Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Like First Time Visitors

This Sunday we had one of the most moving services I have ever experienced. While I have been trying to put it into words, my husband actually did. So, here is his rendition.

Hannah walked into our lobby way too early for church. We were still setting up and I wasn't sure if she was an employee of the recreation center we rent or a confused first timer. She nodded yes when I asked if she was here for church. I could tell there was more to the story than a young, single girl out church shopping. When I inquired how she found out about us, Hannah said she saw one of our River Church signs by the road... Followed by a teary eyed, "I need Jesus." "You're in the right place, Hannah," I replied. As I ushered her to the gym we convert into a sanctuary every Sunday. The band was still rehearsing and I had to get ready for my message, so I asked one of our amazing volunteers to sit with her.

We were super busy that Sunday and one week into our "I Like Giving" series based on Brad Formsma's book. In fact, we had purchased enough of his books to hand one to every person in attendance. I was really inspired by this book and wanted to encourage a culture of generosity in our church family. I was so excited to share, but I couldn't stop thinking about Hannah.

During our closing worship time Hannah came forward for prayer. When I asked her what was going on in her life she confessed she felt so despondent that morning that life seemed hopeless. I inquired further and found that Hannah was living in her car. As a father of two girls I couldn't bear the thought of someone's little girl sleeping in a cold vehicle. I didn't know what to do, but I knew I had to act. The service was just closing so I asked Hannah if I could ask the River Church family for help. I got back on stage and took the mic and briefly shared Hannah's story. The response was spontaneous and overwhelming. People began to flood around Hannah with cash and kindness. So much so that an usher had to place a basket nearby to collect it all. Over $1200 dollars went to Hannah that day.

But that's not the best part!

A young couple approached me as I stood near Hannah. They were first time visitors. Alex and Emily had been looking for a church and chose to visit River Church. They had a room in their home that was ready for Hannah. By ready, I mean this room had its own bathroom, new sheets were on the bed and it was stocked with toiletries for a young lady. Alex and Emily had felt some time back that they were to prepare for a house guest not knowing who. They offered it to Hannah while I stood in awe of God's love. I had been searching for "I Like" stories to share with River Church, but this Sunday we became part of one!

I Like first time visitors!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's Time to Hope Again

We are living in a time when things look pretty scary out in the world. Many people have lost hope, some of you may be in situations that look hopeless. Some of you may find yourself looking at your life asking yourself how you got where you are. I know I have been there - a few times. When I am praying, I sense the Holy Spirit saying that it's time to stir up hope. So, I have been on a study of hope, camped out in Romans 4 - such an amazing chapter about Abraham. Abraham hoped against hope. He dared to believe God that he would be the father of many nations when he didn't even have one child. That's some crazy hope right there.

Hope is the joyful anticipation of something good. It is not passive but active. It is not wishy-washy but a strong and confident expectation. Bill Johnson says that it is the atmosphere that attracts the promises of God. When you have a word from God, that inspires hope.

Romans 4:17-18 (MSG) "We call Abraham "father" not because he got God's attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn't that what we've always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, "I set you up as father of many peoples?" Abraham was first named "father" and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn't do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, "You're going to have a big family, Abraham!" (emphasis mine)

I want to be one of those who dares to trust God to do what only God can do!! What is it that you are facing that only God can change? Find a Scripture to stand on, to place your hope in and go for it. Our hope can't be in our job, our spouse or our circumstances looking just right. Our hope can only be built on God's Word. When your hope is in the Word of God, and things look scary, you have an anchor that keeps you settled.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Run Into the Storm

This is what the sky looked like last night as I was preparing for my run. I debated on whether or not to venture out that evening, then the thought hit me that I've let fear of storms keep me in my comfort zone for the last few years. It's time for me to run into the storm. I mean, what's the worst that could happen? I would get soaked and HAVE to wash my hair. For those who know me, washing my hair is an issue for me, I schedule my work-outs around my hair washing needs. Yeah, I'm weird, but I own my uniqueness :)

As I was running, I was thinking about how often I have allowed fear to keep me from stepping into the fullness of what God has for me. I had the  Bethel song "You Make Me Brave" playing on repeat while I was out and let it speak to my heart. My favorite line is "You make me brave called me beyond the shore and into the waves. No fear can hinder now the promises You've made." Y'all we've been on the shore for too long.

