Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No Business Suit Needed

Standing in line with my youngest after lunch, I eavesdropped (as I often do) on his conversation with his fellow classmates. You learn all sorts of things while volunteering and working with a bunch of seven and eight year olds.

Aside from the usual chatter over the impending recess time, there ensued a friendly game of comparison. With pride, a little girl and boy in front of my son announced their mothers' occupations and places of employment. Without hesitation, my son proudly took his turn at the mic there in the hallway. "My mom works at home! She does awesome and works so hard," gushed this sweet, beautiful boy standing a head taller than his peers and holding my heart in his hands.

Listening to his words and watching his body language as he spoke, one might have thought I was a doctor or an astronaut or Nobel Prize recipient.

My own pride (of a different sort) reminded him that I am a writer, too, but somehow, in his eyes, my mothering overshadowed any other job I had or hat I put on.

It is so easy to forget the importance of and minimize the task of simply being a mother. One of my recurring struggles, as I'm sure it is with many stay at home moms, is the feeling of not being good enough or I should be doing more or if only I had an office to go to and a business suit to wear.

The truth is, this place where God has called me is important. In fact, this job that occupies every hour in my day and offers no reprieve, this role of mother and wife, is the most important thing I will do on earth. This is my purpose, my ministry, the one place from which all other assignments I face have their origin.

When my alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. this morning there was no briefcase to grab or business suit to put on. There are no corporate bosses depending on me. There is no staff waiting for instruction, no cash register waiting to be filled, or no operating room needing my expertise.

But there is a husband needing encouragement, support, and a cup of coffee to go.

There is a girl becoming an adult who needs a friend and still wants her mama.

There is a sixteen year old boy who needs unconditional love and truth and chocolate chip pancakes in the morning.

There is an eight year old who needs bedtime stories at night and reassurance when people hate and the world is scary.

So I embrace this task before me. I choose to cherish these moments that don't always come with gratification or accolades or certificates of a job well done. I offer my service and my talents from this place I call home and today, it is well with my soul.

Where are you today? Do you find yourself in a place where you feel unimportant and invisible? Choose to embrace the place God has called you, wherever it may be, and know you can make a difference right where you are.

"I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book, before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:14-16

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Unglued Week 6: Thoughts vs. Truth

This is our last week of the "Unglued" (Lysa Terkeurst) book study with Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Studies. It has been an incredible journey. And really, it is just beginning.

This week, in Chapter 12, Lysa challenges us to take "an honest peek inside our soul." She suggests that maybe these "unglued" moments aren't necessarily a bad thing, but an invitation for us to look deep inside of ourselves.

Why do I act or react a certain way?

What is it that causes me to feel this way?

Why do I always feel inferior or not good enough?

"When I look through the window of my unglued reactions, I may find pride I don't want to acknowledge. Longstanding unforgiveness. Deep-seated bitterness. Simmering anger. Joy-stealing jealousy. Condemning shame. Haunting regrets. Entangling rejection..." (pg. 168).

When situations, events, or circumstances cause us to have certain negative, misguided feelings, those feelings can "distract us, discourage us, and trigger past pain to start taunting us." (168).

The "honest peek inside my soul" this week has not been fun but oh, so necessary.

Words buried twenty years deep suddenly resurfaced.

I am thankful hurts covered over many times and hidden long are not unreachable by God. There are no boundaries that limit how far His healing, mercy, and grace will reach. Just as it is available to us in our present journey, it is abundant for our past mistakes and wounds.

Twenty-one years ago, unmarried and pregnant at nineteen, I found myself planning a wedding with my high school sweetheart. There were those who whispered I should not wear a veil and suggested that my wedding dress not be white.

I felt dirty, unworthy, shamed, and rejected.

Not good enough.

Although I did wear a white dress on my wedding day, no amount of lace could cover the feelings that perhaps I really wasn't good enough. Maybe God's grace had run out and my sin was too big. Maybe I had messed up too many times and God was too disappointed to even look at me.

No matter how deeply hidden, wounds left unattended do not disappear. Hurtful words become a filter through which we see and experience life if we let them. They affect our spiritual and emotional well-being.

On pg 166, Lysa's friend, Jenni, says, "I still get offended when someone asks a question that makes me feel like I've failed."

I can relate.

I often hear thoughts like, "You can write a blog but you'll never be good enough to publish a book."

These things buried deep build fences around our potential.

These things strangle hope and confirm fears and doubts that tell us "There's no way."

But God gently tills the deep places of our hearts and unearths those things holding us captive.

Desperate to free us from the lies of the enemy, He whispers truth to our soul.

You are worthy.

You are loved.

You are accepted.

We must learn to recognize the thoughts, the lies, the words pouring out of hurt and wounds that speak negatively and falsely accuse.

And we must replace them with truth.

"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ..." 2 Corinthians 10:5.

We must gather the courage to allow God to walk with us as we take an honest peek inside our soul. A peek to the very dark, hidden places of our hearts.

And we must say "yes" to the One who desires to heal and bind up those broken places.

"Yes" to the One who puts us back together so that His glory can be poured out through us.

