It's not quite a quiver full, but it's a start!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The End of the Journey of "Me"

I'm so thankful you stuck around with me this month as I shared some things about myself. For someone who can talk so freely, I cannot even believe how difficult I found it to share at times. The topics were definitely harder for me to come up with and the posts were a lot less frequent, but it was another great month for me. A month of learning, a month of growing, a month of sharing. I'm just thankful that no matter how much I learn in my life and how far I've come there's always room to learn more, to grow more, to be more. So I'll close out this month with the main things you will figure out about me, just in case you haven't noticed a trend already.

My #1 goal in life is to learn at least a little bit about everything. I have no need to be an expert and no desire to be completely perfect in one area. I think that's the main reason I absolutely love being a mom. I can learn right alongside my children, grow with them, and just have fun. Being a mom is all about the ability to do a million different things. And the best part about it is not having to do everything perfectly because my kids appreciate me just for making an effort. If I were to be honest, the main reason I want to homeschool is so I can continue to learn the things that I missed out on while I was in school.

My #1 fear is that no one will come to my funeral. I cannot wait for the day I stand before my Creator face-to-face, and I live my life in a way that I can be confident in that. I dream of hearing Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." I use every ounce of talent, strength, love, and all the powers He has equipped me with so I can stand before Him and say, "I did all I could, and I did it for you." To me, the earthly equivalent to hearing God ask, "Do you  not know what you could have done while you were on Earth," would be to have no one show up at my funeral. It's like the world telling you, "You didn't do enough." I want to live my life with such calling that when I'm gone there is a noticeable absence. I'm not saying I want fame and fortune or to have my name written in History books, I'm saying I want to have touched people's lives in such a way that it is not forgotten by them.

My #1 love is my Lord and Savior. Strangely, this is one I have to work on daily. As a wife and mother there is a constant battle with my flesh to keep God first. It is hard not to put my husband and kids above the Lord some days, honestly probably most days. This is also a mental struggle for me. Growing up with a mom whose mental illness manifested itself with "religious themes" I have struggled greatly with talking about God, hearing people talk about God, and how great of a role God actually has in our life. One day I will post about how and why I have these struggles and what I have learned from it, but for now I will simply say this...although I do have to work to keep God the #1 focus in my life, He definitely is #1, and I hope by the way I live my life, the things I post, and the words that come out of my mouth that even though it is something I have to work for, that it is not something that anyone can doubt about me.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Baby Dedication Sunday!

Today at church we dedicated our little family to the Lord, it is the perfect ending to a month filled with stories about myself and my journey. A reminder that no matter what happens, my life and my family are in the hands of an Almighty Savior. I praise you, Father, for these many, many blessings you have entrusted to me. I turn my babies over to Your hand and I will raise them according to Your will and not my own selfish desires.

Here are the life verses we have chosen for each of our children.
Maddox Gabriel
7lbs 10oz 20in
For my sweet Maddox. Born 3 years ago making me a mommy, and through his journey with autism making me a fighter. For such a loving boy that when you talk to him you swear he talks to Jesus face to face. The day he chooses to ask Jesus into his heart will be no surprise to me. In fact, I truly believe Jesus is already there, residing in the sweet spirit of a boy who already loves the Lord with everything he has.
2 Timothy 3:14-15 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Eden Alexandra
7lbs 11oz 20in (at 36wks)
 For my beautiful Eden. When she was born 2 years ago, she taught me the most valuable thing about love, its amazing ability to multiply. She is truly radiant. From her shining blonde hair to her sparkling blue eyes to her huge, perfect smile everything about her just lights up the room. She has her mommy's love of music and a giggle that will make you promise her the moon. She lives her life like it's a musical, singing every word. One day, she will make a man fight for her with all he has then she will reward him greatly by giving him her heart.

Proverbs 31:25-26, 30 She is clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Kason Everett
7lbs 14oz 22.5in
For my precious Kason. My sweet miracle baby, the one we almost did not have. As he clings to me with all his might, I cherish every single moment with him knowing that all too soon he will be clinging to his wife instead. Every day of these last seven months have brought a fullness to our family that I didn't even know was missing. The love that continues to grow amazes and humbles me every single day. I pray that he never feels like he is anything less than perfect.

Proverbs 4:20-27 My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight; keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one's whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.Keep your mouth free from perversity; keep corrupt talk from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

Friday, January 27, 2012

You Don't Know Me

Hi, you don't know me. I'm the 7-year-old Krista. I'm the one who never really knew what it was like to be a child. I'm the one who had to grow up too quickly. I'm the one who ran away from home and spent the day in my babysitter's dog house. Yup, that's me. Are you jealous? Do you wish you were me? I'm the one who never stayed in the same place for longer than two years, who never really learned how to make friends, the one who had a best friend once but my parents took me away and told me I could never speak to her again. I'm the one who remembers way more than I should have.

Hi, you don't know me. I'm the 13-year-old Krista. You know, the one who used to cry herself to sleep every night? Yeah, that's me. I am the one who was teased mercilessly because my hair was never right, my clothes were weird, my feet were too big. It was hard enough for me growing up, but no one seemed to care if they were making things any easier for me. I'm the one who couldn't sit still in class, couldn't concentrate, had to use the bathroom every five minutes. I was the strange one, I know. Don't worry, even though you told me I was different it wasn't new to me. I had felt like an outsider my entire life. But thank you for pointing it out to me, just in case for some reason I had gotten the strange idea in my head that maybe there was a chance for me to fit in. Yes, thank you for always letting me know where I stood in your eyes. No, you don't know me. I'm the little girl whose mother suffers from serious mental illness, so she kidnapped my brothers and sister and told me that she could see Jesus and that my daddy was the devil. I'm the little girl that had to visit her in that place. A place that most will never have to step foot in and if they did they would run the other way. I'm the little girl whose father thinks I can't do a single thing right and makes sure to tell me that every single day. I'm the little girl that no one wants to be friends with.

Hi, you don't know me. I'm the 18-year-old Krista. I'm the one who has managed to go my entire life without making any lifelong friends. I'm the one who has dreamed of the day I could leave my parents' house forever. I am the one who still has no idea who I am or what I am going to do with my life. Yes, I know Jesus, but just like everything else that just makes me even more different than everybody else. In fact, it's right about now that I am most vulnerable in my life, so, I'm so glad I've found a boy who truly loves me and will teach me what it's like to feel normal. No, you don't know me. I'm the one who still cries everyday, but now it's because instead of my dad telling me I can't do anything right, it's this boy. I'm the one who finally knows what it's like to feel "loved", and I'm realizing that I still feel exactly the way I did before. I'm the one who is starting to doubt that there is a God because surely He would have done something by now, saved me from all of this pain, something, anything. I'm the one who decided I can just do it on my own, that I don't need anyone else because there is obviously no such thing as love.

