Monday, August 25, 2014


My mama makes the most glorious chicken and dumplings.  It is a creamy buttery mixture of goodness that melts in your mouth and makes you want to go lay down somewhere after you have inhaled way more than your share.

In recent years I stepped out and boldly attempted to make her recipe myself. 

I learned a valuable lesson.

Once all of the ingredients are added in this step by step process, one is tempted to walk away and let the stove top do the rest of the work. 


My nose knew it almost immediately.

Those dumplings that I took the time to roll out and cut up were now burnt and stuck to the bottom of my boiler.


I took a break.  I was supposed to stand there and stir.  Stirring was essential to the recipe.  Stirring ensured that the ingredients properly blended and did not settle to the bottle of the pot to stick and burn.

I recently have seen this same principle in my spiritual life.

If left to myself, without the stirring of a holy God, I become stagnant and settle to the bottom of the pot so to speak....AND I allow myself to be burned pretty easily.

Upon returning from my mission trip I sensed God drop "Haggai" into my heart.

God is so funny.  He whispers hope, grace, peace and conviction into my heart on a regular basis.  But Haggai?

What in the world?!?

So I began to dig around in this little 2 chapter book toward the end of the old testament.

God is still using it to speak to me but one verse jumped out at me almost immediately.

"So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people." Haggai 1:14

 These people had been called to go back to a work.  They had allowed fear, opposition and hardships to lure them away from this work.  God was not only telling them to go back to it and that HE would be with them.  He stirred their spirits to go back.

That so moves me.

My spirit needs some stirring. 

Settling to the bottom of our circumstances means we have given up on our work.  We have let fear, opposition and hardships lure us away too.

The good news is we don't have to whip ourselves up when we haven't the strength to even lift our heads. 

The LORD will do it....if we will let him.

He stirs.

He stirs the hopeless heart to hope again.
He stirs the weary feet to keep walking.
He stirs the wayward child back toward the path of home.
He stirs a cold unforgiving heart to love again.
He stirs faith into a seemingly impossible situation.
He stirs perseverance into one enduring more of the same.
He stirs trust in the one who has been burned time and time again.

He does it.  He stirs. 

Thank you Jesus for stirring our stale and stagnant and singed souls.  We are so desperate for a God that can stir us again and again.

Here are a few other scriptural examples of God's stirring in the Word....

~"In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled Jeremiah's prophecy by stirring the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation into writing and to send it throughout his kingdom."  Ezra 1:1 NLT

(God can stir a pagan king to do His purposes.)

~"Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the LORD." Ezra 1:5 NLT

~"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works...." Hebrews 10:24 ESV

(I especially love this one.  God stirs us and the cycle keeps on doing its we are stirred up...we naturally stir up others.)

Oh God I desire Your divine motion in my life.  STIR ME. Give me Kingdom eyes.  Help me to really see the hurting and the broken people that I pass everyday.  Give me words of encouragement to build them up and speak boldly for the cause of my beloved Christ.  You have set me free Jesus to not be bound again even by stale and stagnant living.  I love you and I repent for the wickedness that tries to defy Your ways in my life.  Help me love you more than anything else.  STIR ME.  May my life stir others to love and good works.  Be glorified Jesus!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

More Change

I love a routine.

I thoroughly enjoy a to-do list and, more than that, I love checking things off of said list.

We are mid-way through our 2nd full week of routine again. 

School, snacks, devotions, homework, ballet, soccer, dentists, orthodontists, Awana, family and play time all have to somehow work in conjunction with one another.  As manager of this home...that is my job. 

We have had a few hiccups but we are off to a decent start.

The change of Caroline entering middle school has been physically seamless thanks to some incredible people that work and care for her during her day.  God had them there already waiting on my girl.  They are gifts to me and I enjoy watching them learn all about her. 

Another facet of Caroline being in middle school means the end of her time in the children's ministry at our church.

For the past 12 years we have had the luxury of dropping Caroline off and entrusting her into the care of her preschool and eventually children's ministry teachers. 

Doing this allowed Caroline to have immersed time with her peers AND it freed up Shep and myself to minister and serve in our church. 

Shep has always taught an adult bible class and I am heavily involved in our music ministry. 

As Shep and I began to discuss how to handle Caroline's transition at church we felt that we should try our best to acclimate her into the youth group.  Shep stepped away from teaching his adult class and will be helping out teaching 6th grade boys.  I will hopefully be a floater in the youth group.  My role will be to fill in where support is needed and generally be a presence there.

Plans and intentions are one thing.  Reality is another. 

