Tuesday, June 30, 2015

You Are Stronger Than You Think

I would tell you all the reasons why life has been utterly chaotic and overwhelming here at our

house, but it take more than one blog post.

I am guessing more than a few of you could tell me all the things in your life that are making it

that way for you too.

Life is so stinkin' hard and just messy and complicated sometimes, isn't it?

Watch the news for more than 5 minutes you might need to do some deep breathing into a paper bag.

The pain and hurt can wear a weary heart down.

_________________________


Last week I was playing catch with my middle son  and he kept asking me to throw it

harder/farther.  I was trying to keep up, but finally just had to say, "Jude that's as far as I can go. I just

can't go any farther."

His response to me, "Come on Mom, you're stronger than you think!".

Well, you know that gave me the boost I needed to keep trying.

I have been playing those words over and over in my mind since he said them to me.

And, I want to share them with you too.

YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK.


No matter what you're going through, you too can cling to those words.

Because here's the thing, we don't have to be strong in ourselves.

Jesus is our great I AM.  He is our everything.  In Him, we find our strength to keep moving, even

when life is beating us down.

You are stronger than you think.


On my own, I am a wimp.  A wobbly, unstable wimp.

But, in Jesus, well in Him you and I are made strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."


You and I get to quit pretending like we have it all together. That somehow life is hard

for everyone else but us.  

It's ok to say "I'm a weak mess". 

Because we don't have to be strong in ourselves.

Isn't that freeing?!? I know it is for me.  Sometimes, I feel the most weak when I am

trying to pretend I am strong. Pretending can take a lot out of girl.

But in Jesus,  we are strong.

He is our strength. Our courage. Our determination. Our fortress when the world is closing

in.

Psalm 61:1-3 Hear my cry, O God,
    listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
    when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
    that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the enemy.


You can do this.
Whatever your 'this' is.
God is on your side, lean on Him.  He is your strength.

And, YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK.



Pressing on with you,


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Being Brave

For Mother's Day, my daughters class each planted their mom  a flower and then chose one word to

describe them.


I don't know what I expected, but what I received from that precious soul has not left me since

she presented me with my gift.




"Brave" I was stunned.

I OFTEN do not feel brave. In fact, I can name countless times that I have missed out on

something grand because I was a coward, more afraid of failure than of trying.

That's why her word stunned me so.

Of course, I had to ask my beautiful baby why she would pick "Brave" for me.

He answer was like a  hug right from God to my soul.

"You're brave because you keep doing the hard things even when you want to quit."

{She's been watching my weight loss journey. And although, I try and not have it be the topic of

 every conversation, she can see her mom shrinking, not eating what she used did before  and has

witnessed first had the elimination of Diet Coke from my life,

 and often joins me when I'm exercising. In other words she's

been paying  more attention than I thought, took stock of it and declared it brave How amazing it is

when our kids can see what we can't.}


_____________________________________________
One of the things that struck me about my sweet gift was that the flower she chose is a very ordinary

marigold. Of all the flowers the teacher had laid out for them to chose from, Belle picked the

most ordinary and common.  Of course, not to her, she thought it was beautiful.

What a picture of how God sees us.

The world and everyone around us may consider us ordinary and maybe even cowards, but He looks

right at the core of us, declares us beautiful, knows what we are facing and attempting to overcome

and He declares us Brave and Beautiful.

______________________________________________


I bought a new workout shirt today. It says:

Just.
Keep.
Going.

And really, isn't that the bravest thing of all to do?

No matter what you're facing.

If you're like me and you're trying to kick that fat demon to the curb, or you're going back to school,

maybe fighting for your marriage or a wayward child, maybe there's more month left than your

bank account would like, the list could go on and on.


Just.
Keep.
Going.

Our bravery well indeed may be the most ordinary bravery of all, but do you know what it still is?

It is still Brave.

And just when you think no one sees how hard you're working or can possibly understand what

you're going through, I pray you'll get a little reminder just like I did. ( I even saved the tag so I can

remember when it becomes so easy to forget.)

God sees you, He's running your race right along side of you cheering you on along with all the other

saints that have gone before--what an amazingly powerful thought. One of my favorite verses is

Hebrews 12:1


 (The Message) Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! 


I am cheering you on as well.  We can do this!  

I refuse to let fear rule my life any longer-let's be brave together!

