Season of Plenty

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Dive into my prior writings and you will find many pieces involving seasons. You could say I’m a big fan of them. How Fall leaves pile up until they crackle beneath snow boots. The way the chill of Winter, gives way to the blooms of spring and then how that growth becomes the wonder of Summer fun, with a few less responsibilities than the rest of the year.

But my Favorite season is Autumn. Its’ changing colors and the smell of festivals and elephant ears that hits my nose when I finally am able to open the sliding glass door because humidity is gone… well, almost gone (This is Florida, after all). Pumpkin is the main ingredient in every dish and my Ikea scarf hanger moves forefront in my wardrobe, begging for me to take the first pic involving the warm colors that fit the season. My Autumn Pinterest board IS the biggest one of all and every latte is made “hot” because whether the temperature calls for it or not, I’m choosing to believe it will soon be football game weather.

And we’re almost there. School has begun. Not that it affects my life that much currently but it is a signal… it says, ready yourself for your favorite season of all. And to that I say, bring it on! My brown knee high boots are nearing the front door as I write…

As I’ve related them in the past, I want to talk about seasons of our lives as well as the changing of our weather. Jesus has placed on my heart, and basically consumed my thoughts, with the idea that Autumn has long been considered a season of harvest… of plenty.

A farmer, which I only understand by way of the 1 acre garden my family planted, and that I was forced to weed, in my teen years. And also possibly because of the many evenings spent reading Little House on the Prairie as a child. Although this does not qualify me an expert, in this post it is a frame of reference for my knowing acknowledgment to the importance of harvest time to the farmer.

He researches his soil, tills his land, sows the right seed, waters the ground religiously, weeds out his crop with the best of them, and then reaps the reward of harvest in due season. Some years that harvest is slim… and others it is plenty. Those profitable years are worth it all and I can imagine him as he lifts his weary head to the clouds that define the heavens, the dust from his brow falling to the earth beneath him, and I can see him praising the Creator of his land and labor for the bountiful provision of that season.

Well, for Sheldon and me, this is a season of plenty.

Those who know our current lifestyle, may be squinting one eye right now to see if they read that sentence correctly. No, we have not found sudden earthly wealth, and no, this next round of anything is not on us… grin. We are working hard, yes. We are learning to budget as a married couple, yes. And we may have just reached the season (over the Summertime), where we finally can say that our bills are being paid on time, as they should be (Can I hear the crowd go wild?!!!).

But “plenty” as defined by Websters Dictionary is not only…

“A large number or amount”

but also…

“The state of having enough of the things that make life good and easy”

and

“the quality or state of being copious”

Hence this post.

We have entered a season, only recently I admit, to where we are feeling ABUNDANTLY blessed. And I’ve decided to write about it. I hope you do not take it as a rub in the face if this is not your current season, because believe me… this is the first time in a very long while, that I have been able to type these words and mean it. I can truly understand where you are if you are not here.

But I must give praise for plenty, if I’m to feel at all okay with my distraught posts about our times of drought.

Plenty for us right now looks like…

1. Our growing in love marriage. We fight y’all… the word “argue” just doesn’t cover it when including my hard head in the match. But still, our decision to put eachother’s needs first continues to become more of a priority than the day before and honestly, I just find my husband sexier and more amazing all the time. It took us both a long time to get together on this planet and now we are doing what we can with every second that God’s gifted us.

2. Deciding that what we have is enough. Even if we only settle into this satisfaction temporarily because we’re human and have to fight the flesh. Right now. Contentment in what we have is here. And we are ever so grateful for our shoebox of a home and our moderately filled cupboards.

3. Our faith in God to provide. I’d be lying if I said this is not a struggle, but even the struggle has made us so much happier in His provision. Trust and faith have lifted us up in this season. And many prayers have been prayed.

4. This time of community. Many years have passed since I’ve known community as I do right now. Are we all committed, all of the time. Nope, but we’re grace filled. I see grace in the community Papa has granted us with in this season. Friendships and family relationships that far out way the fancy ones. Dependable, prayerful… and so much fun! We feel beyond blessed.

5. A church that serves. A little bit ago, I mentioned to Sheldon that I could see myself raising kids in the church family we’re a part of now. That’s a huge victory for me! Liberty Church North Campus has been redemption for the American church in my mind and our lives over the last few years. It’s been since I was a child that my family was able to stay in one church for longer than one season of their lives and the hopping around made it feel like it wasn’t possible to live a life committed to serving a single body of believers. Now, I say this without too much judgment, I hope! Whatever the Lord has, in our current church or in another, it’s wonderful to find a safe space with real people, who know how to face problems… and get over them. If it’s up to me, I’ll be sticking around for a while. And the way these folks serve the community and one another, I couldn’t ask for a better hands-on approach to the teachings of Christ. Thankful.