Last Sunday did not go well.  At least not to me.

Instead of being in a children's class Caroline is now supposed to sit in the first service...the same as her peers.

Shep sat beside her but she was restless and frustrated.  By the time I finished singing and joined them she was pretty worked up. He ended up taking her out of the service right before the preaching so that she wouldn't be a distraction.

I just sat there.

Worshiping with my man is truly a highlight of my week.  Sitting beside him and receiving a word from our pastor is one of my favorite things.

Now I was sitting there alone...totally feeling sorry for myself.  And mad.

Our pastor was preaching his heart out about truly believing God.

My thoughts centered around my own personal ache.
~"Is this our new normal God?"
~"Are we doing the right thing by making her come into the service?"
~"Will we miss church every week now?"
~"Why won't she settle down?"
~"I believe you God.  I do.  Why haven't you healed her yet?"

At the end of the service our pastor called anyone down to the altar that needed a miracle or for God to intervene in a powerful way.

I stood on the stage with tears rolling down and knew there was no way I would be able to sing the ministry song with the team.

Instead I made a beeline for the crowd of those gathered at the altar and I knelt down with others needing a miracle of some kind.

Sobs came and all I could say over and over was, "Oh God help me.  Help my unbelief.  Please help my unbelief."

When the service was over I went looking for Shep and Caroline.  He was waiting for me in the hall.  I looked at him with a desperate look he knows all too well by now and asked, "what are we going to do with Caroline in church?"

His answer was typical and precisely why I need him so much.  He said, "well we are gonna try again next week."

The next hour was Sunday school time for the youth group.  They meet in a large group first and then break out into smaller groups by grade levels.  I sat there and smiled.  I admit that I fake smiled but it was truly all I could manage.  I tried to talk to kids around Caroline and mingle a bit. 

I hugely underestimated how difficult this transition was going to be for me. 

Middle and high schools kids thrive on communication.  My girl can't talk.

These kids run around acting crazy like kids are supposed to act.  My girl is bound to a chair and poor muscle tone keeps her head down a lot of the time.

Teenagers pride themselves on appearances.  I remember that all too well.  My girl is incontinent and still has to wear diapers. 

This process is so incredibly difficult.  It is a path God has called us to walk.

It is not routine or normal in any way.

Truthfully I almost can't bear it.

My church is full of wonderful caring people.  So many of them want to help and intervene to make this easier. 

At this point I am not sure there is an easier path.

Shep's approach, although I loath it, is probably best. 

~Try again.~  And again~

The hard part for me is that trying again....and again.....means feeling it all over again.

Oh God please help me to believe You when my heart and flesh fail. You alone are my constant.  You never change but You require me to trust You in the midst of change that is rocking my world. 

Hebrews 13:8 "God is the same yesterday and today and forever."


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

His Grace Finds Us

I almost laughed out loud when I saw how long it has been since I had written.

Not quite a month but it feels like a year.

This blog was supposed to be my journey of faith.  Sadly, I don't want to write what I feel most days. 

Faith is there. 

But a lot of other junk is there too. 

But....that is the point.  Letting our faith rise to the surface when the other junk wants to smother it out.

Since my last post I have been out of the country on a mission trip marked with delays and disturbances. 

I returned home completely exhausted with life chomping at the bit to go on as if I had never left.  There was barely a week to absorb sweet time with my kids before school started this past Monday.  A day I have been long dreading....

Caroline began middle school this year.

Just 12 years ago I worked at this middle school as an English teacher.  My last days there were spent waddling around the halls with swollen ankles and a pregnant belly.  Caroline spent 9 months growing in my tummy at that school.  And Monday I took her back.

This time I rolled her in her wheelchair.

I wanted to vomit.

I wanted to run back to elementary school and demand that they take her back.

I wanted to punch something hard.

I wanted to cry.  That....I did.

The picture I had in my head of her starting middle school looked very different.  It was just something else to grieve.

Something else to hand over to God and whisper from a wounded heart, "not my will but Yours."

His grace found me on Monday.

Honestly I didn't want it to.

Grace soothes.  Sometimes we don't want to be soothed. 

I wanted to continue to be mad about the day I was having to live out....

Instead God gave immeasurable grace that made it possible to live the day.

He out gives us every time. 

Grace waits at every turn.  The unexpected kind that overcomes emotions meant to rock you to your core.  His grace trumps it all. 

There is no hiding.

On our worst most dreaded day....His Grace Finds Us.

(I totally stole this from a song called "Your Grace Finds Me".  Give it a listen.  You will love it.)