Thursday, January 31, 2013

Does all really mean ALL?!?

As I knelt down in my closet....heart pounding....head splitting....nerves completely raw.....I wonder if I am really safe in His arms?

And then I remember a verse that has been familiar since childhood.  "Cast all your cares upon Him because He cares for you."

I couldn't have told you at that moment that the verse was found in 1 Peter.  I just knew it was in the Book.

My thoughts and momentary feelings of inadequacy had to be covered under the huge heading of ALL, right?

It had been a day.

As a mother I had lost it.

Dealing with a disabled child that cannot speak or do anything independently but has the strong will of any other 10 and a half year old had left me reeling....again.

Her fit for the day had made both of us borderline crazy. 

For her sake....
For Ava and Zeke....
For Shep who would be coming home from work soon.....
For myself.....

I had to go to the only One who could handle my fragile and frenzied mind.

Kneeling low and rocking myself in the Arms that I knew were there...I unloaded it ALL.

Anger and frustration ebbed slowly away. 

"Jesus how can I be so crazy about You one minute and feel so crazy and out-of-control the next?"

(Isn't this the question that most mother's ask when pushed to the limit?)

Or is that just it?

We won't ask it. 

We let embarrassment or pride conceal our real concerns.

Somehow we don't feel like we are supposed to. 

But don't we have to?

Maybe I am just crazy enough to take God up on His Word.  If He says I can cast my crazy cares on Him, all of them, why wouldn't I do it?

Don't miss this....I would not have wanted any other listening ears to have heard those pleading words in my closet.

Why?  Because I don't trust that any person could have heard my words, or my heart, and looked at me the same way again.

But, thankfully, He isn't a person.

He is God.




The only One qualified to listen and never cast a stone.

Casting is our job.....casting our cares.....ALL of them.....even the humiliating ones....on Him.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Stir of a Song

I love it when God teaches me something in His Word and then lets me enjoy a fun field trip as well.

This week in Sunday school and last Thursday's bible study both focused on the power of music.

I am sure it goes without saying that our text was out of the book of Psalms.

The book of Psalms is like a treasure box to a believer in Christ.

At almost any time we can scour the 150 chapters and find something that relates to exactly where we are in our present circumstances....whether that be good or bad, in plenty or loss, in joy or pain.

Not that all of God's Word isn't life to us, but there is something so endearing and comforting about the book of Psalms.

Someone has walked this road before us...and documented every raw emotion imaginable. 

What a gift God has given us through his love letter that is his Word.

In both of the classes I mentioned before we discussed personal testimonies of how songs can break through to a deep part of us.  A place that both fears and hopes.

Songs can speaks words that our lips won't utter....

For example: the song "Need You Now" by the group Plumb is kind of like my anthem at the moment.  The first time I heard it I was in the parking lot of a gas station.  I literally put my car in park and just sat there stunned.

I couldn't believe that someone else had penned words that I thought and felt every single day.

Tears fell and I relished in the moment that God had for me.

Release....sweet release.

I came home and found the song again and added it to my playlist.

As it played I was overcome again.  I let the lyrics speak to God on my behalf.  I bowed my head and cried again as my own silent prayers added their own melody.

This is what I am talking about....ever been there?

It is precious.....and POWERFUL.

Songs do that.  And our God created it.  He even does it Himself.

Ps. 32:7 "You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and sing over me songs of deliverance."

Zephaniah 3:17 "The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." 

Song originated in the heart of God to be both solace and strength for his people.

My field trip (of sorts) happened just after Sunday school during our time of morning worship at church.  We were singing one of my favorite songs.  Our soloist began the verse and I (along with the rest of the choir) settled into the groove of the song.  We knew it would be a hit.  The girl singing it is amazing and the song is anointed of God.  Is there a better combination?!?

But something changed as I belted out the words.

I owned them.

I meant them.

I hoped in Him.

I felt the Light of God shine down and as I poured forth praise to Him....He showered down the some singing of His own.

I believe I experienced these two verses.

Unexplainable joy and peace filled every place that is me.  Doubt and fear that linger just enough to be a bother were completely chased away by the Light that is God Almighty.

I believe our church (at the very least those who were paying attention) experienced God singing over us songs of deliverance and rejoicing.

The goal was to praise Him and in doing that we were lavished as well.