Cheering you on,

Monday, June 15, 2015

Roots and Wings

This past Saturday afternoon The Hubs and I attended the reunion of the school I grew up in.

Literally, preschool-12th grade I attended the same small Christian school that was also run by

the same church I grew up in and where I found Jesus.


I had been thinking about those faithful souls who began that church 40+ years ago and their

faithfulness in following Jesus lead to my Mother finding Jesus and then myself.

Brother Al and Ms Janie our affectionate names for them growing up.


Those were special times in the early years of my church.  Love and Friendship flowed easily.

At least from the perspective of my tender eyes. Not perfect of course, because you know-People

were involved-but where a young mom could come with out judgement over clothes or background,

never hearing of Jesus before and have her life forever  changed.

During this time another family became oh so important in my life, in more ways than I could ever

imagine as a child.  They became my parents mentors and their youngest daughter my closest

confidant, Barbie Doll sharer and game player.  We traded Friday and Saturday's at each other homes

and we were basically inseparable.  Then the summer before 7th grade year, they heard God's call on

them to become missionary to the military in Germany.

I was devastated.  Cried and Cried and Cried some more.

The summer I turned 15 I was allowed to fly over by myself (BY MYSELF-I felt so glamorous and

mature) and visit them.


It was life changing.

I feel in love with the country and the people who they served.


Then when I was 19/20 and stumbling along to find my way as one is prone to do, this precious

couple, graciously allowed my to come over and live in their basement apartment and work in the

church/school.

That's where I met the cutest airman I have ever seen and 23 years later he still makes my heart go

pitter patter.



If they wouldn't have made the difficult choice to move across the ocean, leaving two of their grown

children and one brand new grandson, my life (and many many others) would look so much

differently.

Brother Eddie and Mrs Buford-without their faithfulness to follow I would not have my 4 biggest blessings.



________________________________________________________________________



 When you grow up in a certain type of church or environment,  it can become easy to look back


and remember what was wrong or what you don't agree with or that we didn't like.

Easier still to remember who was unkind or not Christ like or used God as a weapon.  Very easy.



To sit in judgement of grace and mercy that wasn't given, to things that were taught as 'theology'

when really they were just opinions.  But, talking with all those patient teachers who loved us well,

and sacrificed much for us-who still remembered us after ALL these years. . .well, it was just 

touching to my soul.  














And what a reminder to give as much grace as I'd like to receive.  To pray that my children would

think of me one day and only remember the good and forgive the bad.

_________________________________________________________

Yesterday, as The Hubs and I taught our precious kindergartners in Sunday School, I thought 

again of those roots I had just been reminded of. . .all those Sunday School teachers who poured 

God's Word into my heart, who gave so much of their time and talents to us all.

And I was grateful for those roots.   Those roots have given me my wings to fly.

Remembering all those friends who were so vital to my only-child life, who's smiles I would 

recognize anywhere-there is a blessing that comes from remembering and honoring your roots.

And while there where things and a (few) people who left scars-I'm even grateful for those.

Those to help you remember.  And cause you to love and give grace freely.

_________________________________________________________


While their were many I didn't get to see Saturday, who I may never see again this side of heaven,

know that you were thought of fondly and missed and you will always hold a special place in the 

corner of my heart.

_________________________________________________________


These are my roots
Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.(KJV)

These are my wings

Micah 6:8
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV)


And I am thankful for both.  Things, places or people don't have to be perfect for us to be

thankful and grateful for them--thank the Lord, since I am so far from perfect.  

Thankful for those who loved and taught me well.


And how it good it was to remember.


Grace and Peace,



Friday, June 12, 2015

Woodpiles

This past week and half we have had some major tree removal happening in our backyard.

Four large pine trees and one 30ft tall locust tree that had been there for about 60 years.

Let's just say it did not want to go quietly into that dark night.

But, truth be told that thing, as giant as it was, had been dead a long time.

However, it may have been dead but it sure has left a lot of left overs.




Yes, all of that from one tree.

And the sawdust. Oh My Stars, it is everywhere.


So what does one do with enough wood to last them their entire lives and that of their children's?

With some pieces so large it takes two grown men to move?

Well, some we will burn, some we will turn into other things and thankful most will be carried off by friends.

