Monday, December 16, 2013

Too Busy To Listen

Y'all.  This has not been my most impressive moment in the sun.  Let's just say I have NOT been on my best behavior and my level of patience is at an all time low.  The past couple of months have been some of the hardest months we've had to face as a family in a long time, maybe ever.  And as much as I'd like to sing the praises of our Heavenly Father, I found myself struggling this morning to feel worthy of such a gesture. 

Our house caught on fire on October 15.  Thankfully, no one was hurt and all of our possessions were unharmed.  Inconveniently, we had to move out of our home while builders and contractors put it back together.  We moved back in last Thursday and it feels great to be back home.  But the stress of the two moves, as you can imagine, was a bit much at times.  (I know!  First-world probs!)  As a result, though, I found myself this morning feeling undeserving of God's love and unworthy of His presence.

That is, until I read today's post from Jesus Calling.  As anyone would be, I have been acting feverishly to get our house unpacked and us settled in.  I have given little to zero time with the Lord, and the task of moving in became the first and only priority within my heart.  I've struggled with not "feeling" the Lord's presence, and even told my husband just last night outside of being back in our house, I feel so very disconnected from everything and everyone...including God.  As I took a minute to sit down this morning, I found myself longing for Abba Father and this is what He said to me...

"I desire to talk with all of my children, but many are too busy to listen.  The "work ethic" has them tied up in knots.  They submit wholeheartedly to this taskmaster, wondering why they feel so distant from Me." -Jesus Calling

I am so grateful for a God who knows exactly what to speak to my heart.  Outside of Scripture, the words He speaks aren't necessarily audible, but consist of moments of peace, love, joy, and hope.  That is His love language to us...if we'd just take the time to listen. 

Thank you, Father God, for not giving up on me and drawing me back into You.  You are my Lifeline.

How about you?  What's keeping you from stopping and listening? 

Friday, October 4, 2013

When Life Looks Different

It's true.  Life often doesn't turn out the way you might have thought it would.  That thing you once said would never happen happens.  The one thing you said you'd never do you did or you do.  That thing you thought would never get better does.  And the thing you thought would never hurt...well, it does and it did.  For me...

I always said I'd never marry a preacher, and I didn't.  But wouldn't you know?  The Lord called my husband to a ministry that often requires him to preach.  And although I never wanted to be a preacher's wife, my husband is an amazing speaker.  The Lord has taught me much being under his preaching.  I've never been more proud to be his wife (a some-what preacher's wife).

That very thing I loved to do - teaching...and that other thing I said I'd never do - stay at home...well, I did.  The very moment I finished my masters in education the Lord called me to quit my job as a teacher and to spend the next seven years as a stay-at-home mom.  I met the task with mixed emotions, but after a few months of adjusting I felt certain being home was where I was meant to be.  The gift of those seven priceless years...years I'll never get back with my small children...were the most difficult and beautiful years of my life.

That one traumatic event that took place in my life when I was kid happened again.  But this time it happened as an adult.  When I was a preteen my parents split up temporarily, but by the grace of God and through miraculous spiritual healing, the Lord put our family back together.  That very thing I never thought would happen again, happened.  When I was 27 my parents split again, but this time it was for good.  The pain was all too familiar but the coping mechanisms looked entirely different.  I was not prepared for the emotional impact the void left by my dad would have on my heart, my mind, my parenting, and my role as a wife.  That thing I never thought would happen that did happen brought on such heartbreak.  And that heartbreak that I never thought would heal did.  Through many tears and much pain, the Lord taught me how to fill voids in my life with Him - an invaluable skill many of us struggle to learn.

That thing I never thought the Lord would call me to do He did.  As a child, a teenager, a college kid, and a young adult, I NEVER sensed a desire to serve God with my life.  In fact, my decisions were based on what was in it for me.  My life was rooted deep in selfishness and self-gratification.  That is until God did something I never thought He would.  After asking God to give me a holy passion while also granting me His eyes and the ability for my heart to break for what breaks His, the Lord completely spun me around into a new way of living I never could have imagined for myself.  Suddenly I saw people differently.  Acts of injustice impacted me.  Other people's burdens became my burdens.  Groups I might have once looked down my nose upon now suddenly seemed a lot like me.  Their issues were my issues.  Their pain was my pain.  The only difference being that I had something I knew they needed...Jesus.  And since that moment the journey included and does include  a lot of Him, a lot less of me, and a mission-based lifestyle.  When God recently called me back to work, He said no to me returning to teaching and yes to an opportunity that includes loving on people, ministering to their needs, and serving them as Christ would.

It is true.  Life really doesn't turn out the way we might have once wished.  But all along God knew.  He knew what was best.  And not just what was best for me, but what was best for His Kingdom, His people, His plan for this world.  Despite the heartache and the change in plans, it has all been worth it to me.  Overwhelmingly, Romans 8:28 never has resounded more in my life than it does at this very moment...

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Truth About Women

So, I would like to make some general statements about the female race.  I get to do this simply because I am a female.  I bring some experience to the table, and because God has called me to raise a female of my own, these issues apply to me, effect me, and probably you, as well.  Of course, I realize that if you are, in fact, a female, these general statements may or may not apply to you.  I get that.  I get that you might be the exception to the rule.  With that in mind, I say...good for you.  Trust me, if these things I'm about to mention don't apply to relieved.  Be ever-so grateful.

If you are a female, you have/you are/you will experience jealousy.  No one is exempt from this potential feeling.  In fact, jealousy is so prevalent among women today, that it has completely robbed us from becoming who God intended us to be from the moment our lives were spoken into existence. It has robbed us of our security and of our friendships.  Because of jealousy and comparing ourselves to others, we have become something the Lord never intended us to be.  We are forever in a constant state of comparison.  This fact, alone, is rooted deep in jealousy, selfishness and pride.  We compare homes, bodies, hair color, jobs, the way we parent, how we dress, and yes, even how involved we are in Sunday School and church.  Another woman's shortcomings feel like small victories in our minds.  Another woman's victories feel like setbacks in our lives.  Say what you will...but you know this, for the most part, is our sick reality. 

God forbid we actually be happy for each other.  How crazy it is to think that we could celebrate life right alongside one another.  Sure, we may do this with certain women in our lives...maybe our mothers, maybe our sisters, maybe even a close childhood friend.  But we can not say this is true for all of the women we know in our lives.  Technology hasn't helped.  Now we have Facebook and Instagram to add to our bag of measuring sticks...

She has more friends than me on Facebook.  Everybody just loves her.  (eye roll)

Her kids are cuter than mine. 

She dresses so cute...look how skinny she is...I bet she has an eating disorder. 

Her picture has more "likes" than mine. 

She has more followers than me. 

Gah, she's such a good writer.  I guess I would be, too, if I was a stay-at-home mom and had all day to read blogs and play on the computer.

Do you see the insanity?  Go ahead, tell me I'm crazy.  Try to convince me that I am the only one who struggles with this.  And I will call you a straight up liar.  (grin)

We know these are our issues.  We're just not willing to own them.  We read books on insecurity, a purpose-filled life, and becoming confident women.  Women keep writing these books because women keep struggling with these issues.  What if we decided to simply call a spade a spade?  What if we started taking literal what God's Word says about jealousy...

For jealousy and selfishness are not God's kind of wisdom.  Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.  For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. -James 3:15-16 (NLT)

Truth is, I'm thankful for those brave female authors who have been willing to open their hearts to the entire world, to put it out there for us to see and deal with.  Perhaps their hope is the same as mine.  They, too, have had enough.  And they have never been more eager to see daughters of the King starting to rise up and take their place in the Kingdom of Christ.

