Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Little Man

 We just celebrated Zeke's birthday last week.  In true Zeke form...he remained laid back and easy going all day.  Bless his heart....his day was filled with end of year school parties and award ceremonies but we managed to make some memorable moments for his big day!  Of course, as his momma, I would love this picture.  This is how he looks when he wakes up...sleepy and snugly.
 We wasted no time getting to his presents.  He was super excited when Ava and I brought his gifts downstairs from their hiding place. 
 I always let the kids spend some money from their own piggy banks on their birthday.  He received presents from us but this allows them to pick something out on their own.  He chose this batman cave and played with it every chance he got.
 He also helped me make his birthday cupcakes.  They were made to order just for my boy: white cake with white icing and sprinkles.
 It was all he could do to pose with these yummy little cakes.  The temptation proved to be too much and he ended up licking a few of them.  What do I care??  They were his cupcakes.
 He has me all wrapped up.  He finds me at least 4 to 5 times a day and says, "Mommy, I love you."  Of course...I melt like butter.
 He is our baby boy and we enjoy him so so much.  He loves cars, super heroes, fishing with his daddy, guns, and potato chips. 
We pray every day for God to place His hand upon our Zeke.  We ask that God would raise him up to be a young man of integrity and strong character.  We pray that God would make him bold and courageous. 
 His easy smile and laid back personality is such a gift to those around him. 
Happy 5th Birthday to our little man!

Friday, May 24, 2013

God~ Always a Happy& Hopeful Ending

This morning I was reading some of the scripture text from my devotion.

It seems like lately everything God has brought to me has had to do with "waiting" or about "His appointed time" for something.

I hate to wait.

Most of us are guilty here.

My scripture reading was out of John 16.  The disciples are asking Jesus to explain, in further detail, some of his comments about their grief turning to joy.

I can totally relate.

If God were to tell you that you were about to encounter unbelievable grief that would later turn into inexpressible joy...wouldn't you want some details too?!?

This entire portion of scripture is Jesus predicting His own death on the cross.

It was the most horrendous day in this world's history.

The earth literally went dark went the Giver of Light and Life died to ransom us from sin.

But Jesus also predicted that even greater joy would follow this time of grief.

I love God's character.

He is the author of happy and glorious endings!

In case I need to remind you....He wins.

The world will one day be set right once again.

ALL will bow and justice will reign.  Love will abound.  Sin will forever die.

This gave me some perspective this morning.

I am grieving over a few things in my life.  Some of them have been ongoing heartaches...some are more recent.

We should not ever be surprised to endure grief or sorrow of some kind. 

But joy will come.  It is His grand finale.

Knowing about the impending joy should offset the grief.  Some days it does more than others.

But it always leaves a trace of hope....

A child of God Almighty is an heir of hope.  It is our right. 

My grief has an expiration date.  I don't know when but He does. Good things are produced during my times of waiting and trouble.  I know this...even though it brings me little comfort.  It will bring Him glory.

He lets us fall to our knees through times of grief because He knows He will raise us up to dance with joy!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Talking to Myself

Just a quick reminder to all who need it.

As I prayed this morning I recounted God's goodness in the midst of suffering.  We are going to suffer.  But He is still good.

I read the horrific stories from the devastation in Oklahoma.  I see the pictures that make me wish I hadn't looked.

He is there.  He is comforting.  He is ministering in the midst of this madness. 
He is giving grace.  He is speaking peace.  He is seen in the smile or gentle hand of a helper.

He is huge and all encompassing.  He grieves.  He hurts.  He allows the broken way....

He is enough.

As these events cloud my view. I even hold back my own requests and petitions as if God is too busy dealing with that situation to meet me in my own place of desperation.

He is not.

He can be completely near to me right now AND He can be completely near to each and every hurting soul there in Oklahoma. 

I have to tell myself this and remind my brain.

God is not bound by time or space.  He is completely beyond my comprehension. 

He is where you are today. 
He is with the one crying out battling cancer.
He is with the worried parents at the children's hospital.
He is with the lonely widow.
He is with the couple meeting their new baby for the first time.
He is with me....right here and right now.
He is with the overwhelmed masses in Oklahoma.

He is without limit.

