Monday, April 30, 2012

Chill Bump Moment

I have had at least two individuals approach me in the past week with a question that haunts many believers.

"How do you know God spoke to you?"

Keep in mind that I am no scholar.  I am just a girl desperate for God's presence and power upon my life.  I know from His Word that He does speak to us.  However, we also have an enemy whose desire is to thwart God's plan for our life.  He will speak to us too.  So...we are back to the do you know that it was God speaking?

He spoke to me this weekend several times.  But one of them was incredibly clear and unquestionable.  I thought I would share it with you.

I came to work last Friday morning.  I was caught up on a lot of things so my primary responsibility was answering the phones.  Between phone calls I found myself perusing the Bible Gateway site.  I love looking at the verse of the day and reading their online devotionals.  (I tend to become a rabid seeker when I am needy for God's encouragement...I don't apologize for it.) 

I clicked on the link for Charles Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening" online devotional for Friday, April 27th.

The verse whispered to my soul with unassuming power..."Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope."  Psalm 119:49

Now what you don't know is that Shep and I had both been praying for ourselves and each other that God would speak to us about Caroline...yet again.  I know we are pitiful.  But continuing to believe that He is going to heal her without any evidence other than God's promise tends to wear us down.  Especially when day after day, season after season, year after year, there is no change all. you see how that verse may have encouraged me?

I immediately went back to the Bible Gateway site and looked at it in other versions.  (Try to hold off your knee jerk reaction of calling me a nerd.  I know that I am one.  But this gets good.)

The verse in the devotional was King James Version...the "thy" and "thou" gave it away...

Here is the same verse in other versions:

"Remember (fervently) the word and promise to your servant, in which you have caused me to hope."  Amplified Bible
"Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope."  English Standard Version
"Remember what you said to me, your servant-I hang onto these words for dear life!"  The Message
"Remember the word to your servant, in which you have made me hope."  New American Standard
"Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope." New Living Translation
"Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope."  NIV

Isn't this so cool?  If you have never done this with a Scripture, I urge you to try it.  The slight variations give so much insight to what God is saying.

I remember on Friday thinking that "The Message" version spoke exactly what I feel on a daily basis.

I immediately felt validated.  God knew where I was and how I was feeling.  He directed my path to find this scripture that He had waiting on me.

FAST FORWARD__________________________________________________________
to Saturday night.

Shep and I had been doing housework all day. Even in the midst of wrangling our children we managed to organize and clean out the garage and laundry room.  Fun, I know.  I had not mentioned one thing to him about my scripture find from the morning before.  Sadly, I don't think I had thought of it again.

We had a date planned for that evening.  As I was trying to get pretty he breezed in the bathroom and said, "Hey.  Remind me to tell you a scripture that God used to encourage me.  You need to hear it too."

I said ok and continued getting ready.

Once we were in the car he said, "Oh I meant to show you that verse."

I pulled out my the little bible I keep in my purse. When we pulled up to a stop sign he tried to look it up.  I could tell he was getting frustrated because he couldn't quite remember the verse address.  He said, "All I remember is that it was in Psalm 119." 

I still didn't think about my verse from the day before.

He said, "Look through the verses in Psalm 119. The one God showed me has to do with him giving a word to his servant and causing his servant to have hope."

CHILL BUMPS began to break out on my arms and legs.
Finally my mind realized.  It was the same verse God had directed me too.
I found it and read it out loud.  

A knowing smile of God's providence broke out across my face.


Two people.
Two different days.
Two different ways.
One powerful verse found its way to us.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I shy away from blog posts like this.

They are very relevant and needed. But who wants to reveal the truth about themselves?  I keep hoping that I can be quiet and let it pass and then blog about something more fun and less serious.  But, sometimes, that isn't real life.

Today (and yesterday) I was heavy.

Not heavy as in I just ate way too many potato chips or cupcakes.  But heavy...

like I just jumped in a pool with all of my clothes on.


Normally you don't feel the weight of your clothes.  They just move with you.  They feel second nature to the skin you are in. 