What will it take?  What can we do?  Is it possible to overcome this TOGETHER?  To finally decide to lock arms, to build each other up, to encourage one another in our walks with the Lord, to listen and understand our struggles, to quit comparing, and to stop the maddening jealousy?  It has become like cancer.  It has taken over our hearts, our souls, our lives.  We have let it cripple us.  And if we are not careful, it will do the same thing to our daughters.  That, my friends, is the wicked beauty of sin.

Here's my heart...

I am only human.  I make mistakes.  I fail everyday at something.  I hate the mother and the wife I am some days.  I hate what jealousy, comparing, selfishness, and self-loathing is doing to my spirit.  I don't want to get to the end of my life and have missed all the blessings that could have come from cherished and beloved friendships with my sisters in Christ.  Enough IS enough...

God has had it with the proud, but takes delight in just plain people.  So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs.  God's strong hand is on you; he'll promote you at the right time.  Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.  -1 Peter 5:5-7 (The Message)

Whew!  I'm exhausted!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Unbelief = Distance

"The farther you roam along paths of unbelief, the harder it is to remember that I am with you.  Anxious thoughts branch off in all directions, taking you farther and farther from awareness of My Presence." -Sarah Young in Jesus Calling

I sit here fully aware of my areas of unbelief, those parts of me not fully surrendered.  I know what unbelief does to the spirit, to my soul.  I've experienced, unfortunately, the consequences that result from a lack of trust.  And I know I'm not the only one.

Unbelief can look like so many things.  It follows after the unexpected loss of a loved one.  Or an unplanned change in everyday life.  For some, it seeps in slowly with no explanation and cause.  But unbelief almost always accompanies distance - distance from the One who believes in you, made you and loves you.

"The farther you roam along paths of unbelief, the harder it is to remember that I am with you."

And He is always with you.  But if you feel as if He's not, perhaps it is you who has wandered. Those many thoughts of unbelief have driven you farther and farther away.  Now, it is time to turn around.  Simply turn around and lift your eyes up.  Find Him there because He is - there.  And run to Jesus.  Let Him receive you back, console your spirit, and remind you who you are in Him.

"For You, O Lord, are a shield around me.  You are my Glory, the One who lifts up my head." -Psalm 3:3  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Because You Haven't Lived If You Haven't Tried My Mom's Cucumber Sandwiches

Confession: I'm not a great cook.

Confession:  I don't cook it unless it comes in a box or a can.

Confession:  I can't follow a recipe unless every teeny tiny detail is laid out and explained in great detail.  Because...

Confession:  I'm not a great cook.

Seriously, though, you just haven't lived if you haven't tried my momma's famous cucumber sandwiches.  I have no idea where this recipe originates, but trust me when I say...

It will change your life, sandwich lovers!

You will need...

2 medium cucumbers, peeled
12 oz. cream cheese, the soft kind
1/3 cup mayo
4 or 5 green onions, chopped fine, tops too
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. garlic salt

The instructions (I swear I can hear my mother's voice as I read them.)...

Grate cucumbers onto a couple of layers of paper towels or process in food processor and then turn the chopped cucumbers out onto paper towels. Cover with more towels and press out all moisture - this is very important. Add all other ingredients except cucumbers to food processor and process thoroughly. Add cucumber and process only 2 or 3 seconds (more will make everything get too watery). Spread on thin bread. Remove crusts. An electric knife makes very neat sandwich edges. Cut in triangles to serve. Sandwiches may be refrigerated overnight or frozen. The spread needs to be made the day before. This amount makes about 80 tiny sandwiches.

Don't you love how my mom has paid such close attention to detail?  One might even think my mother is trying to insult my intelligence...what, with her...this is very important...and...An electric knife makes very neat sandwich edges.  One might even assume my mother has a lot of extra time on her hands as she has spelled out every step in the cucumber sandwich making process.  But let me clear things up so that everyone's opinions will be laid to rest...

I'm not a great cook.

Enjoy, friends.  Seriously, these are so good.  I usually eat 10 tiny sandwiches in one sitting.

Saturday, July 6, 2013



Wrecked is the only word that comes to mind in this moment.  As I sit here wrestling, STILL, with everything I saw and experienced last weekend, wrecked is the only explanation that I can come up with as I try to process it all.

We spend our lives working toward putting ourselves in the "best" situation possible when it comes to our well-being.  We seek out the safest towns, the best schools, the most reputable childcare, the friendliest church, the highest paying job, the best neighborhood, and on and on.  We work hard providing for our families and play even harder on the weekend.  We save our money for the next biggest toy, trip, house, whatever.  And we're pleased with ourselves when we vote for the right candidate, pay our taxes, go to church every week, and tithe our 10 percent.  But at the end of the day, how can we answer this question...

What kind of legacy am I leaving?

Or for those of us who claim to be Christians...

What kind of legacy am I leaving in the name of Jesus and for the cause of Christ?

I can't quit thinking about the faces I saw last weekend.  Those looks of complete hopelessness, total despair, and pain and anger and frustration.  Those looks of brokenness that scream, "I have been forgotten."  I can't get them out of my head.

As we sit behind our computer screens and make our political statements via Facebook on gun control, illegal immigration, and current politicians, it doesn't even occur to us that there is a real war happening on the streets of our very own neighborhoods.  Women, girls for crying out loud, are being sold into a modern-day slave trade.  And we do nothing but look down our noses at them assuming they are where they are because of their own personal decisions.  And this is just what we do with the faces we see and the information we've been given.  But what about the stories we haven't even heard?  Is it even ok to use the excuse that we just didn't know?

I've been doing my own investigation and here's what I'm coming up with...

All around the world, girls are being falsely filled with hope as men promise them a bright future with money and jobs.  These impoverished families sell all of their belongings just to scrape up enough money to support their daughters as they, too, believe these men who promise them a new land with new opportunities.  These girls who have dreamed their whole lives to become nurses and teachers board ships with bags in hand and head to a far away land believing that their dreams have finally come true.

As they enter their new land with hope and eagerness, their dreams become quickly shattered.  Most of them, within the first few hours of entering a new city, are kidnapped by a mob of men who take them into a dark room in a far away place and beat and rape each of them one by one.  These women, whose eyes once contained light and life, are forced to escape to a dark place deep inside themselves as they merely survive day to day in conditions that are not suitable for animals.  These girls, who once played with baby dolls and danced safely within the arms of their own daddies, are forced to service up to 40 men a day meeting requests that are too atrocious for me to even write about.  Their families have no idea of their captivity, and they become lost and forgotten in a world of evil and darkness.


It's all I know to say as these thoughts consume my mind and my heart.  If it were me, if it were my daughter or my sister or my mother, I would want someone to fight for me.  I want to fight.  Please pray for me, friends.  Pray the Lord will speak and make His will known.  Until then, I know I can help fight this hellish war on my knees.  And you can too!  Please join me...

Father God,
Your Word is perfect and needs no extra commentary.  Straight from the mouth of God, I echo the same..."The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."  (Isaiah 61:1-3)  MAY IT BE SO, FATHER GOD!  Use me, Lord.  Here am I - send me!
In the mighty name of the One who saved me from death, my Savior Jesus Christ - Amen!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New Orleans Part 2

You can read the first installment of our story here...

New Orleans Part 1

We 12 women entered the club.  And no, we didn't see anything that scarred us for life.  In fact, we didn't see anything at all.  We had a precious man who led us to the party room where we'd be serving breakfast.  He stood outside the door to our room the entire night and checked on us every 10 minutes.  I must add...he wore a bullet-proof vest the entire time. 

