Living not striving…

Random thoughts and daily adventures in my life

Treasures of the sea April 25, 2009

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 3:23 am
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So I really should be doing a gajillion other things (truly, I counted them…and yes that is a number…I think) however I have had this post rolling around in my head and I just had to let it out.  Last summer for my birthday Mark gave me the gift of a day at the beach completely by myself.  Oh my it was heaven and I think I may ask for that gift this year again.  I saw so much that day in the ocean and the tidal pools.  The Lord centered me again and spoke to me about things that were swirling around in my head.


Well, when we were staying on Folly Beach a couple of weekends ago I took a really long walk on the beach by myself.  However I kind of felt like He was walking with me showing me some things.  This is not all coming out on paper making as much sense as it did to me that day, but let’s just say He showed up:)

Isn't that a neat shell fossil?

Isn't that a neat shell fossil?

The seashells that washed up that day were amazing.  I grew up on the beach and have always LOVED it, no matter what time of day, what kind of weather, midnight, sunrise, sunset…I love it.  And I love collecting shells but these shells this day were ones I have never seen.  Everywhere I walked there were the mollusk (let me just say that I love shells but am completely ignorant about names.  New project this summer will be to buy a shell book and identify what we find) shells with the two halves still together.  All kinds of partial  sand dollars (one of my favorites), conch shells, hermit crabs, some beautiful fan shaped shells that I have never seen, fossils, coral, on and on.  The tidal pools were just perfect as well.

Can you see the perfect swirl in the middle?

Can you see the perfect swirl in the middle?

As I walked and kept stopping and stopping and collecting.  Both hands were full and I wanted to pick up more to take with me but I couldn’t hold anymore.  I couldn’t wait to show Mark and the boys when we went home.  It struck me that these were just a tiny peek at the wonders that must lay at the bottom of the ocean.  These were just what washed onto shore.  Yet these were delicate, and each one different, and beautiful, oh so beautiful.  Our magnificent Creator lets us see these glimpses but there is so much more beauty that we never lay our eyes on.  He still made it though and it pleases Him and it is good!


He created it because He can and it pleases Him and He is just that incredible.  As I ponder His vastness it makes me consider how this translates to His spiritual riches.  I think I must pick up the seashells on the shore of who He is and what He is capable of…yet never plunge into the depths of his unspeakable riches.  There is so much more to Him than I am experiencing.  I am sure of it, and He captured my attention with those shells.  Kind of an invitation, a tease, a dare, if you will….to truly dive in.  To put my snorkeling gear on and look at what lies below.  I want to do that!  I love the beauty of those seashells but I don’t want to just put them on my shelf as a now and again memory of that walk.  I want to get my face wet and take some risks to find out what else He has to offer.

Doesn't it look like a beautiful, delicate fan? Or the sand at low tide?

Doesn't it look like a beautiful, delicate fan? Or the sand at low tide?

And just as much as I wanted to share those shells with my boys and pass on this love for the ocean and its beauty.  So much more I want to pass on this desire and thirst for more of our Christ.  He has more for us.   He Is More!  He is the treasure.  Not a good night’s sleep, or aging gracefully, or avoiding sickness, or having a perfect marriage or staying trouble free.  HE IS THE TREASURE!  So how about it?  You up for a swim?



Gardening Eden April 24, 2009

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 1:01 pm

This is Earth Week.  As you can tell from the last couple of posts I certainly appreciate the beauty of creation and how it draws us back to our Creator, however I am truly not an outside kind of gal.  Don’t love camping, bugs or sadly enough the discomfort that being outside can often bring.

I also wouldn’t normally throw myself into the “green” camp.  I appreciate the heart of those that are and I have been trying really hard to do my part in small ways, but I didn’t “get” the passion behind the movement.  I also kind of felt a little uncomfortable associating myself with many things “green” because I have always sensed that somehow I was associating myself with “the left”.  (Lots of quotation marks goin’ on today:)

Then I read Gardening Eden by Michael Abbate.  Wow!  My eyes were really opened to all things “green”.  Abbate has done a wonderful job at bridging the Christian conservative perspective and the liberal green perspective.  Just being honest here.  He makes tremendous points regarding our responsibility as descendants of Adam to be caretakers for this earth, for the legacy we are leaving the next generation through our care of creation and all the things we have to gain by investing in the earth.

