Friday, January 11, 2019

"Find your tribe, Love them hard"

It’s a new year. A new year full of hope and promises. Life will be better next year. Maybe you have New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you don’t make New Year’s resolutions because in a few weeks they we will not be resolutions anymore. I personally don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  This year though I decided to try something new. A few people I know have a word for their year and it has always inspired me. So I decided to ask God for a word this year. I heard God laying two words on my heart for the year…I felt like God was telling me to TRUST. I feel Him repeating the word over and over through sermons and podcasts as well as through devotionals and discussions with friends.  The other word for my year is COURAGE. I took a quiz from the Christian company Dayspring and the quiz told me my word for the year was courage. The word courage does make sense. Life is getting harder and harder physically for me. My body seems like it’s getting weaker and more stiff every day. I told my husband last night that rolling over in bed was definitely something I took for granted. Life takes trust. It takes courage.  Some days I want to wallow, throwing myself a pity party. Some days I have to stand on my friends words and their belief in who God says I am. Do you have friends like that in your life? Friends that encourage and pour truth into your soul when you can’t seem to look up our focus on the truth instead of the lies?  Friends that can also tell you that hard things when you don’t want to hear them?  I am very blessed because God has brought me friends just like that in every city our family has lived.

Christmas time is over and our house is slowly getting back to normal chaos of life. Also, I love the tree and the lights decorating the house...but I also love when it is all packed up for next year. Don’t you feel a sense of relief when your last box is packed up?  I’ve also been taking down the Christmas cards or Thanksgiving cards or New Year’s cards (whichever holiday you might send us a card:)). I love looking at each family and thinking about the city where we met them and how God changed our lives through them. We take the cards and cut out the pictures and glue them on popsicle sticks. Each morning before school (or after depending on the craziness of the morning) each of us take a popsicle stick and pray for that family. It started out when my children were young and I read about a family prayer jar (www.happyhomefairy.com). We lived in Texas and our family is spread through different parts of the country. I wanted my children to know there extended family and so I found pictures on Facebook and we started the family prayer jar.  Each time we moved and I needed more and more help physically and we didn’t live near our immediate family. Our friends became our family too. I started to add pictures to the jar and now we just add the new Christmas cards every year.  It’s a fun thing to do with my family. Hopefully it shows my kids the importance of prayer for those we love in our lives. Each time we pull out a card we are reminded of God‘s provision and His great love for us. Our family is reminded of the body of Christ and how we all need each other. My prayer for you is that you will be reminded of many of the ways God has provided. Make a list and when you feel discouraged you can read it and remind yourself of God‘s great love for you. My prayer for you also is that you will find a friend who points you to Jesus.  When you do, you in turn, will be able to be this kind of friend to others.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV

“Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Foundations: Sand or Rock?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by life‘s circumstances? Do you ever feel like your life is spinning out of control? Well I tend to feel that way and this past week has been an exceptionally hard week. Probably doesn’t help that when I look outside it’s gray and rainy. I like the sun and warm weather (I am a Georgia girl what can I say:)) So when it becomes rainy more than three days in a row I began to get a little antsy. I become discouraged and a little feisty (ask my husband and my kids:)). Once I get in that nasty place my thoughts and reactions sink into a downward spiral. Satan loves to get in there and remind me of every little thing. My life becomes so focused on me and my circumstances and not the kingdom. I look at myself and not UP. I begin to become dependent on my feelings instead of God’s truth.
Due to all the rain and also some crumbs that we’ve dropped on the floor... we have little tiny ants. Lots and lots of little black ants! They multiply into little groups and corners of the bathrooms and kitchen! We’ve sprayed all the baseboards and cracks that those little tiny ants tend to find their way into. Our nice warm home turns chaotic. We become on a mission and our mission is to destroy the ants. Many of them have disappeared but there are still a few stubborn ants that crawl around.
The ants remind me of Satan’s lies. The lies that surround us and creep in start out as just a few. However, if we’re not surrounding ourselves with God’s truth than they can quickly multiply. I don’t know about you but many times I tend to listen to the lies more than the truth. I have different scriptures and quotes around my house to remind me of the truth. In Psalms 139:14 the scriptures remind us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. It is a constant reminder to my family that God does not make mistakes and we are made in His image. Surround yourself with God’s truth. Place scripture or quotes around the house or in your phone as a reminder of to keep your eyes focused on the truth. Are our eyes on our limited circumstances or on God? Who’s voice is guiding us today? Are we listening to God‘s truth or Satan‘s lies? My prayer for us today is that we will stop focusing on the lies that surround us and focus on the truth of the One who made us.