I am so thankful His mercies are new every morning and His grace never runs out.

I am thankful that because of Jesus I am forgiven.

Because of Jesus, I am redeemed.

And because of Jesus, I am worthy.

Thank you, Lysa, for writing this book. For walking us into hard places and helping us discover truth in order to break free. Thank you, Melissa and the whole P31 Team, for your faithfulness in leading this study and for praying always. And thank you, God, for loving us enough to not leave us where we are.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unglued Blog Hop Week 5 - Negative Inside Chatter

Those whispers Lysa shares on page 141 of Chapter 10?

I have known them all too well.

You are not liked.
Who are you to think you can do that?
Why did you say that? Everyone thinks you're annoying.
Your kids just illustrated every inadequacy you have as a mom.
You are invisible.

Yes, I have heard these same words. I have felt their impact and experienced their torment.

Even now on the eve of something outside of my comfort zone, something stretching me, something I keep quiet because I may fail or it may not work or may not be good enough...these words kidnap joy and plant seeds of doubt.

Lysa asks, "Why do we let such destructive words fall hard on our souls?"

Fall hard on our souls...

These words do weigh heavy.

These thoughts steal dreams and render gifts inactive.

These. Words.

When Paul said in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things," he wasn't just talking about keeping our mind out of the gutter or resisting the urge to plot revenge on the person who cut us off in the school pick-up line.

You see, these thoughts that we allow to invade our minds and crush our souls? They are not true or noble or just or pure or lovely or of good report. In fact, they are just the opposite.

These words, these thoughts affect us. If left alone to wreak havoc, that they will. Negative words and thoughts can immobilize us and keep us from reaching our greatest potential.

Paul continues in verse 9, "...and the God of peace will be with you."

There is not a lot of peace following negative inside chatter.

On pg. 145 Lysa says, "Thinking runaway, worrisome thoughts is just an invitation to anxiety." This is so true. Many times we over think a situation, read too much into something, misinterpret a text message, or allow our insecurities to fabricate a scenario that never even happened causing us to become anxious, fearful, and emotional.

Lysa encourages us on pg 144 to "park our minds on constructive thoughts, not destructive thoughts. Thoughts that build us up not tear us down. Thoughts that breathe life into us, not suck life from us."

I love the three questions she gives to help hold runaway thoughts, assumptions, and misperceptions in check:
  • Did someone actually say this or am I making assumptions about what they're thinking?
  • Am I actively immersing myself in truth?
  • Are there situations or relationships that feed my insecurities?
These questions are not the cure-all, but they are a great place to start in helping to silence the negative chatter inside our heads. Taking our thoughts captive and replacing them with truth from the Word of God will empower us to become the women of God we were created to be.

"Addressing the issue of inside chatter will lead us to freedom. Not just freedom from negative things like doubt and insecurities, confusion, and suspicion. But freedom to pour out love on others. Freedom to think clearly. Freedom to obey God's call on our lives no mater what others think. Our thoughts really matter...After all, how a woman thinks is often how she lives," (p 149).

I am determining to think on and live out only truth today and every day...won't you join me? :)

Joining the blog hop at Melissa's Place.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Unglued Blog Hop Week 4

Ever had one of those days when you felt agitated and annoyed and had no idea why? Well, I had one this week. I was agitated with my husband (can't remember why) and made things worse with my snarky words and stinkin' attitude. This set the tone for the evening in my whole house. My issue (whatever it was) with my husband transferred to my interaction with my sixteen year old (Lord knows that is complicated enough without any help from me). Tension and strife were served for dinner and I was the master chef.
Bedtime arrived and I went to tuck my seven year old in for the night (since we were still on good terms). We have been reading a Proverbs a day all this month and this day we read chapter sixteen. I would've expected him to remember something from our current chapter but as he prayed his night time prayers, this is what he said:
"...and God help us to be wise. Like the woman in...what was it? Chapter fourteen? The wise woman builds her house but a foolish one tears it down with hear hands. Yes. Help us, God, to be like the wise woman and not like the one who tore her house down with her hands. Amen."
He may have said a foolish woman tears her house down with her hands but all I heard was "a foolish woman tears her house down with her snarky words and stinkin' attitude."
Okay, God. I'm listening.
All this in the middle of the "Unglued" book study by Lysa Terkeurst. God's definitely got my number.
This week was Ch. 7 & 8 for all of us going through the study with Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Studies. Here are some quotes from Ch. 7 that stood out to me (in light of my snarky words day).
"I want it to be evident that I know Jesus, love Jesus, and spend time with Jesus each day. So why do other things bubble to the surface when my life gets stressful and my relationships get strained?"
Why, you ask? Oh, friend, she gives answers, but you may not want to hear them. (It's getting kind of personal, if you ask me.)
  • Selfishness
  • Pride
  • Impatience
  • Anger
  • Bitterness
I'm feeling a little exposed.
But thank God we don't have to stay where we are. There is hope for change and grace to help.
Lysa provides a great example in chapter seven of a five-step process on how she handles raw emotions. She uses 2 Chronicles 20 as her guide. Today, our small group leader challenged us to write our own five-step process from this same text. Here is my SIX step process (because I'm a writer and I always have too many words):
  1. Close my ears to other's opinions that are based on fear and not faith (vs. 2-3).
  2. Remember God's promises and don't be afraid to remind Him of what He has done and what He said He would do (vs. 6-12).
  3. Acknowledge that it is not by my power or strength or wisdom, but God's (vs. 12).
  4. Position myself to hear God speak to me (vs 17-18).
  5. Be still (vs 17-18). This kind of goes with #4 but it's so important I thought it needed its own number.
  6. Thank God for the victory (vs 26-28)!
"Seeking to obey God in the midst of whatever circumstance I'm facing is what positions me to work in the flow of God's power. I still have to navigate the realities of my situation, but I won't be doing it in my own strength...I want to participate in His divine nature rather than wallow in my own bad attitude and insecurities." pg. 113
Amen, sister.
In chapter eight (don't worry I'll be quick) Lysa talks about changing our perspective and keeping an attitude of gratitude. A few of my favorite quotes are:
"Perspective calls forth a gentleness I can't seem to find any other way." pg. 119
"The more my heart is parked in a place of thanksgiving and rejoicing, the less room I have for grumpiness." pg. 121
"The more I rejoice, the more I keep things in perspective. The more I keep things in perspective, the gentler I become." pg. 121
"I am a woman whose identity has been changed by coming face to face with the One who has the power to completely transform me." pg. 125
"The best way to position my heart to tap into the power of God is gratitude." pg. 129
We were also challenged to write a gratitude list in our small group. I did, but I think I'll save that for my next post. :)
Is anyone else enjoying this study as much as I am?
What is your favorite quote from the book?
Is anyone else getting lots of opportunities for life application? :)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. ~Phil. 4:4-5
***Linking up with my Bible study sisters on Melissa's page. Click on the picture below to find your way over there.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