He honestly opened my eyes to the joy and fulfillment I can find by doing little things that can make a difference in my life and will teach my family an attitude of responsibility.  So many other “green” talks I have heard left me feeling overwhelmed.  I have always felt that little choices really don’t affect anything so why take the time to make these changes.  However, I have a renewed hope that I answer to the Creator for the way I live my life and little things like using less water, recycling what I can and using reusable shopping bags DO make a difference and are worth the trouble.

Abbate gives 50 realistic ways to live “green” and to help yourself out econcomically as well.  He talks about making one small change at a time and daily doing what you can.  He also includes a great list in the back of websites, organizations and resources to help you out in the process.  I love his attitude and down-to-earth, godly perspective.  I highly recommend this positive, easy-to-read and encouraging book.  He does include some statistics and numbers but many more practical takeaways.

The thing I loved the most was that throughout the entire book Abbate maintains a Kingdom mindset.  And as you learn his history a bit throughout the book, he has a great background in faith and professional expertise.  So this weekend link over to and buy this book or run down to your local bookstore.  It would be a great gift for anyone you know that is striving to live “green.”

Below I have included Michael Abbate’s bio summary.  And as for me I now own quite a few reusable shopping bags (just need to remember to take them in the store with me:), we have changed our light bulbs, trying to limit our water usage, we are trying to use more tap water instead of bottled water and I even bought a tomato plant!  So Go Green!

Author Bio:

A nationally recognized expert in “green” development strategies, Mike Abbaté is a founder of GreenWorks, an award-winning landscape architecture design firm. He frequently speaks to students and leaders about practical ways to minimize the impact of building and landscape design on natural resources. Abbaté’s work has been featured in national magazines such as Metropolis and Landscape Architecture and in many local newspapers and trade publications. He and his wife, Vicki, have two adult daughters and live near Portland, Oregon.

Cover Art:


Music Lovers! April 23, 2009

Filed under: Random stuff — erikaivory @ 4:00 am
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I come from a musical family.  We are a motley crew or a ragamuffin lot however you want to look at it.  By that I mean that all of us have tried our hand at some form of musical endeavor.  We have guitarists, drummers, soloists, pianists, writers and then me the true oddball, the music therapist.  I love music, how it works, the effect it can have on people, what drives the musician and the beauty that is the final result.

The purpose of this blog today though is to brag on two of my little brothers.  The brother right under me, T.J. Edmond is an amazing musician but also an incredible songwriter.  He is the lead singer and guitarist of the band Beggar’s Guild.  They are releasing their second album and for the next few weeks they will be releasing new songs and videos on their site

I checked out the new video and downloaded the song for free called, “Falling Apart.” So great!  Makes me want to jump in the car and go for a spin.  So go get some new music and check out my brother’s beard.  Seriously, under there is a fellow that looks totally like me.  In college people thought we were twins.  That handsome mug is getting married in July too:)

And yes I have 6 other amazing brothers but the second one that I want to introduce you to is Jeremiah Edmond, the drummer for Manchester Orchestra. Another amazing band out of Atlanta,GA Manchester Orchestra also just released a new album, Mean Everything to Nothing. It already made it onto iTunes top 10 list!  Whoot hoot!  And  the song

“I’ve Got Friends” is the iTunes free video this week!  So you can go here to download the video.  Look out for people dressed as bears, Zoinks!  And keep an ear out for mad drumming goin’ on!  Mt brother is truly an awesome percussionist!

Yes, I do come from an amazing talented family:)  Not tryin’ to brag just wantin’ to share the wealth of toe tappin’ tunes!  So you music lovers (Robin, Cookie, Tim, Jenny, Ally, um that may be everybody that reads this blog…)give ’em a whirl and comment back to let me know what you think:)


Yes, again! April 18, 2009

Filed under: Random stuff — erikaivory @ 5:03 am
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Okay I am sure you all are sick of hearing me mention Mark Batterson but I can’t help it, he really blogs great stuff. (Since when did “blogs” become a word?)