6. Jobs that pay the bills… and fulfill our dreams. Becoming a missionary with CODE Ministries has changed my life forever. It’s possible to do what you’re called to do. And there it is. I’m so happy to be accomplishing a goal and carrying out a mission. Ministry is super hard work… sometimes more difficult than any other because we’re working with extreme needs, spiritually and physically. Becoming an employee at my church and working as a missionary is the most fulfilling work I have ever done in my life and I’m so excited about how Papa will continue to provide physically for my family through my obedience in doing the work He’s asked me to do. Sheldon not only works hard every day at a local Credit Union, but he also works hard every night and on weekends to become a better photographer! It’s been inspiring to watch him study and grow. Soon, I know this will be an area of provision for our family… and a dream come true for my husband. I can’t ask for more.

Those six categories of “plenty” are definitely not the only ones but the few that came to mind right away and all of those are new and exciting to accept and snuggle up in. So come on crisp air and come on Jesus! This season is a good one and I plan to click my heels all the way to Winter… and I’m glad to say that Winter will not come early in these parts. Bless God for the lingering Florida heat too. It keeps my pumpkin spice warmer longer.

BeLoved,
Lauren

What is it that you love about Fall or the season of life you are in?

Ready to read a few BeLoved Stories?

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So blessed to be working as a missionary on BeLoved, a grassroot non-profit project with SUCH a future!

 

BeLoved released our first campaign on April 10th called BeLoved Stories! Here are the BeLoved Stories links in a simplified list just for you!!! The first link will give you a direct opportunity to share your BeLoved Story as well… check that out!

Start here >>>> Introducing BeLoved Stories

…and then let the movement begin by reading their stories!

A BeLoved Story: Delaney and Her Dad

Sam’s BeLoved Story

Melissa’s BeLoved Story

Lynne’s BeLoved Story

Will’s BeLoved Story

Bree’s BeLoved Story

Now it’s your turn to write YOUR BeLoved Story! World Change is at your fingertips! Seriously!

BeLoved,

Lauren!<><+

 

 

 

Just in case…

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Not sure if you have been able to read some of my latest or revived writings at CODEMinistries.org so I’ve included links below for your quick perusal!

June 5th – I am BeLoved

May 25th – Have you looked inside

May 12th – I am undone

April 27th – Seasons

April 10th – Introducing BeLoved Stories

April 6th – Hiking the Hill of Doubt

March 21st – Let the Countdown Begin

March 18th – In the Rubble

 

Papa leads me to write blog pieces and I’m so humbled that He leads you to read them! Blessings!

 

BeLoved,

Lauren!<><+

 

 

Featured writings on the CODE Ministries website blog…

 

Absolutely blessed to have a writing platform now at codeministries.org!! A few blog posts and devotionals have been released there and I’ve neglected to share them here on laurenap.com!

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Grab your favorite mug, pour something steamy into it and peruse away…

 

 

February 2nd – About My Father’s Business

“How weird would it be if, when asked what I was up to (a normal American greeting), I responded and said that I was “about my Father’s business.” I can hear the reply now.. “…uh… okay.” But that’s what Jesus said (as a twelve year old …” – Read MORE!

 

February 14th – Love Divine

“Sheldon and I will have been married 5 months this February 20th, but even early in our relationship, a year and a half in to be specific (August 2013), God was teaching me something radical about Himself– something life changing– through our relationship. I married at …” – Read MORE!

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February 24th – Pray with CODE: Lauren and BeLoved

“I chose this song because of the incredible question it poses, “What does love look like?” The whole world wants to know! But I also chose it because…” – Read MORE!

 

March 2nd – Community At Its’ Finest

“A friend loveth at all times; And a brother is born for adversity” – Proverbs 17:17 Anyone who comes back from the World Race (or Summer camp for that matter) knows that the feeling of authentic community soon seems a distant memory– virtually impossible to attain …” – Read MORE!

 

Praying God’s presence in your life more today than ever before!

 

BeLoved,

Lauren!<><+

SnL Wedding Trailer is here!!

SnL are 4 months married strong!! We’ve been sooo excited to share our wedding video with our friends and family all over the world! That moment is finally here!! A big thank you to Caleb Pierce for capturing our day so perfectly! He is such a phenomenal story-teller! (See trailer below!)