Our 7 men stood outside the entrance to the club and were adamant about not coming inside.  This is a strict policy of One Ministry and one I most admire.  It is imperative to take drastic measures at protecting the hearts of the men who work within this ministry, as they are no fools at what the devil would like to do to them as a result of working within this industry.  It would have been a whole lot safer for them to be inside with us, but they trusted the Lord with their lives and chose to stand outside and pray for us while we served inside the club.

While inside, our group prepared to give those ladies an experience they would remember.  We put up decorations, set out delicious breakfast food, displayed Bibles we so hoped to be able to give away, and hung canvas art on the walls with messages of Jesus and hope.  And then we waited.  While we waited, we prayed and became aware of a very dangerous situation outside.  While we were counting on the prayers of our 7 men outside, we found ourselves lifting them up, instead, as they witnessed one horrific act after another.  It is so interesting to me...but once we made it inside the club, I felt very safe.  Oh, the irony!  There is no other explanation than...God.  He was there.  He was waiting for us before we even came.  And He had permeated that room with his sweet, sweet presence.  There was nothing like it. 

Oh sure!  The enemy taunted us all night.  Every boom and bang we heard within the walls of that party room, I attribute to him.  But he pulled out his big bag of tricks outside where our 7 men were left to survive and to trust the One who had brought us there.  While outside, our male group witnessed fights and taunting, curse words and name calling, EVIL in its meanest form.  But here's the kicker...NOT one time did our group get touched or messed with.  No one spoke to them or even asked them why they were there.  Even though they stood was obvious that they were one even made a remark or gesture.  We believe, without a doubt, that was because our Lord God had His mighty hand of protection on them the entire time.  It was almost as if they were invisible or untouchable...and just maybe they were.  They were able to visit some with the club owner and the bouncers outside.  Those conversations went well, and we are ALL still in awe of how the Lord fulfilled His promise in Joshua 1:9 as mentioned in my first installment of our story.  Our men were in full-on survival mode.  My words in trying to describe their feelings just don't do it justice.  It was a nightmare.  But one thing is they were in the middle of what I feel like is hell on earth...God was with them and they were not touched. 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the LORD your God...  -Isaiah 43:2-3a (NIV)

Inside, we women had a great time serving, visiting and laughing with the ladies of the club.  We never once felt scared or threatened.  I am thrilled to tell you that a couple of meaningful conversations took place, and verbal invitations were given out for those who'd like to come to One Ministry's home church called Freedom Place - don't you just love that name? We gave out 22 Bibles that night!  All in all, 52 women worked the club, and we were able to serve and hang out with about half of them.

When it was time to leave, I had experienced a mixture of emotions.  I felt relieved to get out of there.  I certainly was tired.  But a part of me really wanted and needed to see those girls again.  Our group is still processing everything we experienced.  We believe the Lord wanted us there for many reasons, and we have asked Him to show us how we are to take what we learned and apply it here where we live and work.  We all brought back a personal application, and I can only speak for myself.  But because of what I experienced AND because the Lord used a woman who works within One Ministry to speak to my heart, I realized that fear is a serious stronghold in my life.  It took me traveling to one of the darkest places in our country to realize how enslaved I am to being afraid.  The Lord's message to me was never more clear than what is indicated in Joshua 1:9.  There are many things I will remember and several lessons I have learned.  But one thing stands out...

We serve a LIVING God!

He is with us always.  And sometimes, it's just plain necessary to see what it would look like without Him in our lives.  I am so thankful for Jesus, and I need Him every second of every day.  And I can't wait to have another opportunity to share with someone else just how much they need Him, too.

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Believe it, friends!  Believe it!!

New Orleans Part 1

Where do I begin?  At which part?  At what twist and turn?  How do I accurately describe the terror, the joy, the fear, the exhilaration, the despair, and the encouragement?  I probably just don't...I probably can't.  But I'll try.

It would be a crime for me not to first express the gratitude and awe I have for those who work at One Ministry.  These folks put themselves in danger as they fight on the front lines of a war that feels, at times, completely hopeless.  And they do this ALL in the name of Jesus.  They, without hesitation, walk right into the middle of total darkness and evil not once doubting that the Lord God is with them at all times.  They are living testimonies of an omnipresent and omniscient God.  They will tell you...they could not and would not do what they do without God's favor and God's protection.  And we received the privilege and blessings that came forth from simply going along with them on the ride of a lifetime.

The facts...

We arrived in New Orleans Friday afternoon around 4.  We all tried our best to rest up for what we knew would be an all-nighter.  Around 6 we met up for dinner and enjoyed a classic New Orleans cuisine meal having NO idea of what the night had in store.  Around 7:30 we made our way into New Orleans East to meet up with the fearless leaders and volunteers of One Ministry.  We spent the first part of our evening listening to story after story of how One works at putting a stop to human trafficking on the streets of New Orleans.  This is just a portion of what they do.  Later, we were told what to expect in the early hours of Saturday morning.  We were told of the positive relationships that had been made at a local Gentlemen's Club.  The owner and employees of this particular club have grown to love our friends at One, and they were really looking forward to the breakfast that was going to be served in their honor.  Some of our One friends went around 10 p.m. Friday night to drop off the table we were going to later need for our food items.  When they got there, the girls who work at the club had put out pink balloons at the front door in honor of our friends at One.  Just that simple act, alone, showed us how cherished our One friends are AND how effective their ministry is becoming to the broken on the streets of New Orleans.

We spent the early hours of Saturday morning preparing goody bags for both the men and women of the club while also spending a great deal of time in prayer.  My dear husband felt drawn to Joshua 1:9 and even prayed it over each member of our group.  Some of us actually had written this verse out on an index card and placed it in our pockets so that the Word of God went with us everywhere we went that night and early morning.  We had no idea how much these words would mean to us later...

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

At 2:30 a.m., we loaded up our vehicles with breakfast food, decorations, goody bags, Bibles, and bottled waters and started making the drive to the mission field God had very specifically called us to, yet none of us could have ever imagined or even dreamed up.  The closer we got to our destination, the more anxious I became.  As I saw club after club with parking lots full of people and cars, I thought to myself...what have we gotten into?  When we stopped at a red-light, I thought...I can jump out now and run.  But the fear of what I might find myself in on the streets of New Orleans kept me paralyzed.  As we turned into the parking lot of the club where we'd be serving, complete and total panic set in.  There were at least a hundred people, mostly men, congregating outside the entrance to the club.  The volume of their conversations was so loud; I couldn't tell if they were screaming, yelling or laughing.  We all stood outside our cars and prayed before we made our way to the front door of the club.  There were 12 of us women who would go inside to serve and hang out with the women of the club.  Our 7 men would stay right outside next to the front door.  All I can say at this point is...I had no idea that our experience inside the club would be totally different from what I ever expected, AND it would also be very different from what our men would have to endure outside on the terrifying streets of New Orleans.

Stay tuned for New Orleans Part 2.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Please Pray For Us

Truth be told, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.  It definitely has its advantages, but many of us know the "dark side" to Facebook, as well.  HOWEVER today, I am so thankful for Facebook and the Internet, in general, because it's a great way for me to get this information out to you.  I am asking those of you who would be willing to please lift up my family and me
AND our small group we meet with every Sunday morning over the next week.  I often refer to them as my Faith Family, because over the past year, we all have embarked on an adventure we never would have imagined.  Which leads me to the purpose of this post.