Hi, you think you know me. I'm the 25-year-old Krista. I'm the one that has all the baggage. I'm the one who has discovered that there really is a God, that there really is love, that my life really is, sadly, normal. I'm the one who has grown out of my awkward phase and into my big feet. I'm the one who finally feels beautiful, and no longer has a man telling me I can't do anything right. I'm the one who has wonderful children, a fantastic husband, a great life. I'm the one who often forgets just how awful it felt to be me when I was younger, at least until I hear someone say, "If I could do it all over again I wouldn't change a thing because that's what made me who I am." That's when I remember exactly where I came from, and I say to them that I would change it all. I would change it all because I would like to be who I am today without all of the mistakes and pain of the past. Who wouldn't? I'm the one who tries to remember the happy times rather than the hard ones, and sometimes I fail miserably at that. I'm the one who strives to have a relationship with my family so the pain of the past can be replaced with something new, something better, something I can be proud of.

But I hope you want to know me. Not the old me, not the insecure me, but the new me. The me on the inside. I'm the one that is alive, the one that has hope, the one that has a future. I'm the one whose wounds are healed. Yes, I hope you want to know me. I hope you want to know me through the eyes of the Creator, because that's how I have learned to see myself. He is the only one who truly knows me. He knows my strengths because He has given them to me, but He also knows my weaknesses and has seen them in action. He knows my past. but cares only about my future. He desires the best for me; He has a plan for my life; He wants to use me, failures and all. Yes, I hope you want to know me the way He knows me. That's the way I want to know you too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The ABC's of Me

Peace Keeper

When I was in middle school, the youth group did an ABC challenge. We sat in a circle and starting with "A" said a descriptive word about ourselves that started with the letter we landed on. I, of course, landed on "V" and could not for the life of me think of a word. Someone told me to say "voluptuous", so I did. Everyone burst out laughing. I had no idea why. I guess had I known the definition at the time I would have laughed too since I was the least voluptuous person in the whole world (and I still am). Since then I still love to do ABC challenges. Sometimes I'll do things I love about myself, or things I struggle with, or things that have changed about me. Even though I'm still not voluptuous, a lot of things really have changed since middle school. One major thing is that I no longer have my "Harry Potter" look (as my hubby so lovingly refers to it). Just to give you a mental picture, I had a bowl cut and big, round glasses. Yes, of all the things to say about myself, a word that conjured up an image of "desire" in the minds of others was as far as I could get from what people really thought about me. I'm so glad that I have grown out of that awkward phase, physically at least, and I am so glad that I am still growing. I praise God for the fact that I am constantly changing, constantly maturing, constantly learning.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Though the sorrow may last for the night, hope comes in the morning...

Last night I was having one of those struggles that seems to reach into the depths of your soul. One of those struggles that seems to try to unwrap the binding God has placed on old wounds, that picks at the scabs of our almost healed heart, that pokes and prods and picks at all of our sore spots. The mistakes of the past mixed with the joy of the present and the hope of the future. It was one of those struggles that made me want to curl up in bed and not come out until it was over. One that made me want to just pray that it would go away, that it was just a bad dream. Praise God that as I woke up this morning I felt nothing but joy, nothing but peace, and nothing but hope. I woke up with this Psalm on my heart and on my lips. The Word of the Lord wrapped itself around me, covering me in truth and comfort. Sometimes it's almost silly how certain things can effect us, how they can make us feel so defeated. Sometimes I feel it's not even worth my time to dwell on it, but I cannot stop the flesh inside me from reacting so strongly. It is in those times when God binds, God heals, and God restores. So He will continue to work in me, to bring up in my life those things that are not complete, to comfort me in my weakness and show His strength.

Psalm 30
1 I will exalt you, LORD,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
2 LORD my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
3 You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
4 Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
6 When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
7 LORD, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
8 To you, LORD, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 “What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me;
LORD, be my help.”
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
LORD my God, I will praise you forever.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Life is full of upside-downs and inside-outs

Baby dedication Sunday. A day when we will present our family to the church, dedicate our children to the Lord, and ask our church family to join us in raising our family up in the way God has called us. It is a day that symbolizes the choice we made from Day 1 to give our children up to the Lord and to follow His will for our family. It has taken three years for us to find a date that works for baby dedication. We either had something scheduled, missed the deadline, or I had just had a baby the few times they have done it. This time we were free from commitments (and fresh babies) and we were able to register by the deadline! I was so excited, let all of our family and friends know, and very painstakingly picked out their life verses so everything would be a perfect representation of our feelings for giving them up to the Lord. But when we showed up for the preparation class who was there, but my ex-boyfriend and his wife...

I could just feel myself being tested, pulled in a thousand different directions, struggling to hold back the tears and the very literal vomit that I felt. In my heart, I pray that he truly is this man of God she described. I pray that the mistakes he made with me do not haunt him today, and I pray that he has a truly amazing relationship with his wife and his baby. But as we are sitting here talking about our children being raised together in our church, holding each other accountable as a church family, and the important role we all play in each other's lives I just wanted to run from the room, run from the church.

I'm not going to pretend that my feelings in this matter are godly. I'm not going to pretend that this is easy or that this makes sense. This is a very painful struggle. One that may very well be a test to see if I have truly forgiven, or one that is a test to see how much I can withstand. I don't know. All I know is that God knows. All I know is that I need to fall on my knees before the Lord for strength to make it through this. That, hopefully, this will be a success story to tell my children one day, and a warning that the things of our past do impact our future. But in that moment I couldn't see beyond the past, I couldn't see beyond the pain.

I can only pray that I will be able to share later an amazing victory that has come out of this. I pray that God will wrap His arms around my fragile heart and carry me through this time. If nothing else, this serves as a great reminder as to why it is God who is the leader of my family, a reminder as to why it is God who holds my children in His hands. Because I in my flesh am so very weak, and without His power I am an utter failure. If nothing else this is a reminder that life does happen, and that our mistakes have very real and very unforeseen consequences. If nothing else, this is a reminder of how to be truly godly, how to love those who have hurt us beyond what we can bear, how to show the love of Christ when we cannot love ourselves. If nothing else it is a reminder that life is never going to be perfect, that sometimes we just have to deal with the upside-downs and the inside-outs.

