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.

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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,


Monday, April 13, 2015

Plot Twists and Knowing the Author

I spent this past weekend helping to host a ladies conference at my church.  It was a lovely time spent hearing testimony's or what we were calling  "Stories" from 4 ladies in our church, an amazing worship time and I was blessed to be able to close out Friday night and Saturday afternoon. I thought I would share with you some of what I shared on Saturday.


____________________________________


There is a saving faith in Jesus, then there is faith in Jesus that He cares deeply for you and will do and complete what He started in you. That His Word is true and that you haven't been forgotten.

___________________________________


Perhaps life hasn't been as kind to you or things just haven’t turned out as you would have preferred . . .and while you have faith that you’ll see Jesus in heaven someday and that he’s  powerful enough to forgive your sins, you just can’t quiet believe this is the story-the one you’re living out right now-that He’s written for you.

_________________________________

I enjoy a good book, and watching movies with my hubby is one of my favorite things to do. 

And you know the key to great book or movie-a great unexpected plot twist.  If I can see what’s coming or guess the ending I’ll often stop paying attention or even  stop reading or watching all together.



Well, the author of our story is the greatest story teller imaginable--Jonah and the Big Fish-who saw that coming? Or the greatest underdog story of all time David and Goliath, or the thriller Daniel in the Lions Den . . .or how about the one about a virgin having a baby and not just any baby but one that would save the world. .. of course He would save it,  not by sitting on a throne but by dying on a cross then rising again the third day.
 Why would we think He would let us guess what’s coming next every time and that there would never be a plot twist in our own personal story?  If there was no plot twist you and I would stop paying attention.



Hubby isn't much of a TV watcher but there are two shows we never miss watching together. If we can't watch together, we will wait until we can. One of those shows is Downton Abbey. You can find us huddled together watching PBS on Sunday nights wondering what in the world is coming next for the Crawley's. And although Julian Fellowes has broken our hearts time and time again, we keep watching. Why? Because we believe that in the end everything will be made right.  If we trust a man we don't know writing a story about fictional characters, how much more can we trust the God of the Universe with our stories.



And while we may not be able to plan or guess what is coming up next in our stories, he has promised that  for every painful or unexpected twist -he has a plan, and you and I may never know this side of heaven what that reason is, but we can have confidence that there is one.

Our conference verse is  Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

And we read that and we believe that but we forget about verses 12-14—Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord


Those twists and turns, this painful plot twists that feel like they just might break you,  . ..You can -I can find Him right there. Don’t stop seeking after him, when your  story is getting the hardest -don’t you know that is always when the hero shows up and shows off?

Hold tight to these promises right in the middle of the darkest parts of your stories.

Phil 1: 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

and  2 Tim 4:17a But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength

________________________________________


The Lord, the author of your story is right by your side lifting you up.

Don’t give up now.

My prayer for you and for me is that on every page of our stories we find grace there.

Hebrews 12:2 refers to Jesus as the Author and finisher of our faith.


If you’ve never met the author or your story, or maybe you’ve just lost sight of him in the middle of your story,  call to Him, He will answer.  He knows you and He will never forget who you are or where you are in the middle of your story.
These are some verses from Isaiah 43, I encourage you while you're reading them where you see Jacob or Israel insert your name.  
The Author of your story is here, you're not forgotten and the ending promises to be a OH, so happy one!


But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,



Plot twists are going to come and they may even hurt, but one day soon our Hero will come riding in and save the day!

You are dearly loved,


Monday, March 30, 2015

Fear of Failure and The Fat Girl

The fear of failure is one of, if not THE, main enemy of the perfectionist.

And I am a perfectionist.

This has left me so unwilling, so scared really, to try so many things in my life.



Perfectionism is a tricky little demon because it can be innocuous and then if you are a good

Christian  Girl you can drag God right into your little idol because of course "He only wants our best"

 or "you should always give God your best" and we take that and twist it and leave grace behind.


And it becomes all about me.

 Look at all these "good things" I have done, isn't

God so pleased with me right now.

_________________________________________________________________


Not only has it built up pride in my life it has also left me frozen and unable to try.

Because if you don't try, then you can't fail and if you don't fail then you are still perfect.