Needless to say, "the tree" and it's after effects have been foremost in my mind this week, and last

night while out walking I got to thinking about it and "ALL THE WOOD".

What struck me is how "The Tree" is a lot like sin our lives.

It may be dead to us, and maybe it's taken us a long time to chop it down, but we've finally done it.

But in doing so, it's left a woodpile in it's wake.

We don't want it there.  But, it's there none the less.

And the woodpile, while it doesn't look as dangerous as the dead tree, it sure can have it's own pitfalls.

If you've chopped down a sin in your life, how do you make sure there are no 'woodpiles' left.

Oh  your sin it's been forgiven. But, it's not enough for us to just 'chop' it down, we've got to get rid of

all the remains, otherwise we're just in for a different type of pain.

Burn that pile that is left.  Sin has consequences, fall out, whether is 'giant logs' or 'sawdust' get it out.

Call a friend, a pastor, a counselor if you need to -but get ride of it.

Because you know what that leftover pile could easily turn into?

An alter.

And while we may never grow that particular sin so high and large again, we keep it's remembrance

right there where we can see it, can think about it.

Maybe that might mean walking away from relationships, or getting off social media, changing where

you hang out or what you watch.  I don't know. It's different for every person.  But, I do know that

I have seen lives destroyed, not just from "the tree" (sin) but from the leftover "woodpile" as well.


You'd be surprised at the amount of angst that tree has given me this past week.  Getting it out wasn't

quick or easy or cheap. And coming home and seeing that ginormous amount of wood left me

breathless and anxious.   But, now after God whispering these thoughts into my heart last night I can



honestly say that I'm glad for the trouble and the mess it's left.  What a reminder for me to get the

woodpile and sawdust out of my own life.  I pray it helps be a reminder for you as well.


Grace and Peace,


Monday, May 25, 2015

The Duggar Dilemma and Why I Won't Be Quiet

Last week as the news broke about Josh Duggar and the molestation allegations  my heart broke.
For the innocents and for what I knew would be the backlash against christianity as yet one more outspoken voice falls into depravity.

The interwebs came alive with the story and article after article was published and two camps seemed

to be forming.

Here's where being a blogger can be tricky.  Especially a blogger like me.

This is a blog where I write about things God is teaching me in the ordinary moments of my life.

Not, a political blog. Not a breaking news blog.

So, I've waited for a few days now to put my thoughts to the keyboard.  (in the era we live in those few days count as years in the blogosphere)

But, I did put this thought on my Facebook the day after the story broke.



"As Christians let's (at least)be as concerned about child molestation victims and putting their abusers in prison, as we are about baking the cake."


Well, as you can imagine lots of people had lots of thoughts. Which is good, great even. I love a dialogue.

But, I received some emails calling me everything from misguided,  a 'liberal so-called Christian' to telling me I should just shut up about the situation.

And that would be easier wouldn't it? To just be quiet.  To sit down and not say a word. Pretend that no

one is watching how I-and greater still-the Church reacts.

But, I can't and won't.  And while I am not here to prosecute or dissect the Dugger case specifically

but to (hopefully) engage in a broader conversation about abuse and it's victims as a whole some specific

things we can and MUST learn come directly from this instance.

____________________________________________________

Joshua Duggar has stated that he is guilty, although never calling what he did by it's actual name.
So no one need to say 'innocent until proven guilty'. He has admitted he violated at least 5 young innocent girls.
He says he asked forgiveness from them, his family/friends and God.
Far be it from me to say there is not enough grace for him. God can and does forgive all.  Please do not twist my words or hear me say otherwise.
However, there is a process in place within the system we live in and his parents did just about all they could to skirt it. And they should be held accountable. It is not 'picking on them' to say so.  They chose to sweep this under the rug -in a sense violating those girls one more time.

The time has come for those of us in the Church at large to stand and be a voice for the voiceless.
To stop hiding predators in the walls of our churches by handling things 'in house'.
By forcing this notion of quick forgiveness upon victims and in doing so silencing their voice and minimizing their pain.
By equating  sexual immorality with sexual abuse and violence. They are not the same.


__________________________________________________

We are consumed with the notion of our rights being violated by 'baking the cake' or other services being rendered to gay couples as gay marriage sweeps our country. We will paint signs, sign petitions, post countless articles on Facebook and twitter about the subject but yet we find out 5 innocent girls have been molested and we go silent.  
Or worse yet, use the false argument that 'liberals' do this kind of thing all the time and no one calls them out. . .did we not learn as children "Two wrongs don't make a right"?

