Friday, March 30, 2012

The Temptation

Spring Break is upon us.

Kids get out of school for the next week. Warmer weather has breezed in making me wonder how I was freezing in February just one month ago.

That memory has faded as I slip on my flip-flops, short sleeves and shorts these days.

We have had an unusually mild March here in Georgia.

Winter didn't slowly fade out like it usually does. March is usually our transitional month...a few cold days, a few cool days, a few rainy days, and then ending with some warmer days.

Not this year.

It has felt like full-on summer just about the whole month of March. (I have even seen pictures of people swimming in their pools)

So much for people like me who like some transition time, huh?!?

I do have a point for this blog....

As many of us enjoy some "down" time let's not give in to the temptation to forgo our alone time with God.

The enemy doesn't take a Spring break...even if you do.

As a matter of fact he would love nothing more than to come into your idle time and wreak some serious havoc in your mind.

I am saying all of this to ME.

Prayer and bible study aren't things we should ever put off just to enjoy some down time.

I am praying that God will use some of this down time to talk to me even more. Maybe with a less hectic schedule...I will be more apt to be quiet and really listen.

So.....I exhort you in Jesus name. Don't get lazy on your Spring break.

Rest. Yes.

Certainly get some rest. But stay in the Word. Use more of your down time to pray and talk to the One who deserves more of you than you ever give Him.

I believe He will bless us.

Ps. 116:7 "Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you."

Indeed He has...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Painfully Aware

I wish I could tell you that things have been hugely better since last Friday.

They aren't.

Just a hard time right now I guess.

God has and is using this time to show me something though.

As I grow in Him, I imagine myself somehow becoming stronger and stronger so that I can walk on my own.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Why do we believe that is so?

If that were true...we would grow ourselves spiritually right out of having any relationship with Jesus. His desire is relationship. So, of course, He will use difficulties to draw us back...over and over.

Do we think that true strength is proudly displaying our sure and steady walk both in and outside our house walls?

I think it is a lie that we have bought into.

I know I have....hook, line, and sinker.

I think such things as, "If I can just get stronger spiritually...then I will be able to get a better grip on things in my life."


I don't think God ever desires for us to get a better grip on our lives. He wants us to constantly be handing our lives over to Him...with no grip at all.

As hard days chip away at my strength...God is saying something here.

"Andrea, see that strength slipping away?"


"Come running back to me and get more. You are powerless on your own."

-But I have been praying more, growing more, memorizing scripture and spending more time in Your Word. How am I not stronger than this? Why do I need so much of You so often? Why am I so pitifully weak?"

"Because the closer you get to Me the more aware you become of your weakness. In my economy weakness is strength. It pushes you to realize you need Me. Your awareness creates an ache that only I can soothe."

These are some of the conversations that God and I have been having lately as I have pleaded for Him to rescue me from some of these rough days.

This morning His still small (but resounding) voice spoke again.

"Andrea, you know that song you sing about Me called How Deep the Father's Love?"


"There is a line that says, 'I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom. But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.' How can I keep you from boasting in your own strength instead of My strength?"

-I don't want to answer this Lord.

"Yes, I know. But learning to boast only in Me requires hardships. Sometimes even hardship upon hardship. You are getting stronger....but not on your own. You are getting stronger in Me. Running to me every moment is NOT weakness. It is strength."

So I end with this.

Right this moment I am boasting in Jesus Christ alone.

I was able to get out of bed because of Jesus.
I was able to get dressed and do my wife and mom duties because of Jesus.
I am sitting here typing this because of Jesus.

God willing the rest of this day will be lived out because of Jesus alone.

Any strength I have is because of Him.

Judges 7:2 "The Lord said to Gideon, 'You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her,"

This story beautifully speaks of what I am trying, somewhat clumsily, to say.

If you read in Judges chapter 7 God had a plan for the Israelite army to take Midian into their hands. But He created hardship upon hardship so that the strength would come from Him alone. He continued to decrease the size of Israel's army until they seemed like an easy foe to beat. From thousands to only 300....and hopefully you know the end of the story. God won!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Think about such things...

