Friday, December 28, 2012

A Merry (Stand-Out) Moment

Even though Christmas Day has come and gone the few days between Christmas and New Years still feel sacred and special to me.

It is kind of like we don't want to see the magic we hang on to what's left of it before we have to get on with life in a new year.

I hope to bring you lots of pictures soon that detail some pretty special people and memories that will mark this Christmas. 

Today, however, I want to single in on one very merry moment that I have cherished and thought of a hundred times in just 3 short days.

Shep and I used to go stay at my parents house on Christmas Eve before we had children.  Even when Caroline was little we would still go and do Christmas there.  As Ava and Zeke came along we changed our tradition.  So now my parents arrive on Christmas morning to see the gifts that Santa brought AND to enjoy our standard breakfast of sausage balls and monkey bread.

This Christmas was no different.  They arrived to three ecstatic children each vying for their attention and affection.  After they made their way around each child's gifts we gathered at the table to eat.  The kids kind of came and went...nibbling here and there...but not wanting to fully leave their toys just yet.

So the adults (plus Caroline in her chair) got some down time to just talk and visit. 

Shep and I had gotten the opportunity to go the a Christmas concert with some friends from church.  The singer/songwriter group we saw is called the "Gettys",  They were wonderful.  (Check them out if you don't know them)  They consider themselves to be modern day hymn writers.  They put on a fantastic Christmas extravaganza and focused completely on Jesus.  I loved their music and lyrics so much that Shep had surprised me with some of their music in my stocking.

We told my parents all about it and decided to let them hear some of their music.

The four of us (plus Caroline) went into our bedroom and began playing the cd.

My parents enjoyed the Irish sounds and holy lyrics that filled the room.

As Shep sampled the cd for them he decided to end it with "In Christ Alone".  Keith Getty helped pen the words to this powerful song that so many of us love.

Before we knew it we found ourselves (the four of us) gathered around Caroline singing along with Kristyn  Getty and Alison Krauss.

By the second verse I realized just how magical this moment was and I could feel God's presence dwelling among us. 

We were four people singing to our God because only In Christ Alone have we been saved.  AND we were four people singing around our little girl who can and will only be healed In Christ Alone.

What a fitting gift to receive on Christmas morning. 


Not even gift wrapped.

But....priceless and unforgettable!

Friday, December 21, 2012

He is so real to me...

John 1:5 says, "The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."

This wonderful verse is describing our Lord Jesus.  He is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5).

You can't get far enough away from news outlets to see how bathed in darkness we are.  We are sin sick people.  The curse of sin lives on and the only way to light is through Jesus...who is light.  And He baths us in His glorious light and the darkness can never extinguish it.

That is glorious.

Hold everything you see that is evil up to God's Word and KNOW that despite what happens....darkness (or evil) does not win.  

I just wanted to quickly share how God spoke to me last week. 

Shep and I have been a bit troubled about some things.  We have needed God's intervention and encouragement in specific areas.

Last Thursday I stood in the shower and asked God Almighty to encourage me...again about Caroline.

I was headed to our last day of bible study before the Christmas break.  I knew that the content was about fulfilling God's ministry in your own life. For God to encourage me specifically about Caroline's healing was going to be a stretch but I desperately needed it. My emotions and frustrations were pent up like waters raging behind a dam.

I asked the Lord, "Please speak to me about Caroline.  Let it be so clear that I cannot mistake what you are saying.  Give me something so that I will know it is from You."

So off I went to bible study.  We had a small intimate group.  I shared with these women how things had been and just how desperate I was to hear from God.

We prayed as a group and then began our video.

As the teaching began I sensed that God was going to answer my request.  Beth taught us several strong biblical truths about ministering to others in the name of Jesus.

I sat silently and wondered how in the world God was going to speak to me about a "right-now" request regarding Caroline's healing through a dvd that was taped a year ago and centered on the calling and ministry that Jesus has over our lives.

I just trusted quietly...and hoped with everything in me.

After 45 minutes of teaching Beth began to bring things to a close.  And as she did she began to speak encouragement over us about our faith.  It was like the teaching took a complete detour and she started teaching and equipping us on a different subject matter.

She began to exhort us not to give up.
She warned of how the Enemy wants our faith over every thing else.
He will come at us with doubt after doubt after doubt.

The hairs on my neck stood up.

I knew God was speaking directly to me.

She kept going and then my private clue from God came from her mouth.

She began quoting from one of her bible studies called "Believing God".

-God is who He says He is.
-God can do what He says He can do.
-I am who God says I am.
-I can do all things through Christ.
-God's Word is alive and active to me.

I'm believing God.

Sobs burst from my mouth....and probably scared everyone in the room.  I couldn't hold it in.

But this was it.  A huge moment between me and God.

And He knew I would recognize it.

The bible study she was quoting was the very study where my faith was established and solidified.  I did it for the first time 8 years ago and have done it 2 more times since then.    

God used that study to speak over and over about healing my girl.

How in the world did He make sure that I would hear it again...on the very day I begged for Him to speak...listening to a dvd that was taped a year earlier....on an entirely different subject?

Because He is God and He goes out of His way to show us His love!  I was overwhelmed!  There are a handful of women who witnessed this encounter and it was very real.  He is so very real.  His presence in that little room was thick and felt by all.  

That, my friends, is God's glorious light shining in some of my darkness of doubt.

He still does this!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

All of a sudden...

Shep here.  I remember Andrea telling me that God has two speeds at which he usually works-  sloooooowly and suddenly.  That little quip came to us through our dear friend Deana.  If you look back on your life you can probably identify many examples of each.  I remember the night I met Andrea.  I had no idea when I woke up that morning that I was going to meet my wife.  I remember the day Caroline was born...I did not go into the hospital expecting to see the mayhem that ensued.  Everything was fine- I was about to be a daddy, and then, suddenly, everything an instant, everything went black...

Since that time there has been this process going on- this slow, grinding process.  You may have heard the illustration about the sculptor who was renowned for his sculptures of horses.  One day while being interviewed in his studio before a raw block of wood, the interviewer asked, "How do you even get started with something like this?  All I see is a block of wood."

The sculptor calmly replied, "I guess I'm not real sure...I just start with a block of wood.  Then I take my hammer and chisel, and cut off everything that doesn't look like a horse."  That is the sort of painful process I am talking about.  For the past ten years God has been using our darling daughter (among other things) to help cut out everything that doesn't look like Jesus.  I wish I could tell you that the process was close to completion, but I'm afraid we are not even to the sanding stage yet.

The slooooooow process is ever before me.

But Thursday we were reminded of the suddenness of God.  Zeke and Ava were out playing with the neighbors.  Suddenly, the door flew open and in came Zeke, blood streaming out of both nostrils and his mouth, with his front left tooth knocked completely out.  He had done a faceplant on the sidewalk.  Now, this is not that big of a deal...he just lost a baby tooth.   But it really bothered me.  Just that morning I had seen his sweet smile.  Now, he's missing a tooth.  It just happened.

Kind of like the time my brother and I were heading back to our apartment in our beautiful '72 corvette.  I saw a flash of motion out of the corner of my eye and in an instant, my world turned to glass and noise and blood.  Some lady had gotten out of her car and failed to put it in park.  It rolled down the hill, crashed into our car and knocked us into the other lane of traffic where we were struck by an oncoming car.  They had to cut us out of that mass of twisted metal and fiberglass and carry us via ambulance to the nearest hospital.  One minute I was thinking about what I was going to do that evening.  The next minute I was counting the lights on the ceiling of an ambulance.

Now I don't mean to sound morose...far from it.  I just think that it might do us some good to remember that as neatly as we craft our little world, as much as we think we are in control, as many safeguards as we put in place to insulate our own little fiefdom- there are things at work which we cannot control.