We preach a cheap grace that says 'God forgives him, who are we to judge".
Did we not learn as children that our actions have consequences.

Where are the protests calling for the statute of limitations to be extended when it comes to children being violated and raped?

Are we so hungry as a Christian community to have people that talk sweetly, carry their Bibles, talk about Jesus and where clothes that cover their bodies we will push aside the violent perversion of these acts?

It is time to speak up.  It is time to be repulsed by these actions and all others performed  against the innocent.
Where are those who will be their voices when they can't speak? Their defenders when they can't fight?


It must be us. 
It must be The Church.

So, no I will not be quiet.  Not today, or tomorrow.

_____________________________________________
And when it all becomes to much, when the darkness creeps in and we begin to believe that fighting the good fight is useless, I will remember this promise - perhaps you need to be reminded again too.

John 16:33b In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”


No matter how hard the battle, no matter who tells us we should stop fighting, no matter how big the trouble.
Jesus Overcomes. 
In the end the victim becomes the victor.


Keep fighting the good fight,




Saturday, May 9, 2015

When Mother's Day Hurts/Things I Learned From My Mother

I am putting two different Mother's Day posts here that I wrote several years ago.


One for hurting women on this weekend and one for my sweet mother.

I Pray you're blessed.

When Mother's Day Hurts

My sweet kiddos are keeping secrets (some better than others :) ) as they prepare their surprises for Sunday.

This is my 13th Mothers Day that I've had the privilege of being called "Mommy".

But, I will never forget the ache in my heart for the 61/2 years before, when being a "Mommy" didn't seem as if it would ever happen.

Infertility is mean, hard, cruel road to walk.

One of the reasons it's so difficult is that you look 'normal' from the outside.

Another is all the people around you having babies. And you're happy for them, you really are, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. And you wonder WHEN, WHEN will it be my turn.

And then comes that Sunday in May that you cannot avoid.

Mother's Day.

And in many churches, Mother's Day =  Baby Dedication day.

I'll never forget the two Mother's Days before I became a mom, sitting in church wanting to RUN-R U N as fast as I could out the doors.
As if somehow, getting away would ease the pain.
The first year it happened, I promised myself the next year I wouldn't fall apart.
That didn't happen.

There were tears. Lots and LOTS of tears.

Why do I share all that, when obviously now I get the joy of not ONE but THREE people to call me "Mommy"?

Because, this Sunday when you're sitting in church, and some women looks miserable, reach out to her.
Love on her.
If you notice a faithful woman isn't there this week, don't judge her-stop and pray for her.

While Mother's Day is wonderful for so many reasons, let's not forget for many it's just another reminder of pain and loss and longing for something they deeply desire, but seems so out of reach.

If you're reading this, and I'm talking about you, please know that I'm praying for you-even now.
Praying that your dreams of motherhood come true, praying that your pain will be eased as you find the strength to give it to Jesus.



Things I learned From My Mother

I've been thinking about things my Mother has taught me over the years and frankly it's way to much to put into one blog post so I'll just highlight somethings.

1) My Mom taught me that no matter what kind of family you were born into, what kind of circumstances you find yourself  in-you can overcome.
My Grandmother was a hard working, loving single mother. Those were some hard times my Mom and her siblings endured. But, my momma overcame with Grace -because of Grace she would say!

2) Hard work will pay off.
I don't know anyone who works as hard as my Momma. Not just at her day job, but in every aspect of her life.
From her garden, to sewing projects to helping with the kids. She can work circles around me.

3) Life takes a healthy dose of forgiveness.

4) A Cookie really can make things better sometimes. (Also a new pair of shoes)

5) Manners are an essential part of life.

6) Jesus wants to hear us pray and you can and should tell him anything.

7) People are going to let you down. You've to move on and keep your eyes on Jesus. Also see #3

8) It's fun to stay up late on Fridays and eat popcorn and watch silly movies.

9) Stories at bedtime are so much better with different voices for each character.

10) Saturday mornings are the best time to have pancakes.

11) Your Bible is meant to be used. Marked in, worn down.

