Beautiful Bricklayers’ Winter Workshop: December 28th

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Come and join us for a Beautiful Bricklayers’ Winter Workshop!

Date: Saturday, December 28, 2013

Time: 9AM-noon

Place: 2700 Amalfi, Newport Beach, Ca 92660

We’ll be discussing principles of becoming “hot and holy” women of purpose, prayer, partnership, and preparation.

You’ll be equipped to start preparing now for a godly marriage, regardless of current relationship status. If you are single, dating, or engaged, join us as we grow in our understanding of what it means to lay a foundation for a Kingdom-building future.

Already a Bricklayer?  Join us for a refresher seminar and receive a discounted rate ($10 not $25 if you have already gone through a previous class)!

Invite your friends!!

Cost: $25 for new participants (includes materials and light refreshments).$10 for Bricklayers Class alumna who already have a workbook

Partial scholarships are available.

RSVP: email Cassie: bricklayersleadership@gmail.com or use the form below.

In order to save your spot, write a check made out to “Cassie Robertson” and mail it to:

Cassie Robertson
2620 Johnson Ave.
La Habra, Ca 90631

Deadline to register is DECEMBER 13th!

See you in December!!

November Spotlight: Dani Taylor

daniAre you grateful for your dear friends? Don’t you appreciate those who stand by you to cheer you on to carry out a vision that seems daunting?  Well, I sure am grateful for this very special woman we are featuring this month!  Dani Taylor served behind the scenes for over a year and a half with the leadership team.  She hosted events in her home, spent hours at meetings, donated goods, woke up early to meet with me at a coffee shop before she headed off to work (many times!), and prayed over this ministry.  So much of what Beautiful Bricklayers is today has been directly impacted by Dani’s dedication and service.

Here’s a little glimpse into the lovely heart of this very precious sister in Christ, Dani Taylor:

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m 27 and I LOVE Bricklayers!  I’m really close with my family and I love spending time with them; they are a super funny group of people and I love laughing with them.  I’m really into healthy living – home remedies, cooking, working out, conscious living, etc.  I love the ocean and all the animals in it!

This month’s theme is “Gratitude” and you are a person with a very thankful heart.  Would you share some of the ways you have been intentional to foster thankfulness in your life?

I think one way that I try to foster thankfulness is by constantly acknowledging all that the Lord has done for me and the ways in which he has blessed my life.  If I have a hard day at work, the first thing I do when I get in the car to drive home is list things I am I am thankful for.   I never want to do it – it’s so much easier to let the bitterness fester and to claim that I had a bad day at work and get sympathy from others (which I still do, no one is perfect :-).  But, I find that as soon as I start listing what I’m thankful for, everything comes into perspective and my heart is filled with gratitude and praise and then that doesn’t leave any room for bitterness, anger, discontentment, or envy!

Dani with family
Picture perfect with her family!

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve experienced in trying to maintain contentment?

This one is very hard, I feel like this is an area where I often feel a lot of spiritual attack: staying close to the Lord and believing his Word is what keeps my head above the water.   It’s so easy to listen to the world’s lies and think, for example, that I should be married by now and have achieved a certain level at work.  I find social media really stirs up discontentment in me, so I try my best to stay away from it.  The moment I remember that I am not in control and that the Lord is in charge of my life, I can relax and give everything over to him.  It’s funny because it’s so hard to let go of control, but as soon as I do it, I can relax and know that I am fully taken care of and looked after.  He can take care of me far better than I could ever take care of myself! 

Do you have a passage in Scripture that has served as an anchor to your soul to keep you grounded during particularly difficult seasons in your life?

Yes! I memorized Psalm 42:11 (NLT) which says: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again – my Savior and my God.” This has been such an encouraging verse for me.  It allows me to acknowledge my feelings of sadness and discouragement but to remember that my hope is in the Lord and I should praise Him through every season of life! 
Dani with Grandpa
Dani loves her Grandpa!

In your singleness, what has the Lord been teaching you that you would like to share with other women?

To wait on Him and to use this season of life when I have extra time and devote it to the Lord – to spending time with Him, reading the Word, and memorizing scriptures.  Life is only going to get more busy and hectic from here on out and I want to know that my life is (and always will be) rooted in the Lord and His truth.

How have you been able to “rejoice with those who rejoice” when you yourself would love to have that same kind of rejoicing in your own life?