Step out! Step out into what God is speaking to you. Don't let fear of the storm or all the "what if's" keep you in your comfort zone. This life is not about our comfort. If it was, the moment we received Jesus, we would be taken to heaven. There is a job to do, people to reach. Step out because someone needs what you have on the inside of you.

I finished my run and it began to mist which was actually refreshing. However, when I came inside Kate went into my bathroom and came out with a stick of deodorant because apparently, I didn't smell very refreshing! Thirty minutes after I came inside the skies opened and the rain poured and thunder cracked loudly. I sat inside thankful that I had pushed myself rather than staying in that place of comfort. What is that thing that has been nagging at you to begin but you are fearful that if you step out you may fail? Step out, you have all that you need inside you.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My "Valuable" Lie

Okay, so I wasn't completely honest in my last post. While I did take a break from blogging to spend time with my sweet family, there was another issue going on that I now feel the need to address. It seems much easier to share about challenges I have faced in the past, while keeping current struggles hidden. I am opening myself up because I am certain that others have believed the same lie that I began to accept as truth.

From an early age, I've erroneously believed that my thoughts and opinions are unimportant and therefore felt that my voice didn't matter.  At times, I am fine because I realize that it is not about what I have to say, it is about what God wants to say through me.  It really depends on what I am meditating on at the moment.  After starting my blog back up, I would read other women's blogs and find them to be witty, insightful and deep. Whereas, when compared to mine, I would criticize my own writing as simple and goofy. I began thinking that there are hundreds of amazing Christian blogs out there - there really isn't a need for a mediocre one.

I believe it was Theodore Roosevelt who said "comparison is the thief of joy." Wow, there is so much truth in that. We begin comparing ourselves to one another and never feel like we measure up. That is such a trap from the enemy.

I began to acknowledge what I was feeling, and I sensed the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit saying, "every voice has value." We all have something to say and a realm of influence unlike anyone else. That is part of the beauty of the human experience, and that is what makes each person's voice valuable. I want to encourage you to take the platform God has given you (no matter the size) and speak out the message He has put in your heart. You have something to say that others need to hear. It will look different for each of us, that is why it is so important not to compare. You lose the beauty and originality God has given you when you compare. Speak into the lives of those around you - call out the beauty in those you have influence with. Your voice has value.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Goodbye Summer

Well, I took a blogging break for summer. It wasn't intended to be a full-on summer hiatus; it just morphed into that. I wanted to take this season to enjoy my family and spend time with the Lord. Time for just Him and me. I wanted to sit at my Father's feet to see what was on His heart for my current season, not for just for what I needed to say to a group of people. I hope y'all understand. 

I have realized after 20 years in ministry that family has got to come first! For years, Derek and I would drop whatever we were doing to go counsel or pray for someone. Some of those people are not even a part of our lives any longer. My family will always be there! They are such a enormous part of who I am, so they will get my largest investment. I have determined that they will get my best, not just my leftovers.

This summer was one of the best we have ever had as a family. We spent time with every family member on both sides (with the exception of my brother, who lives in Thailand). We went to the beach, and had late summer nights just hanging out as a family. Carowinds was even part of our summer to-do list, and I even enjoyed it - shocking!

My girls started back to school last week, so our routine has begun. I do enjoy the regularity of our schedule; it does my heart good to have the rhythm of a regular routine. I will be back to posting weekly blogs. Who knows, maybe I'll get a little crazy and post two a week. Due to the fact that I got to have some quality Jesus time, I have a lot to say. I love y'all, and I hope you are enjoying getting back into the swing of the school year.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Plans

Summer began for us Memorial Day weekend, and it came in like a whirlwind. We've had a few cookouts, traveled to Kentucky for my nieces graduation and are flying to Tulsa next week.

While it has started off kind-of busy, I am looking forward to it slowing down a bit shortly. I am excited about quality time with my girls. I try to work early in the morning and later in the evening, so I can spend as much time with them as possible.

In maintaining a sense of balance in the summertime, I always try to find a good Bible study to go deeper in my relationship with the Lord. I love following naptime diaries blog, and she has created a beautiful journal, which is an eight week Bible study. For $20 you get the journal and access to much more online, including great printables, teaching videos and other tools.