The Bible is full of examples- Abraham spent no less than 25 years wandering through the desert, then suddenly God's promise was fulfilled and he was a daddy.  Joseph's life was marked by this.  One day he was considering his dreams of ruling over his brothers...then he found himself at the bottom of a well...then over time he was elevated to a position of prominence in Pharaoh's house...then suddenly he was thrown into prison where he stayed for somewhere in the neighborhood of 14 years, then, with no warning, on the day God had set, the doors flung open and he was back in the chips again.  You see...sloooooowly and suddenly.

In the new testament, the writers warn us about this repeatedly... We are told that no man knows the day or the hour of Jesus' return, that it will come suddenly as a thief in the night, and that we will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye.  We stay here, laboring for the master and then one day all will change...

So what do we do with this?  I suggest as James did, that we "redeem the time, for the days are evil."  Do you have someone to forgive?  Well, forgive them.  Do you have something to do?  Well do it.  Is there a person who needs your help?  Well help them.  You just never know when the process is going to come to a screeching halt.

And in the meantime, be on the lookout.  You might just walk into a pizza place one night and meet this unbelievable woman that changes your life forever, that makes you want to be better than you are, that shows you what it means to live, and love.  All of a sudden...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ugly Honest Prayers

I am sure you have heard the term "ugly crying."

Maybe you haven't.

It is the opposite of normal crying where tears roll down your cheeks and you sniffle some.

Ugly crying involves your whole body.  Shoulders shaking, head bobbing, nose running, arms flailing, and mouth moaning.

Well last night we (Shep and I) did our version of "ugly praying."

There was nothing really dignified about it....except for the fact that we were praying to God Almighty.

Our eyes were closed.  But our bodies were more laid in the fetal position rather than bowed down.

We both had heavy hearts.  We are needing God's direction in some areas.  His provision in other areas.  And His encouragement in ALL areas.

Ever been there?

The best thing to do is pray.  But I will warn is the last thing you will want to do.

As Shep begin praying I knew this prayer was a bit different than the ones he normally prays.  It wasn't that he was being ungrateful.  I doubt that man has an ungrateful bone in his body...unlike me.  But he wasn't hiding behind words he felt like he ought to say.  He just prayed.  Real raw words.  The fears and frustrations that you don't say....were spoken.  The feelings you feel when your faith feels completely absurd were uttered.

All the questions we have about Caroline and other issues were asked...with no answers falling back on our ears.

All the reasons for wanting to give up were spoken....but knowing we won't.  We can't because we have come too far to turn back.

I even interjected things in his prayer (yes, out loud) that I don't understand.

Like I said, it was ugly.  But honest.

Maybe this is what is meant by a "come-to-Jesus meeting."

We were exhausted, overwhelmed, doubtful, frustrated, and discouraged.

You can't just stay that way.  Although I would bet that many folks walking around are a big bundle of those things.

So...our fix was to talk it all out to our Heavenly Father.  He promises to be faithful.  He tells us to bring our burdens to him and not just the pretty ones or the easy ones.  He wants the ugly honest ones.

This morning I woke up to new mercies.  I also have strength available through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I don't necessarily feel it but, like the air I breathe without seeing, it is still there.

I am gonna walk in that truth today. I am gonna cling tight to the promises of God without possibly feeling that they are true.

But I wanted to write about last night.  It was ugly and real.  It is awkward to feel that desperate for God but I think it is a good thing.

I was honestly amazed by so much that we think and feel that we hold back from God.  It felt good to release it to Him.  He can handle it.

I didn't have to look very far to find a Psalm from Asaph writing prayers like Shep prayed last night...these verses are from the New Living Translation.  Psalm 77:1-3

"I cry out to God without holding back
Oh, that God would listen to me!
When I was in deep trouble ,
I searched for the Lord.
All night long I pray, with hands lifted toward heaven, pleading.
There can be no joy for me until he acts.
I think of God, and I moan,
overwhelmed with longing for his help."

Ugly and honest words written and prayed long ago to the same God who listened to us last night.

He never grows weary of listening to His kids.  And He remembers our weaknesses....

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Test your words.

(I love how Ava,the little sister, so tenderly cares for her big sister.)

I have bragged on my Ava many times before on this blog.  She is my middle child.  A pleaser.  A girly girl.  Tender to the core.

Lately she has shown the propensity of being very affected by the words of others. 

We all are to some degree...

Some kids let it roll of their shoulders without a second thought. 

That is not going to be my girl.

She also has the role of being Caroline's sister.  That means she helps us change her, feed her, and do things for her on a regular basis.

She adores her sister.  Hear me on that.

But I think she struggles sometimes in front of others who are embarrassed by the drool from Caroline's mouth or whatever else they may see.  It isn't that she is embarrassed by Caroline too.  She just doesn't know how to deal with others' issues of her sister.

I hate this for her.

I have had to deal with it as her mom but at least I am a grown (and sometimes, mature) woman.  I can deal better than a 7 year old with a super tender heart.

This past week she came home with another incident of overhearing someone making fun of her sister.  They called her "ugly" and said they "hated her".

My heart broke for her.  But it was another opportunity for me to teach her something that we have been discussing over and over at our house.

~Just because someone says something doesn't make it true.~

We must test our words.

The ones we use and the ones that proceed from the mouths of others.

I am certain we have many years ahead of us to work on this.  I need to do it myself.  

"May the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my defender."  Psalm 19:14

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let Them Marvel

God's Word is life and breath to me.  Now.

I hope it is to you as well.

That wasn't always the case.  I wouldn't have admitted that to you years ago but it was true. 

I viewed the Bible as a sacred book that others understood but I did not.  I had been raised to respect God's Word and even hide it in my heart...whatever that meant...but I did little to do that.

Instead I left it lying around my home.  I made sure to grab it before church on Sundays because I didn't want to not have it at church.  But, upon returning home, it went back to its place.

Only when desperation entered the scene of my life did I dare pick it up.
Only then did I dare to believe that its pages held the power for victory in my life.
Only then did I decide to be a disciple...truly a disciple...learning and discovering truths that had always been at my disposal.

Praise God for that desperation!  It birthed desire.  Then that desire sparked some devotion.

Now...I try to NEVER let myself get out of the routine of a bible study.

I need it.  I know that about myself. 

Ok anyway...this post does have a point.  A scripture verse spoke to me the other day and I just wanted to flesh it out a bit.

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of the them, that they had been with Jesus."  Acts 4:13

This is such a cool verse to me. 

Wrap your brain around this....people can get blown away by Jesus in us.

As we go about our lives and ask God will direct our steps.  God will ask common Jane's (like you and me) to step out in courage and boldness.  It may not be huge or scary or it might be.  Others (people watching without telling you they are) will see that you are ordinary, but, somehow extraordinary...because of Jesus.  They will marvel and take interest.

Pretty cool thought. 

That just by living out our faith (however hard or monotonous that may be) others could be stunned into interest.

Another cool thought is that we don't have to be well educated or advanced at all.  The bible says that Peter and John were "unlearned and ignorant." 

I certainly fall into that category several days out of the week. 

Yet....others marveled.

Only Jesus can do that friends.

He is so wonderful.

Let's live meaningful lives and leave some folks marveling at the mark of God upon us!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

GIFTS of the unexpected kind

God uses everyday occurrences to speak to me all the time.  I think He loves to work this way.  It reminds us that He is very much...Immanuel..."God with us" right here and now in the midst of our messy and marvelous lives.

I have been enjoying being sneaky for Christmas.

My kids are getting gifts that they would never even think to ask for Christmas. The gifts aren't super fancy or expensive.  They just don't think about them.  Maybe they just don't think they would get them.  We don't do tons of toys at our house all year long. Birthdays and Christmas are about the only time of year that they get new things.

 They will see a commercial come on for some new toy and say, "Mom, I think I want that for Christmas."