Aren't these moments of the drudged up past such a great reminder of forgiveness? I sit here struggling to hold his past actions against him, yet I pray that no one would ever hold my past actions against me. I truly have forgiven him, I truly have. I was told that one of the signs of true forgiveness is wishing the person who caused you harm the best. Being able to picture them and not wishing harm upon them. And I do, I do wish him happiness in his family, joy with his children, and I pray that he has grown up into a godly man. I do not want to still see him through my eyes of hurt. I need to see him through the filter of God's grace.

Our past does not determine our use in the future. We are all great reminders of this, and I am surely the greatest. If the actions of my past determined how well I would do in the future, I should give up now, but we do not give up because God does not give up on us. Our lives are a constant process of growing, changing, being molded into who He wants us to be. There are things in my past that would hold me back from even speaking in public if I let them. Why do we lavish grace upon ourselves for our past mistakes, but use these mistakes as shackles in the lives of others. We use them to hold these people back to keep them from growing. God forgive me for ever allowing past mistakes to cloud how I view a person today. God forgive me for praying that others forgive me of my mistakes, but not allowing myself to forgive them.

"I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live." Psalm 116:1-2

Friday, January 20, 2012

Breathe In, Breathe Out.

This is a post to remind myself to just breathe. Just stop what I'm doing, close my eyes, and breathe. Be still. Breathe in, let God take the burdens, breathe out, go about my day. This is a post to remind myself to not measure life by successes and failures. Stop. Realize that what I see as a failure God could be using as a great success. Remember that my greatest success God could see as a failure. Never forget that God does not measure us by the things of this world, and we are called to follow His leading regardless of "results". This is a post to remind myself that He is faithful. I am equipped through Him. The hard times come, but I can't give in to the temptation to just walk away. I am called to deal with it, face it head on, to just do my best. This is a post to remind myself to enjoy the day. Open the curtains and just let the light shine in. Breathe in the beautiful fresh air and surround myself with His wonderful creation. Let the sun warm my face and the Son warm my heart. This is a post to remind myself to just breathe, to just be, to just do.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

God VS. Man

This morning, I posted about God's convictions on my life about reading Scripture rather than just reading man's view of Scripture. This afternoon, the affirmation and confirmation of that message was completed in my life! Amen! There has been a video going around Facebook. A video that has gotten a lot of Christians following it, saying they love it, sharing it with everyone. Honestly, until today I had not even watched the video. The video is entitled "Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus." Just based on the title I KNEW that it was completely un-Biblical. Just based on the title I knew that it had been written by someone who was against "established religion" probably because he had gotten his feelings hurt by someone who claimed to be a Christian or because he saw such hypocrisy in the church that it made him hate Christianity. If only Christians really understood the way "feel good" faith really hurts those who are not believers, how it actually pushes them away rather than brings them to a true relationship with Christ. If Christians who preach grace above all else really understood the path of destruction it really takes. Preaching grace as an excuse to continue with your lifestyle, preaching grace to escape the conviction on your life, and preaching grace to make a sinner feel good about themselves so they want to become "saved" leads to nothing but false teachings like the ones presented in this video. Yes, watching this video, it's like you almost want to force yourself to agree with him because it sounds so good...

...actually, as I watched it for the first time it made me sick to my stomach. It made me sick knowing how many people have seen this video and are passing it around as truth (oh, how the great deceiver must be loving this one), knowing how it's just close enough to come across as true, but it's just not close enough to actually be truth. Click here to see a review that breaks it down line by line and why it is just not Biblical fact that is presented in this video (please take the time to read it). This is just proof of the harm that can come from listening to man's word rather than the word of God. Proof of the harm in getting caught up in something that sounds good, something that we know others will like, rather than truly comparing it to Scripture before we choose to actually listen to it. Actually, the man in the video himself after reading the review that I linked to above responded. Here is what he had to say,

"I just wanted to say I really appreciate your article man. It hit me hard. I’ll even be honest and say I agree 100%. God has been working with me in the last 6 months on loving Jesus AND loving his church. For the first few years of walking with Jesus (started in ’08) I had a warped/poor paradigm of the church and it didn’t build up, unify, or glorify His wife (the Bride). If I can be brutally honest I didn’t think this video would get much over a couple thousand views maybe, and because of that, my points/theology wasn’t as air-tight as I would’ve liked. If I redid the video tomorrow, I’d keep the overall message, but would articulate, elaborate, and expand on the parts where my words and delivery were chosen poorly… My prayer is my generation would represent Christ faithfully and not swing to the other spectrum….thankful for your words and more importantly thankful for your tone and fatherly like grace on me as my elder. Humbled. Blessed. Thankful for painful growth. Blessings."

The writer of the review had some amazing things to say about this young man,  and also about some things in our own personal lives here. I ask you to read that link as well! I have to say when it comes to this video (and everything else that circulates the social network) I'm right there with the author of these reviews when he says, "I like cool videos, but I prefer them to be true when it comes to doctrine." Amen. I hope the posts today have at least opened the door to the realization that a lot of the things we hear from man, although they may sound good, are just not Biblically accurate. And that, most of the time, we really do need to step back and actually search the Scriptures ourselves. Especially if we are going to be spreading someone else's words as Biblical truth. I'm sorry that this young man had to learn the hard way that no matter how many people are listening (or you expect to listen) you must ALWAYS make sure your theology is "air-tight". And, yes, I've made, and will make, these same mistakes, we all have. And, yes, there is grace to forgive us these mistakes. The problem is, grace does not cover the damage that this post has done to the Kingdom. The false information that it has led others to believe, the non-Christians that it actually pushed away due to the illogical statements of it all (just read the comments from non-believers about the video if you don't believe it pushed people away), the damage that it did to his own reputation when it comes to his future messages. Yes, grace does cover us when we make mistakes. Unfortunately, grace doesn't save us from the consequences our actions have on others.

 For another VERY good link about this topic you can also go here! Here is a little snippet of that post,

"Religion equals self-righteousness, moral preening, and hypocrisy. Religion is all law and no gospel. If that’s religion, then Jesus is certainly against it.

