Saturday, October 18, 2014

Almost Ashamed

She was cold. She was tired. She was thirsty. But mostly, she was hungry. Truth be told, she was starving. She was, in all reality, dying from hunger. All of her family was gone. Their bodies had surrendered to the fight days ago.

She had one other problem though. She had no money. She didn't have a single penny to her name. At this point, she was going to have to steal if she ever wanted to eat again. 

"Who cares?" she thought. "Even if I get caught, at least I'll have shelter and they'll feed me."

These wouldn't have been her thoughts under normal circumstances. She knew stealing was wrong. She knew it was a sin. But in conditions like this, the brain makes us do crazy things. 

After days of walking, eating nothing but a stale piece of bread, the only food she'd had to bring with her, she finally made it into a town that the famine hadn't affected. It was full of life and energy and . . . food! She walked past a stand and grabbed an apple as she kept going. She found a hidden place to eat, but she had already drawn attention. 

The condition of her body was enough to let people know she was starving to death and that she was desperate for food. They'd had their eyes on her from the second she stepped foot into their precious town. They "knew" she'd try to steal food. 

As soon as she took the first bite of that sweet apple, they were upon her. They grabbed her and marched her through town as if she were on display. Through the entire walk, she heard remarks from the townspeople. 

"Don't give her our resources!"

"She probably only stole from us so she could go to jail and get free food!"

"Pretty soon everyone from wherever she came is gonna hear how good she has it and they'll be here next!"

"They'll overrun our town! They'll eat all our food! Pretty soon we will be the ones starving!"

She tried not to cry and make more of a spectacle of herself than she already had, but it was difficult. Where was the compassion? In her town, in her family, she had been raised quite differently than this. Even in her sickened state, she recalled verses her father had read from his Bible, in Matthew 25, shortly before the starvation took hold of him. 

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'

Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.'"

She then recalled the next part of the parable, where the people on the left were criticized for not doing those things for him and how they asked him when had they neglected him in that way. 

"And he will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'"

Even in her near death state, she knew her father was right and these people were wrong. 

Would justice win out or would the townspeople have their way?

The above story is a sad one. How terrible that a town wouldn't welcome a dying woman and meet her needs. How awful that they would turn her away and be afraid of others "like her" coming to have their needs met, needs that couldn't be met in their own hometown. How horrendous for this dying woman. People aren't really like this though. Right?

Friend, I'm here to tell you, today, that it is because of a situation of this type that I am almost ashamed to call myself a Christian. 

You see, a dying man, a man that couldn't get sufficient help in his own country, came to us for help. Maybe he did it the wrong way. I don't know. I do know that any one of us would have done whatever it took to get life saving help. And we did help him, but we criticized him and complained throughout the entire process. We said that if he got better then he should be put on trial for his deeds. We were angry with him. We called him names. We prayed that his illness wouldn't spread to us. We prayed that his sickness wouldn't affect us. 

Did any of us actually pray for his healing? Did any of us plead with God on his behalf? Did any of us bring his case before the throne of the Great Healer and ask Him to make this man better? Did any of us give of our resources to help this man who was dying, not only physically but possibly spiritually as well?

It's not enough to be a missionary and go "over there" to help them out, if we can't even welcome them to "our" country with open arms and any prayers and resources we have to aid in their recovery.

We were/are so worried about US that we didn't take time to realize this was a person. This was a human created in God's image. He was no different than any of us. 

I can only hope and pray that God isn't as ashamed of the way we acted as I am. I can only hope and pray that He is more merciful and gracious to us than we were to this man. I can only hope and pray that if/when another situation like this arises, we will step up to the plate and be the people He has called us to be. 

(By the way, since I never actually said it, if you're still wondering, I'm referring to the man who came over with Ebola.)

Friday, August 1, 2014

My Public Apology

I have to apologize. Tremendously. I have been so greatly blessed - especially in the last several years.

I have been giving wedding showers, baby showers, and diaper showers.

I have been given numerous gifts while in the hospital giving birth.

I have been prayed for. My NICU babies have been prayed for.

I have been given TONS of help. I have had people stay with me for weeks and help care for my millions of children while I recuperated from having yet another or was on bed rest so baby didn't come early.

