Thursday, October 31, 2013


Shep here.

Lawyering is interesting work.

 I have helped guilty people go free.

 I have seen justice ignored in spite of my best efforts.

In seventeen years, I can think of only one "Perry Mason" moment when I made a witness say, "You got me.  I'm a liar.  Everything I said today has been a lie."

I remember Judge Pope telling my client who was asking for a continuance, "Seems like going to trial is like going to heaven.  Everybody says they want to go...but nobody wants to go today."

A couple of weeks ago I sat in the courtroom.

Everyone ought to sit at the Plaintiff or Defendant's table at least once.  It is a crucible.

I had filed a motion for contempt.  My client and the opposing party divorced.  In the decree, my adversary was ordered to perform certain tasks- most of which involved transferring money (some to my client- some to creditors).  Our position was that he had willfully ignored the court order, should be held in contempt, and forced to comply with the order.

Mr. X's argument went like this, "I know what I was ordered to do.  I tried to do it.  I would have done it, except my ex-wife was not doing the things she was ordered to do."

During the course of the trial, the judge repeatedly told Mr. X, "We are not concerned with what your x-wife did.  We are only concerned with whether you did what this court ordered you to do."

At the end of the hearing the judge said, "Mr. X, I find that you are in willful contempt of this court's order, in that you failed to do: X, Y, & Z.  I order you to be placed into custody in the Bartow County Jail until such time as you purge said contempt..." The deputies slapped the bracelets on him, and he got to spend a few nights in jail.

I was actually fairly shocked...the man had some very good points.  The Court, however, was not interested.  The Court wanted no excuses.  The only questions that the Court decided were these:

1:  Did you know what you were supposed to do?
2:  Were you able to do what was ordered of you?
3.  Did you do what you were told?

This has had me thinking recently.   What could I be held in contempt for?  What have I been ordered to do that I have not done?

I have been overwhelmed recently by my obligation as a husband and father.  I feel like this world is fighting me at every turn.  When I attempt to take a stand- that's when I feel the current the strongest.  If you have ever stood in a river, you will know what I mean.

When I try to drive a stake in the ground, only then do I feel the hardness of the earth.  If you have ever worked a set of post hole diggers, you will know what I mean.

I have an obligation to love my wife sacrificially, and to raise up my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

It does not matter what anyone else in the whole world is doing.
It does not matter what anyone thinks.
It does not matter if its unpopular to those people I love the most.
It does not matter if I am tired, put upon, overworked, underpaid, treated unfairly, talked about, looked down upon, laughed at, despised, criticized...

The Court does not ask those questions.  The Court asks, "Did you know what you were supposed to do?  And, "did you do it?"

The rest does not matter.

I wonder if you (like me) might be in willful contempt.

If you are, I encourage you (like me) to come to the One who made you today, in the day of Mercy.  Please do not wait.  The Spirit of the Lord will not strive with man forever.

One day the gavel will fall.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Draw Near. Right Here.

After acknowledging a distance between myself and God in my last blog post; my current bible study zeroed in on this distance even more.

Check out this quote..

"We can whine and pout and stomp over wanting to be made stronger.  We can quote a Bible verse and say nice things about the Almighty, but God does not give His strength from a distance.
Could it be that your life without strength is a reflection of where you are with God?  I have never seen God hurl His strength to someone with her back turned to Him. Or give strength to someone who lives far away from Him.  God gives strength to those close by~ to the one who has turned toward Him and has run back into His presence."  (Angela Thomas, Stronger)

The author then pointed us back to God's Word to affirm this in a very direct way. 

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you."

I knew this was the answer for me.

For whatever reason I was holding a piece of myself back from God. 

He intended to bring me back.

Less than 24 short hours after writing that last blog post I returned home from dropping the kids off from school.

I walked through the kitchen and past Caroline's wheelchair toward my room.

Then I sensed God pulling me toward Him.

Draw near.  Right here.

I stopped in the hallway because the Holy Spirit's prompting on my heart was heavy and strong.

"Lord, what are you saying to me?  What do you want me to do?"

Like strings leading a puppet I felt myself being pulled back into the kitchen to stand right in front of Caroline's wheelchair.

"Ok God.  This is weird.  What is it with Caroline's wheelchair?  What do you want me to do?"

This time the force of it hit me powerfully, "Andrea, draw near....right here."

 This was it.

I had pulled away and created distance between myself and God at the very place of my hurt and confusion with Caroline...and His silence.

I shook my head as if agreeing with Him and dropped to my knees. 

There, on our cold kitchen tile floor, I wrapped my arms awkwardly around a metal framed wheelchair and laid my head upon the seat of it. 

I sobbed and sobbed.

I drew near to God here.

It was the place that I had turned away and this was His way of turning me back.

It was right and it was good.  His ways always are in fact.

Somehow we draw lines around painful places in our lives.  We don't allow anyone to go there.  Not us.  Not friends and family...certainly not God.

How can the Comforter provide comfort in the very place He is not permitted to go?

We can't know Him as all He is or receive all He has to offer us by giving Him only the good places in our lives.