Serenaded by God on High....what a thought!

Lord thank you for stirring us up with songs.  Thank you that others write what we feel.  Thank you for knowing we would need them so much.  I can't help but think of a song that I will finish as my prayer to You. 

"Lord I give my life
A living sacrifice 
To reach a world in need
To be Your hands and feet

So may the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing 
Bring a smile to You."

~ Casting Crowns

Thursday, January 24, 2013

To End.....And Begin Again

Endings make me a little sad.

Well, that isn't exactly true.

Not all endings make me sad....

~the end of a dental cleaning~
~the end of a boring lecture~
~the end of potty training my kids~

Some endings indeed bring a smile.  Maybe even a dance.

But there is an ending in my life that is BITTERsweet.

I have facilitated bible studies on Thursday mornings at my church for the past 8 years.

Just typing that last line brings a host of memories swirling around in my mind. 

Oh the amazing women I have met!

Oh the spiritual battles that have been won!

Oh the talks, the prayers, and confessions that those walls hold!

Oh the growth that occured by women willing to dig deep in the treasure house that is God's Word!

Oh~ I can't stand to think of myself not doing it!

Through DVD studies we have cut our teeth on some hard biblical truth taught boldly by Beth Moore, Jennifer Rothschild, Kelly Minter, and Priscilla Shirer.

I love getting to the church early.
I love setting up the room and starting some praise music.
I love praying for the ladies who will come and anticipating what God will do that day.
I love having the "chill bump" moments when God launches a biblical bomb of truth right in your lap for your immediate circumstances.
I just plain love it.

But GOD has decided to end it.

And (exhale) I am truly ok with it.

He hasn't led me away to do nothing.....He has led me away to do something else.

I have been offered a job at a local faith based ministry in town.  I volunteer there already.  But God decided that my time there should be expanded even more.

Seriously y'all...I get to tell people about on them in Jesus' name and even get paid a little bit.

I have no idea where this opportunity will lead or what else God has in store for me.

I just know that this is very right.

I am ending one thing to begin again.

My prayer is that 8 years of soaking in biblical teaching will spill out on the very ones I minister to now.

That is His way after all.

He wastes nothing.

Our time and experiences are meant to inspire, uplift, encourage and challenge others.

To every woman who has ever graced the door of the ladies bible study~ thank you for sojourning with me.  It has been nothing less than a blast to sit with you at the feet of Jesus. 

Onward and upward trusting the One who has called me will equip me!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wet Knees, Earnest Pleas

My experience at prayer time tonight was inspiring and encouraging.

After we discussed pressing matters that needed immediate prayer, we were asked if anyone needed to be prayed in to be healed.

The bible does tell us to do that.  (James 5: 13-16)

It was quiet.

I am quite certain that someone in the group needed something healed but no one felt led to mention it.  Or maybe they just kept quiet.

Fear, pride, and who-knows-what keeps us from being real and putting ourselves out there.

It still stayed quiet.

Finally it was decided that we would pray over a couple of members of our pastor search team that were there.  They readily agreed to let us do that.

But then I felt a nudge.

Out of (kinda) nowhere I blurted out that I would like for them to pray about two specific issues in Caroline's life.

First...her teeth.

Bless her sweet heart she has my buck teeth.  It took years of head gears, braces, and permanent retainers to reign my crazy teeth in.  So there is hope for her.  But right now her back molars have not fully emerged through the gums....making it nearly impossible to anchor brackets for braces.  As it stands her teeth could easily be knocked out because they stick out so far.  I am asking God to work in this area.

Secondly...her legs.

Because she doesn't walk or use her legs that much the muscles and tendons are incredibly tight...too tight.  I am asking God to stretch them.  

What happened next was so tender and sweet.

They asked if I would sit in Caroline's place and let them pray over me for these two specific things.

It was a no-brainer. 

The two pastor search team members and myself sat in chairs while prayer warriors surrounded us.

Some were at my feet.  Some were at my side.  Others were behind me.  One precious saint of God laid his hand on my head.

The prayers began and faith filled the room.

Passionate pleas were lifted before God. 

I was so humbled.

I listened as my church family prayed with all diligence and hope for my little girl.  It was powerful and I believe God was pleased.