But that’s not what religion is. We can say...
that’s what is has become for some people or what we understand it to be. But words still matter and we shouldn’t just define them however we want. “Jesus hates religion” communicates something that “Jesus hates self-righteousness” doesn’t. To say that Jesus hates pride and hypocrisy is old news. To say he hates religion—now, that has a kick to it. People hear “religion” and think of rules, rituals, dogma, pastors, priests, institutions. People love Oprah and the Shack and “spiritual, not religious” bumper stickers because the mood of our country is one that wants God without the strictures that come with traditional Christianity. We love the Jesus that hates religion.

The only problem is, he didn’t. Jesus was a Jew. He went to services at the synagogue. He observed Jewish holy days. He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17). He founded the church (Matt. 16:18). He established church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20). He instituted a ritual meal (Matt. 26:26-28). He told his disciples to baptize people and to teach others to obey everything he commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). He insisted that people believe in him and believe certain things about him (John 3:16-18; 8:24). If religion is characterized by doctrine, commands, rituals, and structure, then Jesus is not your go-to guy for hating religion."

This is where I am in my life...Bible Study...

Lately, I've been feeling God's conviction...such a dreaded word...about my Bible studies. You may ask, what exactly would God convict me about when it comes to Bible studies? Yes, I was doing studies of the Bible, but even that can be done in a way that does not glorify God's will. It started out as just as a way to meet other women, for some time for the kids to play with other kids, for me to have some adult conversation. Then it turned into an easy way for me to have my daily quiet time. With daily lessons it was easy to get into the habit of my daily quiet time, it gave me something to look forward to, and it held me accountable since I had other people to talk to about it. It was great, but I started hearing God tell me, "You're not there yet." So I made sure I dug even deeper to the studies, making sure I read every Scripture that was listed with the text, made sure I did the study every day, and I was getting so much out of it. Yet again, "You're not there yet." So I began to pray why am I not there yet? What am I doing wrong? What do I need to do to get there?

A few months back some friends and I were talking, and one friend mentioned how excited people were when they handed out taped recordings of the Bible on a recent overseas trip. He told us how they would gather for hours to listen to the Word of God being read aloud to them. He said, "Maybe in church we need to just play the Scriptures aloud so that people will actually hear them, since they are not reading them." And I (well, I'm pretty sure it was God because I don't know why I would say anything like this) said, "Only if there's a Bible Study in there by Beth Moore or something. That's the only way they would even listen to Scripture." GASP. I know! I was just as surprised that it came out of my mouth as you are! I love Beth Moore, I love her studies and they bring me deeper into the Word. Why would I say that, especially about someone that I love so much, personally as well as professionally? Why would I say that about someone whom I quit my studies in college, prepared to leave family and friends, and was ready to begin my life in a completely different state, just to learn from her how to do what it is she does so many years ago? But, here I was, in a group of people, and I had just said that...out loud...yup, that's why it had to be God. The funny thing was, no one looked at me like I was as crazy as I felt for saying that. No one even acted like they heard anything as ground breaking as what I felt had just come out of my lips. A lot of them said, "You're exactly right." Then we continued with our conversation.

I'm pretty sure they didn't find it to be as earth-shattering of a confession as I did because they were not doing what I was doing. They were not depending on Beth Moore or other amazing, godly teachers to actually tell them what was in Scripture. They actually were reading the Bible on their own. They actually were studying Scriptures from their own perspective, not just a study on one aspect of certain Scriptures, they were actually asking God to reveal these things to them, and not for Beth Moore to reveal them. Don't get me wrong, Bible studies are great, but how do we study the Bible on our own without someone else telling us how to do it? Are we listening for God's revelation of Scriptures for us personally, or are we depending on what He has revealed to someone else to guide us? Am I studying God's word, or am I studying the word of someone else?

That led me to the place I came to last week. Feeling like I should maybe "give up" my Bible studies for 30 days and just purely study the scriptures. I felt like if I gave up my Bible studies then I would be totally dependant on the Bible, on God's voice to teach me, but I never had a peace about that thought. Like I've said in earlier posts, God speaks to us through peace, through affirmation, through confirmation. I just wasn't getting any of those things from this idea about a 30-day Bible study fast. I was confused if it was because I selfishly didn't want to give up my time with such wonderful friends, or if this idea, which could have so easily been something God was calling me to, was actually from the great deceiver. I decided to go to the new Bible study we started at church for our mom's group since I just wasn't feeling a continuous call from God on the 30-day fast. It is on James, so I figured that since it was focusing on a particular book of the Bible that would at least allow me to study the Bible rather than just doing a topical Bible study. But I soon learned that God would use this Bible study, and ironically enough Beth Moore herself, to fulfill this call to study the Bible itself.

Not to even get into all of the details the past several months that have been pointing me in the direction of studying Scripture, of committing it to memory, of digging so much deeper than I ever imagined, here is what is going on in the new Bible study we are working on that just brings to a conclusion all of the convictions God has been laying on my heart. The absolute most exciting thing about this Bible study is that my mommy friends all over the country have begun this study within a week or two of each other. To have women collectively studying and digging deeply into the word of God, and to be studying the same book of the Bible at the same time, I cannot even begin to imagine the party that is going on in Heaven and the anger that is going on in the heart of the deceiver. Not to mention the idea that women everywhere will be coming together to actually memorize an entire book of the Bible, it just gives me goosebumps. God has been calling me to something beyond just a Bible study and daily "homework" assignments. He's been calling me to dig into the Word and to memorize Scriptures, so imagine how shocked I was when we began discussing this new study and I learned that that was exactly what we would be doing! Of course it starts off like most of the studies we've done. It has the video of the teaching and the daily homework assignments. God does know me well enough to know that I need that for my daily discipline, and I believe Satan knows me well enough to know that if he was able to pull me away from this study that I would have fallen into a pit of despair and loneliness trying to study the scriptures on my own with no accountability (I'm so glad that I was able to recognize that God's hand was not in the doubts I had begun to have about this Bible study). But beyond the teachings and the daily accountability it goes deeper, and exactly into the areas I felt God leading me to.

After the videos and daily studies, is handwriting the book of James. That is something I had done as a child and throughout college. It is also something I have strayed from since having children because I got busy and once I started my studies I didn't even think of writing out more than the occasional verse. What a great reminder God has given me to continue to do the things that are so important to my walk, to continue through each new phase of my life, and to continue to diligently seek Him. In this study we are also given the opportunity to memorize the entire book of James as we study. What an amazing culmination of the convictions of God. And to participate in this with women that I love and who will hold me accountable is the greatest joy in all of this. I am so excited about this new study and I can't wait to continue this journey with such amazing, godly women who have supported me, guided me, and encouraged me through everything. But God's conviction about my studies (notice I said studies) did lead me to the place of having to leave one study. This study is leading me exactly where God wants me to be, whereas another study was leading me farther and farther away. It may sound odd to say that a Bible study would actually lead you away from God, but that is exactly what can happen, and it can happen for so many reasons.

