Of Water and Sacrifice

flowers, Jesus, life poured out, love

Growing up, one of the morning rituals for my mom was to go outside and water her flowers. She had some amazing flower beds and taught me that every home needs some flowers growing around it, even if it is just a few.

Now that I have my own place, I have planted a few flowers (nothing like my mama’s) and enjoy the pop of color and life they bring. We have a large, green watering pot, but many times I simply use an empty Folger’s coffee container to water the flowers. The container sits in the same spot, under the spout for Sue, our remaining dog, and I water the flowers and fill it up again for her.

It is an old, ordinary, plastic container, and it is certainly nothing at which to look. On its own, it is worth diddly-squat. But that does not matter, because it holds the elixir of life: water. What matters is not the carrier, but what is carried. What matters is not the vessel, but what is brought. And so it is with us: it is what’s poured out that matters.

Ugo Bassi, a preacher and writer of the 1800s penned these words:

          Measure thy life by loss instead of gain;
          Not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth;
          For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice

And what is this water of life to be poured forth? It is the love of Christ, love that we cannot earn or buy, only freely accept and offer to others by sacrificing our lives. We don’t have to thirst, and we don’t have to be empty (even if there are days we feel we are). The Water of Life comes from a well that will never run dry. He promised. 

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:14 (NLT)

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

Photo Credits: Google Images/www.freephotosandart.com

Weekend Wonders: Photos of Serendipities: Palm Trees and A Path Less Taken

encouragement, Jesus, path less taken

A few days ago my husband and I, along with some new friends, went for a hike to San Carlos Falls. We had all been there before, but we were excited to see it again, due to the recent rain. Hoping it would be a great, rushing sight to behold, we were not disappointed (except for the onslaught of fat mosquitoes).
However, it was not the falls that spoke to me this time–it was a palm tree. No, I am not the Disney Pocahontas who sings to the foliage while leaves whirl around my head, but I am sure God teaches us through the beauty and wonder of nature.
While hundreds of other palms trees, surrounding the flowing stream, shot straight towards the sky, there was one that did not. It, too, needed the water and sunlight. But it chose a different path, a path less taken. This beautiful palm tree found a new way to live and even though it looks bizarre, it is also striking and lovely. 
Sometimes I have felt like this palm tree: a little weird, a little strange. Haven’t we all? There is a line from “What a Girl Wants” with Amanda Bynes that has a grip on me (despite its cheesiness). Daphne, Bynes’ character, has a cute male counterpart who asks her, “Why are you trying to fit in, when you were born to stand out?” 
There is nothing inherently wrong with conventionality, and being odd just for cheap attention and notoriety is completely useless and can even be harmful. But merely “going with the flow” to be accepted or avoid all conflicts can hold us back, especially if there is something more beautiful beckoning us to go a different way.
And if you love Jesus, He made it pretty clear that the way to follow Him would be narrow and far less popular. If there are days you become discouraged with your life, or you are afraid to take that first step down the different path, the different way, just remember the palm tree on the way to San Carlos Falls. It went a different way and ended up being rather remarkable.
Keep the Faith, 
Audrey Ann

Hosting Is Scary

Christian, hosting, Jesus

“Nobody cares!” I told her. “The house looks fine.”  I huffed and puffed, while my mom continually cleaned the house before guests would arrive. Back then I prided myself on my “chill” attitude about people coming to visit. And then I got married and had my own place. 
I have been married just over a year, and due to our home being a studio apartment, there was a time I felt we could not truly host like I wanted. Instead of seeing the potential, I saw the inadequacies. I saw the tiny indoors, instead of the plentiful yard. But once I was able to see the potential, my husband and I dubbed ourselves the “Bonfire People.” He dug a fire pit, we bought a few chairs, a fold-up table, and some pretty, twinkly lights. And before long, we had a cute little outdoor setting.
Besides, we all know that true hospitality has little to do with the house, and more to do with the heart of the home–what you feel as you walk in, the way you are greeted, and invited to relax. The most beautiful thing about your home cannot be purchased. 
I have been able to experience true hospitality from several families. They had very different houses, but they all made me feel like I was both a special visitor and that I was one of the family. 
In particular, I had just flown from Guam to Texas for my friend’s wedding. We all stayed at her future in-laws. The large, country home was bursting at the seams with wedding paraphernalia and people. And even in the clamor, their home was so very welcoming, and I felt so very comfortable.
About the second day, I was delirious from the 13 hour time difference, and stayed back one afternoon to nap, while everyone else ran around finishing wedding details. Shuffling downstairs to the kitchen, I found myself opening the pantry door to rummage around for a snack. I thought to myself, “Audrey Ann! What are you doing? You don’t even know these people! Your mother would be ashamed!”
But the beauty of their home was the way I felt free to find a snack in their pantry, and they way they invited me for morning coffee on their porch, the day before their son’s wedding. In essence, the beauty of their home was that they cared; they cared about me.
If the goal of hosting is to show off your home or your cooking skills or even (in our case) your bonfire-making skills, you have missed the point. It is always about showing people the love and care of Jesus. As my pastor said, “Make your home an embassy for Christ.” I would also add, make it a haven. There is so much craziness in this world, and so many people need a place where they are safe, cared for, and can even rummage through your pantry (on rare occasions like jet lag).
Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