But when all of your clothes get sopping wet.  You feel them.  They are heavy and cumbersome.  You want to get them off of you as soon as possible.  They are weighing you down.
(This happened to me on several youth and college trips growing up.  The guys always thought the definition of fun was to find us girls and push us in the pool.  Of course the fact that we were fully dressed, shoes on, make-up in tact, and jewelry jingling always made it even better.)

But THAT is how I feel today.

Of course I am miles away from the nearest pool.  But today I am feeling the weights of several burdens.  Of course I am doing what God tells us to do.


But still the heaviness hangs around.  I desperately want to understand this truth of unloading on Christ.  He tells us to let Him carry our burdens.

Matthew 11: 28-30 says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my burden is easy and my yoke is light."

I look at those verses and think to myself.  "This sounds good, great even.  But how, Lord?"

Looking at them again I am struck fresh by the command of the first three words..."Come to me".

Maybe that's what I am doing. 

Praying.  Crying out.  Stilling my heart to listen.  Praising Him in spite of it.  Encouraging other to believe.

Could all of those things be involved in "Come to me"?

I am gonna believe that it is exactly that.

Lord I come to You.  You alone know the nagging thoughts that linger and never seem to leave.  You tell me to give these things to You.  I am struggling but trying to do just that.  I believe that sometimes you allow us to feel things deeply so that we can better understand and help others in need.  I hate this heaviness that hangs on me.  Take it Father.  Weary and burdened describe me perfectly.  I want Your rest.  I desire to learn from be gentle and humble in heart.  Teach me the right way.  Trusting You seems to be a new battle every day.  I hate that about myself.  But I know that You are faithful and true.  My feelings change like the wind...but You remain.  I rejoice in that when there is nothing else...

Monday, April 23, 2012


I get totally tickled that I used to write "BFF" on almost any note that I would pass to a girlfriend in middle and high school.

Just goes to show that I had a lot to learn about picking and choosing friends.

Some people definitely are your friends. Some people are just acquaintances. Some people just help you pass the time.

But others...

The ones that you go out of your way to spend time with. The ones who imprint their mark on your life. The ones that you don't mind halving their troubles and doubling their joys. The ones who bring a smile to your face when their name is mentioned. The ones who you don't see as often now but time has no way or eroding their value and worth to you.

Those friends. They are indeed your best friends forever.

I got the pleasure of spending last Thursday through Sunday with 3 of my very best friends.

Location does not permit us to get together as often as we would like so we make the effort to get away together at least once a year.

It was a concentrated amount of one-on-one time and I soaked every second.

God used these girls as a hedge of protection for me during our school years. They loved and served the Lord with all of their hearts and hanging out with them meant that I would be pushed to do the same. I pray that my own children will have such friends.

The ones who will toe the line when others try to blur it.
The ones who will say "no" in love when others say "yes" to please.
The ones who will act silly and keep your secrets.
The ones who will show their loyalty instead of just giving lip service.
The ones who will guard your reputation as well as their own.
The ones who will think the best of you when others speak with disregard.
The ones who you will want to be with at the beach 20 years later....laughing, eating, encouraging, remembering, shopping, and sharing your life journey and the hand of Jesus through it all.

1 Corinthians 1:4 "I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pages of power

If you are among the vast number of people in this world who own a Bible or Bibles you should consider yourself blessed indeed.

It is a power packed book. The only one of its kind.

It tells the beginning.
It predicts the end.
It tells of heaven.
It warns of hell.
It contains countless miracles.
It speaks truth.
It dispels darkness.
It points to One Man who changed the world forever.
It has the power to change the one who reads it, claims it, and hides it in their heart.

Knowing all of this should make us treasure it like a precious gem; but most of us could find our bible tossed aside somewhere collecting proverbial dust.

Christ told us to live by its words. To feast upon them as if they were our last meal. Do we?

I have been a believer in Jesus Christ since the tender age of 9. But only in the past few years have I begun to be a lover of the Word of God. The love affair began when I forced myself to study it. I became one of those fanatical women who attend bible study every single week.
(Still am)
Not that I needed anything extra to do but because I found myself being drawn in by an ancient text.

This book of power began to come alive to me. Stories written thousands of years ago somehow spoke into my current circumstances.

It was uncanny. But that is God. He is ever-constant and always relevant.