This is the one area that I feel the Lord has given me His strength.  I so badly want for my friends to be in relationships and I feel such joy and happiness for them when this happens!  It also gives me hope, if it can happen for them, it can certainly happen for me!  It’s also a way that I can see the Lord answering the prayers that I’ve prayed for my friends and their future husbands.  I think it has also helped that both my sisters have been in serious relationships for the past few years; to see them so happy makes me realize I would never want to deprive anyone of that joy!

What advice or words of wisdom do you have to share with other Beautiful Bricklayers as they navigate singleness and dating relationships?

Trust in the Lord and know that He is good! Draw near to Him and let Him take care of the rest!Dani with RH girls
***Would you like to nominate a girlfriend of yours to be interviewed for the Beautiful Bricklayers monthly spotlight?  
Please email us at: beautifulbricklayers@gmail.com with the girl’s name and reason why you think she should be featured on our blog.*** 

a new month

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Photo courtesy of Casian Babut.

You might have noticed that I haven’t been blogging much during the month of October, and, for my distance, I want to apologize.  To be perfectly honest, I’ve had a challenging month and I went into a bit of a hibernation.  I plan to tell you about it more later, but in the meanwhile I gladly welcome November!!!  We will be focusing on the theme of “GRATITUDE” this month as we prepare our hearts for that beloved day that many associate with turkey, football, second helpings, colorful leaves, and warm drinks: Thanksgiving.

I don’t know about you, but I am overjoyed to dive into the holiday season.  Last year, my husband and I decided to take things very slow and even “undercommit” during Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I am so grateful that we spent our first married holiday season that way so that we could savor every moment and truly wrap our hearts around the meaning of each celebration.  It was as though we were enjoying a twelve course meal over a long evening and able to delight in every bite… simply because we made a decision to be deliberate about remembering the purpose.

This is my prayer for you over the next two months as we celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s:  Jesus, we thank you for your love that is exquisite and spectacular – far better than anything else we could ever experience or desire.  Thank you for lavishing on us your grace, kindness, and faithfulness, even when we are not aware of your generosity.  Please help us to wholeheartedly engage with you during this season of celebration.  Please give us an acute awareness of your presence no matter what we have going on over the next couple of months.  Help us to choose you… every day.  We love you, Lord!

October Spotlight: Amanda Pinedo

Many of you follow us on our Facebook Page and, this month, we wanted to give you a peak into the life of our main contributor to that Page.  She is indeed a Beautiful Bricklayers herself: Amanda Pinedo.Amanda Pinedo headshot

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am 24 and living in Huntington Beach, where I am finishing up my Masters in Social Work at USC. I have a passion for helping people and am so excited to be able to finally start my career as a medical social worker soon!  I am a pretty simple girl who loves good music, warm drinks, and good conversation with friends.  God has really blessed my life even with its ups and downs, and I am so thankful for his patience and love for me.

Being that this month’s theme is “Falling in Love” how did you first fall in love with Jesus?

Growing up attending Christian school since I was 5 years old made it easy to learn about Jesus and accept Him into my heart at a very young age.  However, when I was in high school, I finally began to understand what loving Jesus really looked like.  It was then that I was baptized and really tried to learn how to be a better follower of Him.  My undergrad at Vanguard University also really blessed me with an environment to be poured into and challenged in my faith.  It was at Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa that God really stole my heart.  Because of my upbringing and experiences of instability and chaos growing up, it has been a process for me to learn how God could love someone like me and to understand that someone could take care of me.  Falling in love with Jesus is something I believe we never stop doing and knowing that He loves us through it all, is something I believe is the perfect model of what kind of love God wants for us.

You are currently in a dating relationship.  Would you share more about how you met and what made you want to start dating your boyfriend?

Even though it sounds cliche, Max and I met at a mutual friends wedding when we first noticed one another across the room. However, it was not until almost half a year later that we met at Rock Harbor after Max had returned from Ireland where he was helping to start a church.  The “dating” phase of our relationship was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life.  I had been use to guys leading relationships in a very quick pace or not leading the relationship at all.

The way that Max led our relationship was nerve-racking but so refreshing to experience.  He prayerfully spent time asking God about our next steps, he took the time to really get to know me, and when the time was right expressed his intentions for moving our relationship forward.  His love for God, his passion for others, and his character are some of the biggest reasons I found for wanting to open my heart to him.  I honestly did not think guys like him existed.  I always figured that I would have to settle in my love life, but God had more for his daughter: a love bigger than I could imagine.  Max is pretty funny too… always a plus. 🙂

What are some helpful boundaries, physical and emotional, that you two have established for a healthy, God-honoring relationship?