I have had a few days to breathe...pray...and ponder since that H E A V Y blog post on Friday. No doubt anyone who read it could see that I was in the thick of a spiritual battle.

I am happy to report that God won.
This soldier was down and out for a bit but now she is up and at it again.

That blog was a perfect example of what can happen when a follower of Christ stops listening to the direction of the Holy Spirit and instead listens to reason and logic....and the advice of others who are well-meaning but out of the loop as to God's will for my life.

Big mistake.

I did. And I spiraled down into depressions pit.

I have been there many many times before.

I thought I knew what to avoid. Obviously I was wrong.

Lesson learned. Hopefully a future scenario can be avoided or maybe someone reading this can be warned and heed my advice.

Or the advice of Jesus Christ from His Word.

He tells us in Isaiah 26:3-4 "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you; all whose thoughts are fixed on you. Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal rock."

I did not have perfect peace on Friday because my thoughts were not fixed upon Him. I allowed my focus to shift.

Jesus Christ must be my center. The fixture that everything else hinges upon. He is the only Rock that is immovable. He didn't move on Friday. I did.

Thankfully Saturday was a gift waiting for me.

You saw in the first photo the three adorable kids piled up in the back seat of Daddy's ride. We were off for a picnic and some hiking.

I needed to re-wire my brain. I needed to be reverent and quiet before my Creator God. I couldn't think of a better place to do that than the great outdoors.

And Shep always leads us to the perfect destination.

We picked up this little fella trying to cross the road. Ava just had to hold it in the car. It never once peeked out of it's shell.
Zeke took this picture. Can't you tell the angle is from below? He was so proud of his 3 and a half year old self. I see now that not wearing a stitch of make-up was a poor choice for me. Shep, of course, always looks good.
God allowed us to have this spot all to ourselves!
The view was spectacular! This deck provided a perfect spot to spread our picnic and take in a breathtaking panoramic view.
I love watching nature wake up to Spring. It was such a treat to see the dogwoods in bloom and the buds of new little leaves coming out everywhere.
Shep is getting really good at using the timer function on my camera. Here we are!

God revealed Himself to me all day long. He used the smiles on the faces of the ones I love. His creation spoke of newness and life. The air smelled sweet. The breezes seemed to kiss my face and speak of His love for me. It was a respite for my soul.

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hold Me Jesus

Some days this blog provides a blank space to share thoughts, ideas, insights, and glimpses into the world that is my life.

Today that will not be the case.
Today is a heartache.
Today it is an escape for the words that well up and have no place to go...

Today I am weary.
Today I feel to the core of my being that I am a "stranger" here on this Earth.
Today I want to soar heavenward.
Today I blink away tears that sneak up at inopportune moments.

God has called me to believe the unbelievable.
God has asked me to me trust Him to do the unthinkable.
God has revealed only bits and pieces to me...leaving the big holes for Him to fill in.
God has told me to see with my eyes what I don't yet see.
God has told me to hope for that which has not happened.
God has told me to bank on His promise.
God has told me to persevere when I want to be persuaded otherwise.
God has given me a charge and I am not to move from it.

The problem with all of this is that God has not spoken this to many other people on my behalf.
He has spoken it to me (and Shep).

Others have not been called to walk my faith journey. I must do it.
Others question it.
Others mock it.
So do I.....sometimes.

(Please know that when I say "I" what I mean is "we". Shep is totally in this with me.)

God has called us to believe it.
Stand on it.
Plan for it.
And wait....

The world offers hosts of others who think I am crazy, looney, backward, foolish, out-of-my-mind, unwilling, and even a failure.
The enemy of my soul makes sure I hear their words...and see their stares.
Their unbelief.

My God calls to me and whispers hope above this hurt.

He is here.
His voice assures me like nothing else.

My hurt is safe in His hands. My ache only affirms my need for Him. My ache draws Him to me...
Right now.
This is real.
This is rubber meeting the road.

"Well sometimes my life
just don't make sense at all.
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small.

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory

Won't you be my Prince of Peace?"
~Rich Mullins

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What is my angle??