(BTW,  as a recovering perfectionist I never said my reasoning was logical! The thing is -it is so

much easier to spot the cray-cray in others way before it is in you)


You know what one sure fire way to help you get over your perfectionist self is? Have some kiddos

that are far less than perfect-and I am not even talking about behavior-although we certainly could-

but I'm not.

A precious, delicious, soft, sweet little bundle is placed in your arms and you love that gift more than

your own life-more than you ever thought possible, then you realize that precious gift has a host

of health problems. . . that they aren't perfect.  And there isn't one thing you can do to change it.

Parenting 3 less than perfect kids has taught me so much and has helped that idol of perfectionism

crumble down. . .except in one area.



My weight. (yep as hard as it is, I'm going to go there. GULP)


How can a so-called recovering perfectionist have a weight problem you might wonder. . .

Well, remember when I mentioned the thought process of 'if you don't try you can't fail'.

Yep that is where I've been for the last 8+ years.

Scared to even try because I was scared I'd fail.  Again. And when you fail with your weight-

everyone sees.  "Oh look Angie put back on a few pounds. Bless her heart."

There were lots of attempts in my younger days.  Starts and stops.  Then two baby boys came.

And after that second  sweet boy, I vowed that this was it- my weight would finally and forever be

gone. And in just under 10 months I lost 100 lbs.



Then I found out our precious baby girl was on our way.



Since that day until this past January, I have tried only one other time to loose the weight I had

packed  and packed so more, back on.


It was easier to pretend like it didn't bother me, remind everyone of my (very real) thyroid disease

than to face the humiliation of trying and failing.  So, I trapped myself, not just behind the weight but

behind the expectation that trying and not succeeding the first time is somehow totally and complete

failure.

Perfectionist lie to themselves.  Even recovering ones like me.



As of this morning I have lost 49.5 lbs, my goal is to have lost 50 by April 10th.

It's easy for me to look at the scale and see that I have about 80lbs to go.

Perfectionist can sometimes look at the end goal, think they are going to fail anyway, so just

give up.  But not this time for me.  My journey is not, will not, cannot ever be perfect.  I am

slowly realizing that imperfection is ok.  Who in the world are we trying to fool anyway?

Perfection in anything can never be attained.  Our best, our effort, our obedience is  in trying, I've

come to see that there is where I find Jesus most often.

 Perfect people don't need a Savior.

I need one every day. . .often multiple times.

My failure doesn't come if the weight never gets all the way gone. My failure comes from not even

trying.

I share my weight loss journey with you, not for accolades or applause, but to admit how fear has

kept me trapped.  (well fear and a french fry)

Your journey may be different than mine, but I'm wondering, if you weren't afraid you'd fail what

would you try?

I have been blessed and seen God move on my behalf in such amazing ways every time I have

obeyed and stepped WAY out of my comfort zone and didn't let the fear of appearing less than

perfect stop me.


Perfectionism is a lie.  Don't let it hold you in it's trap.  That trap can hurt and destroy.


We all fail, we all fall, the perfect part is when you stand back up, brush

yourself off and try again.

Grace -for yourself and others-wins over perfection every time.


Recovering in KC,




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Thriving During Lent. . .and the rest of the year too.

Every January instead of making resolutions I pick a word for the year.

I haven't shared it until now because it's personal (I know that's funny for a blog writer to say)

and in some ways embarrassing too, so, besides my family and a few close friends I've kept it pretty

quiet.

Now, we are in the season of Lent and as I was thinking on Lent and how it related to me (I'm

a good little Baptist girl so the whole thing is still pretty new to me) and how it related to my

word for the year they just weren't coming together.



My word for  the year is Thrive.



I want my prayer, my goal, my aim to be to Thrive in all areas of my life: Health, Family and

Relationships, Ministry-and how this all ties into my Spiritual life.


Health- getting my weight under some sort of control, getting fit-not skinny, getting active.

Well as of today I've lost 34lbs. I've got 100 more to go, but I am making good progress and I'm

excited.  I'm working out 3x a week.  And, this may be one of the most

important components for me, I'm taking my meds regularly (I have Hashimoto's Disease and I

can be a really bad patient).** BTW, thriving, in this area has nothing to do with a number on a scale

and everything to do with control and who has it.**


Family and Relationships- investing in those I love at a deeper level than I have been.

Often I am tired and worn-like any other mom/wife/woman and the LAST thing I want to do

is invest more in people. Even the people I dearly love.  But, I want my husband, kids, family,

friends to look back at their lives and know I gave them everything I could. Not just everything

I wanted to.