“Look Up Child” by Lauren Daigle
“he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.”
Luke 6:48 ESV
 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

About a month ago...

...I had the privilege of going to a women’s event in Charlotte with two friends. While this was indeed an event for women, it was more than a women’s “event.”  Instead it was a powerful night of worship!  Instead of attending to get something out of it, women gathered and met Jesus in and through one another. It was a night when women came together to celebrate God’s goodness in their lives as well as stand with one another in our pain and strongholds. We linked arms, cried, and we prayed together. This was an evening where age, race, and denominational differences were irrelevant. We were there to worship Jesus Christ and that was what mattered! It was a truly beautiful taste of heaven!  One of the questions asked was about the baggage we so needlessly carry around. Why do we carry around our baggage when Christ has set us free? I realize that even though I know Christ has set me free (and I even proclaim it), I still carry around needless baggage. Do I really believe that the loneliness I feel or the approval of others has been taken away? Do I believe what I proclaim to others? Confession: I struggle with loneliness. I struggle with feelings of inadequacy. I let Satan have a good time with my thoughts and feelings and suddenly I am having a pity party. I also struggle with the approval of others. It is a constant battle to say my approval comes from God alone and not from others and believe it. I want people to like me. I mean, I was voted most courteous in high school. Being this honest IS hard. Being vulnerable IS hard. However I want to show my deep need for Jesus. I am HIS beloved and so are you. We were created with a need for HIM alone that only His presence in our life can fill.

We are God’s beloved. I’ve heard the verse John 3:16 for most of my life. It’s one of the first Bible verses that I learned as a child. I can repeat it quite well but do I really believe it? I love what it says in the message version of John 3:16: 

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. 
And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; 
by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” 

God did not have to do it but He sent his only son because He loves us. We are His dearly loved children. So we ARE free. We are free from loneliness. We are free from inadequacy and the approval of others. I could list so many more things we are free from and I bet you could too. Right now think of the baggage that I am carrying around or the baggage you might not even realize that you are carrying around and guess what? I AM FREE. YOU ARE FREE!!! My prayer for you and for me is that we will live in the freedom that Christ gave us and proclaim that truth over our lives every day!

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” John 7:38 ESV

“ Who You say I am”’ By: Hillsong Worship

Sunday, October 14, 2018

God Leans In

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post explaining why I have the word GRACE tattooed on my wrist. It has only been a year and a half since I got the tattoo and I am so grateful I have the word right in front of me every minute of the day. My children and I just got back from a trip. By the way, notice that said the word trip and not vacation. I heard a pastor recently say that a trip is with children and vacation is just for you and your spouse or friends. So true! For example I never thought I’d go to Helen, Georgia, and spend so much time in a team store but I did on my TRIP with my children.  

Back to the word GRACE tattooed on my wrist…So my family went on this trip and we had a great time. Helen is this quaint little village nestled in the mountains and it is really beautiful! It was fun to experience everything through my children’s eyes because they get so excited about the smallest little thing. However, it was very different for me going to a town where I was so used to going on adventures and hiking up to the waterfalls instead of watching my children do all of these things that I loved to do. Don’t get me wrong I am so grateful my children were able to go but it is hard to see in pictures what I once experienced in reality.  That is why I’m so glad I have the word GRACE written on my wrist. It is a constant reminder to me. For example:
The people that will not move out-of-the-way for the wheelchair to get through? GRACE. 
When I lash out in anger at the people closest to me? GRACE.  
The countless stores that are not handicap accessible and only have stairs to get in?!? GRACE. 
The small aisles once we get in their stores that we can’t get through without knocking something down? GRACE. 
The poor person pushing me through all of these small places and usually having to roll me backwards to get over a lift in the door. GRACE! 