If you are looking for a great study this summer, I would encourage you to look into ordering the journal. It is based on John 15, all about abiding in Him.

Let's be intentional about how we spend our summer. Let's abide in the vine and let him produce much fruit in us and through us.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Your Daily Brush With Death

This past Sunday was a day unlike any day I have ever faced. After being in ministry for 20 years, you begin to think that you've seen it all. That is so untrue..

We arrived at church earlier than usual on Sunday, when we pulled into the parking lot, Derek noticed something on a picnic table in the field near the gym where we meet for church. Derek said, "Is that a body?" I was like, no way, that looks like some sort of tarp - please Jesus let that be a tarp! I took Kate into the building and called over to a friend to tell him what Derek suspected.

Derek made a beeline to the table to check out the situation, and our friend, Tim also made his way over to the table so Derek would not have to be alone. After they surveyed the scene I watched them pull out their phones, and I knew that was not a good sign. A woman was so distraught that she took her own life the night before and her body was laying in the field right next to where we have church.

How do you take all of this in? I wanted to curl up in a ball and mourn the loss of a woman who I had never known. The heaviness was thick as all of the band and the set up team looked out at a lifeless body lying 200 feet from us. It was then I knew we had to do something other than sit in the thickness of the heaviness that had descended upon us all. We prayed for the woman's family and just prayed for peace. Then the guys stepped up and finished the task ahead of us.

It is times like this that you realize what a leader looks like. A leader has to step up and do what is best for the team and not what he or she feels like at that moment. Many of us wanted to mourn her loss but we knew that the enemy had stolen one life already and we could not allow him to steal any longer. I was so proud of our team, how they stepped up and led the church on Sunday. I was thankful for my husband, who had seen a tragic scene but stood up and preached a beautiful message on compassion.

A friend of ours said later that he never even noticed the woman's body that morning. Walked right into church with out realizing there was a dead person nearby. He poignantly quipped, "How many people do we walk by everyday that have death inside and we don't even notice?" It's true, there are dead people walking by us every day. Christians, it is time to get our eyes off of ourselves and reach out to a lost and dying world. There are people we encounter on a daily basis that are full of hopelessness and we carry the very hope that they need. We carry the resurrection life of Jesus. We must open our eyes to the needs of others.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I Wish That I Had Stacy's Dimples

Over lunch today, I was looking for a picture for Throwback Thursday and came upon this lovely gem. It is amazing how just looking at this picture took me back to my eight year old self. I vividly remember when I was posing for this picture. I so wanted to have dimples like my friend Stacy. I thought that smiling like this would somehow make sweet little dimples appear.

This made me laugh at how we are comparing ourselves to others, and in an attempt to be like someone else we just look silly. So, happy Throwback Thursday y'all. Let's embrace who God made us, just the way we are - with or without dimples!

Ephesians 2:10 says "We are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Almost Affair

Ok, I feel like I've been pretty open and honest here, but today, I'm going to just lay it all out there. I feel like marriages are under attack in this day and age, and I have a story that I am hoping someone can learn from. Wouldn't it be nice if I could just let y'all into the pretty places, the places where I have done everything right and you can learn from that? Well, no one can relate to perfect! So, here we go...

About fourteen years ago, Derek and I were in the process of building a home. I was a stay-at-home Mom with a two year old, and Derek was traveling about 150 days a year. Needless to say, I was a little lonely.

During the process of building our home, I began to spend quite a bit of time with our builder. He was the same age as me, attractive and very attentive to my needs. So, I began looking forward to our time together. I also made sure that I looked my best when I knew that I would be meeting with him. This is a slippery slope...

One day, as I was getting ready, I found myself thinking about this man and all of the sudden, I sensed the voice of the Holy Spirit saying that I needed to tell my best friend as well as Derek - THAT DAY. Whoa, that weighed heavy on my heart. I mean, I hadn't done anything really wrong, had I? Yikes, I had to expose a secret about myself to my two closest friends.

I am someone who, when I know that God has told me to do something, bless God, I am going to do it. So, I knew I had to tell Derek and my friend that day that I was enjoying the attention of a man who was not my husband!! How do you bring that up? I mean, over my chicken nuggets with our kids playing at Chick-filA, was I supposed to say, "by the way...."