Tell yourself.  Remind yourself often.....you might just live like it is true.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mothers ~the real thing~

 I let Mother's Day slip by without paying homage to the amazing mothers that surround me.  First and fore most....my mama.  She is THE first lady of my life.  She has always been a voice of truth, discernment, and encouragement.  I am honored to call her one of my very best friends!  She has blazed the trail in front of me to love Jesus with all that I am. 
 Linda is a second mother to me and an additional grandmother to my children.  She is the most SELF-LESS woman I know.  She gives of herself and serves God with joy and gratitude.
 This sweet lady came through marriage.  She is my mother-in-law and my life is blessed by knowing her.  She is truly kind.  Her faith is strong and sure.  She is one of the most contented and joyous people I know.
 D is like a sister to me...a best friend for sure.  She is loyal, hospitable, humble, and considerate.  Her faith moves mountains.  Truthfully I can't list enough complimentary adjectives for this girl.  She is stunning!
 Brandi loves deep and wide...she is beyond dear to me.  She is a fierce protector and faithful friend.  God has used her many times to speak hope to my heavy heart.  I love to hear her pray...she usually begins with "Sweet Lord...."
 Tess is dynamite wrapped up in pretty package.  All who know her walk away wanting to know more about God.  She is THAT contagious!!  Passion and pursuit come to mind when I think of this sister of mine.  Our friendship flames faith in my life.
These three embody perseverance, kindness, and grace. We have serious history together.  They are three of my most cherished gifts.

I am immeasurably blessed.

These women live real life in front of me.

Their love for Jesus leaves me in awe at times.

They teach and challenge me as a mother.

I watch them win victories and face defeat.  I see them take strides of faith and wrestle with doubt.  I observe them guide with grace and discipline with love.

They are the real thing.


Monday, May 13, 2013

~Prayer~ I haven't a clue....

Some things I believe God has to produce within us.

In other words, even if we wanted to possess it on our own, we couldn't.

That is me when it comes to prayer.

I have followed Jesus since the tender age of nine.  Worship has come easy for me.  Service to God has been a work in progress.  Devotion to God has matured and deepened over time.  Desperation for God was birthed out of severe pain and depression.

But prayer...I seem to want to run in the opposite direction.

First~ it is very hard to get me to be still and focus for any length of time.

Second~I want instant results.

Finally~ it is the hardest discipline I have ever attempted.

Over the past 4 years I have watched God perform a cool miracle in my husband.

The Holy Spirit placed a deep yearning within him to pray one morning after National Day of Prayer.  I believe it was in 2009.

God moved in his heart to step up his prayer life.

Not just "before meal" prayers or "emergency" prayers or "routine" prayers....I believe the Holy Spirit wanted to literally change Shep into a man of prayer.

It did not happen over night.
It has (and is) taken years.

But I have witnessed this for myself.

My man prays.

He seeks God about everything.
He sets aside time each day.
He places it as a priority in our home.
He talks about the ways God gently speaks or nudges him throughout the day.

As a witness of this I want it too.

Since January I have asked God to make me into a woman who prays.

I really want my life to be marked by His power and anointing.  But, the truth is, I want it the easy way.

I don't want to discipline myself and develop a prayer life with God.

But God knows the desire of my heart is really deeper than the weakness of my flesh so He has graciously helped and given me the appropriate boosts.

Shep and I do a devotion and prayer every morning.

Honestly I wanted that to be enough.  I wanted to ride the coat tails of Shep's discipline and receive rewards.

But God put something inside of me that I can't explain.  It truly is a mystery.

I am really wanting to pray.

I haven't a clue what I am doing.

I know the "before meal" prayers and the "emergency" prayers and of course, the "bless this or that, protect us, please heal, and lead, guide, and direct us" prayers.

But what He is doing is something different.

He is teaching me.  Every day it looks a little different.

Some days I sit and sing before Him.
Some days I cry and pour my heart out for truly selfish desires.
Other days I intercede and cry out on behalf of others.
Still other times I do a mixture of all three.

But here is what I am finding:  I genuinely want to.

If I miss a day.  I really miss my time with Him.

Isn't that just so cool?!?

This morning I was reminded that being clueless in this area really is ok.

Thankfully "...the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26)

I will leave you with a final scripture that I have been devouring over the past week.

I believe it is taking root deep in my heart and I cannot wait to see what God does with it in the future...Psalm 25:14 says:

The secret of the Lord is with him (or her) that fear him, and he will show them his covenant.  -KJV

The Lord tells his secrets to those who respect him, he tells them about his agreement. -New Century Version

God-friendship is for God-worshipers; they are the ones he confides in.  -The Message

I want God to share secrets with me.  I want to be among those that he confides in.