I KNOW God leans in with a gentle reminder as I feel anger, resentment, bitterness, or tears well up in my eyes. Sometimes I listen to God’s prompting of GRACE right away and sometimes I choose not to. However God is still there, leaning in and reminding me of HIS GRACE.  God gave us GRACE that we do not deserve. He sent HIS only son to die on the cross for us. In Ephesians 2:8 it says “For by GRACE you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”  I am also reminded that it is HIS GRACE that is sufficient for others and for me. God reminds us in 2 Corinthian‘s 12 that Paul was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him from becoming proud of his own wisdom and abilities. It tells us that three times Paul begged God to take it away and God reminded him that HIS GRACE is sufficient and that HIS POWER is made perfect in your weakness.  I know it is much easier to write or read about His GRACE being sufficient than to live it out. It is hard. However it is true and my prayer for you as 2 Corinthians 12 reminds us is to "boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV

“ Grace Got You” by Mercy Me

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Useful or Beautiful?

I’m so sorry it has taken me all summer to actually sit down and write. I have no excuse except life got busy, and I have three children that were home all the time:). 

It was a really fun summer and I love having the kids home but I’m also glad for a little structure and to be back in school!  During the summer, and also the school year, I try to get up early and spend some time with Jesus. It seems especially hard for me though, and maybe for you too, during the summer. It is hard for me to remember what God says about me and not let the circumstances of life and the devil get a foothold. That is why I have to spend time with Jesus to remember who I am and His specific promises to me!

I am a big fan of podcasts; I listen to them while I’m getting ready in the morning. While listening to one of the podcasts, a question was asked that caused me to stop and my mind to start reeling:

Do we need Jesus because He is USEFUL or do we need Jesus because we find Him BEAUTIFUL

Man I was so convicted! I spend time with Jesus because He encourages me, and I listen to podcasts many times to also encourage me. What can Jesus say to me? What can Jesus do for me to get me through the day? Do you see the common thread? It is all about me.

I am not saying that He is not there to encourage us and help us have a good day because He is!! In Psalms 27 it reminds us that the Lord is our light and salvation so why should I be afraid? It also reminds us that He is our fortress protecting us from danger so why should we tremble?  He does help us get through the day and hold our head up high! He does help us hold our head up high while reminding us that we are His children and that our salvation cannot be taken from us. 

I read several of the Psalms before writing today. Before the author goes into confession or asks “how can God help me,” the author praises Him for who He is. God IS beautiful! In Psalms 107:1 we are reminded to “give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His faithful love endures forever.” There are times I will make a list of the attributes of God and I start to pray over them reminding myself of His character...

God is:
Holy
Just
 Immutable (never changes)
Infinite
 Self-sufficient
 Omniscient (all-knowing)
 Omnipresent (everywhere)
 El Shaddai ( God Almighty)
Father
Love
 Merciful
Jehovah Rophe (The God who heals)
Jehovah Shalom (the God of peace)
Jehovah Jireh (the God who provides)
Our Comforter
 Our Intercessor

These are just a few of His attributes. God desires that we call upon His name because he made us for relationship. He does not desire a relationship where we ignore Him and only call upon His name when we need something. God doesn’t need us but He desires us. My prayer for you is that you will know God is our Father and that we are His children. I pray you seek Him and know that He deserves our worship and praise for He is our beautiful God.