I agonized over this all day and finally broke down and told my friend. I love how she responded to me. She didn't judge me, she prayed with me. When I told Derek, he didn't get upset, he also prayed with me.

It was amazing that, the moment I brought this issue to light, how a weight was lifted off of me and I really didn't think about that man any longer. I am so thankful for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to tell me that I needed to bring this issue into the light. Nasty things grow in the darkness. Once things are brought out into the open, they can be dealt with.

If there is something you are struggling with, confide in a friend. If you do not have a friend who you feel is close enough to handle such a situation, find a counselor. I truly believe that if I had not brought my struggle into the light, it would have grown into something that would have devastated my family.

Let's live our lives in the open. Let's let people into the hurts and struggles we have so they can help us along the way. No one is meant to walk this life alone. Invite people into your struggles, and I believe those struggles with have less power over you once you take those steps. True freedom is found through community.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Digging Deeper

I have loved Reader's Digest since I was 11 years old. People have always made fun of me for my fascination with what most consider to be an "old person's periodical." I guess I've just always been an old soul.  I came upon an article entitled, "Questions That Will Save Your Relationships." I found this article fascinating.

Derek and I always ask each other - every morning - "so, how did you sleep?" Not digging very deep there, are we? Then when my girls get in the car after school, I ask them how their day was. I try to dig deeper and ask what my Father always asked me, "What did you learn today?" That doesn't seem to go very far either.

Over dinner, we always tell  our favorite thing about our day. I love hearing stories from my girls and Derek's day - it is one of my highlights. The article gave me some great tools on digging deeper with the people who I care about the most. Here is an excerpt from the article.

"After going to therapy we learned to ask each other better questions. If we really want to know our people, we need to ask questions that convey "I'm not just checking the box here. I really care what you have to say and how you feel." If we don't want throwaway answers, we can't ask throwaway questions. A caring question is a key that will unlock a room inside the person you love. So we don't ask each other "How was your day" anymore.

After a few years of practicing intimate question asking, we now find ourselves asking each other questions like these:

  • When did you feel loved today?
  • When did you feel lonely?
  • What did I do today that made you feel appreciated?
  • What did I say that made you feel unnoticed?
  • What can I do to help you right now?
I know. Weird at first. But not after a while. Not any weirder than asking the same empty questions that elicit the same empty answers. Now when our kids get home from school, we don't say, "How was your day?" Because they don't know. Their day was lots of things.

Instead we ask:
  • How did you feel during your spelling test in English class?
  • What did you say to the new girl when you all went out to recess?
  • Did you feel lonely at all today?
  • Were there any times you felt proud of yourself today?
And I never ask my friends, "How are you?" Because they don't know either. Instead I ask:
  • How is your mom's chemo going?
  • How'd that conference with Ben's teacher turn out?
  • What's going really well with work right now?
Questions are like gifts. It's the thought behind them that the receiver feels. Love is specific. The more attention and time you give to your questions, the more beautiful the answers become."

Y'all isn't this a great idea? Let's dig a little deeper with the ones we love. Let's be a little more intentional with those we most care about. It may seem awkward at first but it's worth it!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

How Do You Measure Success?

When you lay your head on your pillow at night and go through your day, what makes you feel like you were a success? Did you cross everything off your to-do list? Is it that you didn't yell at your children all day, or that you fixed your family a home cooked meal? Maybe you closed a deal you've been working on for months. What criteria do you use to define success?  Does it match up with what God says about you?

I used to define success as days when I prayed, read my Bible, cleaned my house and was the perfect wife and mother. Well..that's just not possible, so I really never FELT like a success.

That feeling of not being successful can weigh a person down, and I've been thinking about it quite a bit lately. I recently read the Jesus Calling devotional, and it spoke directly to my heart. Our success is found in Him. It is found in abiding in Him and His words abiding in us. When we are in constant contact with Him, He can be our guide moment by moment.