I respond with a typical non-committal mom reply, "Oh really."

I know good and well that they may think that they want want they see...but it would only last them a day or two and then they would be over it.

The deal is I really know my kids.  I know what interests them.  I know what will have some longevity...even if they don't.

Right now there are gifts already purchased (and hidden) that they do not know exist for them. 

Yet...they are intended for them. Specifically chosen with each child in mind....and it is just a matter of time before they possess them. 

I love that.  I love knowing.  I even love the waiting.

It makes the giving so much more fun!

Well I think God works the same way with His children.  Those of us who have cried out for a Savior and repented of our sins get unexpected gifts from our God who knows us intently.  Inside and out.  He knows what is best and lasting for our growth and fulfillment.

He even knows to over look some of the foolish things we ask for that we don't really want even though we don't know it just yet.

He knows it already.  He knows it all... the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end.

Lately some of His unexpected gifts in my life been things I wouldn't have even known to ask for myself.

But they have been gifts that I have enjoyed so much!

Not monetary or material in any way....believe me, I ask for those already. Guilty there :)

These gifts have been encounters, people, friendships and opportunities. 

Even the thought of some of them bring quick tears to my eyes because they are precious and mind-blowing. 

And I never even asked.....He just did.....because He can...and He delights in us.

How awesome of Him to know me better than I know myself and to want to give me things to watch my face light up....just like I do my own children.

"So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him."  Matthew 7:11


Wednesday, November 28, 2012


My last blog post was heavy.  In the sense that it had been a really hard week.

It still is in some ways....but I wanted to share some quick magical moments from my home.

Right this moment I am listening to an unusual sound.

My children laughing hysterically.

There is no toy.  No television.  No entertainment whatsoever.

Just each other.

I am drinking in every second.

It is a very different tune than the normal music of our routines.

Normally they would be whining, tattling, or complaining.  It is just what kids do.  They don't do it every single second but it is what they resort to most of the time.

Anyway I wanted to stop and blog at the moment of sweetness.  Thanking God for magical moments like this when it is completely unexpected and delightful.

Speaking of magical moments...............I got to slow dance in the arms of my man last night.  We used to do that a lot as newlyweds.  But that fun time gets squeezed out by kids, schedules, bath times, and exhaustion. No one means for it to happen but unless we make time for those magical moments they can be missed.  I was so glad Shep wooed me away from my Shutterfly project to dance with him by the light of our Christmas tree.

Pure magic.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Longing and the Need

I have tried for the past half hour to drift off to sleep.

No luck though.

I am wound up.  Also I have sensed God drawing me here.

It seems like I can sit down at this computer and type truth to myself.

Thanksgiving has always been a time to gather and dwell; enjoy and savor; reflect and refocus.

It wasn't exactly like that this year.

We encountered some hard things during this holiday.

Sleep deprivation, frazzled nerves, heightened stress, and strained relationships muddied the waters for me.

Don't get me wrong...we hugged necks, bowed our heads in thankfulness, caught up with loved ones and ate delicious dishes but somehow the cloud seemed to linger over us.

It was like I couldn't outrun the rain storm.

But I believe God had this for me.

Today I finally grasped some of what I felt God was saying to my soul.

The hard stuff highlights your need for Me.
Through difficulty I create a longing and a need.....
that only I can satisfy.

We sang a song today in church that clearly states this message.

The song is called "Thanks Be To Our God."

Below is the verse that took root in my soul...

"For the emptiness that cries out to be filled,
For the promise that Your word is deeper still,
For the longing and the need, to have more of You in me,
Because nothing satisfies the way You do,
Thanks be to our God!"

I am so far off of the mark of what Christ calls us to be.

I am selfish, lazy, prideful and bitter.

And this is me on a good day.  I can be far worse than this.

Yet....I am His Child.

Because of Him and His death on the cross I am made holy, righteous, forgiven and redeemed.

But I am a work in need of constant repair. 

This Thanksgiving God let me experience longing and need in a real and tangible way.  It wasn't fun.  In fact, it was painful and heart wrenching...but necessary.

Oh how He loves us.

He loves us so much He will allow pain for what is necessary.

Truthfully we won't go to Him if there is even a shred of evidence that we can somehow pull if off on our own.

I can't.

My mountains are too big.  Too high.

I know better.

So I have a longing and a need.

Actually I have a few.  And only He can satisfy.

Thanks be to our God!
(And yes it is okay to say this with tear-stained eyes, a lump in your throat, and butterflies swirling in your tummy.  We can know and believe this declaration without feeling a bit of it.  Thank you, Lord for being bigger than how I feel.)

1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stupid Sheep

My niece, Laura, was rolling up her pants leg to show off her latest bruise from school.

She is an Animal Science major.

She gets to learn about animal behavior and be very "hands-on".  As in....she travels off the UGA campus to local farms and interacts with them.  So far I have heard her talk about working with cows and sheep.  She loves it.  If you knew her you would see that this completely fits her outdoorsy personality.   (I had to include a picture of this pretty girl.  She is a delight to all who know her.)

Back to her she rolled up her jeans we could see that her knee was dotted with a deep black bruise.

I am pretty sure she earned this one while trying to wrangle sheep for shearing.

As she described her experience with these animals, I knew it had been a complete aggravation.

"They are so stupid.  I don't want to work with sheep again.  The are dirty and nasty.  Their fur gets mangled and completely covered in mud.  They are just dumb, dumb creatures.  So aggravating."

As Laura continued to fill in us on her fun and frustrating class, my mind drifted to a parallel in God's Word.

So often we (you and me) are described as sheep.  And Jesus is described as our Shepherd.

Think of Laura's description of these animals.

Doesn't it sound like us?

We are easily led astray.
We can be ridiculously hard to direct.
We make dumb and stupid mistakes....sometimes repeatedly.
We get mangled in the mire and muck of our circumstances.

Yet....God longs to shepherd us.

He does want to work with us in spite of our ineptness.

As Thanksgiving approaches I am filled with gratitude for my Savior.

He still loves us....even though we are stupid sheep.

Isaiah 53:6  "All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all."

2 Corinthians 5:21 "God had Christ, who was sinless, take our sin so that we might receive God's approval through him."

Stupid sheep rescued by the sacrifice of a saving Shepherd.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Late Uploader...

 I was a tad late with uploading my pictures this year. get to enjoy Halloween pictures just one week shy of Thanksgiving.  Look how big Caroline is!  Gorgeous too! She was my Native American this year.  If only our summer tan had held on til October.
 I don't know how many more years I will get Ava into a princess dress.  She seems to be outgrowing the "dress-up" stage that little girls love.  Actually I don't think girls out grow it at all.  We just move our love for "dress-up" to a retail store where we simply "try-on".  Isn't she a pretty thing?!?
 Aaaargh.  My little pirate man.  The eye patch didn't make it through the entire night.  But I was impressed with my technique on his face with my eyeliner. Hopefully this will be the only time in his life that he uses eyeliner.  He totally embraced his role as pirate and wielded his sword accordingly.

These little rascals melt my heart and work my nerves.  They are a delightful handful.

A day never passes that we don't have some type of drama to deal with...the fun part is that the drama changes from day to day.

I must brag on Caroline because she has been doing so well at not pitching fits at night.  She has been falling asleep quietly and sleeping all night.  It has made for a much nicer atmosphere in the Helton home:)  Praise the Lord!

Zeke keeps us in stitches around here.  At four years old he never ever stops talking.  How he doesn't wear himself out is miraculous.  Our ears are tired at bedtime.  Can ears even be tired?
Also, he still mispronounces some of his words.  I completely love it.  It keeps him as my baby!

Ava is rocking the 2nd grade.  She is busy with ballet and guitar lessons.  She handles it all in complete stride.  I love seeing her grow and mature.  This week my heart hurt as she had to deal with some "petty" and "mean" girl issues at school.

