past the aisle seat I was struggling to settle into. I returned the smile as I let him pass and asked where he was from. “I’m French,” he replied, not answering my question directly, but claiming his nationality. I learned that he was a Catholic monk and had moved to Peoria, Illinois, about an hour from my hometown, to live in a monastery there. He was traveling home to France to attend the funeral of his monastery’s founder.

When I offered my condolences, he quickly replied, "For us it's not a sad thing. It's the best thing that could happen." Holding my John Piper book and my Bible, I felt suddenly ashamed. Of course! Shouldn't I, the protestant girl with all the good theology, know about hoping for Heaven?

To my dismay, he fell asleep almost immediately and our social interaction was cut short. But I shall never forget the wise monk who understood the secret of "looking for the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14).

I praised God for that Frenchman today as I walked to my car. There are many tears to come this weekend as I grieve the loss of my dear Grandpa in this life. But I am trying desperately to hold on to those words from the Swiss Air flight four years ago: "It's the best thing that could happen."

As Christians, we hold these two things in tension: the bitterness of losing a brother of sister in this life and the joy in knowing that the gospel has achieved its fullness in them in the next life.

The Caedmon's Call lyrics that cheered me in my grandma's death this fall put it well:
there's a Land
where our shackles turn to diamonds
and we trade in our rags
for a royal crown
on that Day
our oppressors hold no power
and the doors of the King are thrown wide

Thank you, Jesus, that you conquered death and the grave. Thank you that you are the resurrection and the life (John 11:25).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dancers Who Dance Upon Injustice

in spite of all this
it's good
He's weaving it together
for good

These are words from my dear friend, Sarah. You would just love her if you knew her. She is wise and poetic and full of grace, even on gchat, which is where she typed out these words to me sometime last year when I was living in Nashville. Her words, which are scribbled on the page of my quote book (a little book where I stash sweet nuggets of truth from good books and movies and such), came to mind last night. This world in which we find ourselves is so very broken, indeed.

I've only been back in the office for two days after my Cayman getaway, but our church is currently standing with some friends who are facing grave injustices. Yesterday some of the staff gathered to pray over a heartbreaking situation and today my team sprung into action to minister in another set of circumstances. I'm feeling drained tonight, but also strangely encouraged by the role God permits us to play in advocating for justice.

Sharon Cohn, the Vice President of International Justice Mission, wisely said (in a speech at InterVarsity's Urbana conference), "God is not knocked backward by the massiveness of the need. It does not blur the contours of each person He so passionately loves and He so doggedly pursues." I cling to those words on days like this, when I feel worn out in ministry and overwhelmed by the need. The speech is worth watching. View it here.

Oh, Jesus, how we long that you might bring your Kingdom in its fullness! May we be used of you as agents of justice to usher it in.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Article on Prayer at

My article for this month's edition of myMISSIONfulfilled just went live on the website, and I'm a little more pumped than usual. I'm feeling oh-so-in-need of a vacation today (just 6 days until I'm off to the Caymans!), and yet God is so good to give me work to do that I just love. Seeing my article today was a sweet little reminder from Him that I am a very blessed girl, indeed. I have a job that I love and I even get to write what I love on the side.

My attitude has been a little stinky as I've been waiting out this long, cold New England winter. But God is good to bestow gratitude to my heart on days when I can't muster it up on my own.

You can read the article here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In Feast or Fallow

It's beautiful when you latch on to a musician who's also a songwriter, even better when that songwriter's a poet, and better still when she inspires you--or disciples you really--in faith and life. That's Sandra McCracken for me. I'm passionate about her poetry (and the melodies that lift it to song), the way I'm passionate about Lauren Winner's prose.