He Sees. He Knows. He Has Experienced It.

I recently read this by Mary DeMuth (from her book, "EVERYTHING," that comes out TODAY):

"Everything that hurts us on earth has the potential, when we let God put His hands in the conflict, to bless the world. In short, we hurt, God heals, we become an agent of healing. In other words, when we're brave enough to let God transform our pain, we bring heaven to earth. And when He stretches His arm from heaven to earth, blessing us with comfort, we, in turn, touch the world with heaven's touch."

And then, this morning, I heard an interview on the radio with Mark Shultz. I don't remember his exact words, but Mark said something like this, "If God isn't moving the mountain, it's because He's giving you the strength to go over it."

And then I remembered seeing this:

"The quickest way to forget about your pain is to help someone who hurts more." ~Matthew Barnett

So many times we find ourselves in places we'd rather not be, in circumstances we would've never chosen for ourselves, and pain (physical, mental, emotional) we wish would just. please. go. away.

But what if our circumstances don't change and the pain does not go away?

What if we use our faith and we pray every day and we stand on scriptures and nothing changes?

Maybe something IS changing.

Maybe WE are changing on the inside.

Maybe we are being prepared to help someone who hurts more.

Maybe we are becoming an agent of healing.

Maybe we are healing from the inside out.

Maybe our faith is growing and our hearts are being softened.

I don't understand everything, but I know God never changes.

I know Jesus loves me so much He died on the cross so I can live.

So when I don't get I answers, I remember, God has my life in His hands.

He sees the big picture. He knows the number of my days. And His ways are perfect.

So I keep walking.

I keep celebrating.

I keep praying.

I give thanks.

I keep believing.

I share.

I keep praising.

chose joy.

And I remind myself His love never gives up on me. He knows me better than anyone. And He promises that no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT, He will never leave me nor forsake me.

In that hard place? Yep. He's there.

When my pain is more than I can bear? Yes. He is there, too.

He sees, He knows, He has experienced it.

Keep pressing forward, sister. Keep going. Don't give up! Your story isn't finished yet, and neither is mine!

Please let me pray with you today. Let me keep standing and keep believing with you. Leave a comment below or feel free to send me a private message:

His love never fails!

Praise the Lord! He is good. God’s love never fails. Praise the God of all gods. God’s love never fails. Praise the Lord of lords. God’s love never fails. ~Psalms 136:1-3

Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. ~Psalms 105:4

Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. ~Psalms 63:3

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Unglued Blog Hop Week 3

(Flickr Creative Commons - Evil Erin)

To read last Thursday's post, Unglued Blog Hop Week 2, click here.

I should have known participating in this study would have consequences. I'm thinking a warning label is appropriate.

WARNING: This study may cause "Unglued" moments to arise in your life.


In my small group yesterday, our fearless leader, Christa, asked the question:

What carnival ride comes the closest to describing your experience of progress?
Bumper Cars
Big Slide
Drop Tower
Ferris Wheel
Roller Coaster
Tea Cups
Mechanical Bull
Ball Pit
Air Hockey

I am normally a very even-tempered person, with an occasional exploding or barrier building moment. But since beginning this study, life has been interesting. There have been bumper car rides, big, slippery slides, scary drop towers, dizzying roller get the picture.

But hey, practice makes perfect imperfect progress, right?