12) Oatmeal Scottchies taste so much better if  you use orange extract instead of vanilla.

13) Marriage is a lifelong commitment. Stand by your man. You never talk  negatively about him in public.

14) Party planning is an art.

15) Life is meant to be celebrated.

16) Being tenderhearted doesn't mean you're weak.

17) Loving your family also means serving them.

18) Sometimes you NEED a pedicure.

19) Use the gifts God has given you.

20) Clean your mess up now, it'll only be worse the longer it sits there.

Thanks Mom!  I could write a long time about all the things in life I've learned from you.

What about you? What did you learn from your mom?



Happy Mother's Day to every hard working, over tired, caffeine fueled, taxi driving, referee, chef and maid that is all rolled up into one and called MOM.
You're amazing!

Blessings,


Thursday, May 7, 2015

When Idolatry Takes a Different Turn

This year I set out with a goal of becoming healthier.

Seems like a noble goal.  And in some ways it is.

So far I've lost 59lbs and I've stopped counting the days since I last had a Diet Coke/Caffeine - so progress.

I tell you this not from a place looking for affirmation but so  you will know I am coming from a place where many find themselves or have found themselves.

A place where it's easy to loose your way.

A crossroads.

The intersection of 'healthy living' and idolatry.

Oh, don't get me wrong, it can and does happen with anything, but I have noticed a trend among Christians-women especially-where all reason and discernment seems to have flown out of the window.

We have somehow swallowed this belief that everything can be cured by diet.  We have taken up Middle Eastern philosophy's on healing ourselves from the inside out. We have even begun
using ancient  heathen practices all in the name of 'health care' and healthier living.

We discount medical science in place of multi-level marketing companies that promise to make everything better with a few drops of oil.

I am very aware that what I am saying won't be popular, especially among my Christian sisters who seem so taken in by this.  That's ok.  My goal isn't popularity but conversation and perhaps a thought
provoking question or two.

We don't all have to agree on everything.  For heaven sake, that would be impossible this side of heaven!
But, we do have to practice discernment.

Discernment in what we think, what we practice and what we promote.

God gave us medical science and for us to disregard all-or even much- of it is wrong and frankly a poor witness to the world.

Am I saying every doctor is perfect or that they know everything and have all the answers?

Of course not!

God has been and always will be in the miracle and healing business -He can and does whatever He wants, but often times what he uses is man to carry out his will and way.

Medical Science is preformed by flawed human beings and flawed human beings make mistakes and miss things and sometimes things go wrong.

But, to throw out decades and decades of research because of some things we've read on the internet or because our particular political persuasion makes us distrustful of anything coming from the government only sets back our ability to be taken seriously in the world in which we live and hurts our neighbors, our communities, our families and ultimately ourselves.

Some of what is being promoted as 'alternative health care' can be written off as gullibility but the more I hear of what some Christians are promoting  I can see it as nothing more than dabbling with the occult.

(Harsh words, scary words, some might even say judgmental. . . I know. This is where discernment comes into play)

If you are using any form of divination to 'diagnose' someone or to be 'diagnosed'--there is no justifying this as anything other than using the Occult, which we are clearly told to stay away from in Scripture.

There is no wiggle room here.


This is rising trend among Evangelic  Women, and while I have no doubt their intentions are good, in this case, it  simply does not matter.

It is time for those of us on the front lines of this speak up.

It is time for us to study what Scripture says about these practices and apply them to our lives.

To be perfectly clear, I am not equating the use of oils with the practice of applied kinesilogy!

However, I am saying be careful of what pathway you choose to go down and not to only look at the surface of things instead of the broader picture and deeper roots of these practices.

Idolatry in any form is wrong. Whether it's wealth and fame, sports, junk food or being 'as healthy as we can' and exercise.

Let's be a people of wisdom and discernment in all matters.  Not just blindly following because it sounds so good and even some twisted since of biblical.

Our time here on this spinning rock is drawing to a close-we no longer have the luxury of 'not knowing' or 'not understanding'.

Wisdom and Discernment, may they be more than words to us, may we be a people group that puts them into practice and by doing so, honors God with our lives.


{I am fully aware that this is going to be met with disdain and ridicule by some and even out and out anger by others. Know that my intent is not to hurt or condescend but to be a voice leading you to study the Scriptures for yourself.}

Grace and Peace to you,