He wants to draw  Wherever your "here" where He wants to meet you.

For me it was a wheelchair.

That metal frame became an altar of surrender.  Pride and anger flowed with each tear that rolled down my face.

God Almighty, my Comforter never left my side.  In fact, He wiped the tears away.

His presences helped me stand up with a strength that I had not previously possessed.

Surrender served as a means for strength.

Only our great God.

Draw near.  Right here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Fixed Faith...A Frustrated Girl

This morning I woke up and stumbled into the bathroom.  My eyes struggle to open well.  Rheumatoid arthritis makes my joints swell and ache as well as causing my eyes to deal with chronic dry eye.  There is actually a medical diagnosis for this but....basically I have to keep lubricant drops in my eyes on a regular basis.  If I don't my eyes try to over-produce tears...resulting in clogged ducts...that results in a mimicking form of pink eye.  Pretty nasty. 

So as I stumbled into the bathroom to douse my eyes with drops that would help them open and focus~ I honestly dreaded the day.

I have sensed a distance between me and God.

I am pretty sure it is one I have created. 

My prayers have been honest before Him.

Here is an example:

"Lord we continue to wait on You to heal Caroline.  She is eleven years old.  Eleven years we have waited.  We still wait.  You haven't released us.  People think we are nuts.  I am beginning to think I am nuts.  Then You bless us with a little glimpse.  She sat up by herself.  You let me capture it in a video.  I have proof that this really happened.  For weeks people dreamed almost daily of her healing.  

Now it is quiet again.  The momentum gone.  

I work with her daily to try to catch another glimpse of Your power working in her little body...but now she struggles to do again what she did so easily that day.

What happened?

This hurts so bad.

My faith soars to heights I haven't known.  Chill bumps become a part of my daily routine ....and then quiet.  Too quiet.  My faith backs down and shuts up.  I can't explain.  

God please help me.  My faith isn't in what my eyes see but upon You.  Yet I long to see it again."

My morning eyes finally fight to open so happy to have fresh tears in them...even from a bottle.

I glance down and flip my daily encouraging scripture card that sits next to the sink.

October 22 reads, "Awake to righteousness, and sin not;
                              for some have not the knowledge of God;
                               I speak this to your shame."  1 Corinthians 15:34

What I heard Him whisper to me was this.  "Wake up Andrea.  Choose the way of righteousness.  I know you are frustrated with things you can't figure out and understand.  But you know Me.  Trust Me.  Even if nothing makes sense or makes you feel better.  Trust Me.  Don't allow the sin of doubt, worry and unbelief steal away what you know to be true.  This is the harder way.  Choose it.  Shame on you to think otherwise when you know better.  I AM truth.  I AM the only way.  I AM working in this.  Run into my arms and cast this upon Me. "

I think I may have uttered a thankful prayer back to Him...really trying to be. 

But the morning duties pressed in. 

As I did my "mom thing" my thoughts still lingered upon this scripture.  "Awake to righteousness"  rolled over and over in my mind.

By the time I returned home from dropping off the kids to school I sensed peace within the inner turmoil. 

No answer.  Just the beginnings of peace for my day.

Stilling myself on the sofa I  read the scripture again.  And then I felt a small voice tell me to fix my faith for the day.

I guess the same way I would "fix my hair".  When I fix my hair (crazy curly mop that it is) I have to get my hands on it.  Manipulate it.  Put it in its desired place by spending time and working on it.

God was urging me to do the same thing with my faith.

"Fix it Andrea.  Your faith.  Fix it.  Put your hands on it....lest it get away.  Manipulate it to stay where you want it.  Because your Enemy wants to steal it, kill it and ultimately, destroy it. "

I am not exactly sure where God and I are going.  To be perfectly honest, this is new territory.  But isn't that where I beg Him to take me?!?  I sense shifts and exciting days ahead.  I expect answers to prayer.  But I am lying if I say I am not scared and unsure.  Those two things I know to be true. faith will be grown.  And it must stay fixed upon my Father who is trustworthy.  What better way to show that I trust Him than to walk forward when everything screams inside to turn tail and run.....

Fixing my faith. 

"Oh God whatever faith I have...You have given.  I believe because You give me hope."

So I FIX my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,  since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 1 Cor. 4:18


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

He is holy. So we must be too.

Tonight marks the end of Fall break for my kids.

It has been a sweet couple of days for us at home.  Slower.  Intentionally so...

For whatever reason tonight I am a bundle of BLAH.

Nothing really good.  Nothing really bad.

I type those words as if they are true.  But, deep down, I know they aren't. 

Yes I am tired.
Yes I don't feel so great.

But it cuts deeper than that.

Weakness worms its way into my thinking and somehow I just let it all go to heck.

Where is the strength available to me through Christ?

I'll tell you where it is.

Pushed away for the moment.  Right where I left it.

Blah feels easier than burdened.  Know what I mean?

Tonight I just want to stay blah.

I don't want to put forth the effort for bold, burdened,  or even blessed.

But Peter's words haunt me.  Yes.  The apostle Peter in the New Testament.

