Monday, April 29, 2013


God shows me pictures all the time.  Sometimes these pictures will happen in church, at work, sitting in my car, or in nature.

Just this past Saturday He let me see a young newly planted tree from a different perspective...I'll post on that later.

Sunday He showed me a picture by allowing me to take in a scene.  One that I was participating in myself, yet He allowed me to almost be removed and see it in slow motion.

Our choir was almost at the end of our morning worship set.  We were about to begin the chorus of "This Blood". (an amazing song...if you have never heard it)

The crowd knew the words because we had just sung this song on Easter.  But honestly this song begs to be done over and over again.  It is THAT good.

I was worshiping Jesus.  My hands were lifted high.  My voice was raised with passion and gratefulness.  I so wanted the congregation to join in and participate in their own way.

One by one they did.

The song was at the peak crescendo.  Words of power and inspiration poured out over all of us and His Spirit was more than heavy.

It was then that God stopped time (at least for me) and allowed me to take in the scene with new eyes.

I noticed that those who had stood first were also those who need Him so desperately.

Gail~ a widow
Nancy~ a recent widow
Amy~ suffered loss and has had to step out on faith numerous time to trust...and wait.
Tess~ a treasured friend with a redeemed past who drinks in God's Word on a daily basis lest she fall again.

and there were many more but these were the faces that God let me settle upon and really see the heart of their worship.

Their faces were turned upward.  Their hands were lifted.  Their faces lit by the One who was near and blessing their sacrifice of praise.

This is the pleasure of pain.

Pain purifies our worship.
Pain purges our pride.
Pain plants faith.
Pain pleads...

 The song ended with a holy hush permeating the entire place.

We had entered in and no one wanted it to end.

I had the full on ugly cry going.

The picture He had shown me of these precious saints adoring Him in the midst of their hurt was more than I could take in.

It was like He let me see them the same way He did.



Monday, April 22, 2013

The Scream Machine

I can remember peering through the metal fence and watching my mom and my teenage brothers board the super high and super scary wooden roller coaster that was infamously known as The Scream Machine. 

I was probably 6 or 7 years old at the time of this visit.

My daddy stayed right beside me and pointed out the train that my mom and brothers would be riding.

I was happy to be a spectator.

This ride looked like certain suicide to my little girl eyes and I wanted no part of it.

I remember thinking how crazy my mom and brothers were to not only ride the giant rickety coaster but their enthusiasm about the huge hills and fast speed totally eluded me.

I am pretty sure I ran to meet them when they came up the exit ramp happy that they were still in one piece.

They were grinning ear to ear...and what was even more weird....they couldn't wait to ride it again. 

They gave us the play-by-play and described the fear and exhilaration to us as each hill took their breath (and their stomachs) away.

A few years went by and I visited the park again.

At 14 years old the Scream Machine still scared me to death.  But jeers from my friends and curiosity got the best of me.  I found myself gulping hard as we were herded like cattle through the winding long line.  Finally it was my turn to board the ride.  I am certain my heart was racing a mile a second but I showed no fear in front of my friends.

But it was there.

I remember wondering if there was ever an end to the ride to the top of that first hill............and suddenly it was upon me.

My stomach dropped to my sandals and I found myself screaming and laughing in delight.  More hills and fast speed followed and I loved every second.  I was sad when the ride ended.

Just like my mom and my brothers a few years back, I couldn't wait to ride again.

A roller coaster thrill seeker was born.

 I am a coaster enthusiast. Unfortunately I don't have the money or time to support my love for different coasters but I am never going to go past one and not ride it...most of the time with my hands high in the air!

Loops, bends, sharp curves, and fast speeds lure me like nothing else....

I want my stomach to drop, my heart to race, my hair to fly, and my face to flatten from the force of high speeds.

This is fun to me. 

I write all of this because I think back often to that little girl who stood and watched the others do the very thing that one day she would do.

Then I was content to be the spectator but now I must participate.

God showed me that the life He has for me is so much like this.

I used to be content to watch others with wide-eyed wonder as they experienced exhilaration of His work in their lives.

Then.....I experienced it for myself.

I can never go back.

Faith still looks scary and huge but the fun comes from the ride itself.  Each hill brings a new thrill. Each turn a new opportunity to trust and believe.  Each drop brings my stomach crashing down to my feet.

But I always want to ride again.

The force of some rides bring tears streaming out of my eyes.  Other rides leave me sore from erratic turns and odd angles.  My head will sometimes hurt from being upside down and backwards over and over again.  But each ride is unique and thrilling all at the same time.