“Sheldon, baby, I love you more than words… and that’s saying a lot coming from me. We’ve already experienced more trials in our short 4 months than many do in years of marriage. Thank you for being my rock. Thank you for following Jesus every day. Thank you for choosing me. I am humbled. I am blessed. My Handsome Man, you are awesome. Happy 4 month anniversary, my love!

Yours,

“lil lady”‘

31 Days of Faith



“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1

Faith. I know, it’s broad.
I tried to narrow it down, even thought of a few ideas to do so and every time, Papa said no. 
He told me to not “box myself in.” 
For the month of October, 31 days to be specific, I will be seeking the Lord about a new revelation of this word that I have known and even claimed my whole life over. Faith. It’s time for me to understand it from His perspective. The meaning He intended for it before people like me came along and decided we would give our take on it and then spread that definition among His children. 
I want to give FAITH back to the Creator of it. I want Him to redefine it for me so I don’t have to will it to be something it’s not meant to be in my heart… you know, based on my efforts or my thinking? 
So there will be stories. Stories from my World Race last year, and the ways He has proven to me in other times that FAITH is indeed REAL. A reality of hope.
I may also host others who have seen Him. You know, SEEN Him. And are willing to talk about it.  
I want to believe in my God and His power, more than I ever have in my life because of these 31 days. 
Please join me on this journey as we face challenges together! It’s so exciting to be a part of this special series! I really want you to do this with me because I have a feeling that He’s about to just blow my mind with Who He is and with how much He desires the belief in my heart to be in complete abandonment of any doubt. 
31 Days of Faith. Let’s go.

beLOVED.,
Lauren!<><+

(Click the following link to read the rest of the 31 days link up and click 31 to read more about FAITH)

“Come away…” (31 days intro)

So Papa asked me to “Come away” with Him long ago… at 6 years old, actually.

When He asked…not told but asked, I said yes. I said yes largely because it sounded like an adventure to live my life with Him leading me. Partly, because He was so romantic in His early pursuit of my heart. And mostly, because I knew right then and there that He LOVED. me more than anyone could ever love someone as humans on this earth. I desired that relationship with Him and He began, in that little moment, to build my faith, to trust, to follow, and to live the adventure of a lifetime. Literally.

I have been attempting to decide for what seems like months but has yet only been days, what to write about as a theme for my collaboration series with The Nester. I will be linking up with her superb annual Series starter 31 Days and will confront one thought from (hopefully) 31 different angles, to bring to you a month of focused furry in regards to what Jesus wants to teach me and therefore share with you.

I hope to keep it short, simple, heart-warming/provoking, and include stories, challenges, and much more on this one specific Spirit led series topic.

As does the month of October, my series will begin on Tuesday! I will be out of town almost the entire first week of October, which shall make posting tricky. Bare with me 🙂

I know the Lord has called me to share in this one month writing adventure, as a part of His broad adventurous leadings in my creative and practical writing outlets. My hope is that as I follow His call to do this in obedience that you and I both will be inspired in our EVERY. October. Day.

Drummer role please…

Faith. 31 Days of Faith.

I thought about specifying in this title that I would be sharing unknown stories form my last year on the World Race. And I will be but have felt the constant urge the last couple of days, not to box myself in. God always wants to do more than we can expect.

So… hear the call and read the stories as I beseech you to “Come away” with the Father of Lights, to reveal to you the areas of our lives that could be brought from the shades of grey that we live in and into His glorious light of life.

“Come away” to the days of the past and the lessons learned for the future, as I seize FAITH today.

I have yet to conquer this quest and that is why I’m seeking His wisdom, His plans. Because I know they’re great… and absolutely full of Him.

Won’t you join me in this FAITH discovery for the month of October? I encourage you to also check out the other writers in the Link Up at The Nester’s blog this month (Link above). It’s also not too late to join in if you feel the tug on your heart to do so. What could you share with the world for 31 days…

beLOVED.,
Lauren!<><+

(Many  times it’s easy to judge worship if it’s different then ours. This past year, I noted worship as “different” everywhere I traveled around the world. I love this video by Jesus Culture because Stephany worships in a way that resonates so deeply with my need for God given expression, that it doesn’t matter if she looks different when she does it because it’s all in, for, and about Him. And He’s wild about her. And I’m wild about Him.) Come Away by Jesus Culture!!! (Click that link to hear/see my cry for faith this next month)

Featured by the editor of “My Mission Fulfilled”

What an honor it is to be the featured writer this week on Courtney Simpson’s, Editor’s page! Courtney is a sweet friend I made in Atlanta a few weeks ago during her organization’s event to serve (even set free) women who are refugees and trafficked into the sex industry. She is the editor for My Mission Fulfilled, which is a ministry child of the WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union)! Please Click the link above to see the featured piece and to peruse the site to become more aware of this awesome mission and inspirational resource!