Tonight this is what struck me.  He just went to a conference and came away with this:

What struck me the most? Honestly, it was an off-handed comment by Charlie Peacock. He made reference to Jon Forman, lead singer of Switchfoot. Jon said his parents didn’t just raise him to “not do anything wrong.” They raised him to live dangerously.

Then we got a short acoustic concert by Vince Scheuer, lead singer of Army of Me. And he made an off-handed comment about the fact that Christian music was “too safe.” I’m not a musician nor the son of a musician, but I agree with his assessment. I feel the same way about Christian books. They are too safe. There isn’t enough risk, enough originality, enough creativity. We need more dangerous authors, dangerous artists.

So my big take away? Ironically, I want to be like Jon Forman’s parents. I want to teach and model this motto for my kids: live dangerously for the cause of Christ.

I know, I know… I get all worked up about raising my kids.  And I do realize that this puts me out there, for people to evaluate and criticize if I actually DO raise my kids to live dangerously.  Not really sure how that looks or what that looks like…but that is what I want.  Good stuff.

What do you think it might look like?

PS. I might just plan a trip in the near future to Washington D.C. just to visit Batterson’s church, National Community Church.  They meet in a movie theatre.  Oh and the church has D.C.’s top coffee house, Ebenezer’s.  Well, and it would be fun to visit all the monuments and museums, I guess.


More on the amazing Redwoods April 16, 2009

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 2:32 am
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Hopefully you are wanting to hear more about what I learned from these super cool trees b/c I have plenty more to share:)

Here is a picture of Mark (isn’t he handsome?) standing in front of one of the trees.  Check out that big bulge in the tree to his left, I am pretty sure that is a burl.  This tree was almost completely hollowed out at the base. More on that in a moment…


I found the text below on a website about Redwoods.  This explains more of the survival tactics that I find so fascinating.

A live redwood that gets knocked over will attempt to continue growing via its limbs. If undisturbed, the limbs pointing up will turn into trees in their own right, and this is indeed the source of many row groups of trees.

Cathedral or family groups of trees are simply trees that have grown up from the living remains of the stump of a fallen redwood, and since they grew out of the perimeter, they are organized in a circle. If you looked at the genetic information in a cell of each of these trees, you would find that they were identical to each other and to the stump they sprang from. They are clones!

We saw one of those circle groups of trees.  I had to stop for a moment and just consider.  The tree in the middle was broken and almost completely decayed yet in a complete circle around it were around 8 young strong beautiful redwoods growing.  They were born out of its death.  What beauty in that.  Don’t you want life to come out of your death?  Not just physical death either, but death of a dream or struggle or stronghold.  And oh how I want others to find life from my trials, struggles and disappointments…

For me also looking back at this past year I have seen how the recent death in our family, as well as other difficult, difficult events in our lives, have caused growth and a sense of “circling the wagons.”  Does that make any sense?  And in that quiet, cathedral of that forest I felt like I was given a visual of what God can do through our brokeness.  I want Him to do that with my life, I really do.

And how about the tenacity of these things.  When they fall down and are expected to decay and die…instead they stretch their limbs up toward the sun and grow.  They develop into a row of trees!  Take that death!

More cool lessons from the redwoods.  Redwoods are very resistant to fire.  These trees can live normally 500-700 years and rarely are destroyed by fire because their bark can be heat resistant.  A fire may burn out the inside of a redwood while it can continue to stand and even grow!  The inside will become a home for other animals or a place for other plants to grow.  It can act as a nursery or safe haven.  This tree is amazing!

So this tree can be burnt numerous times, one site said perhaps even 50 fires, and still survive.  Not just survive but use the damage that was done to give life and safety to other living things.  Is that all about redeeming what was lost?  About trials by fire being counted all joy?  These redwoods are blowing my mind!