Ministry- Can I be honest here? I hope so because I'm going to be and I hope it doesn't scare you. . .

ministry can be draining with a capital D.  I have two sides of ministry: I'm the women's ministry

team leader for my church and also I have the ministry (writing/speaking/listening) of Lessons From

Aisle 12.  (And I also work 16 hours a week at my youngest school-which I love, which is ministry

which I am so thankful for. . .which is draining.)  But, this year I want to Thrive in ministry.  I want to

see the ministry of Lessons From Aisle 12 to grow and blossom-not for personal glory, but the

message that God has given me to be broadcast to women  everywhere, that God sees you, He's right

there where you are at work in your life-Yes EVEN in the aisle of the grocery store.

Big dreams.  Big Big Dreams.

Thriving this year -this life-not just surviving.



So, back to Lent.  How in the world does thriving  have single thing to do with Lent?

Lent which has the connotation of giving something up, of sacrifice.

I could not stop churning this over trying to see how the two could go together.

And then it hit me.

John chapter 10. . .Jesus is talking about why He is here and what He came to do-and this is the

phrase I've got rolling around in my head that I just can't let go of :"I have come that they may 

have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."

Abundant life-Thriving. . .that's what my prayer for the year is and so that is what my prayer for this

Lenten season is as well.  

What does that mean on a practical level for me?  Well, I don't have all the answers but I know it

doesn't have anything to do with 'giving up' of something that most associate with the concept of 

Lent.  For now it is taking on the shape of service. Service where it's not expected or where there is

 no personal recognition. For me, this is how I am "Thriving" this Lenten Season.



This is a very personal post, that some will misunderstand, some will mock, but I know for others

they will be able to relate.  Mere survival is no longer an option for me.  For some, that's all you

can do right now, and I get that too.  But, for me, the time is up on survival. It's time to Thrive.

To live this abundant life fully and completely, after all the Savior came and sacrificed all He had so 

that I could.

I would love to hear your personal stories of Thriving.

Walking this road with you,



Saturday, February 14, 2015

Imperfect Hearts

Belle, our sweet 8 year old, made homemade Valentines for her classmates this year.

Which, don't get me wrong-I LOVE that about her-but you should understand that homemade

Valentines take MUCH longer to make than writing your name on a box of 23 cards.

But, that was ok, we had a plan and we were going to work our plan.

While I was at work Daddy was going to print off the saying she was going to glue to the hearts

she'd cut out, then when I got home we'd decorate the Twinkie's to look like Minions.

A little teamwork and we'd be go to go.

And we were.

Except I forgot to mention to Daddy that he might want to show her how to fold the paper in half to

cut the 'perfect' heart, instead of free handing them.


When I got home this is what I found


Adorable, right?

You know what I was having a hard time getting past? The imperfect heart.


She was so proud, they were almost done, so I didn't say anything.  

I've been thinking about those imperfect hearts though these past couple of days as the

world celebrates love and personally The Mailman and I celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary.

Two imperfect hearts.  Yep there's probably no better way to describe us.

Two broken kids (that's what we were at 20/23-CHILDREN I SAY -who let us out of the house??) 


carrying a lot of baggage  were either handed or packed ourselves.



About has imperfect as you can get.  But in the middle of ALL the imperfections we've found

love and a whole lotta grace there.

Perfect people don't either. We need more than our share.

So, today and tomorrow we celebrate our imperfect hearts made perfect by a loving and oh so patient

God.  

All the tears, fights, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. . .all the kisses, love and three beautiful 

babies, all the hospital stays, sleepless nights and fatigue, all the adventures and misadventures, the

wild nights and the quiet ones.  The laughter that outweighs the anger.  The tenacity to stick it out and 

hold on even when it would've been easier to let go. The love that gets better and grows deeper every

year.

Every time I think of Sis and those imperfect class Valentines, I'm going to think of my own

imperfect heart and how God took two broken imperfect kids and wrote them a love story where they

could only point back and give all the credit to Him.


And, if I may be so bold to offer a word of advice. . .stop waiting for the perfect valentine. . .whether 

you're married to yours and waiting to find them.  There's no such thing.  And the beauty, love and

overwhelming grace you find in the imperfections . . .well it's just about perfect this side of Heaven.



You are deeply and dearly loved,