My mom led me in the sinner's prayer when I asked Jesus to come live inside my heart. I was nine years old at the time.

Since that night my mother has always talked with me about things of God.

As I grew from child to adolescent to teenager she used her discretion with age appropriate-ness but she has NEVER held back on the tough subjects.

As we've gotten older these conversations have only intensified.

We share such a special bond as mother and daughter. But our common passion in the Lord Jesus and how He works in our lives gives us plenty to discuss as sisters in Him.

Yesterday we got to spend a large chunk of time together. This is not common these days due to our crazy and often conflicting schedules. But~ yesterday we made it work.

Our time was sweet. She had a lot to share with me about some areas in her life where God had been recently speaking to her. One of the things she said started some wheels spinning in my own mind.

Well, let's be serious.

God used her words to speak some solid truth to me.

(I love it that I am 34 years old and I am still being trained in the way I should my momma.)

Anyway, she posed a question to me that she had had to answer for herself.

"Am I only happy to serve God when He benefits me?"


Am I?

What is my angle with God?

Do I pray about things and for things only so I can benefit from them?

Do I pray for safety so I don't ever have to hurt?
Do I pray for provision so I don't have to worry about money and bills?
Do I pray for ease so I don't have to face conflict?
Do I pray for opportunities for myself to make my own name great?

Please don't think I am saying we can't go to God for personal reasons. Of course we can. He tells us to come to Him for everything.

My question, though, is this: Do we ever just pray for Him to work in our lives so that we receive no benefit at all?

Yea, me neither.

What if the only One who benefits from a situation in our lives is the One who gave us life?

Wouldn't that seriously be pouring out ourselves for Him?

I love it when my children love on me "just because". I can totally tell the difference when they want something.

My bible study also touched on this subject this week.

So I guess God is taking His proverbial highlighter to this area in my life.

Do we ever just go to Him and say..."It's ok with me to hurt today for Your Name's sake. I would consider it a privilege to be inconvenienced for You, God."

My prayers usually have an angle.

I want God to give me something so I don't have to experience ______________ (hardship, turmoil, anxiety, etc...)

What is your angle?

Could you just get a blessing from benefiting God alone?

Roman 6:22 "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."

2 Corinthians 4:15 "All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Savoring her special day...

Ava turned 7 yesterday. I wanted to celebrate having this little ray of sunshine in our lives for 7 years. It has flown by. I am actually hoping that she will take 7 a little more slowly than her previous years. Yea right.
These pics were taken about a week ago but I wanted to include her latest interest.
In addition to ballet, she has decided she wants to try her hands at guitar. She had her first lesson and learned E, F, and G. She was beyond pumped and wanted to show off her mad skills.
This was her birthday morning. Waking up to her family singing "Happy Birthday" and opening her presents.
Showing off some new shades...
Ok this little balancing bird was $1.99 at Hobby Lobby and kids loved it. Who would have guessed...
We had a day of fun planned and our first stop was the zoo in Chattanooga.
Here are my three little monkeys.
We loved the petting zoo. The goats were hilarious. They obviously get fed a lot and don't mind showing some aggression.
Our next stop was the walk-across bridge. The kids loved being near the forget just how big the Tennessee River is.
Getting a ride from her favorite guy....daddy.
Enjoying our shaved ice a little too much.
Ava got to stand in front of a huge blowing fan and dance. She did this while waiting for her ride on the carousel. Yes, her mouth is still vividly red from her "Tiger's blood" shaved ice.
She opted for an up and down ostrich on the carousel. We went a couple of times because once is never enough fun!
Grand daddy getting some loving.
My mom, Nancy Ruth with her name-sake, Ava Ruth.
And if we had not had enough fun for the day we ended with a small but lively sleepover. The girls had a blast.

Shep and I mainly held down the fort and enjoyed a full night's rest.

If you believe that...then I have some ocean front property in Arizona for sale. (totally stolen from George Strait)

No we didn't get much rest but we savored each moment of our little girl's seventh birthday.

She is such a delight to us.
Happy Birthday Ava!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I look forward to Thursday mornings every week.