I encourage you to really evaluate where your studies are leading you. What are you learning from them? Are you growing not just in your relationships with others, but growing in your relationship with God? When you finish your study can you sit back, look back on where you were before you started, and see God's handing guiding and directing you through it? And most importantly, where does your study line up with Scripture? Is it more the words of man (or woman) than the actual word of God?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Good Morning, Sunshine!

My number one goal as a mom is to inspire my kids, to make lasting memories with them, and to make sure that they enjoy life. But I realized this morning that sometimes I get so caught up in making plans that I miss the little moments. In fact, not five minutes ago, I was checking emails and saw the schedule from one of my mom's groups. It had our playdate schedule attached and it was scheduled until May. I had to stop for a minute. I had to stop when I looked at this schedule with dates for four months from now. I had to stop because I couldn't even imagine what we will be doing in four months, what my kids will even like to do, four months seemed like a lifetime. It struck me that so much can happen in four months because just this morning, as I was waking up, I looked around and couldn't even believe the change that has happened in the past few months.

I woke up at 6:30 to my beautiful two year old cuddling up next to me asking me for blankets. I tried to move the blanket and when it didn't move I realized my three year old was sleeping on top of it. My six month old started wiggling in my arms trying to find the pacifier that had fallen out of his mouth sometime during the night. It was right then that I just had to stop and enjoy the moment. I watched as my beautiful babies slept, watched as their beautiful long eye lashes started to flutter when they were dreaming,  and my heart was so full. When they woke up we played "I Spy" (yup, right there in the bed), then we played a game while we made breakfast (eating things that only started with the letter "G"), and as I put them in the tub to give them a bath my six month old joined them in the big tub (sitting up by himself, splashing his little heart out, and laughing right along with them). When did this happen? When did they get this old where I can do things like play "I Spy" and alphabet games and I have three littles in the tub pretending to swim?

I really needed that this morning, especially when I checked my email and saw the playdate list. My morning was just a little reminder that it doesn't take a playdate to have fun with your babies, just play. You don't have to do anything to make them grow up, they do that all on their own. Sometimes when you're so busy planning, so busy rushing out of the house to get to the scheduled playdate, you miss out on the moments that fill your heart. So, yes, we will go to play dates, but we don't have to make every single one. We will plan our activities, but sometimes we will do something different. I will keep a schedule, but enjoy the days when it doesn't go exactly as planned. And I won't miss out on these beautiful, wonderful, heart-filling moments while my babies grow up.

I don't want to do anything today...let's just be lazy!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Sweetest Thing

Me and my bubba right before
he left for the Marines.
This was right before baby #1 was born
My Bubba is one of the most important people in my life. We had a strange childhood, rough at best. People always comment about how close we are as siblings, but if you have a father who's easily prone to anger and a mentally ill mother I guess as a child you have no choice but to band together. I absolutely love my parents, and I am very close to them now, but I just can't pretend that it was an ideal childhood. The great thing that came out of it was learning how to grant true forgiveness, learning that people really can change, learning the art of caring for someone who can't care for themself, learning about what it really means to be there in sickness and in health and for better or for worse. On the new facebook timeline I was looking back when I first joined. It was neat to look back through the years, even neater when I found a post from 2007 about my brother that I figured I would share. This is a story about the first time he had to leave us and we were unable to contact him.

My brother left for the Marines on Sunday. We've always been so close, and he's always acted more like an older brother rather than acting like the little one. I remember when I went to watch him speak in chapel about everything we've been through with our family. He started crying before he could even talk, so I ran up onstage and pulled him off and just hugged him. I remember his teacher telling me that my little brother talked about me all the time and he could tell he just really loved me. My favorite memory is when I had a dream that he died, so I ran into his room just to make sure he was breathing. He told me to lay down and said he would stay awake all night and hold me so I knew he was still alive and could feel him breathing (even though he fell asleep in like 2 seconds). I've never felt closer to him than when I found out I was pregnant. He's so excited about being an uncle. He would call or come by to check on me every day, but now I can't even text him just to say hello. Today when I got back home Rob handed me a letter from some man in South Carolina. I had no clue who it could be so I opened it and saw a $5 bill. Out fell a tiny torn off piece of paper that said, "Take this off my hands for me, it's for the baby. I love y'all" It had our address on the back which I thought was weird. So I opened up the big yellow piece of paper that was also in there and found another note from someone I didn't know. It said, "I sat next to your brother on the plane from Dallas to Savannah. He wanted his new nephew to have this $5. Your brother is doing a wonderful thing serving for his country." 

My Bubba met my son when he was 2 months old. He was so upset over missing the birth that he got a tattoo on his bicep representing all of the things he felt he would have to miss because of his commitment to the Marines. I had never seen a tattoo more beautiful. He has missed the birth of my other 2 because of deployments and he now has a beautiful daughter, whom he was not even able to meet until she was 4 months old. He was definitely right when he said he was going to miss things. He's not the same little boy who was my brother. He is now a man who has seen, experienced, and done more than I will ever know. He is different, but I will still always be his big sister who cherishes him and who is more than willing to pull him in my arms and just hug him whenever things get just a little too hard.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Call to Sing

Continuing on the journey about "me", I want to share one of my greatest passions. One that has nothing to do with the wife and mother in me, and one that has everything to do with the God who lives in me. Worship through music. It can literally change your entire perspective. It can make a sad spirit happy, an overwhelmed heart peaceful, and a hurting body refreshed. As a worship leader, music may be more a part of my life than most, so I'm sorry if some days it seems like I'm just taking the easy way out by posting music. It's just that, for me, music reveals so much of where my heart is at that moment. It's like the saying, "The eyes are the window to your soul," well, music is the window to my soul. I've been singing my entire life and a worship leader since high school. Leading at school, conventions, our church youth group. It was a dream, the opportunities that I had, the travel I got to do, and the people I got to meet. It's been a great aspect of my life, one of the greatest callings. To bring others into the presence of God, to be able to be so transparent, to be a part of such a personal aspect of someone else's relationship with God. To watch the faces as they cry out to God, to see the hands raised higher and higher as they try to get closer and closer to God, to see the tears as people receive forgiveness, peace, and joy that they know they do not deserve. There are times I have to just stop and bask myself in the presence of the Lord. In those times, getting just the tiniest glimpse into what Heaven will be like when all believers gather with the angels around the throne of God and cry out "Holy, Holy, Holy."

