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."