Prayer moves Him.  Faith pleases Him.  (Hebrews 11:6)

The stubborn faith of these people was sheer exhilaration.  I reveled in it.  I learned from it.  I hoped in it.

When the "Amen" was spoken and the time ended I knew that we had just encountered something words fail to describe.  Hugs were exchanged and smiles graced every face.

I practically floated back to my seat.  As I sat down noticed that the knee of my jeans was wet....and I could felt wet places on the back of my shirt.

Then it hit me....these were the tears that flowed from earnest people bathing my daughter in prayer.  A sweet friend's head rested on my knee as she prayed.  Others stood over me and tears fell freely during their prayers as well.

I don't know if this has ever happened to me.  But there is something incredibly intimate about someone else's tears falling on they pray for you. 

What a night in God's house!!

Matthew 21:13 "Is it not written," he said to them, "My house will be called a house of prayer..."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Copper Leaved Trees

I am pretty sure this is day 4 of straight rain.....with day 5 looking the exact same.

Sometimes winter gives us stretches of time just like this.

You know the sun has to be out somewhere but gray is all you can see.

Rain is good.

I know this.

But day after day of gray and rain isn't so good for my demeanor.

I think I tend to shine a little brighter when there is sun shining.

Anyway I was out running errands and I caught a glimpse of something.

At first it was a glimpse but then I set in on really noticing the beauty of it.

Copper leaved trees....

Shep pointed these out to me not too long ago.

I am confident that he told me the kind of trees that these happen to be...but I have forgotten that piece of information.  Go figure....

Most wooded areas right now are barren...except for evergreens....and then these marvelous little trees that have copper colored leaves.

I promise you will see them....if you have eyes and want to take the time.

Find a patch of woods.

At first all your eyes will see are the barren trees.  Branches that have lost the luster....but if you stare a bit longer you will then focus on what remains.

A treasure.

Beautiful copper colored leaves...

Life persevering in the foul elements of winter and continuing to give our eyes a feast to enjoy.

They won't jump out at you.

In will even miss them if you don't intentionally focus.

A lesson lives here.

Let's not miss the treasures that can be found in darkness.  Simple stoic sparks of life that nourish us when death surrounds.  Let's live and persevere in the winter seasons....knowing that new life awakens again.  The seemingly endless rains and cold winds nourish our roots and strengthen us for renewed purposes.

Don't miss the copper leaves for the barren trees.....

 James 4:8  "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

Monday, January 14, 2013


I woke up this morning with a worried mind.

Yes.  Worry is a sin.  The bible calls it out.

But that is exactly where I was....sin and all.

I mentioned in a recent post that Shep and I were getting up early to pray together.  This morning was no different.  We prayed and Shep covered me in prayer. 

He basically told on me to God.

It's ok though.  He is my best friend and I give him total permission to call me out and to tell on me to our Lord.

Back to my worries~

They mainly revolve around Caroline.

When I think about tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year I can almost feel my heart rate increase and a form of dread fall upon me.

If you have ever been the care-giver to someone that has many physical needs then you might understand.

Caroline's needs are intense.  We try to down play them just to stay sane but it can drain a person.

Her every need must be supplied by our hands.

This has been our lives for the past 10 and a half years.

We try to take a day at a time.

But some days, like today, I wake up thinking about all of the tomorrows.

Creases form in my brow, pain swells up in my heart and I can't seem to refocus.

We are supposed to plan and look forward to days ahead.

I find that I do that with Shep, Ava and Zeke pretty easily.  There is excitement when I think about all the things that the future could hold for them.

When I attempt those same thoughts about Caroline.....I become fraught with fear.

How will we ___________?
What will we do about _____________?

(I am not in any way giving up on God healing our girl.  However the "when" of that healing is unclear and life has to be lived in the meantime.  Not just lived...but lived with joy.)

God had a great message waiting on me in the pages of His Word and in my devotion.

"Now God is out in front .  He is in our tomorrows, and it is tomorrow that fills people with fear.  Yet God is already there.  All the tomorrows of our life have to pass through Him before they can get to us."  F.B. Meyer

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.  John 10: 3-4

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pierced or Protected

God has been up to some pretty cool things around here.

I am not exactly privy to share the details just yet.....but some puzzle pieces that I couldn't seem to fit anywhere....are starting to come together.

Exciting stuff.

My devotion today got me to thinking about God's protective ways.