Since the beginning of our relationship, Max and I have communicated our intentions for the physical boundaries we wanted to stay strong in and the beautiful things we wanted to look forward to in a potential marriage one day.  We knew that although kissing is fun, we had to be careful that we did not fall into the slippery slope of passion.  We also knew that sleeping in the same bed overnight would be another boundary we would never want to compromise in our relationship.  And although these boundaries have been hard and many friends and family have not understood them, we continue to believe in our hearts that it’s what God wants for us in our relationship.  Emotionally, we have continued to have open communication with our past experiences in relationships and have had discussions with each other about our families and upbringings.  So much of your past will follow you into your present and future.  We knew that if we didn’t stay honest, we couldn’t move forward and build a relationship with a strong spiritual and emotional foundation.

When friends or acquaintances think you are being “too strict” what do you tell them?  Do you have any stories to share?

A lot of our friends have not understood our physical boundaries at times, especially when we have planned trips with other couples.  I honestly think we have even been left out of trips because of friends not wanting to have to plan around the boundaries we have. However, we never compromised our intentions and even with family have had to make conscious decisions to stay true to what we believe.

How has dating helped you to grow as a woman and in your relationship with God and others?

Dating Max has honestly pushed me to newer levels in my relationship with God.  I had dated guys before Max that never pushed me to be a better woman of God.  They were Christian but they weren’t walking with God the way I believe He calls us to be.  I have grown in so many ways in dating Max and seeing His love for God makes me want to love him and God more in so many ways.  God’s Word states that His two most important commandments are to love God and to love one another, and in my relationship with Max I have felt we are able to experience those commandments together.  Through reading our Bibles daily, praying together, doing a devotional together, serving together, tithing together, and more, God has pushed my heart for Him to a whole new level.

If you could list out a few practical tips to help the Beautiful Bricklayers community in their pre-dating and dating seasons, what would you share?

If I could give any advice to those praying for Mr. Bricklayer, there are a few things I would encourage:
1) Never settle for a man that is not in LOVE with God
2) Seek God in your love life always, be patient, and trust that He wants the best for you
3) Be open in your communication with a potential partner (Be honest with who you are and what you need in a partner)
4) Take the time to do some inner work in you before you start dating. If you don’t know God and yourself and love God and yourself, how can you love someone else.

three things to share

We have three things to share with you today: an invitation to a party, a resource for you, and a little announcement about what’s going on in Cristina’s life out in Arkansas.

So here it is:

FIRST THING: You’re invited to enjoy food and a friendly, feminine gathering tonight:

6:30pm at 2700 Amalfi, Newport Beach, CA

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92660.

Please RSVP on the Facebook Event Page or simply come.

You are welcome to bring a friend… all women are welcome!

SECOND THING: Have you started following Cristina’s Bricklayers Pinterest Board yet? Take a peak!

THIRD (and last) THING for today:

Cristina Alexandroni, has been selected by million-copy best-selling author Shannon Ethridge to participate in an online mentorship program called B.L.A.S.T.: Building Leaders, Authors, Speakers & Teachers.

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Alexandroni’s ultimate goal is to, through Beautiful Bricklayers, bless women who want to proactively prepare for marriage and purposefully draw near to Jesus. She yearns to effectively communicate biblically based principles and practical insights into building a foundation for those two most important relationships. Alexandroni loves to speak to youth groups and at women’s gatherings.

Unlike typical writer’s conferences, B.L.A.S.T. stretches over a 12-month period, providing students focused time to implement what they learn and truly hone their craft. Ethridge explains, “It’s not just lectures. It’s a laboratory. Students like Cristina will be creating videos, critiquing others’ work, and learning to gain the respect of potential publishers and editors.”With two decades of speaking experience and 20 successful books in both the Christian and mainstream markets, Ethridge says, “It’s a delight to coach aspiring writers and speakers. These valuable hands-on learning experiences can make a BIG difference as they pursue their publishing and speaking dreams.”

We wish Cristina the best as she begins the program! For more information about the B.L.A.S.T. mentorship program, go to www.blastmentoring.com.

your feminine body

Every month we have a friendly reminder that we were created female.  Our menstrual cycle is obviously much more than just an inconvenience to manage.  It’s an indication that we are, one day, likely going to be able to carry a new little life inside.  Start thinking about your fertility now – even if you are single and not even dating anyone.

I remember being in a mentorship group of women who gathered every month to learn about different aspects of what it meant to be a woman.  One of the questions we came upon was about birth control and determining which methods were healthy and honoring to God.  Most of us in that group twenty-somethings were 100% single at the time, but we were determined to learn more about a subject we had hardly ever heard about from our Christian leaders.