I suppose maybe you had to be there to be so impressed, but I hope you can at least appreciate these trees a bit more or take something with you to ponder over your morning coffee:)  Definitely if you ever have the chance to see one, take the hike and be ready to experience a bit of the Creator.  Thanks for listening:)


Redwoods, Burls and other survival tactics April 15, 2009

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 4:27 am
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On our trip to San Francisco we spent an afternoon in Muir Woods and experienced Redwoods.  I was not expecting to be terribly impressed but I can’t stop thinking about them.

I have determined that I have a lot to learn from these trees and I am still in the process of trying to make sense of some of these lessons.  They are of course beautiful and their immense size is of course impressive but their ability to survive is what has stuck with me.

This is a picture of me (cold, as you can tell) standing by a midsection cut from a tree.  They had markers pointing out different “injuries” to the tree that could be noted by different natural markings.  Each one represented an event in the life of the tree such as a fire, or drought, or being struck by lightning or a sickness.  Yet the tree continued to grow.  It made me wonder what our lives would look like if we had a map like that of the difficult or traumatic events that we live through.  Pretty cool…


We would look up at one of these amazing trees and sometimes see a huge, nasty, lumpy, moldy-lookin’ thing hanging from it.  Sometimes at the base of the tree or sometimes hanging out from the tree looking like it could drop on our heads.  These, I learned, are called burls.


This is the handy-dandy explanation I found on one of the markers.  How cool is that?  So when the tree became damaged or died these burls would then come to life and begin growing into its own tree.  And it is genetically the same tree.  These ugly, horrid looking things were full of life!  And one of these gigantic burl things could contain thousands of lifegiving cells.  This is some info I found on the internet about burls…

The redwood burls are another survival strategy. Their growth is held in check by the presence of chemical signals in a living redwood. If the tree should die, or even be stressed, say by low rainfall or fire, the chemical signal weakens or vanishes and the burl will burst forth into verdant life. Burls kept in a shallow pan of water will grow almost indefinitely. They can also continue on to become a full grown redwood tree.

I know I am stretching this but it has made me think about my life and if I am building burls.  Is my life reproducing itself in positive ways around me?  I love the part about, “their growth is held in check” and “the burl will burst forth in verdant life”.  Am I reproducing Christ through my life in my children, my husband, my friends?  I feel like I have that opportunity and responsibility, but am I?

Okay I am quickly realizing that this post is going to be way too long (and even Mark won’t read them completely if they are too long) so I will leave you with that, but please check in tomorrow because there are a couple more amazing things that I learned from the Redwoods.  I will share them tomorrow and a great picture of Mark:)  The best is yet to come!


Blackaby and Alcorn April 11, 2009

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 3:43 pm
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I must admit that I am a day late posting this because I was determined to finish the book I am about to share with you, however….I still have a little bit to read.  When I received the email about this opportunity to read and review a new book by Henry Blackaby and his Melvin, it was a no brainer YES!!!  You see in college I did the Bible study Experiencing God and it was spiritually lifechanging.  Mr. Henry Blackaby wrote that Bible study.  It was the first Bible study I had ever done with a workbook and I realized quickly that I loved, loved that format.

Blackaby’s new book is Experiencing the Spirit and I have so enjoyed it.  It speaks on the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and honestly revealed to me how little I understand regarding the Spirit’s working in our lives.  It has challenged me in many ways.  Here are a couple of quotes to wet your appetite:

When it comes to serving God, we tend to look at what we’re good at and what we like to do, then serve according to our ability. The result: we don’t need the Holy Spirit because we think we have everything under control. The world therefore sees good pople doing good things for their God, but they don’t see the power of God working through His people to accomplish what only He can do.

So here’s a question: will God ever ask you to do something you’re not able to do? The answer is yes – all the time! It must be that way, for God’s glory and kingdom. If we function according to our ability alone, we get the glory; if we function according to the power of the Spirit within us, God gets the glory. He wants to reveal Himself to a watching world.