Without going into details, I have had many, many opportunities to apply what I've been learning...most of which have revealed areas still needing lots of work.






Lysa states, "Raw emotions won't sit quietly awaiting further instructions. They'll move - outward if we explode and inward if we stuff."

Learning to recognize triggers (things, situations or people) and the "whys" of our raw and sometimes negative emotions is a huge step in the right direction. Why does this person make me feel this way? Why do those words hurt so much?  Why do I want to run away, cry, stomp my foot, or pull my hair out when ____________?


Certain responses from people (or no response at all) can leave me feeling rejected and alone which in turn lead to more negative feelings and emotions. But there is a bigger issue and something I need to deal with deep down on the inside.

This statement from Lysa has been a great tool for me: "Feelings are indicators, not dictators." I do not have to act based on my raw emotions and feelings but it is my responsibility to acknowledge and deal with the root cause.

A wonderful piece of advice (and reminder) for us is found on page 62. "Do not check in with the screaming demands of the world before you exchange whispers with God."

When I am prepared and built up spiritually, I can hear God speak and recognize when the Holy Spirit is trying to do a work in me. Moving to the next level or into the next season God has for us may require unearthing past hurts still tender from physical or emotional trauma, digging deep to remove false beliefs about ourselves, discovering areas of unforgiveness or sin, and other painful paths to healing and growth. The good news is God does not ask that we do any of this alone. His grace and mercy are constant companions if we allow them to be. And He gives us wisdom and prepares the way for victory if we remain teachable.

One of our memory verses for this week is found in I Peter 5: 8:

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
And devour is exactly what he does in that moment of raw emotion when we are not prepared.
Some synonyms for devour are: annihilate, destroy, exhaust, ravage. Have you ever felt destroyed and annihilated after an unglued moment?
I have.
But when we are spiritually prepared, we are more alert and aware and able to practice the spiritual fruit of self-control. And Lord knows, controlling self is our greatest challenge. With supernatural help and impartation from God Himself, we are able to prevent this prowling, roaring lion from devouring  us.

We don't have to be exhausted or ravaged or annihilated or destroyed.

God has a better plan. There is a purpose for everything we must walk through. And there is a masterpiece underneath all those hard places.

Can you see it taking form?

As I said last week, I'm so thankful He loves us enough to not leave us where we are, but gives us the opportunity to change and grow and start over again and again.

As I press forward, I continue to "hear the clink of the Master's chisel."

I am tuning my ears to listen, opening my eyes wide to see, and preparing my heart to say yes.

And I choose to call it all grace.

Praying for all of you, today, my sweet sisters. God loves us more than we can ever imagine. He sees the masterpiece in us. And He calls us His.

For further reading and personal invitations inside of some beautiful women's hearts and what God is doing in their lives through this study, please click on the picture below to visit Melissa Taylor's place, where I am privileged to link up today.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

F is for Fall

...and football, of course. :)

There is something about the crisp, cool air and the changing of colors that feels like home and beckons me to create.

Satisfying and fulfilling, Fall is beautiful.

Pumpkin spice candles and pigmented leaves. Fall festivals and football games. Bon fires and family time at the deer lease.

Have I mentioned this is my favorite time of the year?

My fingers ache for paintbrushes and my mind races for new ideas.

Ribbons call to me in the craft department.

Flowers and glitter and glue become Saturday companions.

Fabric and pine cones and scarves and boots.

How did I survive so many months without these?

To welcome this treasured season, I gifted our front door with a new wreath.


I found lots of inspiration on the website Kristen's Creations. This girl is super talented and creative!

In addition to my new Fall wreath, I also spiced up our front porch area as much as the budget would allow. Luckily, my mom had some Fall stakes tucked away in the attic that weren't being used and my hubby had some leftover lumber pieces that were the perfect landing for some cute welcome signs. All I had to do was add some paint and polka dots, position them in last year's mulch, and presto!


The rest of the house needs a paint job and that won't fit in to the budget, so I'll stop with the porch pics. We live in a mobile home and I dream of a new brick and stone house, but for now my pretty steps will have to do. :)  There IS a new house in our future, though (speaking words of faith, yes).
Happy Fall, friends! May your pumpkins be ripe and your flowers bloom vibrant hues of Autumn!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Unglued Blog Hop, Week 2

Welcome, friends! This study (for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, visit Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Studies for a glimpse of our Unglued Study by Lysa Terkeurst) has officially jolted me out of my blogging slumber. My last post was in July! My how time flies when you're having a blast with your kids in the summer :)

This is week two of our study and man, oh, man.

God is speaking to me.

I'm so thankful He loves us enough to not leave us where we are, but gives us the opportunity to change and grow and start over again and again.

And again.

In Chapter One, imperfect progress gives me hope. "Slow steps of progress wrapped in grace..." I have a bucket full of unrealistic expectations I'm throwing out the back door. I'll never be perfect but I can keep moving forward.