James 1:2-3 says, "Reckon it nothing but joy....whenever you find yourself hedged in by the various trials, be assured that the testing of your faith leads to the power of endurance."

This version uses the words "hedged in".

I decided to look up the word "hedge".  I felt like God had something to say so I followed that lead.

A few definitions for hedge are:  any barrier or boundary,  to enclose or separate, or to surround and confine.

Obviously I left out the one that describes hedges as bushes or shrubs.  Too easy.

Anyway most of us hear the words barrier, boundary, separation, and confine and automatically associate punishment.

Doesn't it remind you mommas of time-out?!?

My devotion referred to these hedges as protection....and even called them trials.

It just got me to thinking how much I have beaten my own self to a pulp by fighting the very hedges that were put up for my protection.  Usually they were protecting me from something bigger I couldn't see or even from myself....

There are friendships I desperately wanted....God put up a hedge.
There were plans that I had made....God put up a hedge.
There were places I wanted to go....God put up a hedge.
There were ideas that seemed right.....God put up a hedge.
Expectations were in place.....God put up a hedge.

Can I just tell you that AT THE TIME I hated the hedges?!?

I saw them as mean and unfair. 

Time has given me new eyes.

Those hedges that bound me, separated me, and confined me were divine time-outs from a God who is head-over-heels crazy about me.  I am pretty sure I have scars from trying to rip up a few of those hedges myself....but His power held stronger.

If things seem halted.  If you have been jilted.  If fair seems far off.  God may have a protective hedge around your sweet little self that you even hate at the moment.



And wait some more.

Pray it through.

What did the end of that verse say?  "Be assured that the testing of your faith leads to the power of endurance."

Endurance is a powerful thing.  It is a gift that only comes through God closing you in sometimes.

I have been there. 

I will most likely be there again.

But today....I can see clearly some of my hedges for the blessings that they truly were. 

Friendships that would have hurt me....
Plans that were rooted in pride...
Places that I wanted to fit in for selfish reasons.....
Ideas that were not God's plan....
Expectations misplaced....

End result= PROTECTED!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Losing my flavor

Today has been an "again" kind of day.

I struggled again.
I gave in to some doubt and fear again.
I lost my cool with my kids again.
I thought unkind things again.
I believed an untruth again.

Ugh.  The again cycle for a believer in Christ is depressing. 

It can make us cynical and useless to the kingdom if we give in to its lie.

Yes...we are gonna struggle with some issues again and again until we die but..... strides can still be made.

Goals can be reached.

Victories won.

I believe "again" kind of days are nothing more than opportunities to live out faithfulness.

The grind of sorting through our mindsets, attitudes, and circumstances is God's way of letting us grow up in our salvation. 

I wish so badly that faith could just appear...and then be rock solid.

But I know that is not the case.

Faith must be second, one minute, one hour, one grind of a day at a time.

Then those days link into months, and those months begin to make years....

Before you know it....having faith doesn't seem so hard.

But getting that faith was dealing with all of those hard at a time.

There is a little passage stuck in the pages of Matthew's gospel that talks about salt.  God refers to His children as the salt and light of the world.  (Matt. 5:13-16)  We are to flavor this world with the grace of God just like salt flavors our food. 

As Christ tells his listeners that they are salt he immediately poses a question.  Matthew 5: 13 records Jesus asking, "But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor?"

Do you know any Christians who have lost their flavor?

Is it you?

I wonder if we don't decide in the midst of these "again" kind of days that the fight really is worth it; that we will begin to lose our flavor?

Today would be an easy day to get cynical....and lose compassion.
Today would be an easy day to become petty....and lose purpose.
Today would be an easy day to give in....and not overcome.
Today would be an easy day to be selfish...and not sacrifice.
Today would be an easy day to hurt....and not hope.

Faith is not the easy way...

Faith will flavor as we push through....

Again and again.....

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Prayer, Scripture, and Weight Watchers!

A new year has come with some new resolutions.

I am a sucker for a brand new page....

So this year is no different.  I have asked the Lord to show me some areas that need attention.

He did.

The first area is my prayer life.

Lack luster would paint you a pretty picture there.  I pray.  I actually pray a lot.  There is just no real commitment or consistency in this area.  My husband kicks my tail here.  I have watched God slowly make him into a man of prayer.  I want it too.