Thanks, once again, to the WMU, My Mission Fulfilled, and to Courtney and Kristy Carr specifically, for finding a bigger purpose for such a small writer this week. Many blessings over the work still to be done.

beLOVED.,
Lauren!<><+

Laborer of Love


“I’ve tried to build a few things in my life. I took what I thought were great ideas, I stacked them neatly on pillars, put them on my AV cart, and rolled them out. I’ve hit my share of rocks too, and those rocks have sent parts of my dreams hurling. Yet Jesus continues to select broken and splattered people not just as followers but as participants. He called people like me who can’t even figure out which end of a plastic bag to open His hands, He called people who trip every day His feet, and He called people who can’t figure out which way to turn a screw to tighten it…  the ones who would build a kingdom.” – “Love Does” by Bog Goff



When a man goes to build something new, very little of the time does he begin on an already cleared lot. No, most of the time he must tear down something first to start his new project. Sometimes it’s a forest that must be cleared… sometimes it’s the ancient ruins of past days and dreams in the form of an old creaky house… 

When Papa gave me the word “Build” on a rooftop in Malaysia, in regards to my homecoming to America, the image in my mind matched the image I saw when I looked beneath that very building on which I stood. There, lying in neat symmetrical patterns, were the makings of a new project, supplies organized and ready to go. Simply waiting on the builder to start construction.



Little did I realize that my return to the United States, after 11 months on the road and in the air traveling on my kindom journey with the World Race, would begin in the tearing down phase and would only look and feel by month 4 of being home as if my heart, mind, and even life had been cleared a  small patch towards the open space needed to build as declared in month 10 of the 11 away. As the days and now months have passed by since arriving home seemingly “ready to go,” the Lord has humbled me greatly in what the entire process of new construction on a piece of land or simply a heart looks like when the Foreman is in complete control of His project. I am a laborer. That is what I am. I am a valued laborer in this kingdom work but a laborer just the same. The project is so much bigger than I can fathom. 

The phrase “tearing down” can seem drastic or defeating when read point blank but truly, it’s an intimate process where excess is done away with and the soil is left as ready for its’ greater purpose. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I feel that gratitude for this season, has been the foundation on which God, yes that very Foreman of this life building project, desires to build His new framework. 


As you can see by clicking here, there are many steps to building anything. Some revolve around forethought and planning… others around preparation for the build… and yet others still for the very beginning stages. Good thing life is long because I suddenly feel that it is planned to be very full. Full of new ideas, dreams, and goals that all result in a finished product when I meet my great Foreman face to face. That special greeting will not just be because I’m His daughter but also because I was His obedient and willing laborer along the way. 

If you clicked on that website link I provided above, you’d understand what I mean when I say that I believe that I am in the “flooring” stage of this building project. It’s just a lot more about rebuilding me than I ever imagined it would be. It was about His dreams for my future, His planning for my location, His determination in pursuing my desire to be where He wanted me to be, His direction as to how I would build with the identity He has designed me to be as His laborer, and even His kind stripping of my knotted and twisted excess picked up along the way to this day… and now He’s laid a foundation of gratitude that will hold up His will in me and through me. 



I totally get Bob Goff, almost on every level. I hope you will read his book and feel the same way. But as this life building project gets off the ground, I realize as Bob has more and more, how ill-equipped I feel and yet how incredibly skilled I am in my Foreman’s shadow. I rest in Him and He does the work through my obedience to His call. 

Sometimes when I write about my relationship with God, I feel that a person reading who has yet to experience Him, may find it to be a manipulative relationship… let me say that I have never felt so loved in all of my life… or so free as I do right now while typing this post. Please note that even though this is about Him and not me, this life I mean, He created me to be in a love relationship with Him that only naturally involves service. As any earthly love relationship does only to the greatest degree. I serve Him because I love Him and mainly because He LOVED. me first. 

Now that I’ve explained the building process that has begun in me, I hope to help you and others experience it all week by week and in ways that change your life to also live under construction and ready to build whatever project or projects He has for you as His laborer. Life is so much better when we say yes to our Foreman’s call and labor out of love. 








beLOVED.,
Lauren!<><+

Maybe you are reading this post today and wondering what “your project” is going to be? Tell me your thoughts! Or maybe you desire that relationship with God, the foreman of your life, as I have described? Please click His story to know more about the Father and His Son Jesus now. Lastly, maybe you DO know how God has or is planning to use you to build as His laborer… please share below your thoughts from that perspective! I can’t wait to know!