Over the past year, our sweet Faith Family has committed to serving on our local mission field right here in Lincoln Parish every month.  We've been able to see the Lord do some mighty work in us and through us as we've partnered with various local ministries such as DART, Life Choices, Grace Place, Fishers of Men and others.  This month, we will be packing up a few of our belongings and heading to New Orleans to help with a mission that none of us could have ever imagined, dreamed up or even thought of.  Simply put, God has called us to this place for such a time as this.  God is the only explanation.  Period.

Next weekend, June 28 & 29, we will be partnering with ONE Ministry in New Orleans.  The folks involved in this ministry work diligently to help put an end to human trafficking right there where they are on the streets of New Orleans.  One of the things they have done there is establish relationships with some of the owners and employees of several "gentlemen's clubs" in their neighborhood.  They have actually gone into these clubs with the simple purpose of showing the love of Christ to the employees who perform there.  As a result, God has done a miracle and made a way for ONE Ministry to actually provide breakfast next weekend to one of the club's performers/employees.  This is where our group comes in.  We will be helping prepare and serve breakfast to the ladies and men who work every night in this particular club.  Our hope is that they will catch a glimpse of the love of Christ as we serve them, love them, and offer them gifts that will include a Bible. 

This is where we need your help.  My husband and I have been adamant about NOT wanting to give the enemy ANY kind of foothold in regards to this mission.  Obviously, Satan won't be happy about this, and I expect him to be up to his old tricks in trying to distract us and even convince us that we shouldn't go.  But I am approaching the throne of grace with confidence that comes from the Holy Spirit.  I have come before the Father asking Him to help us overcome any obstacles that come our way over the course of the next week.  Will you please join me in doing the same?

Please ask the Lord to protect us, our children, and our homes while we are away.  Ask Him to give us His eyes and give us the ability to recognize tactics from the enemy while granting us the power to send him straight back to the pit of Hell where he belongs.  Ask the Lord to equip us with whatever we are going to need to fulfill this mission, to be able to love these ladies (and men) in a way that goes beyond human comprehension, that those we serve will be overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and will not be able to rest or relax until a decision has been made to surrender to AND follow Christ with their lives.  Ask the Lord to give us the words we need, the mannerisms necessary, and the courage to stare the devil straight in the face as we enter an area of New Orleans that is plagued by darkness and evil. 

If Christ is for us, then who can be against us?  No weapon formed against us shall prosper.  We are more than conquerors with the help of the Holy Spirit.  Will you claim that for us, please?  We need your prayers.  Desperately.

Please let me know either through commenting on this blog post or through Facebook if we can count on your prayers.  For those willing, will you pray us through that night?  We will be working through Friday night into the early hours of Saturday morning.  We will be serving breakfast at 4 am on Saturday.  Remember, this is NEXT week (June 28-29).

Thank you over and over.  We are giving God praise for granting us this opportunity and we believe He has allowed us to be apart of, what we hope, will be a miracle in the heavenly realm.  Preparing to see God show up and show out.  Won't your join us in believing the same?!  Glory to God and His Son Jesus!

"We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go.  It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us..." -Hebrews 6:18-20 (MSG)

Believing and praying that these ladies (and men) will simply grab the Promised Hope Rope in Jesus' name!

Thank you for praying, friends.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Tribute To My Baby Daddy

Oh sure, I could have gone and spent 4 or 5 dollars on a sappy Father's Day card for my husband.  But it seemed more appropriate (and frankly, more fun) for me to compose a few thoughts of why I love this man so much, and how incredibly thankful I am to him for being my baby daddy.  This is dedicated to the one I love.

BWC, I sure do love you.  Oh yes, I most certainly do.  There are many things I love about you, but the thing I love the most is your ability to make me laugh like no other person on the planet.  And just for the public's pure enjoyment, I'd like to share three of my all time favorite moments of life with BWC...

#1  Once upon a time, in the days of old, before kids were even a consideration, and Saturday mornings were a golden opportunity to sleep until noon, BWC thought it'd be sweet to rise and shine, throw on his bath robe, and head to the Mickey D's to pick us up some breakfast.  As he pulled up to the window to pay and collect his order, he was greeted with one of the most endearing phrases ever known to man.  It was so sweet, that we still use it to this day when speaking to one another.  The absolutely precious McDonald's female employee noticed BWC's apparel and said, and I quote, "Well shuga, you in yo' robe."  And that is why BWC is not allowed to wear his robe out in public anymore.

#2  A very pregnant yours truly had (FINALLY) fallen asleep one night several years ago.  I was carrying our first-born child and had gotten to the stage of pregnancy where no position is ever comfortable... not to stand, not to sit, not to lie.  And just like that, a modern-day miracle occurred and I had actually fallen asleep in my big ol' fat pregnant state.  You can imagine my horror when a cough deeply-rooted into my chest made its way to the surface only to come out of my mouth at an alarming level of sound.  Poor ol' BWC had just dosed off and as this very loud and very obnoxious cough made its way out, BWC shot straight up out of bed, yelled loudly, and I quote, "WHERE IS THE BEAR."  We still laugh about it to this day.

#3  Before Jesus really got a hold of our lives, we had a very short run with some very bad decisions.  And although this stage of life is a bit foggy, I vaguely remember BWC and I taking a trip to Vegas.  Just our mere destination goes without explaining why the memories are if-ey.  I do remember us being in the lobby of our hotel waiting to meet some friends for dinner.  A few folks in our group had already made their way into the lobby and as we were small talking, I noticed a very attractive woman talking to BWC.  No big deal, right?  I mean...BWC is easy on the eyes, if you ask me.  So, I didn't give it much concern as they continued their conversation.  Shortly after their initial words, this woman (did I mention she was pretty) nodded her head and walked away.  And at exactly the same time, BWC's and my eyes met and he said to me across the lobby with great enthusiasm, and I quote, "I just got solicited for sex.  Yea baby, I still got it."  That's wonderful, honey.  No really...just wonderful.

Bloggey friends, I could totally keep going.  I mean, I've got stories like this for days, I really do.  But I just wanted to offer you all a small taste of what it's like to live with this incredible man.  I have always prayed for my husband as long as I can remember.  My mom explained to me at an early age that the Lord had already decided who my husband would be, and it would be very wise of me to pray for him as often as I could.  And y'all, I wish I knew how many prayers were offered up on behalf of BWC even way before I ever laid my eyes on him. 

It is true...he is an amazing husband and the best daddy a kid could ever hope for.  But truth be told, the thing that most attracts me to him...the thing that gets my motor running for this man every single time is...his deep and infectious love for Jesus.  He leads our home in a way I never would have imagined.  He inspires us all to love the Lord with our lives.  Not to just love Jesus with our words and our thoughts, but with our actions.  He leads by example...loving others with the love of Christ, devoting his own time and effort to leading others to Jesus through the ministry of his job and various hobbies.  Not only does BWC know Jesus personally, but he lives out the purposes of Jesus Christ every single day.  He's funny.  He's smart.  He's my man, but he's also my brother in Christ.  Seriously, what more could a girl want?

BWC, I love you.  Happy Father's Day.  You are, hands-down, my most favorite.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lord, where are you?

How easy it is to get incredibly caught up into our own lives!  Even in just the everyday, those mundane tasks can quickly consume our time and before we know it, our lives start to resemble something similar to the movie Groundhog Day.  I wonder if anyone is like me and has found themselves in an unfamiliar spiritual place all of a sudden.  Alarmingly, I find myself asking...

Lord, where are you?