Today Sandra (who's husband Derek Webb has also influenced my life and theology in big and small ways over the years) launched a preview of her soon-to-be released album In Feast or Fallow. It's a hymns project that follows her 2006 album, The Builder and the Architect. Derek and Sandra have helped to forge the way for the hymn resurgence that's been making moves in the South in recent years. They are a driving force behind the Indelible Grace project, which is recorded through Reformed University Fellowship at Belmont University in Nashville. And I feel a special kinship with them because they are members at a sister church of West End Community (my church in Nashville). Frequent opportunities to hear these two play live are some of the things I miss most about living in Nashville--I'm trying to raise some awareness for them here in New England!

As she often so graciously does, Sandra released a rough version of one of the cuts from this record, an old Luther Christmas hymn, via Noisetrade (a site that allows artists to give songs away in exchange for fans' spreading the word to their friends). I plugged that song in my Advent Tunes post back in December, and it has become a favorite carol! Today she's released three more songs on Noisetrade! You can get them by clicking on the widget below and forwarding a message to friends or posting a link on your facebook wall. Genius! You can also access the widget on the left-hand sidebar of wherethecloudsettles.

Sandra talks about the album in an interview with "Patrol" that captures why I love her as an artist and a person. Here's a little snippet, but if you have a few minutes, read the whole thing!

When you released Red Balloon last summer, Paste magazine said: "Three years ago, Sandra McCracken released The Builder And the Architect, a collection of reworked traditional hymns that remains one of the strongest albums in her near-decade-long career. Her latest, Red Balloon, only sounds like a collection of hymns." How do you respond to a statement like that, that can go so many ways?

I thought it was interesting that they mentioned the hymns record. That the writer of the review would mention that and draw the parallel to me is a high honor. The songs I wrote on Red Balloon were full of themes about having our first baby, dealing with a lot of personal situations, and narratives around people I really love. So that songs about everyday could be called spiritual, to me is an indicator that those things are starting to become integrated, that spiritual is becoming everyday life, and everyday life is becoming spiritual. I think that's an important discipline of the journey of faith, that over the years they're becoming less and less separate and more and more holistic.

So there you have it. My long-winded shameless plug for the day. Check this girl out!


Monday, February 1, 2010

The Song in Our Hearts

If I'm being honest, I miss Richmond every day. I miss the people: roommates and sisters and friends and the sweet kids I babysat for and church family. I miss my beautiful brick-clad campus and waking up to a new display of hundreds of freshly planted flowers every few weeks. I miss Libbie and Grove, the boutiques of Carrytown, lunch at Ukrop's, and bars in the Fan. I miss the fratty, collegiate flavor of U of R, and of Richmond in general. I miss the sound of church bells ringing from Boatright Memorial Library every afternoon and evening. I miss Third Pres. I miss my college-girl schedule. And I miss observing Shabbat (or Sabbath) at Tikvat Yisrael, a Messianic synagogue I've often written about here.

So on Saturday, I spent the better part of a (very rare) day off celebrating with a Messianic congregation in West Haven, CT. Although Simchat Yisrael doesn't boast a beautiful old synagogue like Tikvat's on Grove Avenue in Richmond, and although the liturgy was slightly different and the singing in Hebrew less frequent, there was something deliciously familiar about taking time to observe the Jewish Sabbath.

One of the things I love most about Judaism, particularly Messianic Judaism, is the rabbinical way of reading Scripture. The Torah reading for each Shabbat is paired with a Haftarah reading (a selection from the wisdom literature, the Kethuvi'im, or the prophetic Scriptures, the Nevi'im), and in Messianic Judaism, with a portion of the B'rit Chadasha, or "New Covenant" (i.e. the New Testament). Always there are beautiful connections between the three portions of Scripture, but sometimes they are especially poignant. The Jewish way of reading Sabbath Scripture reminds us that this is one Story. And Jewish rabbis are well-versed in drawing connections, in figuring out how this Word God has given to His people fits together. So it is fascinating to hear a Messianic rabbi, a man who has both mastered Jewish tradition and put his trust in Yeshua (Jesus), preach. It is by nature expository, exegetical, and deeply practical.