Our ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around us - it is to keep in communion with God. A successful day is one in which you have stayed in touch with Me, even if many things remain undone at the end of the day. Do not let your to-do list (written or mental) become an idol directing your life. Instead, ask My Spirit to guide you moment by moment. He will keep you close to Me.  Jesus Calling

Proverbs 3:6 - In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Friday, April 11, 2014

No such thing as flawless

One of my favorite Biblical characters is King David. He messed up in a huge way but kept a tender heart before the Lord. He was always real with His Father. Psalm 142 says that he poured his complaints to God. I have always thought about the fact that David is called a man after God's own heart, and I believe it is because God had his heart. I mean, when you read some of the Psalms, David says some crazy stuff that most of us would be too scared to utter - especially to God!

I have endeavored to keep my relationship with God genuine. I usually spend the first 20 minutes or so of my day talking to God and giving Him all my cares, concerns and all the "ick" in my heart. Engaging with God this way consistently has brought so much peace. We are not made to bear the weight of all the burdens that come on us in this world.

The other day, as I was washing off all my makeup, it hit me that after spending time being real with God, I then take about 20 minutes to make up my face in an attempt to cover all of my flaws. We all want to put our best foot forward, but at what point to we just say, "here I am - like it or not?" I have had too many fake relationships that I am in the place now where I crave true community. I want friends who know me, flaws and all, and still love me.

It is vital that, if I am wanting to be loved unconditionally, then I must love unconditionally. Many years ago, I would get close enough to someone to see their flaws and then not stick around to love them regardless of those flaws. Now that I have had years of loving people in their icky places and also receiving love in my not so pretty places; there is so much freedom in that place of true friendship. Isn't that what we all want - to be accepted just like we are? Let's practice accepting others just the way they are. After all, the only person who could ever claim to be flawless is Jesus and He thinks we are all pretty great :) 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


I was listening to a podcast recently and the pastor gave this commentary on motherhood by Dale Hanson Bourke. It really ministered to my heart and I thought y'all might also enjoy it. 

She was sitting in a coffee shop with a friend who asked her opinion on whether or not she and her husband should have a child. This was her response.

"It will change your life, I tell her. she said 'I know, no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations.' That is not what I meant at all. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw, she will forever be vulnerable.  

I look at her carefully manicured nails and her stylish clothes and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a she bear protecting her cub. I want my friend to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine, every day decisions regarding the safety and well being of her child will all of the sudden feel like the most important decisions she will ever make. However decisive she is everywhere else, she will second guess herself constantly as a mother. 

Looking at my attractive friend, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself. That her life, while so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. She would give herself up in a moment's notice, but she will also begin to hope and pray for more years not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her children accomplish theirs. I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor. A visible trophy of motherhood.

I want to describe to my friend the exhilaration of seeing your son learn to hit a baseball. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real, it actually hurts.

My friend's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. 'You'll never regret it,' I say finally. Then I reach across the table, and squeezing my friend's hand. I offer a silent prayer for her, and me, and all of the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this holiest of callings."

Friday, March 28, 2014

What Scares you?

What scares you? Is it a fear of spiders, heights, snakes...? There are so many phobias these days. I have been trying to identify things that hold me back so I can break through in those areas and grow. Y'all know that growth isn't comfortable, right? The only way we can grow is by stretching ourselves and by doing things that make us uncomfortable. 

Ok, I'm going to be really honest with y'all here. You want to know what really scares me?? Meet ups with other women one on one scare me. Now, this hasn't always been the case. It's just been the last few years after a few women who I loved dearly hurt me deeply. I just started backing off from really allowing myself to be vulnerable.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not one of those women who hates other women. I love women in groups. I love teaching women. It's the one on one, sitting totally by myself in a coffee shop that gets my nerves a little rattled. 

So, what am I doing with this fear? After some months of contemplation. I am facing this fear head-on. I have at least one, sometimes two coffee dates a week planned for the next few weeks. I have realized that it is time to make myself vulnerable and let other women in again.

What scares you? What are some things you have been afraid to do? Let's face these things together. You can do it!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Family Planning

It's such an amazing thought that I get to spend the rest of my life with my three favorite people on the planet. Derek and I recently celebrated 18 years of marital bliss! Our sweet Caroline is 16 and Kate is 7. There is not one aspect of my family that has turned out the way I thought that it would. We all grow up with preconceived ideas about what our lives will look like. I have yet to meet a single person who's life looks exactly how they thought it would look.