I know He's there, but lately it's been hard to feel Him, sense Him, experience Him.  I remember hearing a sermon once where the teacher believed there are strategic times in our lives where God pulls back.  He doesn't go away, mind you, but that sweetness that comes from His presence is missing.  This particular teacher believed God does this from time to time so that He can teach us something.  That seems to be how He works, isn't it?

I wonder how many of us simply go through our lives developing habits and ways of thinking that we don't even realize we've started, and all of a sudden, we find ourselves feeling dry, empty, lonely even.  And here's the kicker...nothing of significance has to even happen to put us in that low place. 

(Lord knows just a wave of hormones can put us women in a funk in no time flat.)

It just seems, especially for those of us who have a lot of time on our hands, it's quite easy to find ourselves in an unfamiliar place with the Lord with no explanation whatsoever.  You just wake up one day feeling "emotionally weak, physically exhausted and spiritually deflated." (Words straight out of my devotional this morning.)  Could it be that we have found ourselves in this place as a result of a life lived outside the standards and alignment set for us by God?  Perhaps we've heard His gentle whispers along the way, those heavenly nudges to be cautious, those divinely inspired reminders of dangerous water to speak.  And for whatever reason, we've chosen to ignore Him.  Perhaps, not even out of defiance, but just because...just because we don't have to do what He says.

If any of this is resonating, thank God, I am not alone.  In an effort to get ourselves back on steady ground, could we take a moment to simply encourage one another?  I want to pray for you, whomever finds herself reading this in this moment.  And would you pray for me?  One thing I know...our biggest spiritual weapon is prayer. Oh, how we take it for granted!  But it is at our disposal at all times and the Lord wants us to use it.  It is what leads to victory in our lives, and if we can remember to give God the glory in all situations, He will give us the victory.  Amen?

Father God,
Nothing reminds us more of how human we are when we find ourselves feeling down, deflated and empty.  Thank you for reminding us that we can not make it without you.  Help us to feel your presence today, and in the moments where we can't seem to find you, help us to be relentless in pursuing you anyway.  Give us peace in knowing that you are always there, you will never forsake us, and that every moment given to us in this life is an opportunity to grow closer to and more dependent on you.  I pray for whomever is reading this prayer right now at this very moment.  I pray that you would meet her needs, that you would reveal yourself to her, and that you would heal, restore, replenish and revive her heart, soul and mind.  When it's hard for us to track you, Lord, remind us that some of your biggest miracles happen in the pursuit, the trial, the waiting period.  Help us to know that our biggest victories come while we're along the journey.  Help us to love you with our lives.  Help us to lean not on our own understanding but to trust you at all times and in every way.  We love you, Jesus. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Illness, Scissors & Spiders, OH MY!

Sometimes, when I start taking myself way too seriously, I have to take a few moments to get it together, to debrief if you will.  You know?  In other words, to simply pause and say to myself...

Whoa Nelly!

Or to use my personal favorite phrase of choice...

Alright, stop!  Collaborate and listen! 

Because if I'm being real honest, my mind honestly feels like a hot mess mix of bad 90s hip hop.  What with all the "stop what you're doing cuz I'm about to ruin the image and the style that you're used to" swirling around in my head.  With that being said, I thought I'd let ya know what was going down at the family compound.

First and foremost, the baby was sick over the weekend.  She had a fever that turned into a cough.  And might I say that I read no such-a parenting book that would explain the dry heaving that comes after your child pukes down your shirt while you're holding her?  Oh no, there is no such thing that ever prepared me for such a time as this when baby girl gets downright mad because her cough is keeping her awake at night.  But hey!  At least she's cute, right?

Well let's see...there's that time LAST weekend where the oldest boy thought it ever so clever to dare his younger brother to cut his hair with actual scissors.  Isn't that precious?  No worries, though.  Leave it to the hubs to come up with quite the creative punishment.  I'll skip on sharing the details since we don't need none of ya calling the Po-Po on us over here.

And I'll leave you with one final piece of riveting testimony.  Last night, after a long day of cleaning and changing diapers and wiping snot and folding other people's drawers, I had finally settled in for the night.  As I was watching Friends and feeling the weight of my eye lids, something black was darting straight up the covers right toward my face, my mouth to be exact.  I yelled an expletive and threw the blanket back just in time.  I then proceeded to slap the thing with the T.V. remote in hopes of putting us both out of our misery.  I walked away with the victory with merely seconds to remain.  And that, my friends, is how I almost swallowed a spider before dozing off.

(Did you know the average human swallows about 4 to 10 spiders in a lifetime?  Of course, this depends ONLY on whether you sleep on your side, back or stomach.)

(In that case, I'll be sleeping standing up from now on, thank you very much.)

(Thanks, a lot, Google!)

Friday, May 31, 2013

Wonder what would happen if we quit asking why and started asking what?

It seems like I've always had a boyfriend.  *eye roll*  High school and college were no exceptions.  But it wasn't until college where I started making decisions with my boyfriend that had long-term emotional effects.  Our relationship was tumultuous at best, and we were either together or broken up, together or broken up, together or broken up.  Get the idea?

The day after I graduated from college, I had no choice but to move home with my parents and start looking for a job.  At the time, my college sweetheart had moved away and joined the Army.  And although we still communicated through letters and phone calls, it wasn't a very strong relationship.  But it really never was, you know?  I wanted it to be, but the relationship just never became what I had hoped.  Once home with my parents, I started making a life for myself as best as I could, and that's when I met the man who would change everything.

See?  In college, I never felt strong enough to end the relationship.  My relationship with my boyfriend felt, in a lot of ways, like that song by Pink.  Our relationship was like taking a pill.  Except instead of making me better, it kept making me ill.  Make sense?  That is until I graduated and had no choice but to move out of that college town and away from my circumstances for good.  It was at that point where I started getting my strength back.  My mind became clearer and my heart started to heal.

That's when I met my Beloved.  I really had never been with a guy who "courted" me.  What I mean is...I had never really been pursued by a man.  It wasn't as if I had always attracted losers, although my mother may have a differing opinion.  It's just that I had never met someone who cared about me in a way that he was willing to put his feelings for me out there no matter the risk, no matter the loss.  He made it clear from the beginning how he felt about me, and he spent most of his time making me feel so special and so wanted.  It didn't take long for me to fall deeply in love with him and like the cliché says...the rest is history.

My husband and I will celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary in September.  Since our initial meeting, I have thought many is it that I ended up with someone so wonderful?  I would tell the Lord...I have made so many mistakes in my life, I have spit in the face of God through the awful decisions I've made.  Yet still, He allowed someone so wonderful to come into my life and really show me what it means to be loved, to be woo-ed, to be pursued, to be honored and respected and cherished.  Based on what I know about myself, it is quite easy to feel undeserving of such a wonderful gift.

But listen.  Something I've grown to learn...this is how Jesus works.  He takes delight in giving us the desires of our heart.  And there will never come a time where I will ever deserve any gift He chooses to give me.  He does this because He loves me.  Period.

You know what's interesting?  I recently heard Beth Moore give a devotional on the danger of judgmental-ism and criticism.  She explained that soon after we go through a tough time, and the Lord plucks us out of the pit in which we've created ON OUR OWN, and places our feet firmly on the ground, it takes almost no time for us to become prideful in looking back over our shoulder to see how far we've come.  In almost split time, we forget what the Lord has done.  We forget how far He has brought us.  And it doesn't take long for us to start looking down our noses at the messy lives of the people that surround us.  Oh how quick we are to quit looking up at the Father and instead start looking down at the choices people around us are making.  Even when someone hurts us or offends us, aren't we quick to wallow around in our pain and insecurity?  It doesn't even occur to us that our feelings of offense are strongly rooted in self.  And the pain, the insecurity, and the injustice we feel are sometimes rooted in pride.  Pride, my ugly sin in and of itself.  (*Disclaimer - I am referring to minor offenses here, friends.  Please know I understand many of you have had great injustices done to you in your lifetime...injustices that are too awful to speak of.  I am only referring to those obnoxious daily occurrences that can hinder our moods for no real significant reason.)