“You’re Beautiful” by Shane and Shane 


“You say” by Lauren Daigle
  


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Control

This is not at all how I thought that my life would be. When Jarrod and I got married 15 years ago (so long ago right😉) he was in medical school and I taught Elementary school. After a few years we were hoping for children and three seemed like a good number to us. However it did take us several years into our marriage before having children. Teaching early childhood was good birth-control for me... I love children and teaching but I was just too tired to do it at school AND at home! By the way kudos to all of you who teach outside of the home and pour yourself out as mamas when you get home. My mom was a teacher and while it’s very rewarding it’s also exhausting!!!
So we had been married about 4 1/2 years when we had our first sweet little boy (who is now a way too grown-up 10-year-old ) We had just moved to Cleveland, Ohio for my husband’s medical training when multiple sclerosis decided to rear its ugly head. A relapse with multiple sclerosis? I never imagined lesions appearing on my spine!! We were beyond grateful though that nothing was wrong with the baby. After treatments and physical therapy I ended up with a small limp on my left side. I thought it was such a huge deal but I would love to go back to a small limp right now. Isn’t that a problem we often have? I know often for me looking back problems that seemed SO BIG don’t seem so big anymore.
It is very rare that MS relapses happen during pregnancy and many patients with MS have relatively healthy lives with their children. Well that’s all I needed to hear because I really wanted to have more babies but I knew that three would not be possible (well at least in my false sense of control)! I knew with what happened last time that Jarrod and I would not try twice to be pregnant but I really wanted one more sweet baby and I was not at all worried about another relapse. MS relapses in pregnancy are rare right? Thankfully it didn’t take us very long to get pregnant and when I went into the doctor at seven weeks they told me that we were having twins. Twins?? Jarrod and I were both shocked scared and excited! Also that is really an understatement WE WERE SHOCKED! I was able to take care of the twins to almost 38 weeks and praise God they were healthy! Mommy was not and another relapse sit in around 22 weeks again and this time did even more damage to my spine. We now had an almost 3-year-old and newborn twins. It was a crazy time and to be honest I don’t remember much of it but I do know that we were surrounded by family and friends. God‘s provision for us again as our dependency on Him became stronger. When the twins were almost two we moved to San Antonio Texas. We knew not a soul and we could have been very alone. The extrovert in me loved being in new places and I felt like it was a challenge for our family to find new places to fit in and we definitely did! I fell in love with the people and city of San Antonio . I would definitely have at least another
page of all the ways that God provided in Texas. I recognized His provisions but others provisions I see looking back. Hindsight is always 20/20 right? We moved from Texas to Charlotte North Carolina for his medical training. Every notion of control that I ever had began to be challenged and my false sense of control started to be replaced with greater dependency on others and greater dependency on God. Driving my kids anywhere we needed to go? Gone. Grocery shopping when I just needed one thing for a recipe? Gone. Feeling like an independent wife and mother? Gone. If I say that I gave these things up easily or even willingly that would be a lie. It is hard to be so dependent on others. Actually that is quite an understatement ...it is really really really HARD to be so dependent. Our time in Charlotte was wonderful and difficult for our family. However that year grew our faith in God grew stronger and even more real for our family. We knew that we were going to move a year later and again God surprised me and showed me that I am not in control. Our family moved to Macon Georgia and although our family started here in college, it’s not where I thought we would plant roots. In Macon our family has thrived! Our children love their new school and God has shown us that He is in the details all the way from my husband‘s job to our house.
God has shown us and continues to show us that He provides and He is in control. Life doesn’t look like what we thought and your life might not look like what you imagined. However God is faithful and He is sovereign! My prayer for you is that you would trust Him completely and believe as Romans 828 says
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬



Tuesday, June 26, 2018

This Day


During the summer I try to get up early. so I can spend some time with God before my kids get up. Some days I am successful at getting up earlier and some days I’m not. I’ve heard before that getting to spend time with God first is waking up for your day instead of to your day. When I am successful at getting up I have my plans laid out, which always involves the Bible and coffee. Some mornings more than others my body is really really stiff and it is hard to do what I want it to do. I don’t know if you have this problem but Siri does not understand southern accents. I use the voice feature on my phone because typing is hard to text and doing any sort of writing is pretty hard and really slow! Much of my time is spent yelling at Siri that I did not say that crazy word and frustrated because I have to correct which takes so much time. I began to have a conversation with God and sometimes out loud. I probably look a little crazy but usually I’m on my porch and no one is around to see except the birds chirping and the squirrels running up and down the trees. 

Doesn’t God see how I had planned to spend time with Him and how much time is being wasted yelling into my phone? Then I slowly begin to realize that I’m wasting my agenda not His! He woke me up for another day. I might have slowly crawled out of bed and my spaciscity is out of control, but there is breath in my lungs. I wish I could control how my body reacts but I can’t. I practice stretching every morning that helps but I cannot control how my body responds. There are circumstances beyond my control and there are circumstances beyond your control. I am reading the book of Esther in the Bible and she was a woman put in circumstances that she would probably not have chosen for herself. Esther had to decide whether to become discouraged by the circumstances around her and frustrated or trust the Lord is sovereign and the circumstances were not beyond His control. The Lord is sovereign. He is in control of all things and nothing surprises Him. Do we choose to trust Him or go our own way? Do we choose to become discouraged or encouraged that the Lord is in control? Do we become hopeless and frustrated by our circumstances? In Psalms 42:5 the Bible asked “why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation” 

‭My prayer for you is that you will find your encouragement and hope in the Lord. Trust Him and know that He is sovereign. He is the God who created you, loves you and knows every detail and has great plans for your life!

“Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD ’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6 MSG



"Find your tribe, Love them hard"

It’s a new year. A new year full of hope and promises. Life will be better next year. Maybe you have New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you d...