She perceived that some girls were making fun of her...her glasses, her missing teeth, and her clothes.

Can I just say...."Oh the drama?!?" badly as my mama claws wanted to come out and find these little girls...I still needed to be mom.  And dang it...I had to practice what I preach.

So Ava and I knelt down at her bed and talked to God about these girls.  I don't know names and Ava didn't either.  But God knows and he tells us to pray for those who hurt us and to forgive them.

We did.

And I am quite sure that we will do this many many times to come.  After all little girls have a tendency to be mean all through school. 

I don't even want to think about the middle school days.... 

Lord Jesus help us!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Oh Love....the many colors that you're made of...

I took a walk yesterday.  It was good for lots of reasons.  My mind got to wander.  The breeze blessed my face and tousled my hair.  Let's not forget that it WAS exercise.  And...the colors.

God really outdoes Himself during Fall.  I felt kind of hokey but I stopped and picked up leaves along my walk.  This picture showcases a few of the ones that I felt were worthy of a photo op.  Honestly, this picture doesn't really do the colors justice.

As I walked and took it all in I felt God's Presence right there with me.  I think He was enjoying me (His child) as I enjoyed His beautiful creation.

We do that as parents sometimes.

We get complete joy from watching our kids get joy.

I think God did that with me yesterday on my walk.

I also did something a little out of the ordinary for me.  I listened to one song on repeat for my entire walk.

It is the duet that Carrie Underwood and Braid Paisley sing about Love.

I felt like it was the perfect backdrop for my I just let it play over and over and over again. 

Again...a little hokey...but that is who I am.

Some of the lyrics go like this...

Oh love, oh love
Oh the many colors that you're made of
You heal, you bleed
You're the simple truth and you're the biggest mystery
Oh love

The whole song is just amazing.

AND I believe God wanted to talk to me about His love toward me and the world.

The colors that surrounded my landscape almost swayed in unison with the song and God's voice.

(Obviously this is a secular song....but hey, God can use anything with a willing ear to listen.)

Anyway, as the song played over and over again I was just overwhelmed with the beauty of these colors that only astound us one time a year.  People stop to stare at trees.  People pull out their cameras to take pictures.  People collect leaves and dry them in books to somehow stop time with their beauty.

And it only happens through the process of death.

These leaves are changing from gorgeous green to brilliant purples, red, orange, and yellows.

They are more gorgeous in death than they ever were in life.

Now can you see how God was speaking to me through the colors and the song?

God.  The self-existent One.  The Maker of Heaven and Earth.  The Redeemer of Man.  The Friend of Sinners.

He died.

And in His death He did a brilliant thing for us.  He gave us life....eternal.

Once we accept this gift of salvation He asks us to live in a way that contradicts this world around us.

He says, "Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God~ this is your spiritual act of worship."  Romans 12:1

"Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life preserves it." Luke 17:33

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

As a follower of Jesus Christ, these are hard words to hear...and even harder to live.

But do we miss out on the beauty of losing our lives for His sake?

Would the world be stunned to silence if they witnessed the brilliance of Christians living as sacrifices?

I think our lives would take on colors the lost world has never seen before....if we wold DIE to ourselves and LIVE for Him.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Politics and Providence

I am so glad Tuesday has come and gone.

I will say that I was hoping for a different outcome.

But, truthfully, I was not doing back flips for either candidate.

I had serious issues with both of them.  Still just happens to be our President.

We have been doing the Beth Moore bible study of "Daniel" for the past 11 weeks.  Oddly enough, this study has prepared and granted peace to me during this political season of unrest.

As the name of the study states, it centers on the life and prophecy given to Daniel in the bible.

It is fascinating, scary, fun, confusing, powerful, serious, and mind-blowing.

But God wrote and inspired it...and He is all of those things as well. 

Daniel received some heavy prophetic words from God during his life on earth.  We are blessed to read as history what he only heard God say....not what he lived to see with his own eyes.

Daniel also lived through perilous days as one of God's chosen people.  He knew freedom as a kid then captivity as a teenager.  He chose to live a life sold out and surrendered to God....he honored God in his choices even to the foods he would eat. 

Because of his sacrifice for God, wisdom and understanding was given to Daniel.  He could discern dreams foretelling of future events.  So trusted was he that God allowed him to know in advance political powers that would take-over and others that would be de-throned.

So....I explain all of that to say....that I HATE what is happening in our political culture. 

So many things I hold dear and precious seem to be getting stripped away.

Morality seems out of date and if you stand for something you are labeled "intolerant".

Daniel held fast to his God when he was surrounded by a wicked culture.  He didn't curse it.  He didn't shrink back from it.  He didn't judge the people.  He simply interceded with consistent prayers.  I believe he hated it just like I hate mine.  But he was moved to act in prayer.

I am too.

God is sovereign.

He knows all. He handles all.  He makes sure the sun comes up each morning.  He tells the moon and stars to come out at night. 

Nothing escapes His watchful eye.
No one or nothing can usurp His power.

Lightning flashes because He tells it to.

Thunder rolls at His command.

But we also know He is purposeful.  He has a plan.  Nothing happens that He doesn't allow. 

I believe with everything in me that we are living in some treacherous days.  I don't know enough to call them "end times" but I do know that as a culture we look similar to a passage in the bible.

"But mark this:  There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God---having a form of godliness but denying its power." 2 Timothy 3:1-4


I see myself in that passage.  I certainly see the culture than surrounds me.

However I believe God longs to still bless his kids, his "Daniels", that purpose in their hearts to be different.

Just as Daniel was blessed in a wicked culture....I think we could be too.

We are gonna have to be crazy intentional to not give in to being like the described folks in that passage.

Instead I want to be in on this group of people...

"In the last days, God says, 
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below."  Acts 2:17-19

Politics doesn't scare me.

But I reverently fear a providential God.

Let's pray for our leaders as Daniel did.  Let's live with purpose!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

HOPE rekindled

I was asked back in August to speak at a local MOPS group in November.

Funny how time flies.  November is here.

I faintly remember being told that my subject for speaking would be on "Depression" and how God used it in my life.

The days and weeks blew past until last week was upon me and my day to speak was Friday, November 2nd.

Ready or not.
I had been prayerful about what precisely my speaking points would be.  God didn't really give me much direction other than a few verses I was supposed to use.

I felt like my driving point was that God used Depression in my life to make me Desperate for Him.  A treasure in the darkness so to speak.  (Is.45:3)

Some of you might not think that is much of a trade-off but believe me it is.

Depression helped me know that God had to be bigger than what I thought He was.

As Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday ticked away I still wasn't getting a clear outline of what to say.

In fact....I felt my old pal "doubt" creeping in.

He likes to linger about in the back of my thoughts...especially when I am feeling overwhelmed or besieged by helplessness.

By Thursday night I still didn't have a clear direction for speaking. I felt like the best plan was to tell my testimony.  After is mine and I am very familiar with it.  It isn't rehearsed.  I don't have to try to remember.  It is very very real.

As I surrendered to this plan, I had the first hint of peace.  It was a good start.

I laid in bed and remembered specific moments over the last 10 years.  If you have followed my blog for any length of time then you know that Caroline's birth was the catalyst for growing my faith in Christ.

I received salvation at the age of 9.

But I didn't begin to step out and believe God for anything more until I was 24.  My real journey began...

I was excited about sharing our story again.  I realized that I don't do much of it anymore.  Our church family and friends know it by heart.  We have told it time and time again.  Many of them believe with us for our miracle.  So, unless we have new news about Caroline, we don't talk about it much anymore.

Remember how I told you that my old pal "doubt" had crept back in?  Well he met my excitement with some of his old lines.