No, I don't deserve my wonderful husband.  No, I'll never deserve these precious three children God has entrusted to my husband and me.  I don't even deserve to get the opportunity to wake up each day and breathe in and out on my own.  To just be able to put on clean underwear and have a bed to sleep in and food in my pantry to eat...NO, I will never be deserving of any of it.  But that's not how my God sees things.  There is not one thing that happens to us...not one good thing...not one bad thing...that happens to us by coincidence.  God allows it all to happen.  He may not will it.  But everything that happens in our lives must first pass under the gaze of His eyes and through the approval of His hands.  And because of that, we MUST start looking at our circumstances through the eyes of the Author of Life.  In our fit of asking Him why, we must also ask Him what.  What, Lord?  What is it that You want me to see?

This is so hard to do and even harder to believe, but it is my opinion that God doesn't allow any circumstance to touch our lives that doesn't make us stronger in Him, help us know Him more, and give His Son glory.  I understand how difficult this is to comprehend for those of us who have had real tragedy and real heartbreak to touch our lives.  But I believe it will be in those moments, when life is good and life is hard, where His glory will unfold right before our eyes if we would just take the time to ask Him what, Lord.  What?  It will be then where His mysteries will be revealed.  His sovereignty will be understood.  And in the moments where it doesn't make sense, it won't matter.  Because we will have learned how to trust Him and our lives will surely sing...

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Some things never change, but what if they did?

I remember being tortured by a girl my age when I was in junior high.  One day we were great friends and the next day we just...weren't...for no apparent reason.  She simply woke up one morning and decided she didn't want to be my friend anymore and encouraged all of her friends to feel the same way about me, as well.  And so began a summer of torture between my 7th and 8th grade year.  This group of girls took sick pleasure in harassing me, making fun of me, playing practical jokes, and so on and so on.  I can laugh about it now, but truth be told...that was one of the most difficult times of my adolescence.

I remember my mother promising me things would get better.  The older I got, she assured me, the better people would treat me.  She believed with maturity, people would improve their behavior.  And she was right to some extent.  But along the way, I've realized...some things never change.

Little mean girls grow up into adult mean girls.  Jealousy still exists and is probably more prevalent among grown women than any other group.  The pressure to be accepted, to fit in, and to be acknowledged never goes away.  Laughing at others' shortcomings is just too tempting.  Doing whatever it takes, even if it means taking out a friend/co-worker/family member along the way, to rise to the top has become a normal way of life.  And this is just me describing people I know in my sheltered, small-town, Christian, southern life.

Oh sure!  Go ahead and say it's a southern thing.  Go on and try to explain this is a matter just among women.  Try to convince me it's because I live in a small town where no one has anything better to do. 

If only that were true, but it's not.  This is life.  This is the world we live in.

And as a woman facing these issues everyday...can I just say?  I.Am.Tired.  It's just too exhausting for words.  I was so looking forward to this phase of life as a woman where I had hoped I would feel more confident, more sure of myself, more proud of my accomplishments, and less needy of affirmation, attention, and acceptance.

Then, it occurred to me.  I wasn't designed to feel any of those things.  I wasn't made to be popular.  I wasn't created to be famous.  It was never part of the plan for me to achieve what the world wants me to achieve so that I could be boastful of my accolades and awards.  What we find natural to feel and accepting to desire actually goes against the original plan from the beginning all along.

Yes, it's true.  I was created with purpose.  Yes I do, indeed, have a mission to fulfill.  Of course, there is a job lined out for me to achieve.  And the outcome is not a large salary or a perfect body or a brilliant personality.  The reward?

God's Glory.

His glory is my reward.  I was created to love Him, to serve Him, and to honor Him.  Is it no wonder that every issue the world likes to throw my way goes completely against the very reason God created me?  Should it even surprise me that those things in which the world finds natural and accepting totally contradict the purposes and mission of God?

It is my hope that as women, we can lock arms together.  That as women, we can look for ways to build each other up.  That as women, we can decide that enough is enough!  If we can all recognize the importance of our God-given individual purposes...then just think of what we can do for the cause of Christ if we would just decide to do it TOGETHER.  YES, lives would be changed.  This world would look and feel a little better.  But most importantly...

God's glory would be AND is our reward.

Who is with me?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Our Culture, My Time

The house is pleasantly quiet.  Both boys are already at school.  Baby girl is still asleep...thanks to a late night of baseball yesterday.  So, I am enjoying myself this morning as I sit quietly.  I've already consumed one cup of coffee, and the birds outside my window are definitely entertaining as momma bird works quickly to feed her babies.  The thing about sitting mind has time to wander.  And that is what I'm doing on this cloudy April morning...just thinking.

If I really stop and contemplate the state in which our world is in...especially our country and our a momma and as a woman, the anxiety can really kick itself up a notch or two.  I was just thinking the other day of how my three children, if I stop and think about it, don't really stand a chance in this culture today.  To make it through life as a boy, without being tempted in some sort of sensual way, is simply out of the question.  As a girl, to grow up without being told, either directly or indirectly, that you are only as valuable as you are sensual, is just not going to happen.  These thoughts really began to unsettle my spirit.

I only have such a small window of time.  My oldest is already 8-years-old.  In another 8 years, he'll be driving.  Ten years from now, he might possibly be thinking about moving out on his own.  When I realize how quickly the first 8 years have flown by, the thought of the pace only picking up is devastating.  The sense of urgency I find myself feeling is overwhelming.  What am I going to do with the time I have with them?  How am I going to exactly spend it?  What will their memories be of me once they move on from their childhood and from their home?

If I calculated the time I spent on my iPhone or in front of my computer screen (I am sitting in front of one right now as I type this), I would be appalled at the amount of time I spend looking at other things, at other people, at stuff OTHER than my family.  These are moments, minutes, hours even, that I could be spending otherwise.  This brief amount of space that God has given me to spend WITH them, I could be using to help them understand who they are in the Lord, what He has planned for them, what He wants of them, and most importantly...what He thinks of them and what I think of them.

What do I want, truly? 

I want God to "give them the boldness of Paul, who was never ashamed of the gospel but saw it as a power that could not be attained.  Or how about the courage of Esther, who risked her life to intercede on behalf of her people.  Or the passion of King David, whose wholehearted devotion revealed him as a man after God's own heart."

I want my "children [to] have the spiritual sensitivity of Stephen, a man full of wisdom, grace, and power."

I want God to "give them the out-on-a-limb faithfulness of Noah, who built an ark before anyone had even seen a raindrop...the obedience of Abraham, who was willing to slay his own son at God's command...the moral purity of Daniel, whose refusal to compromise his beliefs set the stage for an undeniable miracle...or the loyalty of Ruth, who exchanged her pagan heritage for a place in the lineage of Christ." (From Praying The Scriptures For Your Children by Jodie Berndt)

These are things they can't teach themselves, and these are things I can not teach them behind my computer screen or while I'm holding my iPhone.  These are things they will learn as I choose to invest my time into their precious lives.  These are things they will learn as they watch my husband and me live and lead our own lives in this way, God help us! 