The greatest thing about worship is that it has absolutely nothing to do with you because it is 100% about God. Psalm 100 A psalm for giving grateful praise.1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. No matter what your day has been like, God is still God and He is worthy of our praise. There is never any reason not to worship God. He has granted us everything we have in our lives (James 1:17), He has provided us access to Him (John 3:16, 1 Peter 3:18, Psalm 23:6)

It is about sincerity. If my heart does not desire Him, does not desire to worship Him, does not desire to fellowship with Him, then it's just not going to happen.  Leading on Sundays for me is a reflection of my worship life throughout the week. Worship reflects where our heart is at the moment, there is no hiding our emotions. It is about welcoming the presence of the Lord, wherever you might be. Psalm 42 For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah. 1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. 5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God...If you have a minute to read through and reflect on the entire chapter of Psalm 42 please do. Even the spiritual giants in the Bible, like David,  felt and understood those moments when we feel so far from God.

I know it's not technically "leading worship" when it's on a blog, but here is my attempt. Join me in a song as I cry out to heart's cry to Him! God, some times, most times, things are just too hard for us. We praise you and we thank you that You ARE and that You WILL. We ask you, God, to reveal Yourself to us in these moments, to wrap us in Your protection, to cover us in Your peace. What little we have left of our broken lives, we offer it up to You, God, to do with what You will...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"You're My Best Friend, Mommy"...

...Nothing melts my heart more than when my son grabs my face so that I look him in the eyes when he utters those beautiful words. There is a trend of being your children's "best friend". It is about not disciplining them too much because you don't want to alienate them, about acting like their friend so they will "trust" you, about being the "cool" parents. I grew up around a lot of those parents, and trust me it did not lead to a strong relationship, it led to children being completely in control of every decision. I also grew up around parents (my own) who were convinced that being my "friend" was the opposite of what they should be, and that led to me making no decisions at all. So, here's where I stand, I want my child to tell me "You're my best friend," but I want ours to be a true friendship, not a fake one. I want to discipline my children out of love, not anger, and I think I'm heading in the right direction because many of the times my son grabs my face and tells me that I am his "best friend" is after I have had a good chat about what he is doing wrong. I want my kids to trust me, but not because I have faked them into it. I want them to trust me because from the very beginning I have been honest and open with them and told them they can be honest and open with me. I want to be the "cool" mom, but not because I'm the one providing the beer and buying the skimpy outfits. I want to be the "cool" mom because I teach my kids what being cool really is all about. And, yes, I want to be their "best friend" because there is no one else who will have their best interests at heart or who will desire to see them achieve more than I do. I want to be their biggest encourager, a shoulder to cry on, their greatest confidant.  That is what being a best friend is all about.

We camped out for 24 hours at the
Chick-fil-A grand opening. Every time
we pass it my kids shout, "That's where
we camped for the first time ever!"
They still talk about everything we did
that day, and I will never forget.
I want to be their best friend now because I want them to be my best friend later. They will only be my children for so long, then they will have to be my friends or I won't have them in my life anymore. From the very beginning I have always tried to include my babies in everything. I get a lot of comments like, "They aren't going to remember it anyway," or, "You don't have to do everything with them." No, they may not remember it later, but they remember it now, and they feel it now, and it shapes who and what they are, and it shapes who and what they think I am. No, I don't have to do everything with them, but I want to. I honestly, truly, 100% want to. And my question is, if I don't do it with them now, then when do I do it? When will they be old enough? When will it be ok? When they are teenagers and I'm begging them to talk to me? I want them to talk to me now. When they are moms and dads and I want them to trust my advice? I want them to trust me now. So, yes, I will be their best friend now. And, hopefully, when they grow taller than me, and more successful than me, they will still look me in the eyes and tell me, "You were always my best friend mommy."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Patience is a Virtue...but is it one of mine?

Have you ever been told not to pray for patience? I have, and I know it's because patience is just not a very fun thing to have to practice. It usually requires going through some pretty hard things to get to the point where you truly are patient. Well, here I am going through a trial of patience and I didn't even pray for it. I am actually a very patient person. Sitting in traffic for 2 hours? No big deal, I'll catch up on the news. Waiting in the doctor's office for 3 hours while she delivers a baby or two? Finally, some peace and quiet to read a book without the kids interrupting. My husband doesn't have a job? Oh, well I will wait on the Lord because He will provide. I am realizing that I'm not as patient as I thought. I'm just selfishly patient. I'm mostly patient when it's convenient to be patient.

When I'm in the middle of something and my babies keep interrupting me I'm not patient. When I'm sitting here in constant pain, still waiting for test results to come in and getting no answers I'm not patient. When I ask my dear, sweet hubby to make me a sandwich and it takes just a little too long I am not patient. I. AM. NOT. PATIENT. I. AM. NOT. PATIENT. I. AM. NOT. PATIENT. Oh, I may still have more patience than most people, but I am not perfectly patient in every situation. And patience has been becoming a lot easier in the past few years with the situations we have dealt with, but I am obviously just not there yet. Yes, I'm a pretty patient person, but I do still have work to do. So this requires God to bring me through trials, to refine me, to bring to the surface my weakness so He can remove it from me. I am not always patient, and God is bringing to my attention the times that I am not patient and that I am not patient in Him. And He is bringing to my attention the reasons why I am only "sefishly" patient.

I am patient when the situation is so far beyond my control that there is nothing I can do, I am forced to be patient. But I am not patient when I feel there is something I should be able to handle myself. I am not patient because I am still trying to be in control. I am patient when it is in my best interests to be patient. Some peace and quiet, time to do something for myself, of course I can be patient then, but I am not patient when it is uncomfortable. I am not patient when it is something that I feel needs to be done now. I am not patient because I am selfish. I am patient when I can see the bigger picture, but sometimes there is no bigger picture. I cannot be patient when I am taking two steps back every time I'm trying to move forward. I'm not patient because I am not perfectly trusting. Nope, I am honestly not very patient at all, and I obviously have work to do in some other areas as well. 