*Who wants to hear about a testimony that hasn't happened?
*More people are just gonna think you are stupid for believing your daughter will be healed.
*God isn't really gonna heal her.  You know that, right?
*You are going to look foolish in the end.
*What good has your faith done for you?

Yep.  Mr. Doubt at his best.

These were the thoughts that I prayed through as I tried to close my eyes for the night.

Friday morning came.

The butterflies were fluttering away in my tummy.

I got the kids dropped off at school.  Had to rush home and finish getting myself ready.  When I finally got in the car and headed South I sensed that I needed to pray.  The doubt-filled thoughts I had battled the night before met me again.  All of a sudden this speaking opportunity felt so silly.

My entire testimony revolves around the fact that God has relentlessly pursued me to believe Him.  And I do.  BUT the very thing I have believed Him for 10 years hasn't happened yet.

Do I even have a testimony?

Ugh.  Do you see how sly the enemy is?

I got to the church.  I found a vacant room and hit the floor...face down.  I thanked God for this opportunity and then I begged Him to show up and get some crazy glory.  I got up with my game face on.

The women who stared back at me as I shared my story revealed what God was doing in our midst.  I was beyond humbled.  I saw open tears.  I saw joy.  I saw appreciation.  I saw encouragement.  I saw hope and faith present and alive.  God was there.  He was speaking to all of us.

Every doubt left as I began to share the greatness of my God.  As I recounted time after time of His goodness, grace, and miraculous hope the reality of my testimony became even more clear.

God really has spoken to us.
God really has given us hope.
God really has increased our faith.
God really has surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses.
God really has let us be a part of something really amazing.
God really has let us experience dreams, visions, and prophetic words of a divine healing that will happen.

The more I spoke it out....the more real it became.

Doubt was nowhere to be found.  Faith had center stage.

No wonder the book of Psalms is full of reminders for us to tell of what God has done for us.  If we don't tell....we forget.....when we forget....we doubt.

Psalm 73:28 "But as for me, it is good to be near God.  I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Let No Sin Rule...

 Caroline did horse therapy from the age of 2 til she was 7 years old.  She felt right at home on this sweet horse.
 Words cannot describe how much Ava loved this!  She was instantly in love with Daisy Mae. (the horse's name)
 Zeke just wanted to follow suit.  Anything his sisters get to do...he must as well.
 Me and my brood....dang they are cute!
 My main squeeze busted out a flannel shirt for this family outing ....I love the look on him.
Ava loves taking pictures of us....I always let her because we won't get a picture together if she doesn't do it...and I happen to think she does a great job for a 7 year old.  (No I am NOT pregnant.  The shirt was just pulled down in the front for some reason.)

A dear friend and I are getting a jump start on some scripture memory. 

Our current scripture is one we have done before.  But we are re-visiting to get ourselves back into the groove. 

It is from Psalm 119:133.

It says, "Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me."

I love the idea of coming before God daily, hourly, or even minute by minute and asking the Almighty to direct my footsteps.  I desire to walk in His will but sometimes I follow my own desires.  Sometimes I get distracted by circumstances and other times I fall for a trick that my enemy has designed just for me.  I know I am not alone in this.  We all do it.

Yesterday was one of those days where irritating things happened repeatedly.

-Ava left her glasses at I stopped my day and took them to her.
-Our garage door opener stopped working.
-Zeke had an accident at school because he couldn't properly work his button on his I had to go to the school yet again and take him a fresh pair.
-We were supposed to have family pictures taken outside yesterday...however with 20 mile per hour wind gusts and low temperatures....that had to be cancelled.

This is life.  Stuff happens.  Things break.  Conflicts arise.

I was not what you would call "godly" in my response to these interruptions.

I was in an ill temper.
I was frustrated.
I pouted and sulked a bit.
I griped, groaned and complained.

Why?  Because things weren't going my way.

Well I want to pose a question out of my scripture verse.  Could it be that God Almighty directs your footsteps so that the sins that rule over you can be exposed...and handled?

 At least for me....I am thinking yes.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


I am pleased to report that Caroline has had no more seizures this week.

I believe the one I witnessed could last me more than a lifetime.  But I want to praise God for each day that passed in normalcy for us. 

As last Sunday evening unraveled before our eyes, I longed for days that were boring and uneventful.

As I mentioned in my last post I knew I would be at war with fear this week.

I completely feared the unknown....all the "what ifs".

What if Caroline seizes at school?
What if Caroline seizes in her bed at night and no one knows?
What if she has a seizure disorder?
What if Shep and I can't get to her?
What if we have missed some of the warning signs?

These and many more were the thoughts that passed through my brain at the speed of about 100 per minute.  I knew I had to get a grip.

My sweet and godly man could sense it too.  I knew he was battling through also but he had to get up and go to work.

So Monday morning he sat us all down and gave us what I like to call a family pep rally. Shep told us that our home was bathed in the perfect love of Jesus Christ.  (1 John 4:18)  He is our Rock.  He is our Foundation.  We worship Jesus alone.  We will not shrink back in fear.  We will walk forward in faith.

I am pleased to report that this family did just that this week.

In spite of the fear, and believe me it was there, we chose faith.  More than that....we prayed for God to give it to us....and I believe He did.

God showed me his mysterious and miraculous grace in action during choir practice on Wednesday night.  We were going over a song that I love.  It is called "Made Me Glad."  As I sang the words chill bumps sprang into action.  Tears brimmed over my eyelids and a lump caught in my throat because I was singing what we were living and believing this week.

These words were our living testimony...

I will bless the Lord forever 
I will trust Him at all times
He has delivered me from all fear
He has set my feet upon a rock
I will not be moved
I 'll say of my Lord

You are my shield.
My strength
My portion
My shelter 
Strong tower
My very present help in time of need

Whom have I in heaven but You
There's none I desire beside You
You have made me glad
And I'll say of my Lord 

You are my shield
My strength
My portion
My shelter
Strong tower
My very present help in time of need

Fear had to take a back seat this week.  Gladness was my companion.  I was strengthened by faith and carried completely by grace.

He has made me glad!!

I chose it.  But He made it possible!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Seizure

We were sitting in our family room doing our usual Sunday night thing.  The kids were dressed in their pajamas but, of course, were prolonging the trip to bed.  Zeke, Ava, and I were snuggled together in our big red chair.  Shep and Caroline were snuggling on the floor.

In the moment of 9:00 pm....everything changed.

Shep began to scream Caroline's name.

The atmosphere in the room went from calm to panic.  Literally you could feel it.

Time stopped.

Shep yelled for me because our oldest daughter was having a seizure. In an instant I was on the floor looking into the face of my girl.  Instead of seeing her typical smile I saw bulging eyes, erratic blinks, and a contorted mouth.  I couldn't see her at all.  I just saw that something was overtaking her and she was helpless to it.  So were we.

I immediately called on the name of Jesus Christ in a frantic and desperate prayer.  "Lord Jesus please stop this.  In the name of Jesus heal my girl from this."  Shep joined in and we called on the only One who could make any difference at all.

I could hear Ava and Zeke crying in the background but it seemed muffled. 

Shep directed me to call 911 because her breathing was shallow.  We had never experienced anything like this.

Were we really just sitting here quietly 2 minutes earlier?  How did this happen?  Why?  What triggered it?

I managed to call 911, pray, and comfort my other children somehow during all of this.

Shep had scooped Caroline up and held her....trying to will her body to stop jerking.   He was praying and talking in soothing tones.  Finally, after only 2 and a half minutes,( it seemed like 20) her body slowed and stopped convulsing.

The night continued with us taking her to a Children's hospital.  They did a CT scan and bloodwork.  Everything came back clear and good.

Wish I could give you the same report about me.

I wasn't clear at all.  I certainly wasn't good.

We were discharged in the middle of the night to come home.  We were told to follow up with her neurologist for an EEG and further testing.