Ladies bible study takes place and for 2 short hours we get to be immersed in the mighty Word of God....and each other.

This is a special group of women and they are a treasure to me.

We have watched and cheered each other on as God has taught us to apply His Word to our own personal aching worlds.

Because of Zeke's nasty little gut bug, I was already preparing myself to have to miss this week.

But God, in his mercy and kindness, made Zeke well enough to go.

We have been up to our eyeballs in poop around this house so bible study might as well have been heaven for me.

God certainly didn't disappoint.

He spoke to us out of His Word. He spoke to us through a miraculous testimony. He allowed us to be His hands and feet to another who needed provision.

It was the body of Christ at work and it was beautiful to me! It brings tears to my eyes even now.

Just for another added bonus...the Lord allowed me to meet a sweet girl who has followed my blog for 2 years. She lived out of state and has recently moved to our area. Through providential circumstances she sat in our study this morning. How cool is that?!? I was floored.

(It was totally God's idea for me to start this blog in the first place...and He knew before then that she and I would one day meet. Oh, He is so cool!!)

To think that anyone would indulge this blog any of their precious time is pretty mind-blowing. But to know that God has used it to speak to others on His behalf in unthinkable.

May He be praised!!

Anyway...words fail me. The moments of this morning were simply glorious.

Philippians 3:14-15a "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things."

Let's be mature believers.

Let's press on no matter what.

This weekend should be pretty special. My Ava will turn 7 years old. More to come on that later...

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Quick One..

I just wanted to get on here and blog for a moment.

Mainly to change my personal scenery from something other than a bathroom or a toilet.

Zeke and I are battling a pest of a stomach bug. Thankfully not puking. Just all the fun in the other direction....did I mention frequent as well?!?

Anyway, this blog is a ball of fun to me.

I have often said that it is better than therapy.

I know a few people that follow it but I would love to think that God sees the faces of those who read and maybe laugh, ponder, hope, cry and pray along with me.

Some of the folks I follow in the blog world never truly know the impact that they have on me. Their faith speaks to me on days when I am down. There is something truly sweet about sharing victories and dividing sorrows even when we are kind of unaware of it. God is good like that.

Anyway I ran across a quote last week that has truly ministered to me. I hope it does the same for you.

"I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse."
-Philip Yancey

Sense and God don't seem to marry much in my life. I am not saying that God tells me not to be wise or logical sometimes. But He clearly calls me to things that go against what is logical to most folks.

This quote helped that go down a little easier for me.

Much of what I believe will only make sense after God works it all out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Out of reverence

There are special people in my life that garner my love, loyalty, and attention just because of WHO they are.

For example...let's take my good-looking man. He could ask me to do just ask about anything and I would do it.

Why? Because he is my husband. My covenant partner. My other half that makes me whole.

If Caroline, Ava, or Zeke express needs in their lives I am gonna move things around to meet their needs (provided they are legit:)

Why? Because they are treasures to me. My children. Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.

If my family or close friends called on me for help or assistance in any way I would not hesitate to step in and give them what was needed.

Why? Because they are so valuable to me....priceless even. My life would be void in many ways without them.

A phrase in scripture jumped out at me today.

2 Corinthians 7:1 says, "....let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness OUT OF REVERENCE FOR GOD."

I have just told you that I will do just about anything for those I love deeply; but would I do the same for the One I claim to love more than all of the rest?

Just because of who He is....

God Almighty
My Creator
My Beginning
My End
My Comfort
My Savior
My Sacrifice
My Peace

and that is the very short list.

I am amazed how easily I show reverence for those I love and respect.

Here in the deep South we even pull off the side of the road and stop the car when a funeral procession passes by.

Why? Out of reverence for the family of the deceased.

But that is easy to do... makes me feel good and others get to see me doing it.

It appeals to my sense of pride and ego.

God is asking that we will purify ourselves of the things we allow to contaminate in secret. Maybe when no one is looking.

Out of reverence for Him.

Am I game?

Are you??

Monday, March 5, 2012

Called or crazy?!?