We'll start with Derek. Derek and I met and married in 5 months! Crazy, I know. I had always thought that you needed to date for at least a year and then be engaged for around 6 months. Well, Derek and I were talking about marriage on our third date! Another aspect that was unplanned was the fact that Derek had been married before me. His first wife was killed three years before we met when they were hit head-on by a drunk driver. She was seven months pregnant. Wow, that's a lot to take in for a 23 year old girl who had spent years praying for her husband, thinking we would experience all kinds of firsts together. Scratch that. When I first heard about Derek's story, I initially wrote him off, thinking that the man God had set out for me to marry would not have been married before - that was NOT part of the plan. After meeting Derek, I realized that he wasn't holding onto his past and wasn't full of baggage.

Fast forward to our first year in marriage. We found out we were expecting our first baby on our one year anniversary. There were not major issues, just major morning, afternoon and evening sickness. Caroline was born on Oct. 31st and appeared perfectly healthy. It wasn't until her four month check-up that we realized she had a heart murmur. We were referred to a pediatric cardiologist where we learned that Caroline had a hole in her heart. We were devastated, our precious baby had a heart defect. We were told that it wouldn't have a major impact on her life; she just wouldn't be able to participate in sports and would be prone to sickness. The doctor said that in some instances the hole grows together but that wasn't likely. Well, that's all we needed to stir up hope. We prayed that when we went back for her one year check up, the hole would be gone. Guess what? We went in at one year, she got hooked up to the various machines and low and behold, the doctor comes back and tells us that the hole had grown together and there would be no issues!! Thank you, Jesus.

Then years go by, all my friends who had babies around the same time I did were beginning to have their second child. I kept waiting and waiting for our second baby, because the plan was to have 3 children two and a half years apart. Well, month after month of disappointment, I began to give up hope. I told myself that one amazing child was enough, we didn't need any more. I kind of got to the place where I was numb because it hurt too much to keep hoping, month after month. 

It wasn't until my youngest brother had a baby that the desire began to grow again. One night in worship, after watching Derek carry our niece, I broke. I wept and got honest with God telling Him that I wanted another baby. Weeks later, I took a pregnancy test and sure enough, I was pregnant! November 22nd, sweet baby Kate was born, seven years after we started trying.

I told y'all this to encourage you that just because things don't work out the way you have planned or prayed doesn't mean that it's going to be second best. Many times we have faith in our plan, and our faith has to be in The Planner. Habakkuk 2:3 (NLT) "The vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What are You Leaving Behind?

When I ask the question, "What are you leaving behind?" I am not referring to your last will and testament. I am talking about when you enter a room, a conversation, do you leave people in better spirits or worse? I believe that our words are powerful. Think about when someone said something encouraging to you, it lifted your spirits, didn't it? On the other hand, when someone has said something hurtful, it could leave a mark for some time.

Being one of six children, I was always fighting to be heard. I have always loved to talk. My friends have always known that something is wrong when I am quiet! During family dinners growing up, my parents always told me to "practice the art of silence." This one never really stuck. Due to my gift of gab, I have often said things without thinking. For example, when my sister-in-law had her very first baby, I went to visit her in the hospital. Her baby looked like all newborns, bald and squishy, but to the mother, she was beautiful. Well, trying to help, I told here that when Elyse turns about 9 months old and gets some hair, she will just be the cutest thing! What was I thinking?!? Well, it is one thing to think this way, but a whole other thing to actually let those words come out of my mouth. 

One day, I came across Ephesians 4:29 in the Message paraphrase, it says "say only what helps, each word a gift." Whoa, this verse hit me right between the eyes. I know that the only way I can do this is through the help of the Holy Spirit. I am constantly asking God to help make every word that comes from my mouth a gift. I hope that after people spend time with me they leave encouraged, hopeful and just better off. What mark do you want to leave on people? Let's be very aware of the words that we are speaking over each other.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

No Disappointment Here

For far too long I felt like I was a huge disappointment to God, that I was constantly letting Him down. I grew up with three brothers who always picked on me, not that I am blaming them for my disfunction.  I just always felt like a screw-up. I was anything but graceful. I have so many scars on my knees from constantly falling down, that a guy in college asked me if I’d ever had knee surgery! I chipped my teeth, broke my arm, busted my lip and head on various occasions. I'm sure I kept my mother on her knees!