As Caroline dozed in her car seat, Shep and I began to open up to each other about what in the heck had just happened to our lives over the past 5 hours.

We have been through so much together.  We have earned the badge of being the other's best friend.  We relived it.  We cried.  We wondered.

We were headed back home.  But was this our new normal?

We have dealt with a severely disabled child for 10 years.  We know how to handle that.  But now we have a disabled child who had a severe seizure for no apparent reason.  Will there be more?

Fear set in.

Shep and I both felt like this had been spiritual warfare of some kind.  It just felt evil and wrong.

We clung to God with our questions and prayed against the fear that seemed to come from all angles.

I sit here two days removed from these events and I am still trying to wrap my brain around it.

I struggle with this fear that wants to overtake me.
I just want to sit and stare at Caroline just to make sure that she is ok.

But....I know better.

God has called me to live a life of faith.  The enemy wants to sabotage that in any way he can.

I can't allow it.

So I have to fight hard against how I feel.  This fear has got to go.  It must be replaced with the truth of God's Word.

I have taken great comfort in the story of Job.  The bible says that Job was "blameless and upright, a man who feared God and shunned evil."

Now I am no Job.  I am not blameless.  I try to be upright in the sight of God but I fail miserably at times.  I do fear God but, truth be told, I don't shun evil.  I try to do right.  I try to live right.  But I sin and sometimes I even go out of my way to do it.

I say all of that about myself because I want to be clear that I am not comparing myself to Job in merit at all.

 But I am God's child.  I love Him.  I trust Him.  I want to live my life for His glory.  I do think Job and I have at least those things in common.

And what I know is the enemy, or Satan, wanted to mess with Job.  He wanted to hurt him.  He wanted to steal, kill, and destroy him.  He wanted Job to curse God.  But he had to ask God for permission to test Job's faith.


Before my enemy could mess with me he had to go before God Almighty and get it approved.

I also know that for God to approve must be for my good and His glory.

I can't see how any of this is for our good and His glory but I have seen God show off in weirder ways before so who am I to question His authority?

He loves me.  He loves Shep.  He loves my Caroline more than I ever could.

So...I will trust Him.

Even if it hurts to relive the nightmare.  Even if I wonder every moment when the next one might come.  Even if fear continues to bang at my door....I WILL TRUST MY GOD.

I still believe with everything in me that God is going to ultimately heal my girl.  I don't understand how all of this fits into that picture but I don't have to.

God works in impossible situations.  They are His specialty.

He just requires that we have faith...and He even gives us that too.

Thank you God for this seizure.  Thank you for a fresh reminder of my need for Your grace and guidance.  Thank you for sustaining us in the midst of the crazy and chaotic moments.  You held us whether we knew it or not.  I ask for Your protection in the future.  I ask that this would be a one time thing and that we never have to endure this again.  But, if that isn't your plan, prepare us and strengthen us for whatever is to come.  Your ways are marvelous even when I don't understand.  I do trust You.  Thank you for the many friends and family who interceded for us.  Would you bless them and show Yourself mighty in their lives.  Hold us close and give us courage.  Build our faith and bless our efforts to further Your Kingdom.  Amen.

"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" ~ Job (Chapter 2:10)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Make Believe Martyr

This week has held great joy, sadness of heart, and some boiling anger....with anxiety thrown in on the side.

I guess you could say I have tasted the entire realm of emotionality and yes, I am sufficiently drained.

God allowed me to lead someone to Him this week.  It was precious and utterly exhilarating.  I volunteer at a local Women's Resource Center in our area.  This girl came in to take a pregnancy test and left knowing our Savior.  Watching someone else experience grace for the first time is truly magnificent.  It is like electricity in the air.  It was joy, pure joy and I savored every second.

Some other events of this week left me less than joyful.  Angry, even.  Shep and I are praying for something specific to come through for us.  After seeing a glimpse of sweet relief, it looks as if it may not happen.  Anger set in.  I fell into my typical tantrum toward God.

"Why can't this happen for us?"
"Does anything ever come easily for us?"
"Why did we even get our hopes up?"

These were the thoughts that surfaced over and over in my head...and sometimes even out loud.  I balled my fists toward heaven and just expressed anger over and over again.

Then I was hit with some personal family drama. We all have it.  I have had to sit back and watch someone I love dearly be betrayed and hurt in the worst possible way.  It just rips me apart.  Due to the choices of others, this hurt just continues and I had to face it this week.

Already in the grip of anger I piled sorrow and sadness on top.

Needless to say I did what I do best.

I pulled away from God.  After all... this anger, hurt, and sadness must somehow be His fault, right?

As drove myself around doing errands I felt the Holy Spirit begin to awaken inside of me.  He reminded me of a story that I had been reading this past week.  It told of a martyr who lived and died for his faith in Jesus Christ.  He was tortured, beaten, starved, chained, and ultimately, burned alive for proclaiming His faith in Jesus.

We all know stories of those who have been martyred for their faith.  Suffering was their plight.  BUT...what the Holy Spirit spoke to me was about the unspeakable JOY that was theirs as well.

This particular man that I read about had many people who followed and supported him.  He would write to them constantly and give them reports of his situation.  Not once did he focus on the fact that he was chained, wrongly accused, tortured or sitting in his own excrement.  Instead he boasted of how the Holy Spirit encouraged him in his dire situation.  He would brag on the goodness of God despite the ugliness that surrounded him.

Then reality hit me.

Here I am acting like some make-believe martyr.  Mad at God because I have had to encounter some mild "suffering" this week.  Some disappointments and frustrations have come my way....and what have I done?

I have acted like a complete baby.

My issues don't even come close to torture, starvation, or an isolating cell.  Yet I act as if I have been completely burdened by life.

We do have hard stuff.  I don't mean to make light of some of the sufferings we do have.  But I don't know a single person who is really a martyr.

So why do we act like it?

Our sufferings, as real and heavy as they are, don't compare to the sufferings of those who have to live in fear because of their faith.

If we did....I bet our lives would be vastly different.

At least for me....I want to worship Him regardless.  He is worthy.  He died for me.  He set me free.  He gives me hope.

So as the week has progressed so have I.  God has made some progress with me.  I have practiced some "just because" worship this week.  My situations have not changed.  The anger, sadness, and anxiety still linger.  But they aren't leading me around with my head in a noose.  Instead I am bringing them before Him in an act of worship and surrender.  In spite of them I rejoice.

Let's not be make believe martyrs.  Let's be real people of real faith.

1 Peter 1:6-9  "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer griefs in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Why we love the farm...

 We get to play with our cousins and twirl umbrellas without a single drop of rain as an excuse.
 We accept dares to see who can jump from the highest point without breaking anything.
 We snuggle and sway on the perfect swing that always seems to catch a breeze.
 We look for a reason to shuck our pants and haul out the slip-n-slide...of course the dishwashing liquid only makes the ride more fun.
 We get to play with Daddy's kind of toys.

 We get our heads wrapped in bandanas and tickled by our favorite uncle.
 We climb trees and stay barefoot all day.
 We get thrown high into the air.
 We watch Daddy act like he is 12 again.
 We simply sit in the shade and do nothing.
We get to be on the other side of the camera and take pictures of Mommy.

I finally uploaded my pictures from back in the summer and of some very recent days.  We look for days to escape to the farm.  We love it and I am sure you can see why. 

These pictures were taken over the 4th of July and this past Saturday.  The sky just seems a brighter shade of blue there.  The birds sing and you hear them.  The breeze blows and you stop to feel and enjoy it.  Family is close and time kind of slows down.

Happy Fall y'all!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Shep here.