Family members have opened their homes to us as we come in town for a visit. No one ever complains about the number of people we bring. No one complains about the noises the kids make or the crying of the babies. Not only do they not complain, but they help me out with them. Not to get them to shut up (though that might have something to do with it!!), but because they love them.

Friends and family members both have helped us financially and physically to get our vehicles up and running. They have both given random gifts of food or toys or cleaning supplies or etc, etc that, unknown to them, helped us make it to the next payday or allowed to have something to give our kids for their birthday or Christmas when we otherwise wouldn't have.

My kids, my husband, and I have all been given birthday presents and Christmas presents. Family members have blessed my kids with Easter baskets and egg hunts.

Just a month ago, I was given a surprise birthday party. Each of my siblings and their spouses and children, along with my grandparents, and mom and Tim, drove TWO hours to meet me halfway for a surprise party. I thought I was meeting my sister and her youngest for lunch, but when I showed up, they were all there. If that isn't the sign of a person who is loved, I don't know what is!

So, what am I apologizing for? Well, I haven't been a very grateful recipient. I mean, I have been more than appreciative of all of the love and care and support, but I haven't shown it. I have not written a single thank you note. I have not made a single phone call to express my thanks. It's not that I don't think about it. I do. If I could remember it all and had unlimited hours, I would sit down and write a thank you to each person for each thing. I can't do that. I want to. I can't. So, for all of you that have been a part of the repeated blessings that have come our way, I'm SORRY. I'm sorry that I haven't shown you how grateful I am for you and what you did. I'm sorry that I haven't taken time out of my busy schedule to thank you for the specific deed/gift you sent our way. THANK YOU. Thank you for taking time out of your day to think of us. Thank you for being a blessing in our lives. We would not be who we are today if it wasn't for the kindness of our friends and family. Thank you for allowing God to use you to be a blessing in our lives. Not a single gift, not a single action, not a single moment of time went unnoticed. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. With deepest appreciation, thank you.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Wow! Has it really been three months since I put "pen" to "paper"??? Time flies, but I didn't realize it was flying that fast! A lot has happened in the last few months so I guess I have a pretty good excuse.

We found a church home! We absolutely LOVE it there. We enjoyed where we were before and loved the people, but it was too easy to blend into the background instead of getting involved. We are now in a smaller church where I served in VBS as the preschool Bible story teacher. For those of you who have worked VBS with me in the past several years, you know that is out of my comfort zone. (I even helped decorate the preschool area!!) Registration is my niche! Paperwork is what I do. Not decorations! However, I decided it was time to stretch myself. I can't express how much I enjoyed that experience. We have also made some new friends there. I have joined the MOPs group that starts in September, and I'm getting ready to start teaching preschool Sunday school. Chase comes with me every week, but so far, his work schedule keeps him from being able to really get involved. It'll happen though. He can't help it. It's in his blood!

We were able - with the help of John and Beth, some of our new friends - to get Chase's truck fixed. Its tags and inspection are both current. It has Texas license plates. It drives great. Of course, we got it all finished right as summer hit, and it doesn't have an ac, so he still doesn't drive it too often. BUT he can. That's the point. I don't have to be stuck at home for 13 hours a day. If I want the van, he will willingly take the truck.

In 3 1/2 weeks (August 25th), my precious "baby" girl is starting Kindergarten! Again, I know time flies, but didn't we just bring her home from the hospital yesterday??? She is SO super excited. We are homeschooling so it isn't as sad for mommy as it could be, but I'm not taking it easy either!

The biggest change is coming in March when we welcome baby #5! Elizabeth originally wanted another little sister, but then she decided that CJ needs a brother. She is now convinced that it's a boy. Jennifer and Samantha don't have an opinion, but they are already in love. They sit on opposite sides of me on the couch and rub my belly and talk to the baby. CJ has no clue what's going on!! We have two boy names picked out: Jason Lance (my favorite name as a kid/my dad's middle name) and Chance Michael (Chase's favorite name as a kid/his dad's middle name). We decided that, if this one is a boy, we will use Chance Michael. We have used all of the girl names we've had picked out. We were talking and agreed on Allison. I went through several middle names but neither of us really cared for any of them. I just stopped trying and figured it would come to us eventually. Chase wasn't really giving any names but suddenly started laughing. Apparently one of the girls was wearing a shirt with Rapunzel on it. He threw that out there to see the reaction they would give. It wasn't what he expected, but it got him thinking. He started naming all of the princesses when he came to Belle. He decided, if it's a girl, he wants her to be named Allison Belle. It's not really what I would have picked, but I think it fits, and it's growing on me every time I say it. So, March 16-ish, we will be welcoming Allison Belle or Chance Michael.