Last Thursday the presence of God invaded my bedroom as I read 1 Peter chapter one and two.  I was preparing for a speaking engagement and the Holy Spirit led me to these chapters and just kept me there.  I read them out loud over and over again.  Obviously God had something to say to me.  Tears rolled down my face as the sacred written Word of God was spoken from my mouth.

Phrases that had been read repeatedly in my lifetime came alive in new ways. 

One of them that jumped off of the page was this simple verse. 

For he himself has said, You must be holy because I am holy. 1 Peter 1:16

Wouldn't a list of pending/conditional situations be nice here?

There aren't any.

Holiness isn't an option.

He is.  So we must be.

At this moment my blah-ness is sinful.  Why?  Because at its root lies pride, arrogance, discontentment, and self-pity.

His words hit me with tenderness.

My blah mood must bow to His holiness.  I must bow too.  More than that...I must choose holiness.

Truthfully sitting here and typing this all out helps me think it through and call it what it really is.  Sin.

I am such a feeler.  I hate it about myself.  Not on the mountain top of course.  Those moments are elation and joy.  Feeling is a gift and being a feeler seems fitting and right.  But, here in the blah moments, my feelings take me down a dangerous path.  I ignore Your goodness in this place and focus on my dislikes and relish in the discouragement.  Please forgive me Lord.  I choose to be holy just as You have called me to be.  I don't have a magic wand.  The feelings don't immediately go away.  But surrendering to the truth immediately feels better too.  Help me with holiness.  I need the mind of Christ to distinguish what is helpful and what isn't.  Give me self-control so I won't look for ways to just make myself feel better.  The joy of holiness this night is that I am choosing You over me.  It is that simple.  God I may need to do it again tomorrow.  Thank you for loving me and not letting me stay the same.  I trust Your hand in my life.  Don't let me be ok with sin in my life...especially self-pity sin.  It may just be the worst kind.  I love you Jesus. Amen 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

To Like or To LIVE

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have made it awfully easy for us to "like" things.

We see sweet or funny pictures of children.  We "like" it.
We read something inspiring, motivational, or good.  We "like" it.
We celebrate with a birth, baptism, or wedding.  We "like" it.
Then there are the moments of sadness.  A death or a sudden tragedy.  Pictures bring tears and words express a sorrow unspeakable.  I cannot bring myself to "like" it. 

God spoke to me the other day when I was scrolling down the screen and looking at Twitter.  A bible study teacher that I respect immensely had posted a word picture as she often does.  The word picture read something like this:

If no one is laughing at your aren't dreaming big enough.

Another one of my favorites from her recent tweets is this gem:

Just because He hasn't doesn't mean that He won't.  Keep believing!

Let me just say this to be clear.  I believe that this awesome woman of God believes, teaches, and lives exactly what she posts on Twitter.  She uses her platform to honor God and uplift her sisters in Christ.

As someone who sits at her feet via dvd teaching I soak these tweets into my marrow and allow them to fuel my focus in Jesus Christ.  They speak hope to my heart.  I can't "like" them fast enough.  Honestly I wish I could "like" them about a million times.

It is easy to "like" something inspiring that lifts the soul and spur us on in our faith.

But what about actually "living" it out.

~How BIG are the dreams that God has placed in your life?  Can you accomplish them yourself?  Is your own strength enough or must you rely upon the supernatural power of God's Holy Spirit?

~Do people laugh or ridicule God's calling on your life?

~Do God's dreams for your life make you uncomfortable?

~Do you lose heart some days because the dream honestly seems....unthinkable?

These are questions that we don't "like" at all.
We don't like the weight of them. 
We don't like the uncertainty of them. 
We really don't like the idea of God daring to ask it of us....

Yet....we "like" the inspiring words.

I know the deal and so do you.

Liking is easy. 
Liking is non-committal. Liking requires no faith, or perseverance, or waiting, or potential heartache.

Living is a different thing.
Living is daily, minute by minute commitment.  Living depends upon faith, is strengthened and refined by waiting and relying on God alone. 

But don't just listen to God's word.  You must do what it says.  Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.  For if you listen to the word and don't obey it, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.  But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.  ~James 1:22-25

Don't just like it.  Live it.  Blessings, fullness, and the deep things of God aren't given in easy shallow waters.  Dive into the deep. 

Liking it lets us walk away and forget.

Living it brings us to a place of utter dependence and desperation unto God Almighty.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Momentary Miracles

What you are seeing are miracles that happened in mere moments last week.
 Caroline sat up.  Yes.  Our 11 year old girl sat up using her own arms for strength instead of ours.
This happened in moments of time. 

She cannot sit for long minutes or hours....but these little moments...are HUGE to us! 

We cannot help but praise our great God and give every bit of glory to His Great Name!

Surely you can see the evident joy and exhilaration on our faces as we hold our hands high in the air for all to see this amazing turn in our girl!

I have no idea when God plans to heal Caroline.  I just know that He will.

He continues to encourage us through events just like this, affirmation from His Word, and dreams where He allows friends and family to see what is to come.  Four people close to me have dreamed of her in the past week alone.  How glorious is that!?!

"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;"  1 Corinthians 1:27