I want to be that curly headed girl in the front car on this ride of faith....fully expecting God to thrill me as only He can with my hands raised the whole way!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Though we are shaken

As I take in the scenes of the Boston bombing, the chemical explosion in Texas and listen to reports of Ricin laced letters intended to kill their recipients I want to double over in grief and pull my hair out with questions of "Why?"

But even if I knew "why" I don't think the grief would relent and I am sure I would come up with even more questions.

As I walked around my neighborhood last night I felt like God told me to "let my words be few and let His Word be huge."

He was gracious enough to even bring a familiar and comforting piece of His Word to my mind....

"Though the mountains be shaken                                  
and the hills be removed,                                                 
yet my unfailing love for you                                              
will not be shaken                                                            
nor my covenant of peace be removed,                           
says the Lord, who has compassion on you."                    
Isaiah 54:10 NIV                                                             

Through the Holy Spirit I am granted peace in the midst of turbulent feelings.

I am depending on that to carry me through today.

Evil is meant to incite fear, doubt and insecurity.  I choose to throw those things onto my God today who has conquered death...what is fear to Him?

I choose to fear God alone.

I choose to let my words be few and let His Word be huge.

I choose to trust the unseen hand in the midst of madness.

I choose to trust His wise and mysterious ways.

Though bombs explode and innocent lives are removed.....I trust His unfailing love and His covenant of peace.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Making Up and Moving On

This past week has been a lingering of the last post.

God and I met in the quiet stillness.

He knew I needed to grieve and cry and ask and languish and basically empty myself of what has been piling up for quite some time.

I think it is really sweet that He told me to go and lay on her bed.

He is ever the gentleman and He digs the details.

Her bed was such a cool representation to me. 

It is the very place where she sleeps and dreams and rests.

So He directed me there to her place of solace to receive my own.

I can sense the change within me.

It is subtle but very much there.

Less harsh.  Less cold.  Less doubt.

My marching orders haven't changed one bit.

Keep believing.
Keep hoping.
Keep serving.
Keep praying.

He may have even added a few other things to that list that I had forgotten...

Keep needing Me.
Keep the true estate of your heart open before Me.
Keep trusting Me.

Those are actually more important than my list.

He always knows best. a good daughter I am moving on in obedience to His commands.

He has given me a place to start (again).

He has even given me some resources to help.

So here I go.

"Let your love, God, shape my life
with salvation, exactly as you promised;
Then I'll be able to stand up to mockery
because I trusted your Word."
The Message
Ps. 119:42

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Dam Needed to Break

God surprised me with an experience that I didn't know I needed.

I had just set down to catch up on a few of my favorite blogs that I follow.  As I read one of them I was immediately caught up in the emotion of the author.  Her openness and vulnerability struck something in me....deep and hidden.  I cried for obvious reasons.  Her story (parts of it) are heartbreaking.  But I cried for my own reasons too.

My tears fell in a common bond.  She misses someone she no longer has.  She misses the loss.  She misses the "would've been" moments.

I miss someone I still have every single day.  I miss the loss.  I miss the "would've been" moments too.

As gentle and near as a person next to me I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit.


I sat there in the chair in front of the computer.  I knew what would happen if I went.

He nudged again.  Go and lay down on her bed.

So I followed my feet that walked into the bedroom that my little girls share.  I went to Caroline's twin bed and laid down on it.  (thankfully God chose a time when the kids were at school)

The dam in my heart burst wide open....tears flowed freely....longings of my heart were uttered openly without reservation.

God's Holy Spirit was there.  He met me at a place of complete loss and grief....again.

He held me.  He listened.  He knew I needed to do this even if I didn't.

We think that faith stands without any doubt whatsoever.

Not true in my experience.

Faith stands on shaky legs when doubts are swelling like the oceans tides.

I have more questions now than I ever have.  But my faith stands.

As I laid there and let out a river of pent up emotions the tension and cynicism toward God began to ease.

He knew it would.

Believing God is hard.  The Word never promised that it would be easy but somehow I still expect easy.

At some point we will boil over.  If grief, sorrow, and loss are not consoled and comforted by the One who allowed them then a person will grow weary, cynical, and cold of heart.

Her bed was a place that I could go and lay myself out in front of a God who cares deeply for the state of my broken heart. 

I am so glad He led me there. 

How can I trust a God to give me hope when I won't trust Him to tend to my hurts?

This is a real question that many believers need to ask themselves and one that will bear repeating in my own life.

We hold the hurts places back.  I picture a little kid hiding something behind his back that he hopes no one will see.  Well...God sees.

He can handle our hurt places.

That hurt hinders our fellowship with Him and others.

We walk around trying to live...trying to serve....trying to do this faith thing with hands held behind our backs.

He might just sneak up on you.