I heard a pastor talking one time.  It was a pastor that I am not particularly fond of listening to.  That is not to say that he is not a good pastor...I feel certain that he is an outstanding pastor.  He just doesn't happen to be my favorite guy to listen to.  Anyway, on this particular occasion he said something that really stuck with me.  If you will excuse the paraphrase, he said something like this,

"You have precious little control over most things in your life.  You can't control who your parents are, who your family is, how  tall you are, how smart you are, what you look like (mostly), weather, who harms you, who helps you..." the list goes on.

"But," he said, "there is one thing that you can control.  You can control your choices.  They are entirely up to you.  You can choose a good attitude or a poor one.  You can choose to doubt.  You can choose to believe."  The list goes on.

So, the other night I was praying.  For whatever reason, I felt a need to pray that God would speak to me.  I felt Him calling me to pray about my dreams.  Specifically, I felt that I should pray that He would speak to me in my dreams.  So, I prayed, "Lord, please talk to me in my dreams." That was about the extent of it.  I did not go on and on or wail and cry.  I simply lifted back up to God the prayer that I felt like He had laid on my heart.  And frankly, I did not think about it again.

I did not think about it again that night.

I did not think about it again the next day.

I did not think about it again the next night.

But...the second morning, I prayed for Zeke, that the Lord would make him strong and courageous and that He would call Zeke, irresistibly at  an early age.  I prayed for Ava, that she would find delight in Jesus alone, and that she would seek His approval above any other.  I prayed for Caroline, that somehow, God would speak to her clearly, and that she would hear His voice, and that the two of them would share conversations in a supernatural way that would bring her unspeakable comfort...

And then I remembered my prayer from two nights ago.  I remembered my prayer because this night I had dreamed of Caroline.  I dreamed that I saw her standing in the kitchen, unsupported, and perfect.  I rushed to grab her, afraid she would fall; but there was no need.  Her little hand was so light in mine, simply holding it, but not for support. And just as pretty as you please, she walked with me into the den to show her miraculous healing to Andrea, Zeke and Ava.  We were all speechless...unable to put into words all of the wonder we were feeling.  And then the dream ended.  I only remembered it as I was praying.

Now some of you are thinking, "Isn't that nice!  You had a sweet dream about your baby."

Some of you are probably thinking, "No surprise there.  You had this idea rumbling around in your mind, and through the mysterious world of the subconscious, you pulled up this thing that you had been really wishing for."

Some of you are thinking, "I wouldn't have thought Shep was such a wacko."

Some of you are thinking that God doesn't speak through dreams anymore.  I have no idea where you get that.

Well here is what I think.  I think God answered my prayer.  You see, there is a choice here.  It is a choice over which I have control.  I can choose to believe that God answered my prayer, or I can choose to believe that my dream just happened with no influence from God whatsoever.  Well, this time I choose faith.

You see, In John chapters 14 and 15 Jesus says multiple times, in various ways, that when we pray, He will answer.  If you read this yourself, you will see that his promises here are conditioned upon precious little.

In Hebrews it says that without faith it is impossible to please God.

James wrote that when we pray we must pray, believing- not doubting- that the doubter is like a wave of the sea tossed by the wind, double-minded, and unstable in all his ways, and further, that he should expect  nothing from his prayers.

I mess up all the time.  I fall.  I fail.  I quit. I snap.  I shirk.  I blame.

But, God help me, I don't want to live a life without faith.

I don't want to get by.  I don't want to just make it.  I can think of nothing worse than getting to the end of my days and thinking, "I never believed God for anything.  I never stepped out.  I was never "all-in."  Whatever else happens I do not want to be counted among the timid souls who have tasted neither victory or defeat.

Jesus died for me.  I think choosing to believe Him is the least I can do.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Stubborn Boy. Hot Chips.

Yesterday I taught Sunday school for a close friend who has just recently had a baby.  The lesson wreaked havoc on my thoughts before I taught it and it has lingered even after.

The main point was that believers can become numb to hearing from God.  The material compared modern day believers to bible-day lepers....except without the oozing sores and rotting flesh.

Leprosy was a devastating disease that separated people from society and marked them as outcasts.  Lepers would lose fingers, toes, feet, even the nose from their faces.  On top of looking disfigured, the disease also attacked their nerve endings so that those infected could feel nothing.

Imagine feeling nothing.  Nothing at all.

These people would harm themselves even more because they couldn't feel when they were hurting themselves.

So how might Christ followers do this today?  Well the parallel is that we don't heed God's warnings and instruction in His Word.  In fact we ignore them.  So we spend our lives in disobedience.  Each bad decision makes us numb to the next one that comes along and so forth.

I have had periods of this in my own life.  I would become angry with God for decisions I had made.  Then I would not do the things that would please Him just to get back at Him.  The more I disobeyed the easier it was to disobey again...and again...and again.

After a while of this kind of living a person gets numb.  The have cut themselves off and no longer feel anything.  Not the pain of hurt or even the exhilaration of joy.  All feeling goes away.

I have been asking God to keep me fully awake and alert to areas of my life where I consistently disobey Him.  I have been numb before and it was a dark place.  I never want to return there again.  Staying tender to God's voice through prayer and His Word help us avoid this nasty pitfall, as well as a humble and contrite spirit, which should always been found in us.

Today I caught a real-life picture of my stubborn 4 year old dealing with this exact issue over potato chips.

Zeke loves chips.  Any kind...he doesn't discriminate.  Cheetos, Doritos, and Sun Chips always top his list of favorites.  He will even choose chips for dessert.  The rest of us might opt for ice cream or a cookie.  He stays with his own brand of carbohydrates and it is almost always chips.

He saw a new pack of Pringles in our pantry that I had recently bought for Shep.  They were labeled "hot and spicy."  He begged me for some and so I agreed to let him have a few.  I figured that he would not want them after he tasted how hot they were. 

I put some water next to him in preparation of what I knew was to come.

Sure enough his little hands went up and he began kind of fanning his face.  "Mama, these are too hot."

I replied, "Drink some of your water buddy. Those are hot.  You don't need to eat anymore."

After taking a big gulp and whining some more he put another chip in his mouth.

The exact same reaction occurred.

More fanning.  More crying.  More gulping water.

I said, "Zeke, stop eating the chips.  They are too hot for you."

Through tears he said, "No mom.  I like them.  Maybe if I turn the chip over to the other side it won't be hot."

Well you can see where this is going and where it went.


Aren't we all?

Even if something is clearly causing us pain we will continue in our quest if it is something we think we want.

Thank goodness Zeke isn't numb to pain.

That pain in his mouth was alerting him to stop.

God allows pain like that many times.

Let's not be stubborn in our disobedience.

Instead let's be stubborn in our faith.

Zechariah 7:11 "But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A few things...

This week has just blown past me...I can't believe it is Thursday evening already.

I don't have much that I want to write in the way of a lengthy post...just a few noteworthy things that I thought would be fun to share.

A couple of quotes that I have seen recently:

~"The greatest proof of Christianity for others is not how far a man can logically analyze his reasons for believing, but how far in practice he will stake his life on his belief."  -T.S. Eliot

~"Tomorrow has two handles:  the handle of fear and the handle of faith.  You can take hold of it by either handle." -Unknown

~"It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back."  - Oswald Chambers


Something that cracked me up this week was from my quarterly visit to the Rheumatologist.  He is very nice and an excellent doctor, but he can be a bit dry.

He examined my joints checking for inflammation and nodules.  Then he asked me to rotate my neck and stretch it from side to side as far as possible.  (He was checking for any loss in my range of motion.)  Then he said, "Mrs. Helton, that is the best examination I will see today."

I got so laughing out loud tickled.

It wasn't that he said anything really funny. 

It was just an ironic and backward compliment.

Most of his patients are over 65 and I am 35.  I hope it goes without saying that my examination will be one of the best.

Anyway, even if no one else gets it, I laughed. 


Lastly, I would like to have some type of device for mothers of small children that would allow me to remove inappropriate bumper stickers from vehicles in front of me. 