Through research in books and online, I have come to the conclusion that using the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) or Natural Family Planning (NFP) is best for me.

To put it very simply:  I started tracking my cycles before I got married.  More than circling the start and end dates of my period on a calendar (I DO NOT recommend the calendar or rhythm method!!!), I tracked two fertility signs every day.  I recorded my Basal Body Temperature (BBT) upon waking and observed my cervical fluid (or mucus) throughout the day.  The purpose of tracking these signs helped me to become “body literate” and aware of when I was fertile and when I was not.

In marriage, my husband adopted the role of “NFP record taker” so that he is involved and aware of what’s happening in my body.  It’s been a wonderfully unifying experience and we don’t have to worry about unwelcome side effects that can happen when taking “the pill”.  There are many articles and papers written about the oral contraceptive controversy, but you can look in to that further for yourself.

Both books pictured above are books that were helpful for me to learn NFP.  Many people believe myths that NFP is too difficult, that it is not effective, and that it is unromantic.  I have found that although it takes intentionality to learn, it is well worth the effort.  It has been extremely effective for us and those who use it conscientiously.  Also, it’s been very romantic to have my husband interested and aware of what is going on in my body and I love having a teammate in this sphere.

I have listed below some additional resources that offer helpful information.  Be mindful that they are not all “Christian” websites and carry various worldviews.  It’s important to read this with a discerning mind.

Women’s Health & Fertility

(disclaimer: Beautiful Bricklayers doesn’t claim to agree with or support everything on these sites.  The links are listed for you to peruse and use at your discretion.)

September Book Review: Every Body Matters (part 2)

There were so many excellent quotations from the book, we wanted to post them here for you to get a taste of the content of this month’s recommended book, Every Body Matters, by Gary Thomas.  We’ve also included an interview with him below.

“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21-22

“How we treat our bodies is a question of stewardship even before it is a question of health, comfort, enjoyment, or pleasure. If we’re truly going to be made holy, useful to the Master, and prepared to do any good work, being more  energetic and even being healthier can be essential elements of effectiveness. Many issues of disability and illness are beyond our control; they fall under the providence of God and the genes he has given us. But many issues- how often we exercise, the amount and the quality of the calories we take in- are entirely a matter of choice, and these are what we are held accountable for.” pg.47

“A Christian fully alive is active in every sense of the word, as much as she or he is able to be so under the Providence and care of God.” pg.103

“The reason spiritual neglect and apathy are so devastating is that the act of pursuing God makes life so much sweeter. When I am seeking and growing in God, my marriage and parenting, my eating and drinking, my laughing and playing and work, take on and holy hue. The delight I have in God seeps into everything I do, and if there is anything that blocks this delight, I lose my taste for it.” pg.108

“Here’s the difference: trying aspects of life will happen whether we use them or not. Spiritual laziness leads to resentment; spiritual diligence spawns insight and transformation from the exact same events.” pg. 111

“We should be asking ourselves how we can become places of outreach that love, affirm, and build up the sick, the lonely, the recovering addicts, and the weak, while affirming the call to become strong, fit, and active servants.” pg. 129

“but as God’s representatives, we are called to encourage others to turn from sin and to testify to God’s will, however imperfectly we live it out ourselves, because a life of holiness is the most wonderful, meaningful, joy-filled, abundant life there is.” pg. 1410220001737a
“Such a commitment will require radical spiritual strength, and I believe that addressing the physical issues of laziness and overeating can have a significant impact on the church’s readiness.” pg. 195

September Book Review: Every Body Matters (part 1)

This month, Melissa Pena, recommends Gary Thomas’ Every Body Matters to help us dive deeper into the health theme.  She shares more of a summary below so you can be further inspired to worship God with your whole being… including your body.

Every Body Matters Book Review

While the world around pushes for us to lose weight and look our best in healthy and unhealthy ways, the church often opts out of conversations about physical health and well being altogether.  Gary Thomas addresses this trend and dives right into the discussion in his book, Every Body Matters.  Here, Thomas explores from a Biblical perspective the benefits of physical fitness and how it can profoundly impact our lives as Christ followers.  He shares how becoming physically fit can lead to being more sensitive to God’s voice, having more zest for life, and having a fresh attitude of service and love for others.

In addition to discussing the spiritual and emotional benefits of physical fitness, Gary Thomas also shares the true motivation behind all of it. The goal behind getting healthy as a Christian is not that we might look and feel great but that we might be “instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).  By being disciplined in what we eat and the activities we choose, we train ourselves so that we might be ready (now both physically, mentally, and spiritually) for any good work- for Christ and His kingdom.