God, I know they say, "never to pray for patience," but you desire that of me. I know that it may mean trials, even more than what I face now, but if that's what it takes to make me patient then I am willing. I may not be ready, but I am willing. God, grant me patience by removing in me my need for control, my selfishness, my lack of trust in you. Bring to the surface all of my impurities and wipe them away. Make me as pure as gold refined in the fire, and bring me to perfection in You. Amen.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Great Deceiver

Tonight, as I was reading my babies their bedtime story, I suddenly remembered a status one of my friends had put up on facebook about the fall of man. It all started with a fable. Here's a recap of the story of "The Gingerbread Man"...
An old woman bakes a gingerbread man cookie. She lovingly gives him eyes, a mouth, a nose, and little buttons. She bakes him until he is perfectly done, but when she opens the door to the oven he jumps out and runs away. As he is running, he arrogantly cries out at everyone who tries to catch him, "Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man." Finally, he comes to a river, something he knows he can't cross himself. A hungry fox is lying in wait, and offers to help the gingerbread man. He says, "Climb onto my tail and I will swim you across," so the gingerbread man does. But the water is getting too deep, so he says, "Climb onto my back and I will swim you across," so the gingerbread man climbs to the safety of the fox's back. The water begins to get even deeper, so the fox tells the gingerbread man, "Climb onto my nose and I will swim you across." Thinking he is safe, the gingerbread man does as he is told. They safely reach the other side of the river, but once they get there the fox very easily gobbles up the gingerbread man because he was right where the fox wanted him. And as the story said, "That was the end of the gingerbread man."
You probably see where I'm going with this. The old woman representing God, our loving creator, the gingerbread man is us, arrogantly running from Him to control our own lives, and the wolf representing the great deceiver himself. I love this story because it represents exactly how it is that Satan works. He is not the little devil sitting on our shoulder while the angel is on the other. "If Satan can trap and deceive our parents that walked in perfection, Adam and Eve, what makes you think he can't trap and ensnare us?" And we are not even going to get into how he had deceived the other angels who were cast from Heaven with him before man was even created. Let's just take a minute to let that settle in. Take a minute to really turn it over in your mind, in your heart, let it's words do a work in your life. When I first read this I thought, wow, I never thought about it that way before, then it began to speak to me in many different ways. How many times, when we are walking spiritually with God do we feel "protected"? Yet, Adam and Eve walked physically with our Creator, they spoke with Him face-to-face. They were still deceived by Satan. They had spiritual perfection, a sinless, physical relationship with God. Exactly what God designed us for. And yet, when Satan came to Eve she did not recognize his deception. And here we are, sinful, separated from God, surrounded by false teachings in our churches, surrounded by Christians living everything but a Christian life, but certainly we are smarter than Satan. Aren't we? Satan was able to turn angels and God's own perfect, sinless creation against God. Where do you think we fit into all of this? Are we beyond the deception of the Great Deceiver? Do we recognize the things that Satan has gotten his hands into? "Be smart, recognize the bait and the hidden hook. Renew your minds..."You can read through the Fall of Man in Genesis 3:1-24. The thing that strikes me most about Satan's deception of Eve was how he used God. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it (NIV) God created food for us, to nourish us, for our enjoyment. And, surely, He wants us to be like Him? Right? Do you know what the Scriptures say for every aspect of your life? Not just what you have been taught. Do you know what they truly say? Do you know what God's will is for your life? Not just what you feel. Do you know what His will actually is?Would you be able to recognize Satan if he came to you, not in darkness, but as an imitator of the light?

Ephesians 6:10-18
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I Will Wait On You

Those who know me, know this has been a month of waiting for me. After 30 days of constant pain, bouts of paralysis, extreme headaches, not even being able to get out of bed most days, searching for answers and not getting any, many hospitalizations and doctors appointments. Now here I am on day 9 of waiting for test results, still not being able to use my hands completely, feeling myself on the verge of another flair up of whatever has been going on, I just want to scream. And, in fact, I will scream. I will scream out on the top of my lungs that I will wait on the Lord. Just in case He needs to be reminded that I'm waiting, and that I will continue waiting. That no matter what is going on I will find my hope in Him. If you live near me, don't be alarmed if you hear the echos of this song bouncing off of the trees...

Isaiah 40:28-35
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What I Want My Kids to Learn from Me...Marriage

There's a reason the words are in this order...
Live, Laugh, Love
Never underestimate how hard marriage is. Yes, there are a lot of good times, but even those only come from the work that you put into the bad times. You know how you feel about your brother and sister some days? You will have those same feelings about your spouse too. They are in your space, they know too much about you, you have to compromise when you don't want to. That's why it is so important for you to learn now how to play with others. Make sure you marry your best friend, and make sure you play together every day. Learn how to be a team, to work together, to laugh at yourself and each other. It makes the hard times easier, and it makes you want to keep trying to get through them. Romance comes and goes, but friendship will last throughout the good times and the bad. It gives you someone to live your life with and to enjoy the little, everyday moments that seem so mundane. If you marry your best friend, you don't need a date night to connect with your spouse. If you marry your best friend, you will reconnect through every situation every single day. If you marry your best friend, life is fun and your family time is a party. Never underestimate the value of marrying your friend!
We sat in the stork, and 9 months later Maddox joined our family...
maybe there's more to the story than meets the eye
Don't try to plan out your lifestory, just live it while it happens. The most enjoyable moments in marriage are the ones that are unexpected. If you are busy trying to live your life by the bullet points you have set, you will miss out on what life really has in store for you. Be flexible, be willing to change your plans at a moments notice, and learn to go with the flow. Remember that you are not perfect, but never stop striving to be your best. The greatest freedom is learning to give up what you want in your life and allowing God to take control. Allow God to take your marriage and turn it into what he has planned. Allow Him to make the big decisions for you, and trust Him with it. He knows you better than you know yourself, and He wants great and wonderful things to come from your life. Don't settle for a marriage that the world sees as great, strive for a marriage that God sees as amazing. If you think God will do wonderful things with you, just imagine what He can do with the partnership you have formed with another person!
Every July 4, we go to a game together.
Marrying a baseball player, I rarely get to enjoy the game WITH him.
It's nice to connect doing something he loves and I love supporting!
Enrich your life together with traditions. There is nothing more important than forming lasting memories together. Make traditions that bring you closer together, give you time to get to know eachother better, and, most importantly, have fun. I hope that as I strive to form traditions with you, that you will enjoy them so much you want to use them with your own family. But never forget to make your own traditions. The traditions I make for us are important to me, so go ahead and make some traditions that are important to you. And if you could pass along my name, so I become the cool great-great grandma B, I'd appreciate it!
There's no better way to see the beauty of God's creation
than to enjoy it with the one He created for you to enjoy it with.
There's not one perfect person for everyone, until you're married. Don't ever settle for less than what you desire, but don't waste your life searching for the "perfect" person. No one is perfect, and even those who you think are, you will soon learn that they are not. When you find someone worthy to spend your life with and make the committment to each other, then that is when God's seal is placed on your life together, this is when they become "The One". When you make the vow to remain with each other for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, so long as you both shall live, mean it. It's not just words, and from that moment on, no matter what, you are meant to be together. Divorce is not an option. The hard times will come, but fight through them as if your life depends on it...because it does. And when you make it through, because if you both fight for it you will make it, you will be better together than you were before. Do not ever doubt the power God has to transform your marriage, I have seen it first hand. Do not ever doubt if this is the person you are meant to be with. There are no "what-ifs" or "if it were so-and-so" there is only now. You made the choice, so stick by it and do not back out, ever.