So we have started getting up early and having a meaningful prayer time together. Shep is much more of a morning person than I he brings coffee to me and hops into the shower.  By the time he gets out of the shower I am ready to actually sit up in bed and sip on my coffee.

Then we pray. 
Nothing magical but entirely meaningful.

We pray for each other.  Our children.  Our friends.  Our church.  God's direction for our family.  People that need Jesus.  Marriages that need mending.  Our faults and weaknesses.

And all of this sweet communion happens before the sun even comes up. 

I have really enjoyed it so far and I have asked for God to help us sustain this habit and to strengthen my prayer life.

The second area is scripture memory.

My friend, Tess, and I are participating once again in Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team this year.

We are excited.

We memorize 2 verses a month for the entire year. 

God's Word floating around in your head is good in a host of ways.  It changes the way you think.  It changes your perspective.  It changes how you feel.  It does just changes.

Tess picked out our first verse of the year and I love its powerful simplicity. 

"He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30

Through God's help I will have 24 verses abiding in me by the end of the year.  That can only be a good thing!

The last area that needs some attention in my life is my eating habits.

(I can't believe I even typed that)

But there it is. 

I love food.  I love to eat.

Pizza. Nachos. Steak fried rice. Fried Chicken.  Biscuits.  Candy. Cokes.  You get the gist...

Obviously eating like this will add a few pounds to your frame.  So...I decided to go back to the place that helped me lose weight and adopt better habits:  Weight watchers.  I am a lifetime member after all.

I went last Thursday and stepped up on a scale.  Thankfully no one else sees your weight except for the woman behind the scale who politely writes the number on your card and then hands it back to you.

Let's just say I have some work to do.

I am NOT about losing a bunch of weight.  I just need to lose a little...mainly I want my clothes to fit.  As it stands...I find myself squeezing into them.  I hate that.

I am asking God to help me focus on good decision making.  I do this in lots of other areas of my life but then I fail miserably when it comes to food.  He needs to be Lord over that area of my life too. 

Once healthy habits are in place....occasional splurges can be enjoyed and savored without regret!

Oh me be a "doer" in these areas and not just one who talks about it.  Help me persevere and create new lasting habits so that I might grow and thrive in You.  Become greater in me God and help me to become less.  I love you, Lord.  You are so worth it!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Christmas and New Years holidays have a theme to me:  togetherness

You are usually in close proximity with people you love or you want to be.

(That is the case for me with my grandparents.  They enjoyed Christmas in heaven but I would've liked to have stolen them back for a day just to smell, feel, laugh, and see them again.)

Parties, get-togethers, socials, occasions, pot-lucks, and services seem to bring us all together.  They fill my calendar up in the month of December.  At the seems like too much.  Conflicts and chaos seem like the words that rise to my mind in all of the planning of December. 

But then you sit here on January 2, 2013 and think, "I can't believe it is all behind me now.  And I am so glad we had the chaos and worked out the time conflicts."  

Because along with it came some togetherness.

 My two gorgeous nieces.  I married Shep and they were just little bitty things.  I think they were just 2 and 4.  Now one is a freshman in college and the other a senior in high school. 
 My second mama (Shep's mom), Shep's sister, and two of the three that were blessed to marry into that clan.
 Close cousins and fast friends.  They are just a year apart in age....their bond is precious. 
 Caroline getting a kiss from Mr. Jason.  He is a long-standing favorite.  He used to kiss her like this when she was just a baby.
 Two friends who hold a place in my heart that no other could fill.  D and Lulu (not their names...but what I call them!)
These kids have had no choice but to love one another.  Their parents are together a lot.  So...they have been together since birth.  They are each so different but compliment each other so well.  
 I am amazed we pulled this picture off.  Thank you Shep.  My best friends....stand with us...believe with us...hope with us...walk beside us...push us...challenge us...encourage our faith.
 More cousins.  This was Christmas Eve...excitement was in the air!
 My parents and brothers...along with significant others!
 My daddy...with my goofball brother trying his best to sneak up behind us.
 My man.  Yum Yum.  I like getting as close as I can to this goodlooking thing!
 My Ava!
 My Zeke!
My Caroline!
All three....enjoying some togetherness!

Merry Christmas 2012 and Happy New Year 2013~