Seriously my children are observant and they are trying to learn to read.

The last thing I need is to constantly try to avoid being behind goofballs who display their vulgar and heinous pastimes on their bumpers. 

Any other mothers with me here?!?

Monday, October 1, 2012

I Need You Jesus

I need you Jesus
to come to my rescue.
Where else can I go?
There's no other name 
by which I am saved.
Capture me with grace
I will follow you.

I love the lyrics to this song.  If you don't know it...learn it.  The song is called "Rescue."

This was the cry of my heart from my bathroom floor just last week.

No I wasn't crying out from severe stomach pain although I can see why your brain would take you down that road.

I had actually gone into my bathroom and closed the door to either shut myself in or shut everyone else out.

Call it a personal time-out.

For me it was rock bottom that day.

It should not surprise you at all to learn that earlier in the day I had led the ladies bible study group.  It had been an awesome time of encouragement and refreshment in God's Word. 

Rock bottom didn't come until after I got the kids picked up from school.  Things were going along just fine.  The kids and I had done snack time, gotten caught up on the day and we were settling in to watch a movie together when it all went down

I have mentioned before that Caroline has a hard time of the day.  Well this is it.  Something will not suit her and she will take it out on everyone.  Because she can't talk to us she uses other methods to get our attention and let us know she is unhappy.

Usually she does this by kicking and screaming...yes, a FIT.

If these days were the rare occasion I think I could handle them better.  But sometimes (and a lot here lately) these days become the norm.  It almost seems like clockwork that the fits come and life is just kind of miserable for the rest of us.

Well this particular day I just couldn't deal.  Instead of responding to her....I reacted in anger and fired-up frustration.

I hated that Caroline, Zeke, and Ava all saw my angry reaction.  The self-control that I ask them to exert each day was found nowhere in me.  I hate even thinking about it now.

But...Caroline and I needed some time....and space....between us.

I took her to her room.

I took myself to the bathroom and laid face down on the floor.

Despite the situation, it turned into a pretty sweet time of communing with God.
Motherhood and the hope of being a good one made me desperate to go to the One who could step in and rescue.

After a good 10 minutes of sobbing and praying I knew I was ready to be the adult and handle the situation with somewhat of a better grip.  

This day in the bathroom is proof that God delights to come to our rescue. 

Our only problem with this is that we don't want to admit that we need rescuing.

So He allows us to see ourselves for what we really are.

For me it was an un-checked temper that was lacking self-control.

 Desperation that lands you face down on the bathroom floor rips any pride you have.  Rescuing demands that you surrender to your hopeless state.  Only then will you stop fighting.  Only then can you even be rescued.

When I left that bathroom I was pretty amazed at just how good God is. 

I walked in revved up.  I left rescued.  Captured by grace....

Thursday, September 27, 2012


If a marriage falls apart.  It probably wasn't some huge thing that happened out of nowhere.

Most likely it was a lot of little things.

Little cuts.
Little disappointments.
Little issues.
After a while these little issues turn into BIG deals.

I use this marriage example because the parallel is so easy to see.

(Just for the marriage is great!  Not perfect but great!)

So...back to little things.

These little issues in our lives, if left unchecked, can choke out our joy and rob us of blessings.

We all have our little things.

Maybe it is jealousy.  Maybe you struggle with a critical spirit.  Maybe you have a grudge against someone.  Maybe you are an emotional eater.

There are numerous other examples but you get the gist.

These things don't keep you from living your life everyday.  But they do interfere with how your life is lived.

I have been struggling with something I considered "little" lately.  I have prayed about it and even felt nudged by the Lord to do something about it.  But I had successfully convinced myself that it wasn't a big deal.  It was just a little thing.

Well I don't know if you know it or not.  But God cares about everything in our lives.


He is a one-stop God.  We are His children and everything that we deal with catches His eye....especially when our lives are littered by our little issues.

Because He is faithful, He will speak to us and direct our path.

This week in bible study I was reminded of this truth in God's holy word.  Luke 16:10 says, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much."

This verse can easily apply to our stewardship over material possessions.

However, this isn't exactly what God was saying to me.

He knew I was dealing with an irritating little issue.

My prideful attitude and unwillingness to deal was showing something much deeper.  I couldn't be trusted.  


If He (God) can't trust me to deal with small issues then how am I ever going to deal with bigger things?

As if water had been thrown into my hit me.

That is not how I want God to view me.

I trust Him so much.

I want Him to trust me.
I want Him to entrust things into my care.

So....I had to deal with my little issue.

As always, the peace of God's presence washed over me once I took the initial step of obedience.

It wasn't easy.  Dealing with stuff never is.

Let's be people that are willing to deal.  Let's not let the little things turn into BIG deals.

Let's be trusted.

Monday, September 24, 2012

That shade of blue...

This is a shade of blue that signals change in Georgia.  (I took this picture while lying on my back deck.)

It means that Summer is on its way out and Fall is next in line.

It means cooler mornings and less haze.

It means football, leaves changing, and Halloween is upon us.

I took a walk after church and let my eyes really enjoy the blue sky above me.  The wind tickled my hair as it blew around my face.  It was fun to see, smell, feel, and enjoy God's gorgeous creation.

We had a full weekend.  But today there was time to go at a slower pace...and we did.  Shep shot his bow and slept in the hammock swing.  I went for a walk and then came back and did absolutely nothing...except take up space outside.  Zeke took a long and much-needed nap.  Ava played in the sandbox and collected acorns.  Caroline watched all of us from the hypnotizing lull of our swing.

It was like a long exhale from a tiring week.

But I just couldn't get over the brilliant blue sky.

It lit me up.

It made me smile to think that my God thought up that color...and then broadcast it upon the heavens for us to enjoy.

I certainly did.  Hope you did too.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


How I love Thursdays!

I anticipate Thursdays all week long.

Why?  Bible study day. 

For some reason our ladies group has met on Thursdays for as long as I can remember.  It is a little bit like a preview for church on Sunday.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not saying that church days are the only days that I get fed spiritually.  That is not true at all.  I am responsible for opening God's Word on a daily basis.  He speaks if we will make the time. 

But I love the people part.

I love Sundays because I get to see my church family.  I love the hugs, the smiles, the tears, the corporate worship, the testimonies, the salvation stories, the baptisms and so on.

Wednesday nights are fun too but usually rushed.  The kids have Awana and I spend the entire time in the choir room.

BUT Thursdays are super special to me.  It is for the desperate ones.  And I certainly fit into that category.  We come in with all of our stuff.  We shoulder each other's burdens.  We pray through tears.  We believe for miracles.  We take our time.  We talk about some hard stuff.  We are challenged, convicted, and hopefully a little bit at a time...changed....for God's glory.

This morning our video was on Daniel being thrown into the lion's den.

This is one of the more familiar stories if, like me, you were raised in church.  We were talking about this one in pre-school.

One interesting fact I did not remember was that Daniel was in his 80's when he encountered the lion's den.

Also, the fact that I can toss "lion's den" around in such a casual way means that I have given in to the notion that this wasn't somehow terrifying.

Lions.  Real, huge, hungry, predatory lions.

Have you watched Animal Planet lately?

Maybe you should.

Then you (and I) would give God and Daniel a little more respect.

The bible says that an angel shut the mouths of the lions.  (Daniel 6:22)

The lions probably wanted to rip Daniel to pieces...they just couldn't.  Their maker had decided to close their mouths. 

Beth (Moore)  paralleled this verse in Daniel with a passage from the New Testament.  1 Peter 5:8 says:

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

Even though we are not Daniel and don't have to worry about literally being thrown into a den of lions we are still being hunted.

So.....things haven't really changed that much in thousands of years.

The bible warns us to be alert.  Be on guard.  Stay faithful.  Trust God.

If we do that....He will shut the mouth of the lion again and again and again.