Friday, June 21, 2013

I bought some JOY and it only cost me $5.45

My dad is such a good good man.  He is jolly almost all of the time.  I don't think he has ever met a stranger.  If you have a baby within holding distance, he will reach for him/her.  He loves Jesus passionately and he gives of himself all the time.

One of the pieces of advice he has given me several times in my 35 years is this:  "If you are ever down or discouraged...look for someone else to bless.  It will take your focus off of you."

Shep and I have adopted this practice, or tried to. 

It really does work.

Today God allowed me the awesome opportunity to do it again.

Truthfully I wasn't discouraged or down at all.  Maybe a little overwhelmed and frazzled because that is what preparing for vacation does to a person. 

My van had been burning up the roads.  I think I stopped at a total of 7 or 8 different places picking up this or that.  After eating lunch with a dear friend I stopped off at McDonalds for an iced coffee.  As I exited the fast food chain with iced coffee in hand I saw a mother and four children that I recognized.

They frequently come to the center where I work and volunteer.  I have come to enjoy their visits and getting to know them better.  They are extremely kind and always willing to do what is required, even though it means they have to walk several miles to get to us.

They were walking again today.  They had actually just found some shade under a tree to stop and rest before continuing on.

I felt God nudge me.  Go give them a ride.

I responded.  God I need to get on home.

Again the nudge.  Go to them and offer them a cool air-conditioned ride.

I moaned.  Ok I know I don't have my kids with me but I will have to move all of my bags and re-situate just to fit them all in.

God nudged harder.  Did you really just complain about moving some bags?!?

Needless to say....God won the argument.

I pulled up and offered them a ride. 

As I moved bags and re-situated things in the van I noticed that I really didn't mind at all.  Actually...I felt joy begin to bubble up.

Once all five of them were settled in the van I noticed that I had an iced coffee and they had nothing.

McDonalds was still right there.

I offered them a sweet treat.  They graciously accepted.

Two milkshakes and two ice cream cones later ($5.45) we headed toward their home.

It was honestly the best thing I did all day.

Joy flooded over me.  I was plain giddy to have gotten to help them.

Before you think anything too nice about me you need to know that I am about the most selfish person on the face of the earth.

I don't just think to go out of my way to help people like I should.

Jesus alone gets the credit here. 
Jesus desires to bless others and use us in the process.

The credit is all to Him.  But I get the joy!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fill in the blank with HOPE

My most favorite thing about God is hope.

It lets us dare to believe.

Hope means there is a way yet to be discovered.

Hope says that this isn't the end.

Hope breathes life into death.

Hope sheds light into darkness.

Hope inspires.  Hope helps the lingering questions.

I sat in a peer training group tonight and listened to fellow students tell of real people that have lived, and are living, devastating lives.

These stories involve people who have been abused, mistreated, abandoned,betrayed, hurt, and broken in ways you and I wouldn't want to imagine.

I was moved deeply.  I felt angry with righteous indignation.  I wanted some form for justice.

But to each story there is a blank to be filled in ____________________ and it can be filled with glorious HOPE.

Our past, self-inflicted or otherwise, does not have to be our undoing.

 Hope can fill in any blank.

Our present and our future can be defined by HOPE.

This is the trump card of following Jesus.  If you are His child He longs move heaven and earth to delight you.

He dares us to HOPE.

He says, "Trust Me.  Walk with Me.  Listen to My voice.  Hide My Word in your heart.  Obey My commands.  In return....I will fill you to overflowing with a hope that you can't explain or contain.  Let Me thrill you, child."

Who doesn't want that?!?

A crumbling marriage needs _______________________.
A depressed heart needs __________________________.
A diseased body yearns for ________________________.
The parent of a wayward child must have ________________________.
A life torn apart by sin is drawn to __________________________.


Fill in your blank.  Whatever it is.  His HOPE will not disappoint.  It cannot.  Hope always expects...with confidence.

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  Colossians 1:27

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Blur of Summer

I cannot believe Shep posted that blog this past Monday and here I sit on Saturday evening.

We have just wrapped up our third full week of summer and, so far, it feels like a complete blur.

Shep and I have celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. 
Zeke and Caroline have turned another year older.
We have also squeezed in a fun movie, several trips to the pool, library visits, and an entire week of VBS at church.

I always teach music (which means tons of movement and motions) to our K-5th grade during VBS week.

The kids love it and I do too.

It is just exhausting on a whole new level for me.  Thankfully it only lasts a week.

As happy as I am to kick off VBS...I am also that happy to wrap it up.

This week begins our ladies summer bible study, Ava's dance camp, dentist visits, and preparation for our family vacation. 

See...the blur continues.

As always God is doing some new things in our home.