This week's Torah portion was the "Song of the Sea" from Exodus 15:1-11. Christians will know this passage as the "Song of Moses and Miriam," which praises God for swallowing up the Egyptian armies while allowing the Hebrews to pass through the Red Sea on dry ground. For Jews, it is one of the most familiar liturgies, recited in morning prayers as well as on High Holy days. It is also, as Rabbi Tony Eaton pointed out on Saturday, the only portion of Scripture that is repeated in all three sections of the Tanak (Old Testament): the Torah (law), Kethuvi'im (wisdom), and Nevi'im (prophets). Appropriately, the Haftarah reading for Saturday was Deborah's song from Judges 5:1-9, and the B'rit Chadasha reading was the Song of the Elders found in Revelation 7:9-17.

It's not difficult to notice the similarities between the three passages. Most obviously, all three are songs of deliverance and salvation. Rabbi Eaton talked about how the Song at the Sea has been the song in Israel's heart since God's covenant with Moses at Sinai. Miriam and Moses sing "The LORD is my strength and my song, He has become my salvation" (Exodus 15:2). That word, salvation, is worth noting because as I've mentioned before, in the Hebrew it shares a root with the word Yeshua, Jesus. Deborah's song is along the same lines, even mentioning the covenant at Sinai that marked the exodus Moses and Miriam sang about. And then in the Elders' song, the theme of salvation is seen even more plainly: the great multitude, with representation from every tribe and tongue, waves palm branches and proclaims, "Salvation belongs to our God!" (Revelation 7:10). The palm branches are significant because they remind us of the palm branches waved at Jesus as people cried out Hosanna! ("Save us!") The Jewish form of that exclamation is Hoshia'na! and again, it has the same root as the Hebrew word Yeshua. And so woven throughout each of these passages, we are reminded to rejoice in the salvation that comes from the One true God.

Rabbi Eaton challenged the congregation to let the song in our hearts be that one: the song of Yeshua's salvation. What is the song in your heart today?

"To Christ the Lord let every tongue its noblest tribute bring.
When He's the subject of the song, who can refuse to sing?

...A thousand tongues could not compose a worthy song to bring
But Your love is a melody our hearts can't help but sing."
--18th century hymn-writer, Samuel Stennett

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

That He May Work In Us

It seems the Cloud is on the move again. Not to a new geographical location, but in a spiritual sense, for certain. It's like God is saying, "Don't get too comfortable. Remember, you're a pilgrim, just passing through this life" (Psalm 84:5). There are some big changes happening at Walnut Hill--and they're great ones! But as the new girl just getting settled, change is rocking my world a little.

Without getting too introspective, I just want to share a thought. I'm learning, in the midst of all this change and upheaval, and through some other circumstances as well, that God is far more interested in doing a work in me than He is in my doing a work for Him.

When I type it out, maybe it sounds almost haughty, but bear with me for a second here. If we really believe that God wants to use us as His instruments...If, as Eugene Petersen puts it in His translation of 2 Corinthians 4:7-8, He wants to use "the unadorned clay pots of our very ordinary lives," then the work has to start in us. We must be emptied before we can be "filled to the measure with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). I think I can get so sidetracked by ministering to others, by trying to accomplish something weighty for the Kingdom that I miss the point...

With this Father God who offers His Son to redeem and His Spirit to regenerate, it's the heart that matters most.

My young adult girls' Bible study had the most precious time of confession last Thursday. The Lord had been impressing the importance of confessing sin on my heart since Advent, and as we girls talked two weeks in a row about the things we let distract us from pursuing God, I was convicted that corporate confession was essential. Let me tell you, it was beautiful! There's something so humbling and yet so uplifting about laying down idols and burdens in the midst of community. And it's addicting--as I've gone through my week, I've been painfully aware of more junk in my life that is keeping me from being more intimately identified with Christ.

And isn't it good of God, isn't it just so like Him, to meet us in that place of deep conviction and show us the places that need healing, the things in our lives that must be dealt with? It's in the wake of (and really, in the midst of) confession that I'm recognizing His concern with my heart, His desire to work in me in fresh ways so that I'm not the same person I was yesterday or last year. He is the One who is faithful to finish the work He has begun (1 Thessalonians 5:24, Philippians 1:6).