So, updates on our family isn't the reason I started this blog, and I don't want it to become about that. I have so many things God has been showing me that I want to share. It's just hard, after 3 months, to jump back into it. I needed some kind of transition post to get myself used to sitting down and taking the time to do it!

Tea Party - Jennifer (3), Samantha (2), Elizabeth (4)

Playing at the park - CJ (1)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Chivalry is Dead

Chivalry is dead . . .  and women killed it.

Several decades ago there was a feminist movement. Women (in general, not the entire population) decided that we can do everything men can do AND have babies. In passing, this statement is funny. Down deep, where it matters, this kind of thinking has stripped men of their masculinity. We have told men that we don't need them.

Men used to hold the door open for women. We told them we could do it ourselves.
Men used to lay their coats over a puddle of water so their woman could walk across without getting her feet wet. We told them this was demeaning to women.
Men used to help unload groceries from the car and move furniture so their woman wouldn't have to do the heavy work. We told them we didn't need their help.
Men used to sit at the dinner table with the family and have manners and polite, meaningful conversation. Unfortunately, we pushed them away. We decided it was sexist for women to be in the home and we traded all of this for jobs outside the home, for Girl's Night Out, for losing ourselves in our hobbies.

What did we get in return?

We have men who don't think twice before walking through a door and never look back to see if there is a woman they can hold it open for.
We have men who are so engrossed in their phones and other technology that they don't even notice if a car drives past and sprays water all over their woman from head to toe!
We have men who sit and play video games while their wives unload groceries and move furniture and they never even offer to lend a hand.
We have men who, if they join the family at the table instead of eating in the other room in front of the tv, burp and fart and can't hold a conversation to save their lives.

We complain that our men don't help us. We have pushed them to this lifestyle.

It's time for a change.

It's time to teach our boys that they have a responsibility to take care of women, those they know and complete strangers (giving up their seat, holding open doors, etc). It's time we instill in them the desire to be men and teach them how to do it.

It's time to teach our daughters that, though she can move furniture alone, though she can open doors herself, though she may be able to do everything a man can do and have babies, she is feeding his masculinity when she allows him to help her with these things.

It's time for men to step up and learn how to be a gentleman, even if they were never taught. It's time for men to humble themselves and to take pride in helping a woman. It's time for them to see it as the most manly thing they can do. It's time for them to realize that being a "knight in shining armor" isn't just about saving "the damsel in distress" but also about helping her in the calm, quiet times.

It's time for women to stop being so offended by men that are trying to be gentleman. Instead of pushing them away and calling it demeaning, we should encourage it. They are being kind, mannerly, friendly, and helpful. If a woman offered to help us with those things, we wouldn't think twice about it. We would welcome the help. Why is it so different if it's a man offering?

When I was younger, my parents told me something that has stuck with me all these years. "If you want a man to act like a gentleman, you have to expect it of him." Basically, don't get into or out of the car until he comes and opens the door for you. When entering or leaving a building, stand by the door until he opens it for you. When you arrive home with a car full of groceries, carry an armload in. Then just tell him, "I'm gonna go ahead and put these away while you bring in the rest." Expect it of him. Pretend like there is no other way of doing things. He may grumble at first. He'll probably complain a little. Continue expecting it of him. Allow him to regain his masculinity and  to see the joy in helping his woman.

I've had this topic on my mind for some time now. It's saddened me greatly to think that chivalry is dead. What do my daughters have to look forward to? How am I going to convince my son it's the high road when none of the other guys are doing it? And then, I got a little ray of hope.