Hmmm…that’s challenging and a little scary.

Why then do many Christians fail to experience the depths of what God has purposed for their lives? The reason is their insufficient personal dealing with God. When our faith is based primarily on the wisdom of men and not on the power of God, we’ve just nullified most of what God intended for our lives. When our faith is built only on a collection of doctrines, we miss out on the Person who wants to be our life.

Gave me lots to think about.  These are some deep weeds.

Randy Alcorn’s book The Treasure Principle was also included in this blog tour. It is a short little book and I haven’t completed it yet either but it looks chock full of wisdom. He discusses the principle of giving and what Christ has to say about that. Interesting stuff b/c the Bible study I did this week was all about the many, many things Christ said about giving. Not easy stuff, but how different would my life look if I really lived a lifestyle of giving?
I have included below a description of each book and some bio on the authors. If you leave me a comment over the next week I will pick one of you and email you and get one of these books to you! If you have a preference about which book you would prefer, then leave that in the comment as well. Thanks for reading and don’t forget if you want to purchase one of these books for yourself or as a gift you can find them at or your local bookstore!

Summary Experiencing the Spirit:

Serve God as never before

The first Christians “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) shaking the gates of hell even in the face of severe persecution. The result: People all around “were filled with wonder and amazement” (Acts 3:10).What can give Christians today the same impact?

God’s Holy Spirit is ready to answer that for us in an awesome way, as Henry Blackaby and his son Mel Blackaby make clear in Experiencing the Spirit. You’ll see how the proof of the Spirit’s presence is our awareness of God’s personal assignments for us, plus our supernatural enablement to carry out those assignments. You’ll find essential clarification on the difference between natural talents and spiritual gifts. You’ll explore the dynamics of being filled with the Spirit through intimate relationship with Him, committed obedience, and radical departure from sin.

Instead of considering what you can do for God with your abilities and talents, you’ll be encouraged here to seek what God wants to do through you supernaturally by His Spirit, empowering you beyond your personal competence and capacities. Release the Holy Spirit’s work at the very core of your experience of the Christian life.

Summary The Treasure Principle

Flip-Flop Your Concept of Giving!

Bestselling author Randy Alcorn introduced readers to a revolution in material freedom and radical generosity with the release of the original The Treasure Principle in 2001. Now the revision to the compact, perennial bestseller includes a provocative new concluding chapter depicting God asking a believer questions about his stewardship over material resources. Readers are moved from the realms of thoughtful Bible exposition into the highly personal arena of everyday life. Because when Jesus told His followers to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” He intended that they discover an astounding secret: how joyful giving brings God maximum glory and His children maximum pleasure. Discover a joy more precious than gold!
Story Behind the Book
After years of writing and teaching on the theme “God owns everything,” in 1990 Randy Alcorn was sued by an abortion clinic (for peaceful, nonviolent intervention for the unborn). Suddenly he had to resign as a pastor and was restricted to making minimum wage. Legally unable to own anything, Randy gave all his book royalties to missions work and need-meeting ministries. He and his family have experienced the reality of The Treasure Principle—that God really does own everything, takes care of us, and graciously puts assets into our hands that we might have the joy and privilege of investing in what will last for eternity.

Author Bios:

Dr. Henry Blackaby has devoted his life to the ministry. A multi-faceted talent, he has served as a music director, senior pastor, college president, missionary, and later as an executive in Southern Baptist Convention. Blackaby is the author of more than a dozen books with more than one million copies sold, including the best-selling Experiencing God. As the President of Blackaby Ministries, he is a vibrant speaker and the father of Dr. Melvin Blackaby. Melvin serves as the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Jonesboro in Georgia, where he lives with his wife, Gina, and their three children.

Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM). Prior to 1990, when he started EPM, he served as a pastor for fourteen years. He has spoken around the world and has taught on the adjunct faculties of Multnomah Bible College and Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. Randy is the best-selling author of twenty-seven books (over three million in print), including the novels Deadline, Dominion, and Deception as well as Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, the Gold Medallion winner Safely Home, and Wait Until Then.