I am so grateful to have read this book and very highly recommend it.  Every chapter is infused with convicting truth, motivating perspective, and refreshing candor.  Every time I put the book down, I felt this deep urge to go for a brisk walk or do some sort of exercise.  This book has given me a deeper motivation for being healthy.  It’s not about me just getting thinner and more agile but it’s about walking with my God and serving Him with all my heart.  For me, that’s just about the best motivation I could ever ask for.  I hope you find this book as refreshing and motivating as I did. Press on, sisters!

“Soft people who frequently complain about the smallest annoyances, who give in to laziness and excess, who expect others to work so they can rest, who collapse into passive entertainment instead of active exercise- these are souls custom-made to become all but irrelevant in kingdom warfare. They are no threat to anyone- least of all to Satan.” pg. 127

September Spotlight: Erin Sheehy

Here’s our second month of putting you, Beautiful Bricklayers, in the spotlight.  Enjoy the wisdom and encouragement from this month’s interview with Erin Sheehy: a gorgeous, fun-loving, hard-working Daughter of the King of kings!

Erin Sheehy being silly

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am 30 years old, a Californian native, and the oldest of 5 kids.  After studying at Wheaton College (IL), I taught in Honduras for 2 years before moving back to CA.  Currently, this is my 9th year of teaching 7th grade English.  During my free time, I love being with my Young Life high school kids, spending time with my family, and working out.

Since this month’s theme is health, how do you stay so healthy in mind, body, and spirit?

I stay healthy in my mind and spirit by spending time alone with Jesus.  I love to make a bowl of oatmeal with a scoop of natural peanut butter and to have a cup of strong coffee while I read the Word in the morning before work.  I prefer to turn off the radio of my car and to pray instead.  As far as staying healthy and fit physically, I start my day with push ups and I always try to work out for at least 30 minutes daily even if it is late at night after work.  Consistency is key for me.  I love to spin on a bike at the gym or hike but my favorite workout is walking.  In fact, this is where I do my best praying.  I put my cell phone up to my ear, so people don’t think I am talking to myself as I pray out loud while I walk at the beach.

Why are you so intentional about being a healthy person?  Who taught you the most about what it means to be healthy?

It is important to me to stay healthy because my body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and I want to be strong in order to better serve Him. It is also a stress relief for me to workout.  I just feel better.

My parents had a great impact on my choices about prioritizing working out.  I realized that my parents made time to invest in healthy living and that it should be a part of my life too.

Erin Sheehy siblingsRegarding men: what are some key qualities/attributes that you would like to see in the man you would marry?  Do you ever dream of what he would be like?

I pray that the man I marry will be one who loves Christ.  I also love having people over and showing hospitality, so I would love it if that were a part of his life.  Since I work with kids, I would love it if he enjoyed youth. Finally, since taking care of my health is important, I would value it if a man took care of his physical health too.

Do you ever struggle in your singleness?  What do you do when you are feeling down or aching in your heart?

Yes, there are times when I struggle with singleness.  I liken it to a roller coaster. Some days I struggle and am scared about the next “twist and turn,” but other days, I enjoy the ride and smile at the future.  When I feel down, I tell myself about the goodness and faithfulness of God.  I also tell myself to “Do the next thing.”  This was a mantra of Elizabeth Elliot, and I want to be one who is not full of self pity but one who redeems the time and opportunities I have now in front of me!  Finally, I think of Proverbs 31:25 “She can laugh at the days to come.”  I know God is in charge and He is taking care of me for my good and for His glory!

If you had to share one of the biggest blessings of living a life of purity in singleness, what would you share?

The greatest blessing of living a life of purity while single is that it is pleasing to the LORD.  HE is the audience of One that I live to please, and I want my actions and conduct to bring Him glory.

Do you have a Scripture passage that has been like an anchor of truth for you?

Psalms 37:3-7 has been my favorite passage to turn to throughout the years as a foundation of Truth to anchor my heart to. 

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” 

simple truth

As we focus on our theme of health this month, I’m reminded that most of us already know what it takes to live a healthy life: regular exercise, wholesome diet, sufficient sleep, life-giving relationships, reconciled heart to God… You know: no short-cuts… Just the honest, straight-up truth of living the way God intended.

The key to this kind of life isn’t so much about knowing what to do, but simply DECIDING to do it. Implementation. Discipline. Diligence. Knowing when to start some things and stop some other things. Saying no to the destructive. Saying yes to the constructive.

It’s up to you. Will you choose to live a healthy life one moment at a time?

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