I was out with my 4 year old, 3 year old, 2 year old, and 1 year old buying two weeks worth of groceries. Visiting three different stores to get the best prices and enjoying lunch out with my kids at McDonald's . . . well, this is an all day affair. It usually takes 5 hours to get it all done. It's hard work. When leaving McDonald's trying to get the girls all headed in the correct direction, while carrying CJ, the diaper bag, my purse, and my drink, getting doors open wasn't easy. Of course, I do this every other Friday so I'm used to it and have my system figured out. It would be very easy for me to deny help and do things the way I always do.

So, to the little boy who patiently held open the door of the Playplace while we were leaving and smiled the entire time, THANK YOU!!! You put aside your wants of food and play to help out a lady in need. You slowed down long enough to realize that there are other people in this life and not just you. You took time to notice those around you. You were mature enough, at your (approx) 10 years of age to realize that life does not revolve around you. I pray that my "thank you" and "you're such a gentleman" were encouraging to you. I pray that they caused you to feel like a man. I pray that they helped you to see that you were doing the right thing.

To the man in the Aldi parking lot. THANK YOU! I was loading kids and groceries in my car as you drove up. You parked in the space adjacent to mine. With no one else around, it wasn't difficult to see you, especially with my 2 year old waving at you. You went in and bought your few items. When you came out I was still loading, though almost finished. You put your things in your car and then you slowed down your life. You took the time to come over, hand me the rest of my groceries as I put them in the car, return my baskets to the front of the store (all the way across the parking lot), and return my quarters to me. You smiled and carried on a polite, friendly, UNflirtatious conversation the entire time. You were clearly not in it for anything except the privilege of helping someone in need. Truthfully, you could have gotten in your car and driven away, and I would have been just fine. I had already done that three times that day at Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree, and McDonald's. I didn't need you. You didn't care. You were a true gentleman. I wish I had more to offer than a simple "thank you" and so, just like with the little boy, I pray that you were encouraged by being able to help. I pray that, just as I received a blessing from being helped, you received an even bigger blessing from being a help. I pray that it showed you that you made the right decision and that you will continue offering your help to people in need. I pray that your masculinity was affirmed through that act of kindness.

Both of you restored my faith in humanity and made me realize that, though chivalry is dying, it has not been completely snuffed out. Maybe, just maybe, chivalry isn't dead.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A First!!!

Wow! I knew it had been a while since I've posted anything, but I didn't realize it has been almost a month! I have time each day to get on here, but with a 4 year old, a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and two 1 year olds, I don't have time to think! So, I tend to put it off even though I have tons of things I feel God is wanting me to share.

Anyway, I have a few rare moments of quiet, and I did my very first DIY project yesterday! I'm so excited that I just had to share.

Right now, CJ doesn't have a dresser for his clothes. They are just stacked on a bookshelf. That works great . . . until they're old enough to pull everything off the shelves and unfold all of the clothes! Then, it can be a pretty big mess. I knew I was going to need to do something pretty soon since he is getting mobile, but dressers can be pretty pricey. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what to do to save myself from some unnecessary stress in the very near future.

A couple of months ago our neighbors moved out and were taking some furniture to the dumpster that they didn't want anymore. In apartment life, it is common to leave unwanted items next to the dumpster as "free game" for anyone who wants it. Before she took it down there, she asked if I wanted it (two small dressers and one large dresser). She told me they were pink, and I thought they'd look adorable in my girls' room so I told her yes. Then she brought them to me . . . YIKES!!!

She failed to mention that her daughters had colored all over them, the handles (I already removed them before taking the pic.) were broken, and the paint was peeling. I didn't want to hurt her feelings by taking them to the dumpster so I just stuck them in the corner and used them to stack stuff on. When I was looking for a resolution for CJ's room, I remembered these small dressers.

Now, I've never painted anything before . . . in my life - besides t-shirts, using fabric paint. I had no idea where to start. Thankfully, my sister is a DIYer and is full of advice. I don't know what I'd do without her. She talked me through everything I would need, while she was on a date with her husband. He's a good man for sharing her!

All of that said, here is the project:

My first task was finding a place to spray paint. If I was in my own home, I'd do it in the grass and let it wear off eventually. But I'm not. And that gets frowned on in an apartment. So, inside, by the back door was my option. I used shower curtains from Dollar Tree and packaging tape to block everything off. (I also have a baby gate between the living room and kitchen where a certain 2 year old and 1 year old stood screaming for me to let them in!)