I am watching Him increase my faith and my desire to pray in unexpected ways.
Shep and I continue to do our morning devotion and prayer time.  I have been amazed at how this simple little thing has built a new level in our lives.  It is hard.  The enemy hates it.  But it has been hugely worth the effort. 

God always is.

Hopefully I will be able to blog more often as the blur slows into focus again....

Monday, June 10, 2013

A birthday lesson from Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock

 Shep here.

Some of y'all probably don't know who Rob Base is.  He's not internationally known but he's known to rock the microphone.  Sorry, couldn't help that. Back in the day, I pumped a little Rob Base in my '83 Celica GT.  He had this one little tune called Joy and Pain. 

Extremely catchy.  It makes me want to dance when I hear it today.

It also makes me think of my big girl.  Eleven years old tomorrow. 

I was at a bible study when Andrea called me and told me that her water broke. We headed to Kennestone hospital like we were shot out of a gun.  We were about to parents for the first time.-  Joy.

But things went wrong.  Caroline came into this world without enough oxygen.-  Pain.

And its been like that for eleven years.  Sunshine and Rain.

Our big girl is such a blessing.  She can light up a room.  People who meet her are better for it.  But we long for her healing.  We long to hear her see her walk...

A pastor once told me that joy and sorrow were like the rails on railroad tracks...they run side by side, in the same direction, and at the same time.  I'm pretty sure he didn't like Rob Base...But they expressed the same thing.  These two things go hand in hand, and the older I get the more I see it. 

Caroline shows me every day. 

When she smiles at me- Joy.  She smiles with her whole face.

When I catch Ava staring at her sometimes, wondering why God has not healed her...wishing her sister could play with her- Pain.

I feel like this blog is taking on a sad tone.  I really don't mean for it to.  We love our Caroline.  She is such a blessing...such a joy and delight...and I can tell you this with 100% certainty- She has made me a better man.  I care so much more about other people's hurts than I ever did before.  I get it.  Hurt changes folks.

If a train is going to make it to its destination, it has to have both rails- joy and pain,

So here's to you Caroline, our big 11 yer old...thanks for being such a fantastic little girl.

Thank you for teaching us. 
Thank you for all of your smiles. 
Thank you for letting us love on you. 
Happy birthday, Angel.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Me versus the lawn mower

Week before last my little family was enjoying a summer evening outside.

We had eaten dinner, ventured out to get an ice cream, and now laid on a blanket at the top of our hill in the driveway.

I took in the view around me.

Let's just say that Shep and I believe in the concept of yard maintenance.  We do not excel in showcasing our yard.  Most of our neighbors have gorgeous lawns...lush and green and weed free.

We do not.

Instead of paying to treat our yard and keep the weeds out, we prefer to cut them down with our lawn mower and pocket that money.

Anyway I could tell that the lawn (er...weeds) needed mowing.

My husband was exhausted from a long day.  I thought ahead mentally about our week and there really wasn't another good night to do it.

So...I hinted heavily.

That went over about like a lead balloon.

I threw my chin up in the air and offered to do it myself.  (Please know I do not cut the grass.  Never have except one time on a riding mower)  I mainly offered to my husband so that he would step in as the chivalrous man he is and do it himself.

Um...let's just say he didn't take the bait.

So here I was getting ready to cut our grass.  It also may be helpful to know that we live at the top of a steep, really steep, incline.  We have a self-propelled push mower. 

Inside I wanted to back down and say, "Never mind, Shep, you can do it later."

But something in me wanted to prove it to him and myself that I could totally do this.

He gave me some pointers on what the heck I was doing.  I changed clothes and got my game face on.

It was a spectacle to see.

My neighbors even commented that it looked like my mower was dragging me all over the yard.

But....I DID IT.

Shep did help empty the grass bag when it got full and he helped to re-crank the blasted thing.  But, other than that, I did each and every painstaking sweaty row.

I am pretty sure that Shep was speechless.  I kind of was too.  My kids couldn't even believe it.  (My Ava was so sweet to get me some ice water so I could re-fuel along the way.  Without it I probably would have puked:)

When I finished the job I was spent.  Every part of me ached.  But the yard looked so good.  The smell of freshly cut grass was like a reward in itself.

God has been instructing me to persevere.  Do the hard things.  Do the things that challenge you.  Push through.  Cling to Me.  Hold on tight.  Stay the course.  Do what I place before you despite how it feels. 

In some weird way...I felt Him in this.

There are many things that God has challenged me to believe and live out for His glory on a daily basis.

Some times I think we need a physical reminder of a spiritual concept.

This task was mountainous in my mind.

He knew I needed to see that I could absolutely do it.

Today....I did it again.

Shep had to help empty the grass bag and re-crank it.  But, the job itself, was my joy to do.