This past Sunday I was sitting in church listening to our associate pastor bring a powerful and convicting message.

One of the texts he used almost smacked me in the face. Strong words stung me with conviction and pierced my stubborn heart.

Amazing, isn't it?

I was sitting there with hundreds of folks....but God had something to say to me. And to them too. But only He can personalize a single passage of scripture and make it speak to many different individuals in their specific lives.

The text that smacked me in the face....Romans 8:5-8.
"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God."

Meet my flesh. This is Andrea....on days when I wake up and decide to do things my way.

Words like....sinful, hostile, and does not submit may seem a bit harsh but they are true. We like to candy coat them and just say we are having a bad day. But it goes way beyond that. We can have a bad day and still live out that day in God's will. What we really are is hostile in our minds toward God.


This was a powerful word of warning to me.

I am to set my mind on Christ. I am to staunchly follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. I am to submit to Him.

Doing these things will result in blessings for, peace, and pleasing my Father who loves me so.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Shut up.

This has been a fast week for some reason.

As I reflect on this Friday I wonder when the moments slipped past. But there were a few days that stand out.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that there have been some STAND OUT God moments this week.

His Word tells us that He is always with us. But I do believe that there are certain times when He allows us to sense Him in more profound ways.

The phone conversation with my friend was certainly one of those times.

But He didn't stop there.

As Tuesday evening drew to a close I climbed into bed and thought about all that had happened that day.

My heart was still so tender toward His ways and his answered prayer in my life that day. First, with my friend. But an additional phone conversation had occurred as well.

With a different person and for a very different purpose.

It was a phone call I knew had to eventually happen but one I had been dreading. It was a confrontation, of sorts. But the person on the other end was someone I loved, admired, respected, and trusted.

God had specifically told me (and Shep) the position I was to have.
I was not to move or bend in the slightest.

But it was hard and even rethinking about it now makes my belly ache.

My instructions from God were to speak what He has told me. Nothing less. Nothing more.

BUT LET ME JUST SAY....God was so good and gracious in that phone call.

He exchanged my trembling knees for some steady ones and helped me speak with love, truth, and boldness.

Isn't that His way?

Sometimes He fights the battle for me. Other times He shows off Himself in a pitiful vessel like me.

So, anyway, I just sat in bed soaking in all that He had done. Emotionally drained. But not yet sleepy.

My thoughts began to once again chant inside my head.

"Why am I being so 'out there' with what I believe?"
"Who says I have to be so bold about His promise regarding Caroline?"
"Am I crazy?"
"I mean really....only a crazy person would believe and TELL people that their almost 10 year old daughter would be completely healed."
"I could just shut up about it."
"I could just shut up period."
"I could stop blogging."
"I wouldn't have to worry about all of these hard confrontations anymore."
"Shutting up would definitely be easier."
"God isn't gonna care if I just hold my faith inside."
"I can still believe it without declaring it to everyone, right?"

With those thoughts still lingering, I opened up my bible study.

The bible passage was familiar but spoken in a different way. It was straight from the book of Matthew but the version was from The Message.

As my thoughts screamed for me to shut up about this faith. God's message was very different.

Matthew 5: 14-16"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

I don't think He could have spoken any more clear or direct. Do you?

But still.

Shutting up seemed easier.

Maybe I could come to a open about my faith in God just shut up about Him healing Caroline.

So- I went to sleep having mentally struck a deal with God.

I would be like a city on a hill and openly proclaim faith in my Savior but keep the crazy, unbelievable, impossible faith stuff about her healing to myself.

Night night.

But then came the morning. He was waiting. He had something even more specific to say.

I opened up my morning devotional and almost gasped at the scripture staring back at me.

Matthew 10:27 "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs."

Deal is off.

Shutting up is not an option.

What He has whispered over and over and over and over during the darkest times is for me (and Shep) to continue to believe this crazy thing.

Still secretly wishing for a muzzle; I will accept (with aching belly) the call of a megaphone.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Grace given. Grace received.

This morning I pulled out of the girl's school parking lot. I had just dropped them off and was headed to take Zeke to his destination. My mind was abuzz with assaults from my enemy.

He starts early.