In Chapter Two, I'm (still) learning to "rest in the fact that God is in control." As Joshua did, I have at times felt the weight of the impossible. I love how Lysa talks about Joshua having asked the wrong question. In preparation for battle and the impossible feat before him, the question should have been not whose side was God on, but whose side was Joshua on. If our focus is wrong and our eyes are on ourselves or our circumstances, our impossible situation will remain impossible. But with God ALL things.... So, whose side am I on? Do I trust God enough? "If we ground ourselves in the reality that we trust God, we can face circumstances that are out of our control without acting out of control. We can't always fix our circumstances, but we can fix our minds on God." LT

As I was preparing for our first face-to-face group meeting in my home yesterday morning (that was supposed to be at Starbucks but that's another story), I felt a tad overwhelmed. I had to take my son to the doctor at 9:00 and our study was at 10:30. I had dreams of a perfect house smelling like baked goods fresh from the oven (that I would serve to my guests on an unchipped Fall platter), worship music playing softly in the background, and my wood floor shining. But instead, reality smacked me in the face. Dishes in the sink, kids/guest bathroom a mess, unswept floor, and dirty clothes crawling out of the laundry room.

Thirty minutes and counting.

It was the perfect opportunity to release my freak out woman (and she was desperately trying to free herself).

As I ran through the house like a crazy person, wiping this and sweeping that (and hiding everything else), God gently asked, "Are you more concerned with your house being clean than your heart being prepared?"

Conviction poured over me like a warm blanket and melted through walls of pride in my heart.

And then I saw a parallel. Just as I want my house to appear perfect (please don't open the laundry room door) I sometimes try to make my life appear perfect. Remember the stuffer busy building barriers? "I'm fine." "It's all good." I often wear myself out trying to keep my Super (Spiritual) Woman cape pressed.

The truth is sometimes I'm a big ol' mess. Sometimes my thoughts need dusting, my attitude needs an adjusting, and my heart needs a round in the washer.

So as I put my broom away, my study buddy arrived and was welcomed by my beautiful new Fall wreath I made for my front door and about twenty pair of muddy rubber boots my kids left on the front porch. My house wasn't perfect, but the presence of God was so sweet during our time together (as worship music played softly in the background). We shared hard truths and spilled honesty and God met us there.

With Grace.

As we shared stories and experiences, we realized the seeds we planted last week were already producing good fruit in our day to day happenings. Our thoughts are being transformed, our minds are being renewed. We are making imperfect progress.

And...God continues to chisel.

"God is chiseling us, making us new, releasing us from our hard places - those places that make us feel so stinkin' defeated -- so we can do good works. Works God has prepared for us, which means He knows best how to prepare in us the character we need to fulfill our calling." ~LT

And we pray...

"Oh, that we might hear the purposeful clink of the Master's chisel and call it grace." LT

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

(Anyone else remember Lysa's message -Chapter 3 from She Speaks 2011? I'm looking for my key chain...)

Joining the blog hop today on Melissa's page. Meet us there?" target="_blank">

**For my local friends, if you would like to join our face-to-face meetings every two weeks, please send me a private email for details.**

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Your Story Isn't Finished Yet

As I continue taking time away to hear what God is speaking and continue making time for the moments that matter I am finding the Author of my faith is finishing my story (or at least this chapter of it).

He is finishing this book on the inside of me.

Maybe that's why it's not finished on paper quite yet.

You see, I started a journey last year (except really, it started way before then) of writing a book I was certain I was supposed to write. I was so sure, in fact, that I attended my first writer's conference and met with two publishers. One publisher was interested and said she wanted to see more. Home from the conference I was determined to squeeze the words out to finish what the publisher wanted to see. Instead, I stared at blank pages and an empty computer screen.

And wondered why.

Why the words wouldn't come.

But I know now this story, this message, isn't finished.

He's still writing and I'm still learning.

Don't give up on something God has told you to do - no matter how long it takes.

Your story isn't finished yet.

Let the Author of your faith continue penning the pages before you...

Joining with Jen and the Solei Deo Gloria Sisterhood

Monday, July 2, 2012

Exhaust Fumes, Spiderwebs, and a Jeep Jalopy

Last night I found myself secluded in my sanctuary (locked in my bathroom in my steaming hot garden tub) when suddenly there came a knock on my bedroom door. Awakened from my few moments of bliss I heard a familiar sound, "Mooooooom!"

"I'm in the tub!"

"Mom, hurry! We want to show you something," my seven year old continued.

"Show me what?"

"We want you to see the jeep and go for a ride! It's so cool!"

There are some moments you would rather say no but you know you have to say yes.

Even if it means getting out of the bath smelling like mango coconut and into a dirty jeep reaking of exhaust fumes.

This was that exact moment.

The boys (my hubby and our two sons, 15 and 7) recently acquired an old 1975 Jeep (jalopy) 4X4 and dubbed it their deer lease/mud buggy project.

Last night, of all nights, they managed to get it to run for more than 30 seconds. We live on acreage with dirt roads and four-wheeler trails leading to a river at the back of our property (yes, I'm a country girl, born and raised) and they just had to take me for a ride to show off their mechanical skills.

At 9:45 PM.

The precise moment I was soaking in my tub.

So I said yes. 