Call it an inside little joke between me and the Lord.

Good stuff.

I believe God constantly wants to speak to us.  He can use anything He wishes to instill or encourage or equip us with tools that strengthen our resolve.

He reiterated perseverance to me through mowing the lawn.  Who knows how I will sense Him the next time.

But I love that He jumps off the pages of scripture and interrupts my thoughts in the reality that is my life!

Lawn Mower~0


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Watch....AND PRAY

Do you ever find yourself completely amazed at an old concept?

I have been a believer of Jesus since the tender age of 9.  I know that as believers we engage in spiritual warfare.  I know that we should be bathed in prayer.  I know that we should arm ourselves with the Word of God and hide it deep within our hearts.

I know these things.

But, as I live and breathe, I totally minimize the importance of these things.

Yesterday I was talking to my mom about some obvious ways that my family is under attack spiritually.

As I spoke the words I found myself....almost surrendered.  My flesh is so so weak.

I didn't even want to fight.

Isn't that just like us?!?

The battle for our minds is upon us and we give up before we even engage.

God did the coolest thing though.

Instead of letting me go down the road of complete despair and self-pity, He allowed the words of a song to rush to my lips.

Even I was surprised how quickly they came out....

"He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
and the hill would not be hard to climb.
He never offered our victories without fighting 
but He said help would always come in time.
So just remember when you're standing in the valley of decision,
and the adversary says, "give in", just hold on....
my God will show up.
And He will take you through the fire again."

This morning my scripture was out of Matthew.  Jesus words hit me fresh and new because I needed the reminder.

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." Matthew 26:41

Our bodies are weak.  We will fall into temptation.  So we must pray!

Yesterday alone I was tempted by doubt.  Fear.  Insecurity.  Sin.  Weakness.  Anger.  Jealousy.  Resentment.  Unbelief.  Pride.

So watch.  Be on guard.  Use your eyes and allow the Holy One to warn you of chinks in your armor. 

I learned these concepts as a child in church. 

I am still learning them as an adult...only now they are more real to me.

If you will will begin to see all that needs prayer.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Double Portion

May's end and June's beginning have been somewhat of a blur to me....

School got out.  Zeke celebrated a birthday.  Our sweet niece graduated.  Memorial Day was upon us.  I have had to work a few more days here and there to fill in for friends who are vacationing.  Last Thursday marked our 15th wedding anniversary.  Friday and Saturday followed with a wonderful Living Proof Conference with Beth Moore teaching approximately 8500 gals desperate for God's Word.

See what I mean?  

Calendar days have been full around here.  Catching my breath to prepare for just the next thing has been fun and frenzied.

Blogging about it has been a rare occurrence.  I am hoping to slow down and catch up soon.

BUT.....I couldn't let another day pass by without expressing my gratitude to God for my double portion of blessing this weekend.

Hitting the 15 year mark of marriage to my best friend is a big deal.

We went out to dinner and savored our quiet moments without the kids.

We laughed and talked about some of our favorite moments in marriage.  Of course we laughed about some of our not so favorite moments too.

If nothing else...we are a work in progress.

We are learning....but we never stop choosing to love as we go.

We are committed to God.  He brought us together.  He keeps us together. 

I am honestly amazed at how my love for Shep is deeper than I ever thought it could be.  Respect has a lot to do with that.  He has never given my heart any reason to doubt him.  He is kind and honest to all...especially me.  He leads our entire family by example.  I am truly his biggest fan. 

Our ride together has taken turns we never dreamed of and certainly wouldn't have chosen.  But we are choosing to squeeze the good out of hard times.  There are lessons built in that change and mold us into the image of Jesus.  That, of course, is the ultimate goal anyway.

The second blessing of this weekend was getting away to a conference for some intense bible teaching, prayer, and praise.

I cannot express what it did for my heart. 

Conviction was there but mercy and grace overtook me as I received all of the encouragement that God bestowed. 

Beth's teaching was on time.  Challenging to hear but my spirit was ready. 

God is such a delightful mystery to me.

The closer I get to Him the more amazed I am by Him.

It is the pleasure of my life to worship and adore Him.

Oh Father thank you for my double portion of blessing this weekend.  15 years of blessed marriage is all because of You.  I ask that You continue to forge us close as husband and wife.  Let us live and work and play and give and trust in a manner that pleases You.  Increase my love for Shep.  Help me be the wife, friend, and helper You designed me to be.  Show favor upon Shep's life.  Keep him close to You always.
Thank you also for my time away to learn and grow in your Word.  I am completely captured by You, God.  You astound me.  Your choice to use me is humbling.  I depend upon Your Word to guide me.  I trust You when I cannot feel You.  I am truly devoted.  Help me love You more.  Help me trust You more.  Let me be satisfied by You alone.