Let me just say that we as believers are at war every single day. We may not choose to fight back but we will get attacked. At least, that is what my Bible tells me.

So here came my enemy....his taunts...his hopeless jeers...always about Caroline.

"You are so stupid to continue to believe any of this will actually happen."
"If God hasn't done this by now then you should just give up."
"He is gonna make a fool of you."
"Others laugh at you and think your faith is all in vain."

I just sat there. Listening to Zeke talk and listening to this voice that tries relentlessly to erode my hope.

As I drove I held the thoughts at bay but that was about it.

I didn't fight.
I didn't pray.
I didn't praise.
I didn't really even acknowledge but the thoughts lingered still.

I heard my cell phone chime to alert me that I had a text message.

It was from a really close friend of mine that lives out of my area. She and I don't get to see each other near enough for me. To hear from her is always a treat....but this time her message was not great.

Her family has been going through some rough trials over the past few years and she asked me to call her when I could talk.

My heart immediately ached for her and what I knew she must be feeling.

But I wasn't doing much better.

My mind was like a jumbled collage of messed-up thoughts and hopeless fragments. And friend needed me.

I dropped Zeke off and knew I would have some "alone" time in the car.

I prayed and called on the Lord. I asked the Holy Spirit to speak through me and give me wise and discerning words. Words that would bring encouragement, hope and grace for her difficult day.

I dialed the number....trusting God to answer that prayer...because I had nothing.

She and I made small talk and caught each other up on our lives. She told me of all that was going on and how she was dealing with it.

I heard myself in her voice.
Her frailty...
Her fear...
Her insecurity...
Her weariness...
Her doubt...
Her anger....
Her passion....
Her desperation...

She doesn't have the same set of circumstances I have but we are still fighting the same battle.

To trust God or not?!?

As I began to speak to her words flowed out of my mouth that did NOT come from me. He was speaking. He was answering my prayer...and hers too.

The longer we talked the more grace began to could almost feel it.
Grace was being given and received.

I asked God to let me be a vessel though I knew I was empty.

He poured in and showered us both with grace and hope that brought joy to the tones of our voices. Yes! Her tone had changed and so had mine. Glory to God!

The change had been that big.

It was pretty neat.

He loves to surprise us like that. With Himself.

"The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." 2 Chronicles 16:9

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Where cell phones don't work...

And a cabin sits in the woods miles away from any paved roads....
And this strip of land provides the perfect place to spot deer and turkeys in the distance.
Where trees grow huge and you have to venture in the woods to stumble upon this natural piece of art...
And snakes like to stare at you from their hiding holes....(ok so this I could have done without:)
Where your transportation always looks like you've been muddin'
and stories are better heard when sitting in the teller's lap.
Where little boys stop and play in the dirt....
and your breath nearly catches in your throat from simple beauty like this.
When rain water has no place to go and you pray your car can make it to the store and back (it was a close one, D:)
Where boys wrestle, run, yell, get sweaty and dirty....
and little girls prove that princesses can make it in the wild too.
Where Caroline enjoys a view from her mommy's back...
and Zeke sneaks some squeezes from Rachel...his good girl buddy.
Where kids are free to explore and roam and imagine...
and fill their bellies with no end of yummy sweets. You got it...Oreos, little debbies, gummies, popcorn, popsicles,
Where waterfalls refresh (yes, the kids went swimming in their clothes)
and girls tote guns. (Looking good, Lulu:)
Me and D
G-14 (our own personal nickname for him)
B (a.k.a. Agnes or Lulu) loving on Caroline
The guys looking like Christmas morning after they shot this pig. Yes, it was harvested for meat and eaten. Fun times! The kids loved it!
Me and my hunk of a man...
My Caroline...
My Ava...
My Zeke...
Our other friends had to leave early before we took this photo so they are absent. Spring Break was a break indeed. A break from schedules, diets, phones, computers, and work. Don't get me wrong. We worked. Just not at a job. We worked at having fun. We worked at making memories. We worked to make it fun and enjoyable.

God blessed our time and our efforts. He kept us safe and brought us home.
May He be praised for His many blessings in our lives.

This place and these people just skim the surface of His blessings in my life.