I dried off from my bath, threw on some clothes, hopped in the jeep, and held on tightly (the brakes, they informed me after I got in, weren't working all that well).

As we rode I dodged spiderwebs and limbs and gasped for fresh air between puffs of exhaust fumes (seriously, no mosquitos here).

And about half way to the river we noticed the moon.

The beautiful, bright, full moon shining down on us as we sat in our rusted out jalopy of a jeep in the middle of the woods.

As I grabbed the cell phone to take a picture of the moon between the trees, I knew in that moment I was capturing more than a photo.

Suddenly the small frustrations disappeared and the inconveniences no longer mattered.

Joy and thankfulness flooded my being.

This frame of time with my family wouldn't last forever but it would be forever etched in my heart.

Sometimes we find beauty and joy and love overflowing in the most unexpected places.

Sometimes saying yes when we would rather say no uncovers blessings wrapped in strange packages.

Summer is sure to provide a host of opportunities to find these little moments with your family.

Will you be brave and say yes?

You never know what's waiting past the exhaust fumes and spiderwebs.

Today I am linking with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood. Will you follow me there to join the party?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

For those visiting from Soli Deo Gloria, I linked a previous post to the party :)

Click here to find your way there: Make Adjustments Where Necessary

Hope you are all off to a fabulous week!

Much love,

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Distracted by Boredom?

Day 11 since my surgery and I am going stir crazy. Recovery was going well until I decided to over-do it a little by walking up and down steps to get outside and next door. Soooo...I have been re-confined to my bed for the last three days and the rest of this weekend. I have a new appreciation for people who have to stay home or inside for any reason and any length of time.

I am not someone who struggles with depression but I can see how easy it would be for someone to find themselves in a dark place while recovering. Luckily, it comes natural for me to encourage myself when I feel myself slipping. Plus, I have had lots of amazing people from our church to bring dinner (and dessert) every night and my mom lives next door so she is always just a few seconds away.

I had plans to write and be productive while laying in the bed but can I just be honest? Those plans have not been fulfilled. Is it possible to be distracted by boredom? I've had all this "free" time placed in my lap and I can't even focus enough to read much less put organized thoughts down on paper.

Since my words are few, I will share my week with you again with pictures.

I took this pic on my last day outside this past week. I miss my garden but it will be exciting to see how much everything has grown in my absence!

My hubby built this little shed for feed and garden tools. I love old doors so when he made this new door out of old wood, it made me happy :)

My daughter's horse loves to peek in on the new rabbits. I think they've become friends.

Can you tell I would much rather be outdoors?

I joined a photo challenge on instagram and today's theme was "empty". I found this pile of empty containers that were once filled with dinners brought by special friends this week. 

My mom and I are giving my sister a baby "sprinkle" (instead of a shower since big sister is sharing her stuff) in a few weeks. My mom brought over some things that could be completed from my recliner and without exerting too much energy. :)  These are note cards for advice or encouragement from those who attend. They will be hung on a tabletop "tree" once completed.

And here they are again put together much nicer for a better pic. I love the colors of ribbon we are using to match the nursery. We also completed the super cute invitations (pic later).

Image credit: sergeyp / 123RF Stock Photo

I did get one thing written this week - one of my monthly articles for Blissfully Domestic. Stay tuned for some great summer pedicure ideas!

Last but certainly not least, I will be joining an online Bible study tomorrow with Melissa Taylor and others using Glynnis Whitwer's new book "I Used to Be So Organized." I have never been organized (at least the way I want to be) so I am hoping I can still pick up a some helpful tips and encouragement. Interested in joining this nine week study? Read more about it here.

I hope you've had a fabulous week! School is out for us and we are ready to get on with our summer activities! A few more weeks of rest and recovery and we will be on our way to Sea World San Antonio (hopefully)! :) Until then, lots of movies and books and pizza! And luckily for the kids we live in the country so there's plenty to do outside - four wheelers, fishing, swimming, basketball, etc.

Do you have any special plans for summer?

Monday, May 28, 2012

My Week in Photos and A Season of Loneliness

Tomorrow is one week since I've had my surgery. It's been quite the challenge to do nothing. I'm finding a theme woven throughout my circumstances the past couple of months. But before I share that, I thought I'd share my week in photos (I'm an excited, new instagram user).

I registered for my overnight stay the day before my surgery. Upon close inspection of my bracelet, I noticed the number 39. Don't they know it's not nice to reveal a lady's real age? :)

And this is, yes, me before surgery. I was so nervous but of course I had to stop for a pose. My husband wanted a pre-surgery pic and I'm a good sport so I consented. I'm having second thoughts about the cap.

My mom strategically placed a vase of pretty flowers beside my bed after I came home.

 Friends and family have been delivering pans and platters and bowls of nourishment.
 I've even been served dessert in bed.
 Our garden continues to birth life.
And I have lots of time to sit outside gazing into this canopy of blue and green, my outdoor ceiling painted by the Master Himself.