When I would pray, I felt like God saw me as a screw-up. I was trapped by this thinking for
many years, until I studied Romans 3:23-24 which says, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard (we all hear this a lot) YET God, (don't you love the yet God parts) with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”

God declares us as righteous, not because of what we have done, but because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. When God looks at us, He sees us through the blood of Jesus. He did this out of love for us, not because of anything we did to earn it. 

Not only is God not disappointed in us, we are pleasing to Him. Have you ever had the thought, "God loves me, but I'm pretty sure He doesn't like me." Well, there is no Scripture to back up that line of thinking. You're believing a lie. Sorry to sound so harsh - it's just the truth!

Ephesians 1:5 says, "God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure." God takes pleasure in being in relationship with you. He takes pleasure in calling you His own. What an amazing concept.

The reason God sent Jesus was because He wanted to be in a relationship with us. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”

Reconcile means to restore a friendship, to cause people to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement. God went through great lengths to restore His relationship with mankind. God is not mad at you and He is not holding your sins against you. Receive the Father's love - that requires faith!

That is such an amazing truth, that God is no longer counting our sins against us. If God isn't bringing up all the messes we have made, then we need to let ourselves go and walk free. God is not disappointed in you. He loves you just as much as He loves Jesus - let that sink in for a few minutes :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Toxic Thoughts

Years ago I asked Derek if he thought I was selfish, and he answered with a question - just like Jesus, what a wise man. He asked me if I thought I was selfish. He preceded to tell me that according to Proverbs 23:7, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. So, if I think I am selfish I will be selfish. This conversation marked me and started me down a path of awareness about how I thought about myself.

I grew up in a home where we learned a great deal about the power of our words, so I knew never to speak anything negative over myself. I didn't fully understand the power that our thoughts hold on us, until I read Dr. Caroline Leaf's book, "Who Switched Off My Brain - Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions".  She says that a thought may seem harmless, but if it becomes toxic, even just a thought can become physically, emotionally or spiritually dangerous. 2 Corinthians 10:5, tells us to, "fit every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ."

We have to get to the place where we trust God's thoughts about us more than we trust our own. After all, we only are able to love others as much as we love ourselves, and if we are thinking toxic thoughts about ourselves, it is difficult to love ourselves.

Caroline Leaf also says that "what we think about expands and grows, taking on a life of its own. The direction this life takes could be positive or negative; you get to choose (Isaiah 7:15). What you choose to think about can foster joy, peace and happiness or the complete opposite."

Walking out these truths have helped pull me out of a very dark place. I told y'all that I would share some of the tools that helped to pull me out of the darkness, and Caroline Leaf's book was a great resource for me to get my thoughts back in line with what God's Word says about me. After all, He says that I am His masterpiece.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I'm Baaaack

Years ago I had a blog that I kept up with somewhat regularly. Then my world got knocked upside down, and I spiraled into a dark place for a while. I'm not going to get into the details of what happened, I'll save that for another time. What I do want to focus on is the future! As I was coming out of the darkness, a very wise man told me that my purpose had to be greater than my pain. I latched onto those words and began to find my way back. I let go of the hurt, anger and disappointment and grabbed hold of the promises in God's Word.

That sounds so succinct and clean. The last few years and yes, sadly I am talking about years, have been anything BUT succinct and clean. Just to clarify, I wasn't in a deep depression for every minute of every day for the last few years. I would have great days - I ALWAYS had a smile on my face on Sundays, and very few people knew how deeply I was hurting.

I am starting my blog again, not to tell you the story of what has happened but to offer hope. I have a deep desire to help hurting women. We know that we have to keep going, so there is often no time to go get the help we so desperately need or even process what we are going through. 

Psalm 32:7 (Passion Translation) says, "Lord, You are my Secret Hiding Place, protecting me from all these troubles, surrounding me with songs of gladness! Your joyous shouts of rescue release my breakthrough."

If you are going through a struggle, let God be your hiding place. Let Him into those dark places and heal the hurt. If you keep running, you will never have the opportunity to sit at His feet and let Him surround you with His song of breakthrough.

This blog will focus on lots of different topics. I will share ways that God brought restoration to my soul. I will also tell stories about my sweet family and share recipes and just fun stuff. My goal, right now is to post at least once a week, so I hope you'll come back and see what's going on here :)