In the quiet this morning, I've asked the Lord to forgive me for all of the moments I have spent my time poorly.  I've asked Him to give me another shot, to help me see the value of my children and the time I have left with them.  This goes for anyone in our lives who we cherish.  How are we being honorable to the Lord in the way we steward our time? 

Time...something we all want more of, something we never think we have, something we almost always take for granted. is one of the most valuable things the Lord has given us.

Lord, help me see the value in the time you've blessed me with.  Don't let me waste another moment. 

"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.' Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." -Proverbs 31:28-30 (NIV)  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Because I Love Him...

Because we're humans, it's inevitable that sooner or later somebody is gonna get on our nerves.  I'm gonna get on your nerves.  You may even get on my nerves.  Heck, I get on my own nerves.  And I get it...I get that we Christians can be annoying...what with all our Scripture quoting and Jesus lovin' and church this and that.  But when it comes down to it, at least I can say this for me, there is one very big reason why I am all sold out to this Jesus stuff.  And this is why...

Because I love Him.

That's it.  I really, really love the guy.  Like...I am head over heels...cuckoo for cocoa puffs...crazy in love with Jesus.  This is why I say what I say, do what I do, and feel like I feel.  Because I LOVE HIM!

And I want so much for people to love Him, too.  I pray that along the way folks will figure out just how much Jesus loves them.  It is, indeed, a process, but it begins simply with a willingness to accept the idea that God's Son came to this earth, lived a life of love and mercy, died, and then came back to life.  He did this to prove His love to this world so that we would accept His love, live our lives based on that love, and then spend eternity in the presence of His love.

No one gets that this concept is hard to grasp better than I do.  When you throw in the fact that life happens and life hurts, accepting this gift of Jesus can become a little too far fetched.  BUT...I can vouch for when life got the most painful for me, when people I loved hurt me, when everything I did in my life screamed anything but holy, Jesus was there.  He was there for me, and He is the reason why I know how to love.  Because He first loved me.

So, when I may over-post on Facebook with my Holy Scriptures, with my convicting quotes from Christian authors, with my lyrics from Christian songs...try to understand those decisions are made based on one simple fact...

I love Jesus.

And I want you to love Him, too.  He sure loves you. 

**This post was inspired after hearing Chonda Pierce's testimony at one of her events recently.  If you get the chance to hear her speak, don't miss it.  It will be worth your time and effort.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

That Dang Pendulum

And so the saying goes...

I take two steps forward and three steps back.

That seems to be the theme of my life lately.  For every wonderful thing that comes my way, it is usually followed with two whopping doses of reality.  And isn't it just like us to focus on the negative things that happen as if we have forgotten all of the glorious things that God has put in our lives?!  It's easier and dare I even feels better fixate on the junk.

Life feels like riding a pendulum.  I can almost visualize it in my mind.  I hop on the pendulum of life, wrap my legs around it as if it were a swinging tire and hold on tight.  Some days I'm stationary, not moving from one side or the other.  I'm just still, complacent, non-responsive.  Other days, I take a giant swing forward and fight my way in trying to stay there without swinging back.  These are those moments where I experience the presence of God.  It's not a feeling, it's a state of mind.  Sometimes my flesh responds...perhaps through goose bumps, tears of joy, shouts of laughter.  Then there are the darker days where my swing hovers in the background as if it is being pulled back by magnetic force.  These are the days where I swim around in my self pity pool.  These are the days where I hate myself, I doubt myself, I scream at myself.  This is where fear blows in along with frustration, selfishness, and pride.

No one wears me out more than myself.  No one hates me more than I hate myself.  No one gets how I've disappointed others more than myself.  I don't need any enemies (although I'm sure I have some).  I am my own worst enemy.  No one suffers more than I do because of me.  But you see?  How many times did I use the words me, I, myself?  Even our self-loathing is still rooted in self.  Selfishness is a tricky thing.  Even when we're feeling sorry for ourselves, we're still wallowing around in self.  Every bit of that pendulum ride...swinging from "I got this.  Life is good.  Look at me," to "I can't do anything right.  No one likes me.  I am worthless," - every bit of that ride is rooted in me, myself and I.

Life is a pendulum.  And how we choose to ride it does matter and will impact our life greatly.  I wonder which side you find yourself on today.  I think, for me, I'm gonna jump off and let Jesus jump on.  I think riding on his shoulders gives me a better view, gives me a better perspective.  We are here for just a short amount of time.  Some of you understand that better than others.  What we do in this moment, in this brief space of time, impacts what happens after it's gone. 

I can't speak for you, but I know for me, I want to spend as much time as I can riding on the shoulders of Jesus.  Won't you join me?  He has room for us all. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Reflection

The love of Christ overwhelms me. 

His presence, when strong, takes my breath away. 

His compassion sings over me while His grace steals my heart. 

I do not have to understand Him. 

I do not have to explain His mysteries. 

He asks only that I know Him. 

Yes, His ways are complex. 

Yet, His instruction is simple. 

He is my source of self-worth. 

He clothes me with His strength and His dignity. 

My self-esteem comes from the One who created me. 

He knows me best. 

People fail me.  My Savior will not forsake me. 

My flesh tempts me, but His Holy Spirit prevails. 

His Son saved me. 

My sin He carried. 

My shortcomings were nailed to a cross while His broken body covered them. 

His last breath, He took, after saying, "It is finished." 

God's glory was revealed when He overcame death. 

His Son is my Savior. 

Because He lives, I will see His face. 

I knew Him.  I know Him.  I want to know Him more. 

He is King Jesus. 

And I am His princess.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'm Taking This!

One of my favorite movies is Liar Liar.  Jim Carrey has me rolling in almost any movie he is in, but I especially love Liar Liar.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Fletcher (Jim Carrey) goes to pick up his car that has been towed and becomes angry because his beautiful convertible has a scratch on the side of it.  Fletcher, enraged, argues that the towing company put the scratch on his car and of course, the towing company employee denies this fact although we all know the scratch was not on the car before being towed.  Realizing the towing company was going to do nothing about the scratch on his car, Fletcher, in an effort to retaliate, grabs a hanging pine tree car deodorizer off of the display right in front of the employee, sniffs in the scent and proclaims...

I'm taking this!

This morning as I was searching for a new Bible verse to memorize in February, I came across 2 Corinthians 10:5 and each time I saw the word we, I replaced it with I.

(I) demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and (I) take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Never have I experienced our enemy prey on our minds in the way he has recently.  He has pulled out all of the stops to convince us that our inadequacies and shortcomings only represent our fullest potential.  In fact, for many of us, he has initiated a full-on assault against our thinking, our living, our loving, our being.  In a world where we are taught that our self-worth is rooted in our abilities and outward appearance, it is no wonder so many of us live in a constant state of failure.

Today, as I read the verse above, I realized I had the power, with God's help, to extinguish once and for all these thoughts and these lies that paralyze me from being effective and fulfilling the purpose for which God created me.  As I read the words in 2 Corinthians 10:5, I imagined myself being like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar.  For each negative thought that comes my way, for each lie the enemy tries to throw at me, I have decided to grab it by the throat and proclaim...


I am taking this thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. 

If you find yourself today being haunted by thoughts that you know are not of God, won't you join me?  Join me today and decide ENOUGH is ENOUGH.  Jesus is the Navigator of my life and He is for you if you have surrendered your life to Him.  One of the perks in that is no longer having to carry the burden that comes from our sin, from our thought-life, from our past.  He wants to relinquish you from that.  Be willing.  And with the authority that comes from the Holy Spirit living inside of you, take those thoughts captive! 