This last picture leads me back to where I started. This reoccurring theme is one of separation and aloneness. I am a social person by nature and love to hang out with friends but the past few months I have found myself more and more alone. This week while recovering, the silence has been undeniable. I have been asking God why. Why am in this place? Why have my friendships seemed distant and my usual busy days been replaced with quiet? And today He answered. Today His voice thundered through the silence and rained grace.

And He said to them, " Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest awhile." (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. ~Mark 6:31-32

So tonight begins the journey to understanding this place I'm in. I know there is purpose here.  No matter how alone I feel, I know He is present. And I know He is speaking.

Have you ever found yourself in a season of loneliness?

Are you currently in a place contrary to or different from your "normal?"

Linking today with my online community of sisters for Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Quick Note & A Sweet Moment

Tomorrow is the big day. My surgery is at 9:30. I went to get my blood drawn this morning and also registered at the hospital. I am big baby with all the needle and blood stuff. I asked for anesthesia before they pricked my arm, but my request was denied. The nurses laughed and thought I was kidding. I totally wasn't. Thanks for your prayers, friends! xoxo

I am packing for the hospital and making other last minute preparations, but I wanted to share a sweet moment I had with my lil' man in the grocery store today.

Him: Mom, do you know why I love you?

Me: No, why?

Him: Because you're so thankful.

Me: Aww, that's so nice! Thank you!

Him: And you're giving. You're so giving and generous and thankful. That's why I love you, mom.

Totally melted my heart. (And I'm almost positive it had nothing to do with the two cans of Pringles I let him put in the buggy.)

Praying YOU have lots of sweet moments this week!

Big, big hugs!

Linking with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Make Adjustments Where Necessary

(Update: I am linking this post from a few weeks ago to Soli Deo Gloria for 6/11 because still, I find myself here. Thank you for grace as I make adjustments. And I would love to pray for you, my friends. Please leave your request in the comment section.)

I read this prophetic word by Marsha Burns this morning:
"Refuse to allow discouragement to kill your faith. Stay strong and bolster your faith through reading, hearing, understanding, and agreeing with My word, says the Lord. Keep close tabs on your thoughts and make adjustments where necessary to maintain a strong and undeniable faith. Faith is your greatest asset and must be protected at all cost."

The phrase speaking directly to my heart is "make adjustments where necessary."

It is insane to think we can ever get things 100 percent right and never have to change. Crazy to think we can arrive at a place and never leave.

There is so much of God to know. My knowledge of Him cannot ever be complete on this earth, but must continually grow and evolve and expand.

I often get bogged down with routine, distracted by unnecessary tasks, and overwhelmed by my own expectations and demands. It is hard to grow and move in this place.

I find that, periodically, it does me good - strengthens my faith, encourages my heart - to stop and start again or start over. Make adjustments where necessary.

Old habits, false beliefs that I previously walked away from, and legalistic tendencies that once ruled my life all have a way of sneaking back in when I am preoccupied and not paying attention.

Having been set free and placed in a large space, I am able to dance and run and live. But many times I find myself backing into a corner or re-building fences that once held me captive.

And I remember that beyond the fences is grace.

Make adjustments where necessary.

This is where I am today.

God is speaking.

May we have ears to hear and courage to keep dancing.

"At the command of the Lord they remained encamped, and at the command of the Lord they journeyed..." Numbers 9:23

(Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - Saucytech)

Linking with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria sisterhood.

Friday, May 11, 2012

How Your Facebook Status Can Change the World

Do you believe what you say and do affects others?

It does.

Do you want your life to make a difference?

It can.

Everything in your life (yes, down to your Facebook status) can make an impact on someone's life.

Today we have a greater opportunity to influence and reach others than ever before. Social media sites, blogs, YouTube - it's CRAZY to think about how much power is at our fingertips.

Just this morning while writing this post my blog was being viewed in three different countries. And in the last twenty-four hours - Germany, Canada, France, Israel, India, Russia, and the US.

It humbles me to think a mother in China is being encouraged by my words. Or that someone in South Africa is starting to believe God really does love them because they read it here.

Without a passport, I have traveled into homes across the world. The Philippines, Malaysia, Aruba, United Kingdom, Netherlands, China, France, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Japan, Thailand.

And my #1 referring site?


Even if you don't have a blog but you have a Facebook page, what you say matters. What you write has power.

Your words are affecting someone. Your family, your friends, your community, your school, your co-workers, your children, your children's friends, your parents, your teachers, etc.

When I post a scripture on my fb status, it's like opening the Bible with possibly a thousand other people or more. And if they decide to share my post on their page or copy my status to their status, the influence grows. Good news travels fast.

Unfortunately, so does bad news.

Ever notice how quickly people respond to a negative fb status?

What you say matters.

Your fb status really can change the world, or at least a part of it.

  • Open the Bible with your friends
  • Spread good news
  • Be encouraging
  • Speak the truth in love
  • Refuse to criticize, judge, and condemn
  • Live a life set apart - out loud
  • Choose joy
People are watching, listening, and reading.

Someone is having a bad day.

Someone feels hopeless, alone, and afraid.

Someone is contemplating suicide or abortion or abandoning their family.

Someone is searching for truth.

What are your words saying?