Prayer seems to be the only way.

Lord, teach your clueless servant.  Show me how to pray.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Candid or Posed?

                                                        Candid- Caroline is literally lit up on a bike ride with her daddy
                                                       Candid-Ava passing the time...
                                                         Candid- Zeke resting after some serious play time...
                                                Candid-Ava enjoying a walk...
                                          Candid- Zeke and Ava getting tossed by the waves and loving every mouthful of it.

                                                  Candid- How Caroline's face looks when she spots someone she loves...

Posed-to assume a particular attitude or stance, especially with the hope of impressing others

Candid- open and sincere, free from reservation or disguise, un-posed, honest

When my children were little bitty I really preferred posed shots of their faces.  I wanted to see every thing about them up close.

Their little faces changed in such short spans of time that I didn't want to miss a single thing. 

Now.......my picture taking has taken a different path.

I want the candid stuff.

I want to see them in motion.  I want the expression that they didn't think I noticed.  I want them to just be who they are as if the camera weren't even present.

Posed pictures tend to be pretty. 

Candid shots show sweat, motion, attitude, and unspoken feelings.

(I love the one of Ava above where she isn't smiling.  Because I know her....I know that look.  She was kind of bored and passing the time by watching something.)

The candid shots tell the real story. 

I noticed a candid shot today of a friend's little girl as she practiced ballet for her recital.  It was so beautiful. 

I was drawn to the expression on her face as she danced.  It was unhindered.  She was totally absorbed in what she was doing and her mom happened to capture that.  

Then I thought about all of the hundreds of candid shots of my kids and my man and my friends and family....the photos that capture us mid-laugh, mid-cry, mid-mad, or mid-whatever.....those are the best.

God spoke so tenderly as I was wrapped up in my own thoughts and said these words, "My favorite pictures of you are the candid ones too.  Don't come to Me posed and pretty~ the way you think I want to see you.  Come to me candidly ~ unhindered, messy, broken, angry, upset, confused, in the midst of your real life."

This was so sweet.

I really felt His Father's heart toward me.

Just like I want to always see my kids being who they are....He wants to see His kids that way too.

Let's come candidly before His throne of mercy and receive grace that we may pose no more.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sing Her to Jesus

This past year God completely blew me away by opening a door of opportunity in my life.

It began as a volunteer position at a local ministry in town.  In recent months this role was expanded and I was offered a very slim part-time job.

Most (not all) of my work involves helping women in crisis pregnancy.  These women need some type of support and we exist to offer that support...in Jesus name.

I absolutely love it.

God has been so faithful to me.

He has graciously allowed my faith to grow while pushing the limits of my happy safe perimeters.

The lives I see are messy and broken.

Desperation is a way of life for most of these women.

I never want to grow accustomed to their pain.  I always want it to be fresh and real to me.

I believe it was that way to Jesus when His feet walked this earth.

Today He let me meet a young woman that He is passionately chasing.....even if she isn't aware of it.

Her story is much like the other women that find their way to me.

Poor choices that lead to bad consequences that turn into lifestyles and .......you get the picture.

As she talked to me I began to get a picture of who she really was inside.

She came to know Jesus at a young age but years of rebellion and anger have taken their toll.

I could tell she knows what is right but that path seems way to hard to even attempt.  So she doesn't.

I prayed that God would open a door.  I needed some way to break through and find some common ground.

As she continued in her story I heard a little word that gave me a clue to reach her.  Music.

She loves to sing.

So do I.

I also know that Jesus placed that love within her heart....even if she doesn't know it.

The Holy Spirit answered my prayer and said, "Here is your way in.  Sing her to Me."

I asked her to sing for me.

She immediately seemed interested but shy.

I said, "I will sing for you if you will sing for me."

She agreed.

I sang her a few lines of one of my favorite songs.

She shyly went into an adjoining room (because she didn't want to sing in front of me) and began to sing.

It was beautiful.
I heard her heart.

It was like something pinned up inside began flowing out through a melody.

As I sat there with chill bumps and tears streaming down my face I realized....this is real ministry.

~Helping others to see their God given identity~

Her song was His gift.
Her voice was His masterpiece.

And I was granted a front row seat to watch all of it unfold.......

There is more to come with this story I just know it.  Pray that she will continue to open herself up to the One who has given her a song worth singing.