 He might just set your feet in motion to a place where your dam can break.

Thank you Father for knowing my needs and desiring to be a mender of broken hearts.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Playing in the Georgia Pines

We have made our way to South Georgia for the past few years of Spring Break.  I am not saying that I wouldn't love going to a beautiful beach somewhere.  However that isn't free... and this place is.  Plus~it is a kid's (and adult's) playground if you will just indulge a little creativity, imagination, and a love for nothingness.  There is nowhere nearby to eat out.  There is not a close grocery store.  Cell phones do not work and the roads are not paved.  But the woods are vast.  Trees are huge.  If you come packed with food (and we always do) then you will be amazed at ALL there is to do.
 Some of our dearest and best friends accompany us each year on our adventure.  They surprised my kids with some launchers.
 I loved this picture of my Zeke because this photo embodies the entire reason for getting away.  Just chillin.
 I normally adore wearing cute clothes and lip gloss.  That was all left back at home.  It was comfort all the way.  Shep thoroughly enjoyed helping me with some target practice.  I love that you can still see smoke and the shell in midair.
 My gorgeous girl had a fun trip too.  She missed her own bed but she maintained a good attitude for the most part.
 We took countless walks.  Each one was like a separate adventure because we found new treasures each trip.  Zeke could stand inside the trunk of this tree with complete ease.  He loved it.
 Shep wanted to climb high into the tree of course.
My man and his buddy trying to scope out some wild pigs...they would prefer this to an office setting any day of the week.
Our friend enjoying quality time with his little man.
 So....this year Shep found an amazing vine that he cut so that we could Tarzan....from the trees.  We would hold on to the vine and swing out over the canyon....we were a good 15 or higher in the air!  Here I am enjoying my swing on the vine.
The kids loved swinging from the vine so much.  It was like a modified zip line.  Ava did it over and over again.
 Caroline got to enjoy a ride on the vine...thanks to her strong daddy!
 Zeke swinging...
 Paul swinging...
 Rachel swinging....
 The guys packed some exploding targets for their fun and our entertainment.  They did not disappoint.  The explosions were loud and could be felt from far away.
 We made a special trip back to the cabin to get D.  No one could miss their turn on the vine swing.
 Me and D.  This girl is beyond precious to me!
 Ava and Rachel being silly and mostly....sweet.
 Caroline waiting to watch the exploding targets!
 Ava and Paul preparing for the loud blast.
 Taking a break from riding around in the back of Mr. Shep's Dodge. 
Shep and I cheesing it up in a big bear hug. My favorite place to be!

Happy Spring Break all!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Road Trip

 My life long best pals and I got a chance to ditch our mom duties, kiss our hubbies goodbye, and hit the road for a weekend of too much talking, eating, and shopping together!  Well at least three of us hit the road.  We all traveled together to meet up with the fourth member of our crew...who just happens to live in the sunshine state.  Super convenient.
 The first picture was a view from an outdoor beach restaurant that we hit up every time we come.  It is called the Sandbar and it is located on beautiful Anna Maria Island.  The beach is gorgeous.  The shopping is unique.  And we found a scrumptious ice cream parlor this trip....I am sure we will go back again.
 What I love in this picture is that Caroline is laughing.  These girls have been my friends since we were in middle school.  Their laughs make me laugh.  Longevity in friendships is incredibly comforting.
 Elizabeth officially wins the award for being my oldest friendship ever.  She knows lots of my secrets.  Thankfully she is fiercely loyal and private on my behalf.  All of them are.  These girls are beyond precious to me.  They never fail to encourage and challenge me in my faith.  The very best thing about all of them is how they each passionately love Jesus. 
 Nicole and I hamming it up.  We all usually have our hands full with our kids and was so fun to just be silly for a few days.
 Just looking back over these pics makes me ready for the next trip.  A year can pass by but somehow we pick right back up with no awkwardness at all. 
 Aren't they so pretty?  They are even prettier on the inside....their hearts make me want to be better.
 One of them captured these two pictures of me.  Oddly enough...I really like them.
 They aren't particularly that flattering of me but it is good to know that I can still belly laugh and not be so stinking serious all the time.
 Can you tell a few of us are touchy-feely girls?  We are BIG huggers...
Oh my word...I have not even mentioned the food.  It was like the fifth member of our group.  We really enjoy some feasting.  Chips and salsa, pizza, sandwiches, seafood, name it we ate it.

It was an amazing time spent with cherished women who I hold very dear.  I pray God's blessing on each of their lives.  I am incredibly humbled and grateful that I get to be a part of who they are in this life. 

A special shout out to Shepard, B, E, and Scoots....this trip would not have been possible without you!  Y'all are the best and have our love always!