Linking with Jen and the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Biopsy Results, Surgery, and On Making a Difference

Update: Thank you to everyone who prayed for me recently. My biopsy results came back clear. Thank you, Jesus. I am moving forward with a hysterectomy and biopsy of my left ovary in two weeks. It is nice to know you will be praying for my surgery (I'm a big baby about needles and such). I am looking forward to complete recovery and putting this all behind me. I am not good at slowing down and much prefer operating at 100 percent. :)

I read a status on Facebook this morning from a friend (thanks, Pastor Carl) that said:

"I used to be afraid I would not make enough money, now I am afraid I won't make enough difference."

It's funny how our goals and objectives change as we get older. I have spent a large part of my life with goals like
  • build a new house
  • drive a new BMW
  • finish my college education
  • go to Europe
Not that any of those or wrong or that I don't still want to accomplish them, but they have moved down a little on my list. And really, if they don't happen, it's not a big deal anymore.

With my children becoming adults and my husband and I getting older, my thoughts now drift to how my life has made a difference and what things are still left to do that will impact those around me for good and for eternity.
  • Have I loved my children enough?
  • Have I said I'm sorry enough?
  • Have I been a good friend?
  • Was I kind to strangers?
  • Did I show mercy, judge less, offer grace?
  • Did my words build up or tear down?
I don't want to live without making an impact on the people in my life. If I err let it be because I've been too good to others and not too evil. If I fail, let it teach others and myself a valuable lesson and let the experience make us better and help us find God more. If I make a mistake, I pray my children and others can avoid the heartache because of consequences I suffered.

So whether or not I ever build a new house, I will choose to love.

If I never drive a new BMW, I will forgive more and judge less.

If I never walk across the stage with diploma in hand, I will refuse criticism and offer grace.

And if I never use a passport, I will choose to be kind.

Let this life of mine make a difference. Let my husband be a better man because of my love for Him. Let my children love God more because they know their mother does. Let my family relationships and friendships be filled with joy and peace and goodness because it is not I who lives but Christ in me.

Instead of finishing another semester of college, I sit at my desk and write. I pour out my heart through these words and pray that somehow they make a difference to those of you who read them. I pray that I can be more vulnerable, share more struggles, be more transparent...for His glory alone.

How have your goals changed? Have you noticed a shift in your thinking and focus?

(Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons-Lindsay)

Linking today with Jen for Soli Deo Gloria

Sunday, May 6, 2012

When Mothering Feels More Like a Burden Than a Blessing

Flickr Creative Commons - Jhayne

In my last my last post, I talked about our roles as mom and wife and how they are beautiful and how they are ministry.
But how many times have we been overwhelmed and the pressures seemed too much and things did not feel beautiful and we didn't know if we could go another day? Can you think of a specific time you have felt more burdened than blessed by this place God created for you (wife, mother or both)?
I shared this on Facebook:
I remember being 19/20 and becoming wife and mother all within the same year. I remember being so overwhelmed with a crying baby in the middle of the night and feeling like I wasn’t going to be able to do this whole family thing. The responsibility was great and the 24 hour care was unending. I was selfish and immature and not prepared but God was. I also remember having my second child at 23 and how the terrible 2’s lasted until around the age of 9. He was strong-willed and a professional fit thrower and there were days I thought surely I would lose my mind. Thankfully, I still have most of it. J I have made many mistakes, but God has given me grace to walk through those times too difficult to even consider standing on my own.
And my friend, Staci, shared this:
As a mother of four biological children and two step-children, I find myself feeling overwhelmed ALL of the time. It’s very difficult to balance your time and attention to each child. The two that live with us full time now are by far the most difficult and I find myself many times asking God, Why? I have not yet received an answer but I do know I love them unconditionally. I just need direction and encouragement. I recently took a break from the regular routine and just spent quality time with them and amazingly they were totally different children….wow isn’t that what God wants from us…..quality time?
We, as wives and mothers, no matter how different our circumstances, often experience many of the same emotions, feelings of inadequacy, too-tired-to-go-another-step days, and don’t-even-want-to-try-anymore moments.
Flickr Creative Commons - iamtheo
If you find yourself in any of these places today, be encouraged that you are not alone. We all have good days and bad days. We all have days we feel like throwing in the towel or crawling back in the bed. Let’s encourage one another! If you see someone who looks like they could use a friend, be one! If you are going through something and need a shoulder to cry on or someone to pray for you, pick up the phone and let it be known. You are no less because you can’t do this alone. We weren’t mean to travel this journey without each other or without God. Let’s not try it, ok?
I am grateful God can get the job done when we can't! And when we fail, we accept His grace and try again. And He's there to replenish and refresh if we will just position ourselves to receive from Him. We position ourselves by spending quality time, as Staci said...time in the Word, time in prayer, and time just being still and quiet before Him.
I am saying a prayer for all of you today, that God would give you peace in this place, grace to walk through victoriously, and the courage to acknowledge that you can't do it without Him. Take His hand, sister, and where you've been overwhelmed with circumstances. I pray you will be overwhelmed with His love!
Rom 15:14 - And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
Gal 6:2 - Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
James 5:16 - Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
How can I pray for you specifically today?