The "Rocky" movie series is somewhat sacred at our house. Shep loves those movies.
(He has even been known to lift weights and work out with the Rocky soundtrack blaring in the background.)

There is something deeply rooted in him that likes to see a man fight his way to the top...and win. I've wondered why they have made so many of those movies. I mean, aren't there like 5 or 6 now? But, the truth is, any Rocky fan feels like they have lived life (the ups, downs, wins, losses, deaths, births, near misses) with him. Time has been taken to really feel the effect of his circumstances.

Today I feel like Rocky in the spiritual sense.

Funny parallel I know.

But how many times have I watched those stupid movies and seen his character fight? After each round he takes his bruised and battered body over to his corner and sits for a set breather. During said time he gets his wounds tended to and a proverbial pep talk from his coach.

I am here.

Sure I have my hair pulled back in a ponytail, make-up on, matching (cute, I hope) clothes on. I showed up for work. I did my job. I spoke when spoken to. I managed to even get a few things at the grocery store.

But hear me. I am beaten and bruised spiritually.

Yesterday I allowed my enemy to come at me. I really didn't even fight back. I just let him speak his lies. Instead of rebuking him...I just sat there. He threw punches of doubt over and over. He jabbed me with cynicism. I could sense my faith shrinking and discouragement clouding my view. By the time we loaded up to go to prayer time at church I was numb and raw all at the same time.

I sat in our small little group and listened to Shep teach on prayer. Tears brimmed over my eyelids with each word he said.

I really didn't want to be there.

I wanted to be home under the covers. I wanted something fun to do so I could forget about how hard this felt.

Anything to avoid this pain.

But my Heavenly Coach knows me best. He is training me for my good and His glory. It did not escape His attention that I had been spiritually beaten to a pulp all day.

He had me at prayer time for a reason. He was going to begin the process of tending to my wounds and speaking truth to his little fighter....who happened to NOT be fighting.

I sat in my seat and let the tears fall.

I had already determined that I was NOT going to pray. I even told Shep not to call on me or ask me to pray out loud.

As we began our corporate prayer time I shuffled up front to the altar. At least there I could be away from others and cry as much as I wanted without causing a scene.

I felt someone else come close.

It was Shep.

He knew I wasn't in a good place. His presence was good for me.

As the praying began I felt the need to cry out to God. But I didn't want to.

My obedience finally over took my pride and I found myself praying out loud in our group. The more I spoke the more I sensed God's comfort on me. I spoke out of a breaking heart. I spoke out of my desperation. I didn't have to even try to think ahead of what to say because the words spilled out of my mouth without much of a filter. I was sorry that the others had to hear me but it was as if only God and I were there. Burdens were becoming lighter and faith was filling me again.

Our weekend drew to a close with some sweet time together as a family. I went to bed sore from the internal struggle but strengthened in my resolve.

This morning I went into my prayer closet and spoke candidly with my Heavenly coach again. He knows how hard this faith journey is. But He chose it for me. Almost 10 years ago He prompted us to believe Him for Caroline's healing.

During those early months and years it was hard. But nothing like it is now. We were hearing God frequently through dreams, visions, and prophetic words. A month wouldn't go by that God didn't somehow reaffirm His plan to heal.

It seemed like such a calling on our lives. Almost exciting even....

Now it just feels crazy.

The truth is~ He hasn't changed the plan.

It was crazy back then.

But it was new and fresh.

Now it is just old and hard. Day after day...pressing in. Going against how we feel or what we see or what others say...

This morning my Heavenly Coach had a pep talk in His blessed Word for me to hear.

Hebrews 3:14 says...."We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first."

I know that this verse was not written in the context about healing my little girl. But God spoke it specifically to me this morning.

The fight isn't over yet. Bruised and battered...yes. Lost some rounds....yes. But the battle belongs to my God. He means to send His children into the fray to fight. We have to fight our doubts, fears, insecurities, and an enemy to seeks to destroy our faith.

I praise Him today for nurturing my wounds and comforting me with His Word.

I desire nothing less than to "hold firmly till the end the confidence I had at first!!!" Amen!