CJ's room is done in a Texas Rangers theme so I wanted the dressers to match. These are the colors I used. It only took one can for each dresser. I got them at Wal-Mart for $3.77 a can. 

I wanted knobs that looked like baseballs, but Terrell doesn't have much to choose from, so I got these white knobs from McCoy's. They were $1.19 each. Not cheap but my only choice, and I supported my husband's store, so it's a win either way.

 With such a limited space, I had to wait for the first dresser to dry before being able to paint the second, so it was an all day project. After they were both dry enough to handle, I removed the drawers and painted the edges. A few more hours passed, and they were ready for knobs and to be put back in the dressers.

All I have to do now is carry them upstairs   :-/   and fill them with little boy clothes!!! They're not beautiful, but they're my first ever project, so I'm excited about them anyway.

Now to find something else to put in the corner by the front door to stack stuff on . . . 

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Calling

Salvation is a free gift. The Bible says so in Romans 6:23. It is a free gift. It does not depend on anything we can say, do, or think. Jesus offered His life on the cross in exchange for our salvation. That's what it took. Because of God's grace, He accepted that sacrifice. Because of God's grace, we can spend eternity with Him. Because of God's grace there is forgiveness for everything we have done. I am so thankful for God's grace. Where would I be without it? I am totally dependent on His grace.

But what if I told you that isn't the end of the story? What if I told you that His salvation isn't all there is to it? We don't just "get saved" and that's it. No. There is much more to it than that.

**God's salvation comes at a high price. Don't believe me? Check out these verses from Luke 14:
"A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, "If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison - your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters - yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
"But don't begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, 'There's the person who started that building and couldn't afford to finish it!'
"Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can't, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.""

Jesus Himself told us to count the cost and see if the price is worth paying before committing to Him. How many of us did that before we "got saved"?

**Salvation doesn't just come at a high price. It also comes with a calling. 2 Timothy 1:9 says, "For God saved us and called us to live a holy life." What does it mean to be holy? R.C. Sproul explains it this way in his book The Holiness of God: "The primary meaning of holy is 'separate'. It comes from an ancient word that meant, 'to cut' or 'to separate'. Perhaps even more accurate would be the phrase 'a cut above something'. When we find a garment or another piece of merchandise that is outstanding, that has superior excellence, we use the expression that it is 'a cut above the rest'.

We have also been called to live like Christ. 1 John 2:6 says this exactly. "Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did."

But that's impossible. Jesus was perfect. He was sinless. I can't do that. I was born with a sin nature.

I know this is already a long post, but God showed me something today. Please stay with me as I try to explain it.The first thing He said to me was that that excuse is a lie from the pit of hell. Satan has twisted Scripture in such a way as to make us think we can't live life like Jesus.

Romans 8:12 says, "Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do."

After we receive God's salvation, through grace, because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, we receive a new nature. 2 Corinthians 5:17 puts it this way, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; all things are become new." ALL things. That includes our sinful nature. We have been made a new creation. We have a new nature.

In our new nature we will have the desire to live as Christ lived. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there." (Galatians 5:24)

We will also have the ability to live as Christ lived. "So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves."

God has offered us salvation. It is a free gift. The Christian life is not free though. It comes at a price. It has a high cost. Salvation required death, the death of Jesus. The cost of living the Christian life requires death as well. Death on our part. "So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you." (Colossians 3:5)

It is time for us to stop using excuses about our sinful nature and realize we no longer have a sinful nature. It's time for us to start living a holy, set apart life. It's time our lives start mirroring that of Jesus. It's time we begin striving for the same perfection that Jesus had. It's time we realized that because He is living in us, it is possible. It's time we realized that God offered His grace because we couldn't attain salvation on our own. It's time we realized that God requires His people to live differently instead of using His grace as an excuse to continue living like we have a sinful nature. It's time we realize that God has called us to live in freedom but to stop using that freedom as a license to sin. (Galatians 5:13).

Will you join me on this journey of living life the way Christ did? Not just reaching the lost by going to the ends of the earth, but showing them He has made a difference in our lives by living totally, completely opposite of the way the world lives? Remember, you don't have to sin. You have a new nature.