So here's the Scripture I'm clinging to as things around me are changing:

"May the God of peace, who through the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the Sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Christ Jesus, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21).

Friday, January 15, 2010

True Masculinity

Both of the Bible studies I lead in my home are studying Paul's letters. In the high school girls' group we're doing Romans (their choice--can you see why I love them so?!) and in the young adult girls' group we're going through Ephesians. In both studies, we're nearing the part about "wives submit to your husbands." Uhhg--that is such a hard part, isn't it? I find myself just needing to be reminded of what masculinity and femininity are supposed to look like, so that I can maybe make just a little sense out of these hard passages that speak of gender roles.

As if on cue, I came across possibly the best sermon I ever heard on masculinity the other day. This was the very last sermon I heard Carter Crenshaw (my pastor at West End Community Church in Nashville) give before I moved from the Music City to New England. West End is now posting Carter's sermons online, which is great news for me because I love to listen to him!

Before I ever visited West End, my sweet friend Shelley told me how Carter performed her brother and sister-in-law's wedding service, and how it was beautiful and poignant, and how Beth Moore (a friend of theirs through LifeWay) loved it so much that she endorsed it on her blog! (I later read the blog post--you can check it out on the Living Proof blog here. I can just picture Carter being "up in their stuff" and patting Rich on the arm over and over...he's so dear.) I attended West End for the better part of a year, and people from other churches would often tout Carter as the best pre-marriage counselor in Nashville. When I met with him one-on-one a couple of times, and especially when I heard this sermon on masculinity, I began to see that they weren't just being gracious. This guy means business!

The message is taken largely from a book by John Piper (one of my favorite theologians) and Wayne Grudem (the guy who wrote my 1200+ page Systematic Theology textbook). But Carter lends his wonderfully enthusiastic and studied flavor to it.

So the point is, listen to this sermon. If you're a dude, it will make you want to shape up and be a real man like Jesus. If you're a girl, it will make you want to quit flirting with fire and find a guy who seeks after Jesus with his whole heart. Seriously. It's good stuff. And if you struggle at all with Paul's telling the saints that wives should submit to their husbands, and husbands should lay down their lives for their wives, maybe it will bring just a little clarity to the whole messy issue.

Click here for the audio file.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Salute to My Friend Walter (and other random thoughts)

Confession: I am procrastinating.

I'm supposed to be writing my next freelance article, a little piece on how to spice up your prayer life. When I say it like that, it sounds kind of cheesy and culturally Christian, but I'm hoping it will be neither in the end. You can read it next month and tell me what you think...)

But instead of writing the article, I'm sitting in bed trying to get over my writer's block and listening to Christmas music.

You caught me. I'm still listening to Christmas music. It's just that this Indelible Grace album, "Your King Has Come" is so dang good! I know it's January, a new year and all, but I'm trying to get inspired here.

Anyway, I digress. As long as I'm procrastinating, I thought I'd share a link with you. One of my dearest friends from high school youth group, Walter Jennings, is just about to finish his time in the Marines. He called the other day to say that he made it back from Afghanistan safely! I'm super proud of him, of course, and I was especially excited when he told me that his picture made it in the Washington Post--I just love the Post--and CBS News, as well as Bloomington's local paper, The Pantagraph. Apparently Bravo Company, 1st Battalion 5th Marines had an incredibly successful mission. Pretty cool stuff!

Check it out!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New article about adoption and my friend Svitlana

My latest article is posted at You can read it here.

This month, I got to write about my friend Svitlana, who has an amazing testimony. Svieta grew up in an orphanage in Ukraine and was later adopted--by not just one, but TWO families, one of which is the Causey family, dear friends of mine from Forest Hills Baptist Church in Nashville! Svieta is leveraging all that God's given her in some pretty cool ways. She will inspire you!

And as always, if you know women in their 20s and 30s, let them know about My Mission Fulfilled!

Thanks for reading!