Nothing will prove how great of a team you really are than
children. Nothing will make you as strong of a couple as dedicating
yourselves to the common goal of raising a family together.
And if you are as lucky as we were, and God blesses you with children, dedicate your life to them. Recognize the fullness children bring to your family, how they bind you together, how they make you an even stronger team than you were before. I never even knew what true love was, until God gave you to us. Children change your entire life. They make the trials worth it, the future seems brighter, and they will reveal the nature of God to you more than you could ever imagine. Marriage is just the beginning, family is what happens when the dreams of marriage come to fruition. It may be hard, and it may not come easily, but it will be the most important thing you will ever do with your life if you chose to give your family over to God and dedicate your life to making that happen. Follow God's will for your family, for your children, and you will have the greatest impact on the world any person could ever have!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The 90th Day

It has been 90 days since I published my first post. 90 crazy days that included 50 days of harassment for my beliefs, 30 days of constant physical pain, 10 very hard things, and 1 call to do something entirely beyond myself. Here is an excerpt from the book I am writing to chronicle this experience, a call to write that I felt on day 60 of this journey,

"I guess I should have known from Day 1. That was the day I actually published my first post, the day I began getting harassed for my beliefs, the day I realized this wasn’t going to go the way I thought it would. That day changed my life in a very real and unexpected way. That day I wanted to shut down the blog before it even began, to just give in, to take the easy way out. Why I actually didn’t, I can’t say for sure. Hope maybe? But the lessons I learned those first few days, from a group of angry, misguided strangers, set the tone for the rest of my posts, and it was the opposite of what they wanted. But I know that it was exactly where God wanted me to be, and I know now He used them to do it. I should have known right then that there would be more to this journey than I ever imagined."

How I should have known... The truth is, what I have been going through these past 90 days is just the beginning of this journey. Have you ever felt like God was leading you somewhere? Has it ever been somewhere you were afraid to go? I should have known that very first day. Although, I guess that's one of the mysteries of how God operates. If I would have known, would I have even attempted this blog in the first place? Probably not. And I would still be in the same place I was 90 days ago. A place of comfort in my beliefs, a place of routine, a place that was bound to lead me to where I am now except I wouldn't have the great benefit of the things I have learned along the way with this blog. I knew from the beginning that this blog was more for me than anyone else, I just didn’t realize how much more. It was God’s way of speaking to me, leading me where He needed me to be and being able to use these things the way that He had purposed. I will continue to follow Him where He wants me to go…no matter how hard it may get…

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Prayer from an aching heart

The emptiness that the world leaves us is sometimes unbearable.
We try to be strong and to make it through intact, but the wounds, the scars, the brokenness that gets left behind is just a constant reminder of how weak we truly are.
God, we want to believe this world will be easy, or at the very least manageable.
We pray that the joy we feel in you would help us overcome all things.
But sometimes it is just too much. Too much loss, too much pain, too much loneliness.
Too much for me to carry, too much for me to understand, too much for me to want to take upon myself.
God, YOU DO IT. Do it all, carry it all, understand it all for me, TAKE IT ALL.
Bind these wounds that they may heal. Remove my scars. Stop the bleeding in my aching heart.
Lord, cover me, heal me, LOVE ME.
Catch my tears in your open hands, stop the shaking in my restless spirit, speak quietly to me. 
Let me feel you, draw close to me as I seek after You, cover me in your strength, complete yourself in my weakness.
Let me be a light shining in the darkness. Let that light burn brighter in the troubled times.
At the end, when looking back on my life, allow me to be able to look back in pride that I was able to handle myself with grace and dignity. God allow me to see only You when I look back on myself.
We praise you for the storm, we love you for the trying times, we seek you in the darkness.

When You Wish Upon A Star...

...makes no difference who you are. Anything your heart desires will come to you. I can't help but sing this song when I think of my journey. I can't help but think of all those times I was, in effect, wishing on a star to try to get my wish granted. I was wishing on a star, rather than praying to God to guide me where He wanted me to go. I tried for so long to find my niche, to fulfill my calling. It has taken many failures, many successes, many, many bumps in the road for me to realize that there is no such thing as a "niche" when it comes to ministry. I guess I should have figured it out logically a long time ago. If God doesn't fit into a box, how could I expect my life to? If God works in ways beyond our comprehension, why would I believe that the path would be perfectly laid out and clear for me to see? Every one's calling is different, because every person is different. The comparison between one ministry, one calling, and another is completely invalid. God is God no matter what I am doing for Him, and every single thing I do, whether success or failure, is all done through His plan and His purpose and not of my own.

God calls me to do whatever I can for Him, wherever I am, whenever it is required. A missionary serving a lost people group, a teacher working with at-risk children, a youth minister, a mother. Large groups, small groups, no groups at all. There is a calling in each thing we do. Jesus didn't live his life confined by the box of ministry. In fact, I would argue that He didn't really have a "ministry" at all. He just had a life. He did what He was called to do wherever He went no matter what others thought about it. He lived His life regardless of the numbers of His followers, the reactions of others, or expectations of the church at that time. He lived the way He lived not because of anyone else, and because of it others were changed. Isn't that the ultimate call on our life, to just live? To live with such passion, such purpose, such perspective that others cannot help but notice? So, here I am. I am continuing on this journey to unknown places. Just within a span of three months I have learned this journey is not going to go where I expected it. I'm certainly not naive enough to believe it will change course and begin heading in that direction anytime soon. So I will continue to move where I am led, although this time I will follow the Son rather than chasing after the stars.