You are loved,

Friday, January 25, 2013

Occupational Hazards

Every job has some sort of occupational hazard.  I am a stay-at-home-mom and yes, I even have occupational hazards.  In the early stages of my career, such hazards looked a lot like overloaded diapers, a baby sneeze followed by a spoon of peas, a colorful load of what used to be white towels as a result of a crayon being left in the pocket of a certain four-year-old.  (Ok, that last one hasn't happened to me, but I threw it in here for the poor mommas who know what I'm talking about.)  And PLEASE don't make me go into the hazards of cleaning a little boy's bathroom.  Yuck!

The joys of motherhood, right?  Totally.  But to tell you the truth, these are the things that don't bother me all that much.  Seeing evidence of my little ones around the house reminds me everyday to be thankful for them.  After the awful school shooting in Connecticut, I thought often of the moms who came back to their homes only to have to clean up toothpaste spit left behind after their babies brushed their teeth for the very last time that morning.  Perspective, right?  It's all about perspective, and I couldn't be more thankful for that toothpaste spit or those dirty pairs of socks.

But there is one particular occupational hazard for which I was not prepared.  When you stay at home everyday, all day, you stay quite busy.  The work seems to never get finished.  And just when you finally tackle that huge load of laundry, another one awaits you just a couple of days later.  You can't even enjoy a clean house for very long.  Here's the deal, though.  It doesn't require intense brain power to complete these endless tasks.  In fact, it doesn't require much thought at all.  Although the work is endless and there are days when you feel like you never even sit down, it is quite possible and even quite easy for your mind to remain idle. 

"An idle mind is the devil's playground."  Have you ever heard that saying?  It can be so true.  This was the part of being a stay-at-home-mom for which I was not prepared.  Even with all of the laundry and the homework and the cleaning, I have way too much time on my hands to think.  Way. Too. Much. Time.  I stay busy, mind you.  Don't even think for a second that we stay-at-home-moms sit around all day watching T.V. and eating Bon Bons.  In fact, those are fighting words around these parts.  Grin.  But even as I stay busy, my mind wanders.  And wanders.  And wanders.

There is a reason why the Lord instructs us to fill our hearts with His Word.  I have found over the past couple of years that this is MOST critical to my sanity.  In those moments where I tend to obsess over the smallest thing...a phone call gone un-returned, an email sent where no response was given, or even passing a friend at church who chooses to not speak or make's in those moments where I have to rely solely on the comfort of God's Word.  If I don't, I'll have myself convinced that no one likes me, I have zero friends, I am completely ineffective in my ministry endeavors, and my personal age is starting to completely march across my face!

Friends, if we could just remember that God wants to use our lives, but our lives are not ultimately about us.  When our emphasis is on ourselves, that is truly when we lose our effectiveness.  Although we moms spend our days taking care of others, it's quite easy to fall in the trap of Me, Myself, and I.  Be cautious.  And if you have found yourself lately obsessing about things other than the Lord, ask Him to fill your heart with thoughts of Him.  Do what you must to guard your heart against the strategic tactics of our enemy.  Memorizing Scripture and hiding its truth in your heart is a great starting place.

I pray this brings you encouragement as you wrap up another work week.  We moms must stick together.  In a world where females only feel as valuable as they are sensual (thank you, Beth Moore, for that reminder), we must fight together as Princess Warriors representing the King of Kings.  In Jesus' name, we press on!  Have a great weekend, friends!

Laundry calls.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Rose

Please click on the following video clip.  It is about 3 and a half minutes.  Please.  Listen here and then come back to continue reading...

Click below on The Rose...

The Rose

I have no idea of actually knowing who reads this blog.  This fact, alone, can overwhelm me at times.  What is more important is that if you have found yourself on this blog today having just heard that video, it is no coincidence and I want you to know something...

#1 You are that rose.

#2  Jesus wants the rose.

I am that rose, too.  And as much as we sometimes like to fight the idea of God, His Son, and what that may or may not mean for us in the afterlife, I would simply like to ask you to just quit.  Quit fighting.  We were designed to know in our hearts that something bigger than ourselves exists.  To me, it's worth the risk of being wrong about God.  To be right, I lose nothing.  In fact, I gain much.  To be wrong, I lose it all. 

Is it worth it to you?  Is it worth the risk to be wrong about the Author of Life and Death?  You are a rose.  A rare one, at that.  And Jesus wants you.  He really does.  Quit the fight.  All He wants is a willingness on your part.  Let Him do the rest.  Won't you ask Him today?

Lord, if you are real and I want to believe that you are, help me to know you.  Please come into my heart and take up residency.  Forgive me for failing in this life.  Help me to accept that I am to you, indeed, a rose.  Help me to understand that you love me, that you want me, and that I am worthy enough to have a relationship with your Son, Jesus.  Help me to understand who you are.  Help me to love you.  Teach me about your love for me. I want to belong to you.  I want to know you.  In Jesus' Name. -Amen

If you prayed those words, tell someone about it.  Get yourself a Bible and start reading.  The book of John is a good place to start.  You are loved, my dear sweet rose.  I am praying, praising and thanking God for YOU.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

All I Have To Be

As a girl, I found junior high to be especially difficult, and I don't mean from an academic standpoint.  The loss of innocence coupled with puberty equaled a whopping dose of insecurity.  My mother swore, with time, things would get better.  And they did, truth be told.  But the insecurity?  It really hasn't left me alone since then.

As I approach my 35th birthday, I find myself weary from the torture brought on by insecurity.  In fact, I believe I've suffered more with insecurity in my 30s than my junior high, high school and college years combined.  So many things are wonderful about becoming a wife, a mother, and a grown-up.  But none of those roles come without torment from insecurity.

As I wrestled with these thoughts on the last day of 2012, I asked the Lord this...

Father, please help me to become the better part of who You made in me.  Help me to embrace her warmly and to not make apologies for the good parts of who I am.

It's hard for us girls to accept the good part of who we are.  Depending on your path in life, this may be downright impossible for you to accept.  Rejection, unworthiness, nonacceptance are just a few of the ghosts that haunt the hallways of my mind.  I don't know about y'all, but I am ready to exorcise the demons.  With the Lord's help, I can.  You can.  We can!!

This, of course, doesn't mean life will be easier.  Just last night, I had a personal set-back that completely rocked my little world.  I was heart broken and overcome with emotion.  But this morning, as I sipped my coffee in an effort to wake up, the Lord reminded me of a song I once loved years and years ago.  The lyrics are listed below.  They are short and simple.  As I wrestled with sadness and insecurity, the Lord sang over me.  Here were His words...

When the weight of all my dreams
Is resting heavy on my head,
And the thoughtful words of health and hope
Have all been nicely said.

But I'm still hurting,
Wondering if I'll ever be
The one I think I am.

I think I am.

Then you gently re-remind me
That you've made me from the first,
And the more I try to be the best
The more I get the worst.

And I realize the good in me,
Is only there because of who you are.

Who you are...

And all I ever have to be
Is what you've made me.
Any more or less would be a step
Out of your plan.

As you daily recreate me,
Help me always keep in mind
That I only have to do
What I can find.

And all I ever have to be
All I have to be
All I ever have to be
Is what you've made me

(All I Ever Have To Be  by Amy Grant)

I pray you find comfort in these words.  It's easy to make things more difficult than they are.  All you have to be is what God has made you to be.  This year, ask Him to do just that.  And as He does, don't shoo away the gifts, the talents, the abilities He's made within you.  Embrace them warmly and make the best use of them.  That's all He asks.  Just be who He made you.

Happy New Year,