Photo 1: Google Images/dwnloadwallpapers.com
Photo 2: Norman Rockwell/Google Images/mosbybuildingarts.com

What My Puppy’s Death Taught Me

Christian, Death, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jesus, thanksgiving

Remember my first installment of “Weekend Wonders” where I talked about the puppies? Since then I have come to recognize, even more, the importance of always thanking God in the moment and loving those around us, taking no gift for granted.
Within a period of four days, my husband and I lost two of “our” puppies to Parvo (it seems). The dogs technically belonged to a neighbor, but we trained them, loved on them, and helped take care of them. They shared our front porch and greeted us at the gate. But they were not ours, and so we did not decide whether or not they went to the vet for their shots. And perhaps they would have become sick, regardless.
Staying up late into the night with the little puppy as she suffered, wheezed, and bled, I realized that my precious little Beanie was a picture of this world. She was a picture of our lives. An adorable, sweet, baby puppy was dying a painful death. In our world there is fleeting beauty and innocence, but it is vulnerable to sickness and will never survive on this side of heaven. 
In Keep a Quiet Heart, Elisabeth Elliot said, “…God has allowed in the lives of each of us some sort of loss, the withdrawal of something we valued, in order that we may learn to offer ourselves a little more willingly, to allow the touch of death on one more thing we clutched so tightly, and to know fullness and freedom and joy that much sooner. We’re not naturally inclined to love God and seek His Kingdom. Trouble may help to incline us–that is, it may tip us over, put some pressure on us, lean us in the right direction.”
On Sunday we said goodbye to some dear friends who are leaving the island–their kids are bundles of joy, and the husband and wife are good friends and examples to us. We really love them. 
Today I broke one of my favorite tea cups. It shattered all over the floor with the sharpest crash.

These are small losses. Believe me, I know. I have watched people bury their little children. I have watched people die of cancer. I have watched mothers become widows. 
But I have also watched God give new life and love to those who knew such grief.
There are bleak days and there are sunny days, but certain losses will always, in our hearts, penetrate both. Just remember that Jesus is with His children. And He is coming back. Let that hope and this world’s pain lean you closer to Him. Of all the beauties in this life, He is the most beautiful.
Keep the Faith, 
Audrey Ann

Weekend Wonders: Photos of Serendipities: Morning Delights


“I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.

~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: 
A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

 I shouldn’t tell you I’m a morning person, because that would be a lie. And lies are not good. But I can tell you that I do recognize and appreciate the freshness of a new day and the amazing way it all looks new. There is nothing like drinking your morning coffee (or tea, if you’re a better person than me), and finding that brief moment of serenity and just a twinge of excitement (even if the dogs are barking and the chickens are squawking). We get a new start every day. God is so good to give us a sense of newness with the dawn, just like He offers us newness in our lives through His Son, Jesus Christ. What is your favorite beauty of the morning?

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann



Today I saw a local lady dance with her little girl in a coffee shop to a Doris Day song, while the older daughter giggled and said, “They are NOT my family.” It was so sweet, but not too surprising, because it’s a fact: Doris Day will always make you smile. If you don’t believe me, watch one of her films. Here’s a clip from one of my favorites, “Calamity Jane.”

My inner little girl always dreams of being classy and glowing like Doris Day. What a cutie! Maybe she’s not your style? Well, find some music that suits your fancy and have a little dance of your own. Embarrass your kids, because the secret is that they absolutely love it.

Keep the Faith,
Audrey Ann

photo source: Google Images/Wikipedia